Archive for the ‘local’ Category


February 4, 2008

Black Panthers documentary

January 30, 2008

MLK, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, cointelpro, REX84, Iran-Contra, CIA drug trade, privatized counterinsurgency… this documentary tracks the historical through-line into the 1990s. You can see today how these forms of manipulation and control have continued to escalate and we continue to struggle with the aftermath of the 60s, 70s, 80s…



January 27, 2008

Kucinich is out of the race. In a practical sense, he made the right decision. He needs to defend his seat in congress and there are many pieces of legislation being pushed through right now that he is one of the few voices against. He has been so thoroughly shut out of the presidential race and his ideas have been so thoroughly shut out of the debate, we need him to focus on congress where he can hopefully still have an effect.

It has been immensely frustrating to see the possibility for positive social transformation that Kucinich represents be so cynically shoved aside. It is very important to continue pointing out this massive anti-democratic manipulation of our society by corporate power. It is important to recognize that this may be a temporary defeat to one approach to progressive change, but it is not a defeat to the ideas. If the time is not right to come up against the system in this way, how do we act at the local level to start implementing ideas such as a WPA-style program that would focus on meaningful work for community building and environmental sustainability?

Meanwhile, lets see if Cynthia McKinney is able to play the game in more innovative ways and make a presence for her Green Party candidacy.

Here is Kucinich on Democracy Now responding to segments from one of the many debates his ideas were excluded from:

Chris Hedges did an interview with Kucinich that is very worth reading. It points up the vast differences and potentials that have been silenced. In this excerpt Kucinich talks about his plan for a modern day version of the WPA as a means of counteracting the decimation of our economy and returning meaningful work to our society :

Hedges: Have we evolved into a corporate state?

Kucinich: I Look at it as the political equivalent of genetic engineering. That we’ve taken the gene of corporate America and shot it into both political parties. So they both now are growing with that essence within. So what does that mean? It means oil runs our politics. Corrupt Wall Street interests run our politics. Insurance companies run our politics. Arms manufacturers run our politics. And the public interest is being strangled. Fulfilling the practical aspirations of people should be our mission. How do we measure up to providing people with jobs? It was a Democratic president that made it possible for NAFTA to be passed, causing millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs that help support the middle class. …

NAFTA, GAT, the WTO, China Trade, and every other trade agreement that’s passed in Congress has been passed with the help of either the leadership of or with the help of the Democratic Party, knowing that each and every one of those agreements was devoid of protections for workers, knowing that if you don’t have workers’ rights put into a trade agreement then workers here in the United States are going to see their own bargaining position undermined because corporations can move jobs out of the country to places where workers don’t have any rights. They don’t have the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike. So what I see is that the Democratic Party abandoned working people, and paradoxically they’re the ones who hoist the flag of workers every two and four years only to engender excitement, and then to turn around and abandon their constituency. This is now on the level of a practiced ritual. At least a biannual ceremony, or every two years. So you can see how pernicious this becomes when the minimum wage increase was tied to funding the war. That, to me, says it all. Because it is inevitably the sons and daughters of working Americans that are the ones who are led to slaughter. Aspirations for health care.

So what I’ve done in my campaign is to advocate a full-employment economy. How do you do that? A new WPA-type program. We’ll rebuild America’s bridges, water systems, sewer systems, our libraries, our universities, our mass transit systems. And we do that with a program that I introduced legislation in repeated Congresses with the cosponsorship of a Republican from Ohio by the name of Steven LaTourette and the bill, HR 3400, provides for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. And I would put millions of people back to work in good-paying jobs. I would put millions more back to work in new energy policies where we would design, engineer, manufacture, install and maintain wind and solar microtechnologies which would be retrofitted into tens of millions of American homes and businesses, driving down our carbon footprint and dramatically reducing our cost of energy. This would be a major development in America to take us away from a condition where America is leading the way towards the destruction of our global climate. I call this part of it the WG: a Works Green Administration, where we turn government into an engine of sustainability, where the whole government becomes about moving towards green. The transportation plan, mass transit, housing and development—it’s about green housing, solar, natural lighting, using recycled material, the energy department stops incentivizing coal and oil and nuclear, and moves toward incentivizing wind and solar, bringing forward a whole generation of entrepreneurs just waiting to get into green energy solutions.

NAFTA becomes about the development of these new technologies at the alpha stage and then licensing them to the beta stage to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit. I mean we could create millions of jobs to prime the pump of the economy—that’s the way I think about this. Prime the pump of the economy, get people back to work rebuilding America and creating a transition economy and making us more green in all of our policies. Agriculture, for example: Bring back the concept of parity, work for sustainable practices in agriculture and help protect small farmers, get their products to market, get their price, get a fair price, protect them with local markets, help organic farmers. I could go through every department, and that’s what Works Green is about.

Addressing the practical aspirations of people, you’re looking for jobs, how to create jobs, how to create movement in the economy that benefits people. And our party just swings around the edges and always makes deals with the idea of protecting the status quo, which is war

The full interview is available here.


do something local, do something real

January 25, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs on Bill Moyers:

interviewed on DemocracyNow:


January 10, 2008

The real name of the War On Terror is the War On Democracy. This documentary by John Pilger is very important for understanding the current situation not only in Latin America, but also here in the U.S. and also the Middle East, and also all of Africa and the rest of the world…  How many times have neocon pundits claimed “What Iraq needs is a Pinochet?” How long until they make the claim that what the United States needs is a Pinochet as well?

local culture

January 4, 2008

Brother Ali – Take Me Home

Cynthia McKinney

December 23, 2007

I’m tired of this “electability” b.s. The time has come to take a stand for ourselves. Take a stand for someone who actually believes in democracy and could have a chance in a real democratic system where the media wasn’t bent on marginalizing these voices. Call the electability bluff, vote for someone who deserves it.

paths of victory: PAUL CHAN

December 3, 2007

The whole article by Holland Carter in the New York Times is well worth reading and there are images of the work, too:

The performances, by the Classical Theater of Harlem, took place outdoors in parts of the city particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina and slow to recover. In the Gentilly section, a gutted, storm-ruined house was used as a set. In the Lower Ninth Ward, where one of the largest black neighborhoods in a mostly black city was all but erased by roof-high water surging through a levee, the intersection of two once-busy streets was the stage.

The streets are empty now, lined with bare lots. A few trees and houses stand far off. Reclamation work by returning homeowners and volunteers is under way. But some residents live in cramped trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, here widely despised for its inefficiency. Under the circumstances, Beckett’s words sounded less like an existentialist cri de coeur than like a terse topographic description.

The “Godot” performances were not isolated theatrical events. They were part of a larger project conceived by the New York artist Paul Chan, 34, who is well known to the international art world for his video animations of paradises embattled and lost, and to law enforcement officials for his activist politics.

A board propped against a ruined church carries a hand-painted text: “Can these bones live? Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and ye shall live.” The words, evoking an apocalyptic future, are from Ezekiel.

Sometime in October, new words began to appear. Printed on small cardboard signs, they consisted of the same three phrases: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” — an exact quotation of Beckett’s scene-setting for “Godot.”

The signs were designed by Mr. Chan and posted all over the city, in a distribution pattern that had a rhythm of surprise. Drive through a “good” neighborhood or a “bad” neighborhood and you’d spot one. At a traffic light, another one. On the boarded window of an abandoned shopping mall, another.

After a while the signs came to feel like a shared secret, or some bounteous but anonymous civic gift, the way Keith Haring’s subway paintings felt in New York in the early 1980s. They added up to a visual network, art as a connective tissue for a torn-apart town.

In 2004 he was arrested after taking part in a demonstration at the Republican National Convention in New York. But, as is often the case, his political activity was twofold: in the street and in the studio, where as part of a collective called Friends of William Blake he designed a free New York map for protesters, pinpointing convention events, delegates’ hotels and public toilets.

More recently he has created gorgeous, shadowlike film projections of an everyday world in gravitational crisis — one was in the last Whitney Biennial — with bodies pulled down and objects floating away. At the same time he finished a filmed interview, broken by intervals of abstract color and light, with the civil liberties lawyer Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of passing information from an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorists.

Since the only promotion had been the stealth advertising of Mr. Chan’s cryptic signs, there was no guarantee of an audience. But The Times-Picayune gave the event significant coverage, and thousands of people turned up for the performances over two November weekends. (A fifth was added to meet the demand.) At each, a gumbo dinner was served and the audience was brought into the seating area by second-line jazz bands.

we are in a moment of danger

December 1, 2007


Naomi Wolf talking about the bush administration’s following of the fascist blueprint. We’ve been through all the steps except the final crackdown.

Naomi interviewed on Democracy Now!:

PATHS OF VICTORY / against the culture of war

November 24, 2007

We are living in fascist times. The time is long passed to be polite enough in the debate to not use that word. If we are going to pull ourselves back from the brink, we must talk about it openly. The major systems of our society- economic, political, legal, educational, cultural- are corrupted and broken. While our society as a whole seems to stumble along with business as usual, it stumbles on the brink of collapse. One more stress or crisis could collapse the whole thing. The groundwork is being laid so that when such a crisis occurs the structure of society can be fully shifted into a corporate police state.

With all of the anti-democratic, totalitarian, fascist legislation passed in such a deceptive and heavy-handed way in the past few years (Patriot Act, Clear Skies, No Child Left Behind, Military Commissions Act, secret domestic surveillance, etc…) it is impossible to imagine these people don’t fully understand the path they are taking us down. It is their intention to consolidate their police state economic power over all of us in the world’s greatest scam. A corporatist system to enforce the dictates of global capitalism and dehumanized consumerism.

It has been a long road that is leading us towards this dystopic endpoint, but the rich variety of alternatives that have coexisted with the road are not yet extinguished. It is not too late to actualize the ideals of a shared, healthy, humane community. How do we take the power of determining our reality away from the fascists and decide for ourselves, as a community, what we want and how we will go about it? How do we come together as a society to actualize such a vision- preferably before the next disaster strikes? And, yes, what role does ART play in this struggle?


When times are as abusive and threatening as these, we owe it to our society -we owe it to ourselves- to not deny the social/cultural role of art as being engaged with its times. We must seek to have our art function as a facet of resistance to this mass-lobotomizing of consciousness, this mass-dehumanizing of the soul.

Immersion in the mainstream culture’s all-pervasive refusal to take seriously the idea that anything can change leads to immense disempowerment. Combine this with a heavy dose of militarism, the capitalist ideal of everything being bought and sold, and a society structured on relationships of domination and submission. This all adds up to a hopeless acceptance of the status-quo. If the majority of the population in the Unioted States are not ignorant of the reality we face, but rather feel hopeless to stop it; then we must conceptualize the art we create as one aspect of a liberatory culture. A culture of empowerment and nonhierarchal social relations counterposed to the culture of disempowerment and fascism. A culture where “all the bullshit” is unacceptable. Where the fabric of our daily lives encourages us not to submit to being lied to and manipulated, used and spied upon. The creation of this liberatory culture (the seeds of it already exist in various forms and subcultures) is a necessary step for the nurturing of a mass movement strong enough and large enough to stand up to these fascists. A movement to come together and assert the peoples’ right to govern their reality.

I am not proposing that there is one particular form of “political art” or “street art” or “mass art” that will lead the way to a revolution against the status quo. I am proposing that we must see the work we create- in all its many forms and different strategies- as working together. As different facets of a larger cultural whole rather than ghettoized and alienated subcultures. Our goal should be to further expand and nurture the sentiments which so many already feel and feel powerless in the face of. Engaging the larger population with respect as equals.

selected references:

* The Center for Constitutional Rights has some important information about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This is the latest piece of legislation laying the groundwork for a full police state. Those involved in writing the legislation have specifically singled out ant-globalization activists, leftists, and anarchists as potential terrorist allies.

* Fox News propaganda working to normalize the idea that dissenters should be beaten and brutalized.

* Vandana Shiva speaking about seed saving, localized agriculture, localized culture and many other interconnected topics around the dehumanization of global capitalism:

* Naomi Klein’s website with resources and information on disaster capitalism and the shock doctrine.

* Lucy Lippard writing about the state of art and politics at the beginning of the 80s:

I hope we’re not just doomed to follow the bouncing ball through endless cycles of romanticism/classicism, subjective/objective, feeling/intellect, etc. If the 60s proved that commitment didn’t work, the 70s proved that lack of commitment didn’t work either. The 80s decade is coming into a legacy of anxiety, of barely articulated challenges to boringly predictable mainstream art. It is going to have to restore the collective responsibility of the artist and create a new kind of community within, not apart from, the rest of the world. The danger on all esthetic fronts is the kind of factionalism that already divides the politicized minority within the art world. Too many of us spend our time attacking everyone else’s attempts at relevance while paranoically guarding our own suburban territories. There is an appaling tendency to insist on the need for theoretical understanding of the artists position in a capitalist society and simultaneously to destroy by “logic” every solution offered.