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This diary is a takeoff of davidseth's excellent diary, Rant!! The Jobs, Part II that is currently in the community spotlight.  Please read and rec, if you are so moved.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, or at least able to cut through some of the muck, and I have a basic understanding of what's going on with respect to the economy and job creation.  While the davidseth's righteous rant certainly captures a lot of my frustration, I'm moving more and more toward the conclusion that there's nothing that the government can - or will - do to pull the economy out of the fire until there's an almost total collapse.

Yesterday, after finishing reading an excellent book (Dancing With Dynamite) on the struggles, successes and lessons from democratic social movements in South America , I started to coalesce some thoughts.  This is my primary takeaway:

We have to stop looking at politicians for the answers, and start looking inward toward ourselves.

More below...

Social movements don't start with politicians, and rarely succeed with the assistance of politicians. Historically, progressive social movements actually fail (or become marginalized, as has much of the U.S. labor movement) because they become co-opted by both political parties and the businesses that the politicians represent.

I'm an old guy; an elder in the tribe, so to speak.  During the course of my life, there have been many social changes and movements that did work, and they worked because the movements forced change, however small or insignificant those changes may have seemed at the time, in the absence of politically expedient response.

Somewhere along the line, the movements, and we (as a country) lost the fire in the belly for collective betterment of our society.  We now let the national deficit emergencies (NDEs) and blue ribbon committees (BRCs) and big fucking deals (BFDs) and LS/MFT's (you youngsters can google that) to dictate our responses to the inequalities and injustice that we see around us, and hope for a better day tomorrow.

It just ain't gonna happen that way.

I could spend days dissecting and explaining why the occupation of Madison, Wisconsin earlier this year got off on the right foot, but then ultimately divided into two hard core camps that worked against each other to the detriment of a common purpose.  That being said, social progress (and setting up firewalls against destruction of social programs and safety nets) is incremental and takes time.  But it also takes the involvement and support of more than just the "illuminati" - those of us who have at least a basic understanding of what's going on - and knowledge transfer to those who don't.

Earlier today, I commented in another diary that perhaps I've always been a cynical person, and only trusted my own judgement and beliefs because of early life experiences.  I don't know.  The bottom line is that someone has to have pretty strong empirical evidence to convince me that my beliefs are flawed.  But presented with such evidence, I am willing to listen, admit that I'm wrong, and can change my POV.  At the end of the day, that is exactly the core difference between progressives and conservatives.

The only way that those of us desiring true social change are going to move toward some sort of solution to the issues is when we start coloring outside the lines, and not expecting (or perhaps not even desiring) a Washington-based response to solve the problems for us.

In yet another diary comment today, I said that I have been an activist my entire life.  Sometimes I feel like I'm tilting at windmills; sometimes I can look around me and actually see the difference that my small contributions have made to a better world.  I have neither the command of the language to move people to action nor command of the heart like Meteor Blades.  Yes, I have led, but have found that I'm a much better follower when given a task.  Passion only gets you so far.  Organizational skills and the ability to inspire can move mountains.  That's Tim's legacy, and that's my weakness.

Like I said in the title to this diary, I don't know the answers, or in some instances even the questions to many of the issues we face.  One answer I do know:

I am the master of my own destiny.  WE are the masters of our collective destiny, not a group of disconnected politicians in Washington, DC.  True movements and change starts locally.  Find a local home for your passion, nurture it, recognize your limitations, and bring others along with you (if you can) to shoulder some of the load.

Because you know it don't come easy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Solidarity: The GOP inadvertently lit the fire in Madison, and we must now carry the torch, for as long as it takes.

    by Richard Cranium on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:16:58 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. Good thots. And a great song (3+ / 0-)

    selection.  It don't come easy.  

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:30:01 AM PDT

  •  the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Cranium

    change requires risk to one names, social standing, jobs, friends, freedom and even safety and life.  Change not only requires individuals, change requires leaders who are willing to put everything of themselves on the line

    Americans are risk adverse.

    See the problem.

    I not saying things will never change, I'm saying things will not change without some risk, nastiness, and worse.

    Are americans ready for that yet?

    I wrote a diary about just why we are not seeing this.  There are some very real real reason why young adults in our country are so timid. They have been raised to be.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:32:27 AM PDT

    •  I wrote about this phenomena in 2005 (4+ / 0-)

      Post-Katrina, I wrote what amounted to a personal manifesto (republished a couple of times here at DKos over the years).  An excerpt:

      I’ve talked about this before, and I actually spent some time over this past weekend thinking about it. Given what’s happened on the Gulf Coast this past week, and the morbid turn in Iraq prior to that (hey, who doesn’t love a good U.S. government-sponsored Islamic theocracy after $300 billion and thousands of lives?), you would have thought there would be pitchforks and torches at the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. And you would be wrong.

      You would be wrong because you’ve gotta pay the electric bill, right? And if you don’t go to work today, how you gonna put dinner on the table this evening, right? And if someone else, well ok, a lot of someone elses, would get the ball rolling, you’d be right there behind them, right?

      You’re a fucking liar.

      You wouldn’t be there. You might be cheering from your keyboards, but you wouldn’t be there. If I mounted the tallest soapbox, and called for a general work stoppage in the U.S. tomorrow (assuming anyone would listen to me), as much as you know how powerful such a statement would be, you’d still be at work so you could make the mortgage nut at the end of the month. You know it and I know it. You know why I know it? Because I would be, too.

      We’re slaves. We’re just living in better accommodations than the brothers and sisters 150 years ago.

      Most of us have no, or limited, social mobility. Most of us have no, or limited, economic mobility. Nobody wants a stake in our collective future because we’ve been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets. We’re all souless, selfish bitches in that regard because we’re resigned to our collective fate, not future.

      So, yeah, I recognize the challenges.  Things haven't changed very much since then in that regard.  Like I said, I don't have the answers, other than the country hitting very, very rock bottom.  And that's a scary thought.

      I don't do much extended writing here anymore, and pretty much stick to the comments.  The reason that I posted this diary is because there seemed to be a common theme to some of my recent comments.  :)

      Solidarity: The GOP inadvertently lit the fire in Madison, and we must now carry the torch, for as long as it takes.

      by Richard Cranium on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:47:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Cranium
        Most of us have no, or limited, social mobility. Most of us have no, or limited, economic mobility. Nobody wants a stake in our collective future because we’ve been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.
        But more importantly, I believe many Americans have also been conditioned to think that there is no collective future. That our liberty is about creating our own Private Idaho. Freedom from other people. For many, especially the Tea people, the American Dream is a splendid isolation from a collective future. They don't worry about how economically limited they are, or the consequences of having such severe income inequality in the US. As long as they have a small lawn and some brown person to tell to get off of it.

        -4.38, -7.64 Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

        by pat bunny on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:27:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Republican tea party manifesto: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pat bunny

          We're resigned to our collective fate because we don't want no stinkin' collective future with the likes of your kind.

          Solidarity: The GOP inadvertently lit the fire in Madison, and we must now carry the torch, for as long as it takes.

          by Richard Cranium on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:34:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well put. (4+ / 0-)

    One thing we can do (for example, using DKos as a springboard and organizational tool) is start to organize, city by city, county by county, and state by state, into progressive voting blocs.  Those voting blocs would focus their energies on two or three main issues and would explicitly state that support of the voting bloc was absolutely contingent upon a particular candidate's agreeing to vote the right way on those issues.  The blocs would also become sources of alternative funding for candidates.

    Right now, on this site, we should be identifying the following, for particular geographic areas:
    - Kossacks who are good at organizing
    - Kossacks who are good at raising money
    - Kossacks who are good at messaging
    - Kossacks who are good at public relations.

    This would constitute our on-the-ground skills database.  I'd be more than willing to start assembling such a database of individuals.

    We reach for the stars with shaking hands in bare-knuckle times.

    by TheOrchid on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:33:31 AM PDT

    •  Good ideas. (3+ / 0-)

      S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:44:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Big task (0+ / 0-)

      If memory serves, someone had started such an effort back in the DK3 days; don't know whatever became of it.

      Me?  I'm ok at energizing and envisioning, rather than organizing.  I give good speech, but am pretty crappy when it comes to implementation / organizing.  I am totally shitty when it comes to raising money.  Messaging?  I'm ok with broadcasting my own message; no so much with organizational communication, but I do write bang-up press releases (two different things).

      There are many perils in gathering such information, though, particularly in a public space like DKos.  Consider that.

      Local activism is much more self contained, and much more managable when it comes to identifying / protecting resources (information and people).

      Solidarity: The GOP inadvertently lit the fire in Madison, and we must now carry the torch, for as long as it takes.

      by Richard Cranium on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:51:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One bite at a time (0+ / 0-)

    People want to see major visible results sooner than is reasonable. You don't have to start with a Wisconsin style take over of your capitol building, or mass marches, or whatever other ambitious visions so many lament for not happening. The movements that lead to change are large ones. That means a lot more voices than ours, and that requires not preaching to the choir so much. It means one by one by one by two by three through conversations in the lunch room, around the water cooler, at the ballpark; through LTE's, and FB postings and even T-shirts and bumper stickers.

    Furthermore, you shouldn't be out to persude those who have made up their TeaParty minds.
    For starters, it helps to merely signal to those who agree with you that they are not alone. Hearing and seeing others of like thinking is tremendously encouraging and strengthening.
    The next ripple is to those who haven't made up their minds and are sort of leaning your way. Wow - others think that too - in fact I can see several of my neighbors and co-workers do, so it's not a weird thing to think.
    Then you hope this little mini-movement - a swell, not a wave - picks up some folks who haven't really thought about the issue before but figure if quite a few people they know are seriously concerned, it might be time for them to give it a bit more attention.

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