Sunday, January 28, 2007

THIS WEEKEND'S PROTESTS IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND WHY THEY DON'T MATTER

WASHINGTON D.C.--With over 60% of the public against the war, it doesn't accomplish anything tangible except making people feel better. Protests used to have a more important function before the days of the internet: they were a means of sharing and trading-information amongst activists. This is still possible, but with the ease of submitting petitions, the informative-role of the blogosphere, the economy and speed of emailing, text-message devices and cell phones, this function has been usurped in a profound way by the new technologies. The personal has become political in a profound new way. Individual action has fused with collective action in a new way that almost beggars description.

This isn't to say that strategically-planned and directed demonstrations (coordinated via-the-internet) aren't useful--take the anti-globalization movement's speed and effectiveness in disrupting previously obscure economic summits. These folks get it along with groups like FARC and the Chiapan revolt: the internet is crucial in getting your side of the story out there, as well as a means of rallying-support and resources for your cause.

Information is crucial in this game, and while nothing replaces the immediacy of the face-to-face, many working-class Americans (most everyone) cannot afford the money or the time to attend something like the march on Washington yesterday. We don't have the mobility we had 30+ years-ago because of the ever-increasing demands of the workplace. The people who went to Washington either had the means, or had to make sacrifices to attend--I repeat, the majority of Americans don't have this mobility.

This is what makes the internet crucial, as ideas and opinions (contributing to a "ferment of ideas") can be easily-exchanged and debated without some of the barriers (niceties) of the one-on-one, or group-discussions. But, at least some of feel better after a demonstration. Try having to organize them under death-threats, I have. It's not 1991 anymore, and demonstrations don't have the same-effect, the edge, or the same powerful symbolism under different conditions. Again, the game has changed, and past-assertions are out. The internet cannot be taken-for-granted, it is at least as revolutionary as the invention of the printing-press in the late-1400s, possibly more. To miss this is to miss what is right in-front of your face. You know, that high-flown naivete only capable amongst the comfortable and privileged.



01.30.2007: Keep your identity politics out of our movement, you morons. It's great that you "feel better", but it's an illusory-sensation. How about doing something substantial like myself and millions of others? Some of you looked stupid on C-SPAN, and thank God hardly anyone watches it. This time, I'm grateful the coverage was minimal, there were a good number of people there (provocateurs?) who didn't represent the public mood in a dignified manner. And the yelling? What is that going to say to people outside of these movements?

This isn't a game or a social club, so go heckle at a rock concert somewhere. This is the adult playground, and people can get hurt by our pettiness. Protests just aren't crucial. They're necessary, but they aren't the whole deal. Patient work and endless civil-agitation is what we need more of, and a realization that a lot of the work to do is here on the internet. Getting together feels good, I know, but start cementing-ties with people, stop copping-out on each other. We have to make as many solid social-networks as we can. Yes, go make a friend, a real friend, and try to reach-out to those who were once Republicans and conservatives. They are out there, and they want to be Americans again.