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."

Stymied by overactive tea-making? While you sit comfortably, you might like to add small thoughts or big suggestions to the discussion...

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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