Sunday, September 20, 2009

Utah and Ani Talk Politics

Utah Phillips told Ani DiFranco in the following video, the people from the depression era had to deal with anxiety in the face of uncertainty. As the corporate/industrial era of consumerism blossomed, the people began experiencing frustration in the face of certainty. Sounds about right I'm thinking. I have never been one of those "color in the lines" kind of people, and corporations supported by state institutions have allowed for the commodification of the people. In the corporate world, where profit is king and the bottom line is the "Holy Grail"...everything is a commodity...especially the people. We are groomed to maintain this structure of self-destruction through continued consumerism.

Truth and the Other J.C.

This whole Jimmy Carter thing has weighed heavily on my mind the last few days. I'm having trouble understanding how speaking the truth can somehow make a person less in the eyes of society. This seems to be the case regardless if the person speaking this truth is a notable person or just a mechanic down on the corner of Main and First. Maybe it is just a southern thing, but maybe it is not...but my view is the only perspective I have.

I guess this whole thing is just more fuel for our religious (slash) political commandos. They can't let the tank run dry, else risk being stranded out there in no man's land with no gas! I suppose the reality is, the human race has a very long row to hoe before they can get past all of this. It is just that I was hoping we could have at least seen a hot coal by now...maybe not a hot blaze...but at least an ember which would offer us a little hope of fire. Maybe this JC thing will be a spark...perhaps it will create enough animosity between our religitical machine heads to supply the wind to spread the blaze. We could have a nice roaring fire before you know it! However that is very doubtful. The whitehouse has already distanced itself from the issue...the racial issue I have heard referred to as a political minefield. I am sure it will be downplayed by the media with hopes the entire suicidal fiasco will disappear from the radar screens.

After all, it is health care we need to be focusing on right now, and this is just another distraction from our goals. Although I can not help but wonder how the hell we can expect any significant changes in corporate/government policy if we choose to ignore the problem society has with the most basic of human rights? Yes, I think health care is very important, and I believe it should be a civil right...not a privilege. We have yet to really establish our other civil and political rights which the people have had to fight for...our freedom of expression; our equality before the law; or our economic, social and cultural rights...including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education. Now we have health care on the table, and it is a tough one. All civil rights are tough, and we have proven that even though we can change the laws, we have a much harder time enforcing them.

Social truths about injustices always seem to create plenty of friction. A society, which works hard to maintain a certain way of life, does not like giving up it's power by admitting it is wrong. Yes, social laws which promote justice and equality can change for sure, as we have seen through history. There is one problem we have as a society though...we the people never stop, sit down, talk, and figure out how to change our hearts. I think we all need a little anarchy in our hearts, otherwise it never changes. Society will try to convince you that anarchy is is evil, and should be avoided else it will drag us into the depths of destruction. Bull is our only hope of salvaging this social patchwork quilt covering our little planet. Who knows, you may already be an anarchist and you did not even realize!

Before I get really windy, I think I will defer to another who does not have any problem speaking the truth. Just another Scots-Irish codger who can be honest to a fault, which probably makes him less a person somehow! Reading back on this piece, Howling in the Belly of the Confederacy, it's easy to see, even though we have changed presidents, the power structures have not changed one iota that I can see since Joe wrote this almost six years ago. The same structures are in place, and the people remain powerless and subervient to these unjust structures which promote exclusivism while advocating a desire for justice.
But something new and more ominous is afoot down here. Something that scares even a hardened tobacco-stained old toad like me -- a clammy, repressive chill. One that not only dampens all political conversation not Pro-Bush, but can even cost you your job in a small town like this one. I'm serious. When I invite like-minded people for cocktails, the atmosphere is distinctly that of a "safehouse," as the few local liberals all but whisper their opinions and eye one another, judging just how safe it is to speak one's mind. It's spooky, so spooky almost none of us is willing to admit it.

Yeah, we live in a new south now, one with equal rights guaranteed by the long as your rights do not interfere with those who interpret these laws! As Joe says, "It's the newest "New South" ladies and gentlemen, much like the old one, but with three more layers of lawyers and realtors. Free market capitalism, Dixie fried."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Whole Wheat Community

Jim Kloss and Whole Wheat Radio are creating new definitions of community. As our government structures argue and debate over their ideologies and dogma, it is more common to see the people doing a much better job of building a future built upon transparency, accountability, and sustainability. These are the key factors...the very foundation stones of our future...and community is the tool of choice in this millenium.

So what is so unique about the Whole Wheat community? Well, it has a lot to do with demonstrating fiscal responsibility by being publicly accountable for all income and expenses. It has a lot to do with initiating a local mission along with an Internet mission, and melding the physical world with the virtual world. WWR is not your average run-o-the-mill Internet Radio station streaming music and webcasting house concerts. The community's roots go much deeper than that. As an example, last December WWR hosted one of the Transition Health Policy Team's community discussions with participation from the Talkeetna residents and the online members. It's all there, it's transparent...take a look! Whole Wheat was an active participant in the Talkeetna Community Playground Project, and purchased the monkey bars. We were there as the 2008 Talkeetna Democratic Caucus was webcast. The Internet community was even involved in the decision making process when the question of whether WWR should remain a member of the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce.

Now there is a new twist to the Chamber of Commerce story which has brought to the forefront the need for a Whole Wheat Radio Event Contract. Jim's quick summary of the new twist:
I am trying to establish a generally non-discriminatory policy for holding events here. What do we, as the listening community, get in exchange? The right to webcast, record and document whatever that activity is. I realize that many of you won't be interested in listening to the meetings, but the deeper issue is: the local community will have a media resource they or their organizations can potentially use. This will hopefully encourage more local participation in all aspects of WWR.

I have participated in many online communities over the last 10 years, and I am really loving the directions taken by the WWR community...that is why I have remained and supported not just the wonderful independent music offered for play by some absolutely wonderful artists...but also because of the idea of an open community. A model that bridges the gap and encompasses both which allows everybody, whether physically or virtually, to be part of the overall value of the community. Whole Wheat has been the perfect place for allowing people the opportunity of creating a valuable community.

I am sure most people get overwhelmed by the multitude of social sites out there. They all have qualities and can be beneficial for many reasons. I have enjoyed my Google Reader, and I have also utilized a few of the social sites other than Facebook. All of them have their place, pros and cons, but when it comes down to basics and feeling at home...I'll choose the Whole Wheat community over all the other hyped social sites every time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Longshoremen of Notability

While doing my morning reading, I happened upon the thinker Eric Hoffer. Being in organized labor, I should have been aware of him already, and I may have read parts of his work through the years and just never followed through and read more from him. What really interested me in Hoffer was that despite his accomplishments as a writer, he remained a longshoreman until retirement at age 65. He was a member of Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 10.

It was inevitable this would launch me down the rabbit trails of the web...forever in search of that next piece of information which could just lead to the missing piece of the puzzle. You just never really know what each trail is going to have to offer. Similar to the downhome philosophy of a box-o-chocolates I suppose.

There is no doubt, the following of these trails is more like an exploration rather than a structured and more focused study...but just as rewarding and enlightening. The trails I chose this morning led me to other (according to Wikipedia) notable longshoremen besides Hoffer. The first one I will mention is Geswanouth Slahoot.

Dan George is well known for his soliloquy "Lament for Confederation". Geswanouth spoke of using the white man's tools for building political activism within the First Nations.
But in the long hundred years since the white man came, I have seen my freedom disappear like the salmon going mysteriously out to sea. The white man's strange customs, which I could not understand, pressed down upon me until I could no longer breathe.

When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority. more...

Another from the list is J. S. Woodsworth of Canada who had left the ministry of the church because of his difficulty accepting the Methodist dogma. Woodsworth also became involved in the labour the point he was arrested and charged by the King for publishing seditious libels and speaking seditious words. Woodsworth eventually become the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation...the prelude to Canada's New Democratic Party.
I am no longer interested in the Heaven above. I believe it is the duty of the CCF to make a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

These three former stevedores were able to reach great levels of accomplishment and I am delighted I went down this particular rabbit trail this morning. I have known a few longshoremen as a labor activist and it did my heart good to find and share such character!

ASIDE: I would feel derelict if I did not mention Charles Manson met with Wikipedia's notability guidelines as a famous stevedore, having worked as a longshoreman for a couple of years. ;-)
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