The Return of Activism?

As most of you probably know, I am a huge fan of Russell Brand. Huge. It’s the main reason I moved to London actually, to track him down and make him fall in love with me………

Anyway, Russell Brand has a new(ish) YouTube series called The Trews(True News) which I discovered a few months ago in which he analyses newspapers and news broadcasts and sheds some light on the political and economic agendas behind the mainstream media and urges his viewers to question the information they are given. Kind of like Karl Pilkington’s “Bullshit Man”. The most recent episode of The Trews is what inspired me to write this post. In a few of the more recent episodes of The Trews, Russell has called for people to become more active in their communities and to go out and demand that the people in power do better. In today’s episode, Russell meets with a group of women who have been made homeless and as a result decided to occupy perfectly habitable houses which have just been abandoned. When they were made homeless, these London women were told there was housing available for them in cities like Manchester and Birmingham- miles away from their homes and families. Rather that accept this, they have begun to protest and speak out against what they call “social cleansing”. One woman, Jo, put it perfectly when she said “I think that it’s a basic human right that we have social housing and affordable housing. Why should we be pushed out of the area because it’s become gentrified and trendy?”

You can watch the whole thing here;

The media and government would like to have you believe that many working class people are apathetic towards politics, and that lack of education means they are ignorant. These women prove that is not only untrue but also a very unfair assumption. They were being treated unjustly and unfairly and decided to do something about it. Why doesn’t this happen more often? In recent news though, we are seeing a rise in stories where civilians are becoming more active the issues in their communities. In Ferguson, the riots after the murder of Michael Brown. In Taiwan, the amazing Sunflower Student Movement, which I was lucky enough to witness. And of course, most recently The Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong.

So, it got me thinking about activism in general. It is something I have come across a few times recently while reading articles online and searching for a new job in London. What do you think of when you think about activists? My mind usually conjures up images of suffragettes, students in the 70’s with flowers in their hair, Greenpeace and PETA and people like Martin Luther King. But perhaps a more local and small scale view makes more sense!

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis.

Volunteering is just one way to get involved in your community, activism is a whole other ball game.

This might seem like somewhat of a random post, but I do think that activism and volunteerism are related. You see something in your, or someone else’s community, and you want to do something about it. Just my thoughts and I am interested to hear yours!

3 thoughts on “The Return of Activism?

  1. I think you’ve pretty much nailed it Leanne. There’s got to be a breaking point and I hope to god that we’ve reached it, because right now it’s a shambles.
    Using Education policy as a litmus paper it seems like the damage done to the UK system is almost at the point where the successive governments, across parties, have almost achieved their aim, which I perceive to be making sure that wherever you are born on the ladder you damn well have to hang on to that rung good and tight, because the only way is down. And should you have the audacity to think that you can use your brains to improve your lot they’ll make damn sure that you are in so much debt by the end of it that you are robbed of the energy or capacity to stand up for your own rights, never mind those of others.
    I find it regressive and terrifying that the UK’s adopted a standadised testing system at increasingly lower ages. I see the results of such a system around me every day in Taiwan and it has a clear and direct impact on critical thinking. There are many ways to disenfranchise a person, but it seems this is the general aim.
    As is seen in the clip from the Trews though, the people running the show, be it in the UK, America or Taiwan are being forced to recognise that there is opposition to their aims. And the more frequent and more well-communicated this opposition becomes the stronger the push back against these nefarious plans will become.
    I would say that being politically active is pretty much the same as volunteering. You are using your spare time to try to improve the lives of your fellow human beings – and perhaps co-incidentally yourself. I agree a more local focus makes perfect sense too.
    They share the same skill set too. So you’ve got a hell of a head start there Leanne. You’d be amazing. You’ll defo catch Russsell’s eye then. 😉

  2. Oh, that would be a dream come true! haha
    I totally agree that we have to reach a breaking point soon. In the wake to the economic crisis, more people should be angry and want to take control of their own lives back. Global warming is getting out of control and I recently read an article that said the world may very well see its first ever TRILLIONAIRE by the year 2030. That’s just terrifying!

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