David Swanson: Voice for Activism

Civil Society, Cultural Intelligence
David Swanson

David Swanson: A Voice For Never-Ending Activism

For activist, author, and blogger David Swanson, it really is about the never-ending struggle for social and economic justice; the same battle that has been fought since time began.  And for him, “success” or “defeat” cannot be defined by one election or one Supreme Court ruling.  For Swanson, “victory” may be generations away, but that does not deter him from keeping the activism fires burning via every avenue he can find.

“I don’t necessarily tell people not to lose hope,” Swanson said in a recent interview with Wisdom Voices.  “I think there’s a problem with having a dependency on hope. I don’t go through these cycles of being hopeful and then being despondent. I actually enjoy activism. I don’t think activism is something temporary that we do it once and then everything will be fixed and then we stop.  I think it’s permanent and it should be permanent.  Activism is more enjoyable than sitting home and griping.  It provides me a way to enjoy living every day.”

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Activism has been rooted in almost all of Swanson’s adult life.  He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN.  John Nichols of The Nation magazine once said:  “David Swanson will be remembered and well recognized as the citizen who held up a lamp in the darkness and cried, as did good Tom Paine: ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ ”

“The most important work I think is educational,” Swanson said.  “By that I mean activism has to take a kind of broad term organizational effort.  It’s not in passing a particular bill or electing a particular person.  Setbacks shouldn’t get us down.  If all of our hopes lie in (President) Obama turning out to be better than he claimed to be or all of our hopes are in un-electing (Wisconsin Governor Scott) Walker, we’re setting ourselves up for defeat because we can lose a particular battle and because elections can be the wrong place to be putting our emphasis to begin with. I think we should be putting about 95 percent of our efforts into educating and organizing and mobilizing non-violent struggle and maybe 5 percent into elections.

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