Something’s amiss in the post-meeting discussions among Mobileactivists. There has been too much focus on technologies but the human aspect of mobile activism has yet to be touched. This could be a fatal error of omission.
Millions already have cellphones or use texting but the New World Disorder of US imperialism still holds sway. Dubya is still in power. Here in the Philippines, the murderous US puppet Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has all her tentacles locked around the presidency. Somewhere in the States, rightwing extremists prevent droves of highly-probable new leftwing voters from registering under all sorts of pretext. Meanwhile, in so-called developing countries kept poor by onerous arrangements with developed countries, the poor majorities contend with high prices of basic goods, a lack of control on strategic industries and gargantuan obligations to such modern-day hoodlums called the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. In most parts of the world, the malignant forces of injustice and oppression remain supreme. These forces remain a power to reckon with inspite of the internet and all tools of technology.
The overriding imperative is not to champion technology but to champion the people’s welfare. As activists and dreamers of a better world, we should exert all possible efforts to organize or reorganize, revitalize and propel, expand and further enlarge the mass movements of our countries’ peoples. We should aim for higher political awareness, explaining to the various existing organizations the need for a cultural revolution, a revolution in outlook. We should champion the progressive views on issues in order to expose the lies of Bush and all the leaders of the sinking New World Disorder. We should bravely organize people — be it along the lines of class, racial, regional, linguistic, gender, age. The more organizations, the better because there is nothing better than people organized for common purposes. There is no better way to foist an alternative to the status quo than for the people to learn how to set up and maintain their own organizations and set these groups’ objectives and directions, map out plans and engage in battles. Multiplied many times over, this would be People Power of dimensions we could only dream of today: People Power that could unseat treacherous and lecherous and incompetent leaders. Eventually, the stronger the movements, the stronger the impact on society. Didn’t the social movements of the past successfully capture government power and consequently institutionalized People Power as the means and end to governance?
For mobile activism to happen and to be effective, it should lean on, depend on, develop, promote and revitalize the mass movements in all our countries. Without a mass movement, we would all be hard put starting national or international mobile activist campaigns. Without a mass movement, we would be nothing.
The Philippine experiences in People Power 2 and the succeeding battles against Mrs. Arroyo have tught TXTPower that it cannot separate itself nor arrogantly foist itself on bigger and more powerful (and ultimately, more important) mass movements of workers, farmers, women, youth and the urban poor. These movements have the membership, have the campaigns and organizations, have the dynamism and have all it takes to seize texting and other technological tools and make them tools to amplify the Filipino people’s voice. We could not have succeeded in the Hello Garci ringtone campaign without the initial support of the various organizations under the banner of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) and the Gloria Step Down Movement. In fact, the majority of TXTPower convenors come from the many groups that compose these alliances.
Mass movements would also be in the best position to provide inputs to tech experts on the feasibility and other factors regarding the use of mobileactive tools for campaigns and organizations. They could provide ready feedback.
Actually, Philippine activist organizations have long used cellphones for their internal and campaign purposes. Internally, activists have long used cellphones to quickly and cheaply coordinate nationwide mass actions, keep contact lines open among chapters spread around 7,107 islands, mount so-called lightning rallies in sensitive government buildings, etc. Externally and in relation to the public, these same organizations have been able to create databases of friends, allies and contacts in media, communities, offices, factories, the churches, the military and police, the executive, judicial and legislative departments. Such databases have made it easy to contact friends and allies on particular issues or a range of issues, and thus enabling more people to join campaigns. These have been done even prior to the birth of TXTPower and at least two years before the “texting masses” marshalled millions in Manila and across the Philippines for People Power 2 in 2001.
Websites meanwhile have provided mass movements in the Philippines a window where they could reach Philippine media, the influential middle class and the international community. Of late, activist groups have ensured that their websites are always up and running, with fresh and engaging content, with many photos and some videos and with the necessary contact information a visitor may need.
Even the mobileactive model in the Democratic Republic of Congo would have failed soon enough had it not for strong organizations of community people across that country backing the noble endeavor.
Mobileactive should help form, develop, revitalize, expand, multiply mass movements. For without mass movements of people, we would lack our audience, our users, our own champions. Too much focus on technology and less on the people we ought to serve would be to the interest our common Enemy that is US imperialism and its partners wherever we may live. We might be shoved up to ivory towers and leave the people alone and without such powerful tools like cellphones and texting.