March on the capitol!
March in front of the White House!
Everyone loves a good rally or demonstration.
It’s exciting. Sometimes we even get to see heads busted!
Yep! Nothing like a whole bunch of people waving hand-drawn signs.
Except these days . . . no one notices.
It used to be the way the “voice” or the “concern” or even the “rage” of the masses could be heard. We could make those folks at the top of the power pyramid listen to us . . . or else! Rallies with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of chanting, marching, yelling, fired up protestors appeared to portend big changes, or at least the potential for them. These public events — some massive like the Million Man March in Washington DC on October 16, 1995 — represented “people power” and grass-roots democracy in its rawest, perhaps most effective, form. Or so we believed at the time.
Modern mythology would have it that it was the campus protests of the late 60s and early 70s that stopped the Vietnam War. That feminists burning their bras ushered in the era of equal rights for women. That the Civil Rights marches beginning with Martin Luther King Jr. leading historic protest marches in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama created critical momentum for historic changes in civil rights laws and an end to persecution of African-Americans. Even going back to the 30s, we credit demonstrations coupled with various other forms of political and personal activism, with monumental breakthroughs in the improvement of wages, job security and working conditions.
How important these highly visible street demonstrations were to ultimately changing the landscape of America is debatable.
The durability of their effects is not. Everything went forward, then went in reverse.
Yes, things changed. There were positive developments which came out of street protests.
But look at the state of things now!
The labor union movement has been all but destroyed. Wages have been stagnant now for decades. Union membership is pathetically low. Worker benefits are being slashed. Job security is measured in weeks, not years.
Yes, we’re out of Vietnam but we’re currently engaged in six other wars, have spread our military footprint to 147 nations with over 900 bases, have specials operations and proxy fighters in Africa, Asia, South America — everywhere! — doing under the cloak of secrecy whatever these “invisible” fighters do on behalf of the empire builders, using incidentally your tax dollars to wreak havoc across the globe and increase the threat of terrorism.
The assault on women’s rights is a 360º affair, with the juggernaut against choice ramping up, the struggle for equal pay going down the same road as the struggle for livable wages, a President-elect who is more known for articulating the advantages of pussy-grabbing than anything resembling coherent policies, females more and more rendered as sex objects in every form of media and entertainment. Patriarchy is healthily ensconced in the agencies of government and the power centers of crony capitalism.
Set-backs in eliminating racism are prominent on many fronts these days. Muslims are openly vilified, blacks marginalized, refugees of all shades of brown bartered as political pawns. Racist slurs, vulgar stereotypes, xenophobic tirades, ultra-nationalistic and even White supremacist memes appear regularly with less salient blow back than we’ve seen in sixty years. With our first African-American president we witnessed the fortunes of the African-American community go backwards. Obama promised early in his presidency to have an adult conversation on race. He apparently forgot. Now we have an openly racist incoming administration, a frightening assembly of socially conservative autocrats, which promises to further divide and polarize a frustrated and angry citizenry.
All of these longstanding challenges and crises certainly were well-represented and each had in some forgotten past their 15 minutes of fame and expression in well-organized and highly visible street protests. Even more recently, we witnessed the promise of the same in the Ferguson and Black Lives Matter marches.
But let’s bravely confront some new realities and draw some honest conclusions.
Apparently, even the best attempts at facilitating reform by mass demonstrations might in the short run be effective, but whatever good comes of it will through steady attrition and relentless pressure by the rich and powerful eventually be undone, often leaving us worse off than when we started.
Look at our democracy. Well . . . you can’t look at our democracy. It doesn’t exist now. This is our reward for attempting election cycle after election cycle to make adjustments and incremental improvements in the mechanisms of our electoral process. We used the accepted, official, approved channels to try to make voter registration more efficient and accessible, make ballot counting more transparent and free of error, allegedly make real choice at the polls pervasive. What we have is a rigged system where literally millions of citizens are denied their constitutional right to vote, electronic voting machines can be programmed to switch votes and leave no paper trail, and the two major parties taking turns gerrymandering any representative verisimilitude out of our local districts. As a result, at least for now, our representative democracy is a representative sham.
What can we do? Protest? March on our state capitals and Washington DC?
The evidence is unambiguous. It has recently become obvious that street demonstrations are pretty much a non-starter. Any attempts at public assembly are so curtailed by police control, protestors are catalogued for future harassment, many are arrested and booked for no better reason than just being there, attempts to document police malfeasance and excessive brutality illegally but no less finally crushed.
Point in case: Once the “establishment” realized that Occupy Wall Street was gaining serious momentum, it was just a matter of a couple weeks before it was completely taken apart. The movement was infiltrated by the FBI and local undercover officers, all sorts of new health and safety regulations suddenly popped up, the protesters were intimidated, cleared out, and/or arrested. This was coordinated from the top and took place nationally in a remarkably well-organized, perfectly-orchestrated eradication of the movement.
The suppression of free speech — the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression and dissent — has been assured by corporate and state control of the media. “Perception management” is the new tool of choice — which is just a euphemism for creating official narratives which bear no relation to actual events but serve the purposes of the ruling class. The latest assault has taken the form of a neo-McCarthyism, the heavy-handed maligning of dissenting views as fake news and smearing non-establishment journalists and protestors as anti-American thugs, just tools and agents of foreign governments.
The predictable result is that when people get out in the streets to make their voices heard, either they get no media coverage, or they are vilified as anti-patriotic, stray members of a lunatic fringe, or threats to national security.
Even one of the self-identified founders of Occupy Wall Street, Micah White, in a recent interview characterized the use of mass demonstrations as now being largely ineffective.
So what can we do?
Let me propose something which on the surface sounds ludicrous but I believe holds the key to our success.
We need to hide in plain sight!
No, I’m not joking. In future articles, I’ll explain in detail exactly what I mean. For now, here’s a preview of what I’m suggesting . . .
The corporate state now keeps us in check by perpetuating two illusions: 1) We are free, even encouraged to offer input into the system through a number of established channels; and 2) we ultimately express our will and affect the direction of the country by voting.
Thus, we can organize petitions because the powers will just ignore them.
We can conduct opinion polls because they can just discredit and ignore them.
We can organize community groups because that will keep us busy and distracted.
We can vote because ultimately the elite intend to install their own puppets anyway.
Fine! If in order to prevent an insurrection and real revolution, the rich and powerful wish to continue promoting the myths that we are self-governing, that we have a voice, that our votes count, I say we call their bluff. They can’t complain if we’re just being good citizens. They can’t attack us if we appear to be following the rules.
We work within the official channels because . . .
I believe that all of these approved mechanisms can be used to organize the vast majority of Americans into an enormous voting bloc. We have much more uniting us than dividing us. But currently we do not control either the conversation, the narrative, or the agenda. I believe that if we take control of the conversation and narrative, then create — or ‘discover’ might be the operating term — an agenda which aligns with our priorities and needs, not that of the rich and powerful ruling elite, we can mount a soft revolution in this country.
We can do this in plain sight, apparently just being good, obedient citizens.
This will require some creative thinking, thorough planning, and rigorous discipline.
We will definitely need to think way outside the box. But trust me . . . it can be done!
What we’ve been doing thus far, street demonstrations being now high on the list, is not working. Time for fresh thinking, exciting new tactics, innovative new strategies.
For a preview of where I’m heading with this:
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