Posts Tagged ‘activists’

IT AIN’T OVER

December 16, 2009

Citizen Paine

VIDEO: Howard Dean Tells Dems to Kill Senate Health-Care Bill by AlterNet Staff, AlterNet.

With no public option and no Medicare buy-in, the Senate bill is not worth voting for, the former DNC chairman tells “Countdown.” Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean would rather see no health-care bill than a bad one. So he tells MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

Are Americans a Broken People? Why We’ve Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet.

A psychologist asks: Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not “set them free” but instead further demoralize them? Has such demoralization happened in the United States? Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further? What forces have created a demoralized, passive, discouraged U.S. population? Can anything be done to turn this around?

Yes. It is called the “abuse syndrome.” Abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control [by shoving] lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims’ faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker.

Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free [from] abuse syndromes?

No. The truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful — and there is nothing more painful. It is not likely that the truth of humiliating oppression [will] energize constructive actions.

Has such demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing coverage. Despite the sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens protesting this betrayal.  And, the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful has protested.

[In] the 2000 U.S. presidential election the Florida Supreme Court’s order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision.  Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: “…the identity of the [loser] of this year’s presidential election…is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” Even this provoked few demonstrators.

When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, …truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about [allowing] it, …[and make them] even more psychologically broken.

U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices [because]…they feel helpless to effect change. The more we don’t act, the weaker we get [and]… move to shut-down mode and escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, …which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

Maybe.

Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, George W. Bush [joked] to a wealthy group, “What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves-more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base.” Yet, …citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.  Perhaps the “political genius” of the Bush-Cheney regime was in their full realization that Americans were so broken that the regime could get away with damn near anything… [Even slamming] a boot on their faces.

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, discouraged U.S. population?

The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears.

The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study (“Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades”) reported that, in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. Social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. There has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. Union and other ways that people support each other to resist oppression also decreased.

We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has [taken] control [of] basic necessities of life, including our food supply. We are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:

Schools and Universities: Do most schools teach young people to be action-oriented — or to be passive? Do most schools teach young people that they can affect their surroundings — or not to bother? Do schools provide examples of democratic institutions — or examples of authoritarian ones?  School is nothing less than a miniature society: what young people experience in schools is the chief means of creating our future society. Kids learn to comply with authorities for which they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. These are great ways of breaking someone.

Mental Health Institutions: Aldous Huxley predicted today’s pharmaceutical society “[I]t seems to me perfectly in the cards,” he said, “that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude.”  Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them less pained about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers [who] “often actively defy or refuse to comply with adult requests or rules,” and “often argue with adults.” A more common reaction to oppressive authorities is passive defiance – e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Virtually all children diagnosed with ADHD will pay attention to activities that they actually enjoy or have chosen. The “disease” goes away when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control.

When human beings feel too terrified and broken, they may stage a “passive-aggressive revolution” by getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything — one reason why the Soviet empire crumbled. But, diseasing or medicalizing rebellion and drug “treatments” even weaken this power.

Television: In Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978), Jerry Mander compiled a list of the “Eight Ideal Conditions for the Flowering of Autocracy,” claiming that television helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population.

(1)   Occupies people so that they don’t know themselves — and what a human being is;

(2)   Separates people from one another;

(3)   Creates sensory deprivation;

(4)   Occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought;

(5)   Encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising);

(6)   Centralizes knowledge and information;

(7)   Eliminates or “museumize” other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and

(8)   Redefines happiness and the meaning of life.

Commercialism of Damn Near Everything: Gross commercialization of spirituality, music, and cinema deadens their capacity to energize rebellion. So now, damn near everything – not just religion – is an “opiate of the masses.”

The primary societal role of U.S. citizens is no longer “citizen” but “consumer.” Citizens know that buying and selling within community strengthens that community and that this strengthens democracy, consumers care only about the best deal. Citizens understand that dependency on an impersonal creditor is a kind of slavery, consumers get excited with credit cards with a temporarily low APR.

Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products — not themselves and their community — are their salvation.

Can anything be done to turn this around?

When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don’t set them free. What sets them free is morale.

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. Anything that helps them break the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.

The last people to turn to are mental health professionals. Specifically required talents are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism, which are not traits medical or graduate schools encourage.

If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you act on that assumption, then you’re guaranteeing that’ll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, maybe they will. The only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism.

A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously.

An elitist assumption is that people don’t change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. They need a shot of morale.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/politics/144529/are_americans_a_broken_people_why_we%27ve_stopped_fighting_back_against_the_forces_of_oppression

SPECIAL BONUS: A Global Philosophy for Successful Living in Eight Aphorisms.

From the BUDDHA: Go forth in joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.

From JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Follow your bliss.

From CHRISTIAN TRADITION: Practice the Golden Rule.

From GHANDI: Act. “Without action there is no result. You may not see the result in your lifetime, but if you do not act, there will be no result at all.”

From JACQUES COUSTEAU: Hope for the best. “I hope for the best, although I can’t say why.”

From TOM PAINE: Use Common Sense. “Reason is the most reliable path to the truth.”

From his holiness the 14th DALI LAMA: “If you want the best idea of how the world was created, don’t pick the best mythology, consult the best science.”

—————————
From FatLemon: “Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the man in the moon.”

LAST THOUGHT:  Don’t get mad, get even.  Fight harder.  Take back the Democratic Party and elect Progressives to all offices in the land.  Continue to fight the oppressive fascist powers.  Bill Hart stood for courtesy, courage, and justice.

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AVAAZ – “VOICES”

July 16, 2009

This is a very interesting group.  They’re doing a lot of good and significant things for the right reasons, using positive methods. 

ABOUT AVAAZ Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

Dear friends,

Here’s a quick report back on recent campaigning at Avaaz. Our community has grown like wildfire and is becoming really extraordinary — the pace and impact of our advocacy is intense. In just the last 8 weeks, we’ve run 9 major national and global campaigns on issues ranging from climate change to Iran to Guantanamo. Much more remains to be done on all these issues — but together we’re contributing in powerful ways. Here are some highlights from the last 8 weeks:

Brazilian rainforest – Brazilian Avaaz members made 14000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages to President Lula’s office in two days(!) and in the 11th hour successfully reversed a law that would hand over much of the Amazon rainforest to agrobusiness for exploitation – this was a major victory on climate change since the Amazon consumes enormous amounts of the greenhouse gasses that are warming the earth.

G8 Summit – last week 130,000 Avaaz members signed a petition in 48 hours calling for the G8 industrial countries to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius – focusing on shaming 3 countries who were blocking progress. The petition was delivered at the summit to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (see image at right), along with giant personalized postcards.

Outside the summit, Avaaz members stripped down to green underwear in a humorous theatrical delivery of the campaign’s message that generated substantial media coverage (pictured at right). As Avaaz and partners built pressure in Italy and around the world, the blocking countries relented, and the G8 leaders agreed to the 2 degree goal! However, they failed to agree on specific actions to make the goal a reality — our challenge now is to make sure leaders live up to their rhetorical commitments with a binding global treaty at the UN summit in Copenhagen this December.

Iran Protests – our community rapidly responded to the election crisis in Iran with an opinion poll to gauge the views of ordinary Iranians, a petition to world leaders to withhold recognition of the new President until the crackdown on protests ceased, and a fundraiser to support technology that would allow Iranians to freely access the internet. The rapidly deteriorating security situation has made it difficult to conduct the poll (final word on that coming this week), but the technology fundraiser has raised over a hundred thousand dollars to support the best tools for Iranians to access the internet and communicate freely. The situation in Iran remains uncertain, and we will continue to both support freedom of expression and oppose those who would exploit this crisis to justify military action against Iran.

Japan climate targets – In Japan, we raised the alarm as the Prime Minister Taro Aso was about to choose a damagingly weak climate targets. Funded by small online donations, Avaaz ran a national opinion poll that showed that 63% of Japanese people wanted strong targets, publicized it in the press, in a full page ad in the country’s largest business newspaper, and one in the Aso’s favourite comic book (see right). Internationally, Avaaz ran a front page ad in the Financial Times, and Avaaz members demonstrated and met with Japanese climate negotiators at summits in Paris and Bonn.

At last, the Prime Minister announced a target stronger than polluting industries had urged — but far from strong enough to stop catastrophic climate change. So we redoubled the pressure with a widely-covered international press conference dubbing the Japanese leader “George W. Aso” — comparing him to Bush for holding back progress on climate change.


Free Burma’s political prisoners
– Over 400,000 of us signed a major petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asking him to make the release of Nobel prize winning political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners his top priority. The petition was delivered in an extended meeting with Moon’s office and in a press conference at the UN in New York. The UN chief issued a strong statement backing the release of Suu Kyi and traveled to Burma to attempt to meet with her, but was rebuffed by Burma’s military junta. International pressure did cause the junta to delay a new show trial to extend Aung San Suu Kyi’s prison sentence, but it will take much more pressure to secure her release.

United States and Torture – A global fundraiser and petition on stopping torture and closing Guantanamo prison allowed Avaaz to secure a giant, 9 story billboard just blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington DC to deliver our message — but at the last minute the company selling the ad space refused, despite members of the US congress offering to help unveil the billboard in a press conference. Avaaz has now secured an alternative option for delivering our edgy message that will have Washington DC buzzing with our call for justice.

UN Climate Summit – At a major summit on climate change in Bonn, Avaaz recruited among members in Germany to help our partners organize a massive 500 person aerial photo spelling out ‘Yes You Can’ as a message to leaders discussing climate targets (see right). It helped raise the profile and urgency of these faltering but urgent talks. Avaaz also sent a 16-person lobbying/activist team to the summit negotiations and members in 10 key countries joined “negotiator tracking teams” that are following and responding to urgent needs to press individual country negotiators at these summits.

Peru – Avaaz arranged with local indigenous and top political allies to deliver a global petition against new laws that would cause massive devastation to the Peruvian rainforest and its people, taking out an ad in the national newspaper (at right). The ad and campaign generated much attention, and the domestic and international pressure worked, for now — the Peruvian congress has revoked the controversial laws!

Israel – As Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to make a speech responding to Obama’s historic Cairo address and demand that Israel stop illegal settlements of Palestinian land, Avaaz took out a front page ad in a major newspaper – Haaretz – delivering a joint petition from global and Israeli Avaaz members edgily asking Netanyahu to ‘be more like Obama’ and stop the settlements. Netanyahu has so far refused, but we’re helping to build an unprecedented wave of Israeli and global pressure and attention on this issue.

The petitions, fundraisers, rallies, and lobbying campaigns our community is doing are having an incredible impact. Avaaz has grown by 50,000 people a week and is now almost 3.6 million engaged citizens in every country of the world — and we’re truly global – operating in 14 languages our community has 25,000 members in Singapore, 35,000 in South Africa, 130,000 in Italy, 50,000 in Mexico… There hasn’t really been a community like ours before, able to rapidly and effectively mobilize people power all over the world to the greatest needs and concerns of all human beings — it’s a reason for hope.

It’s also an exciting journey — looking forward to taking on the next 8 weeks, and 8 months, and 8 years together!

With hope,
Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Ben, Veronique, Paul, Graziela, Brett, Raluca, Luis, Raj, Milena, Paula, Iain, Taren, Margaret and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – To see some of the highlights of Avaaz campaigning in 2007 and 2008 and leave a comment, click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2/

And to check out other recent Avaaz campaigning highlights like our climate victory in Germany, our messages to Obama wall in DC, the delivery of our Swine Flu petition to the WHO, our Green Recovery march at G20 Summit in London, or our support to Tibetan organizations to break the blackout on their communications — visit the Avaaz blog: http://www.avaaz.org/blog/en/.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages! You can also follow Avaaz on Twitter!