Emma Jackson has an interesting article on the mega-libertarian “Freedom Convoy” protests and what they reveal about coalition building:
Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s a lot that the anti-mandate movement is getting right from an organizing and movement-building perspective.
For starters, in stark contrast to the Left, the past few days have revealed how much better the Right is at meeting people where they’re at.
Instead of building an insular movement restricted to people who agree with each other 93 per cent of the time, the Right has successfully tapped into widely held resentment and built a mass on-ramp for people with highly divergent views. It’s why the Freedom Convoy isn’t just being ardently defended by white supremacists on Rebel News, but also by anti-vaccine Green Party supporters in the inboxes of mainstream environmental organizations.
Insularity has prevented the left from reaching the mainstream. We have an opportunity to examine our tendency to build organizations that feel more like exclusive clubs for the “already woke,” than they do welcoming spaces for political education and transformation where people feel deeply valued and needed.
Jonathan Smucker reminds us: “Politics is not a clubhouse. Politics is messy. It is meeting everyday people where they are. It’s not an enclave. It’s not being the enlightened, ‘super‑woke’ people together, learning a special vocabulary, shaking our heads and wagging our finger at all these backward other people. That is a manifestation of the same social elitism that is actively structured by neoliberal society. Instead, politics needs to be woven into the fabric of all of our lives.”
Jackson is aspiring to a populist progressive movement that advances the whole left-wing agenda of economic redistribution, racial justice, further corporate regulation, and so on. I am more interested in the politics of building a consensus around fossil fuel abolition to avoid catastrophic climate change, in which agreement on other issues isn’t a prerequisite for legitimate participation. I think that will have to be comprised of people who broadly disagree about many political issues, but who nonetheless accept that maintaining the planetary stability which is the foundation of all political projects must be prioritized. A fired-up, more inclusive movement which still advocates for the entire progressive shopping list won’t do that, and arguably feeds polarization with the idea that only a new progressive society can fight climate change. Instead, it needs to become an issue where the voters who elect the mainstream centre-right and cente-left parties that form governments will demand rapid and substantial action, and not be placated about promises that someone else will solve the problem by a ‘net zero’ 2050.
Restoring and sustaining a democratic politics that can confront the challenge of climate change requires cultivating a politically influence branch of the conservative movement which respects empirical evidence instead of choosing what to believe based on their ideology. I don’t think anyone can see the path from here to there (and events like these trucker blockades are strengthening the fantasist wing), but I think it must involve a retreat from maximilist positions and arguments that one group’s entire political agenda must be implemented as the only way forward.
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