Just before Christmas I watched a very interesting documentary on the rise of Greenpeace as a social movement of action, and fall into bureaucratic numbness. Looking at the current website, I saw an organisation reliant on middle class protest, as opposed to the actions it was founded upon.
The story is very reflective of the history of the true Disability movement, which with its user led charities, ran out of steam many years ago and now reliant on state funding to keep the status quo. The protests of the last 5 years in the name of disabled people can be attributed to the left wing anti-cut and generally anti-anything movement, and to be frank, it is nothing new.
If people with additional or changing needs arer truly going to make the next quantum leap in their full and meaningful inclusion, then it is time for a new Dysability movement. This movement has to be like nothing before it, using the tools of this century to create positive change without labels or assumptions.
The greatest lesson to learn from the past is to ensure the movement never becomes organised. It is better to have debate, disagreement and conflict, products of passion, then to become organised and compliant. There should never be a leader (even myself!), a formal committee or a constitution but rather a loose collective of ideas and actions. The internet and social media, a social movement in itself, enables this informal struture to exist unlike any other time in history.
The movement needs to break free and expand upon how dysability has been constructed to form a new lexicon and understanding of the issues. I feel it has to abandon the historical labels used to define impairment specific entitlements and rights, providing a holistic examination of what individuals require to be fully included in society, understanding we are all unique. Terms like diabetes, depression and cerebral palsy offer very little insight into what support specific individuals may need.
It is also important this movement does not simply exclude itself by becoming yet another ‘Not in my backyard’ protest group. It must rise above party politics and the restrictions of being acceptable to the fearsome trolls of traditional and social media. This must be a movement of solutions that rises above cheap politics to work with anyone who will help them get the job done properly.
It is also important this is a movement that promotes autonomy and self-reliance, making the most of the current resources available. Campaigning as become a third sector fund-raising ploy to simply demand the government sorts out every problem, usually by throwing money at it. True activism is about creating change despite the government. The government should not manage the people, the people should manage the government. I have never let the system stop me doing anything legal, and I have certainly never waited for the system to do it for me!
The future will not come from the Government, but from ourselves as we should be the masters of our own destiny. Dysabled People therefore need a movement that is committeed to them including themselves. This does not mean the government has no part to play, but dysabled people should not be waiting and demanding to be spoon-fed as passive recipients like many seem to do currently. We should grab every opportunity offered to us and actively work with the government to make new opportunities on our terms, by putting the effort in.
To combat the powerful industry of dependency that keeps so many dysabled people disempowered, passive and content, this movement has to rise in an explosive manner, twisting the norms and assumptions society makes about us. We can no longer simply ask to be included and wait, we now need to take inclusion for ourselves!