Yesterday I was out in the streets of Stroud with a lot of other people, raising awareness of the Trans-Atlantic trade deal under way and its grim implications for democracy. I think big corporations have too much influence as it is, giving them more power is not a good thing. http://www.38degrees.org.uk/ttip is you haven’t signed the petition yet.
I had a lot of really good conversations with people. I had a lot more where I said ‘this is a real threat to democracy’ and people shrugged, or said ‘I’m not interested’ and walked away. I can’t help but feel if I’d said ‘this is about a real threat to your television watching’ they would have cared. Such are our priorities.
People died to get us the democracy we have. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than many of the options. And yet we’re so complacent about it, and so blind to our own power and responsibility. We’ll abdicate power to any outfit that wants it. We’ll shrug, not wanting to make the effort to know, not wanting the inconvenience of getting involved. I can’t help but feel that if we act that way, we will get what we collectively deserve, namely a ticket back to the dark ages with our hard won rights stripped from us.
We all have power and we all have responsibility, it’s just that the vast majority of people prefer to ignore it. If we all decided, today, to fix all the inequalities in the world, sort out long term sustainability, deal with climate change and protect species from extinction, we would be well on the way to fixing every problem there is within the week. All we have to do, is do it. All we need, is the collective will, and that collective will is made up of individuals getting their bottoms into gear. Democracy is us, and if we bare our necks to the teeth of the corporate vampires, we really shouldn’t be surprised if they bite us.
I love 38 degrees. People led, people funded, doing what it can, and getting results. Every time you see a UK news item where the government have changed direction, there’s usually been a campaigning group in the mix, pushing for just that. Hundreds of thousands of people have roared, and something has shifted. Some of those wins are small, but every win counts. You can tell it works because they’re trying to legislate to shut us down around elections.
I think crowd-based campaigning, coupled with crowdfunding, are the future. When we come together to make things happen, we make things happen, and that enables a lively, active kind of democracy. Anyone who shrugs and walks away loses their voice in that, and may not like what it gets them, but that’s also part of what democracy means – choosing not to speak up means choosing not to have a voice. If enough of us can’t be bothered, then a small minority rules unchallenged. It’s like feudalism, only without the leprosy. Although saying that, if we privatise health so that the poor cannot afford care, (and TTIP makes that more likely) we open the door to get our mediaeval illnesses back. Because everyone loves the romance of weeping sores and untreated cancerous growths, right?