“Most of us need something to believe in – and it isn’t the end of history!”
Global influences are again at work as they were in the 60s. As was the case with the anti-Vietnam activists, the student radicals and women’s liberation movement, there is a plethora of organization and networks, of varying degrees of radicalism and with a dizzying, and occasionally incoherent, array of agendas for change.
Some are wedded to single issues, like reform of refugee policies or opposition to the proposed U.S. attack on Iraq; others have more encompassing objectives which envisage fundamental economic and social change. Neither then, nor now, do these groups represent majority opinion, although there are many “fellow travelers” and sympathizers who are not on the streets.
They are also subject to much the same derision and caricature by the mainstream media. Women who protested at the subordination of women were almost invariably characterized as “bra-burning, ball-breaking” feminists. Those trying to propose better ways to reduce global poverty and inequality and to protect the world’s environment are often dismissed as muddle headed, nave neo-luddites who cannot accept the inevitable.
Although this new movement is sometimes derided and labeled as “anti-globalization”, it is in reality, seeking to frame and answer the question – “what values should govern the global age”.
Demanding and negotiating:
There is another generation on the move, another generation searching for signs that their representatives recognise that there can be a better kind of world; that it is possible to change the structures that support and perpetuate inequality; that the obscene and now, very public, “asymmetry” of suffering and disadvantage is immoral and unsustainable; that the interests of corporations do not necessarily correspond to the public good; that we can live on this planet without destroying it; that war is not a solution, and that we cannot continue to operate as if death and destruction are tragic and intolerable in some place, but banal and unavoidable in others.
While there is likely to be much pain between these ideals and their, inevitably, partial realisation, belief in the possibility that the world can be a better place if we act in concert is the only force to propel us from the quiescent embrace of mediocrity and decay.