|Progressive Calendar 12.12.06||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 03:36:28 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.12.06 1. Peacemakers 12.12 11:30am 2. Defend Jill Clark 12.12 12noon/6pm 3. Salvador photos 12.12 2:30pm 4. Govt info trends 12.12 4pm 5. Robert Jensen/SPNN 12.12 5pm 6. Salon/poetry 12.12 6:30pm 7. Ag energy/farm bill12.12 6:45pm 12.12-13 2 8. Art & health 12.13 12noon 9. Fair trade gifts 12.13 5pm 10. Organ trade 12.13 7pm 11. No Anoka stadium 12.13 7pm 12. AI StPaul 12.13 7:30pm 13. VfP Xmas calendars 14. Jerry Kann - An independent Green Party can be the majority party 15. David Edwards - Dangerous minds --------1 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peacemakers 12.12 11:30am Tuesday, 12/12, 11:30 am, MN Alliance of Peacemakers annual meeting, including J. Brian Atwood, Humphrey Institute dean and former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Hennepin Ave United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland, Mpls. www.mapm.org --------2 of 15-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] minn.net> Subject: Defend Jill Clark 12.12 12noon/6pm Communities United Against Police Brutality ONE OF OUR LAWYERS IS UNDER ATTACK-- THE COMMUNITY WILL FIGHT BACK! Attorney Jill Clark has tirelessly and fearlessly defended people of color and poor people who have been targeted by the criminal justice system, especially survivors of police brutality and family members of people killed by police. She often takes important cases free of charge, in order to create significant changes in police policies and practices. She is truly the people's lawyer. As part of her work, Jill has encountered and exposed courthouse corruption being used to railroad police brutality victims and others. This corruption contributes to Minnesota having the highest rate of overprosecution of Blacks in the country (according to the Council on Crime and Justice). In April 2006, Jill filed a formal complaint against Hennepin County chief judge Lucy Weiland for activities that unfairly stacked the deck against her client. She filed another complaint in October against Weiland, two other judges and a prosecutor who colluded to deny her client justice. In both cases, although Jill indicated that she had extensive documentation on file, the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards refused to investigate the case--or even review her documentation. We've had dealings with this outfit in the past and can tell you that this board doesn't do squat and seems to exist to protect wayward judges, so this was no big surprise. Still, you would think that some of her documentation might have at least peaked their interest. Jill has now learned that Weiland filed a formal complaint against her with the Lawyer's Office of Professional Responsibility. Unlike the Board of Judicial (NON)Standards, this agency takes their responsibilities seriously. They have launched an investigation of the complaint. They won't find anything--there isn't a shred of truth to Weiland's complaint, which is mostly a rant about the fact that Jill complained about her. Still, the process itself is grueling and forces Jill to expend energy defending herself rather than working for the community. We must fight back against this vicious attempt to silence one of the strongest defenders of the community against the abuses of the courts and cops. The people need lawyers like Jill who stand up for us against a repressive system. If we don't defend her, all other lawyers who do the right thing will be targeted, too and the community will be without the help we need. If you've ever been helped by a lawyer like Jill, now is the time to come to her defense! Tell the system, HANDS OFF JILL CLARK! Press Conference Tuesday, December 12 12:00 noon Hennepin County Government Center 300 S 6th Street, Minneapolis By the fountain on the main floor Called by the newly-formed Jill Clark Defense Coalition. Jill will formally announce the complaint to the media and we will announce the formation of our coalition and our intent to stand with and defend Jill and to fight corruption in the Hennepin County courts. We need lots of folks to be there, hold signs and be visible supporters. Organizing Meeting Tuesday, December 12 6:00 p.m. Minneapolis Urban League 2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis We will continue to organize our Hands Off Jill Clark campaign and a counteroffensive campaign of going against the corruption in the Hennepin County courts. Come and join one of our working groups to stand with Jill and take action against the machinery that defends brutal cops and targets police brutality survivors. --------3 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Salvador photos 12.12 2:30pm Tuesday, 12/12, 2:30 to 4 pm, presentation "El Salvador: Healing Work Through Photography," 135 Nicholson Hall, U of M, Mpls. --------4 of 15------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Govt info trends 12.12 4pm I went to one of these sessions some time back... a lot of librarians... could be useful to those of us interested in doing research... Subject: 12/12 Metronet Wind Down - Latest Trends and Developments in Gov't Information From: "Deanna Sylte" <info [at] metronet.lib.mn.us> Metronet Wind Down: "Latest Trends and Developments in Government Information" by Julia Wallace Tuesday, December 12 - 4:00-5:00 p.m. Roseville Public Library - 2180 North Hamline, Roseville Ms. Wallace - until her recent retirement - was Head of the Government Publications Department at the University of Minnesota. Prior to her appointment at the University, she held the same position at the Minneapolis Public Library. She was a founding member of ALA's Government Documents Roundtable, for many years served as an advisor to the Federal Government's Office of the Public Printer, and was a member of the Depository Libraries Council. Please join us!! No RSVP required, but feel free to contact us at information [at] metrolibraries.net with questions. --------5 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Robert Jensen/SPNN 12.12 5pm Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" airs at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10 am each Wednesday on SPNN Channel 15. Below are the scheduled shows through the end of 2006. 12/12 and 12/13 "Robert Jensen" Author and professor at U of TX in Austin. Talk given 10/18 at the U of M. 12/19 and 12/20 'Amy Goodman: "Static" Tour' (Part 1). Host of Democracy Now! Talk given 9/8 at St. Joan of Arc Church. 12/26 and 12/27 'Amy Goodman: "Static" Tour' (Part 2). Host of Democracy Now! Talk given 9/8 at St. Joan of Arc Church. "Our World In Depth" features analysis of public affairs with consideration of and participation from Twin Cities area activists. The show is mostly local and not corporately influenced! For information about future programming of "Our World In Depth", please send an e-mail to eric-angell [at] riseup.net. (PS It might be better than PBS.) --------6 of 15------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon/poetry 12.12 6:30pm December 12 we will celebrate Mary Oliver's new book of poems, THIRST. We can read from that book and any others she was written. Since she has become a favorite of ours, and because of the season, we will be having wine and cheese. If you want to bring some wine, cheese or crackers , feel free. thanks, patty Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------7 of 15------- From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Ag energy/farm 12.12 6:45pm 12.12-13 Registration is $125.00 till Dec. 11th and $150.00 at the door. There does look like there is a lot of good information available about public policy as it pertains to wind power at this event as well as discussion of fuel production from crops and the attendant problems, promises and possibilities there. Don't let Tim Pawlenty's appearance put you off. It appears there is some great information that will be available here. If you can't afford this conference, the Oxfam and the Land Stewardship Project are holding a free event around US Farm and Food Policy to organize for the upcoming re-authorization(reformation!) of the farm bill in the upcoming session of congress on the evening of Dec. 12th. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 from 6:45 pm - 8:30 pm. I if interested please RSVP by 6:45 Dec. 12th to Oxfam America and Land Stewardship Project kdanko [at] oxfamamerica.org . --------8 of 15-------- From: Jim Pounds <jim [at] intermediaarts.org> Subject: Art & health 12.13 12noon Intermedia Arts presents Immigrant Status: Contributions Brown Bag Dialogues with International Artists How does art heal? How do immigrant artists demystify culture and religion through their art? How do art and religion affect the social, cultural, economic, political aspects of our communities? Spend your lunch hour in the newly renamed Sandy Agustín Gallery at Intermedia Arts, discussing Art and Healing and Art and Religion with two featured gallery artists: Dr. Niccu Taffarodi (Iran) and Koffi Mbairamadji (Chad). On December 13, 2006 and January 3, 2007, Intermedia Arts hosts two Brown Bag Dialogues designed to examine the intersections between life and art from a world perspective. These Brown Bag Dialogues are part of Immigrant Status, a four-year multidisciplinary arts series that sheds light on the many variations of the new immigrant experience. Art and Health featuring Dr. Niccu Taffarodi, (Featured Artist, Immigrant Status 2007) Wednesday, December 13, 2006 12-1 PM at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis All Brown Bag Dialogues are free and open to the public. --------9 of 15-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Fair trade gifts 12.13 5pm Ten Thousand Villages: Fair Trade Shop, Community Solutions Fund Night Wednesday, December 13, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., 867 Grand Avenue in St. Paul (at the corner of Grand and Victoria--diagonal from Café Latté) Here's a fun and easy way to support Community Solutions Fund! Twenty percent of every purchase that evening will be donated to Community Solutions Fund, of which WAMM is a member. From folk art to heirloom decorations, musical instruments to jewelry, Ten Thousand Villages carries a wide variety of items made by artisans in 32 countries. They work with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or under-employed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care or housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program. --------10 of 15-------- From: bkucera [at] csom.umn.edu Subject: Organ trade 12.13 7pm Film: Dirty Pretty Things tells gruesome tale ST. PAUL - A little-known but gruesome side of the global economy - trafficking in human organs - is the subject of the next program in the Labor & Community Film Series. Dirty Pretty Things will be shown Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. at the offices of the Minnesota Nurses Association, 1625 Energy Park Dr. (near the intersection of Energy Park and Snelling Avenues) in St. Paul. The program is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service and co-sponsored by the MNA. The screening is free and open to all. In Dirty Pretty Things, filmmaker Stephen Frears tells the story of an undocumented African immigrant doctor working a service job in a London hotel, who fights to put an end to the gruesome trade in human organs. This award-winning thriller exposes a side of the global economy that most people never see - as well as the dynamics between native-born and immigrant workers that exists in the United States and abroad. View the complete Labor & Community Film Series schedule at http://www.laboreducation.org/les/films2006.php --------11 of 15-------- From: Ron Holch <rrholch [at] attg.net> Subject: No Anoka stadium 12.13 7pm Taxpayers For an Anoka County Stadium Referendum WE WILL HAVE LAWN SIGNS AVAILABLE AT THE MEETING. Wednesday December 13, at 7:00 PM Centennial High School Red Building - Room 104 4704 North Road Circle Pines, MN The red building is on the east end of the high school complex, and is set back furthest from North Road. Enter on the East side of the building. The largest parking lots are near this building. Our work is not over yet and it is important for us to remain vigilant. Anoka County Officials claim they have taken back their more than generous offer to Zygi Wilf for stadium in Blaine. However the County Board has not had a vote to rescind the offer to the Vikings. In Addition No One has said that Anoka County Taxpayers will not pay for a Vikings Stadium no matter where it is located. Nor has anyone yet offered us a chance to vote on a tax increase. This means a Hennepin County Vikings Stadium can still increase taxes for us in Anoka County. Now would be a good time to think about what you will write to your newly elected representatives to tell them we do not need to waste more money on stadium giveaways to Billionaires. Please continue to tell them we want a vote as required by state law for any tax increase to pay for a stadium. Write letters to your local paper too. If you have done these things once already please do it again. AGENDA ITEMS INCLUDE: Website Lawn Signs for sale! What will happen in the 2007 Legislative Session? Any Questions, comments contact me at: Ron Holch rrholch [at] attg.net --------12 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: AI StPaul 12.13 7:30pm There are several local Amnesty International groups in the Twin Cities area. All of them are welcoming and would love to see interested people get involved -- find the one that best fits your schedule or location: AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, December 13th, at 7:30 p.m. Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul. http://www.aistpaul.org. --------13 of 15-------- From: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 <vfpchapter27 [at] gmail.com> Subject: VfP Xmas calendars This is a note to let you know that Chapter 27 has SOA 2007 calendars for sale ($10 ea.) and SOA mini-photo booklets ($15 ea.). Both were put together by Chante Wolf and are compiled with her photography of the SOA event last year. The mini-booklet is intended to give the observer with information about what the SOA is, who started the SOA watch, who travels on the bus and why, and what happens during the vigil. The calendar does a similar explaination, but on a smaller scale. Both are on sale at St. Martin's Table, MayDay Books, Northern Star and the chapter office. The proceeds go to support the VFP Chapter 27 efforts. Do you know anyone who would like something for peace to hang on their wall or sit on their coffee table? Have a wonderful Christmas and safe and memorable New Year! Chapter 27 ... 2123 Clinton Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404 612-821-9141 Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 St. Stephens Community Center 2123 Clinton Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 821-9141 TwinCitiesVFP.org **new e-mail: vfpchapter27 [at] GMAIL.COM** --------14 of 15-------- An Independent Green Party Can Be the Majority Party by Jerry Kann Synthesis/Regeneration A Magazine of Green Social Thought Fall 2006 Where do I want the Green Party to be in 20 years? In 2026, I want our party to be the majority political party in the United States. I want most of the members of Congress, most governors, and most members of state legislatures to be Greens. This is a very ambitious goal but by no means an unrealistic one. But people aren't stupid. If they see the Greens making common cause with, say, the Democratic Party in presidential elections, people will begin to ask what makes us Greens different. They will ask the perfectly reasonable question: Why should I bother supporting Greens if it's just a roundabout way of supporting Democrats? To convince millions of voters that the Greens are for real, the Green Party must be completely independent of the two major parties - particularly of the Democratic Party. The Green Party as an institution must not collaborate with the very powers in our society whose corruption and decay have made the Green Party necessary in the first place. Peter Camejo, Ralph Nader's vice presidential running mate in 2004, and other Greens have established a collective called Greens for Democracy and Independence (GDI). The name is uncomplicated; it declares exactly what the group is about. GDI will advocate for a one person/one vote system within the Green Party for selecting leadership bodies and our presidential ticket (the "Democracy" part) and for complete independence from the two corporate parties. The danger of playing it safe As we Greens look ahead to the national election of 2008, we have to make up our minds about what sort of national campaign we will run. The essential debate among Greens in 2004 was over the question of whether the Party should give up its independence and take what some believed would be the "safer" route of cooperation with the Democrats. Many high-profile Greens insisted that left-liberal Democratic voters and activists must not be alienated by a Green presidential campaign that challenged both major parties. They floated various scenarios - running a limited campaign, or pulling out at the last minute and asking supporters to vote for the Democrat, or even not running at all. Starting in late 2003, some Greens began to argue that the 2004 campaign was a special case, an emergency that called for extraordinary measures. George W. Bush is such a heinous monster, the argument went, that virtually any candidate the Democrats come up with should receive the support of the Green Party, directly or indirectly. David Cobb, who became the Green nominee for president, proposed that the Greens run a limited, "strategic" national campaign in 2004. As Cobb phrased it, "Most of our resources should be focused on those states where the Electoral College votes are not 'in play.'" The idea, of course, was that the Green candidate for president not campaign in the swing states for fear of tempting people there to vote Green instead of Democrat, which might hurt the Democrats' chances of beating Bush. In other words, the plan called for making the Greens irrelevant in the very states where they might have an influence on the outcome of the election. Cobb and his supporters all knew, of course, that the Green Party nominee in 2000, Ralph Nader, had a very different strategy in mind. Even before Nader announced his candidacy in February 2004, he made it quite clear that if he chose to run he would run all-out and campaign in all 50 states. It's important to note that Nader went on to win fully 41% of the delegate votes at the Green Party convention, even though he was not seeking the nomination but only an endorsement. Peter Camejo, who from the first was well known as a staunch Nader supporter, won more than 70% of the vote in the Green primary in California (home to about half of all registered Greens in the US), compared to Cobb's 13%. These factors would seem to indicate that many, if not most, rank-and-file Green Party members supported Nader and his independent orientation toward the major parties. The practical effect of Cobb's plan was that his 2004 campaign endorsed the Kerry campaign, albeit indirectly. The result? Those voters who were searching for a genuine alternative to the corrupt major parties either voted for Nader or stayed home, and the official Green Party campaign under David Cobb's leadership won only a little over 100,000 votes - not just behind Nader's 443,000, but even behind the totals of the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates. Judging by those numbers, it's fair to say that the Safe States strategy was a dismal failure. The Evil of Supporting the Lesser of Two Evils Cobb, Benjamin, Glick and the rest are more or less sympathetic to the doctrine of the Lesser of Two Evils. This is the view that, when confronted by a choice between two evils, the responsible thing to do is to choose the one that is, by all appearances, less evil. At first blush, this idea makes sense. One can imagine all sorts of cases in which it would obviously be preferable to cast a vote for some mediocre candidate over a truly awful one but an important question arises: just how evil can a lesser evil get before it becomes unacceptable? Judging by the results of the 2004 election, it's clear that many people seem to be willing to tolerate an awful lot of evil. This is nowhere as evident as in the attitude of Democratic voters toward John Kerry's pro-war position. Politics in America has deteriorated so much that people who marched in peace rallies in 2003 ended up supporting a pro-war candidate in 2004. Many Democrats might describe themselves as peace activists, and yet they were prepared to bite their tongues and utter not a word of criticism when Kerry said in the first debate that he would "lead the troops to victory." They kept silent when he said he would have voted for the Iraq war resolution even if he had known the truth about the phantom weapons of mass destruction. He had no exit strategy for our troops, and no deadline for withdrawal. Many loyal Democrats may have been inwardly horrified at Kerry's pro-war stance but if they were, they kept it to themselves. In truth, an abomination like Bush is only possible because liberals have clung so tenaciously to the lesser-of-two-evils system. Republicans win because the Democrats don't offer a credible alternative for voters. This state of affairs has only gotten worse over the years because progressives have so appallingly lowered their standards for what a Democrat needs to do to get their vote. Progressives abandon their own core beliefs - in peace, in economic justice, in democracy - in the vague hope of gaining some influence within the Democratic Party. What Democratic leaders are likely to cede any influence to people who are so pathetically eager to give up their own ideals? The lesser-of-two-evils habit of many voters ends up giving the Democratic Party leadership a powerful incentive to become more evil, not less - which, in turn, encourages the hard-right Republicans to govern like out-and-out fascists. People who start out using lesser-evilism as a way of saving democracy only succeed in helping to destroy it. The Cobb strategy's long-term implications It is very important to study the Cobb strategy for 2004; it helped set a precedent for Green action in future elections and needs to be thoroughly evaluated. We can't, in good conscience, put the experience of 2004 "behind us" until we've answered the question: do we follow the Cobb precedent or break with it? In his "Green Party 2004 Presidential Strategy," David Cobb presented a case for Green Party collaboration with the Democratic Party. By "collaboration" I am referring to an arrangement that would ensure a meager or even invisible Green presence in the battleground states. Cobb's "Proposed Overall Strategy" leads off with the premise that George W. Bush is a crisis all by himself; a menace of historic significance, which implies that the little Green Party is not a sufficient force to deal with him. He then suggests that the Democrats aren't so bad after all: "It is unacceptable to claim there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties." Cobb is clearly implying here that there is a meaningful difference and that the Democrats are better. He seems to regard them as viable, if horribly inadequate, opponents of the Republicans. Why would he go to the trouble of saying the Democrats are better unless he hoped to generate support for the Democrats among Greens? Cobb seems to be begging his fellow Greens to give the Democrats just one more chance. He even goes so far as to suggest it's in the best interests of the Green Party to do so: "If we want our party to grow, we must demonstrate to the American people ... that we hear their concerns of the danger Bush poses." He obviously wants us Greens to do more than simply "hear their concerns." Cobb wants us to "demonstrate" it by surrendering the one thing that ensures the Green Party's relevance in American politics - its independence. A narrow majority of delegates to the 2004 Milwaukee convention followed Cobb and adopted his strategy. It resulted in a campaign that, according to Cobb, was meant to win "millions of votes" and to "culminate in George Bush losing the election." What actually took place, however, was a campaign in which the Greens garnered a tiny fraction of the votes that we won in 2000 and which effectively split the Green Party right down the middle - and Bush is still in the White House. IRV: The only solution? It's very instructive to examine what Cobb's strategy statement has to say about electoral reform. Cobb writes: "We consistently articulate Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) as the only solution to the question of Greens as 'spoilers.'" Yet before we evaluate this statement, it's helpful to look at what IRV is and how it works. IRV is a voting system that allows a voter to choose more than one candidate for a particular office, but to rank those candidates by preference. In elections where there are only two candidates for an office, IRV is not needed. It is only operative when there are three or more candidates in the running. The classic case study for how IRV would work might be the election of 2000. Had IRV been in place then, many people who voted for Nader might have also voted for Gore. They could have demonstrated their preference for Nader by ranking him first but also shown qualified support for Gore by ranking him second. When the first-choice votes for each candidate were counted up, it may well have been that Nader would still have finished third. By finishing "out of the money," Nader would have been eliminated. At that point, the second choice of all those Nader voters would have become very, very important indeed. Exit polls in 2000 showed that Al Gore was the second choice for president among about a third of those who voted for Nader. Under IRV, those second-choice votes automatically ("instantly," as it were) would have gone to Gore. Under this system, it's hard to imagine how Gore could ever have lost Florida, and hence, the election. This all becomes even more interesting when one considers that voters, under IRV, would have no incentive to force themselves to choose the "lesser evil." They could go straight to their true first choice and use their second choice to hedge their bets. In such a scenario, it seems all the more possible that an attractive third party candidate could become the first choice of most voters. Ralph Nader, unabashedly calling for the end of the US occupation of Iraq in 2004, might well have out-polled the two major party candidates who supported the occupation. This is IRV's greatest strength - that it opens up the possibility that voters will stop voting against candidates they hate and start voting for candidates they believe in. But I think Cobb's attitude toward IRV is somewhat different. IRV seems most valuable to him as his answer to angry Democrats - the people who like to blame Nader and the Greens for "spoiling" the election of 2000. Why would Cobb, a Green, be so concerned about the feelings of Democrats? I don't know - but plainly he is. It bears repeating that Cobb's strategy statement called on us Greens to "demonstrate" to voters (Democrats?) that we understand "the danger that Bush poses" to America and the world. Again, for Cobb it was up to us Greens to make the sacrifice. The implication was that if we walked back to the Democrats on our knees and "demonstrated" our willingness not to compete with them for votes, then they would magnanimously take us back under their wing, like forgiving parents dealing with errant children. Cobb's sympathy for the Democrats is borne out by his close association, since late 2004, with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). At a gathering of Greens and Democrats in New York in January 2005, Cobb spoke glowingly about his meeting with PDA in Washington. He referred to his "inside/outside" strategy, his plan for working "across party lines" with the Democrats. Of course IRV was part of the package; Cobb noted that a few Democrats in Congress were in favor of IRV and other electoral reforms. After the meeting I asked him about his strategy and he said quite bluntly that he felt only the Democrats are going to be able to pass IRV. So now the question arises whether IRV is in fact the "only" solution, as Cobb maintains, for the dread problem of the Greens as spoilers. It also forces us to ask just how long we might have to wait, under Cobb's guidance, for IRV to become the law of the land. Consider: Al Gore lost the election of 2000 in large part because of the outmoded, anti-democratic Electoral College system. The Democrats have had five years to propose abolishing that system, but have done nothing. Are we really supposed to expect these same do-nothing Democrats - much less the Republicans - to pass IRV anytime soon? The Democrats didn't even stand up for themselves when a presidential election was stolen from them in 2000. Yet David Cobb wants us to wait patiently for them to help the Green Party by passing IRV - and don't forget: IRV is the only possible solution to this problem. Shouldn't it strike Green Party members as a bit odd that the Green nominee for president in 2004 seems to be urging us to lock ourselves into a no-win situation? On the one hand, says Cobb, the Greens dare not run against prominent Democrats (such as John Kerry) for fear of spoiling their chances against the Republicans. At the same time, we must wait patiently for those same Democrats to pass a law that will make it easier for Greens to compete. What is the way out of such a dilemma? There obviously isn't one. It's simply not believable that the Democrats would expend a great deal of political capital to pass a law that would only benefit third parties and make life for Democrats more difficult. The "progressives" who have come out in support of IRV are a very small minority within their own party. Cobb is exhorting us all to look to these few renegade Democrats as the saviors of the Green Party. Frankly, that looks an awful lot like a stalling tactic - and one that gives Democrats breathing room while it demoralizes and discourages Greens. The way to pass IRV is to run Greens aggressively for public office right now, under existing electoral law, rather than to postpone serious campaigns until the glorious day when we have the ideal, "spoiler-free" system that Cobb envisions. We will pass IRV a lot sooner by first electing Greens to office and then introducing the legislation ourselves and fighting for it, rather than waiting for our "friends" currently in power to do it for us. We want two different Green Parties What we've got here is not so much a failure to communicate as a failure to come to grips with the inevitable growing pains of a new political movement. Now we simply must confront the reality that some Greens still feel connected - emotionally, culturally, or what have you - to the Old Politics of the two-party system. Other Greens, however, are enthusiastically embracing a new world in which the Green Party has thrown off the shackles of the past and is pursuing an independent course, and in which each Green Party member has an equal opportunity to take part in our internal affairs. Essentially, the Greens want two different kinds of Green Party. Rank-and-file members - old, new and pro-spective - will sooner or later have to make up their minds which one they really want to build in the years to come. It is helpful to review the features of the two primary factions within the Green Party today. One wants complete independence from the major parties and the other wants to be subordinate, in some respects, to the Democratic Party. One wants to have internal democracy and employ a one person/one vote system for decision-making, while the other wants to grant heavily weighted votes to smaller state parties in frank imitation of the US government's anti-democratic Electoral College system. One has the lofty but inspiring goal of building a large, mass-based political party that one day will be the majority party in the United States and the other aspires to being one party - and presumably a small one in relation to the Republican and Democratic parties - in a "multi-party democracy." On this last point I am going on what I've heard from some Cobb supporters, notably his campaign manager Lynne Serpe, who is very adept and well-spoken on matters of electoral reform and her own vision of what sort of Green Party she wants. Serpe describes a future Green Party that may attract 10 or 15% of the vote in major elections. (This is considerably more than we attract now in most elections, but it is still a lot less than a majority.) This plateau is to be reached by first passing certain electoral reforms, especially IRV and proportional representation (PR). These reforms are often presented as the utterly indispensable changes in the system that Greens will need to win significant support at the polls. What I have not heard from Serpe and others is what they expect will happen, under their plan, to the two major parties that are presently in power. I think that omission is very telling. I can only presume, since they don't even address the question, that they do not foresee the Greens ever threatening to eclipse one major party or the other. They appear to be saying, by default, that the Republicans and Democrats will continue - perhaps even should continue - to command the lion's share of the votes in US elections. There is no reason for Greens to settle for such limited goals - to forever be content with being small fish in a big pond. People can accomplish so much more than they usually think they can. We often impose limits on ourselves in the name of being "realistic." This is bad politics, because it tends to empower cynics and often discourages the idealists who bring about positive change in the world. To bring about change, however, we need to talk about the long term - and unfortunately, we Greens have had precious little discussion about long-term strategy. Without long-term goals, the Greens are liable to drift, perhaps aimlessly, from election cycle to election cycle. If, however, we set long-term goals for the Green Party, we are much more likely to actually achieve something close to our heart's desire in American politics. Green Party members need to start taking control of their future, to the extent that we can, right now. The Greens' unfortunate choice of national strategy in 2004 set a precedent that everybody will expect us to stick to from now on. In 2007 and early 2008, some Greens will no doubt argue that a new Republican horror looms on the presidential horizon and must be stopped. The Democrats will once again beg us to stand down from running an aggressive campaign, and the Safe State Greens will again come forward with the same bizarre formulation: "Let us grow the Green Party by urging millions of people not to vote for us!" Can the Green Party survive such a struggle? Of course it can. The exchange itself will make the party stronger. It will challenge all of us to think about the Party's future and our own individual hopes and aspirations. The better we Greens know our own minds about that, the better we will be prepared to persuade people to join us. New Greens will have much more confidence in us and in themselves if they have a sense of long-term mission, if they feel they can ride out short-term crises by having a prize to keep their eyes on, and if they see the more experienced Greens sticking to their guns and refusing to retreat in the face of intimidation from either of the major parties. Can the two sides co-exist? Yes, for a time; a year or two, perhaps, but not longer than that. The merciless regularity of the election cycle will eventually force us to take one of two roads - the one less traveled by or the path of least resistance. The latter leads right back to serfdom within the Democratic Party, and probably in short order. The harder road promises a long march with no end of difficulties but it leads to freedom and self-respect. How can we possibly fail to choose the right road? Jerry Kann is a Green Party member in New York City. Mr. Kann was the 2005 Green Party candidate for the position of New York City Council-person in Astoria, Queens. He can be reached at: jerrykann99 [at] yahoo.com. Synthesis/Regeneration A Magazine of Green Social Thought c/o WD Press, P.O. Box 300275, St. Louis MO 63130 314-727-8554 (evenings, weekends) http://www.greens.org/s-r/ e-mail: fitzdon [at] aol.com [Anyone for taking the path back to serfdom within the Democratic Party? Not me. -ed] --------15 of 15-------- Media Lens Cogitation Dangerous Minds by David Edwards www.dissidentvoice.org December 1, 2006 "Our complex global economy is built upon millions of small, private acts of psychological surrender, the willingness of people to acquiesce in playing their assigned parts as cogs in the great social machine that encompasses all other machines. They must shape themselves to the prefabricated identities that make efficient coordination possible . . . that capacity for self-enslavement must be broken." - Theodore Roszak, The Voice Of The Earth) Heart Murmurs Few tasks are more challenging than that of attending to our subtle, internal responses to the world against the deafening roar of what is deemed "obviously true." Writing in the 1930s, the anarchist Rudolf Rocker made the point that the state is not a disinterested spectator on the issue of freedom of thought. In his classic work, Culture And Nationalism, Rocker wrote: The state welcomes only those forms of cultural activity which help it to maintain its power. It persecutes with implacable hatred any activity which oversteps the limits set by it and calls its existence into question. It is, therefore, as senseless as it is mendacious to speak of a "state culture"; for it is precisely the state which lives in constant warfare with all higher forms of intellectual culture and always tries to avoid the creative will of culture. (Rocker, Culture and Nationalism, Michael E. Coughlan, 1978, p.85) The stakes, Rocker noted, are high: If the state does not succeed in guiding the cultural forces within its sphere of power into courses favorable to its ends, and thus inhibit the growth of higher forms, these very higher forms will sooner or later destroy the political frame which they rightly regard as a hindrance. (Rocker, p.83) If this strikes us as implausible (as it should), it is for a very good reason. It seems incredible to us that individuals working for the state - in government, education, local government - could be eagerly working to "reduce all human activity to a single pattern." Are they not human beings like us? Do they not seek freedom of thought, independence of mind, for their own children? It is a very reasonable argument and applies equally to the media. Dissident analysts claim, and in fact demonstrate, that truth is filtered, depleted to a dramatic degree by the corporate media. But surely the men and women of the press - again, human beings like us - are not eagerly striving to oppress humanity. The answer is found in the way the performance of an organization is shaped by its primary, bottom line goals. As I have discussed elsewhere, the process is similar to the mechanisms underlying crystal formation. The near-perfect, symmetrical shapes of snowflakes and other crystalline structures are no accident but flow from the founding conditions around which the crystals form. If we pour a stream of marbles into a square framework, they will inevitably form a pyramid. In accounting for the perfect conformity on every side of the structure no one need propose eager participation on the part of the marbles. In organizations for which profit-seeking, say, is the bottom line - the equivalent of the wooden framework - facts, ideas, values, policies and individuals are naturally selected that fit the structure, that act in structure-supportive ways, and that do not challenge the founding framework. In the absence of the overt, big Brother-style control of past history, we imagine we are at last free. Erich Fromm thought otherwise: Anonymous authority is more effective than overt authority, since one never suspects that there is any order which one is expected to follow. In external authority it is clear that there is an order and who gives it; one can fight against the authority, and in this fight personal independence and moral courage can develop... It is like being fired at by an invisible enemy. There is nobody and nothing to fight back against. (Erich Fromm, The Fear Of Freedom) In our society, education policy, schools, curricula, professional training, cultural presumptions, media output, our deepest notions of what is true and important in life, are all filtered by the founding frameworks of profit and power. Where does the capacity to think for ourselves, to take ourselves seriously, fit into this framework? Rocker explains: Education is character development, harmonious completion of human personality. But what the state accomplishes in this field is dull drill, extinction of natural feeling, narrowing of the spiritual field of vision, destruction of all the deeper elements of character in man. The state can train subjects... but it can never develop free men who take their affairs into their own hands; for independent thought is the greatest danger that it has to fear. (Rocker, p.190) And what a price we pay for the averting of this human threat! As children, it means we must be persuaded to defer to external judgments - to feel sure they must be superior to our own; for then we will learn to disregard our internal disagreements. We must be made to mouth prayers that mean nothing, to wave meaningless flags at meaningless ceremonies; to bow low to people born into a particular family - for then we will learn to accept confusion as our lot, to accept unreason with a shrug. How many of us recognize the appalling oppression implicit in the simple fact that schools are named according to this or that religious tradition? What does this tell us about our commitment to protecting, rather than defeating, the precious independence of mind that exists in the new minds that we welcome into our society? I am always startled by the gleaming intelligence, sincerity and openness of young children. As Freud commented, they are intellectually far superior to us adults. It is vital that young human beings quickly learn to understand, realistically, the nature of the world around them with all its demands and dangers. Children seem superbly evolved to discover the truth, to think for themselves, to work things out. No wonder societies have to work so hard to mould these dangerous minds into workable conformists. School - Sculpting The Pyramid In his book, Dumbing Us Down, teacher John Taylor Gatto described the seven real lessons taught by modern schooling. The first lesson is confusion - the child is presented with a multitude of unrelated facts; meaning is not sought and so presumed not to exist. We know that there was a war in Vietnam, but we don't really know why. We know people are starving, but we don't know why. Failure to understand deeply is presented as an irrelevance - the key is to memorize facts and reproduce them on demand. This obsessive focus on retention of information is a monstrous trivialization and betrayal of the human need to understand. The second lesson is class position - the child is told his or her place in the hierarchy. We are taught to envy the 'brighter' and revile the "slower". Offered a choice between "success" on the terms of authority, or "failure", we naturally choose 'success'. The A-level students shown leaping in delight at their results on the news every year are celebrating their submission to conformity. They have been judged a "success" by authority and have accepted that judgment as real. By inevitable implication, they have accepted that authority as legitimate. They are now surrounded by an electric fence of conformity - to later "fail" by society's standards will be exquisitely painful. After joining a new primary school as a child, I came 14th out of 18 in my end of year exams. Some of my best friends came second and third. I felt keenly that I was an imposter, that I didn't belong in their company - they were "up there," exalted; I was a failure. The shame was intense. Later in my academic experience, I was labeled "lazy", then "average", then "above average," then "not academic", and then "bright". My "brightness" appeared to be on a dimmer switch dependent on where I was and what I was studying. I cringe when I hear a child labeled 'bright' or "dim". It seems to me that a lot of 'dim' children are too 'bright', or at least too true to themselves, to tolerate the trivia imposed on them as "education". To be indifferent to what is of minimal human significance is not a sign of stupidity. The point is that a child who accepts the label "not very bright" will, in his or her own mind, deem risible the notion that he or she might seek to understand the world, much less to challenge the assumptions accepted by the society by which he or she has been labeled. For a "failure" who has been successfully undermined in this way, to reject the labeling system itself will seem like the most obvious and wretched sour grapes. How can this one individual be right against a whole world of opinion? And from where can we gain the confidence that has been stripped away from us by the very system we are presuming to challenge? On the other hand, the "bright" child will feel a sense of affirmation and belonging that will make him or her disinclined to challenge the fundamental legitimacy and wisdom of the source of his or her own self-esteem. These are the "winners" who populate our public schools, Oxbridge universities and corporate media offices. The third lesson, Gatto tells us, is indifference - the child is taught to care, but not too much. When the bell rings, enthusiasm makes way for timetables - learning and passion are subordinated to strict routine. This makes understanding the world a kind of hobby or game - it is important and interesting but it shouldn't get in the way of "real life." In the second term of my third year at university, a lot of my fellow students quickly turned their attention away from their studies towards organizing career jobs for the following autumn. Where once the concern had been Rousseau's description of the social chasm separating human beings from their real needs, now it was selling chocolate for Cadburys and biscuits for McVitees. The irony and absurdity, the casual betrayal of what was supposed to be important, were painful for me to witness. I was not a fanatical bookworm, but I felt deeply that the issues I was studying - the nature of human happiness and the implications for political theory - really did matter. And yet it was clear that these subjects were not deemed of any great merit in themselves, but were merely a means to an end, a resource to be crammed for exam passes into high-paid conformity. It seemed that this game was somehow psychologically and ethically walled off from reality. So, for example, we read J.S. Mill's words: Where, not the person's own character, but the traditions or customs of other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the principal ingredients of human happiness, and quite the chief ingredient of individual and social progress. (J.S. Mill, On Individuality) This was quoted in exams, but was not deemed remotely relevant in considering the value of the exams themselves, or of the corporate work so eagerly being sought. This was one of my first experiences of a phenomenon I have encountered very often in my work with Media Lens. Erich Fromm explained: Modern man exhibits an amazing lack of realism for all that matters. For the meaning of life and death, for happiness and suffering, for feeling and serious thought. He has covered up the whole reality of human existence and replaced it with his artificial, prettified picture of pseudo-reality, not too different from the savages [sic] who lost their land and freedom for glittering glass beads. (Erich Fromm, The Sane Society) This, actually, is where the Media Lens project might be said to have started for me. Even before I read the likes of Fromm, Chomsky and Rocker, I was already astonished, and fascinated, that so much that so clearly matters could be suppressed in so many people. Eight years later, I read this description of Glaxo chairman, Paul Girolami, by David Jack, Ex-Head of Research at the same company: "I can tell you quite frankly he doesn't have any great regard for scientists, or for science as a way of living. His whole purpose is to make money. I don't think there is much folly in his mind about doing good." (Quoted, Matthew Lynn, "Prudence and the pill pusher," Independent on Sunday, November 3, 1991) This, again, contained a sense that all of life - compassion, suffering, moral responsibility, life and death - was a kind of game to be subordinated to some higher reality. But what was that "higher reality" exactly? Career success? Wealth? Corporate greed? When I started trying to make sense of the world, I noticed that both I, and the people around me, found it strange that anyone would seriously make the attempt: "If there were answers to be found," I was repeatedly told, "they would have been discovered years ago and we would all know about them." What I didn't realize then was that many answers had been found but that they conflicted with the interests and goals of people who control what we come to know about the world. One of the most important and liberating realizations I gained was the awareness that even our most painful certainties rooted in a sense of meaningless, alienation and despair, were actually favored by a system that profits from the absence of sanity and hope. Taylor Gatto's fourth lesson is emotional dependency - stars, ticks, frowns, prizes and honors manipulate children into judging themselves as they are judged by authority. When I began writing political and philosophical articles, a constant question running through my mind was: "Who on earth do I think I am to be writing this stuff?" My own question was reflected in the nonplussed, embarrassed looks of friends and family. (Mouth agape, I once made the mistake of telling my dentist what I was doing: "I'm writing a book about thought control in modern society.") Who was I - mere me - to be doing that? The answer is I am no more nor less qualified than anyone else in asking questions and seeking answers to these questions. Society had persuaded me that there was something deluded, absurd about creatures called "ordinary people" presuming to comment on the world. We are here to be judged - selected or rejected, rewarded or punished - by the institutions of society, are we not? Who are we to judge the judges? In the social sciences, at least, it turns out that "expertise" is very often a label bestowed by people with power. Similarly, to be a "professional journalist" - someone declared a competent commentator on current affairs - is merely the result of some corporate editor awarding a contract. But the title "journalist" - a media version of the famous white coat worn by doctors - is used to suggest profound specialist knowledge where, often, very little exists. In an article on Media Lens earlier this year, Peter Beaumont of The Observer asked: "[W]hat is the aim of these self-appointed media watchdogs?" (Beaumont, "Microscope on Medialens," The Observer, June 18, 2006) This was interesting because Beaumont had thereby unwittingly revealed that he considers us lacking in credibility because we are not appointed by authority. But one might ask where exactly the authority resides that is qualified to confer respectability on individuals evaluating media honesty? Are we, as individuals, not able to judge the rationality of the evidence, of the arguments, for ourselves without appealing to external authority? Compare the gulf separating Beaumont's worldview from that described by Rocker: "Only when man shall have overcome the belief in his dependence on a higher power will the chains fall away that up to now have bowed the people beneath the yoke of spiritual and social slavery. Guardianship and authority are the death of all intellectual effort, and for just that reason the greatest hindrance to any close social union, which can arise only from free discussion of matters and can prosper only in a community not hindered in its original course by external compulsion, belief in a supernatural dogma or economic oppression." (Rocker, p.143) The fifth lesson is intellectual dependency - good people wait for teacher to tell them what to do. Successful children are those who accept and reproduce what they are told with a minimum of resistance. A stubbornly questioning child will be met with exasperation and told that, in the end, the course is about preparing to take and pass exams, not about endless debate. Later, at work, the employee will be met with the same sighs and told that the project is about making money, not about discussing the rights and wrongs of business. In an interview, Harold Pinter told me about two American journalists who insisted to their editor that it was the moral responsibility of their TV station to cover a story on GM food. The editor's response?: "'Listen, what is news is what we say it is! That's it! And for us that's not news, right!'" Pinter paused: "And then they were fired." The deeper lesson is that intellectual and ethical freedoms are allowed, but only within certain parameters - the parameters themselves are not up for discussion. We are trained, in other words, to accept our lot as intellectual and ethical jailbirds. To seek to be anything more is to be dismissed as "a troublemaker." To challenge the whole version of "success" and "failure" is not even to be a failure - it is to be, by the standards of the accepted framework, mad. The sixth lesson is provisional self-esteem. Self-respect is taught to be dependent on "expert" opinion. Finally, the seventh lesson is that we cannot hide: we are always being watched. There is no private space or time in which non-conformity can flourish. This is a useful preparation for work where our every move is often monitored to see that we are not wasting company time. [Screw the company -ed] Conclusion - Three Small Points The real point of Rocker's analysis was to suggest that only when we break free from the chains of anonymous external authority - from the sense that we need to defer to and seek approval from, such authority - can we learn to take seriously and develop our own powers of reason, our own critical thinking and compassion for others: "Only in freedom does there arise in man the consciousness of responsibility for his acts and regard for the rights of others; only in freedom can there unfold in its full strength that most precious social instinct: man's sympathy for the joys and sorrows of his fellow men and the resultant impulse toward mutual aid in which are rooted all social ethics, all ideas of social justice." (Rocker, p.148) A few hundred years earlier, the Indian philosopher Nagarjuna said much the same thing: "Not doing harm to others, Not bowing down to the ignoble, Not abandoning the path of virtue - These are small points, but of great Importance." (Nagarjuna and Sakya Pandit, Elegant Sayings, Dharma Publishing, 1977, p.12) In the modern age, with the greed-driven state-corporate system all but unavoidable, these three points present the supreme challenge to all who would live as fully human beings. Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The first Media Lens book, Guardians of Power: The Myth Of The Liberal Media, is now available (Pluto Books, London, 2006). Visit the Media Lens website (www.medialens.org) and consider supporting their invaluable work. [We think we're thinking for ourselves, when often we're only repeating the intentionally enslaving drivel spread by the ruling class. A fully realized human world would have - can have - no ruling class. Disposing of it should be our first and most human goal. -ed] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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