Ordinary working people don’t have much time to go research in the library, just like, in their local shops can they usually find wholesome food. Folk with no money need to justify these pursuits and commodities within the struggle to survive on low wages, rising prices and debilitating rent. Within this experience is ordinary peoples threshold to understanding things and where communication needs to start.
Part of the communication failings of the progressive movement can be that it is spearheaded by folk who have come through life unimpeded by the want of money, have a university education and sometimes fail to understand such things as class stigmatisation, when it comes to asking folk, to do without, who have never had, or to re-use what they have never owned new.
Activism needs to be relevant to the community experience. During the industrial period, political and social action was relevant to peoples jobs, conditions and social life, this is what created the power to change things and improve their lives. Through the demise of industry and the institutions and unions that supported the working class movements these things need to be reinvented by other means. But much of today’s action has no relevance to working class people. It has no relevance to their situation, to their history, or to the way that they live, or see their lives going.
The anti war movement, climate change campaigns, environment groups who at one point in time could communicate as part of the same mass of people can now have great difficulty in relating to each other. How are we to mobilise ordinary folk? By telling them to make the choice, that war is bad, or their lifestyle is worse – That they should change one set of consumer products for another more green one. That they should eat healthy food and forget the problems they have affording even the bad quality food. That may not be what the intention of the message that is given out by change organisations but that is mostly what folk hear.
It is not a crime to eat fast food. Vilifying the lifestyle of those who do is not a good way to communicate with those trapped in that lifestyle through a whole variety of social and financial reasons. How we learn to communicate and articulate ideas is by learning to listen to folk and then to formulate ideas in a manner understandable and relevant to those the communications are aimed at, are communication skills the activist in the community would do good to learn. Lifestyle is mainly about circumstances not lack of intelligence.