Thursday, July 30, 2009

GDAE Podcast - Episode 16

Episode 15 - June 17, 2009 Taliban & US Right Wing
  • Briefly, Health Care Reform: Time for us to Make Noise!
  • A tid bit on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
  • Who are the Taliban?
  • A Mid-East 101 by Chris Hedges 
  • Sarah Palin's Future Plans: Will she help incite right-wing violence? (Re-visiting a theme of Episode 11)

Play GDAE Podcast Episode 16 from this page.

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:

GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 15 June 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9 March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009


Friday, July 24, 2009

Wikipedia on the "Establishment"

According to Wikipedia:

The Establishment is a term used to refer to the traditional ruling class elite and the structures of society that they control.

Through these "structures of society that they control," they control society itself... or at least have more control than the rest of us. Thus, if we want to change society, and the establishment does not want those changes, we have a conflict. Here in lies the motivation for this blog's title "Challenge the Establishment."

Because the establishment class is closely associated with wealth, that "conflict" to which I refer naturally includes a conflict among classes. It is taboo to speak of class conflict (class war) in the United States. This is due, in part, to an establishment that has helped perpetuate a myth that classes don't exist in the US. We are led to believe that, even if income and wealth differ among Americans, this is simply part of the American Dream playing out with different timing for different people. We are told that such differences are petty and that we are all bound together as Americans with a common "national interest."

Ah, but that "national interest" differs for different wealth classes. Here's an example. The US families that have benefited from United Fruit's corporate exploitation in Central America had the "national interest" of suppressing the democratic dreams of peasants in those countries. Their "national interest"was to support the local establishment that would use their power to keep foreign corporate taxes low, allow damage to the environment, maintain exploitative labor laws and allow the US military to participate in crushing the aspirations of the peasant class of those countries. Ironically, the grunts in the US military were typically themselves drawn from the lower class of our country. Hence the phrase "rich man's war."

I could go on, but won't. Read MORE on Wikipedia's take on "the Establishment."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Challenging the US Establishment on Hoduras Coup

International Crime Pays. I'm talking about coup-installed "President,"Arias of Honduras. US State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley calls him "President."

Sure, plenty of people are blogging on the US involvement in the coupe, and some of it is probably true. The US State Department is bestowing a dignity on the Honduras oligarchy by calling their illegally-installed man the "president."

Want to connect another dot? It sounds like the US State Department placing a finger on the scales in favor of the coup:

Spokesman Crowley (July 23): "[W]e think that what President Arias has put forward is a very good step towards resolving this peacefully and restoring democratic and constitutional order to Honduras. If you go through what President Arias has proposed, it would restore President Zelaya to power. It would form a government of national reconciliation. It would accelerate the schedule of presidential elections. It would cease any steps towards a constitutional referendum.

Imagine.... You are a duly elected president with a significant amount of time left in your term. Then one day you are illegally, physically forced out of your country (a coup). Then the coup leaders offer you the opportunity to come back for a shorter term, cutting off the people's opportunity to vote on whether or not to have a constitutional convention, and having to share power with the criminals who should be indicted and tried for their illegal coup plot.

This is blatant international establishment back-scratching. The question isn't "whether" the US is complicit; if the US wanted the rightful president of Honduras back in power, it could make it happen in a matter of a few days. No. The US is taking advantage of the situation, and in doing so, showing the establishment colors. This spectacle is an awareness raising opportunity.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Reach Out to the Right Wing?

It's true, but ironic. Many of Sarah Palin's followers would identify themselves as "anti-establishment." Unfortunately, they don't have the gumption to realize that Palin is an establishment ladder climber, and that she's using them as rungs on the ladder.

With her recent resignation announcement, Sarah Palin has amplified her anti-establishment rhetoric to tap into this grass-roots sentiment. Palin claims that the liberal establishment media is attacking her, and that the ethics charges are part of an establishment witch hunt.

Why does this blog post matter? First, Sarah Palin is whipping up right-wing sentiments that have a fear-based, violent tinge. We can say "it could never happen here in America," but we've seen the NY World Trade Center towers collapse and a historic economic collapse... why not a right-wing mob uprising led by Sarah Palin? The conditions are ripe for it given people's economic plight and the erosion of America's reputation in the world.

Second... given the first possibility, it makes sense to do something to reduce the potential of a fanatical right-wing social movement in America, with all of the evils implied. The more we reach out to disenfranchised people who might be tempted by the divisive messages of Sarah Palin and right-wing talk radio, the more we will moderate that violent right-wing tendency.

I'm not advocating that we waste our time on the hard core fanatics. Rather we can communicate with their friends and relatives who could have a moderating influence on them. Small efforts, accumulated over many, many people, could add up to a significant moderating effect.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Turn Our Backs on the Establishment

A friend was saying, "You can't challenge the establishment, they are too strong." "You have to simply turn your back on them."

The context of our discussion was actually a global perspective on "the establishment." That is, US financial and monetary "establishment" versus the rest of the world. In that context, my friend's point was that other nations are not challenging the dollar as the international reserve currency, but they are walking away it as best they can.

OK. I admit this example is a stretch, but it's the concept that's important. It's also consistent with the Three-Element Strategy for Activism. One element is to "Identify and Invest in Alternatives to the Status Quo." The effect of this strategic element is to turn your back on the establishment.

Lets say you've been doing your banking with Bank of America. Then someone starts a truly community-based bank and you switch your banking to the community bank. You've turned your back on B of A.

Same thing if you switch your shopping away from main-stream grocers who get their food from mega agri business, and begin shopping a local food coops and farmers markets. There are numerous examples of how we can "turn our backs on the establishment." Alternative media is another.

But to what effect? If we take the long view, that we are in a multi-generational struggle like the struggle against slavery, then strategies like this don't seem so crazy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

People are Talking

Maybe I'm just more sensitized to this notion of "challenging the establishment" than most people, 'cuz of this blog among other things... BUT, I have noticed more chatter about questioning the legitimacy of some of our so-called "democratic" institutions, let alone the system.

Oh, you want examples? It's late and I'll have to save that for another post. But I do hear it in my work place... not so much the "challenging" part as the recognition of the "illegitimacy" of the establishment part.... Challenging will come later, tho it has been noted recently that things might have to get worse before many sedate and distracted people begin the "challenging" process. Predictions are things will get worse economically.

More to be said....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Collapsitarians Unite

OK. This blog is about challenging the status quo institutions, like the Republicrats. Some posts are of the "How to" variety. Others are of the "Who is in our Camp?" variety. This post is of the later variety.

So, there is this new term, "collapsitarian." I'm not sure if it's a serious term or not, but it does capture the essence of a segment of society that feels, at the gut level, we oughtta just let this patched up, phoney capitalist system fall of its own weight.

Granted, the more sober of this sect realize that many people's lives would be harshly affected. But, that can be attributed to "sacrificing" for the long term good. That is, IF we are really serious about "Freedom and Justice for All," noble causes, giving our blood for democracy, then we should be willing to weather a collapse as the price of achieving our goals.... but to wish this upon others is what gives some pause.

Well, implications aside, some of those who want to challenge the establishment recognize that allowing the "collapse" is the price society might have to pay to get the establishment monkey off it's mutual back.

Who are these "collapsitarians?" My first thought was, "Sounds like anarchists to me." Yup. Smash the State baby. But, according to Virginia Heffernan, and you don't need a freelance writer to tell you this, the unorganized coalition includes anarchists, libertarians who oppose the financial sector bail out, Luddites (Heffernanism), survivalists, "green types who see collapse as our comeupance, critics of American exceptionalism (is the US really exceptional, or is that a myth?), and people like an older African American woman I work with who know in their gut that the longer we prop up the system, the longer the wound will fester.

I could say more, but I'll leave you with a reference to a piece that presumably coined the term. Supposedly, and I've not read it myself, a January 2009 New Yorker piece quoted James Howard Kunstler, author of the peak-0il piece The Long Emergency.

So, there you go. Another take on who is challenging the establishment. You don't have to feel all alone.

Final Note: As of the writing of the post, Google only has about 1,170 entries for the term "collapsitarian." The term is actually in Merriam-Webster dictionary. Go figure.

Mother Jones, "Let the End Times Roll," Virginia Heffernan, July/August 2009 Issue. (A light piece that goes off on the tangent of critiquing the "new thing" crowd that frequent workshops and conferences on "the new thing."