”Written bySaien Benjamin
“Single-issue activism is one of the biggest issues preventing a lot of so-called progressives from effecting any real change.”
Under the neo-liberal world order, people are encouraged, by the media and those in power, to direct their focus towards single issues rather than critiquing systemic inequality and oppression.
This plays perfectly into the hands of malevolent politicians and businessmen, who can use their control of the media to generate outrage about trivial issues, in order to distract from their sinister agenda.
For example, corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, which are among the world’s worst polluters, tried to present themselves as being environmentally friendly with their plastic straw campaigns. These sorts of campaigns are oftentimes effective as people tend to accept brand marketing as an accurate representation of their ideology, rather than the reality that they are purely trying to portray the image that will best attract consumers of their product.
“Corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, which are among the world’s worst polluters, tried to present themselves as being environmentally friendly with their plastic straw campaigns. ”
Yet thanks to single-issue activism the historical data regarding the behaviour of corporations and governments like these is overlooked, in favour of their false sincerity to one cause that gets them viewed in a positive light.
As a state, if you want to justify war with another nation all you need to do is make their leaders look bad due to their stance on a trending issue, of course, this can be fabricated with the help of a coordinated propaganda campaign involving the media. You can easily get well-intentioned people to support an unjustified invasion by claiming that your enemy possesses weapons of mass destruction or is oppressing a particular group of people. As the majority of people don’t fact-check their news that carefully, public opinion can be swayed through emotive reporting that isn’t based on fact.
This is particularly true in the reactionary politics that exist in America, where the public was convinced to support a war against Iraq on the basis of them having developed nuclear weapons, despite the fact that no evidence was ever found to prove this.
At its core this kind of single-issue activism, which we can see is extremely prevalent in the modern neoliberal political climate, is antithetical to developing an understanding of class solidarity and the need to fight the oppressive mechanisms keeping the current unequal status quo in place. Liberals often fall prey to this kind of activism when wanting to effect change and then continue with this same illogical approach despite their frustration that things never seem to change.
“As a state, if you want to justify war with another nation all you need to do is make their leaders look bad due to their stance on a trending issue.”
It is important to deal with micro-aggressions and problematic behaviour but it is also important to understand that winning those small battles will never amount to anything, unless the oppressive late-stage capitalist systems responsible are overthrown.Once this knowledge can be imparted among the majority of the oppressed masses, it will no longer be possible for those in power to get away with their wrongdoing by distracting people with yet another trivial matter to be outraged about.
Resistance is nothing without class solidarity, for as long as we value identity above all else, oppressors will continue to trick people into believing the world is equal by allowing the occasional oppressed person or minority group to succeed. Once people make this realization that oppression will only go away once all are freed from it, oppressive forces will be closer to their day of reckoning.
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