It's Time To Build A Mass Movement
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
“Democracy… does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice.” – Howard Zinn, Spelman College commencement address, Atlanta, 2005.
Politicians are elected and selected, but mass movements transform societies. Judges uphold, strike down, or invent brand new law, but mass movements drag the courts, laws and officeholders all in their wake. Progressive and even partially successful mass movements can alter the political calculus for decades to come, thus improving the lives of millions. Social Security, the New Deal, and employer-provided medical care didn’t come from the pen of FDR. The end of “separate but equal” didn’t come from the lips of any judge, and voting rights were not simply granted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All these were hard-won outcomes of protracted struggle by progressive mass movements, every one of which operated outside the law and none of which looked to elected officials or the corporate media of those days for blessings or legitimacy. It’s time to re-learn those lessons and build a new progressive mass movement in the United States.