by Don Hazen, Executive Editor, AlterNet, June 22, 2013
Almost two weeks ago, I wrote an article: “4 Plagues – Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse.” Reader response was strong, and the article quickly shot to top of our most-read list. I detailed the “plagues” that dominate our economy and way of life: financialization, militarization, and criminalization — forces that exacerbate the huge array of problems we face—poverty, unemployment, mass incarceration, climate destruction, gun violence, financial corruption, spying and privacy, and much more. They threaten democracy, fray our social order, worsen conditions in communities round the world, and damage our psychological health.
As a result, many of us are alarmed at the direction of our country, and rightly so. By many measures, our society is a depressing mess. Tens of millions are severely suffering economically, while many more are stressed out and traumatized, desperately attempting to cope with both chronic and acute problems they have never faced before.
Things Must Change
Clearly things must change. But what can really deliver the scope of change we need? The progressive response to the mounting array of negatives in our society is inadequate. The progressive movement lacks teeth. The focus is dispersed. Often tactics are based on outdated assumptions or illusions, even nostalgia for past approaches that no longer deliver. We need to fight back more effectively— but how do we hone the right strategy?
The great movements of the past decades — civil rights, gay and women’s rights, the environmental movement, great anti-war marches — they all are inspiration. But we are now in a very different reality. Many of us have been working hard to change things for a long time. We are dedicated and persistent. And there is much going on across the country, primarily in small protests and grass roots activities. AlterNet reports on these activities every day. They give us small doses of hope.
But We Have Not Been Successful
Still, we have not won in the larger sense. We have not slowed the corporate juggernaut that crushes everyday Americans at every turn. The worst of corporate America effectively uses the radical conservatives as their shock troops to achieve economic policies that exploit 90% of Americans, and the corporate media joins in. But it isn’t just the evil doers who are responsible. We must face the music as well for what we have failed to do. Are we trying new approaches, bridging long-term divisions, challenging our own privileges? We need fresh thinking and strategies that go beyond petitions, exchanges among ourselves, and reluctant support for often mediocre Democratic candidates who so often disappoint us when in office.
AlterNet doesn’t have the answers. But we have a lot of questions. And concerns about our future. We are a non-profit media company that has published tens of thousands of articles over the years by the smartest critics and analysts. There are lots of ideas. But there is not remotely enough energy invested in how we might get those ideas implemented. All the creative things that people write don’t lead to enough action, mobilization, resistance. We have to do more.
It’s Time To Do Things Differently
We at AlterNet are not going to keep doing what we have always done. We are going to do more than publish great writing, investigations, and analysis. We are going a step further to challenge ourselves and our readers and supporters, along with progressive thinkers and organizers.
It’s time for a consciousness-raising, and so AlterNet is going to invest time and resources in examining and evaluating strategies for change. Not just the ideas. But how to get there. How to bridge the huge gap between the ideas and the action, between theory and practice. We are going to engage our best thinkers and challenge them. We are going to take a close look at our most prominent social change activities and evaluate what they are accomplishing.
This is work beyond what we usually do, so we need to raise some extra money to do it. Will you help us? We can’t guarantee that we will come up with great solutions. But we are going to try. And we will start by kicking off conversations that look for strategies that are inclusive and not primarily for elites. We will be exploring ways that progressives can marshal necessary resources for an independent politics without being heavily dependent on foundations.
And we want to hear from you. This is an open-ended process. No one person’s or group’s ideas will trump the rest of us. Hopefully we will end up with a clearer picture of what it will take to make progress toward a fair humane future we can believe in.
We very much appreciate your support as donors, readers, and promoters of AlterNet content. Now we are asking for something a little bit extra. We need your support as we take a tough look at progressive politics in America and see how it could be more effective and successful. Please join us.
Executive Editor, AlterNet
Don Hazen (firstname.lastname@example.org