Organizing and Fighting for Justice in the New Decade

Reflecting on the last decade of my life? It seems that the trajectory of the planet has followed my own. Loss, turmoil, brutality, war, and the daily struggle to persevere in the face of a tyrannical capitalist multi-national elite that makes the daily struggle to survive seem like an insult to the human spirit. What I learned from the last decade is that we can organize mass mobilizations, win victories here and there, and seem to be moving in the right direction, but, as a result of the shallow uneducated  understanding and fickle nature of the American populace, you can see the masses clamoring for progressive change one moment and like a spoiled child that doesn’t get what it wants turns to racism and the tea party the next.

On Mount Shasta

As a good friend Carla Wallace posted this morning on Facebook in regards to the repeal of “Don’t ask Don’t Tell,  “While we celebrate another step for equality, let us not forget to work for the day when there are other options for people to support themselves, their families, when our armies are not invading and occupying the lands of sisters and brothers far away, when our LGBT, ALL around the world can feel safe no matter what country they may be in.”

Much of the last decade for me leaves me with constant reflections on victories that I am supposed to jump up and down about, meanwhile as I look at how our organizing has been used against us, many of these “victories” seem like Trojan horses! Other examples?

1) Cobell and African American farmers settlement with the government: Hispanic plaintiffs and women excluded from the settlement? WTF? The Bureau of Indian Affairs stole 1 trillion dollars from Indian people(along with many others I refuse to use the term native american as Indians are wards of the state and want nothing to do with the title “American”). So the settlement? Returns 1.9 billion to 300,000 people? 6333.3 dollars per plaintiff? and the Republicans dragged their feet on this paltry amount? African American farmers discriminated against by the USDA didn’t fare any better. VICTORY!! Why? According to the government? “You were lucky to get anything.”

2) The health Care Bill: We fought for single payer, what we won (if it ever gets implemented) is a give away to the insurance companies that forces every American to buy their coverage? Victory? Once again we are told ” You were lucky to get anything. By the way it won’t help anyone till 2014? Hurray? We also got the Tea Party Astro turf funded by the insurance companies? Victory?

3) Protection of our civil liberties: We elected a president who ran saying he would protect our civil liberties? Currently the FBI is rounding up leftists who organized against imperialism in Colombia and Palestine (most of them friends of mine from PSN days) and is charging them with material support of terrorism? Facing 20-30 years in prison? For writing articles critical of plan Colombia and the US backed Israeli occupation of  Palestine? Can you say McCarthy? No victory at all, yet our president says he is protecting our civil liberties and we should feel victorious?

4) Ending Bush Tax Cuts: President Obama ran on ending tax cuts for the rich and extending them for the poor and middle class. We all know that we are told we won a victory last week when Obama’s compromise went through that extended tax cuts for the rich, corporations, and the middle class but won an extension of unemployment benefits? Victory? C’mon! BS!!

5) The Environment?: Obama proclaimed his intention to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf and other regions two months before the ’08 election. Need I say more? BP oil spill? The Victory? Obama put a moratorium on offshore drilling! Hurray? Only after the worst environmental disaster in history. Victory? Really?

6) Immigration Reform: In 2006 millions marched nationwide to demand immigration reform. Electing Obama and a 60 vote Senate was supposed to be their victory. Not only is there no victory but many Dems ran on anti-immigrant platforms. The Dream Act was not even passed to allow immigrant students to have in-state tuition. To me this stands out as the hollowest of horns. Yet who saved Harry Reid in Nevada? Latinos.

7) The Drug War: Some sentencing guidelines were reviewed and made more fair but for the most part? The private prisons are full and the people of Colombia bare the military brunt of our misguided bumbling policy. The Justice Department isn’t even honoring medical marijuana laws in states they were passed.

In the earlier part of the 2000-2010 decade, we all know what happened. George Bush’s brother stole the election for him in Florida and sent the world into an imperialist tailspin for 8 years. Liberals organized for the wrong things nut they organized. They organized to get the Republicans out of office. Victory? Liberals did what they always do. Organized to get the GOP out and after they go them out they sat on the sidelines while the astro-turf of the Tea Party funded by the insurance companies rip and shred liberals at every turn aided by a compliant media that gave neo-liberals all the backup they needed to compromise, refuse to take senate votes without 60, and give the country away to corporations. Liberals sat and made fun of them but failed to generate the street heat required to force their standard bearers to stay on the path to real “Change” that “We can believe in”.

Many progressives have tried to keep the faith alive by bringing these issues to light when needed but without the base required to bring critical mass to the streets were largely ignored. What is wrong? Why can’t we get it right? What happened? Many things.

1) There is no such thing as online organizing!!! The 08 election allowed certain people to start placing the words online and organizing in the same phrase. You can mobilize online (invite people to events and such. You can do fundraising online. You cannot replace the process of community organizing on line. It can’t and should not be even attempted. It allows the government into you meetings? It cannot replace the leadership development process of community organizing. I cannot build one on one relationships. Lastly, it is culturally elitist in many ways. Especially in communities with horrible internet access. It give certain people all the power. And if you don’t know who you are? Are you reading this? I know a First nations community in Minnesota where everyone in an ten mile radius gathers at one persons house to check their email? Many areas of rural KY, West VA, GA, FL, LA, AL,MN, and poor communities in inner cities are in the same boat. We should eliminate the term “online organizing” from our vocabulary!

2) Grassroots Organizing: Is the key to building a movement that cannot be grounded by corporations. Building POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS POWER IN DIRECTLY AFFECTED COMMUNITIES is the path to true progressive change. Fill the streets with organized constituencies who will not stop organizing ever!! With no heat in the street there will be no change! Grassroots leadership development with Grassroots structure will deliver the vehicle for accountability.

3) Movement education: We must stop  relying on momentum and turns in the economy for mass momentum. We must do what it takes to have an informed movement. Is it any wonder the American electorate rises and falls with every turn in the economic road? Most people know only that they want a job, they want a life, and they want to be healthy. They want it now. If one party doesn’t deliver in two years they swing to the right just as fast as you can say Hitler. We must find a way to override the propaganda machines of the corporations. This can only be done by organizing for a new system. We must stop apologizing for the word Socialist! If we don’t like the way things are what are we for? The Democratic party? We must eventually embrace personal liberation sexual, religious, and philosophical (I am still an anarchist when it comes to my bedroom, my spirituality, and my culture)  and socialist economic justice! Socialist education, health care, housing for all, a clean environment, and our form of government.

4) A new form of government: We need representational democracy in the least and run off election laws. We will be slaves to the two party system. We can’t turn this government into one that empowers oppressed communities. It was built to do the opposite. It is like putting flowers into a meat grinder and wondering why it does not come out a bouquet? It is insane. In the rest of the industrialized world hundreds of parties can participate and they hold the percentage of the parliament that they get at the polls. The party that wins must put together a coalition government by including other parties in their platform. This allows the Labor to form a coalition with Greens in Germany. Also if no presidential candidate garners over 50% of the vote many countries must have a runoff election. This keeps the right wing from utilizing a far left attempt at the polls to put a right wing government in power. Ultimately we need much more than this but it is a start. In the end capitalism must end. Small political parties and collectives must find a common platform to create a new world.

5) Take care of ourselves and each other: Those of us who have made organizing the calling of our lives must learn to work tirelessly when needed. We also need to learn how to take care of ourselves. When we find we are losing our health, our relationships, our personal lives, and our economic stability in a sacrificial effort to organize for justice we must remember that we are not effective if we do not have personal lives. If we do not eat well, sleep, walk, hike, lift weights, have a love life we will not be here for the long haul. I know most people reading this have no clue what I am talking about. Those who have worked 20 hour days to fight for justice for months or years a t a time do know. We have to stop it.

6) Make organizing fun! or don’t do it! If we are seen as the always serious people who spend our time analyzing each and every aspect of people’s personal lives in an effort to get them to be like us and fail to make the movement look like a fun welcoming place to be? We will never win.

My resolutions for the next decade:

1) I will take care of myself and my loved ones. I will laugh, and travel, and dance, and do whatever the hell I need, to relax!!! I will enjoy my life.

2) I will keep close contact with those I love so that my friends do not pass away having no one there for them. I will be there for friends who truly need me and not just be there for the movement.

3) Outside of my profession as an organizer, which I will do well, I will organize for a new system of government and only for issues if they are presented in such a way that calls for systemic change! I will focus my volunteer efforts on systemic change and First nations autonomy . We need a revolutionary change in our government. I am sick and tired of being used for anyone’s personal agenda.

4) I will open myself to love and recommit myself to building the Army of Lovers!! I will open myself up to love and I will release myself from selfish shallow attachment.

When I started writing this the uprising in Egypt had not begun. It only serves to remind me that people can overpower machines, people can out organize their oppressors, it requires courage, information, and most importantly determination!

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