David Palumbo-Liu reports back from the November 30 public sector workers’ strike in Oxford, England, noting its connections with uprisings in the Middle East and the Occupy movements in the United States. In the face of a global crisis, he concludes, “Now is not the time to scale down—it’s time to think, and act, big.” He argues for the relevance of Raymond Williams’ The Long Revolution in theorizing the current historical conjuncture. Quoting Williams:
The scale of the whole process—the struggle for democracy, the development of industry, the extension of communications, and the deep social and personal changes—is indeed too large to know or even imagine. In practice it is reduced to a series of disconnected or local changes, but while this is reasonable, in the ordinary sense, it seems to me that this scaling-down only disguises some of the deepest problems and tensions, which then appear only as scattered symptoms of restlessness and uncertainty. [...]
In the long revolution we are making our own scale, and the problem of expectations seems crucial in very society that has entered it. That’s enough now’ is the repeated whisper, and as we turn to identify the voice we see that it is only that of the rich, the dominant and the powerful, who want change to stop or slow down, but also that of many others, who have no further bearings and are unwilling to risk their real gains.
Palumbo-Liu’s piece appears in the Boston Review’s newly launched forum, Occupy the Future.