I'm listening to some of the audio from the National Conference on Media Reform, which are good. I just wanted to reprint this deft and funny justification that Amy Goodman gave for plugging Democracy Now! wares in her keynote speech.
We're selling t-shirts and DVDs--I say that because you will know that public media has arrived when it is the Pentagon that has to hold a DVD and t-shirt sale to buy its battleships and public media in this country gets an eighty seven billion dollar blank cheque.Another great line, from one of the founders of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Centre (transcript here):
If you elect people to represent you, you learn how to complain instead of learning the difficult work of building fair policy in a diverse society. If you have a maid to cook for you, then you never learn how to cook. If you leave storytelling up to experts, then you forget how to tell your own story.Ralph Nader's speech [mp3, you'll need broadband] contains a few years of material for any independent investigative journalists out there in the US, and manages to be funny and engaging as well.
I just got a copy of Mos Def and Talib Kweli's 'Black Star' album, and while doing some reading about Mos Def, came across this interesting excerpt of an interview for a book on Tupac, of all things.
Mos Def, praised as one of the leaders of "conscious rap," refuses to think in such narrow terms. "They've got their little categories, like 'conscious' and 'gangsta,'" says Mos Def. "It used to be a thing where hip-hop was all together. Fresh Prince would be on tour with NWA. It wasn't like, 'You have got to like me in order for me to like you.' That's just some more white folks trying to think that all niggas are alike, and now it's expanded. It used to be one type of nigga; now it's two. There is so much more dimension to who we are. A monolith is a monolith, even if there's two monoliths to choose from." Mos Def sees the danger, however, in having only one dimension of the black experience get airplay, which in present terms is usually of the bling-bling or thug variety. "I ain't mad at Snoop. I'm not mad at Master P. I ain't mad at the Hot Boyz. I'm mad when that's all I see. I would be mad if I looked up and all I saw on TV was me or Common or the Roots, because I know that ain't the whole deal. The real joy is when you can kick it with everyone. That's what hip-hop is all about." [...] Mos Def is careful to avoid accepting the praise -and the typecasting- of corporate interests that deny the complexity of black identity and culture. "They keep trying to slip the 'conscious rapper' thing on me," he says. "I come from Roosevelt Projects, man. The ghetto. I drank the same sugar water, ate hard candy. And they try to get me because I'm supposed to be more articulate, I'm supposed to be not like the other Negroes, to get me to say something against my brothers. I'm not going out like that, man."
Not being able to sleep, I started reading misnomer entries from way back in 2000, when I was still saying that "the US government killed Iraqi civilians today" at the top of every posting.
In any case, I found a few links worth present-day attention:
Salon: Being Martin Heidegger
Robert Jensen: Lingering Question: Is Dick Cheney Guilty Of War Crimes Against Iraqis? (Remember, this is 2000.)
Global Exchange: 10 Ways to Democratize the Global Economy
CBC's National: Interview with Fidel Castro
I'm researching conferences on Independent Media that have ocurred over the past few years.
NYC Media Conference (same as above?)
Know of others? Post a comment with pointers!
(On a side note, this is the 1000th post to misnomer, and this weblog has been going for four years, as of this month.)
If you haven't heard, Paul Martin (who is the Prime Minister of Canada) has threatened to sue PaulMartinTime.ca. The latter is a parody of Martin's official campaign site; they're saying we took their intellectual property. Canadian copyright law is much more strict than it is in the US. Parody has much less protection.
If we take it to court, it'll be a matter of setting the future precedent for cases like ours.
In any case, our site got some media attention out of the deal, including my first appearance in a Canadian Press article. It's like AP, but smaller and Canadian.
Mostly, I'm happy that the site is getting mainstream attention.
This passive, no moving parts digital sundial is really neat.
Ralph Nader's "Presidential Exploratory Comittee" has a survey asking if you would support a Nader campaign in 2004.
I wrote the following in the comments box:
"While I believe that the getting Bush out is a major priority, I don't see that there is the will among democrats to do the right thing. Indeed, there is not the will to think the right thing. They have supported Bush in too many of his shenanigans to be credible. A third party is necessary to restore a modicum of sanity and accountability, however unlikely a win."
David Grenier is back, with the ubiquitous "I'm back, and I have no readers" post. He writes:
Anyway, this isnít tip-top for my first entry back, but since Iíve probably lost all of my dozens of dedicated fans in the months of my hiatus, you think Iím going to put my best stuff out there first when no one will see it?So this is my effort to send the hordes of dedicated misnomer followers over there, so that Dave will commence with the good stuff, already.
Kellan says, decisively:
Will the 527s (MoveOn, Americans Coming Together, etc.) turn into yet another clutch of big-money funded, unaccountable interest groups? - Probably the most important question facing liberal/progressive organizers right now.A sentiment worth amplifying through my now-read-by-maybe-three-people weblog. Most things that start from scratch, with grassroots support, Mean Well and even Get Good Work Done. But if they're centralized in their decisionmaking and not accountable to the people supporting them, these kinds of organizations tend to take on their own internal logic, gradually stretching and severing their connection to the urgent reality that inspired their creation in the first place.
Careerists take over, and institute ways to recognize each other and, feel good about themselves, and "have more power" (to do more good, of course). Having more power ends up being an illusion, though. A tarbaby.
These days, I see three basic ways of dealing with this problem:
- Set up democratic structures and practices that keep everyone anchored to reality, and the real concerns of the day.
- Provide the means for controlled revolutions, while maintaining the useful institutional structure and amassed resources and networks.
- As soon as an institution stops being responsive, wipe it out and start something new.
I tend to favour #3, as I'm something of an idealist and not usually keen on compromising a radical understanding for short term comfort. At the end of the "Basic Plan" for the Dominion, I wrote that the final success of such a project would be to
Surpass Globe and Mail and Toronto Star in circulation. Quit, start a new national paper.I simply am convinced that by the time any kind of major breakthrough had been reached, the paper would have acquired it's own internal logic, it's own unaccountable reason for existing, and there would be a need for something to rise anew from the margins.
But that's a personal decision. When it comes to mass movements, things are more tricky. By deciding to quit and start over, one risks losing momentum or making major concessions to political opponents. These decisions can have major consequences.
My only useful thought in this context is micropolitical: there is a need to cultivate democratic practices at the level of everyday existence. By consistently devolving and redistributing power as widely as possible, one keeps the possibilty of responsiveness (or less profoundly, accountability) open. It might even inspire others... while taking on its own unintended, unpredicted evolution.
Making things more democratic on the local level ought to be priority #1 for all progressives... regardless of how successful or unsuccessful organizations like MoveOn are.
All this makes me want to find out more about Cuba. From the evidence presented by Isaac Saney in Cuba: a revolution in motion, it seems that when (with the collapse of the USSR) the country lost over half of its trade, it responded by becoming more democratic. As a result, many grassroots solutions to major problems (like a total lack of chemicals and equipment for agriculture, for example) were developed.
This seems counter to the tendencies of most modern democracies, which seem willing to defer to "leadership" at the first sign of a crisis. That is, of course, exactly wrong--though understandable in a society raised on the presumption of scarcity and the glorification of greed.
In any case, if there's anything to the Cuba example, it ought to be better understood.
Launched on the day Paul Martin becomes Prime Minister, PaulMartinTime.ca aims to be a "comprehensive, independent source of news, analysis, and discussion about our new Prime Minister."
I'm particularly a fan of the Martintrospection Blog, where people can write as Martin in the first person, and attempt to understand why he makes the policy that he does.
(Disclosure: I've done a lot of work on this site.)
Comedy Central has Gov. Bush debate Pres. Bush, to good effect.
As folks have probably noticed, I haven't been updating this site too often, though you never know when I'll go on a posting spree.
In any case, I do update the Dominion Weblog every day (or close to it).
...do major Operating System upgrades make your computer faster. I was hesitant to install Mac OS 10.3, but did it anyway. Cool features and a way more responsive system. Who'd've thought?
Steven Johnson offers explanations for why this is, and asks others to post theirs.