I admit to being at the moment, quite literally, an armchair critic – sitting comfortably in my armchair and critiquing the world.
Focusing on the inanities and criminalities of our various elites requires little effort – there is so much of it and copiously (if not lovingly) described. I came across two recent British examples yesterday – a small book about the neo-liberal crisis produced in 2012 and an update bearing the name The Kilburn Manifesto. Both promised a lot but quickly, for me, got lost in their own rhetoric. Much more interesting was the renowned Trans National Institute’s State of Power 2014 released, rather courageously, a few weeks back in the stronghold of corporatism – Davos. It does look a worthwhile read – and, generously, contained a reference to the website of another avid student of corporate evil - Occupy which put me on to yet another – SourceWatch
But finding a coherent statement about “What is to be done” seems to require a lot of effort – and almost impossible to find one which cross-references other work. Too many prophets going their own way – and jealous of others. The World Social Forum (still attracting thousands of visitors to its annual get together) and OccupyWall St are both very broad-based; whereas the Zeitgeist movement seems to be a quasi-religious movement.
But where are the handbooks – let alone the annotated bibliographies – to give us a real sense of what can be done? The only one I can think of is Paul Hawken’s 2007 Blessed Unrest which someone has very helpfully summarised here and reviewed here.
And I liked the look of Occupy Wall St – a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform by Ross Jackson (2012) but it does not seem easy to track down
A website simply called Corporations did give a useful post on How to Overthrow Corporate Rule – in 5 Steps which reminded me of a very useful four pages of tactical advice given in a 1990s book on the New Zealand experience with neo-liberal programmes
For more individual efforts we have the inspiring example of 93 year-old Stephane Hessel who died just one year ago still articulating his vision of a better world. Or the Dutch activist Joost van Steenis. Both give clear analysis and clarion calls (I particularly liked van Steenis' 21 statements) – but are light on bookish references or recognition of other relevant movements. And neither can give any real answers to those who struggle in the political and commercial mire that is contemporary Bulgaria – or the other ex-communist states who don’t have the same values or traditions to draw on – only a numbing alienation.