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In opposition to political speech

Like many activists, i've been accused of being "too into" politics. i'd like to set the record straight on this, and i hope i can speak for other activists, too: i hate politics. What is the politics i hate? It is a method, a way of interacting, a thought construct, that exists in opposition to honesty. Politics is the careful manipulation of words and ideas based on how you speculate they might be received. Politics is when you want one thing, but express a desire for another. Politics is what happens when you "package" your ideas for the corporate media, censor yourself for the mainstream, or soften your language for some particular imagined audience.

Politics is all about control. Politics is backroom deals, bcc'd emails, and asking other people to speak for you because you're afraid they won't listen when you open your mouth yourself. Politics is careful word choices rather than your true beliefs.

Political speech is when you don't say what you mean so you can get what you want. Politics is about ego, not co-operation. Political speech is lying, with a fake smile and a handshake. Politics sickens me.

What we need is an end to politics. What we need is open, honest, respectful communication. "Respectful" is what a lot people misunderstand as "civility". "Civility" is an elite concept of manners and titles and niceties. Civility is about which fork to start with, what to wear, and who's above who in the pecking order. Civility is about not using "profanity", and spelling everything right. Civility supports hierarchy. "Respectful" is entirely different. Being respectful is about listening (really listening -- not just staying silent until it's your turn to speak) and addressing someone's ideas where they're coming from. Respectful is about waiting your turn, staying on topic, and not dominating someone else. "Civility" is a class-based notion; "Respect" a human-sourced one.

Gossip is political. So are off-list emails with a different tone than public ones. So is nodding in agreement at a meeting, and then doing your own thing afterwards, despite what the group agreed on.

Politics is inherently intellectual and is, as such, disconnected from the actual flow of life on earth. The narrow range of politics is what differentiates Democrats from Republicans, when both are clearly puppets of the same corporate master. Politics is when a Democratic Senator sponsors a tree-killing bill under the name of "healthy forests" and the result is blamed on a Republican pResident. Politics will be when Democrats say you have to vote for Dean to save the environment even though the record shows no reason at all to think that they're any better. Politics is lying.

To save the earth and ourselves at this point, we must reject politics. We must instead embrace real, honest communication, and express our ideas without spin. People aren't stupid. They can tell when you're trying to sell them something. People like it much better when you just say it as you see it, even if they don't agree with you. To be political is to insult the intelligence of everyone around you, as if people will only believe something if it isn't true. As activists, our projects and collectives must be real; we must speak and live our truth as we see it, not as we think it's best for other people to see. The way to build community and support is through truth, not politics. It's well past time for politics to go.

Stop lying! Tell the truth! You will find more support than you might suspect...

politics is over simplifying the struggle 23.Nov.2003 03:21

Brian Thomas

Here's to hoping I find more support than I might suspect....