Anarchy Is Not the Answer
Anarchy is not the answer for activists or independent media outlets that take their business of reform seriously. Independent Media groups and activists around the country (no matter how loosely organized) can not afford the luxury of either acting like, or being labeled, anarchists.
And yet this very label "anarchists" has even been embraced by some activists and protestors, who have thus allowed themselves to be so branded.
Most activists in reality espouse some form of leadership--how else can you possibly have any kind of society? How could you possibly have reform? How could you possibly have justice?
What advantage (image wise) is there in succumbing to such a political label? The obvious disadvantage is that you marginalize your group from much larger segments of the population, to be stereotyped in anathematic manner, that likely invites rejection, and possibly even animosity by the majority. People in America, on average, do not engage in realizing fine distinctions of political theory. To the ordinary citizen an anarchist is someone who is against any form of government and who espouses chaos (read pandemonium). Such a philosophy offers no real answers except relief from boredom.
Nor can activists or media groups, that hope to be respected for the positions, afford to act like, or allow others who act like anarchists, to dominate and influence how they are viewed by others, especially in the propaganda wars of society. We who read these pages know that lots of good quality and interesting that stuff gets printed on independent media websites, and that by far activist movements across the country are largely comprised of conscientious and responsible people.
But perhaps, to some who think differently, this is part of the problem. Like the Right is trying to paint the Left as unAmerican, spoiled whiners, there will be people actively engaged in trying to distort and disrupt the perceptions about activists and their support centers. For example, IndyMedia Centers "IMC" need to think about what it is there are allowing to happen to their reputation (both intentionally and unintentionally).
Surely there is something romantic about being rebellious and defiant, feeling rage and acting out anger? In fact people have a right and duty to "feel" outrage and defiant, for example against some main stream corporate controlled news organizations (or those that call themselves news organizations that seem to turn more fascist every year). Furthermore, there is a personal duty to
"deal" with these feelings in a constructive manner that is not self-defeating--and does not let such feelings overwhelm the self so as to become the likes of the those that one purports to hate and oppose.
Still people get addicted to all kinds of things including anger and voicing hostility. Politics does not exist without personalities. Like some people are not happy unless they have something to complain about, others are attracted to forms of expression that are vulgar and cheap, if not disrespecting and hostile. There are those that join groups to focus their discontentment on others so that they never have to look too closely at themselves.
Youth has little choice but operate from certain levels of naivete, and such naivete is vulnerable to congeal whatever anger or rage is felt, to whatever becomes conveniently accepted as stereotyped scapegoats--as propped up as the enemy (within one's own chosen circle). It is human nature for "all" kinds of people to scapegoat others and point to the enemy as "out" there (but never or seldom in one's own heart).
Furthermore, we Americans are particularly prone to specialize in promoting every sort of political prejudice, in which practically every group is ready to see "all" faults (both the real as well as the imagined) in "them". For example, despite one's hostility to the wiles of corporate news, the fact seems, that there is still a lot of useful news that get printed in such pages, and many news people are decent people.
The left, on average, is just as guilty of hypocrisy as is the right. One reason that Bush came close to winning the election four years ago is because Gore had to lie out of both sides of his mouth and it was apparent to perceptive viewers that man has little to recommend him as ethical--it ain't like the Democrats have been all virtue. Gore may have been a better President but he adapted a "lie" to the dumb people strategy to win.
The point here is there seems to be a capacity for overly zealous and self-righteous sanctimoniousness on "all" sides of a fence (as black and white labeling is promoted while deeper understanding is little pursued). It is so easy to dehumanize the enemy.
Why is it that when IndyMedia Center New York City (or whatever derivative) people make a film about the protests outside the last RNC the best we can expect is their "obsession" with filming confrontations between police and activists? Why was it there is not more intelligent ideas expressed as to "why" people feel traditional media is not good enough? Why is there instead this focus on confrontations with symbols and agents of authority?
Surely there are a ton of legitimate arguments and examples of how corporate media as failed us? Surely other websites are doing a better job informing and education us of such shortcomings? Where is the actual reading and intellectual work that creates the expertise on these matters by media activists? Any numbskull can harbor hatred and get sidetracked on adrenaline highs. Any inarticulate person of passion can blow conch shells for revolution so as to destroy any and all forms of authority.
I'm not writing this stuff because I oppose IndyMedia Centers? I'm writing it because I see red flags regarding the viability of such efforts and attitudes. I am just as, if not more, concerned about the present state of affairs, as many others who express concern (the few who will bother to read this essay because of a lack of reading habit and curiosity in America).
Who wants to become associated with people who can easily labeled and "profiled" (justly or unjustly) as people who are anarchists? Are those few who are allowed to make a bad impression trying to push concerned people away, such as people who might give worthy contribution? How can your entity benefit by allowing yourselves to be marginalized like this?
It is just like Ramsey Clark's International Action Center or IAC. His organization, that has made available a lot of books worthy of reading, ends up getting surrounded by Marxists and then ends up keeping most fence sitters away because most Americans do not want to be associated with marching along side Marxists or socialists calling for revolution. And this is not a question of whether any particular form of government and economic theory is better than another--it is a question of practical perception (given the real world of politics). Go to almost any anti-war protest and ask yourself: "How many signs that protesters are carrying say: "Democrats against the war!" or "Republicans against the War!" Damn few. And the literature passed around by the socialists and Marxist makes most Americans uncomfortable getting involved with marching along side these people. The fact is that people have preconceptions about such movements--and believe me they ain't good. Therefore IAC helps "ensure" that the anti-war protests remain small (within their little group of peasants). How does that win the peace? Or is this really a covert attempt to sabotage--perhaps as some front operation?
Furthermore, there is such a thing as "reformed" capitalism (a kind of neo-capitalism) that recognizes values besides profit--not all main stream Americans are for laissez faire capitalism that pretty much equates to a capacity for criminal potential. Not all capitalists are interested in allowing private investment pollute the environment, created masses of poverty, benefit financially by selling products that are ultimately dangerous such as depleted uranium weapons.
I know IndyMedia people and activists are primarily interested in justice, but why are certain loose attitudes allowed to be presented to represent the groups as a whole (that ultimately hurt efforts and keep people from participating)? Are certain people more interested in practicing their own form of self-righteousness (a trait already so common in main stream media editorial pages) that they really only put second or third rate efforts in attracting the skills and minds of those worthy of such efforts?
Where are the activists that will say things intelligent enough to be listened to when they get up to expect an audience--even if it be related artistic endeavors such as poetry or creating media messages that inform? Where are the media activists that demonstrate that they are in fact smarter, more informed, and more mature than those who work the main stream corporate media--that they claim are corrupted?
Anybody can vent rage and defiance in callow or rude manner. Any non-thinking animal can be whipped up into a state of expletive spouting self-righteousness? Does media now become an arena of infantile puerilism, in which what substitutes for intelligent argument and confrontation, becomes instead monosyllabic statements like: "XYZ... sucks" or "Fuck ... who or whatever"? What kind of audience is one really attempting to impress? Intelligent people are not going to join in on this mentality to any significant degree--even if they highly believe in the cause.
Where are the wise people in this nation that are ready to say: "You know I have read a hell of a lot of diverse views and books on politics and I am "only" beginning to realize how complex things really are, and how much I didn't know or realize." Where is the wisdom that is more ready to listen and read intelligent and objective discourse than the double-babble that already presumes to know reality as youthful certitude?
Who or what controls information in any society is obviously an area of intense importance. People (the masses) should be concerned with these issues of media control and influence. Propaganda machines are everywhere. The question should be "How can independent media people gain respect and readership?"
Most likely IndyMedia Centers already have infiltrative agents working against such efforts? Most likely many persons in power (such as tradition papers) would like to see your efforts fall to nothing? Why help them by sewing the seeds of your own demise--or is that what you really want--to give bad name to the cause of independent media in general by inviting the wrong sort of personalities and practices?
What really is "authority" if not a derivative of "author-ship." What kind of authoritative book is getting written here? It is not enough to have the latest and greatest technology and communicative capacity. We have all kinds of attention and thrill seekers with fancy cell phones, who want to dominate the airwaves and psychological space of others but they little worth listening to (because there is no articulate agent at the end of the telephone saying something worthy of audience).
What will IndyMedia really accomplish over a span of time? Will it invite every type of discontent with a grudge of every stripe to become part of a process of directing rage at the state? For some this means the overly simplistic practice of directing blame and hostility at police officers who are assigned to crowd control (as if most of the ills of society are not the fault of police officers who happen to be the inter-mediative agents of society and potential unlawful disturbance).
People talk about "homophobia" but what about the excessive promotion of "police-phobia" by some (including the media) in this culture? Do you not think that some people in this culture are not predisposed to hate certain symbols of authority just a little too conveniently as scapegoats? Sure there are police officers that act inappropriately at times and engage in serious offenses--we all know that--there is no argument here. But what should we call it when some activists too readily seem to obsess or focus with confrontations with authority at the expense of the practice of articulating and recognizing the complex reasons for how things have evolved as they have?
Anyone can go around filming protesters chanting: "Smash the State!" Even though such persons filled with anger, fear, and resentment may exist by the truckloads, few have offer "real" answers as "viable" and realistic alternatives to governance. Instead they almost unconsciously seem to promote their rage at the police officers as if the police are responsible for all their animosity.
I happen to have had some positive experiences dealing with police officers in various cities (by far on average). I do not think every officer is automatically a thug and insensitive racist. Yet what about the ranks of so called activists anarchists? Perhaps there is a bit hypocrisy here with a few? Or activists who too readily seem to want to blame society's problems on white males (as if, for example, only white males ever invested in corporate stocks that profit by things one claims to be against).
Some police officers will help more people in one week than many people will do in a year (including and especially media people--who seem to have this elitist attitude that media people are morally superior). Yet it is so easy to stereotype and scapegoat as if only "they" are the problem. Does "fair" evaluation mean that people lie when they promote the idea that police are only interested in protecting corporations? Does this equal "open-mindedness?"
I'm not a police officer. I have no special interest in promoting a police state or a government that excessively snoops in the private affairs of people or disrespects our constitutional rights. But there are times when various police officers deserve some respect and should be recognized as just as human as any one else. They are not all bad apples.
Perhaps some activists are really angry at the apathy of the average American has in general who has allowed this country to become mediocre is various ways? Perhaps they are really angry at the average reading skill level of Americans that have been lackadaisical in allowing main stream media to fall into its complaisance and holier-than-thou self-righteousness (because there has evolved little insight to challenge editors by an intelligent public?) Perhaps activists are angry at the average gas guzzling American (including themselves) for acting like a status quo of a fat American is OK? It ain't like there is this perfectly angelic minority group of people who is taking on a purely demonic force of evil here in America. We are all part of the problem no matter how much we want to say: "I hate xxx politicians."
Still young person today should be angry and scared about the future. The 21st century promises to be the Chinese curse--may you live in interesting times! For example, despite the fact the President Bush said he would not start a draft how can he or anyone predict the future. More than likely that was a Karl Rove stunt and anyone who knows about him knows he will advise Bush to say whatever it takes to win. American youth should be full of anxiety and concern. And it is easy to jump on the bandwagon to respond in typical fashion of seeing the enemy out there and then rage in anti-social manner like it is only them that are the problem.
I'm not trying to get too high on a soapbox here but the fact is that activists do "not" have the luxury of making lots of na´ve mistakes--especially alternative media activists. The mere fact that "anyone" with "any" motive could potentially publish something on IMC websites is radical enough to raise eyebrows. This alone is a form of anarchy (no rule to mean no willingness to provide leadership or to create much as far as certain perimeters of restriction).
Obviously IMC people (including myself) are not happy with corporate controlled media--with their ways of distortion and censorship--so what are we going to do--go to the other extreme--and allow zero censorship so that any stupid thing can be posted and left to announce the obvious--even if you have nothing intelligent to say you can vent your spleen here!!!!!!
Granted I understand that a lot of what appears is interesting and informative but hypothetically, should any and every kind of malicious act or opportunity for defamation be allowed? Should any kind of story--no matter if it relates or not to presumed objectives for activists be OK'd as printed? Should every written response to postings (even when written as acrid hatred and psychological warfare to demoralize) be allowed to stay up as initially posted on sights? Is IndyMedia really setting itself up for its own demise for allowing for easy abuse?
Obviously such as a situation is going to be of some concern for people who have goals of protecting society from criminal activity and threats? And some of these so called protectors are going to jump to conclusions and stereotypes about such people who traffic here, because it is human nature to do so, and if journalist and activist types can't recognize their own prejudices why would they expect agents less astute in word play to do so?
Independent media then needs to be careful about the kinds of personalities and politics it attracts to its enterprise, and the kind of expression it promotes. IMC has and opportunity to make a big difference in a positive way. The founding fathers used phoney names (protecting there right to true free speech) in debates in newspapers when this nation was founded--it is a tradition of this country. Still there has to be a minimum of oversight on the web, conference meetings, and protests. If we do not police ourselves (as in 'polis' city) in a reasonable manner, then policing will likely be imposed from outside in an unreasonable manner.
Yet the fact remains that those unfriendly to enterprises like IMC can and may attempt to ruin the reputation of these activities. They too can post all kinds of malicious and stupid comments, or engage in conspiracies that ultimately lead to lawsuits and judicial proceedings. Some kind of editing needs to be done. Some stuff needs to be weeded out or off.
I'm not talking about blue nose puritanism here--but if people are writing stuff that is not intelligence and not worthy of reading by an intelligent readership than consider discarding it. You do not have to live by some absolute rule or standard like as if a prisoner of a dogma.
The real world is full of people who do not deserve audience. It is conflict and strife and not all are willing to play fair. It is time to wake up for a reality check. Activism has to be more than alienation. For example, even if you hate "capitalism" as the ultimate form of evil--even if you believe that in your heart--it does not automatically make another form of political ideology worthy of sainthood. Every form of government is corruptible--including socialism and Marxism. There is no Utopia here on planet earth.
Any political scientist worth three grains of salt knows that when one revolutionary party takes over a country or territory there is just as likely a chance that the new leaders, who thought themselves so self-righteous, turn out over time to be just as despotic as the government they deposed. The Neo-Cons who stole America's foreign policy started out as what? Leftists, then the jumped to another extreme. Where are the people who recognize, that while there is a dire need to change the world, there also is a need to be willing to change the self (into mature citizens willing to accept some form of viable governance and leadership)?
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