While the need for unity of various social movements has always existed, in more recent times this has become much more compelling. This increasing need has coincided with and is related to the accentuation of some very serious problems to the extent that these have now taken the form of a survival crisis, the very serious endangering of basic life-nurturing conditions of our planet. The growing need of unity of social movements is now also a matter of survival, such is the urgency, no less.
However in addition to considering the need for united action of social movements at this most significant level of the survival crisis, there is also need for giving attention to unity at the level of all too numerous movements, often sporadic and spontaneous, which are taking place frequently in response to growing problems and tensions faced by ordinary people in everyday life, or else are related to their concerns over a more insecure and uncertain future.
In its most basic form, the survival crisis has been related predominantly to two aspects—a number of very serious environmental problems led by climate change and secondly, all weapons of mass destruction, (not just nuclear weapons). Seen at this level, there is a particularly compelling need for the environment protection movements and the peace movements to move closer to each other and work in close cooperation with each other.
This is of course quite obvious, but actually the context is much wider, as it is important to resolve the survival issues within a framework of justice and democracy. Hence actually a much wider range of social movements need to move closer for resolving the survival crisis as best as this can still be done, and before it is too late. So the various movements for socio-economic equality and justice ( including of course gender based justice and equality), democracy, peace, environment protection, animal protection/rights etc. need to forge much greater unity as well as shared perspective on effectively dealing with the survival crisis.
However aside from this most basic level, there is need for more unity also at the level of various small and big movements which keep erupting in various countries in response to economic and social problems of people and the injustice or unfair policies and laws they suffer from authoritarian regimes and governance structures, often functioning in close collusion with big business interests. Sometimes these movements may have very limited and immediate agenda regarding acceptance of some immediate demands, sometimes they have somewhat bigger or wider agenda .
Sometimes a number of relatively small movements sprout in response to authoritarian trends or some compelling needs of people, each movement not appearing very significant in itself, but together creating a much more significant impact and momentum. While each movement has its own importance, some of the more important issues, or aspects of issues, may not be coming to the forefront of these movements, due to the absence of a larger perspective or other factors.
It is important for independent activists, or members of larger movements, who have a wider perspective and better comprehension of some critical issues to mingle in these movements and to contribute to them sincerely, but also utilize the space they get to bringing in a larger perspective ( for example of the survival crisis) , to link various movements and to bring more unity among them, emphasizing need for united action in certain urgent circumstances.
In this way the strength of various relevant movements can be improved and , what may ultimately prove to be even more important, the possibilities of linking movements with narrower, even though relevant, focus with movements and issues of greatest urgency can also be improved significantly.
The writer is a journalist and author. His recent books include ‘Survival Crisis, Planet In Peril—People’s Movements the Only Way Forward’ and ‘Man Over Machine’ ( Both published by Vitasta, Delhi).