managing our dissent this way. That's what has rattled them about the original occupations...the camps were completely out of their control and that scares the hell out of them.
I don't know how long all this will last, but I've been thinking that what we have been experiencing over the past few months can be summed up in what Prof. Douglas Brinkley told Rep. Young during a recent congressional hearing:
"You don't own me."
If you saw the clip from CSPAN, Brinkley's defiance shocked the woman sitting behind Young and it royally pissed the Representative off. That moment summed up what I think the Occupy movement has done in general: It's been a collective and defiant expression of "You don't own me" to the ruling political/economic establishment, an expression that has resonated with the larger population.
That has shocked the establishment, it's pissed them off, and it has scared them because they must, above all else, maintain their sense of control, they must know the game is rigged in their favor.
That's what will happen with these so-called "free speech zones": it will rig the game in their favor again, the ruling establishment will be able to manipulate and control the outcome of the movement, and they'll be able to re-assert that they do indeed own us.
Back in their respective frames of reference, the Beat and hippie movements were considered the cutting edge of what’s hip, cool, groovy, and what-have-you. Now they’ve been reduced to cartoonish stereotypes, largely dismissed as laughable retro deadbeats.
What happened? Well, in both cases corporate consumer culture co-opted the familiar images of countercultural rebellion and neutralized their subversive substance.
That’s probably why we don’t hear much about the Diggers these days. This anarchist collective of artists, poets, and actors weren’t hung up on making fashion statements, but they were all about living out a subversive countercultural ethos.
Appearing in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in 1966, the Diggers took their name from a group of radical farmers who rejected money and private property in 17th century England. The San Francisco Diggers revived the original Diggers’ spirit in their time and place by rejecting a modern system consisting of “those who would kill us through dumb work, insane wars,
Unlike the Utopians, though, the Diggers didn’t seclude themselves in serene, bucolic settings where they sat around jerking off manually. They took their revolutionary, laid-back vibe directly to the streets of San Francisco and created new ways to provide free healthcare, free food, and free clothes to anyone who needed them while staging free community concerts and street celebrations.
Unlike with the Beats and hippies, the Man couldn’t absorb the potency of the Digger movement, which is why it’s largely forgotten today by official history. But with all the new shit involving dumb work, insane wars, and dull money morality coming to light in our society today, perhaps the time is ripe for a new generation to dig the Diggers again.
It took about a century of struggling, dying, numerous setbacks, and hard-earned victories before that travesty was rectified.
We're going to have to settle in and start doing the hard work to dig out of the hole we're in. We may not get out of the hole, frankly, but whatever progress we make will, I hope, inspire upcoming generations to keep up the fight.
Then one fine morning....
What's the big picture?
It transcends the politics of the moment, which is where most of us who follow politics can't help but focus on. But so much of that is a stacked deck and it's stacked against most of us and what we value and what we need.
The big picture, imo, is the ancient struggle between the interests of the few versus the interests of the many.
Ancient Athens had an ongoing tension between democrats and oligarchs. Rome ousted kings, began a republic, but the struggle between the populares (sort of their version of liberal Democrats) and the optimares (conservative Republicans) finally tore it apart and the rule of emperors and wealthy families dominated.
This ancient struggle is what we have come to see today in terms of the right versus the left. These terms arose sometime after the French Revolution when those who supported aristocratic interests sat on the right side of the Parliament, and those who supported egalitarian progress sat on the left.
After the Industrial Revolution, America had its version of the left (socialists, unionists, anarchists, etc.) and the right (the robber barons, etc.) and the two sides literally fought each other in the ancient battle described above. The much maligned '60s is the last time, imo, that there was a clear upsurge in this battle between the left and right.
Since then, I think we've become bogged down in our modern superficial understanding of these terms and have forgotten their deeper roots. The right today is seen as red state types: Guns, God, Gays, and all that crap. The left is seen as blue state types: what that infamous anti-Dean commercial characterized as a "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show."
These terms reduce the conflict down to lifestyles instead of between democrats (small "d") versus oligarchs; populares versus optimares; leftwing support of expanding wealth and power versus rightwing support of conserving aristocratic wealth and privilege.
On today's right and left, we get caught up in personalities and in scoring points against opponents but, as far as I can tell, most of us are not seeing that this battle that goes back at least to Western Civilization's beginnings is still being waged and that the interests of "our side" (the democrats, the populares, the left...of common working people) are getting trampled in terms of that big picture, no matter how many victories or partial victories we score in the narrow and controlled focus of the politics of the moment.
The right has been very successful in obscuring the big picture ever since Reagan came along and duped a lot of "common" people into cheering on what are traditionally oligarchic/aristocratic interests.
I think until common working people in "red" and "blue" states realize together what's at stake in the big picture, we will continue to be royally screwed.
The rightwing is traditionally associated with aristocracy. By its very definition the conservative/right has always resisted any progress in expanding political power and redistributing a society's wealth more equitably. What Reagan and his ilk have done by co-opting a lot of the left's rhetoric (he quoted Thomas Paine, of all people) is to dupe "commoners" into cheering on the interests of aristocrats.
Reagan "revolution"? Hardly. It was the Reagan Reaction of economic royalists (that's what FDR called them) against the egalitarian gains of the '60s and '70s. They were successful in erasing many of those, and now they're setting out to erase the gains of the New Deal. I honestly believe they're not going to be happy until they've restored the good ol' days before the Enlightenment.
The rightwing of Western politics has always despised democracy.
What would the Dude do?
That is the central spiritual, if not theological, concern of the Church of the Latter-day Dude, the totally not-fake religion based on the ethos of Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, the slacker savior of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 cult masterpiece "The Big Lebowski."
Organized (or rather, disorganized) in 2005, the Church of the Latter-day Dude, aka "Dudeism," which prides itself for being "the slowest growing religion in the world," has ordained more than 120,000 Dudeist priests worldwide -- including yours truly.
Dudeism has evolved (yes, slowly) over the last six years from its birth as the brainchild of founder Oliver Benjamin, a journalist and native Californian who splits his time between Los Angeles and Chiang Mai, Thailand. But the transmission of Dudeist beliefs and practices have been largely an informal affair that has escaped formal codification.
Well, Dude, that is about to change with the publication of "The Abide Guide: Living Like Lebowski," the official Dudeist Bible, if you will, assembled by Benjamin and Dwayne Eutsey, who is better known in Dudeist circles as "The Arch Dudeship" and founder of the Dudest monastic order known as The Brotherhood Shamus.
More at the link...
What makes a man?
Many popular movies have attempted to tackle that timeless question by serving up sweaty examples of shirtless, brawny action heroes running around blowing things up with oversized, phallic firearms.
It looks exhausting, man.
That might be why a lot of guys today are finding comfort in a more relaxed image of manliness, one embodied by a bathrobe-clad slacker sipping creamy cocktails and taking it easy for all us stressed-out sinners.
We’re talking about The Dude here, a real inaction hero made famous by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. While The Dude isn’t exactly a hero (‘cause what’s a hero?), ever since the Coen Brothers introduced him to an uptight world back in the ‘90s, this laid-back stoner icon has sparked a worldwide following of dude-icated devotees.
They don bathrobes, down Caucasians (The Dude’s favorite beverage) and do dudely things at annual Lebowski Fests like bowl, listen to some jams and have the occasional acid flashback. There’s even a new religion based on The Dude called Dudeism, with over 130,000 ordained priests worldwide and a new book on the way. Here are the top 10 manly things Dudeism’s founders believe make their idol of idleness the non-traditional man for our time and place.
More at the link
Abide Guide Contents
- In the Beginning was the Dude Way
- The Whole Durn Dudeist Comedy (Introduction)
- The Dude Testament
II. Wiser Fellers Than Ourselves – Dudeist History
- Great Dudes in History
- Book of Revolutions: Dudeist Prophecy
- Dudeist Movements: Dudeism Down Through the Ages
- Creating a More Dude-ocratic Society: – The Politics of the Dude
- Cinema Verte: Stoner Films and The Big Lebowski
- Subjects Like Women – Dudeist Feminism by The Maude Squad
III. Making it to Practice – Dudeist Lifestyle and Techniques
- Self-Help Chopperin’ In: The Dudeism Helping to Abide Movement (DHAM)
- Duderinos Unanimous: A 12-Step Program for Personal Dudevolution
- Dudeitation: Just drop in to see what condition your condition is in
- This Aggression Will Not Stand: Dude-Jitsu, the Dudeist Art of Self-Defense
- Some Kind of Yoga: A Natural, Zesty Exercise
- Thankie – The Power of Dudeiversal Energy by Rev. Andrea Da Favro
- Fungin Shway: The Dudeist Science of Really Tying Your Room Together
- Where’s the Money Lebowski? Tips on feeding the monkey by Rev. Josh Max
In the recent issue of Harper's, Thomas Frank wrote an interesting essay entitled "Servile Disobedience." In it, Frank discusses a 2009 study that found that "higher-status people" lack empathy. The entire essay is worth reading, but here are some excerpts I wanted to share:
"...we have spent the past thirty years doing everything we could to transfer the wealth of the nation into the bank accounts of the affluent, to send them victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us.
"Oh, we've cut their taxes, gladly transferring much of the cost of keeping their holdings safe onto our own shoulders. We've furnished them with special megaphones so that their voices might be heard over the hubbub of the crowd. We have conferred upon them separate and better schools, their very own transportation system, and a full complement of private security guards. We've built an entire culture of courtiers and sycophants to make their every waking hour an otherworldly delight.
"We let them build a system of bonuses and 'executive compensation' on the theory that it would be good for everyone if the people on top got to take home much, much more. And when it turned out that the theory was wrong--that in the most famous cases the rich chased bonuses not to the shareholders' benefit but at their expense--why, we promptly bailed them out. We allowed them to step up to the Fed's discount window and fill their pockets, we generously transferred their dumb investments to our balance sheet, and we sent them off with little more than a request that they please not do it again. We've done everything we can to lift them up and exalt them as a new leviathan; the least they can do in return, one feels, is show a little empathy."
In case removing these excerpts from the larger essay has lost Frank's edge, his last sentence there is
A vision of society that is fair and equitable, not tilted in favor of the wealthy and privileged.
That means the resources of the society are accessible to all citizens of the society: health care, education, good housing, jobs, public space, etc. It also means all citizens have equal rights and are all under the law as well as protected by the law.
Since the American Revolution, progressives like Thomas Paine have advocated and fought for a society in which those resources and rights are available to the poor, to racial minorities, to women...to everyone, in other words, and not just limited to white wealthy men.
George Lakoff says that "taxes", when seen in that progressive worldview, are investments in what makes our society beneficial to all its citizens.
As someone from the working poor, I've benefited personally from those investments, especially in education...public schools and financial aid that helped me be the first in my family to go to college. I'm "able-bodied" but I was also flat broke with a history of generational poverty.
I'm thankful for progressives who fought before me to make that opportunity open to me and that's why I'm a progressive now fighting a sometimes seemingly losing battle to keep those opportunities open to future generations.
A brief remembrance I wrote:
Thirty years ago today, a deranged man murdered John Lennon on the street in New York City.
I can still remember clearly when I heard the news that day, oh boy.
I was a teenager attending Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (CSDHS) at the time, so it was rare for me to wake up early in the morning (especially on a school day). My mom, in fact, would have to knock on my bedroom door a few times after my alarm clock went off just to get me out of bed.
On that morning 30 years ago, however, I woke up before the sunrise. I’m still not sure why. Because I couldn’t go back to sleep, I switched on the radio beside my bed and searched the dial for something to listen to before the dreaded alarm clock went off.
I found a station playing the Beatles’ classic “A Day in the Life,” one of my all-time favorite songs, and laid there in the pre-dawn dark savoring it. By the time the haunting tune had reached its dramatic finale, I was drifting between sleep and consciousness as that crashing, concluding piano chord slowly faded.
“John Lennon, dead at age 40,” the deejay somberly announced in the growing silence.
All these years later, I can still feel the shock of that moment reverberating like that endless piano chord.
Why is that, I wonder?
I was becoming a huge Beatlemaniac at the time, so that’s part of it. However, even non-Beatle fans could be appalled by the violent way Lennon’s life abruptly ended outside his apartment that night. It’s a perfectly human response to tragedy, however far removed from our personal lives it might be.
In my case, though, I walked through the halls of CSDHS all day in a daze, profoundly shaken by a sense of grief over the loss of someone I never actually knew.
Why was that?
More at link:
There’s a controversial billboard in New Jersey featuring what appears to be a traditional nativity scene:
A bright star shines in the night sky above the silhouettes of a man and a woman kneeling beside a manger in a humble barn, with three men riding on camels approaching.
What’s causing the big controversy (if the strife-hungry news media can be believed, anyway) is not this rather conventional representation of the birth of Jesus; it’s the eye-grabbing message above it that creating a stir:
“You know it’s a MYTH! This season, celebrate REASON!”
According to American Atheists, the group sponsoring the billboard, the message is targeting what they call “closet atheists” who are supposedly afraid to express their true beliefs, or nonbeliefs, during this time of year.
However, as you can imagine, the billboard has also caught the attention of many Christian believers.
The Catholic League, in fact, has sponsored a billboard across from the atheists’ sign featuring a large image of people dressed as the stereotypical Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus with “You Know it’s Real. This Season, Celebrate Jesus.” written above it in large letters.
In the report I saw on TV Wednesday morning, the CBS correspondent, known for her quirky focus on offbeat stories, featured representatives from the two opposing sides. The atheist basically derided people of faith for believing in a God that everyone “knows” doesn’t exist, while the believer accused atheists of believing in nothing or in the “fairy tale” of evolution.
Blah blah blah humbug.
This “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” level of discourse illustrates for me what I find so frustrating about the alleged “War on Christmas” we hear about as the holiday season approaches, as well as the grudge-match these two groups have year-round.
What both sides don’t seem to get is that yes, Virginia, the Christmas story IS a myth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Before you think I’ve been sampling the spiked eggnog early, let me explain.
More at link...
like Capra's old WWII series, especially the one where he contrasts the "free world" with the "slave world" of fascism.
I think this kind of bare-knuckled approach would help provide a clear vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we're fighting against.
I like Michael Moore, but I think such a campaign would not have a lot of clownishness in it, but just straight-up, in-your-face "this is what's at stake" type of visuals and narrative. Short and hard-hitting.
The official Dems would probably be frightened of such a raw approach (Rahm would probably stroke out), but I would bet there are many rank-and-file Dems and progressives who would be energized by it and it might just draw the middle-of-the-road types to the Left.
I would also imagine there are people on our side with the talent and resources who could put something like this together.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Today's Featured Forums