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I love Bill McKibben. And I love his team of whip smart writers and thinkers at 350.org. Right now, Bill is in Cancun at COP16 to observe and report. Recently, he had this to say -

"...after fifteen years of empty promises, it's pretty clear that Washington is playing the world for suckers . . .if we actually want to stop global warming, then we have to build a movement big enough to force change. Otherwise we're suckers too."

Right on, Bill. You see, Bill and 350 are building that movement, one big enough to combat the fossil fuel industry and, hopefully, all the crooked motherfuckers in Washington D.C. (sorry, but this includes our President, if only by willing association, if not slavish devotion) who see to it that the U.S. bullies the developing world into climate compliance. For Bill’s efforts in movement building, I commend him. Yet, as a fellow observer of the Climate Wars, I’m forced to wonder aloud whether any of us have really begun to build anything yet.

I love Bill McKibben. And I love his team of whip smart writers and thinkers at 350.org. Right now, Bill is in Cancun at COP16 to observe and report. Recently, he had this to say -

"...after fifteen years of empty promises, it's pretty clear that Washington is playing the world for suckers . . .if we actually want to stop global warming, then we have to build a movement big enough to force change. Otherwise we're suckers too."

Right on, Bill. You see, Bill and 350 are building that movement, one big enough to combat the fossil fuel industry and, hopefully, all the crooked motherfuckers in Washington D.C. (sorry, but this includes our President, if only by willing association, if not slavish devotion) who see to it that the U.S. bullies the developing world into climate compliance. For Bill’s efforts in movement building, I commend him. Yet, as a fellow observer of the Climate Wars, I’m forced to wonder aloud whether any of us have really begun to build anything yet.

If the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers determines the strength of a movement, we’re kicking a ton of ass. But if a movement is defined more by real world gains, then I’m afraid we may be charging up the wrong hill. We’re hell bent on changing hearts and minds—on the Internet. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and other Rapture-believing nut jobs are winning seats and power. You betcha there’s a powerful, effective movement being built right now that’s passionate about climate change, but it’s not ours.

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That said, the Internet is a powerful tool for organizing. It’s the ultimate phone tree: "We’re going to burn down the White House. Be there at noon. Oh and bring a torch." But I worry that we’re equating clicktivism—as defined by the popular "click here to send a message to..." with real activism. Activists hit the streets, not keyboards. Eugene Debs was an activist. Malcolm X was an activist. Neither would have considered holding hands on a beach or tending to arugula in a raised bed useful social change mechanisms. We’re nerdy wallflowers, afraid to dance, and it’s way past time we admit it. Why are we failing? Because we’re wimps.

Somehow we’ve been convinced that we have to "play it gentle". That scaring people and getting angry doesn’t go over well. THAT IS BULLSHIT. Visceral, hard direct action, anger, indignation and shock are what got us this far. The horror of a rapidly changing world is why we’re addressing climate change in the first place. In your face awareness raising is extremely successful. We’ve been sold a bill of goods by infiltrators that have ripped out the spirit, sharpness and fight we used to possess. Now we’re playing nice all the time. We’re fucking around in the sand. And we’re losing ground. Anger and passion don’t work? Really? Tell that to Martin Luther King, Jr. Tell that to Mother Jones. Tell it to Gandhi.

But, Tod. You’re wrong. We’re ready to take it to The Man...just as soon as, you know, we get a few more people together. Here’s where I differ most strongly with 350.org. I firmly believe the army we currently have—the united army of wimpy bloggers—is as big as it’s going to get. Sure, we’ll gain a few here and there, but they’re being offset by defections, by those who have tired of inaction or are simply too busy trying to survive in this new and permanent economic dive. While we sit on the sidelines talking about planning events to start growing our movement, the opposition is stockpiling new troops and weapons at a terrific clip. Ignorance spreads a lot faster than wisdom. The coffers of the fossil fuel industry? Ya think they’re shrinking? The lines are drawn, folks. It’s time to fight while we have any chance at all. Can we recruit some muscle? Yes, we can.

As we rush to attack the bastards where they live, let’s stop shying away from the real activists out there, learn from them, and cozy up right quick to these three key groups:

  1. FARMERS

In raising urban awareness of the plight of rural farmers Farm Aid almost got it right. What they should have done, and what we must do, is unite urban and rural farmers. Whether you grow tomatoes on your stoop or 50,000 acres of soybeans, you are farming food. This is a powerful missed connection, especially as ‘food awareness’ skyrockets. We need to forge alliances between all farmers of all sizes...and watch the resultant information exchange move rural farmers toward our positions. Farmers are incredibly maligned. Give them respect and the dividends will be huge. Take a peek at the original what we must do. Not bad, right? The Grange, currently rather right leaning, has the potential to be an incredible ally. This desire to better the future for the children of farmers hasn’t died. It has simply been co-opted. And eyes are opening all across America’s topsoil. I’m telling you, the farmers are key.

  1. GRANDMAS

I recently watched I’m telling you, the farmers are key. for an in-development documentary and was struck, rather forcefully, by the idea that we have to do a far better job recruiting elders to the cause, especially grandmothers. We have plenty of middle class college students—but they’re simple to dismiss in this economy as spoiled kids tilting at windmills. But not so with grandmothers. Who better to fight for the grandchildren? Who better to take the fight directly to the enemy? Just watch the video, you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’ll take one grandmother over twenty college students any day (I’m not quite lecherous enough to crack a joke here). But we don’t know how to talk to our elders. If you don’t tweet, you’re blind to us. So sad.

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Okay, now we have an amazing base. We just need some glue. Enter ...

  1. THE CREATIVES

In his book "Art Power," art critic Boris Groysasserts that there are really only two types of art today, objects for consumption and ideological propaganda. While I may quibble, overall I think he’s spot on. Currently, we’re engaging the creative community a little bit, but I think we can do a lot better than this (sorry, Bill!). Back in 2000, I asked Shepard Fairey and others to design posters for an anti-Bush project I put together. We distributed over one million  posters that cleverly eviscerated George W. It was my first taste of a genuine propaganda campaign. As most of you know, Fairey went on to create the iconic Obama print, one that had an undeniable impact. But these are just posters. Imagine if the creative community got together to create films, erect sculptures, manipulate the very infrastructure of our cities. Sure, they’re already doing all of this. But we need to coordinate our efforts more closely, build budgets to pay for their services. We can, and must, do better.  

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So all we need to do is get out from behind our computers, stop being wimps, join forces with grandmothers and farmers and pay talented creatives to create moving propaganda. Then we’ll be an army to be reckoned with. Is that so hard? It’s not, really. Not if we really and truly give a damn. I have to confess, when I look around and check the pulse of our movement, I’m not so sure that we do.

Originally posted to todbrilliant on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 08:35 AM PST.

Poll

Which nation will position itself as the 'climate leader' over the next decade?

0%0 votes
32%16 votes
32%16 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
10%5 votes
4%2 votes
4%2 votes
2%1 votes
0%0 votes
14%7 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  I just hotlisted you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, todbrilliant

      This diary deserves more attention than its currently getting.

      Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

      by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 09:15:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, That's Awfully Nice! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb

        I think my diaries flounder a bit because, well, they flounder a bit. Here, I really wanted to continue with the HOW to activate the farmers and grandmothers and WHAT TO DO from there. But that would have added pages and pages...even as a separate diary the content would be wonky, dull, full of pragmatic approaches and strategy. The stuff I'd love to really get into, but the stuff people don't really read unless you're well known. Damn, I'm even floundering with this reply...but I'm sure many DK diarists can relate to the challenge of hacking out an entry amidst the hullabaloo of new family madness. Focus is hard to come by! Off to calm baby Archer...

        •  Focus is damn hard to come by for me (0+ / 0-)

          (AD/HDer here).  It shows in my writing, but oh well.

          I did think of our local food movement here, which happens to be driven by farmers of all stripes, and the people who hear from them (well, us) are schools, hospitals, local business and the government, which all tend to go for flash-frozen robofood over local freshness.  Just think of the possibilities for expansion and linkage, there.

          Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

          by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 10:44:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here where I live (0+ / 0-)

            there is already linkage between local food and the Natural Step people (pushing for sustainable communities). The foodies have made a lot more tangible progress, as far as I've noticed.

            Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

            by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 10:49:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  problem with foodies (0+ / 0-)

              is that they tend to elevate foods, all of them, to 'luxury' items. heirloom tomatoes, esoteric cheeses, etc.. I live in the heart of foodie-madness (sonoma county, ca) and it simply isn't aspirational for most americans. It's a pretty elitist movement in many ways...it's gotten better since the death of the slow food fad (white, wealthy wine women), and the intro of healthy foods into school lunch programs is a HUGE advance. . . but I'd rather the FARMERS take the lead on a 'foodie' movement, not a reporter like Pollan. (I'm always put off when the media become the experts.) Then we'd have real widespread adoption and education about food.

              •  I should clarify (0+ / 0-)

                These aren't necessarily people who have orgasms over endive, just people who are variously pissed off over school lunches, empty food shelves, poor market prices, etc.  I agree that "foodies" fail to inspire because of perceptions of elitism.

                Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

                by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:59:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ahah! We need to redefine Foodie, right? (0+ / 0-)

                  Yes, I'm with you and them. With US. With this definition, I'm a proud Foodie. Is it a good term? Maybe I'm biased from my location...but it seems..well...a bit derivative and derisive. What do you think? Is it strong enough? Not rhetorical, trying to figure it out.

                  •  Foodie at this time is probably (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    todbrilliant

                    not the best moniker, for all the reasons you cited.  "Farmer" has none of those lousy connotations and is broad. As you noted, farmers have been objects of derision (as are "rural" people here on Daily Kos), but ultimately it's a wonderful thing to be.

                    I maintain that progressives need to start pumping iron and learning how to appeal to people who are able to hit the streets. An alliance of farmers has biceps!

                    Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

                    by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:40:47 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  I Still Haven't Clicked to win that Smart Car (0+ / 0-)
  •  Brazil. (0+ / 0-)

    What, South America doesn't exist? Africa?  Australia?

    Justice if not enforced does not exist.

    by phonegery on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 09:02:20 AM PST

    •  Damn, if that's your biggest takeaway..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb

      I failed utterly.

      •  I cringe when I write a diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, Words In Action

        and people comment about the poll.

        Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

        by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 09:16:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i knew i was in for it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rhubarb

          In leaving out any nation (or continent)...and only confirmed my opinion that polls should be left out of my posts. This was my first and last.

          Now, to the catty part -- just for kicks.

          On throwing out babies with bathwater: I KNEW that the first complaint would be from someone defending a south of the border nation. Here on DK it's very easy to predict that someone is going to reflexively defend her/his 'oft-slighted global citizens'. Sigh. Kind of like the folks who decry the use of computers to defend the environment (you're using electricity that comes from the blood of children and pandas!) or nitpick any possible hypocrisy at any event/uprising/effort. Myself, I LOVE hypocrisy and don't understand why it is viewed as a negative. Hypocrisies are personal learning moments and often are unavoidable tethers that stay with us a lifetime---reminding us with every breath to hew closer to sustainable, resilient futures. Hypocrisies are guideposts and prods. We need 'em something fierce.

          End ramble.

  •  I think you may have offended (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    todbrilliant

    the fighting keyboarders and avowed clicktivists!

    Unscrewing the inscrutable since 1965

    by rhubarb on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 09:17:48 AM PST

  •  So close (0+ / 0-)

    I was so thrilled by the first half of this post.  With all that talk about not being wimps anymore, I really thought you were gonna say it. You made the case beautifully and passionately, and right when it came time to say it...you changed the subject to other people who might deliver a slicker message for us.

    As long as we're looking for others to take the lead, we'll always be a bunch of wimpy bloggers. The "it" you needed to say was SACRIFICE.  That's what separates wimps from activists.  When they come to the conclusions in the first half of this post, wimps look to recruit muscle while activists commit to being that muscle.

    If our army is as big as it's going to get, that means the people in it are going to have to start fighting harder.  THAT MEANS US. There is no magic recipe that will make this easier.

    All those "real" activists you mentioned have something in common: they all went to jail. Whatever demographics we recruit, we're still gonna need people willing to fill the jails. The only reason farmers and grandmas are more effective than you is that they're doing civil disobedience instead of fucking blogging! It's the tactics, and we have just as much responsibility to use those tactics as anyone else.

    •  tactics (0+ / 0-)

      Hey Tim!
      Glad to see you in here. It's just a much bigger conversation and an entirely different post. My real intention here was to introduce the concept of Farmers and Elders as activists and partners...and criticize people like MYSELF who get passionate but don't really do a damned thing (I used to....but the past is over with and counts for nothing when the fight is NOW).

      I'm not discounting civil disobedience. In fact, I'd LOVE FOR SOMEONE OUT THERE to point out ONE SINGLE movement that succeeded in creating rapid, significant societal change without anger, without civil disobedience, without fighting in the streets for it. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

      A big problem is that a lot of folks in our movement really NEED to be liked. To be loved. To be popular. They're not willing to give up the adoration that comes with being a 'climate leader'. And you'll have to give that up if you get mad. If you start to really fight. But now we're getting paid, we have jobs 'fighting' for climate justice. We won't risk it...as you well know, Tim. So we've lost before we've really started....because just like the people we criticize, we're not really willing to sacrifice our comfort and we'll justify our inaction a million different ways..but they're all hollow, all empty justifications.

      Tim...I'm with you. I really am. But I also think we have to use the right weapons at the right time. Short range. Long range. Medium range. There has to be a strategy. We have to find the right troops for the right jobs at the right times. And we have to hit them very strategically. Hell, Tim, just saying things like 'weapons' and 'troops' and 'war' makes half the people reading this shrink. Because they don't get that we REALLY ARE fighting for life as we know it.

      Now if I posted on that straight up, my message wouldn't have gotten anywhere...and even in this wee missive to you I'm glossing over a whole lot of nuances. I do feel there is a way to beat back the corporations, the governments and the BAU crowd (our movement is infested with them) and reclaim this planet. I don't expect it to happen, but knowing that it CAN is what keeps me very, very charged.

      T

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