Thursday, September 29, 2011

Street Theater Politics

In his post here yesterday, Martin Zehr wrote the following:
Street theatre has become all too often a justification for avoiding electoral politics. Slogans too often replace sound policies.
I could not avoid commenting that this was so true.

Yesterday evening, I was watching Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC. His Last Word segment regarding the ongoing protest on and against Wall Street is a good example. He was interviewing a master of street theater, Michael Moore and they both managed to get the story wrong.

It is truly good theater and I support the idea that we need to call Wall Street to account. If they had stopped at the first segment with MM, I might have agreed. However, they didn't and ended up trying to solve the problem of income income equality. There they made the same mistake that the Obama administration has done, expecting that a magical application of growth will be the elixir that gets us out of trouble. Growth is what will give hope to the masses. Unfortunately, such growth is no longer a rational prescription for what ails this country.

Even more ironically in-appropriate to the situation is the fact that you had to watch a commercial from Exxon-Mobil (2X) before getting to see the segment through to the end.

Growth is going to be forever limited by resource constraints. The first area of concern in to be found in the energy / water / climate change nexus. These three areas will be tightly linked, if not forever, at least for the lifespan of the next generation. Energy will be increasingly expensive. Fresh water will arrive in floods where we don't need more or not at all where we do need it. The extraction of new energy, especially from sources like fracking the Marcellus Shale or tapping Canada's Alberta Tar Sands, is going to take more and more fresh water leaving it unusable for anything else, contaminated and too expensive to clean up. And when we get done, all we will have done is exacerbate the problem of global warming, pushing the cycle even further beyond tolerable.

If Michael Moore, given his taking over the media regarding the Occupy Wall Street event, can not make this point, then Greens damn well need to be the one to tell these truths:
  • that the world has changed so much we can not longer grow our way out of trouble,
  • that we must not purchase buy economic ease by condemning our children to live in a sweat-box, 
  • that corporations are not citizens,
Lawrence, rather than give MM yet another soap box for his feel good populism, try once to put a real Green in front of your camera: Howie Hawkins, D.r Jill Stein, Dr. Kent Mesplay. Or would that offend your Wall Street Corporate Sponsors.

For another view of Occupy Wall Street, read that of Green John Halle here:

Today’s NYT’s coverage of the protestors, predictably contemptuous and dismissive, sets the stage perfectly for this crackdown-and provides grounds for all the right thinking people who are the Times’ primary demographic to avert their eyes.  The few decent people who find out about this may get on the subway and head to Wall Street to bear witness, and maybe even act.

But I can’t say I’m in the least optimistic that anything like this is in the cards-certainly nothing approximating the display of force which we must marshall  to make a difference.


Mike X said...

You are so right, and I respect you for that. Each of us has a different area of expertise. We need to organize and coordinate our efforts. Street theater is passe. It might have worked for Abbie Hoffman back in the 60s but the 'Man' is ready for it today... Look at how they shut down the demonstration and diverted it away from where it wanted to go... When the vultures start circling the political action is dead. When activists get on the six o'clock news they do so as clowns... TV is a tool to put people to sleep - not wake them up - grass roots, talk to your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends... that's the way to start. But, what is really at the end of the 'rainbow'? Remember Al Gore? He won the election and Bush became President... The Electoral College is a tough nut to crack... The American political process is like the one they used to have in the Soviet Union: the 'Party' picks the candidates and the people vote yes or no... Maybe the issue of the 'democratic process' should be the first issue we address?

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