Monthly Archives: November 2016
On 11-24-16 William Rivers Pitt said on truth-out.org: “We’re in the pipe now, five by five, charging into a future that reeks of the past…Watching the TV people exonerate themselves for the ruin they gleefully foisted upon us in the name of ratings and advertising dollars makes me glad, for their sake, that I’m a peaceful man. I am so tired. I’ve spent half my life trying to stop or slow down that which now comes onrushing like a wave so tall it blots out the sun. But I won’t be still. I won’t be silent. I’ll volunteer at a food bank to help those who will feel the grind of these coming years most keenly and to be an escort at a women’s clinic because my daughter has rights. I’ll offer my home is a sanctuary for anyone who fears being unjustly thrown out of the country. If they institute a registry of Muslims, I’ll be the first to sign my name. I will do that, and more. Through it all, some of me will ever be in the forest with my daughter. I’m in a horde of leaves amid the hushed susurrations of wind with a little girl who knows nothing of sorrow yet as she stands in a throne of wise bark. When next we pass over the ancient stone wall into that sacred shrouded space, I’ll whisper to her the lines from her favorite bedtime poem: ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.’”
The 11-25-16 online issue at counterpunch.org has several interesting articles. Dave Lindorff warns that what’s being done to the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters protesting the DAPL pipeline will be done to all who protest “Trumpian America.” He also reminds us that this is what happened to the Occupy Movement under Obama, who’s also failed to support those at Standing Rock. Jeffrey St. Clair thinks that the lesson of the last two administrations is that we shouldn’t “wait and see what happens with Trump, who put his cards on the table by picking Bannon, Sessions, Pompeo, and Flynn for his inner circle.” He adds, “You have to give a strange kind of credit to Trump. His election has served as kind of psychological magnet, pulling out into the open the secret bigotry of elected officials across the country. What was once subliminal is now explicit…I hope Trump keeps up his late night Tweeting after he assumes power. It will be like reading the transcripts from the Nixon tapes in real time.” Neve Gordon answers a question I had as to why Israeli governmental officials would be happy with Trump’s selection of anti-Semite Steve Bannon as senior advisor. Apparently, Bannon is a Zionist, proving that “anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same.” In the same issue, Ramzy Baroud explains that “the Trump team is filling up with dishonorable men like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, who’ve made careers out of pandering to Israeli interests and discounting Palestinian rights. While Gingrich claimed in 2011 that Palestinians are ‘invented’ people, Giuliani is fondly remembered in the Jewish community for expelling Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief, Yasser Arafat, from a United Nations concert at Lincoln Center in 1995. Considering earlier statements made by Trump himself last May – that the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank ‘should keep moving forward’ – to more recent comments by Trump’s point person in Israel, Jason Greenblatt, that the illegal colonies are ‘not an obstacle to peace,’ it’s fairly certain that the Trump administration will be anti-peace and anti-Palestinian. Presenting the news as if the prospects of a thriving just peace had existed under the administration of Barack Obama is laughable, however. The Obama administration, despite the uneasy relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been one of the friendliest and most generous towards Israel. Only recently, Obama signed a ‘landmark agreement’ by giving Israel $38 billion in military funding, the largest aid package in US history. If a distinction is to emerge between the Obama and Trump administrations, it’s likely to be manifested in rhetoric, not in action: the former refined and articulate, the latter belligerent and demagogic. Either way, Palestinians lose.”
Finally, Rebecca Gordon says on truthdig.com, 11-25-16: “I’m too old and too stubborn to cede my country to the forces of hatred and a nihilistic desire to blow the whole thing up just to see where the pieces come down. I’ve fought, and organized, and loved too long to give up now. Trump and the people who run him can’t shove me – or any of us – back in that bottle.”
On 11-25-16, Gabriel Rockhill reminded us on counterpunch.org that “the US wasn’t founded as a democracy; the Electoral College is one of the many indications that it was explicitly established as an oligarchic republic. Trump received approximately 1.5 million votes fewer than his immediate rival, and wouldn’t be president in most countries in the world. Out of 325 million people in the US, only about 225 million are eligible voters, of which around 58% actually voted. As in every US election since World War II, the clear winner was abstention, which received 42% of the vote. Abstention is encouraged by the two-party system’s only presenting candidates who are corrupt spokespeople for corporate power…All said and done, we have a fringe, oligarchic demagogue with no political experience going into office, not a democratically elected leader with popular support. Fascism came to power in the interwar period in Europe in a similar way: via corrupt and poorly functioning ‘democracies’ that allowed, in a context of economic destitution not unlike our own, the state institutionalization of nationalism, racist xenophobia, belligerent militarism, and autocratic rule. Although there are, of course, important historical differences, we would do well to remind ourselves that the rise to power of fascism required both a compromising elite and the quiet complicity of well-meaning liberals.”
Rockhill recommends that we “join, establish, donate to or volunteer for organizations that will be at the forefront of socio-economic and environmental justice struggles in the coming years (such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the NAACP, CAIR, SPLC, 350.org, Code Pink, and many others). Community social and educational programs will be particularly important, as well as organizations providing legal services and a common front in establishing sanctuary cities and institutions to resist mass deportations. Broad-based coalitions to struggle against the acceleration of ecological degradation will be of the utmost significance, and the current movement by the protectors at Standing Rock should be an inspiration to us all. Organizations and movements like Black Lives Matter will only become more important as the full force of white supremacy – as well as what Jeremy Scahill has called Christian Supremacy – is unleashed on every so-called minority community, from Muslims and Latinos to women, LGBTQ, and others. The labor movement also needs to be further developed and reinvented in such a way that it can exercise more power by working in greater harmony with the struggles for racial, gender, sexual and environmental justice. Solidarity with workers around the world, the rejection of xenophobic scapegoating, and more expansive and creative inclusion of the precariat [those living in precarious economic conditions] will be key. Finally, anti-capitalist organizations that diagnose the core structural problems with the current system and chart paths to alternative socio-economic orders, some of which already exist, are absolutely essential.
The DNC has proven time and again that its role is to quietly execute the dirty work of imperial corporatocracy under cover of progressive rhetoric, so let’s bypass Obamostalgia and Clintonism. If the corrupt DNC hadn’t done everything in its power to sabotage Sanders’ campaign, we’d likely be in a very different situation right now. This isn’t to suggest that there were not serious problems with Sanders’ record and campaign, or that Sanders himself didn’t turn his back on his supporters in order to kowtow to the DNC. However, it would, at least in principle, be possible to completely rebuild the Democratic Party with the Sandernistas at the helm, and to do this at the local, state and national levels.
At the same time, electoral reform and broad-based left-wing coalitions are necessary. The two-party system, which has increasingly proven itself to be the one-party system of Capital, has to be deposed. We need to instigate serious electoral reform by abolishing the oligarchic Electoral College, expanding ranked-choice voting beyond Maine, developing proportional representation, encouraging a multi-party system with a two-round election, setting up regular public referenda (including the possibility of dismissing elected officials), and reversing the massive right-wing anti-democratic assault on the right to vote.
It was neither love nor tolerant liberals that defeated the fascism of the interwar period. It was the united and popular fronts of Communism and left-wing politics. With the needle of institutionalized politics in the Western world, and elsewhere, moving consistently to the right over recent decades, the Left needs to build coalitions capable of uniting people of various ideological orientations around shared issues and concerns (such as climate change, mass deportation, economic oppression by the 1%, and anti-fascism).
The corporate media, concerned only with profits and the entire system of mass media spectacle, helped catapult a fringe freak show into the White House that was only receiving about a third of the votes from the whopping 17% of registered Republicans who turned out in the primaries. The media-money complex presents mostly misinformation and infotainment. It ignores or mischaracterizes real issues, indulges in fear mongering, ceaselessly perpetuates ideological tropes and stereotypes, and sidelines rigorous, critical journalistic work. We should all donate to, volunteer for, contribute to, develop, and help circulate alternative media. The time is ripe for a broad and deep cultural upheaval that puts progressive radicalism in the forefront of daily life. Young people have expressed overwhelming support for the Left, and radical politics are clearly on the rise around the globe. The drumbeat of countercultures can rouse many from the slumbers of the current gruesome dreamscape and put them in sync with fellow travelers who ready to shake off the horror. Artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals and cultural actors of every sort should come together, as all of us should in our daily lives, in order to foster a new ethos of alternative social and political imaginaries. The time couldn’t be riper for an emancipatory groundswell.”
From the online article Two Paths Forward: The path forward is revealed in the rallying cry of the people in the streets: ”Not My President!” This protest slogan is eerily similar to the one used by Spain’s 15-M Movement of indignados who set up anti-establishment general assemblies in May of 2011 and chanted “No Nos Representan!” (“You Don’t Represent Us!”) during their election. Their assembles inspired the birth of Occupy. But when the refusal of the indignados to participate in the election resulted in a shocking victory for Spain’s rightwing, the movement’s activists and supporters quickly internalized an important lesson that American horizontalists must now embrace.
Realizing that new forms of social protest are better equipped to win elections than disrupt elections, many of the indignados transformed themselves into Podemos, a hybrid movement-party that is now winning elections and taking power. A similar story can be told of the Pirate Party in Iceland, or the 5 Star Movement in Italy or the pan-European DiEM25. Focus on the form, not the content, of these hybrid movement-parties for their organizing style is the future of global protest.
Concretely speaking, activists must reorient all efforts around capturing sovereignty. That means looking for places where sovereignty is lightly held and rarely contested, like rural communities. Or targeting sovereign positions of power that are not typically seen as powerful, such as soil and water district boards or port commissions. Protests will remain ineffective as long as there is no movement-party capable of governing locally and nationally.
This is a struggle for sovereignty. The endgame is a horizontalist and populist movement-party that wins elections in multiple countries in order to carry out a unified agenda worldwide. The spark for this planetary electoral movement is bound to emerge from an unexpected place.
It could start from an women-led backlash against the pack of patriarchs governing the globe: Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Xi in China and now Trump in America. Or maybe activists will start moving into neglected rural cities—low population areas of America—and prepare to sweep city council elections. That is the strategy I’m pursuing in Nehalem, Oregon where I recently ran for mayor. In any case, avoid falling for the exhausting delusion of endless urban protest or the nihilistic fantasy of winning an insurrectionary war.
The difficult path of merging innovative protest, social movements, and electoral parties is the only viable way forward. And with only two years until the next election in America, there is no time to waste.
Just listened to Micah White on the This Is Hell podcast (the 11-19 episode), and want to try to share his main points with you while they’re still fresh in my mind. First of all, White doesn’t think the incremental reformism of most progressives, including Obama and Hillary Clinton, will get us far enough fast enough – especially in terms of attracting voters. Since the election of Donald Trump (which demonstrates this), White thinks we’re in for a long spell of populist fascism (the Trump model) unless we can create populist democracy by building a broad social movement focused on gaining governmental power. Dismissing street protests unconnected to such a goal as mere feel-good exercises, White points to the speed with which Trumpism gained power and similar time-lines for left-social-movement parties in Europe (Syriza in Greece, Five Stars in Italy, and Podemos in Spain).
Once political power is gained, changes can be made – like ensuring that no one goes hungry in Nehalem, OR, where White recently gained 20% of the vote for mayor. Believing that trying to gain control of small local governments should be part of any left social movement, White points out that leftist-controlled cities and towns could change from a city council form of government to one controlled by a popular assembly, beginning a movement toward “horizontal” (decentralized) democracy. At the same time, revolutionary (wanting real change) leftists could run for state and national offices for the purpose of changing government to be accountable and democratic, which it definitely isn’t now. For years Congress has been almost 100% unresponsive to what polls indicate most Americans want on a variety of issues. This, I believe, is why the majority of eligible voters (57.9% in this year’s election) choose “none of the above” by not voting.
White believes the best way to oppose Trump and Trumpism is to start planning now to try to win elections in 2018 and 2020. Get power in order to change how power functions. Dissatisfied Americans who voted for Trump would see how much responsive to their needs this kind of government would be, and switch from being unconscious fascists to conscious democrats.
Sounds like the only way to me. What do you think?