Monday, April 20, 2009
Celebrating The Progressive Magazine
While I've been reading The Progressive off and on for my entire adult life, I really was not aware of the history of the magazine and its pretty consistent, ah, progressive editorial perspective.
For example, in 1925 they took a stand against the attempts to eradicate Indian/Native American culture through the boarding school system.
This got me to thinking about the role of truly left-of-center magazines in US culture. (I use the qualifier "truly" because I don't particularly count, say, The Nation or The Atlantic. Mags like those are examples of the very conventional establishment talking to itself and not significantly challenging the status quo.)
I look at the newsstands packed with lifestyle mags, entertainment and celebrity pablum, and I wonder why people are so easily distracted from the central issues in their lives. We seem so helpless and hopeless, acted upon rather than actors.
I try to remember that revolution is always an option.
You should too.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
25 Radical Ways to Change Society
I was struck by the weakly Liberal tone of many of the suggestions. Perhaps it's just the self-congratulatory attitude of self-importance permeating it that annoys me. The whole list reeks of "Look at me! I'm making a big change in the world! And I'm telling you all about it!"
While educating people has value, it isn't the same as actually effecting change with sweat and physical action. Most blogs are the equivalent of parlor pontification.
I started to wonder what a more radical version might look like, a version that put more emphasis on doing things in the world rather than just blogging about doing things. So here is my first attempt at such a list. It's repetitious in places but it's intended to mirror the original list linked above. I just re-wrote each numbered point as I came to it. It's not perfect but it's mine.
1. Start simple: Steal from large corporations.
2. Join an activist group, a group that performs direct action.
3. Or if there isn't a group with politics or an activist philosophy you agree with, create your own. Form a small group of trusted people and collectively decide on goals and actions.
4. Videoblog an interview with someone with radical political views. Ask them about strategies to transform society.
5. Share a meal with a stranger, someone not like you.
6. Has someone you love been affected by class warfare or capitalism's indifference to individual suffering?? Share your story and raise awareness.
7. Demand change from government and corporations. Be specific.
8. Petitions are rarely effective at changing institutions or governments. Do not delude yourself that they are useful.
9. Vlog a political demonstration. If there is a strong police presence, show it.
10. Twitter is a distraction. Don't mistake it for action.
11. Write about your experiences and concrete methods for transforming society, not in the future but now, today.
12. Instead of writing on how global human rights issues can be alleviated, volunteer at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a free medical clinic. Find out how human rights are being violated in your neighborhood.
13. Participate in a political demonstration or protest. Get arrested.
14. Invite someone who is a political radical to mentor you.
15. Discuss how direct action can change society more than blogging.
16. Instead of correcting injustice through the proxies of non-profit and advocacy organizations, see if there is anything you can do in person. Be a participant, not a donor.
17. Highlight grassroots organizations.
18. Be involved in social justice/human rights efforts.
19. Create an effective means to implement social justice.
20. Discuss how school curricula stifles and suppresses citizen responsibility in students. Start independent student-led and student-run organizations. Empower students, don't patronize them.
21. Find out who profits from wars. Develop an analysis of imperialism and how it relates to colonialism. Apply it to the United States foreign policy over the last century.
22. Ask your readers to create a revolution, even a small one.
23. Spend less time blogging and reading blogs. Spend more time acting, deliberately and radically.
25. Blogging has limited influence, on you and others. Acting transforms you and society deeply. Never mistake theory for practice. Do it. Do it now.