Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


David Swanson: Public Energy Is Misdirected

Public Energy Is Misdirected

By David Swanson

What would happen if politically active progressive Americans suddenly stopped devoting their energies to drafting better sound bites, and instead directed all that time and passion into a serious and strategic campaign of civil disobedience?

I know, I know, we're constantly told that we're being out-framed and out-messaged. Horse shit. We're smarter than they are, wittier, pithier, more attuned to the perspectives of those we're speaking to. But we don't own the networks and the newspapers. They do. Mammoth corporations with an agenda that usually lines up with that of right-wing gangsters control the microphones. Stop the masochism! Break a frame over your knee. Spit out the sound bites. Ask not how you can save a political party that doesn't want your help in a single sentence. Ask what in your life you can sacrifice, what you can put at risk to force our government to do what we the people demand.

What would happen if leftists in America all in one instant ceased fighting each other over whether the only hope lies in stifling third parties and reclaiming the Democratic Party or must be found in destroying the Democrats and building a new party in their place? We all agree on our long term vision, and we agree on most short-term actions, including the actions most needed: impeaching, evicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Bush and Cheney. What if we all decided to give absolutely no slack to war-mongering corporate goons with a big D after their names but absolutely no misplaced animosity to decent defenders of democracy who happen to be Democrats? What if we promoted the best candidates in every race, regardless of party, but focused our attention much less on elections and much more on forcing action out of those currently in office? Would the world stop spinning? Or might we build a movement worthy of our cause and its popularity?

What would become of us if we no longer spent our money on advertising in the corporate media: no more full-page ads in the pages of newspapers that sell wars and stomp out justice, no more hundreds of millions of dollars dumped self-destructively into television networks that protect plutocracy and disempower people every day? What would happen? Would we cease to exist? Would we no longer count as clever? Would our wits be wasted?

Don't get me wrong. I like nothing better than crafting messages, writing speeches, and running my mouth. And I'll take a back seat on bashing the Democrats to no one. But these are not the most effective places for us to put our energy if we want to change our society. These are distractions and delusions. These are frantic repeated voting in online polls, panels for speaking to the converted, meetings with powerpoints, mass masturbation, means becoming ends.

What if we stopped imagining that propriety and respectability could win the day, that there was hope for bipartisanship, that lobbyists for peace and accountability are more effective if not tainted by association with protesters? What if we realized that pressure can be more powerful than politeness, and stopped putting our relationships with Congressional staffers ahead of the need to force their bosses to do their jobs or be harassed and humiliated and hounded out of office?

Movements that make change against great odds and great concentrations of power are movements that are united, focused, and composed of individuals willing to take personal risks. We should be shutting down recruiting stations and Congressional offices. We should be filling jails.

Here are some ideas for actions you can take, large and small:

Here's a network of nonviolent activists:

We have the energy. We have the numbers. We don't have our priorities straight.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news