Climate's salt march

22 May 2005
Reading the international activists roundtable in this debate, Simon Heywood observes:

'It seems to me that [climate activists] are in the same quandary as Indian nationalists were in - until Gandhi turned up. That is to say, they are a small, fairly middle-class lobby group. Gandhi turned Indian nationalism into a mass movement, and the way he did it was:

a) to connect personally with Indian people; b) to incorporate their concerns - which were more local and economic in nature - into the otherwise rather more rarefied discourse of Indian nationalism.

Hence the famous salt march - salt wasn't a hugely important issue, but it was a good icon which existed at the crossover point between the British regime and most people's everyday concerns.

...If you apply this to today's greens, the lesson would seem to be that they need to look for issues which are both:

a) green and; b) of genuine, immediate concern to people outside the "green ghetto," that is to say, probably, smaller, more local, and more of a direct appeal to the (legitimate) self-interests of jo(e) public than more "rarefied" green issues like climate change'.

Similar questions also arise in relation to the UK roundtable.


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