Friday Night at 8: MANIFESTO!

My Unified Theory of Everything

Well not really.  It’s not anything so fancy as a theory.

My manifesto, by the way, can be expressed in one phrase:

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Let us assess where we are now in the grand old blogosphere:

We have performed approximately seven trillion “gotcha” attacks on the media, reversing memes at the speed of light!

We have helped to elect a Democratic majority in the Senate and Congress.

We have spouted bloviations on every imaginable topic that if laid end to end would easily wrap around the circumfrence of the universe 50,000 times.

We have called to the media’s attention stories they would not otherwise have covered.

What we have NOT done is change policy in our government.  Bush and Cheney have more power now than they did before the 2006 election.  The War in Iraq is still raging, and I see no end in sight, no vote that points to our representatives ending this war.  We have seen no real opposition — NONE.

So, athough the blogosphere has accomplishments to its credit, ultimately we are all frustrated … which is why we are clamoring for a manifesto in the first place!

I’m going to throw some words out here.  They are words that have been so distorted, misused, misinterpreted and misapplied, that I ask you to try and capture your first impression of them as you read them:

SOLIDARITY

DIVERSITY

FEMINISM

RACISM

SEXISM

Solidarity.  Sounds kind of old-timey, doesn’t it, brings up memories, perhaps, of union halls and labor fights, communists arguing over coffee at a CUNY college in the 1930’s, hippies planning love-ins, ah good times, good times.

Diversity.  Sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?  A real clunker of a word, brings forth notions of stridency, political correctness, conflicts, guilts and resentments, feelings of being threatened, privileges taken away.  But mostly boring.  No real resonance to that word, is there?

Feminism.  Now this is a real winner, isn’t it?  No three women agree on the definition, and no three men do, either.  This word has been tossed around so much, it’s dizzy!

Racism.  Ooh, hot button, eh?  Flung as accusations to hurt another, flung by haters who wish to defend themselves with preemtive strikes against those whom they hate, another term misused so often, too often.

Sexism.  Well, there’s so many folks who never gave this word a how-dee-doo to begin with, aren’t there?  And yet another word flung back and forth like a volleyball at the beach.

So I’m going to try to refresh some of these words.

On this essay, I shall tackle the first two words, Solidarity and Diversity, with diversity being a subset of the former.

SOLIDARITY

We hear what is going on in Burma and it breaks our hearts.  We hear what is going on in Darfur and it destroys our hope.  We know what we have done in Iraq and it sears our souls.  We see what is going on in New Orleans and it brings us to tears.  We watch what is going on with our migrant workers, families ripped apart, detention centers no better than gulags, and it makes us crazy.  We read what is going on towards the poor, families without food or healthcare or hope, and it makes us rage.

Problem is, if we try to focus on one of these issues, all the rest vanish.  Eventually we feel so helpless we don’t do much at all, the problems seem so overwhelming.

In our liberal blogosphere, these issues are mentioned, sure, they’re mentioned often.  But rarely on a consistent basis.  And rarely in a prominent way.

In the diverse bogosphere, these issues are spoken of quite differently and given center stage.  There are blogs founded by people of color who exclusively deal with racism, immigration law, social justice.  There are the local NOLA blogs that point out in excruciating detail just what is really happening in the region, from politics to social justice, to racism and to cultural events as well.

Yet we are fragmented, we have different goals.  We don’t have as much power as we could.

Blogs founded by people of color broke the Jena 6 story, did you know that?  Those bloggers were indefatigable, and often under threat, and they pounded this story until the traditional media got ahold of it.  And only then did places like Daily Kos cover it — and not too well, either.  Daily Kos quoted The New York Times, not Zuky or Sylvia or Afrospear.  No, didn’t cover it well.

We all talk about how the blogosphere can change things.  And I believe it can, I really do.  But not without …

SOLIDARITY

Solidarity and diversity go hand in hand.  In order to unite, we have to know who’s out there to unite with.

And because we are bloggers, we want everything YESTERDAY!

This will not happen when it comes to SOLIDARITY.

Let’s think for a moment — about those monks in Burma.  About those poor folks exiled from New Orleans.  About those victims in Darfur.  About migrant workers living in terror in America.  About Palestinians living in Gaza with no hope.  And these are a small sample of examples.  They all have something we do not – an understanding of how to survive under oppression.

How many of us have had to live under real oppression?  I’m not asking that rhetorically – the blogosphere is a big place and there are no doubt folks here at DocuDharma who could answer yes to that question.  But the majority of us?  How many of us came to blogging because we had our first taste of oppression?  How many of us?

These folks have had to survive under lifetimes of oppression.  Is it so outlandish to think we might learn something from them?  Something we do not already know?

And how do we learn?  By coming up with a recruiting drive to ask these folks over to post at DocuDharma?

Well, I have no objection to that, it is a small piece, a very small piece of the answer.  Fact is, we’ve already had Duke1676 post front page essays here at DocuDharma twice — they haven’t garnered many comments, though.  Duke is one of the best bloggers on immigration issues you can find.  His blog, Migra Matters, is on our blogroll.  Perhaps we could visit that site every now and then.  Same with Nezua over at the Unapologetic Mexican.  Or Kai at Zuky.

And those are only a very small fraction of what’s out there, and those are only US blogs – and we have blogs all over the world!

SOLIDARITY

What does that mean?  Solidarity.  To me, it means coming together, defying the artificial divisions that have been deliberately placed between us by powers who wish very much for us not to come together.  And it means effort, real effort — thinking outside the box — dropping preconceptions and prejudices — and before that simply finding out what our preconceptions and prejudices are!  It means expanding our view, expanding our minds.  It is a powerful force, and we are not taking advantage of it.

Until we do, I believe no Manifesto of any kind will lead us to REALLY “blogging the future.”

121 comments

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    • Diane G on September 29, 2007 at 2:04 am

    Fucking Excellent Essay, I must say.

  1. … of the sites I mentioned.  All of them have blogrolls.  One leads to the other.  You might be surprised.

    Also, if anyone has blogs to add, blogs they visit that are not the “usual suspects,” please post them here.

    Thinking outside the box — most of us don’t even realize that we’re IN the box!

    I want all of us, myself included, to open our minds.  There’s more to see than what we see now.

    • Robyn on September 29, 2007 at 2:30 am

    …with the concept of solidarity tonight.  I’m trying hard to not give myself too much heartache.  So I have been mostly staying away from that other site, where people can decide that under the bus is indeed where we belong.

    Robyn

    • KrisC on September 29, 2007 at 2:33 am

    Great essay, NPK….a real seed for the ole mellon.  I’ll have to give some thought on this, but these two items really stand out in my mind what solidarity is all about…..

    1)
    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    Hands in Solidarity, Hands of Freedom mural on the side of the United Electrical Workers trade union building on West Monroe Street at Ashland Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

    2)Angelic Upstarts-“Solidarity”

    (Yeah, I was a punker…ah the 80’s)

  2. One may manifesto oneself into oblivion in this the western world.
    In this the western world the sole influence is money.
    Therefore in order to manifest change one would need to “do a Ghandi” on those parasites who insist on the status quo for profit.

    As much as we might like to tout bloggers as an influence don’t get fatheaded now as money for internet access will be the first to go when Iran closes the staits and gas goes to ten bucks a gallon.

    I’m way outside the box with my worst case scenarios.  It goes back to the Boy Scout Be Prepared motto.

    In other words, God says, feel free to “freep” the money changers in the temple just as Christ did.

    • snud on September 29, 2007 at 2:41 am

    I guess blogs are both over and underestimated.

    At any rate I was thinking about the notorious solidarity of one of our primary  adversaries; the republican party.

    But first let me inject what may be a bit of good news from American Conservative Magazine about General Petraeus’s recent dog and pony show and how their party feels – albeit for the wrong reasons:

    Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.

    I say “for the wrong reasons” because one just might get the impression from that article that those “American Conservatives” are for escalating the war.

    But they still manage to see at least part of the situation for what it really was – the blatant public use of a General for political purposes by a desperate, disastrous president.

    This would seem to indicate that, not only is the republican party obviously unpopular with voters, they may be finally starting to wake up and smell the coffee in terms of what an incredible debacle this president’s war really is.

    This could mean they turn on each other and if so, this could mean that the legendary solidarity of the republican party is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

    Maybe MoveOn is feeling a bit vindicated – justifiably or not. And maybe, just maybe, the US Military might be getting a wee bit pissed with Mr. Bush as well. I suspect General Petraeus doesn’t like to read something like this – considering the source.

    But the American Conservative conveniently  left out something in that paragraph that’s blockquoted above:

    History will not judge the republican party that enabled this president too kindly, either.

    And finally, this could mean for us that it’s a very good time for seeking change.

  3. as I learned how to install hardwood flooring.  It’s fun!  Lay down the plywood, screw it in, lay down the red rosin paper, staple it in, figure out how much your walls are off of square, split the difference, measure the placement of your first course, brad nail it in place, set up second course with no seams closer than 12 inches apart, brad nail that in the groove, set the nails, arrange 3rd course, use pneumatic nailer and special flooring mallet to finish off the room.

    I learned that you have to take into account your door thresholds as the flooring often extends onto the threshold.  Also, a square nail set works well for driving the finish nails home.  I also learned that moving 40 boxes of wood flooring is a job best done by 2.

  4. Rock and Roll.

    Well said.

    If we do a good enough job thinking outside the box, maybe we can ultimately EXPAND the box to include these varied voices.

    • Zwoof on September 29, 2007 at 3:53 am

    in a depressed mood yesterday, I was thinking the same thing.  We’ve accomplished so much, yet nothing has changed.

    I’ve got this GBCW thing in my head but it hasn’t moved to my fingers yet.

    I actually believed that we could have driven Bush to resignation by now, but all we have done is drive him farther into madness.  Our newly elected majority has failed us miseably.

    Another site has asked the question, “Do you favor the draft?”, to which 68% of the progressives on that site voted “yes”. I am finished with that site. The owner of the site has proposed this in the past as well.

    I considered asking the same question here on DD, but I fear the answer might be the same which would mean I would have to leave here as well.  If I don’t ask that question, I can go on believing that true anti-war people would never support such an insane position.

    When I say GBCW (if and when I decide), I mean goodbye blogosphere , adios MSM, and screw American Society in total. I live in China,there are no primaries, PAC’s or theocratic buffoons. In a recent poll here, 72% (strangely, nearly the inverse of Bush’s popularity) of Chinese said they were happy.  I can see this on the street everywhere I go. Are 72% of the American Public happy? Are you happy?  Is China perfect? No, but they are doing a better job than the American Government in taking care of their people. I’m talking about new schools, hospitals, libraries everywhere.  I see new highways, bridges, train lines, airports in nearly every province. I see happy people. I want to be happy too.

  5. Produces an interesting acronym! har har

    And, btw, the purpose of a manifesto?

    To produce…..solidarity.

    By distilling a statement of principles that a Diverse group of people can agree on …together. Thus uniting them and bonding them in….solidarity.

    • Armando on September 29, 2007 at 3:55 am

    I am always the naysayer I guess, but this sounds very Obamaish:

    What does that mean?  Solidarity.  To me, it means coming together, defying the artificial divisions that have been deliberately placed between us by powers who wish very much for us not to come together.

    There are people out there who disagree with us. We have to fight them.

    So who is us? What do you mean by come together?

    Behind what? Whom? For what? against what?

    And of course, how?

  6. that is a great example of solidarity and thinking outside the box. It involves a highschool in NY where a security guard was questionning girls about their menses, to see if they were breaking a security rule about bags and purses.

    Some students, including boys, have attached tampons or sanitary napkins to their clothing or worn tampons as jewelry in protest. Police even arrested one student protesting the backpack policy who ran naked through school halls with a paper bag over his head.
    link

    Something about this story really moved me, that the boys would join the girls in their protest in a way that most boys I grew up around would never consider.

    Great essay Kitty. I think we here are willing and able to both think outside the box and break the margins of our confines to seek and reach out for greater solidarity.

  7. I watched an interesting documentary on blood diamonds, where they came from, who profited from them, why they were hard to control, the militias that formed to control them etc.

    For years the region was in turmoil, controlled at times by the failed government and at times by power-hungry “rebels”.  For years everyone that bought diamonds from this region knowingly had blood on their hands, DeBeers profited handsomely and then because of worries that their good name would be soiled decided to join forces with those that were trying to correct the problem.

    The solution they came up with however, a series of stamps and certifications, leaves a lot to be desired but that’s not my point here.

    My point is that in order to change things we need to mix it up, one on one, with anyone that profited from our soldiers dying.  Pick a target and stay on it, look for others to join you.  Combine images of war with images of corporate parties.

    My personal favorite is GE and if nothing else I have cost them money in PR advertising and that is a small victory in itself.

    If we shame the businesses, investors, bankers, profiteers, it will have a rapid effect that should help to bring the house of cards down.

    In order to amplify the impact we should link to at least one other story on here that relates to war profiteering in our essays.

  8. We all yearn for it, eh?

    As a sort-of nutshell message, a basic slogan, it should ring with everybody, right?… liberals, progressives, leftists, radicals… and anyone who opposes what the conservative movement and the Bush administration have done to the US and Iraq.

    It’s far from original, but it resonates with me!  Solidarity, dammit!

    But… BUT… BUT…

    One problem.

    If we mean it, we have to first achieve solidarity across the liberal blogs, including Daily Kos and pff.

    Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

    Oh, man, sorry.  My dog is looking at me in distress, wondering why I am guffawing so loudly!

    But if we can’t be in solidarity with blogs that agree with us on the issues that matter most, what is the meaning of solidarity?

    Who are we to be in practical, actual, solidarity with?

    This, imo, should be a top of the list question at next years Netroots Nation conference.

    Thoughts?

    Yeah, I have a thought for ya, dude.  It ain’t gonna happen!  LOL.

    • Temmoku on September 29, 2007 at 4:25 am

    To speak out when nobody listens makes one feel as if she were the only one with a voice….

  9. or more a matter of when than of whom.

    a very common way to start a movement is to develop a ‘vision’, implement it, and then gain momentum and participants with the power of your message.  egg first. another way is to try to gather the people together with a vaguer ‘vision’, develop/refine the vision, and build a movement that way.  chicken first.

    and i dont think either is particularly superior to the other.

    you suggest

    Solidarity and diversity go hand in hand.  In order to unite, we have to know who’s out there to unite with.

    i suggest that, until you know what your vision and purpose are, you cant assume people will want to unite with you…nor whether you’ll want them to.

    to be quite frank, im a pretty all-inclusive liberal ‘kumbaya’ type myself…mostly…but if racists or god freaks (or war mongers, or child molesters [you get my point, no?]) want a seat at ‘my’ table, theyre going to have to make a LOT more concessions than i am.  and i know those examples sound extreme, because they are.  but then again, who should choose who’s included?  my choice would be ‘the participants’. 

    and, just a personal observation, ive always found it easier to motivate people to participate if you have a vision and a purpose.

     

    • srkp23 on September 29, 2007 at 4:46 am

    I think you’re absolutely right about solidarity, and the need to reach out to others. Without this kind of coalitional politics, I don’t see how we create a critical mass for change, in both the short and long term.

    That said, as you mentioned in your essay and as Zwoofie dearest mentioned above–right now it almost seems as if our critical mass doesn’t even matter. We are not being represented even when “our” candidates (Ds) get elected. I think we really need to support true progressive netroots candidates, then our combined voices will finally get representation. Support Jerry Northington, Gilda Reed, Ron Shepston.

  10. ((((NPK))))

    Your essay and this discussion got my juices going enough so that I finally wrote up something I’ve been thinking about for days. It was too much for a comment here, so it became its own essay.

    • Diane G on September 29, 2007 at 5:13 am

    I am pleasantly surprised by reading all of this that there is more to you than first met my eye.

    You are on the right path, I think, NPK, and much of what you say reflects that.

    I have new Respect for you.

    I am smiling, and thinking, it is good that we all are finding common ground.

    Your heart is a good one.  Nice to re-meet you.

  11. thanks Nightprowlkitty for opening it and letting some light, air and hope in.

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