Progressive Calendar 02.25.08
From: David Shove (
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]
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]

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]>
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:

Ward 4 Legislative Aide City of Saint Paul 651-266-8641

--------3 of 14--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: Bog peat mining 2.25 7pm

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] or Phone:

--------4 of 14--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at]>
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

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]>
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]

--------6 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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

--------7 of 14--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
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]
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] Visit our websites at:

--------9 of 14--------

From: David Strand <mncivil [at]>
Subject: Desegregate 2.26 7pm


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

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]>
Subject: Daniel Ellsberg 2.26 7:30pm


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

--------11 of 14--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Seattle/film 2.26 7:30pm

Gear up for the RNC:  Movie & Discussion: "This is What Democracy Looks
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 (, 612.389.3899).

--------12 of 14--------

And Why He'll Never Win (an Oscar)!
"What Was Ralph Nader Thinking?"
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

"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 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.

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 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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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 "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]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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