Future Trends

If one could characterize this past year with a phrase, it could be "a year in which the rulers who govern us and the systems under which we live are being rejected."

All traditional economic systems are failing and the spread of massive demonstrations, the fall of many goverments and the spectacular crisis of the European Union have seized the headlines. But the shadow of these political crises covers social and economic crises of equal importance:

  • the world crisis in food -- hunger, the failure of basic crops like corn, the deepening in the crisis of distribution, the decimation of seafood, etc.),
  • devastating climate change (partly now irreversible)
  • water shortage (a fifth of humanity has no running water and deeper conflicts and war over water loom)
  • increasing world illness (including the recurrence of maladies we thought were wiped out as well as new illnesses we have no treatment for)
  • human devastation through constant war world-wide
  • governments are falling or being fundamentally challenged all over, including in the United States where an election between a centrist and a far-right candidate poses as democracy.

The human race isn't taking this passively. Revolution, rebellion and democratic struggle rage throughout every continent on Earth and the impact of those struggles, particularly those which are successful, is deeply felt in this country. Here movements continue to grow, particularly in communities, accompanied by deeper, more nuanced and more skilled movement organizing and situational analysis. And those movements are confronting a reality and attempting to deal with it:

What we have said in the past -- that there is no longer a one-country solution to any one country's problems -- is even more obvious today. And our belief that the Internet is the attempt by humanity to begin developing the collaboration necessary to build a world-wide solution is more compelling than ever. That's the only way to explain its continuing growth as a mass movement that represents about 40 percent of the human race. May First/People Link exists as part of that movement for collaboration.

What's more, as the mainstream media (including its more progressive organizations) continue to ignore the spectacular growth of our movements, the Internet clearly reflects them, reports on them and helps us organize them...establishing itself as a powerful alternative source of information.

The movements of resistance in this country -- most notably the Occupy Movement -- have demonstrated how powerful the Internet is. In fact, it is doubtful that Occupy would have developed as a movement the way it did without the Internet. That was the reason why our organization made such an aggressive effort to bring Occupy into our membership. For us, that experience not only allowed us to work with and become closer to Occupy movements (a significant part of the progressive movement in this country) but allowed us to demonstrate, in concrete form, how important Internet organizing and resource provision is. The impact of that work is still being felt in membership and overall profile.

We also continue working in the Social Forum movement which is now reorganizing to promote a series of convergences designed to evaluate the political situation in the country and discuss political responses to it. That path is partly our proposal.

While we have continued working in many struggles and coalition efforts in the United States, there is no place where our organization's work this year has been more path-breaking than in our work in other countries. While Hemispheric work has long been a priority of ours, our expansion into Mexico, recruiting members living there and becoming, in the process, a bi-national organization has made that priority practical. Not only does it make us one of the few truly international organizations within the U.S. progressive movement but it has allowed us to confront, in practice, the huge challenges that confront any movement seeking to take on such a path. Language interpretation alone has been a major challenge and our confronting that challenge has provided us all kinds of lessons and opportunities for greater organization.

Our coalition work in the Association for Progressive Communications and leadership work within the World Social Forum also flow from this International vision.

It can safely be said that, within this country's left, MF/PL has been a leading proponent of International work, not as an act of solidarity or support, but as a necessary component of our own struggle for freedom and justice. This year's work in that area has been our most successful in our history.

While predicting the future is impossible, we can visualize several trends that will affect our work in the coming year:

  • Intense struggle over Internet reach, availability and use. If some of our own progressive movements don't "get" the Internet's real and potential power, the ruling elites do. In many countries, particularly those in which struggle is very sharp, they are clamping down and seeking to control Internet activity.

Such activity dove-tails with the trend toward usage of social media (like Facebook and Twitter) in struggles like the Arab Spring struggles and has made those social media alternatives much more attractive and usable that websites or email for these mass struggles.

The answer to that has been a movement of liberal organizations which, while progressive and well-intentioned, have a different understanding of privacy and access than we do and are not committed to changing the world the way our members are.

We can envision that this battle between repression of the Internet and freedom to use it will intensify and draw us further into the work we've been doing.

  • Intensified activity in Latin America, particularly Mexico, as the United States adjusts its policies and intensifies intervention and disruption of the political trends in Latin America. The "drug war" in Mexico is certain to continue to deepen the social crisis there and we can expect continuously intensifying opposition activity. MF/PL is now part of that country's struggles.
  • The persistent problem of racial division in the movement. There is a white movement for change and several "non-white" movements and the two sectors have almost now contact, let alone collaboration. The only recent major collaboration with the Social Forum in 2010. Given the racism that flows in technology, it's clear that our organization is going to suffer from this general malady and is going to have to take it on in the coming year. Technology is one area in which the pressures of uneven resource and development, that feed racism, are less present.
  • The movement's need for progressive technology linked with increasing confusion over how to support it and relate to it. There is no movement consensus about building a technology organization and in some movements there is no consciousness about our existence as an example of one. Yet, it's clear that the task is fundamental and the situation is pushing the movement in this direction or its opposite: decisive dependence of corporate technology. This argument is one we must take on more aggressively.
  • Conversely, there is a very heightened consciousness in some sectors about technology and our organization. We are going to be called on to continuously raise our profile within the movement.

In general, our history has been characterized by one truth: the social situation that affects technology and our work in it continues to demand an aggressive response and our job is to respond ever more aggressively. That continued this past year and it will continue in the coming year.

Last modified 9 years ago Last modified on Oct 25, 2012, 12:58:50 AM