What we need now: More "alt." Media and direct action
proposals for action and analysis of what were up against, optimistism coming from observations of the right/conservative/fundamentalist social activism which has created the situation we now face. Media reform (or should i say the formation of alternative media as big as their "mainstream" media) and a culture of direct action. I think the two are intimately linked.
First off, we need to take the discussion of "moral values" beyond homosexuality and reproductive control, to expand any discussion of "morality" to include poverty, social biases and (consciously and unconsciously) institutionalized prejudices (remember interrogate whiteness?), racism, the mass murder called war, and the totally immoral effects of global capitalism. These are the moral discussions where the right has no footing. What the "left" needs is moral credibility in the eyes of a country where the "moral" vote can swing an election when the discussion of "morality" is exclusively anti-"left."
If you skip to the paragraphs after the *******, you can cut to the chase, my proposals for action. The rest is just where i got these proposals and where others will come from.
It is folly to ignore silver linings in things which have already come to pass.
Cynicism is spineless idealism attempting to hide its spinelessness with "intellectually privileged" pessimism. Cynicism achieves the same effect on organizing as provocateurs and should be _efficiently_ addressed whenever encountered in
order to separate human fears from valid critique.
I have come to some very (personally) enlightening conclusions after seeing the state of the nation on november 2nd. These observations center on how societies work, and how they are effected by social activism. i think it is very accurate to say the country we see around us is the desired product of a
30+ year plan of organized social activism to create a certain type of society. In retro spect, they are good at it, good enough to force something unnatural, to create a social order based on the aggressive exclusion of the majority of people. Such a fundamentally unstable social order does not self manifest, it is only the product of a lot of energy put into pushing a society away from the lowest energy state, the stability of coexistence. This "newly" conservative and fundamentalist country is a country we did not want to see and have now been forced to see by a multi million national vote margin sourced in hatred. Our blindness to the severity of the situation, well. . .
Again, in retro spect, all the little pieces fit: the conversion had proceeded far enough by 1994 for the right to gain control of congress; enough in 2000 to be within range to steal an election; and now, in 2004, this regressive social
revolution has progressed far enough to put a president in office with a minimum of fraud and deepen right control of Congress, establishing the opportunity to deepen the right bias in the Judiciary. We are witnessing the steady conversion, the steady shift of our country, not just our politics, to the right.
To explain a central observation of how societies work, i use the idea of the Tao. If i fail to explain it correctly here, please do not get caught up in critiquing my definition of Tao so that you ignore what im trying to say by using the concept of the Tao. I use the Tao to represent the patterns of
energy flows and self organization best understood as the course of water as it flows to the ocean, always reaching the lowest point, moving around obstacles, and overcoming even dams over time to proceed upon its natural course. The
message i have contains both bad news and good news. The bad news is that unopposed, hate has progressed very far and monopolized existing avenues of social influence. The good news is that fierce, unflinching, patient, sustained social activism has results, even when it strives against the Tao of
social organization. Also, we have access to the end result of all the social activism research they have done. Their work is pretty amazing, they have shifted the culture very far in a relatively short time, say 30 years of decided organizing. Yet they depend, for the authenticity of their message, on the most ineffective and self handicapping methods available, namely authoritarian, hierarchical, capitalist mechanisms.
The Proof of the ineffectiveness is in how many people are repelled by the message: 50% gets an F. At least in the grade inflated US. Elsewhere 50% gets a much higher grade, but maybe they deserve better recognition since they have managed to cause so much change, enough to control the government? So the conservative social activism in late 20th century America does have a lot to offer in terms of successful social change simply because of their success. On
the same note, their failures and self imposed handicaps also offer us some other insights, translating into some very good news: Using devolved but focused and collaborative organizing, with the flow of the Social Tao, it is still very much possible progressive/left/radical social activism could set American culture on a very different, disaster averting (relative!) course.
Up til now, we have failed to oppose the right/conservative/fundamentalist social activism in power: We have not engaged them publicly; we have not fought them where they are working (faith community, media, the mechanisms of survival); we have largely agreed with the mechanisms which support their positions in day to day life and popular daily behaviors and actions (automobile and petroleum energy/material culture, 1500mile distant industrial agriculture as general life support, a capital driven destitution requiring wage slave exchange economy); and most of all, we have failed to acknowledge the depth of their existence, preempting any meaningful, insightful critiques or analyses. If you dont diagnose the illness, theres virtually no way you can cure it. And youre even worse off if you deny there is an illness.
Much has been done, there are many many things the radical/left/progressive community RLPC has had success creating, but they have had little effect actually obstructing the progress of the right revolution because that revolution is operating at an energy level several orders of magnitude higher than us. What has been done by the RLPC thus far is the foundation we will build our movement upon. Without what has been done by the RLPC in the last half century and beyond we would be much worse off right now. My optimism comes from the stability, strength, and simplicity of our foundation compared to the necessary blindness and according instabilities of the conservative fundamentalist right foundation at odds with physical realities, notably environmental, agricultural, economical realities and the realm of energy "generation" and use.
One thing specifically i see, an insight, is the majority of the people in middle North America are casual information gatherers, that is, they absorb only what passes across their lap. These people do not search out information, they do not dial up or tune into anything but what is already in their face. At most they look up supporting info, "authorities" who support their pre-research conclusions. The radical/left/progressive community must reassert itself in
the casual information realm. This includes Print, Radio, and Audio Visual.
Print is perhaps the simplest to distribute as casual information, leaving it on tables in coffeeshops and other public places, on billboards, on publication shelves (like at Browserˇ¦s or Normalˇ¦s), or establishing free newsboxes (though newsboxes are not exactly casual.) Print a great way to distribute information in a community or society with a high degree of literacy primarily because accessing the information requires only eyes.
I feel we need a community supported and involved 100W "pirate" radio in Corvallis. A quality system costs roughly $750. $50 of that is a stereo encoder which causes car stereos to stop on the station as they scan, a major
boost in casual accessibility. The station ought to be independent of petroleum fuel as possible, that is, running on cycle generated, chemically (or other?) stored 12V and 24V DC. All programming welcomed except programs with content contrary or against the existence of 100% inclusive community - just my contributions to a discussion of community radio method. Please post any info about transmitters, aquisition, method.
I feel TV erodes community by isolating people and encouraging consumption without action, definitely without coordinated action with the exception of the telethon. One use of TV would be the creation of a felicitously named
Radical/Left/Progressive TV Guide encouraging support of the few worthy programs on air and discouraging the support of those which promote openly or stealthily the right bias of hate and fear. A group viewing AV culture must be developed with an emphasis on current events, local/regional/national/global. Though documentaries and informational "one" topic programming is incredibly valuable and ought to be made as available as possible, such programs are readily available and have an energized community producing them compared to locally driven and produced _current_ event programs. All of these must rev up to a level on par with what the mainstream media is at now. (This task is not as hard as it might seem because the growth of our media, the "mainstream" shrinks proportionally.)
In addition to reestablishing a presence in the real of casual information, we must cultivate a culture of direct action, wherein respect and appreciation of the act dominates over fear. Potentially methodologically insightful (?) side
note: the cultural fear of direct action arises because DA threatens the modicum of security derived from unquestioning loyalty to Authority (the institution of Authority, not a specific instance thereof) by questioning the necessity of Authority in the extreme: DA is a self act to secure the self. Perhaps the path to a culture respecting DA lies in publicizing the situations and issues precipitating DA and humanizing DAers. I suggest casual information referencing extra-accessible (another task) information beyond the casual, all of a nature which relates the issues back to the casual information gatherer.
I propose direct, nonviolent sit-ins in county clerk offices obstructing the execution of newly unjust marriage laws. Any successful applicant for heterosexual marriage licenses is a participant and promoter of bigotry and is
therefore a bigot. In the phrase unconscious bigotry, _bigotry_ is the prime word, however much the word _unconscious_ attempts to euphemize the hateful act.
Tree sitters (as DAers with the greatest proximity and relevance to 37) ought to be heroized and the instances of illegitimate repression they face publicized (swabbing eyelids with pepper spray, etc). With 37 now law, direct action on behalf of the land in all its forms (all things to do with the
forest, urban/suburban development, farm use, chemical use, industrial environmental controls, etc) has become a necessity beyond anything in Oregon by many orders of magnitude. Examples of widespread, independent but coordinated DA that have come before will be invaluable as we move forward into
a reality with 37.
As we cultivate a culture of direct action, the ranks of DA will swell in response to increasing "legitimate" threats and the increasingly socially accessible option of DA. We need to bring the issues home to people in a positive, cooperative way seeking 100% inclusion (tap water tests correlating quality reductions to deforestation rather than falling one of the sequoias across the middle of the quad to illustrate the harsh cruel and murderous realities of forestry at a forestry school.) The former embodies the world we are trying to encourage while the latter embodies that of the right/conservative/fundamentalist social activist haters we oppose. The means must embody the message, and any successful message is embodied in the means used to present it. Thus European invaders in America could not bring a Religion of Love on their conquests, but only one of Hate.
Peace hope and do something real!
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