A few things worth reading today

by fp on September 8, 2010

in Democracy,Party politics,Wealth disparities

Thanks to Karl Martino for these links:
Remembering how the white working class got left out of the New Left, and why we’re all paying for it today, by Joan Walsh in Salon

The United States of Inequality, by Timothy Noah, a continuing series in Slate focussed on income disparity in the US.

Rebooting Democracy: thoughts on Activists versus Pundits and Law, by Karl Martino at his Paradox1x blog. (This wasn’t on the short list Karl sent me. Maybe his modesty forbade mention of his own work.)

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Betty Jo September 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

Certainly it can be challenging to access some of the trillions of pages of government regulations that bind us into compliance with the corporate worldview. However I think maybe that is more a problem for pundits
than activists. I’m thinking maybe the reason why the tenor of discourse has become so strident, and the reason our democracy seems to be hanging by Glenn’s thin thread, is that we have developed a culture that has difficulty distinguishing the virtual world from the real one.

I once found myself on the email list of one of my Mom’s old friends in Arizona. Nearly daily I would get another “PASS IT ON!” diatribe agin’ those Mexcans, Welfare cheats, etc. etc. None wished to read a rebuttal
of this vicious fear and hate mongering. Such emails were generally characterized by many paragraphs highlighted in color, large font and of course, capital letters. Indeed, I came to believe these features represented for the authors, an indication of the level of their “activism”. The harder they tapped those computer keys, the louder
the yelling displayed in their product, the more “ACTIVE” they were.

It’s rather like listening to a Glenn Beck, and feeling actively rightous when they yell across the living room to his image on the screen “DAMN RIGHT!”

And yet, such activity all occurs from the comfort of the front room or computer chair. It is essentially virtual.

Political activism on the other hand, it seems to me entails the much harder work of actually talking to people who might disagree with you. It consists of crafting arguments for their persuasion value rather than the self gratification of dumping on opponents. It consists of actually bringing those groceries to the food bank, those blankets to the blanket drive, knocking on doors and driving folks to the polls when one might otherwise be about one’s own business instead.

It’s so much easier to deal in the virtual world and just pretend that counts as our contribution to and participation in our democracy.

fp September 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Sharing insights with those who disagree with us is the smallest part of political activism, I think. Far more important to organize to address a common problem, bring the blankets, stock the food pantry, whatever.

Of course when that doesn’t seem to be rolling back the black tide of pollution or relieving the economic burdens of depression we can always return to THAT DAMN GEORGE BUSH CAUSED IT ALL, and/or THAT CRAZY OBAMA ISN’T EVEN A CITIZEN.

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