What counts as activism?

1 March 2005

Vee Artemis, writing in the climate change forum, reminded me of a discussion about the nature of activism on Paul Kingsnorth's blog. She wrote:

"Whilst our 'leaders' shilly shally and debate, all over the world people are getting on with their own ways of tackling the climate change problem, using local, small-scale, sustainable initiatives. As with so many of today's problems, the way to tackle them is actually to think SMALL rather than big."

In reply to comments on his blog, Paul wrote:

"Kris posted...asking what counts as Activism and what doesn't. Does knitting a scarf, or making a cup of tea, count? Do a myriad of small things - buying recycled paper, writing letters to the council, living without a car - add up to more, in the end, than going on a march and shouting 'troops out' at passers-by? Is cushioning ourselves - and each other - against the mental and psychological fallout that comes with trying to change the world, part of the process of trying to change it?"

He adds:

"In my world...writing counts as Activism. It gets people, including me, thinking and hopefully, doing. I'm sure that even the most hardcore Activismist would concede that, say, Noam Chomsky 'sitting on his arse' in his Massachusetts office writing thousands of words a week probably comes under the 'Activist' banner."

Utne recently picked up a piece from LiP Magazine about Activistism, defined as "an ideology [that] renders taboo any discussion of ideas or beliefs, and thus stymies both thought and action."

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