In the last few pages of Confronting Injustice, Umair Muhammad writes that deep social change doesn’t just require mass action. It also requires mass participation in sociopolitical institutions and the social movements that must see old institutions replaced.
It’s not enough, Muhammad argues, for scholars and critics to make radical claims without connecting them to concrete actions. It’s not enough for us to merely trim the edges of a consumptive economic system. The system itself has to go, along with all the structures and assumptions that prop it up. Apathy, which inhibits deep change, is the product of structures that preceded us and that we take for granted, and possibilities we assume are too “idealistic” to act on.
Muhammad ends this book by affirming popular participation—literally “democracy.” Ordinary people’s energy and lived commitment to a new, just world will allow that world to emerge. Justice won’t be imposed on us from above or without, and only through the process of working for it can we become the kinds of people worthy of living in it, the kinds of people we can trust with the only Planet Home we have, the kinds of people we can trust with one another.
Rather than continuing to just rely on sporadic flare-ups to create change, we are called on to work with institutional forms that can deliver protracted challenges to the status quo in pushing for progressive change… Protests, marches, and direct actions need not to be put on hold but they do need to be supplemented with organization building.” —Umair Muhammad
I’ve argued that beautiful things take time to grow. I still believe that’s true. It has taken time and all our energy over generations to threaten that flourishing and it will take as much time and energy to secure it.
I just worry about the people who are too vulnerable to be able to wait for the rest of us.