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Don't get me wrong; I believe in social activism and I'm also aware that there are countless groups of people doing great work, addressing social injustices, hunger, homelessness, corruption, gross inequality, access to health care, the environment, and many other issues.  I do believe that if it wasn't because of the brave and dedicated people involved in these groups things would be much worst...

But I do perceive that there is a very large gulf between the level of corruption, exploitation and oppression, and the level of resistance necessary to arrest their relentless progress.

I've attended God-knows how many rallies, protest marches (against war, against corrupt banks, and Wall Street, etc.), organizing meetings at community coffee houses, meetings at people's living rooms, call-to-action meetings by politicians, faith-based organizations, community organizers, and without fail, I'm always either very disappointed, or wanting more.

Very nice, well-meaning people, many of them soft-spoken, middle age, some young, peace-loving, many of them into Buddhism or some type of Eastern philosophy.

My frustration any time I try to get involve (including here) is that on the Left, on the Progressive, the Liberal side, there seem to be a predilection towards pointing out all the injustices and wrongdoings by the powers that be, and that somehow by "bearing witness" to these injustices and "reporting" on them, and by bringing them to "somebody's attention," that somehow that in itself is going to bring about the type of change we need; that "someone will come to our aid."

Sometimes at these meetings people bring all kinds of flyers about different issues, anywhere from fracking, to genetically-modified foods, to oil pipelines, housing, banks, you name it.  Again, all important issues, but what are people trying to accomplish?  Passing out flyers and pamphlets related to the different ways the corrupt system is screwing us to fellow progressive/liberal activists is one of the purest definitions of an "echo chamber."

I have a suspicion as to why the state of affairs on the progressive side of things is so abysmal, so ineffectual, so inconsequential: These gatherings are more of a "support group" than anything else.  Progressives and liberals have been so beaten down and demonized by the corporate-owned media that people are afraid, dispirited, confused, and when they get together they seek support from each other, and yes, maybe some actual social activism here and there, but mainly at the margins.

I had great hope with Occupy Wall Street.  Some of the initial strategic and philosophical influences behind the movement were pretty powerful: The one percent is basically screwing everybody else.  There was a certain focus on the root causes of the corruption: powerful Wall-Street/Banking criminals, their hold on the corrupt political class of both parties, and the dire consequences for the rest of us.

That. Was. Beautiful... That was very promising because of its simplicity, the truth in it, the focus, and the method of confronting the corrupt corporate police state: Occupying.

Of course, as usual (for progressive movements), there were self-defeating mechanisms embraced by the Occupy movement, namely the rejection of the time-tested concept of leadership, and a certain naivete about the true nature of what we (the people) are confronting when it comes to the nascent neo-fascist surveillance police state.

Going to the Occupy rallies and the general assemblies (San Diego, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities) became an exercise in frustration, with the mic check gimmick, and cliques, and their divergent agendas, and the lack of focus, strategic thinking, and organization.

Comrades, where are you guys hiding?  Where are the really bad-ass, scary-smart, radical intellectuals, leaders, ready to engage in another round of resistance, of opposition to the imposition of this nascent neo-fascist techno-surveillance total-information-awareness police state?

Come out... Your country needs you.  If nothing else, at least I'm looking for you.

Let's cut the bullshit, the mic checks, the fetish with weakness and victimization, and let's talk about ways to take on the system head on, but smartly.  What is the best way to mobilize 100 people, 400, 2,000, 10,000.  What do you do with them once they have been mobilized.  How do you make the power structure tremble in fear and concerns without actually breaking the law or giving them a reason to arrest you; how do you go right to the line?  

How do you help free people from the brainwashing effects of the current massive propaganda machine in the U.S., even if one at a time?  How do you then bring those people to the cause?  How do you come up with a very focused, comprehensive, and cohesive agenda to take on the system?

I want to hear about that.  I'm tired about reading and hearing about every which way the system is screwing us.  I dream the dream (sorry, I recently watched the movie) of one day coming here to Daily Kos and reading diary after diary about effective strategies to take on the system, about radical ideas about how to defeat the entrenched and totally corrupt Democratic party establishment by electing true progressives to public office.  About putting an extraordinary amount of pressure on our AWOL government to prosecute Wall Street criminals.

Where are the zealots, the agitators, radical intellectuals?  Your country needs you.  The time is now... Hit me up.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

- Frederick Douglass

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Comment Preferences

  •  Can you explain how you make several hundred (3+ / 0-)

    people hear you in a noisy environment like the OGP amphitheater without using a mic check and without any amplification?

    No one uses a mic check unless they have too,  but if they have to, it's a pretty effective means of communication.  I don't know why you think it's a gimmick.

    •  I think you're missing the larger point, and are (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar, Mr Robert

      too invested into your way of thinking to see it.  BTW, I do have a lot of respect for you what you do.  I've read your stuff, and I know you do great work...

      •  Well, maybe. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, vigilant meerkat

        But I just want to understand how you practically communicate to a crowd without a mic check or amplification system?  You're not telling me.

        When I first encountered it it seemed like a gimmick, yeah.  But upon consideration I concluded it was a reasonable solution to a practical problem.

        I'm not missing your larger point or even taking issue with it.  I just want to understand why you want to bury the mic check as a tool of communication when it actually works?

  •  We progressives complain that our politicians (8+ / 0-)

    are centrists or GOP lite. We declare that we will have to hold our nose in order to vote every four years. And yet, between the nose-holding every four years nothing changes. And that's because "bearing witness" seems to be as far as many of us think we need to go. From drones to Presidential nominees to the fiscal cliff I've heard that there is "value" in raising questions and that thus, there is no need to provide answers when complaining. Doing more than gathering for support, or pointing out flaws among people in the arena, is a lot of work. And it's scary sometimes. I don't mind any of the criticisms here as long as they are willing to work within the confines of reality and participate in a search for answers. But we really don't have as much of a Progressive Army as we think when the people you are searching for can't be found. Instead we have armchair warriors "pointing out" the bad things and thinking they are done.

    "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

    by stellaluna on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:37:28 PM PST

  •  ...maybe they all left at this point in the movie: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZenTrainer, FG
    'I dream the dream of one day coming here to Daily Kos and reading diary after diary about ...radical ideas about how to defeat the entrenched and totally corrupt Democratic party establishment...'
    ...maybe at some point they realized you and they weren't talking about the same thing...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:41:15 PM PST

  •  If your target is too vast... (4+ / 0-)

    ...vague and general you won't get many to listen.  I really don't think seeing "the system" as the enemy will get many to listen because they don't even have a clue what you mean by that.

    Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

    by dov12348 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:42:44 PM PST

  •  Well (7+ / 0-)
    Where are the really bad-ass, scary-smart, radical intellectuals, leaders, ready to engage in another round of resistance, of opposition to the imposition of this nascent neo-fascist techno-surveillance total-information-awareness police state?
    I can report that there are a few in the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition and similar efforts around the country (e.g., the anti-Stop & Frisk efforts and the Ramarley Graham protests in New York).

    But hardly enough of them.

  •  Actions, public spectacle, marches, rallies, (15+ / 0-)

    creative intervention... all are a damned good beginning. These things need to be converted to the politics of policy, and the building of community.

    Sometimes DK seems like an amazing aggregator of energy and information and community... Other times it seems like some huge asynchronous faculty meeting, where lots gets discussed and little happens.

    We have the option. We're trying hard with Overpass Light Brigade here in Milwaukee. We've got "holders of the lights" running for school boards, who ran for state reps, running for local offices - active, engaged, energized. We have 16 different groups around the country, and are currently coordinating with large Idle No More networks.

    It isn't that hard to hook up. What is hard is keeping the faith that what you do matters. That, for me, is more of an existential question than a political one. It all does, and nothing does. Meanwhile, if we don't enjoy the dance, our legs loose their limberness.

  •  Maybe it's because (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, penguins4peace, Sylv

    Many here think that activism is nearly equal to being an anonymous figure on an Internet site.

    Virtual activism.  Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.

    We've all exercised our written "verbal" skills how does it translate to meat world?

  •  I think there has to be an alternate political (13+ / 0-)

    organization that can push for change.  Protests are going to work, petitions only if you can get signatures in the tens of millions.  We have to find a way to coordinate the voices of many millions, not ten thousand in the streets.  It may be possible to stop some things, like the Tar Sands pipeline, from happening but the major things are going to require revolutionary thinking with leaders and organization.  I'm not talking third parties.
    Perhaps the best way is to do it at the state level.  Challenge the federal government, like with marijuana.  If one state can get the ball rolling, like on Social Security or wars, then others could follow.  
    Just some random thots.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:02:53 PM PST

  •  One word: Facebook (5+ / 0-)

    I know it's almost a cliche to say this, but activists have been effectively "kettled" by adherence to old-style methods, which aren't usually as effective as they once were. They aren't as effective because the authorities have learned how to minimize and suppress your average demonstration or occupation (and of course they've been sharing notes).

    Meanwhile, a majority of society has been thoroughly trained to ridicule and marginalize conventional protest actions. The media only covers marches to get pictures of the hippies and hipsters acting funny, and maybe they'll get and lucky catch a Black Bloc guy throwing a rock into a Starbucks window.

    If people keep using these methods, they will continue to be mostly unsuccessful in changing public opinion and affecting the change they want.

    On the other hand, recent research has suggested that using social media to transmit an idea can be much more persuasive than protests, LTEs, etc. I know that modern movements do use Facebook, etc, but it seems to me that there is a lot of resistance to REALLY using it the way it could be used.

    Just for example, I'd love to see a protracted well-organized campaign of media savy Flash Mobbing that targets specific issues in hard-hitting, funny, media grabbing ways. By media, I mean internet media: make a cool video that gets a million hits on youtube and is massively shared on Facebook, and you'll get some results, whereas the old media can fuck off.

    "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

    by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:26:20 PM PST

    •  Good points, but think bigger. You see, facebook (6+ / 0-)

      and twitter, and the Internet, and email, Gmail, the cloud, etc., are all part of a vast total-information-awareness infrastructure the system uses not only to monitor communications, but to track trends, and to manipulate people.

      Think of the citizenry as "cattle" enclosed in a barn, and fully controlled--without knowing it.  I know it takes another cognitive dimension to fully understand this, but that's why I encourage you (and others) to think bigger, beyond what you see, beyond the familiar.

      •  I see your point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ciganka, penguins4peace, Ray Pensador

        Though I'm perhaps not as worried as some are about the Panopticon. Yes, the surveillance state is well upon us, but it can be very hard to pick useful signals out of all of the LOL cat pictures. Even the NSA cant easily monitor a mass distributed movement. The TIA project, which has gone through several iterations I think, is a classic example of a "needle in a haystack" problem where the more information you collect, the more the signal you're trying to find get hidden in the noise. Movements can take advantage of these flaws.

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:34:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This question is huge, and yet it generates (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, Sylv, Ray Pensador

    very minimal discussion no matter how many times you ask it Ray.  However, let's just keep going with it because until we find an effective way to take action, we will continue to lose ground.  

    I think your earlier diary about "professional development seminars" really hit on something.  Also when you point out that Occupy's rejection of leadership also carried its own problems, you are once again spot on.  Leadership and relentless professional development seminars are the great tools corporate tools - the very weapons that are rolled out and turned upon any obstacle in a corporation's path to market domination.

    Corporations are now establishing a type of sovereignty once reserved only for governments.  The phase when corporations used governments to do their bidding by diverting diplomatic and military resources to do their corporate bidding are passing.  The corporations have now built private armies, and corporate diplomacy is the new watchword in MBA programs.  

    Activism that has worked in the past, does not seem to be effective against this drive.  It reminds me of the Polish Army on the field with their horses and swords facing tanks and automatic weapons.  

    We have to find a new way, and there is no reason why we should immediately reject methods that are adversaries have shown us are effective.        

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 03:52:37 AM PST

  •  One of the things that always bugs me is that (4+ / 0-)

    when media deigns to cover a liberal protest, they always make sure to have every single person with every single pet issue who's there.

    And that's what it seems like.  It seems like there's an enviro-group here, an anti-war group there, an anti-bank group yonder, and no central message.

    And no standard uniform three word sound byte for the media so that everyone can understand what they are for and what the media can repeat.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 04:02:51 AM PST

    •  Yes, there is no training for people on getting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador

      a movement's talking points out there.  

      Notice when MOT got involved with the media during Occupy, he was there and right on target.  However, we need this to happen in the majority of situations, not just because we get lucky that MOT got in position and got noticed.

      My initial thought is that there needs to be some kind of central place for each community group and leadership to visit.  A place where we can all be on the same page to some extent.

      It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

      by ciganka on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:04:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again, right on point. I'm going to keep (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ciganka, allenjo

        hammering on this, trying to find ways to make it stick, find others who agree, and coordinate a plan of action.

        •  Maybe to pool our professional experiences and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador

          see how that could be transformed to serve the activist community?  

          I will do all that I can, but don't look at me for anything to do with programming, ha ha.  

          Seriously, there has to be some kind of one-stop shop for activism, with ppt. and other professional development materials that can be used within smaller groups to make sure that people are not reinventing the wheel.  Maybe a list_serv of some sort where people can go and post their questions?

          Also where we can link and communicate on particular actions?  

          It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

          by ciganka on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:17:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's by design. The corporate own media is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      tool of the oligarchy.

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