Political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote a brilliant commentary on a biography of Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish-German socialist revolutionary murdered in Berlin in 1919. I came across it recently in a collection of Arendt’s essays, and I just want to note a couple of points which really stand out for me.
Tag Archives: activism
I recently checked out the Thwink.org website again. Since David first wrote about their work, they have continued to develop their ideas. They have some good ones too. Sometimes I find the approach a bit too simplistically rationalist, but there’s no doubt they are thinking about social change, asking “why have we not achieved the changes we’ve been struggling for?”, and trying to come up with better methods.
Activists are usually busy people. The word itself is based on the root “action”. Gandhi, one of the world’s greatest non-violent activists, stressed the vital importance of action – even going so far as to argue that violent action is better than passivity. Yet Ghandi’s activism was never unthinking. It was based on serious efforts at self-understanding and self-control, and rooted in a deeply thought out theory of power, which lead logically to non-violent strategies for social change.
Continue reading →
Joanthan Schell’s “The Unconquerable World: power, nonviolence, and the will of the people” is a profoundly hopeful book. Schell analyses power and looks at the history of the world and of the war system. He shows that nonviolent people power, in the long-run, truly is mightier than force and Empire. Some brief notes follow. Continue reading →
Rebecca Solnit has shared her Secret Library of Hope with the world. It is made up of books that tell the inspiring stories of peoples’ movements for peace, justice, and the environment. Throughout history, and around the globe, hope, and resistance to oppression, springs up eternally. Some days it it helpful to have a reminder of that. Even if you and your friends cannot buy and share (or persuade a public library to buy) these books, I am sure there would be a lot of useful inspiration to be found on the web by searching for reviews of the books or by author name. Start your own library of hope and share it with your friends.
Activists are in the business of social change. Some important ideas about social change can be found in an article, published in 1994 by theologian Kelton Cobb, which reflects on the work of two European thinkers and their insights into the histories they lived through.
Following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, theologian Kelton Cobb asked: “What exactly are the ethical insights to be wrested from this failure?” (p.54) The lesson, he said, was not that history had vindicated capitalism, which has its own moral travesties. Cobb wanted to learn what kind of social values promote a society in which the moral life can flourish.
Continue reading →