In the early days of our campaign there was debate about whether we should be in defence of youth and community work. However the dominant feeling seemed to be that we should focus on youth work alone. This stance has always been contradictory. Indeed a number of supporters have been indicating that we should return to the issue at our national conference in October. In the meantime events overtake us with the welcome emergence of the National Community Activists Network. The group has an attractive and accessible web site with a lively feel, heightened by the active involvement of its supporters in animated exchanges on its Forum pages – see the debate around the government’s Community Organisers initiative. If it’s personally feasible, we would encourage our supporters to get involved. Certainly we hope that IDYW can build a positive working relationship with NatCan in the months and struggles ahead.
Just as I am posting this on the site, the following circular from the NatCan team has arrived.
Now that we are just over two months into this project to develop an interactive online platform to support active citizens, let’s just reflect on where we come from, where we are and where we might be going.
Historically, ordinary people have been motivated to fight against injustice, inequality and corruption and additionally, in more recent times, against religious and economic fundamentalism and life-threatening problems caused by ecological degradation and rapid climate change. Throughout history, political despots, armies, religious rulers and corporations have overpowered the will of the majority. That situation hasn’t changed much – those with power try to control the majority by almost any means, people on the receiving end do their level best to hold them to account. The recent Murdoch scandal demonstrated, to the few who didn’t already know, how easily financial power translates into political power, leading to incestuous corruption. Will anything change as a result? Let’s wait and see.
For some thirty years or so, since the onset of deregulation, the world has danced to an underpinning philosophy that what is key is survival of the fittest and apparent market efficiency, not being held back by weakness and not believing that humans are capable of organising themselves, leave it to price mechanisms. With the financial world in turmoil, political systems everywhere under siege, inequality widening, poverty increasing, social services under attack and the lives of just about everyone, except the ultra-rich, getting progressively worse, it’s getting harder to sell that philosophy.
We are told that there is no alternative. Most of us think there has to be!
So where do we, as active citizens, fit in?
Our activities are loosely based around three basic principals: social and economic justice, peace and security, and a sustainable environment. We endeavour to democratise decision and policy making in the name of social justice, resist the effects of neo-liberal economic fundamentalism, struggle to improve the lives of people everywhere, especially the poor, and do what we can to protect the planet – all of which are intertwined.
To keep abreast of events requires information – mainstream media isn’t an entirely reliable source. It’s wise to seek independent opinions and news outlets. IT certainly helps (this website is an example) but we are bombarded with too much information. It helps if people sort the wheat from the chaff then give it to us in the form of newsletters or short videos. We need to discuss our views with our contemporaries and get feedback from them. We need access to acknowledged specialists on relevant issues so we consider and digest their opinions.We need to do all this for ourselves because if we are ‘commissioned’ to provide such a service, we become open to control – he who pays the piper!
NatCAN is just at the beginning of a journey – let’s all support each other along the way.