Why ‘agent of history’?

‘The more radical the person is, the more he or she fully enters into reality so that, hoping to know it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.’ (Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970, p. 39)

 

If you feel frustrated, angry even, at the state of the world today then this might be a site for you.

We are presently experiencing crises in all areas of human life: economic, political, social, ethical, spiritual, and, of course, ecological. Nothing new there except that these interlinked crises are, for the first time, taking global proportions. A crucial element of this global crisis lies in the depoliticisation of millions of people: so many people, exhausted and cowed by the relentlessness and irrelevance of their working lives, hollowed out by consumerism, numbed by a vacuous media, and sickened by a corrupt political and economic system, feel helpless to make changes or take action either in their own lives or for the sake of their community or society.

At the same time, however, millions of others are taking action. They are campaigning, protesting, changing their consumption habits, exploring alternative, non-monetised ways to come together as flourishing physical and virtual communities that support and sustain each other.

As the ecological crisis takes hold, as the economic crisis threatens to flare up with renewed ferosity, our leaders fiddle and flounder. The onus is on us to take action. But action must be grounded in thought, understanding, strategy, dialogue, and wisdom. This is the idea of a praxis – a continual dynamic process of action and reflection – that has to underpin successful individual and collective action.

One crucial element of praxis is that it must be historical. We have to know our history and learn the lessons it teaches us – the lessons that took the deaths of so many millions of our brothers and sisters to be revealed to us. History does have a structure; society does have a structure, and we need to understand this.

It is only through learning about both our history and the structure of our current society that we as individuals can liberate ourselves; first, by winning our mental freedom and, second, by joining the collective struggle to win freedom for humanity. It is this process that allows one to stop being the passive flotsam and jetsam swept around by the waves of history and to become a freer human being – an agent of history.

Everyone can do this! This is NOT the preserve of an intellectual elite. Your life is too precious to passively resign your fate into the hands of ‘experts’. It doesn’t take a million books to do this, either, but it does take a commitment to open your mind, challenge your preconceptions and prejudices, and look, listen, watch, read, and think.

I want to write this blog to help you to do this. This does not mean that I’ve got it all worked out, nor does it mean that I want to tell you what to think, but I do want to offer you food for thought. So, in this blog, I’ll cover important current issues and bring your attention to helpful sources of information, news, analysis as well as resources for learning and taking action.

Love and solidarity

Joel

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