The depressing answers are basically to do with bread and circus and the immense flexibility of late-capitalism and particularly consumerism.
We live in a world where entertainment is bundled and packaged and shoved into our bedrooms, living rooms and the palms of our hands. We are kept busy for something resembling free whenever we want. And the way it resembles free is because it constantly bombards us with the desire for things that aren’t free. Things that could make us happy. Things that we think we’ll need, and we can get if we work hard.
That and there’s a lot of propaganda for stasis.
I think people are far too prone to assume what everyone else thinks. I think people like to have a sense of moral superiority more than they want to build bridges to other (different) people.
I think a lot of people have given up one each other.
I think this is one of the saddest things I’ve ever thought.
It’s also worth noting that I think people have seen protest and shouting and taking to the streets be ignored so many times.
Plus I think the protester’s of the current time have terrible PR. Or perhaps just the proponents of the status quo have such good PR.
And people give up.
And maybe people fear change. People are pessimistic, assume that things will get worse.
I’m halfway through and all I’ve got is misery. Cynical projections and assumptions about people I don’t even know. I’m making wild generalisations and pointing out that it’s all pointless.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM.
It’s easy to be cynical. To sit back and say that nothing ever changes and there’s nothing we can do.
It’s a fine way to abdicate responsibility. And it’s something I do far too often.
The fact is that every time you or I (dear reader) give up and say it’s gone wrong, that’s when we fail.
The question itself is a trap.
There IS activism alive and well today. Even just the lazy stuff, the e-petitions and the isolated self congratulatory webforums. And that’s not the end. Just last monday, people showed up for a march and a counter protest on the streets of brighton. Even the bad guys wanted to change the world.
None of them had given up.
If you can’t take to the streets, don’t worry. Just live your life differently. It’s utter cliché, but ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.
Activism and resistance don’t have to be about taking to the streets and shouting. It’s about living, and saying ‘I’m not going to bend myself to someone else’s whims’. It’s about saying ‘I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it any more.’
Everyday. To yourself.
And then living.
It’s easier said than done. But it’s easier to change yourself than it is to change the world. And actually, the effect is cumulative: people have eyes.
Live, visibly, as you believe is right.
It might work.
Illustration by Lucy.