The Big Picture

Vertigo in the Eighties

Everyone knows that this is a tough time to be working for social change in these United States. But that is not because of any shortage of activity. In the last five years, millions of Americans have entered struggles for justice and peace in different ways and with different levels of commitment. Many of those people have become active for the first time through the explosions of concern around issues such as the nuclear arms race, the U.S. war in Central America, racism at home and abroad, and the assaults on women and the poor that have marked the Reagan era.

But all this activity has, frankly, done little or nothing to slow the juggernauts of war and injustice. We all know the litany of horrors--contra aid, Star Wars, rollbacks of civil rights for minorities and women, broken obligations to the poor and unemployed, and so on. The sad fact is that on every front progressive forces in the United States are meeting defeat, and for the most part we have no idea how to turn things around in the short term.

By now many of us are probably feeling that the political ground has shifted beneath our feet, and we're not sure how to walk on this new terrain. Vertigo and exhaustion could be considered the movement watchwords of the day. In such a time of disorientation and defeat, it can be expected that many who have joined the struggle in recent years will simply give up and go along.

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