Progressive Calendar 08.16.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008 04:38:59 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.16.08

1. Peace walk      8.16 9am Cambridge MN
2. RNC/war/march   8.16 9:30am
3. Know rights/RNC 8.16 10am
4. NWN4P Mtka      8.16 11am
5. Africa/women    8.16 1pm
6. Vs RNC          8.16 1pm
7. Northtown vigil 8.16 2pm
8. CD action       8.16 3pm
9. RNC plan        8.16 4:30am
10. CUAPB training 8.16 5pm
11. Moon walk      8.16 7pm
12. Root shock     8.16 7pm
13. RNC/CTV        8.16 9pm

14. PC Roberts    - The Neocons do Georgia: humanity's greatest enemy?
15. Robert Jensen - The old future's gone: strategy amid cascading crises

--------1 of 15--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 8.16 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: RNC/war/march 8.16 9:30am

Outreach for the "March on the RNC and Stop the War"

Saturday, August 16, 9:30 a.m. 1313 5th Street Southeast, Room 112c (Old
Marshal High School in Dinkytown), Minneapolis. Volunteer to help spread
the word about the upcoming March on the RNC and Stop the War. FFI: Email
<livingstonmiguel@ hotmail.com>.


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Know rights/RNC 8.16 10am

Saturday, 8/16, 10 to 1, Coldsnap Legal Collective sponsors free Know Your
Rights and volunteer training for the RNC and aftermath, Hosmer Library
meeting room, 347 E 36th St, Mpls.  coldsnap [at] riseup.net


--------4 of 15--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P Mtka 8.16 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We
will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available.


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From: Human Rights Center <humanrts [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Africa/women 8.16 1pm

August 16, 2008 - Greater Horn of Africa Women's Project.  Time: 1:00 pm -
3:00 pm.  Cost: Please make donations!  Mail checks to International
Leadership Institute, 5021 Vernon Ave So, 136, Minneapolis, MN 55426.

Plan on joining other professionals and experts at this Summer Open House.
The LTL International Leadership Institute is a 501 c(3) non profit
organization established in 1994.

The ILI has bee working in the Greater Horn of Africa since 1994. The
region includes Kenya, Somalia, sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti,
Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

You can help the ILI and its partner WARDA to provide valuable support for
the women leaders of the region. Women connected to the international
community are listened to at the table where peace and the future will be
discussed.

This summer, the ILI technical experts will travel to the Horn of Africa to
provide assistance to COGWO, the Coalition for Grassroots Women's
Organizations, which works in Somalia. Women and children are struggling to
survive in a region where conflict and prolonged drought have created severe
malnutrition, high levels of infant mortality and death.

Please mail checks to: International Leadership Institute, 5021 Vernon Ave.
So, 136, Minneapolis MN 55426.

Nadifa Osman, WARDA founder and Chair ILI Greater Horn of Africa Committee
Lul Ahmed, ILI Greater Horn of Africa Committee Member Judge LaJune T.
Lange, ILI President Coventry Cowens, ILI International Program Director
Lauren Lange, President, Art+Chocolate Company

RSVP (regrets only) to: JudgeLange [at] gmail.com

Location: Home of Tom and LaJune Lange, 1800 Humboldt Ave South,
Minneapolis, MN  55403


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: vs RNC 8.16 1pm

Saturday, 8/16, 1 pm community meeting to organize protest against the
RNC, May Day Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave S, Mpls.  Volunteers of all
abilities, all availabilities needed.  612-379-3584.


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From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 8.16 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: CD action 8.16 3pm

Saturday, 8/16, 3 pm, Anti-War Committee hosts civil disobedience and
direct action training, 1313 - 5th St SE, Rm 102A, Dinkytown, Mpls.
http://www.antiwarcommittee.org or 612-379-3899.


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From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: RNC plan 8.16 4:30am

Planning Meeting for the March on the RNC and Stop the War

Saturday, August 16, 4:30 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue,
Minneapolis. This will be the last meeting of the Coalition to March on
the RNC and Stop the War. This will be the last opportunity to go over
every groups plans and events, to share information regarding legal and
other items of interest.


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: CUAPB training 8.16 5pm

Saturday, 8/16, 5 to 8 pm, Communities United Against Police Brutality
host Copwatch training to learn about your rights in general and while
documenting police conduct, Walker Church, 3100 - 16th Ave S, Mpls.
612-874-7867.


--------11 of 15--------

From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Moon walk 8.16 7pm

Greenman Plant Walk  back by popular demand
Full Moon Walk Around the Coldwater Area
Saturday, August 16, 2008:  August is called the Grain or Green Corn moon
Gather 7 PM, south end of Minnehaha Park.
Walk begins at 7:15 PM.

We will walk up and down the Mississippi gorge with Henry Fieldseth,
founding soul of the Friends School Plant Sale. It is the largest plant
sale in Minnesota and specializes in native woodland and prairie plants.
Henry even loves "weeds."  This walk is one of our longest and is
beautiful in the heart of summer.
Suggested dress:  long pants and covering your ankles.
Sunset 8:17 PM
Moonrise 8:13 PM.

Meet in Minnehaha Park, in south Minneapolis, from Hwy 55/Hiawatha, turn
East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street and circle around to your
left into the pay parking lot.  Or park free on the west side of Hwy 55.


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From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Root shock 8.16 7pm

Exhibition explores the personal, cultural and social factures that
results from environmental changes from immigrants' viewpoint.
On view August 16 2008 - October 25, 2008
OPENING this SATURDAY AUG 16, 7pm-10pm

Wielding photographs, graffiti, poetry, and installations four artists
from varying social and cultural backgrounds simulate the experience of
root shock for un-oriented viewers. The opening reception will be held at
from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday August 16, 2008.

Obsidian Arts participates in the global dialogue about artists and the
art they create.  Add.  Enter 2948 Chicago Avenue, ste. 220.; Tel.
612-822-6808;  Hrs.  Thursday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 1:00 p.m.
to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 6:00 p.m.  No admission fee.


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From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: RNC/CTV 8.16 9pm

Minneapolis Television Network viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 8/16, 9pm and Tues, 8/19, 8am "Crashing the Convention" The RNC
Welcoming Committee discusses anarchism in general and plans for the
Republican National Convention in St. Paul.  Hosted by Eric Angell.


-------14 of 15--------

The Neocons Do Georgia
Humanity's Greatest Enemy?
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
August 15, 2008
CounterPunch

The success of the Bush Regime's propaganda, lies, and deception with
gullible and inattentive Americans since 9/11 has made it difficult for
intelligent, aware people to be optimistic about the future of the United
States. For almost 8 years the US media has served as Ministry of
Propaganda for a war criminal regime. Americans incapable of thinking for
themselves, reading between the lines, or accessing foreign media on the
Internet have been brainwashed.

As the Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, said, it is easy to deceive a
people. You just tell them they have been attacked and wave the flag.

It certainly worked with Americans.

The gullibility and unconcern of the American people has had many victims.
There are 1.25 million dead Iraqis. There are 4 million displaced Iraqis.
No one knows how many are maimed and orphaned.

Iraq is in ruins, its infrastructure destroyed by American bombs,
missiles, and helicopter gunships.

We do not know the death toll in Afghanistan, but even the American puppet
regime protests the repeated killings of women and children by US and NATO
troops.

We don't know what the death toll would be in Iran if Darth Cheney and the
neocons succeed in their plot with Israel to bomb Iran, perhaps with
nuclear weapons.

What we do know is that all this murder and destruction has no
justification and is evil. It is the work of evil men who have no qualms
about lying and deceiving in order to kill innocent people to achieve
their undeclared agenda.

That such evil people have control over the United States government and
media damns the American public for eternity.

America will never recover from the shame and dishonor heaped upon her by
the neoconned Bush Regime.

The success of the neocon propaganda has been so great that the opposition
party has not lifted a finger to rein in the Bush Regime's criminal
actions. Even Obama, who promises "change" is too intimidated by the
neocon's success in brainwashing the American population to do what his
supporters hoped he would do and lead us out of the shame in which the
neoconned Bush Regime has imprisoned us.

This about sums up the pessimistic state in which I existed prior to the
go-ahead given by the Bush Regime to its puppet in Georgia to ethnically
cleanse South Ossetia of Russians in order to defuse the separatist
movement. The American media, aka, the Ministry of Lies and Deceit, again
accommodated the criminal Bush Regime and proclaimed "Russian invasion" to
cover up the ethnic cleansing of Russians in South Ossetia by the Georgian
military assault.

Only this time, the rest of the world didn't buy it. The many years of
lies - 9/11, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections,
yellowcake, anthrax attack, Iranian nukes, "the United States doesn't
torture," the bombings of weddings, funerals, and children's soccer games,
Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo, various fabricated "terrorist plots,"
the determined assault on civil liberties - have taken their toll on
American credibility. No one outside America any longer believes the US
media or the US government.

The rest of the world reported the facts - an assault on Russian civilians
by American and Israeli trained and equipped Georgian troops.

The Bush Regime, overcome by hubris, expected Russia to accept this act of
American hegemony. But the Russians did not, and the Georgian military was
sent fleeing for its life.

The neoconned Republican response to the Russian failure to follow the
script and to be intimidated by the "unipower" was so imbecilic that it
shattered the brainwashing to which Americans had succumbed.

McCain declared: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations".
Imagine the laughs Jon Stewart will get out of this on the Daily Show. In
the early years of the 21st century the United States has already invaded
two countries and has been beating the drums for attacking a third.
President Bush, the chief invader of the 21st century, echoed McCain's
claim that nations don't invade other nations.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7556857.stm

This dissonant claim shocked even brainwashed Americans, as readers.
emails reveal. If in the 21st century countries don't invade other
countries, what is Bush doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what are the
naval armadas and propaganda arrayed against Iran about?

Have two of the worst warmongers of modern times - Bush and McCain -
called off the US/Israeli attack on Iran? If McCain is elected president,
is he going to pull US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan as "nations
don't invade other nations," or is President Bush going to beat him to it?

We all know the answer.

The two stooges are astonished that the Americans have taught hegemony to
Russians, who were previously operating, naively perhaps, on the basis of
good will.

Suddenly the Western Europeans have realized that being allied with the
United States is like holding a tiger by the tail. No European country
wants to be hurled into war with Russia. Germany, France, and Italy must
be thanking God they blocked Georgia's membership in NATO.

The Ukraine, where a sick nationalism has taken hold funded by the neocon
National Endowment for Democracy, will be the next conflict between
American pretensions and Russia. Russia is being taught by the neocons
that freeing the constituent parts of its empire has not resulted in their
independence but in their absorption into the American Empire.

Unless enough Americans can overcome their brainwashed state and the
rigged Diebold voting machines, turn out the imbecilic Republicans and
hold the neoconservatives accountable for their crimes against humanity, a
crazed neocon US government will provoke nuclear war with Russia.

The neoconservatives represent the greatest danger ever faced by the
United States and the world. Humanity has no greater enemy.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal
editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor
of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com


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The Old Future's Gone: Progressive Strategy Amid Cascading Crises
by Robert Jensen
August 15th, 2008
Dissident Voice

"The old future's gone," John Gorka sings. "We can't get to there from
here".1

That insight from Gorka,2 one of my favorite singer/songwriters
chronicling the complexity of our times, deserves serious reflection.
Tonight I want to argue that the way in which we humans have long imagined
the future must be rethought, as the scope and depth of the cascading
crises we face become painfully clearer day by day.

Put simply: We're in trouble, on all fronts, and the trouble is wider and
deeper than most of us have been willing to acknowledge. We should
struggle to build a road on which we can walk through those troubles - if
such a road is possible - but I doubt it's going to look like any path we
had previously envisioned, nor is it likely to lead anywhere close to
where most of us thought we were going.

Whatever our individual conception of the future, we all should
re-evaluate the assumptions on which those conceptions have been based.
This is a moment in which we should abandon any political certainties to
which we may want to cling. Given humans' failure to predict the place we
find ourselves today, I don't think that's such a radical statement. As we
stand at the edge of the end of the ability of the ecosystem in which we
live to sustain human life as we know it, what kind of hubris would it
take to make claims that we can know the future?

It takes the hubris of folks such as biologist Richard Dawkins, who once
wrote that "our brains - are big enough to see into the future and plot
long-term consequences".3 Such a statement is a reminder that human egos
are typically larger than brains, which emphasizes the dramatic need for a
drastic humility.

I read that essay by Dawkins after hearing the sentence quoted by Wes
Jackson, an important contemporary scientist and philosopher working at
The Land Institute. Jackson's work has most helped me recognize an obvious
and important truth that is too often ignored: For all our cleverness, we
human beings are far more ignorant than knowledgeable. Human
accomplishments - skyscrapers, the internet, the mapping of the human
genome - seduce us into believing the illusion that we can control a world
that is complex beyond our ability to understand. Jackson suggests that we
would be wise to recognize this and commit to "an ignorance-based
worldview" that would anchor us in the intellectual humility we will need
if we are to survive the often toxic effects of our own cleverness.4

Let's review a few of the clever political and theological claims made
about the future. Are there any folks here who accept the neoliberal claim
that the triumph of so-called "free market" capitalism in electoral
democracies is the "end of history"5 and that there is left for us only
tweaking that system to solve any remaining problems? Would anyone like to
defend the idea that "scientific socialism" not only explains history but
can lay out before us the blueprint for a glorious future? Would someone
like to offer an explanation of how the pending return of the messiah is
going to secure for believers first-class tickets to the New Jerusalem?

To reject these desperate attempts to secure the future is not to suggest
there is no value in any aspect of these schools of thought, nor is my
argument that there's nothing possible for us to know or that the
knowledge shouldn't guide our action. Instead, I simply want to emphasize
the limits of human intelligence and suggest that we be realistic. By
realistic, all I mean is that we should avoid the instinct to make plans
based on the world we wish existed and instead pay attention to the world
that exists. Such realistic thinking demands that we get radical.

Realistically radical

Imagine that you are riding comfortably on a sleek train. You look out the
window and see that not too far ahead the tracks end abruptly and that the
train will derail if it continues moving ahead. You suggest that the train
stop immediately and that the passengers go forward on foot. This will
require a major shift in everyone's way of traveling, of course, but it
appears to you to be the only realistic option; to continue barreling
forward is to court catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this
course of action, others who have grown comfortable riding on the train
say, d".Well we like the train and arguing that we should get off is not
realistic".

In the contemporary United States, we are trapped in a similar delusion.
We are told that it is "realistic" to capitulate to the absurd idea that
the systems in which we live are the only systems possible or acceptable
because some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our
current level of First-World consumption is exhausting the ecological
basis for life? Too bad; the only "realistic" options are those that take
that lifestyle as non-negotiable. What if real democracy is not possible
in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad; the only "realistic"
options are those that take this way of organizing a polity as immutable.
What if the hierarchies on which our lives are based are producing extreme
material deprivation for the oppressed and a kind of dull misery among the
privileged? Too bad; the only "realistic" options are those that accept
hierarchy as inevitable.

Let me offer a different view of reality: (1) We live in a system that,
taken as a whole, is unsustainable, not only over the long haul but in the
near term, and (2) unsustainable systems can't be sustained.

How's that for a profound theoretical insight? Unsustainable systems can't
be sustained. It's hard to argue with that; the important question is
whether or not we live in a system that is truly unsustainable. There's no
way to prove definitively such a sweeping statement, but look around at
what we've built and ask yourself whether you really believe this world
can go forward indefinitely, or even for more than a few decades? Take a
minute to ponder the end of the era of cheap fossil energy, the lack of
viable large-scale replacements for that energy, and the ecological
consequences of burning what remains of it. Consider the indicators of the
health of the planet - groundwater contamination, topsoil loss, levels of
toxicity. Factor in the widening inequality in the world, the intensity of
the violence, and the desperation that so many feel at every level of
society.

Based on what you know about these trends, do you think this is a
sustainable system? When you take a moment to let all this wash over you,
does it feel to you that this is a sustainable system? If you were to let
go of your attachment to this world, is there any way to imagine that this
is a sustainable system? Consider all the ways you have to understand the
world: Is there anything in your field of perception that tells you that
we're on the right track?

To be radically realistic in the face of all this is to recognize the
failure of basic systems and to abandon the notion that all we need do is
recalibrate the institutions that structure our lives today. The old
future - the way we thought things would work out - truly is gone. The
nation-state and capitalism are at the core of this unsustainable system,
giving rise to the high-energy/mass-consumption configuration of
privileged societies that has left us saddled with what James Howard
Kunstler calls "a living arrangement with no future".6 The future we have
been dreaming of was based on a dream, not on reality. Most of the world
that doesn't live with our privilege has no choice but to face this
reality. It's time for us to come to terms with it.

The revolutions of the past

To think about a new future, we need to understand the present. To do
that, I want to suggest a way of thinking about the past that highlights
the three major revolutions in human history - the agricultural,
industrial, and delusional revolutions.

The agricultural revolution started about 10,000 years ago when a
gathering-hunting species discovered how to cultivate plants for food. Two
crucial things resulted from that, one ecological and one political.
Ecologically, the invention of agriculture kicked off an intensive human
assault on natural systems. By that I don't mean that gathering-hunting
humans never did damage to a local ecosystem, but only that the
large-scale destruction we cope with today has its origins in agriculture,
in the way humans have exhausted the energy-rich carbon of the soil, what
Jackson would call the first step in the entrenchment of an extractive
economy. Human agricultural practices vary from place to place but have
never been sustainable over the long term. Politically, the ability to
stockpile food made possible concentrations of power and resulting
hierarchies that were foreign to gathering-hunting societies. Again, this
is not to say that humans were not capable of doing bad things to each
other prior to agriculture, but only that what we understand as
large-scale institutionalized oppression has its roots in agriculture. We
need not romanticize pre-agricultural life to recognize the ways in which
agriculture made possible dramatically different levels of
unsustainability and injustice.

The industrial revolution that began in the last half of the 18th century
in Great Britain intensified the magnitude of the human assault on
ecosystems and on each other. Unleashing the concentrated energy of coal,
oil, and natural gas to run a machine-based world has produced
unparalleled material comfort for some. Whatever one thinks of the effect
of such comforts on human psychology (and, in my view, the effect has been
mixed), the processes that produce the comfort are destroying the capacity
of the ecosystem to sustain human life as we know it into the future, and
in the present those comforts are not distributed in a fashion that is
consistent with any meaningful conception of justice. In short, the way we
live is in direct conflict with common sense and the ethical principles on
which we claim to base our lives. How is that possible?

The delusional revolution is my term for the development of sophisticated
propaganda techniques in the 20th century (especially a highly emotive,
image-based advertising system) that have produced in the bulk of the
population (especially in First World societies) a distinctly delusional
state of being. Even those of us who try to resist it often can't help but
be drawn into parts of the delusion. As a culture, we collectively end up
acting as if unsustainable systems can be sustained because we want them
to be. Much of the culture's story-telling - particularly through the
dominant story-telling institutions, the mass media - remains committed to
maintaining this delusional state. In such a culture, it becomes hard to
extract oneself from that story.

So, in summary: The agricultural revolution set us on a road to
destruction. The industrial revolution ramped up our speed. The delusional
revolution has prevented us from coming to terms with the reality of where
we are and where we are heading. That's the bad news. The worse news is
that there's still overwhelming resistance in the dominant culture to
acknowledging that these kinds of discussions are necessary. This should
not be surprising because, to quote Wes Jackson, we are living as "a
species out of context". Jackson likes to remind audiences that the modern
human - animals like us, with our brain capacity - have been on the planet
about 200,000 years, which means these revolutions constitute only about 5
percent of human history. We are living today trapped by systems in which
we did not evolve as a species over the long term and to which we are
still struggling to adapt in the short term.

Realistically, we need to get on a new road if we want there to be a
future. The old future, the road we imagined we could travel, is gone - it
is part of the delusion. Unless one accepts an irrational technological
fundamentalism (the idea that we will always be able to find
high-energy/advanced-technology fixes for problems),7 there are no easy
solutions to these ecological and human problems. The solutions, if there
are to be any, will come through a significant shift in how we live and a
dramatic down-scaling of the level at which we live. I say "if" because
there is no guarantee that there are solutions. History does not owe us a
chance to correct our mistakes just because we may want such a chance.

I think this argues for a joyful embrace of the truly awful place we find
ourselves. That may seem counter-intuitive, perhaps even a bit psychotic.
Invoking joy in response to awful circumstances? For me, this is simply to
recognize who I am and where I live. I am part of that species out of
context, saddled with the mistakes of human history and no small number of
my own tragic errors, but still alive in the world. I am aware of my
limits but eager to test them. I try to retain an intellectual humility,
the awareness that I may be wrong, while knowing I must act in the world
even though I can't be certain. Whatever the case and whatever is
possible, I want to be as fully alive as possible, which means struggling
joyfully as part of movements that search for the road to a more just and
sustainable world.

In this quest, I am often tired and afraid. To borrow a phrase from my
friend Jim Koplin, I live daily with "a profound sense of grief". And yet
every day that I can remember in recent years - in the period during which
I have come to this analysis - I have experienced some kind of joy. Often
that joy comes with the awareness that I live in a Creation that I can
never comprehend, that the complexity of the world dwarfs me. That does
not lead me to fear my insignificance, but sends me off in an endlessly
fascinating search for the significant.

To put it in a bumper-sticker phrase for contemporary pop culture, "The
world sucks/it's great to be alive".

About these crises

I have been talking about multiple crises without naming them in detail.
As I have been speaking I suspect you all have been cataloging them for
yourself. For me, they are political (the absence of meaningful democracy
in large-scale political units such as the modern nation-state), economic
(the brutal inequalities that exist internal to all capitalist systems and
between countries in a world dominated by that predatory capitalism), and
ecological (the unsustainable nature of our systems and the lifestyles
that arise from them). Beyond that, I am most disturbed by a cultural and
spiritual crisis, a condition that goes to the core of how we understand
what it means to be human.

For me, an understanding of this crisis is rooted in my feminist work on
the contemporary pornography industry. Shaped by patriarchy, white
supremacy, and that predatory corporate-capitalism, pornography provides a
disturbing mirror on our collective soul. We live in a world in which
large numbers of people (mostly men) derive sexual pleasure from images of
cruelty toward and the degradation of women. A smaller number of people
(again, mostly men) profit from this industry. And except for a few people
rooted in feminism and other radical philosophies on the margins, there is
no significant progressive critique of it in contemporary society.
Pornography is a place where we can see what the death of empathy looks
like; it offers a picture of a world bereft of the fundamental values of
compassion and solidarity; it provides a narrative of a people with no
sense of shared humanity. Many aspects of the modern world - this
mass-mediated, mass-marketed, mass-medicated world - can easily strip us
of our humanity in ways that slowly leave us incapable of responding to
these crises. Along with fretting about the other crises, I worry about
that.

Add all this up and it's pretty clear: We're in trouble. Based on my
political activism and my general sense of the state of the world, I have
come to the following conclusions about political and cultural change in
my society:

It's almost certain that no significant political change will happen in
the coming year in the United States because the culture is not ready to
face these questions. That suggests this is a time not to propose
all-encompassing solutions but to sharpen our analysis in ongoing
conversation about these crises. As activists we should continue to act,
but there also is a time and place to analyze.

It's probable that no mass movements will emerge in the next few years in
the United States that will force leaders and institutions to face these
questions. Many believe that until conditions in the First World get
dramatically worse, most people will be stuck in the inertia created by
privilege. That suggests that this is a time to expand our connections
with like-minded people and create small-scale institutions and networks
that can react quickly when political conditions change.

It's plausible that the systems in place cannot be changed peacefully and
that forces set in motion by patriarchy, white supremacy, nationalism, and
capitalism cannot be reversed without serious ruptures. That suggests that
as we plan political strategies for the best-case scenarios we not forget
to prepare ourselves for something much worse.

Finally, it's worth considering the possibility that our species - the
human with the big brain - is an evolutionary dead-end. I say that not to
be depressing but, again, to be realistic. If that's the case, it doesn't
mean we should give up. No matter how much time we humans have left on the
planet, we can do what is possible to make that time meaningful.

Globalized tribal animals

I want to end by celebrating human beings. That may sound odd, given the
rather grim nature of my remarks. But I think there's a way to put all
this in a perspective that is heartening. I return to Wes Jackson, who
doesn't shy away from naming the problems we face and holding humans
accountable for our mistakes, individual and collective. But Jackson also
often says we also should go easy on ourselves, precisely because we are a
species out of context, facing a unique challenge. He reminds us that we
are the first species that will have to self-consciously impose limits on
ourselves if we are to survive. This is no small task, and we are bound to
fail often. I believe that our failures will be easier to accept and
overcome if we recognize:

We are animals. For all our considerable rational capacities, we are
driven by forces that cannot be fully understood rationally and cannot be
completely controlled.

We are tribal animals. Whatever kind of political unit we live in, our
evolutionary history is in tribes and we are designed to live in
relatively small groups, some would say of no more than 150 persons.

We are tribal animals living in a global world. The consequences of the
past 10,000 years of human history have left us dealing with human
problems on a global scale, and we can't retreat to gathering-hunting
groups of 150 or smaller. Even if our future is going to return us to life
at a more local level, as many think it will, at the moment we have a
moral obligation to deal with injustice and unsustainability on a global
level. That's especially true for those of us living in imperial societies
that over the past 500 years have extracted considerable wealth from
others around the world.

What does this mean in practice? I think we should proceed along two basic
tracks. First, we should commit some of our energy to movements that focus
on the question of justice in this world, especially those of us with the
privilege that is rooted in that injustice. As a middle-class American
white man, I can see plenty of places to continue working, in movements
dedicated to ending patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, economic
domination by the First World, and U.S. wars of aggression.

I also think there is important work to be done in experiments to prepare
for what will come in this new future we can't yet describe in detail.
Whatever the limits of our predictive capacity, we can be pretty sure we
will need ways of organizing ourselves to help us live in a world with
less energy and fewer material goods. We have to all develop the skills
needed for that world (such as gardening with fewer inputs, food
preparation and storage, and basic tinkering), and we will need to recover
a deep sense of community that has disappeared from many of our lives.
This means abandoning a sense of ourselves as consumption machines, which
the contemporary culture promotes, and deepening our notions of what it
means to be humans in search of meaning. We have to learn to tell
different stories about our sense of self, our connection to others, and
our place in nature. The stories we tell will matter, as will the skills
we learn.

In my own life, I continue to work on those questions of justice in
existing movements, but I have shifted a considerable amount of time to
helping build local networks that can create a place for those
experiments. Different people will move toward different efforts depending
on talents and temperaments; we should all follow our hearts and minds to
apply ourselves where it makes sense, given who we are and where we live.
After starting with a warning about arrogance, I'm not about to suggest I
know best what work people should do.

I am, however, reasonably confident that if we are to make a decent future
for ourselves and our children, we have a lot of work to do. John Gorka
also expresses that in his song: "The old future's dead and gone/Never to
return/There's a new way through the hills ahead/This one we'll have to
earn/This one we'll have to earn".

We should not be afraid to face the death of the old future, nor should we
be afraid to try to earn a new one. It is the work of all the ages, and it
is our work today, more than ever. It is the work that allows one to live,
joyously, while in a profound state of grief.

A version of this essay was delivered to the Interfaith Summer Institute
for Justice, Peace, and Social Movements at Simon Fraser University in
Vancouver, August 11, 2008. Audio files of the talk and discussion are
available online from the Radio Ecoshock Show at: Jensen Speech and
Speech.

1 John Gorka, .Old Future. from the CD .Old Futures Gone,. Red House
Records, 2003. [.]

2 John Gorka. [.]

3 Richard Dawkins, .An Open Letter to Prince Charles,. May 21, 2000. [.]

4 Wes Jackson, .Toward an Ignorance-Based Worldview,. The Land Report,
Spring 2005, pp. 14-16. [.]

5 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free
Press, 1992). [.]

6 James Howard Kunstler, remarks at the meeting of The Second Vermont
Republic, October 28, 2005. [.]

7 Robert Jensen, .The four fundamentalisms and the threat to sustainable
democracy,. May 30, 2006. [.]

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at
Austin and author of Citizens of Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our
Humanity. His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of
Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). He can be reached at:
rjensen [at] uts.cc.utexas.edu. Read other articles by Robert, or visit
Robert's website.

This article was posted on Friday, August 15th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is
filed under Activism, Capitalism, Consumer Advocacy, Music.


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