It’s all too easy to focus on the evident villains of the piece, to hate a Tory, to blame a banker, to condemn a corporation or malign the media but at the end of the day, the person responsible for changing the world is looking back at you in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth in the morning.
That’s right, it’s on you, me and every other normal person in the world to be a force for change.
You almost can’t blame neoliberals, evil corporate entities and the already rich and powerful for acting as they do, because they’ve always got away with it and they’re only acting in their own (short term) self interest. It’s like hating a lion or a shark for wanting to eat you…
The usual response to this assertion is ‘What can one person do?’ or ‘You can’t change the way things are!’ which is basically a way of admitting defeat and accepting injustice because doing anything about it is difficult.
“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” ― Noam Chomsky
The illusion that you/we are helpless is promoted by those who exploit us, who promote an unequal society to further their own profit. Their greatest weapon is control of the media and education systems, convincing the folks further down the ladder that they are incapable of changing anything and best to just not think about it, eat more processed food and buy another shiny consumer durable.
However, you can make a difference and if everyone who believes that something needs to change did something about it, we would quickly see that an overwhelming majority want that change.
History tells us that when a populace demands change, it happens, forcibly or otherwise. The French, American and Russian revolutions, the suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and so on all stand as examples of what can be achieved when the normal people decide that ‘the way things are’ is wrong.
Of course, most of those changes only went so far, were reversed or eventually corrupted but that invariably happens when apathy overcomes the desire for change or things get so difficult that the people accept authoritarianism in the name of stability.
The authority of state power or ubiquitous economic systems is a fragile mirage, which only has might so long as everyone agrees that it does. There are a lot more common people than wealthy, many more voters than politicians and at the sharpest end of the wedge, a lot more angry people than there are police or army (it’s also been shown that police and armed forces tend to refuse to fire on ordinary people in the face of a righteous, mass movement.)
If it becomes a numbers game, we can win if we pull together and stay the course.
Even in the most patient, civilized fashion, we can create change. By changing our habits of purchase and consumption, we can compel our peers and corporations to act differently, by changing our voting habits, we can hold our politicians to account.
In the past 50 years, voter turnout in UK general elections has never been higher than 78.1% and since 2001 has been in the 60-70% range, meaning there is always a significant number of people who can vote who choose not to for whatever reason.
If all those who didn’t vote in 2010 had done so for a new party, say one which was on a ‘completely changing the system’ ticket then that party would have won the election with 34.9% of the popular vote ahead of the Conservatives with 23.5% (36.1% or a turnout of 65.1%.)
If you add that to those who vote for minority parties or tactically vote against the least likeable party (usually the Conservatives) and might get behind such a movement and who knows what might happen.
Of course, that’s a wildly unlikely plausibility (even though the polls in Greece & Spain indicate that it’s not THAT outlandish) as many folks don’t vote due to illness, because they forget, can’t be bothered and it’s been shown that those who want change rarely agree on enough for long enough to mount such a unified campaign but that’s not the point.
The point is that you can make a difference and apathy will not suffice, because as the famously misattributed quote says “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.”
So if you believe that things need to change, then do something about it. Campaign for something, be an activist, write a blog, write to your MP, your councilor or the regulator, join a party or a movement, START a party or a movement, sign a petition online, talk to people, be an advocate and example for making the world a better place in whatever small way that you can.
If we all did that, then the positive changes we desire will inevitably come.
Whatever the powers that be might want or do, they cannot hold off a determined, popular movement for a more equal, sustainable and fair society.
So in truth, the enemy is not the establishment, the banks, the corporations, the career politicians, the media or even the new world order and their army of lizardmen. It’s our own complacency and apathy.
Beat apathy, beat our own inertia and the movement for a better world will be irresistible.