Today marks thirty-nine years that I’ve been alive on this planet. I count myself as politically “aware” for the past twenty years, and politically “active” for the past ten years. I like to think that I’ve made helped make the world a better place now than it was when I arrived. I’ve helped with a few successes, some of which are included on my website. And yet, despite it all, I feel like the treadmill is moving faster than we can run. I feel like the work we’re doing to improve things, to change the world, to save the world, isn’t enough. I feel like time is running out, and that I have an obligation to do more, especially since “It’s not clear to me how that will effectively lead to changes during the few years we’ve got left to deal with carbon. Climate science enforces a certain brute realism. It makes it harder to follow one’s heart.”.
That’s a quote from Bill McKibben, writer and activist on climate change issues. He’s talking about the pressing issue of climate change, which if we don’t change things widely and (relatively) quickly, Earth will more and more resemble Venus, and that’s not a good thing. 200-degree (Fahrenheit) days will be common; the livable planet we all share and take for granted will be no more (what’s left of society will have to dig underground like moles). But overcoming that issue of stopping our own inertia seems an intractable problem. Even in the face of certain doom and increasing evidence, we seem to be doing little more at the societal level than moving the proverbial deck chairs on the proverbial Titanic. We’re heading to disaster, and arguably we (or some of us) _can see it coming_. We should be doing something to stop this, change course, slow it down, buy some time at least. But we’re not.
Most of my political activism in the past decade has been devoted to media (the politics of U.S. media, activism on media, and producing critical media in radio, print, web, and television), with a side helping on political economy (focusing on the model known as participatory economics). I’m increasingly thinking that I should switch matters: focus on political economy, downplay my work on media. We’ve arguably made progress on media issues, and things have changed considerably regarding media (e.g., this week, Fox threatened to pull its broadcast channel off the air and move it to table). But in my humble opinion, we haven’t made as much progress regarding political economy, particularly vision and structural issues, as we need.
Luckily, things are ripe though for progress on this score, given the calamities we face, the repulsive problems of markets and corporations, (helping to cultivate things like Occupy Wall Street), the wider awareness of all of these things, and the reduced absence of a taboo of discussing or considering structural issues of our society (at least less of a taboo). But we need to think, and talk, and act, and quickly. And I’d like to do what I can to help, in what spare time I can muster.
I’ve got a blog. I’ve had a blog for a while now, but I haven’t done much with it. I need to change that, in the time I have left — to write, to share thoughts, to challenge taboos, to set a positive example, as I’ve tried to do. I’ve been tempted to follow the lead of Glenn Greenwald, who has turned a passion for words and ideas into a font of progressive action. Ideas can hold power, and can change the world. Defeatism can be defeated. I’ve been fortunate enough to see this and be a part of this on media issues in my decade of work on this score. I have to admit: I sometimes can’t help but gloat at the Tribune’s current predicament, particularly since it’s arguable that I played a critical role in helping to shape it. So, on this, my 39th birthday, I’m publicly making the commitment and diving in. I hope, and plan, to blog daily — particularly on issues of political economy (especially on participatory economics).
This might not go anywhere. This might be just another lapsed promise. I’m afraid that it will be just another grand hope that went unfulfilled. Or it might be the start of something big and world-saving, the thing that historians will point to milennia from now and say “that’s where the effort to save the world began”. The only way to know is to get to work.