Lacking the capacity to sustain themselves – (eco)social movement organisations in decay, in decaying societies

Dashed off thoughts again because busy af.

Feeling more-than-usually maudlin because it’s obvious to me now (and always was, but I used to want to/was able to pretend to think otherwise) that voluntary groups can’t sustain themeselves to keep on keeping on. They decay. They then either die or shamble on, incontinent and incompetent zombie organisations.

Sometimes individuals who set them up are able to parlay their reputation into a ‘career’ because they have a (now non-threatening) aura of legitimacy. They are useful to the “Andy” types of this world, and so are used by Andy, thinking that they are getting something useful – being something useful – in exchange. The stories we tell ourselves; humans have always excelled at self-delusion…

Meanwhile, “Extinction Rebellion” doesn’t even get to fall flat on its face again. They cancelled their latest sit-on-a-road-in-London thing because of the extinction of someone representing something that there have been rebellions against, now and then.

Why is it so?

Blah blah Durkheim anomie, Weber bureaucracy and the iron cage blah blah.

Also, we are Thatcher’s children. She created the truth that – functionally when it comes to long-term radical action on climate and other issues – there is “no such thing as (civil) society” (1).

Why should we expect atomised scared disorientated people,

  • with no tradition of solidarity and mutual support,
  • with no real knowledge (or even curiosity) about how social movement organisations work, fail, can perhaps fail slower
  • with no incentive structures to anything other than wallow in the smugosphere

to be any better than they are?

Why would you expect them to learn from past failures (Rising Tide, Climate Camp), or to form groups that could be radical and resilient, that could stick around and keep on doing the bread and butter stuff when and how it needed doing?

Why would you pretend to think that could happen unless you needed to pretend?

I guess I don’t need to anymore.

(1) It’s important not to overstate her impact. It’s not as if everything was ticky-boo under Keynesian Capitalism. See Jeremy Seabrook “What Went Wrong?” for an excellent summary.

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