Vinay Orekondy*
11 March 2018

As progressives, we have always looked to the government to solve problems - environmental degradation, unfair workplace practices, inequality, etc. It is a formula that worked well until the 80s. Since then, we’ve seen governments worldwide increasingly become a tool of late capitalism. Recently, something more terrifying has emerged.

The economic injustice caused by globalisation has yielded a widespread hatred of change itself. A new global conservative movement has begun, one driven by fear, anger and the darkest impulses of the human spirit. It is not only nationalist but has (in places) embraced racial nationalism. It is unashamedly totalitarian and aims to wield the power of the nation-state to achieve its objective. Right now, they have a string of victories around the world - Italy,Philippines, India, USA, Hungary, UK.

To resist this, we must build a global progressive movement. Causes such as the labor and environmental movements, while powerful, are no longer sufficient - we must forge our own way. As we enter yet another dark period in human history, we have a duty to keep that torch burning bright - that core progressive belief that change is the one constant of the universe, and that love is the direction in which it inevitably leads.

How do we do this? Like any resistance movement, we look to past examples.The union movement began with solidarity - by finding people who believed the same thing, helping each other out, giving each other strength and building community. From community came power, and from power came victories. The new progressive movement must do the same. We must find people who share our progressive values, give each other strength and build community. From community will come power, and from power will come victories.

Forty years of neoliberalism has transformed us into an individualised society, resulting in a greatly diminished concept of local community. People of my generation (millennials) have experienced a disconnection from each other as our lives become more centered online. There is a deep desire for connection and community, and that void can only be filled by a values based progressive movement like the one I am describing.

To complement the element of shared values, a geographic element is necessary. The ability to form a deeply connected community can be hindered by sheer geographic distance alone. We have to be readily available to directly help each other. Forming pockets of progressive communities will form the basis of our movement.

It is important that we understand that the goal of these hubs is primarily community, not political organising.. While political organising will become an essential part of it, it should be considered the result of an organised community, not its purpose. The progressive community hub should look to address members’ economic needs - helping out members facing housing stress, creating a sharing economy for household items, or even growing their own food, if desired. Community isn’t just built on shared values, but on survival. Politics shouldn’t be something extra to do if we have time away from our economic lives - it should flow directly from our economic lives.

As we build the local progressive community hubs on the ground, we must simultaneously begin connecting them online to other hubs around the country and the world. Hubs are being built right now in the United States as the US government becomes increasingly incapable of serving its citizens. At this point, an organised community can become a vehicle for a nationally or globally coordinated, grassroots political campaign. It’s how we’ll build our resistance, and it’s how we’ll change the world.


* Vinay Orekondy is a lawyer and advocate who has campaigned on various causes including poor country debt relief, human rights and international criminal law. Vinay was coordinator of an advertising boycott against media celebrity, Alan Jones, for comments he made in relation to then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Vinay is an avid grassroots and community-building campaigner as well as President of the Australian Progressives.

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