One by One

“Poverty is not so much the absence of goods but the absence of power� Robert Linthicum. We live in a world governed by the powerful, those who have power ascribed to them by the nature of where they live, where they were brought up and the education system. This power base is centuries old, is broadly governed by geography, the power and prosperity of the rich countries has been historically founded on the oppression and pillage of the developing nations. Take for example the Philippines, first conquered by the Spanish, colonialised, then the Americans using the islands for military bases, during which teenage prostitution grew into one of the countries largest industries. Now with differing priorities and cut backs the american military is leaving and being replaced by the new imperialists Taiwanese and Korean contractors setting up export processing zones (Kline).

Yet haven’t things changed people say? Aren’t we in the new age of enlightenment and growing social consciousness? History is a force to be reckoned with and a flow that will not be stemmed easily. In these prosperous countries’ systems and structures have been created that reinforce the status quo and protect the powerful, such as trade barriers, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. It is these systems that are at the root of much of the inequality. Campaigns to tackle them have been underway for many years and whilst globalisation may have given rise to much of the current campaigning, it has also compounded the situation making change harder to achieve. These systems and companies have become huge mountains and walls that will not easily be moved. In her conclusion to No Logo Klein says “with globalisation there need to be some common standards and the governments certainly aren’t setting them� whilst this is the case, the question is where do we start. The anti-globalisation movement has pursued common standards, better employment conditions and fairer trade with some success. However when the issues seem insurmountable and the companies are so vast, we need to examine what is achievable. I have a number of questions which need to be explored and propose that alongside governmental lobbying for common standards ect that an alternative focussed approach based on radical community work theories and the model of community organizing should be adopted.

Continuing the wall analogy. The structures and systems as a vast wall, cemented together by companies many of which are now global brands. How do we take on knocking this thing down, many would say it is impossible. The minority of radicals want to give it a go and have spent a lot of time chipping away at the structures often attacking the high profile brands and whilst achieving some success the majority don’t see these successes. The majority however feel it is too big, don’t identify with the radicals, and say it cant be done. A final minority (often the powerful) fuel the argument it can never be done and protect the status quo. We all know that with enough people you could tackle the big corner stones and may even be able to push the wall down. Community Organising is based achieving change by growing a majority that can redress the power balance and thus tackle the issues. Community Organising would take a brick by brick approach, that with time and small successes can grow and take on bigger and bigger issues. What/ How many would it take on a small company first, giving them the option to trade fair or go out business? Could there be longer term view starting small and gaining momentum through small victories?
One By One.doc

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