|Progressive Calendar 02.25.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 05:38:06 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.25.08 1. Strike rally 2.25 10am/4:30pm 2. Bike/walk/streets 2.25 6:30pm 3. Bog peat mining 2.25 7pm 4. Google tools 2.25 7pm 5. Amnesty Intl 2.25 7pm 6. Anarchism/RNC 2.25 7. Venezuela/CTV 2.26 5pm 8. Venezuela/film 2.26 6:30pm 9. Desegregate 2.26 7pm 10. Daniel Ellsberg 2.26 7:30pm 11. Seattle/film 2.26 7:30pm 12. Jrgen Vsych - "What was Ralph Nader thinking?" 13. Sara Robinson - When change is not enough: seven steps to revolution 14. Isaiah Poole - The mad, mad middle class --------1 of 14-------- From: PRO826 [at] aol.com Subject: Strike rally 2.25 10am/4:30pm Security Officers ON STRIKE RALLY Together for Affordable Healthcare! Monday, February 25, 10:00am AND 4:30pm 8th Street & Nicollet Avenue outside US Bancorp Center Downtown Minneapolis Twin Cities Security Officers return to negotiations on Saturday, and are preparing to strike next week over unfair labor practices committed by their employers if we do not settle a contract. Come support them as they stand up for affordable healthcare for all Minnesotans! For more information, contact us at 612-331-8336 or _Security [at] SEIU26.org_ (mailto:Security [at] SEIU26.org) Be there on Monday to take part in this historic stand for health-care and justice in our communities! --------2 of 14-------- From: Melissa Waskiewicz <Melissa [at] metroiba.org> Subject: Bike/walk/streets 2.25 6:30pm On behalf of Council member Russ Stark, I'd like to invite you to an upcoming event that will provide information and insight that may benefit your businesses and communities. On Monday, February 25, from 6:30-8pm, Transit for Livable Communities is hosting "In our Front Yard: Bike/Walk Streets and Livable Streets as Community Assets." Please consider attending, and pass on the word to anyone else you know who may be interested. The event is free, and you can register here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=5bM_2bUkkIhdPyo5GMpkxcyA_3d_3d Ward 4 Legislative Aide City of Saint Paul 651-266-8641 --------3 of 14-------- From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com> Subject: Bog peat mining 2.25 7pm THE THREAT OF PEAT MINING IN THE BIG BOG At the next 3CTC Environmental forum, David Thorstad will speak about The Threat of Peat Mining in the Big Bog of Pine Island State Forest. Thorstad is an activist in the Northern Minnesota grassroots organization Save Our Bog. His presentation will include the ecology of peatlands and their impact on climate change. He will also provide background information on how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota, Duluth and politicians in the Red Lake area have promoted the commercial exploitation of the Big Bog, which has resulted in granting Berger, a Canadian firm, a permit to mine peat there. He will also document the damage that has already been done by the construction of roads, drainage ditches and land clearance. The event will be held, Monday, February, 25th at 7:00 PM at Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, West Bank, Minneapolis. The forum is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities. The 3CTC business meeting is at 6:00 PM. All are welcome. For further information, Email: christinefrank [at] visi.com or Phone: 612-879-8937 --------4 of 14-------- From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at] e-democracy.org> Subject: Google tools 2.25 7pm This Monday, St. Paul E-Democracy will host an evening workshop focusing on the various free tools available from Google. Topics will include productivity and collaboration tools, as well as Adwords, Analytics, mapping tools, and specialized, customized and website-specific search tools. I encourage you to come learn how you or your organization can easily make use of one or all of these free tools. New Tools for Public Participation: Google Tools FREE WORKSHOP Monday, Feb. 25th 7:00 - 8:30 PM Rondo Community Outreach Library 461 North Dale University & Dale, St. Paul --------5 of 14-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.25 7pm Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, February 25th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street, Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu. --------6 of 14-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Anarchism/RNC 2.25 Mondays, starting 2/25, Macalester College's experimental college EXCO offers free class "Nonviolence and Anarchism: An Intergenerational Dialog" with Betsy Raasch-Gillman and Rob Czernik, to discuss differing social change philosophies prior to the 9/1 Republican National Convention. Space limited. Sign up at http://www.excotc.org --------7 of 14-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Venezuela/CTV 2.26 5pm Open-minded St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings at 5pm, after DemocracyNow!, and midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am. All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 2/26, 5pm and midnight and Wed, 2/27, 10am "Revolution in the US? A View from Venezuela" Interview of August Nimtz, U of M professor recently returned from Venezuela. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------8 of 14-------- From: msp [at] ushov.org Subject: Venezuela/film 2.26 6:30pm Film showing of "No Volveran!" presented by HOV and Pax Salon! Tues., February 26, 2008 - 6:30 to 8:30pm Mad Hatter's Tea House 943 W. 7TH St., St. Paul From the makers of the Hands Off Venezuela film Solidarity, and the Sanitarios Maracay short film series, comes No Volverán - The Venezuelan Revolution Now, an exciting feature length documentary chronicling the Presidential Elections in December 2006 and the struggle to establish Socialism of the 21st Century, where political power is transferred to the common people. With fantastic footage of the elections, demonstrations by the people on the streets of Caracas, the revolution is brought to our screens in a rich tapestry of action and interview that gives us real insight into the process taking place, and the challenges that lie ahead. Hands Off Venezuela P.O. Box 1331 St. Paul, MN 55104 651-373-7609 msp [at] ushov.org Visit our websites at: www.ushov.org www.handsoffvenezuela.org --------9 of 14-------- From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Desegregate 2.26 7pm THE BROWN POWER BASE PROJECT OUTLINES PLAN TO DESEGREGATE MINNESOTA SCHOOLS! Come to this Community Roundtable on February 26th, 2008 and participate in one of the most important education discussions of the year! How should the state of Minnesota spend 87 million dollars of Integration Revenue Funding? The Brown Power Base Project partners believe that this money should be used for its intended purpose: de-segregating Minnesota Schools! Desegregated Schools increase the opportunity for an equal education for students of color in Minnesota. The Brown Power Base Project will sponsor a Community Roundtable to discuss: plans to desegregate Minnesota Schools, new guidelines for how Integration Revenue Funding is spent in Minnesota Schools, and how this will benefit all students in the state! Please join us for this important event!!! Delicious Refreshments will be served! Parents of African American, Native American, European American, Asian, Asian American, African & Latino students are encouraged to participate in this important event! All students are welcome!!! BRING EVERYONE THAT CARES ABOUT EDUCATION!!! The Brown Power Base Project is funded by The Minnesota Dream Fund!! Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm Minneapolis Urban League 2100 Plymouth Avenue North Minneapolis, MN 55411 --------10 of 14-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Daniel Ellsberg 2.26 7:30pm Tue.FEB.26, 7:30pm TED MANN HALL, WEST BANK, U OF M, MPLS DANIEL ELLSBERG, the whistleblower who released the PENTAGON PAPERS that revealed what the US government didn't want its own citizens to know about the Vietnam War. Ellsberg speaks about American Democracy & Dissent, in a discussion with U of M Prof.Larry Jacobs ticket event:612-624-2345 www.cce.umn.edu/conversations --------11 of 14-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: Seattle/film 2.26 7:30pm Gear up for the RNC: Movie & Discussion: "This is What Democracy Looks Like" Tuesday 2/26 @ 7:30 pm @ Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis Come see the film and discuss protest strategy for the RNC! In 1999, thousands of activists converged on Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization and its policies that exploit people and the environment. Despite police repression, they successfully disrupted WTO meetings and forged new alliances among students, trade unionists, and justice activists of all ages and backgrounds. The award winning documentary "This is What Democracy Looks Like" tells their story. Organized by the Anti-War Committee (antiwarcommittee.org, 612.389.3899). --------12 of 14-------- And Why He'll Never Win (an Oscar)! "What Was Ralph Nader Thinking?" By JRGEN VSYCH CounterPunch February 23 / 4, 2008 Editors' Note: In April 2004, Jrgen Vsych was an apolitical filmmaker whose career crashed when she supported Ralph Nader in 2000. When Nader's campaign put out a desperate call for volunteers to come to Texas to gather signatures to get Nader on the ballot, Vsych hopped on the first flight to Austin. AC/JSC. It's April 27, 2004. The ballot access laws in Texas are CRAZY (or, as Ralph more fancily put it, Machiavellian). If you're an independent party, you need 45,540 valid signatures by May 24th. Ralph really wants to be on the ballot in Texas, and the Green Party isn't even choosing a nominee until their June convention (the disorganization of the Greens is beyond belief), so Ralph is running as an independent candidate, and Texas makes independent candidates collect 64,076 valid signatures by May 10th...? Huh? Yeah. Welcome to Texas! Or should I say, Welcome to America! - because each state has its own laws. Some states are easy, like Louisiana - round up yer electors, pay $500, and you're on the ballot. But in Oklahoma, where it's very rural, the population is spread out, there's no culture of petitioning, and it has only 500,000 registered voters, you need 37,027 signatures. Ralph wants to eliminate the Electoral College and create a federal standard of getting on the ballot for federal elections. I don't get why someone of Ralph's stature has to jump through all these hoops. Christ, if you ran for president in the last election and you got three million votes, shouldn't that be enough? Apparently not. Oh - and if you voted in Texas's primary election, you can't sign our petition - which eliminates the most politically aware people who would be most the interested in signing petitions. So we're targeting 18-year-olds - new voters who probably didn't vote in the primary. Most of the University of Texas students who signed the petition told me they've seen Ralph speak on campus. 90% of the students I approached just walked past me. Where did they learn to be so apathetic? From their professors, no doubt. Only two members of UT's faculty looked me in the eye, and that was so they could describe me to the campus police, who threw me off the campus. The custodians and the people who work in the campus food court all signed: underpaid workers understand the importance of democracy, fairness, and being allowed to say what's on one's mind. Personally, I think every professor who refused to sign Nader's petition should be escorted off the campus by the police and sent back to junior high school, where they can take a remedial history class and learn how the United States political system works. In the evening, Albert Marino and I went to an amphitheatre/barbecue/bar called Stubb's. Albert was born in Romania, grew up in Israel, and, like most foreigners, knows more about America than her citizens (the world is affected by US policy. We only seem to be affected by the world's cuisine, music, and the occasional scary contagious disease). The bouncer at Stubb's yelled at us, "Move - or I'll call the cops!" Albert said, "Yo, dude, you see this? It's called a 'sidewalk' - you don't own it!" The cops came and tried to pacify our bouncer (a Democrat who wants Nader supporters hanged, drawn and quartered). Albert grinned and told me, "In Texas, we call them 'Yellow Dogs' - Democrats who would rather vote for a rabid dog than a non-Democrat." Almost everyone who signed Ralph's petition was 18-25 and/or laid-back. I got some people who said, "I don't agree with the things Nader says, and I'm not going to vote for him, but I think he has the right to be on the ballot." It's heartwarming to meet people who paid attention in the fourth grade when our teachers taught us, "This is America and our nation was formed so everyone could speak freely without fear of persecution" (actually, America was formed so a lot of white people could get filthy stinking rich, but that's a whole 'nother book). Austin is the one Democratic hot spot in Texas (Ralph got about 10% of the vote here in 2000), so even though there's no way in hell Texas would ever, ever swing to the Democrats, they keep hope alive: "Anybody But Bush!" "I like Nader - I voted for him last time. I agree with everything he says...but we HAVE to get that guy out of office!" "He can't win, so I'm voting for Kerry." "What has he done since 2000? Nothing!" I remind these dimwits, "Just because the corporate media isn't reporting on Ralph every day doesn't mean he hasn't been kicking ass. He's done forty-five fundraisers in thirty states for the Green Party! What issue of Ralph's don't you agree with?" "He's a spoiler!" Rommel [me]: "What issue?" "He cost us Florida!" Rommel: "But over 250,000 Democrats in Florida voted for Bush!" "Yeah, but if Nader hadn't run, Gore would have won!" Rommel: "He DID win!" "Yeah, but he would have won by more votes!" Rommel: "Can Gore help it if his brother wasn't the Governor of Florida? 62% of Nader's votes were from NON-Democrats - oh, I give up. Have an Al Gore day!" At the mere mention of HIS name, two 40-year-old guys exploded like Ford Pintos being rear-ended: "He got rid of the Corvair! Man, that was the most beautiful car." "And deadly," I said. "So what if morons didn't know how to change the tire pressure - they deserved to die!" I got off the street and hurried into a store, just in case these guys were driving one of the damn things. People don't get why Ralph never ran for a lower office and "worked his way up." As a watchdog, he had a greater ability to get things accomplished than he would have as a senator. People want Ralph to snuggle up to Washington and get himself made Attorney General. That's a nice fantasy, but Dan Rather put it best on Election Night 2000: "I think you would likelier see a hippopotamus run through this room than see George Bush appoint Ralph Nader to the Cabinet." Contrary to what the newspapers are reporting, very few of our signatures are from Republicans. One man grinned as he signed the petition, "This will help get Boosh elected!" (True fans pronounce W's name Boosh.) A few said, "I'm voting for Bush," (not real big fans) "but...yeah, okay, I like Ralph! He's a good guy," but the majority said, "No! I support Bush!" and stormed into the nearest bar. The right-wing version of the "Anybody but Bush!" mantra is "I Always Vote Republican!" But one man told me, "I'm a Conservative. I've always voted Republican, but I hate Bush. He got us into this huge deficit, he gives corporations subsidies...and the Patriot Act - what the HELL is that? So I'm going to vote for Nader." Quite a few people have heard Ralph speak. Unlike the Democrats - who don't want to "waste" money in states they think they can't win, so they completely ignore huge sections of their country - Ralph comes to Texas and the South often to keep up-to-date on what's going on. I got 76 signatures. So, after one day of working on Ralph's campaign, here's The Problem With America: People don't know who Ralph Nader is, where he comes from, what he's done, or what he wants to do. A wee problem...easily fixed by A Major Motion Picture! Alas, it's unlikely that a major studio will ever finance or release a film about Ralph; e.g. Universal Pictures is owned by General Electric, a company Ralph has publicly bashed because GE poisoned the Hudson River with PCBs, lied to the public about the dangers, and avoided paying to clean their mess by endless legal maneuvering and threatening to pull jobs out of New York and paying off politicians ... So the odds of a big film are slim...unless GE and Universal think they can make a bloody fortune and win an Oscar, which will give the film a higher profile and they'll make even more money - which IS likely. Jrgen Vsych was Nader's 2004 campaign filmmaker and photographer. Her new book, "What Was Ralph Nader Thinking?" is available at only at http://thewomandirector.com. Or from (415) 839-5185. --------13 of 14-------- When Change Is Not Enough: Seven Steps to Revolution By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future. Posted February 22, 2008. Alternet If history is any indication, we may be on the road to violent revolution. "Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy There's one thing for sure: 2008 isn't anything like politics as usual. The corporate media (with their unerring eye for the obvious point) is fixated on the narrative that, for the first time ever, Americans will likely end this year with either a woman or a black man headed for the White House. Bloggers are telling stories from the front lines of primaries and caucuses that look like something from the early 60s - people lining up before dawn to vote in Manoa, Hawaii yesterday; a thousand black college students in Prairie View, Texas marching 10 miles to cast their early votes in the face of a county that tried to disenfranchise them. In recent months, we've also been gobstopped by the sheer passion of the insurgent campaigns of both Barack Obama and Ron Paul, both of whom brought millions of new voters into the conversation - and with them, a sharp critique of the status quo and a new energy that's agitating toward deep structural change. There's something implacable, earnest, and righteously angry in the air. And it raises all kinds of questions for burned-out Boomers and jaded Gen Xers who've been ground down to the stump by the mostly losing battles of the past 30 years. Can it be - at long last - that Americans have, simply, had enough? Are we, finally, stepping out to take back our government - and with it, control of our own future? Is this simply a shifting political season - the kind we get every 20 to 30 years - or is there something deeper going on here? Do we dare to raise our hopes that this time, we're going to finally win a few? Just how ready is this country for big, serious, forward-looking change? Recently, I came across a pocket of sociological research that suggested a tantalizing answer to these questions - and also that America may be far more ready for far more change than anyone really believes is possible at this moment. In fact, according to some sociologists, we've already lined up all the preconditions that have historically set the stage for full-fledged violent revolution. It turns out that the energy of this moment is not about Hillary or Ron or Barack. It's about who we are, and where we are, and what happens to people's minds when they're left hanging just a little too far past the moment when they're ready for transformative change. Way back in 1962, Caltech sociologist James C. Davies published an article in the American Sociological Review that summarized the conditions that determine how and when modern political revolutions occur. Intriguingly, Davies cited another scholar, Crane Brinton, who laid out seven "tentative uniformities" that he argued were the common precursors that set the stage for the Puritan, American, French, and Russian revolutions. As I read Davies' argument, it struck me that the same seven stars Brinton named are now precisely lined up at midheaven over America in 2008. Taken together, it's a convergence that creates the perfect social, economic, and political conditions for the biggest revolution since the shot heard 'round the world. And even more interestingly: in every case, we got here as a direct result of either intended or unintended consequences of the conservatives' war against liberal government, and their attempt to take over our democracy and replace it with a one-party plutocracy. It turns out that, historically, liberal nations make very poor grounds for revolution - but deeply conservative ones very reliably create the conditions that eventually make violent overthrow necessary. And our own Republicans, it turns out, have done a hell of a job. Here are the seven criteria, along with the reasons why we're fulfilling each of them now, and how conservative policies conspired to put us on the road to possible revolution. 1. Soaring, Then Crashing Davies notes that revolutions don't happen in traditional societies that are stable and static - where people have their place, things are as they've always been, and nobody expects any of that to change. Rather, modern revolutions - particularly the progressive-minded ones in which people emerge from the fray with greater rights and equality - happen in economically advancing societies, always at the point where a long period of rising living standards and high, hopeful expectations comes to a crashing end, leaving the citizens in an ugly and disgruntled mood. As Davies put it: "Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal. The all-important effect on the minds of people in a particular society is to produce, during the former period, an expectation of continued ability to satisfy needs - which continue to rise - and, during the latter, a mental state of anxiety and frustration when manifest reality breaks away from anticipated reality ... "Political stability and instability are ultimately dependent on a state of mind, a mood, in society...it is the dissatisfied state of mind rather than the tangible provision of 'adequate' or 'inadequate' supplies of food, equality, or liberty which produces the revolution." The American middle class was built on New Deal investments in education, housing, infrastructure, and health care, which produced a very "prolonged period of objective economic and social development." People were optimistic; generations of growing prosperity raised their expectations that their children would do even better. That era instilled in Americans exactly the kind of hopeful belief in their own agency that primes them to become likely revolutionaries in an era of decline. And now, thanks to 28 years of conservative misrule, we are now at the point where "manifest reality breaks away from anticipated reality;" and the breach is creating political turbulence. The average American has seen his or her standard of living contract by fits and starts since about 1972. This fall-off that was relieved somewhat by the transition to two-earner households and the economic sunshine of the Clinton years - but then accelerated with the dot-com crash, followed by seven years of Bush's overt hostility toward the lower 98 percent of Americans who aren't part of his base. Working-class America is reeling from the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs and the scourge of predatory lending; middle-class America is being hollowed out by health-care bankruptcies, higher college costs, and a tax load far heavier than that of the richest 2 percent. These people expected to do better than their parents. Now, they're screwed every direction they turn. In the face of this reversal, Davies tells us, it's not at all surprising that the national mood is turning ominous, from one end of the political spectrum to the other. However, he warns us: this may not be just a passing political storm. In other times and places, this kind of quick decline in a prosperous nation has been a reliable sign of a full-on revolution brewing just ahead. 2. They Call It A Class War Marx called this one true, says Davies. Progressive modern democracies run on mutual trust between classes and a shared vision of the common good that binds widely disparate groups together. Now, we're also about to re-learn the historical lesson that liberals like flat hierarchies, racial and religious tolerance, and easy class mobility not because we're soft-headed and soft-hearted - but because, unlike short-sighted conservatives, we understand that tight social cohesion is our most reliable and powerful bulwark against the kinds of revolutions that bring down great economies, nations and cultures. In all the historical examples Davies and Brinton cite, the stage for revolution was set when the upper classes broke faith with society's other groups, and began to openly prey on them in ways that threatened their very future. Not surprisingly, the other groups soon united, took up arms, and rebelled. And here we are again: Conservative policies have opened the wealth gap to Depression levels; put workers at the total mercy of their employers; and deprived the working and middle classes of access to education, home ownership, health care, capital, legal redress, and their expectations of a better future for their kids. You can only get away with blaming this on gays and Mexicans for so long before people get wise to the game. And as the primaries are making clear: Americans are getting wise. Our current plutocratic nobility may soon face the same stark choice its English, French, and Russian predecessors did. They can keep their heads and take proactive steps to close the gap between themselves and the common folk (choosing evolution over revolution, as JFK counsels above). Or they can keep insisting stubbornly on their elite prerogatives, until that gap widens to the point where the revolution comes - and they will lose their heads entirely. Right now, all we're asking of our modern-day corporate courtiers is that they accept a tax cut repeal on people making over $200K a year, raise the minimum wage, give us decent health care and the right to unionize, and call a halt to their ridiculous "death tax" boondoggle. In retrospect, their historic forebears might have counseled them to take this deal: their headless ghosts bear testimony to the idea that's it's better to give in and lose a little skin early than dig in and lose your whole hide later on. 3. Deserted Intellectuals Mere unrest among the working and middle classes, all by itself, isn't enough. Revolutions require leaders - and those always come from the professional and intellectual classes. In most times and places, these groups (which also include military officers) usually enjoy comfortable ties to the upper classes, and access to a certain level of power. But if those connections become frayed and weak, and the disaffected intellectuals make common cause with the lower classes, revolution becomes almost inevitable. Davies notes that, compared to both the upper and lower classes, the members of America's upper-middle class were relatively untouched by Great Depression. Because of this, their allegiances to the existing social structure largely remained intact; and he argues that their continued engagement was probably the main factor that allowed America to avert an all-out revolution in the 1930s. But 2008 is a different story. Both the Boomers (now in their late 40s to early 60s) and Generation X (now in their late 20s to late 40s) were raised in an economically advancing nation that was rich with opportunity and expectation. We spent our childhoods in what were then still the world's best schools; and A students of every class worked hard to position ourselves for what we (and our parents and teachers) expected would be very successful adult careers. We had every reason to believe that, no matter where we started, important leadership roles awaited us in education, government, the media, business, research, and other institutions. And yet, when we finally graduated and went to work, we found those institutions being sold out from under us to a newly-emerging group of social and economic conservatives who didn't share our broad vision of common decency and the common good (which we'd inherited from the GI and Silent adults who raised us and taught us); and who were often so corrupted or so sociopathic that the working environments they created were simply unendurable. If wealth, prestige, and power came at the price of our principles, we often chose instead to take lower-paying work, live small, and stay true to ourselves. For too many of us, these thwarted expectations have been the driving arc of our adult lives. But we've never lost the sense that it was a choice that the America we grew up in would never have asked us to make. In Davies' terms, we are "deserted intellectuals" - a class that is always at extremely high risk for fomenting revolution whenever it appears in history. Davies says that revolutions catalyze when these deserted intellectuals make common cause with the lower classes. And much of the energy of this election is coming right out of that emerging alliance. The same drive toward corporatization that savaged our dreams also hammered at other class wedges throughout American society, creating conditions that savaged the middle class and ground the working class toward something resembling serfdom. Between our galvanizing frustration with George Bush, our shared fury at the war, and the new connections forged by bloggers and organizers, that alliance has now congealed into the determinedly change-minded movements we're seeing this election cycle. 4. Incompetent Government As this blog has long argued, conservatives invariably govern badly because they don't really believe that government should exist at all - except, perhaps, as a way to funnel the peoples' tax money into the pockets of party insiders. This conflicted (if not outright hostile) attitude toward government can't possibly lead to any outcome other than bad management, bad policy, and eventually such horrendously bad social and economic outcomes that people are forced into the streets to hold their leaders to account. It turns out there's never been a modern revolution that didn't start against a backdrop of atrocious government malfeasance in the face of precipitously declining fortunes. From George III's onerous taxes to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake," revolutions begin when stubborn aristocrats heap fuel on the fire by blithely disregarding the falling fortunes of their once-prosperous citizens. And America is getting dangerously close to that point now. Between our corporate-owned Congress and the spectacularly bad judgment of Bush's executive branch, there's never been a government in American history more inept, corrupt, and criminally negligent than this one - or more shockingly out of touch with what the average American is going through. Just ask anyone from New Orleans - or anyone who has a relative in the military. Liberal democracy avoids this by building in a fail-safe: if the bastards ignore us, we can always vote them out. But if we've learned anything over the last eight years, it's that our votes don't always count - especially not when conservatives are doing the counting. If this year's election further confirms the growing conviction that change via the ballot box is futile, we may find a large and disgruntled group of Americans looking to restore government accountability by more direct means. 5. Gutless Wonders in the Ruling Class Revolution becomes necessary when the ruling classes fail in their duty to lead. Most of the major modern political revolutions occurred at moments when the world was changing rapidly - and the country's leaders dealt with it by dropping back into denial and clinging defiantly to the old, profitable, and familiar status quo. New technologies, new ideas, and new economic opportunities were emerging; and there came a time when ignoring them was no longer an option. When the leaders failed to step forward boldly to lead their people through the looming and necessary transformations, the people rebelled. We're hard up against some huge transformative changes now. Global warming and overwhelming pollution are forcing us to reconsider the way we occupy the world, altering our relationship to food, water, air, soil, energy, and each other. The transition off carbon-based fuels and away from non-recyclable goods is going to re-structure our entire economy. Computers are still creating social and business transformations; biotech and nanotech will only accelerate that. More and more people in the industrialized world are feeling a spiritual void, and coming to believe that moving away from consumerism and toward community may be an important step in recovering that nameless thing they've lost. And, in the teeth of this restless drift toward inevitable change, America has been governed by a bunch of conservative dinosaurs who can't even bring themselves to acknowledge that the 20th century is over. (Some of them, in fact, are still trying to turn back the Enlightenment.) Liberal governments manage this kind of shift by training and subsidizing scientists and planners, funding research, and setting policies that help their nations navigate these transitions with some grace. Conservative ones - being conservative - will reflexively try to deny that change is occurring at all, and then brutally suppress anyone with evidence to the contrary. Which is why, every time our current crop of so-called leaders open their mouths to propose a policy or Explain It All To Us, it's embarrassingly obvious that they don't have the vision, the intelligence, or the courage to face the future that everyone can clearly see bearing down on us, whether we're ready or not. Their persistent cluelessness infuriates us - and terrifies us. It's all too clear that these people are a waste of our tax money: they will never take us where we need to go. Much of the energy we're seeing in this year's election is due to the fact that a majority of Americans have figured out that our government is leaving us hung out here, completely on our own, to manage huge and inevitable changes with no support or guidance whatsoever. Historically, this same seething fury at incompetent, unimaginative, cowardly leaders - and the dawning realization that our survival depends on seizing the lead for ourselves - has been the spark that's ignited many a violent uprising. 6. Fiscal Irresponsibility As we've seen, revolutions follow in the wake of national economic reversals. Almost always, these reversals occur when inept and corrupt governments mismanage the national economy to the point of indebtedness, bankruptcy, and currency collapse. There's a growing consensus on both the left and right that America is now heading into the biggest financial contraction since the Great Depression. And it's one that liberal critics have seen coming for years, as conservatives systematically dismantled the economic foundations of the entire country. Good-paying jobs went offshore. Domestic investments in infrastructure and education were diverted to the war machine. Government oversight of banks and securities was blinded. Vast sections of the economy were sold off to the Saudis for oil, or to the Chinese for cheap consumer goods and money to finance tax cuts for the wealthy. This is no way to run an economy, unless you're a borrow-and-spend conservative determined to starve the government beast to the point where you can, as Grover Norquist proposed, drag it into the bathtub and drown it entirely. The current recession is the bill come due for 28 years of Republican financial malfeasance. It's also another way in which conservatives themselves have unwittingly set up the historical preconditions for revolution. 7. Inept and Inconsistent Use of Force The final criterion for revolution is this: The government no longer exercises force in a way that people find fair or consistent. And this can happen in all kinds of ways. Domestically, there's uneven sentencing, where some people get the maximum and others get cut loose without penalty - and neither outcome has any connection to the actual circumstances of the crime (though it often correlates all too closely with race, class, and the ability to afford a good lawyer). Unchecked police brutality (tasers, for example) that hardens public perception against the constabulary. Unwarranted police surveillance and legal harassment of law-abiding citizens going about their business. Different kinds of law enforcement for different neighborhoods. The use of government force to silence critics. And let's not forget the unconstitutional restriction of free speech and free assembly rights. Abroad, there's the misuse of military force, which forces the country to pour its blood and treasure into misadventures that offer no clear advantage for the nation. These misadventures not only reduce the country's international prestige and contribute to economic declines; they often create a class of displaced soldiers who return home with both the skills and the motivation to turn political unrest into a full-fledged shooting war. This kind of capricious, irrational ineptitude in deploying government force leads to public contempt for the power of the state, and leads the governed to withdraw their consent. And, eventually, it also raises people's determination to stand together to oppose state power. That growing solidarity and fearlessness - along with the resigned knowledge that equal-opportunity goons will brutalize loyalists and rebels alike, so you might as well be a dead lion rather than a live lamb - is the final factor that catalyzes ordinary citizens into ready and willing revolutionaries. "A revolutionary state of mind requires the continued, even habitual but dynamic expectation of greater opportunity to satisfy basic needs...but the necessary additional ingredient is a persistent, unrelenting threat to the satisfaction of those needs: not a threat which actually returns people to a state of sheer survival but which put them in the mental state where they believe they will not be able to satisfy one or more basic needs ... The crucial factor is the vague or specific fear that ground gained over a long period of time will be quickly lost ... [This fear] generates when the existing government suppresses or is blamed for suppressing such opportunity." When Davies wrote that paragraph in 1962, he probably couldn't have imagined how closely it would describe America in 2008. Thirty years of Republican corporatist government have failed us in ways that are not just inept or corrupt, but also have brought us to the same dangerous brink where so many other empires have erupted into violent revolution. The ground we have gained steadily over the course of the entire 20th Century is eroding under our feet. Movement conservatism has destroyed our economic base, declared open war on the middle and working classes, thwarted the aspirations of the intellectual and professional elites, dismantled the basic processes and functions of democracy, failed to prepare us for the future, overseen the collapse of our economy, and misused police and military force so inconsistently that Americans are losing respect for government. It's not always the case that revolution inevitably emerges wherever these seven conditions occur together, just as not everybody infected with a virus gets sick. But over the past 350 years, almost every major revolution in a modern industrialized country has been preceded by this pattern of seven preconditions. It's fair to say that all those who get sick start out by being exposed to this virus. Hillary Clinton is failing because this is a revolutionary moment - and she, regrettably, has the misfortune to be too closely identified with the mounting failures of the past that we're now seeking to move beyond. On the other hand, Ron Paul's otherwise inexplicable success has been built on his pointed and very specific critique of the kinds of government leadership failures I've described. And Barack Obama is walking away with the moment because he talks of "hope" - which, as Davies makes clear, is the very first thing any would-be revolutionary needs. And then he talks of "change," which many of his followers are clearly hearing as a soft word for "revolution." And then he describes - not in too much detail - a different future, and what it means to be a transformative president, and in doing so answers our deep frustration at 30 years of leaders who faced the looming future by turning their heads instead of facing it. Will he deliver on this promise of change? That remains to be seen. But the success of his presidency, if there is to be one, will likely be measured on how well his policies confront and deal with these seven criteria for revolution. If those preconditions are all still in place in 2012, the fury will have had another four years to rise. And at that point, if history rhymes, mere talk of hope and change will no longer be enough. See more stories tagged with: revolution, revolution, clinton, obama, reform, election 2008 Sara Robinson is a twenty-year veteran of Silicon Valley, and is launching a second career as a strategic foresight analyst. When she's not studying change theories and reactionary movements, you can find her singing the alto part over at Orcinus. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two teenagers. -------14 of 14-------- The Mad, Mad Middle Class By Isaiah J. Poole February 21st, 2008 - 12:30pm ET PORTSIDE.ORG You may not agree, as Sara Robinson provocatively suggests, that the country is primed for revolution. But there is no doubt that large numbers of middle-class people are mad, really mad, about the damage Bush-league conservatism has done to the country and to their futures. In fact, comments in a new Democracy Corps report, based on focus groups of Republicans and Democrats in Orlando, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, reveal deep anger and frustration over policies that favor the wealthy and pull the ability to meet their basic aspirations further from their grasp. Note comments like these: * Columbus man: "They talk about the economy as working for the very wealthy and I read in the New York Times that $200,000 per year is the new $100,000 per year in salary.That's the standard of living to feel like you've really made it in America, $200,000 a year. For most people, that's unattainable. They'll never see that in two lifetimes. So I think it's unfortunate that there is one-tenth of one percent of Americans own forty percent of the wealth in this country. That's an obscene number. It's a disgusting number." * Orlando woman: "I don't like people having like no-bid contracts over there [in Iraq]. I think that has really escalated the cost of the war too. I mean this war is just unbelievable and the cost and the money could be going to help New Orleans, use it on domestic programs and helping other nations." * Columbus woman: "The war in Iraq, the amount of money being spent over there, and the cost of oil. It's kind of all tied in. And then all of that filters down eventually to everyday people. And all of those costs eventually fall on our shoulders. On shoulders that are already pretty well packed." >From the rising costs of fuel to the effects of the mortgage crisis, the Democracy Corps sessions reflect a middle class that feels under siege. And the traditional conservative palliatives, as far as these people are concerned, no longer cut it. When the focus groups were presented with two economic messages - one based on Republican stump speeches that focuses on making the 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy permanent and an alternative that emphasized such items as investment projects, extending unemployment insurance and child tax credits, these prospective voters were, in the Democracy Corps words, "overwhelmingly drawn" to the more progressive message. Here's how a Columbus participant saw it: It sounds like to me that the Republicans want to make the wealthy wealthier. Cut their stock dividend tax, they should have to pay taxes on that. I have to pay taxes if I pull my money out of my 401K. I have to pay a fee. So I think that they should be taxed just like we are, us working class people. The higher end market of people should be taxed just like I am. What taxes I pay, the percentage of the same taxes I pay should be the same taxes they pay for the money that they make. And in Orlando... You know if we start eliminating all those wonderful tax loopholes for corporations and requiring the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share we are going to have more money. It just makes sense. Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who will be a featured speaker at Take Back America 2008, wrote about this middle-class anger almost two years ago in a way that now rings more true than ever. Her point was that "middle class does not equal middle ground": Advocating for the middle class isn't inherently some kind of political compromise or centrist bargain, a la the Democratic Leadership Council. Raising the minimum wage is a middle class issue. Progressive immigration policy is a middle class issue. Reining in the power of industries to dictate our economic, energy, and health care policies is a middle class issue. Sound trade policy is a middle class issue. Just because you're talking about the middle class doesn't mean that your policy initiatives must consist only of tax credits and deductions that apply to a narrow income range. Advocating for the strengthening and expansion of our middle class shouldn't just be political code for "I'm inoffensive." It should mean that you're willing to do whatever it takes to create the economic policy that will directly benefit the overwhelming majority of Americans. The seduction of Reagan-era sophistry - such as the line brandished by self-proclaimed conservatives campaigning for office that they trust the American people instead of the government, as if they had nothing to do with separating government from its role as an instrument of the people - has some residual strength. So does the conservative tactic of pitting groups against each other - hence the way illegal immigration, rather than bad trade and tax policies, surfaced as a reason why middle- class wage-earners were falling behind. Still, the focus group analysis concludes, "voters are starving for a new economic vision that will strengthen the middle class and get our country back on the right track." Progressives have the basics for that vision, but the challenges are to color in the details, inject it into the political debate in ways that touch both the anxieties and aspirations of middle-class families, and make sure that middle class voters know that there is an independent political force that will be fighting for their interests - working with the new White House leadership when it can, and confronting it when it must. At Take Back America 2008 in March, progressive activists will have a prime opportunity to make that happen. [Information about the 2008 Take Back America conference is at http://ourfuture.org/take-back-america-2008. "Take Back America will bring together all of the tribes of the progressive movementTake Back America 2008- grassroots and netroots activists, elected officials, business owners, policy experts and more." -- moderator] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney
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