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Brand New Angle for Activists (by The Ox)

No one ever pulled off a "revolution" of any kind (or is going to)...

working 9-5 at it, taking the weekends off

voting without taking any direct action whatsoever

writing and posting articles or embracing the arts only

thinking that what happened to MLK won't happen to your radical leader

expecting a public plagued by cynicism, apathy, resignation and high tech gadgetry atomization to do something in meaningful solidarity (without a new ingredient being injected into the mix)

marching in circles with placards

conducting candlelight vigils exclusively

going on hunger strikes and dying from starvation

remaining complicit to any degree with the status quo

speaking truth to power which already knows the truth and then... going home.

So the "revolution" encouraged by mainstream politicians does not have a precedent. 

This is not to say that readers must stop caring for their loved ones, and take to the hills. Nor is this meant to sound disrespectful of all the good (and often times necessary) "fighting the good fight" that's going on as I write. What I'm trying to underscore, though, is that a core of fighters for freedom and justice and decency need to be at it 'round the clock. And that sympathetic others need to be supportive of that effort.

That effort must, it should be noted, must follow a fresh paradigm. Must not be a function of someone waking up one day and proclaiming, "Yes, damn it, we're going to have to pick up arms and overthrow the bastards with blood!" Which is the feeling lots of people get when they come across the cries of Chris Hedges and the colleagues of Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report. Their urging readers into traditional revolutionary action is understandable. But what they're recommending simply won't work. Not in the long run.

The chess board on which we're being played needs to be turned over nonviolently as much as possible. Which is something that begs to be discussed. Immediately, it seems. In private.

So let me make you privy to what I fired off last night (7/21/16) in the hope that some reader would contact me at aptosnews@gmail.com ...so that I can, then, give out my phone number, and set up a long-distance rendezvous. For starters.

One of the major issues within the realm of activism which is not talked about has to do with selfishness. It's a version of what Chomsky often brings up in talking about the "vile maxim" which  Adam Smith invokes when he spotlights what became popular with the advent of industrialism: "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people."

On the surface activists give the impression that they want people to share more, that they're personally all for more equality. Truth is, though, when push comes to shove very few of those fighting the good fight will act unselfishly. And that's a crucial point to discuss, which is virtually not being discussed at all nationwide. And it should be a core concern to us all.

One time when I was volunteering with the long standing national non-profit Loaves and Fishes, I told them that other volunteers (that Thanksgiving) had told me that each and every year the organization had to feed more and more homeless souls. I point this out because I want to make a distinction at this juncture between applying necessary tourniquets and dealing with the source of the bleeding. The former is what one is doing if one is feeding the needy. Loaves and Fishes is doing an excellent job with regard to that. But they are not dealing with what I'm calling the source of the bleeding. Doing that would entail cutting down on the horrid momentum represented by an ongoing increase in hungry homeless people.

Volunteering to help feed and/or shelter others is acting unselfishly, as a rule. But let's look deeply into what can come into play with such giving of oneself. In terms of addressing the source of the bleeding in solidarity.

One can spend lots of precious heartbeats cutting up carrots in prep for serving meals on Thanksgiving. Fine and dandy. Such expenditure of time and energy should be encouraged, applauded, supported. But that's not going to make a dent in the horrid societal momentum I've cited here. Same holds true in other realms.

Collecting signatures for a petition designed to encourage Congressional representatives to do the right thing vis-a-vis nuclear proliferation is not dealing with the source of the bleeding. I trust that that's totally clear. Ditto for setting up a candlelight vigil by those showing compassion for victims of police brutality. And the same holds true for getting one's head bashed in at the barricades to protest, say, a given candidate for office. One might be planting a necessary seed in the public's mind with such confrontation (if protesting, say, a given incumbent's position on the BDS movement), but such interaction does nothing to put an end to the suffering in Gaza.

To end nuclear proliferation, police brutality and the slow motion genocide overseas (in many quarters) requires that a core group of activists dedicate themselves unselfishly to dealing with the source of the bleeding. Same is true for many issues 'cross the spectrum. 

What is that, the source of the bleeding? Well, there are a number of ways to understand it, but I'll lock into just one here. Let's consider what's called consumerism. To deal a death blow to that dynamic requires that people change their lifestyles, their Ground of Being (in most cases). For example, consumers are inundated with plastic products and plastic packaging, as a rule. It's hard enough for concerned citizens to cut down on the amount of plastic they use, but it's like fighting a five-hundred-foot wave with a teaspoon for them to address the proliferation of plastics. Since the beginning of the new century more plastic has been produced than was turned out during the entire previous century. That source of the bleeding must be dealt with, but it is not being addressed effectively, if at all.

Personally cutting down on one's use of plastic food shopping bags is kind of like applying a necessary tourniquet. Ditto for lowering one's purchase of new kitchen items, or buying food that has to be shipped from abroad. All of those have to do with fighting the good fight, but not dealing with the source of the bleeding. Which has so very much to do with embracing a different mindset, different values, different habits, and adopting a point of view, which looks at animals and all of Mother Earth's lovely creatures from an angle which is... not popular.

Very special leadership is required to stir up the public's motivation sufficiently to create such radical change, such deeply personal transformations. And activists will have to provide the foundation for such leadership to emerge.

But most activists are limited by what I'm calling selfish concerns. And those self-centered foci preclude movement in solidarity which will lead to the new kind of leadership I'm talking about here.

Permit me to give you a few examples of what I'm calling selfishness. And please keep in mind that I'm quite aware that what I'm listing under that umbrella would not usually be characterized as such.

If an activist is plagued by poor health, and has to take lots of time off because of that they're being selfish to do so. That's not to put them down. And not to liken them to the Masters of Mankind who Adam Smith said advocated the "vile maxim." Rather, it's to begin to delineate for you exactly how many activists do not have the time or energy or inclination to deal with the source of the bleeding on any issue. That demands working many more hours than activists can usually commit to. I usually describe my own commitment as a 24 x 7 affair, volunteering 'round the clock so as to have a shot at dealing with the forces which operate every day without a break to maintain the status quo, feeding our horrid momentum.

What are other examples of selfishness in the realm of activism? See the select list directly below:

a. Activists who have to work a day job to pay their rent;

b. Activists who have relationships which will not allow much time away from home;

c. Activists who insist upon being known for their contributions to a given cause;

d. Activists who insist upon being given a leadership role;

e. Activists who have a deep need to be liked;

f. Activists who feel compelled to write and/or speak on the lecture circuit. 

I could give you 101 variations on this theme. And -- understandably -- most people would not characterize the items on my list as representing selfishness. However, again, I am spotlighting what interferes with one being able to devote the necessary time to deal with the source of the bleeding.

I am not wanting and not asking for activists to change what they're doing at present. I am asking one and all, however, to acknowledge the need we have for a core group to operate 'round the clock to battle with the powers that be, who work at it 24 x 7 routinely. No one is doing that, and it's easy to confirm that fact. 

Nationwide, non-profits typically operate something like Monday through Friday, from 9am to 5pm. The vast majority do for understandable reasons. But how does one stop, say, the daily increase in the hungry homeless or any of the other collective crises that are in gear by working 9 to 5? All that can be done at best in that situation is to apply necessary tourniquets.

I'm offering to work incessantly to secure the kind of leadership we now need. Sweet and capable and moral people like Jill Stein can't cut the muster because they're permanently marginalized, as things stand. And the organization she presently represents is not only operating limited hours, they're not set up, apparently, to take advantage of the volunteer gestures I've sent their way repeatedly. This is not at all to put down the Green Party. For the dynamic I'm citing is quite common.

Christ was not selfish. The disciples were very often, but not Christ. And Christ, like Buddha and others (around whom religions were formed) targeted what they perceived as the sources of bleeding in their times.

We can do no less.

If you're too busy to get down with the core group pace and schedule I'm hinting at here, no problem. Truly, that's not a problem. The thing is, in such a case it's obligatory for you to pass the word about this piece with a sense of urgency. 

For some core group is going to have to move quickly to deal with our collective deadlines. Following a brand new paradigm.

Email me at aptosnews@gmail.com, then we'll talk on the phone. And, after that, meet.