A call to all progressive organizations to unite under one big umbrella
The mainstream media’s largely negative portrayal of the Occupy Movement in Canada illustrates once again the need for a large, progressive cooperative movement in the country – one that would include hundreds of groups.
I'm not the only one who thinks so.
“The Canadian media really dropped the ball on this one,” says Kalle Lasn, referring to Occupy coverage across the country “Instead of seeing it as a movement of young people fighting for a different kind of future, which is so beautiful and so valid, they basically saw it as a pesky irritation.”
Lasn is co-founder of Adbusters, the magazine that helped initiate the Occupy Movement.
So how would a cooperative movement look?
- We need one powerful enough to pressure corporate media owners into providing equal coverage, and one with access to enough financing to support the development of alternative, independent media.
- If the progressive movement is to be successful in improving society, it is hugely important for it to be able to reach the general public with information that creates a balanced view of important issues in Canada.
The kind of large cooperative body I discussed before would have a much greater chance of being treated fairly by the mainstream media because of the tremendous pressure it could bring to bear on the corporate owners. I plan to discuss possible tactics that could be used in such situations in a future blog post.
I pointed out that we must come to grips with the fact that neither the mainstream media nor Stephen Harper are paying much attention to what we have to say.
Journalists such as Murray Dobbin, Linda McQuaig and Naomi Klein write excellent, thoughtful articles about the problems we face and, while their stories keep us well informed, they have very little – if any – impact on the right-wing ideologues.
A nation-wide cooperative of hundreds of progressive groups could develop powerful ways of tackling the right-wingers and giving progressive writers a wider voice.
But first I think it is necessary for dozens of key progressive groups to do a little self-analysis.
Inside our organizations, board members, staff and volunteers need to respond to the fact that the progressive movement is losing ground to the forces of neoliberalism at a tremendous rate. Every day, the Harper Conservatives destroy more of our fabric and values.
Unfortunately, many people deeply involved for years in the Canadian progressive community are tired and discouraged. Evidence of this is the failure of leading NGOs, public interest groups and labour organizations to come together to establish a major social/political initiative in response to the devastating election of the Harper majority in May.
The huge public response to the emergence of the radical Occupy Movement indicates that there is a wide gap between the concerns of quite a large segment of the general population and the ability of organized groups to lead and channel those frustrations.
In a number of organizations, young, energetic people with different goals and strategies more reflective of the times need to be given an opportunity to lead on some important issues. Old tactics need to give way to new tactics.
This is not to say that many organizations are not doing fine work in their chosen areas – but many groups tend to focus on their own issues and fail to identifying the broader action that is needed in this political environment.
Some organizations, in particular some segments of the labour movement, have lost their way and are often just going through the motions when it comes to supporting progressive social and political issues. This may be due to the fact that many union members do not actively support progressive social and political issues the way an earlier generation did.
The problems we face as a nation require that all leaders and would-be leaders in our communities come forward and start working together harder than they have ever worked before.
I would like to ask readers to bring their own ideas forward on how we evaluate the need for a progressive coalition. First and foremost, information about the basic concept needs to be distributed more widely. I can prepare a condensed version of the basic idea for anyone who has access to email lists or who would like to circulate it among groups. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org