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"Let Us Be Dissatisfied" and While We Are At It, Rude.


Stop with all the "civility". Civility isn't the problem. It's the inequality. And it's the lack of any in depth talk about it. One of my favorite lefties is Doug Henwood who wrote the 1997 book "Wall Street". Naomi Prins called the book " visionary" for its warning about derivatives and the foolishness of neo-liberalism. He has a blog and a radio program in NYC. He also has a must read newsletter called "The Left Business Observer" that recently Joseph Stiglitz noted by saying that it was filled with “wonderful rants and some very interesting facts.”

I was pondering the recent media coverage of the Tuscon shootings and noted how shallow the commentary was. Should congress critters sit together at the SOTU?; as if being "civil" was the problem we have in America today? Was the shooter a paranoid schizophrenic? The vapidness of the commentary was really getting to me and was in sharp contrast to commemorations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The great speech of MLK, Jr called "Where Do We Go From Here?" is easily my favorite speech of his and one that I reread often. At the end of the speech he does not say "So, folks, let's all sharpen our instinct for empathy." He said:

So, I conclude by saying again today that we have a task and let us go out with a "divine dissatisfaction." Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family is living in a decent sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality, integrated education. Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity. Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character and not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied. Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together. and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied. And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout "White Power!" - when nobody will shout "Black Power!" - but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.

And then I went to Doug Henwood's site.
And, bless his heart, he had a rant "Against Civility". And he phrased his annoyance at the media coverage of Tucson and the President's speech better than I did. He didn't call it shallow, he called it stupid.

The problem with the rudeness in American political discourse is that it’s often so stupid, not that it’s so rude. The idea that politics can be civil is a fantasy for elite technocrats and the well-heeled. I’m reminded of something that Adolph Reed once said to me, characterizing a mutual acquaintance as the kind of person who thinks that if you could just get all the smart people together on Martha’s Vineyard, they could solve all our social problems. Obviously they couldn’t.

It is our job to dig deeper and to avoid cliches, weasel words, and management speak in discussing what is happening in America. Arizona is in deep financial trouble as are most states. There are no jobs and no hope for them for young and old alike. It's the taking of stimulus tax cuts and not creating jobs but buying land instead like the recent case of Pulte Homes. 971 million in tax cuts; jobs cut instead It's criminal fraud by banks. It's the theft of our wages by keeping unemployment high. It's the pillaging of our futures by market manipulation. It's the inequality, stupid.

So let us all be dissatisfied.

More from Doug Henwood in my next diary about radio.

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Submitted by lambert on

It got a bit lost in the friggin SOTU (opportunity cost).

I don't want civility, I want the repudiation of eliminationist rhetoric. I think the first works against us (as it is intended to do), and the second works for us (which is why nobody wants to do it, and civility obfuscates it).

I'm looking forward to a radio post. The Greens clusterfuck tonight makes me think there's room for a real left radio alternative. Just simply technical competence (i.e., respect for the listeners time!!!!) would be a breath of fresh air, and our talking points are way better.

Submitted by hipparchia on

I'm looking forward to a radio post. The Greens clusterfuck tonight makes me think there's room for a real left radio alternative. Just simply technical competence (i.e., respect for the listeners time!!!!) would be a breath of fresh air, and our talking points are way better.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

The lack of money, and the absolute lack of "professional" politicians does place the party at a disadvantage, but that, IMHO, does not excuse the lack of tech and pr savvy that are required to spread the word. It's as if, in the age of Gutenberg, we are still hand-copying classics. I am asking those of you who decry our drawbacks to step up and volunteer skills, ideas, perhaps even your time in a local/state Green party, to help us make our message better. I know that we can use all the help we can get, and your party is only as good as your input.

Submitted by lambert on

Julia, maybe I'm reacting out of anger (always bad for me) but what I saw was almost a culture that wanted to fail, that was comfortable with FAIL. I think the local level idea is sound tactically and strategically, but if a consequence of that for the organization is "this is all we can do," and "this is how we are,"* then that is very bad. Nice people, and all, and I was welcomed in chat, but the reason I was in chat in the first place was that the national green response to the SOTU began with a twenty-minute Skype FAIL, and that was how they introduced themselves to me. Worse, the content was mediocre at best, sloppy and prolix and unfocused, totally sub-Birkenstock. It was like being handed coffee and a cookie in the church basement after a really bad sermon when the sanctuary above had just been set ablaze by vandals. And this is New York, too, where presumably tech savvy and communications and even organizational skills aren't exactly thin on the ground. I wanted to go to their site and have a really great post to write, really make a nice introduction for them, start throwing the links, and first the Skype fail, and ick. So now I can't throw the links, because I'd be wasting reader's time, just like they wasted mine. WTF????????? Gee, I'm still pissed.

If it was all you, Julia, great, I wish it were. But it very obviously isn't.

NOTE * "What do you expect from a man with a wooden leg?"

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

I am also pissed at a party that DOES seem to be designed to fail..their positions are so very good, the ethics, the platform, what can I do? I can work to make the messaging better, and I think that there needs to be a huge influx of new blood, the latter-day hippies ain't cutting it for me, either. I hope to generate an energy of students and new members, but I/we need help to get this fusty, laid-back, almost time-capsuled party into the 21st century (in the US-in Europe and Australia, and even Asia, it's very vibrant and relevant). Getting angry is a first step. I haven't found a better "home" for my political beliefs, the "Green New Deal" is a perfect example of populist economics, and the anti-war stance, the feminist stance, I mean it's a party platform that is clear, strong, and very close to my heart. Can you all help me/us make it better? And I refuse to accept "lame" as an excuse or a reason, I want to change the workings, and I need help. I'm willing to invest oodles of time and energy (as I already have), I would ask for targeted assistance and energy to improve our party (local IS good, but it needs local input/involvement). If you believe that a Green platform is the one that follows your political principles I ask that you get involved in CREATING a better party, helping the messaging get better, volunteering some expertise and time. That's all I've got. I am doing my best, as I can, and that's all I can ask of anyone who wants to change our party, and our outreach.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm looking for an angle, believe me.

And if you could pass along my comments to whatever contacts you have in the Greens, that would be great. "Reacting to pain" is one test of a living organism, after all.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

list-serve, as a buttress to my argument of increasing our tech and pr outreach, and improving our messaging. (I described y'all as very left, angry and informed). I hope that I can get some support for a paid position for the MI Greens in tech design and work, as well as volunteers for more education and election training. But it all revolves around $$ and the willingness to commit. I hope that the NY Greens (altho they are more successful than the MI group) can garner some support and volunteers secondary to their FUBAR last nite..maybe that was a good way to highlight their weaknesses. I can only work my end of the stick, but believe me, I'll beat it to death if I can :-)

Submitted by lambert on

... can make sure a Skype connection works, in advance, and have a Plan B in case it fails. Money is not the only problem here.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Julia and lambert I posted a comment on the SOTU blog about how I want the Green Party to be a big strong green global umbrella to include the issue spines we are all separated but fighting for, health care, anti-war, women's rights, human rights, etc. It has potential but it is an unopened umbrella and we need to get it secure and strong and open.

There is a window here and there could be a huge wave of newbie Greens joining up considering the horrors of both parties but we need newbie greens to be patient and passionate and do all they can to build it up fast, since we've got the fast hardening of soft fascism in America.

If some potential Greens are so turned off by the frustrating episode last night, tip of iceberg maybe, but still, hanging the judgement of all Greens on a handful of Greens who goofed up or were emotionally thrown by tech probs, then ya don't seem to have the patience required. Because it sure is uneven. And the money parties have the expertise, the money to buy it, third party necessitates a group of amateur volunteers pitching in and doing what they can.

Have the Greens failed your ultimate audition, lambert? I hope not. Don't put the same skewering (and often good that it is) focus on them that is on the Dems at this point. If not part of solution then part of problem is how I see non-Greens or at least non-seekers of a party to overthrow Obama in 2012. To be pragmatic about waiting him out seems to be inviting more disaster.

An anti-war site had a wonderful forum with webinar with the author of an anti-torture book. We were all in the cyber chat room eager to listen across the country. The mike in front of the author wasn't close enough to her and you couldn't hear her. As we typed in that it was too muffled to the runners of the webinar, none of them were reading what we were writing and begging for. MOVE THE MIKE!!!! They were there IRL and dropped the ball on something that could have enlightened a lot more people than in the little room. Frustrating. But in dealing with participatory democracy lots of frustrating shit happens.

Don't stamp failure on them the way Obama is doing to the at risk schools struggling. Empathy and help beats judgment and demoralization. Does something have the potential??? The Dems. I don't believe they do. The Greens. Yes. But they need serious help!!!! And I thank those who have been holding the lantern and keeping the Greens going at what mm quotes MLK calling the "outskirts of hope" for us, like Bradbury's book people who recognized the corruption, the thoroughness of it, and accepted they had to separate away.

Now I read Roseanne Barr wants to run for Prez as a Green. I feel uneasy to say the least. Sigh. Participatory Democracy. The good, the bad, the ugly, the ridiculous.

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Submitted by letsgetitdone on

the Greens will do a lot better if they have some money.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So I'm glad it sparked a discussion on media and also on alternative voices. There is a lot of discussion over at "Naked Capitalism" finally about the Bank of North Dakota which is publicly owned for the good of the citizens. This idea was part of the Non-Partisan League which was a very radical farmers group in North Dakota and Northeast Montana. They were hounded out in the early twenties but the ideas lived on. In 1932, state legislature passed a law outlawing corporations from owning farm land! In 2000 the Dakota Resource Council fought successfully against Monsanto with a ban on GM wheat by the legislature. This is the beauty of this kind of populism. It is conservative in that it wants to protect the traditional family farming traditions from predatory big Ag. But it is radical in demanding real change.

There was never a great coalition between urban labor and radical farmers. I don't see real hope for that until the nature of labor changes from white guys to brown guys. But for now we need to get these stories of red state democratic rebellions out there. The Non Partisan League had a charismatic leader. And as much as I hate to say it, most movements are helped by having one. I think a charismatic Latino will arise and capture our imaginations. Well, that is my hope. The hope that The Tequila Party will take off.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

"the outskirts of hope" ... the oligarchy's gated community and more and more of the rest of us on those outskirts ...

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

are outside the feudal walls with the drawbridge up and locked.

When you listen to the recording of the speech, the audience is very knowledgable. They cheer when he talks about the philosophy of Hegel and how we need a synthesis. How many tea baggers know about Hegel. Such an eloquent speaker. He doesn't condescend to his audience like Mr. Obama who refers to us all as "folks".

Submitted by libbyliberal on

the "folks" thing for me like fingers on chalkboard since he took it from Bush. Geesh.

Obama and the "puddles in heaven" stuff, that apparently endeared him to so many, also makes me cringe and I heard a lot of that in this speech. Hey if I talk soothingly about little kids, even though I am ruining their schools, I will endear myself to the low informed who desperately need a decent prez.

I was surprised to hear on Tavis Smiley recently, he had a wonderful panel discussion for MLK day(?) I only heard a bit of, but that MLK's anti-Vietnam speech really did lose so much good will for MLK, far more than I realized (I thought he had only lost LBJ's support for the most part) and he weathered it, the hero he was, and he did what his conscience called him to do and his genius. A Van Gogh moment, he kept on leading from his heart though it would be future generations that would herald the brilliance of that speech and look at how timely it still is, many who need to heed it or re-heed it. Again, I hadn't realized that speech had cost him so much, even the insane rage of his assassin most likely.

The status quo wants to dumb down America and also have Americans believe that we are all a bunch of yahoos when we are not. Divide and conquer their mo.

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Submitted by letsgetitdone on

in the Defense of Democracy is No Vice.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

the Defense of Plutocracy is no Virtue.