April 11, 2007

Michael Albert on the Importance of Hope in Social Movements

Michael Albert recently shared an insight on Robert McChesney's radio program Media Matters. Albert is the co-founder of South End Press, Z Magazine and ZNet. He is the author, most recently, of Remembering Tomorrow: A Memoir, and is well known for the book Parecon: Life After Capitalism.

Albert began by discussing the difference between today's social movement and that of the 1960s. Back in the 1960s people were outraged when discovering the institutionally corrupt Government/Corporate power system. But, people believed that they could do something to change it.

Today, people are far more aware that government/corporate imperialism is not an accident. In fact, they have become cynical and have evolved to assume its just the way things are, its inevitable, that you can't do anything about it. So, naturally, people don't want to waste their time forming a movement they perceive would be a waste of time.

A key role of social movement activists is to communicate to people that there is an alternative to injustice and indignity, a different way to organize society and its institutions. Activists need to lay out that vision, and identify reasonable steps in that direction so people have hope.

The key is to give people hope that a better future is possible. People need to believe that being part of today's social movement is not a waste of time. It's also helpful to recognize Martin Luther King's selfless operating principle; the means are as important as the ends. King captured this principle in his famous quote:
I am convinced that we shall overcome because the arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.


Media Matters, April 8, 2007, Interview with Michael Albert.

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