How Naomi Klein can help save the world

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

What follows is an email I sent to Naomi Klein, today, requesting permission to freely reproduce “The Shock Doctrine”. In a nutshell, teachers could distribute a serialized version to students after school, from the the comfort of a public sidewalk where they have First Amendment rights. They would do this, hopefully, not just out of concern for their own livelihoods, but for a broader concern for stimulating deep reform in the US.

Dear Naomi Klein (or her representative),

Howdy. I’m an activist, with some progressive aspects. I’m also a supporter of the “New Progressive Alliance” (NPA), which is a grassroots group that looks to leverage a primary challenge to Obama to catapult a new progressive organization, which is not beholden to the Democratic Party, into prominence. It’s expected to fail in displacing Obama, but the NPA candidate(s) are expected NOT to throw their support to Obama, but rather make good on a loyalty pledge, wherein they support an NPA candidate for President running as a third party candidate.

Of course, this candidate is likely to lose, also, but the idea is to break the stranglehold of the Democratic Party on people’s minds and voting behavior. The idea is also to grow an aggressive movement that transcends political personalities and promptly goes into abeyance at the end of each election cycle. You can grok more on the subject of strategic voting and ‘primarying’ by reading diaries at MyFDL by Noel, posting as themalcontent, and also the ‘Dump Obama’ diaires posted by jeffroby.

I had suggested to Anthony Noel, the main mover and shaker behind the NPA, that intelligently organizing teachers, and the NPA’s general mission, could be very synergistic. The Wisconsin protests showed some of the potential of teachers, but IMO what was demonstrated was rather weak compared to what could be achieved. What could be achieved is that teachers help to politicize the mostly a-political American electorate, by conducting political messages into homes that ordinarily wouldn’t get them, thus by-passing main stream media. The political messages will have value, in and of themselves, but the more important goal would not be education, but rather organization. Organization that is designed to have electoral consequences.

And how would they do this? They can’t legitimately ignore their teaching duties during class times. They really have no business talking about anything other than their subject specialties, while on duty. However, immediately after school, the last I checked, teachers had first Amendment rights, and are quite free to distribute pamphlets to any passer-by on the public sidewalk. Small crowds of teachers WILL be noticed by their students, and it will not take much effort to get them to accept pamphlets that the teachers are distributing.

I don’t think teachers should merely be passing out pro-teacher’s union literature. In fact, I’m opposed to such a limited mission. You can read my diary “American Unions are a Compliant, Selfish Disgrace, Compared to European Unions” at http://my.firedoglake.com/meta…    for my thoughts on this subject.

In terms of organization, it’s to be hoped that teachers participating in after-school pamphleting would focus on NPA. But in terms of the secondary purpose of such after-school pamphleting, i.e., education, I can’t think of a better topic than “The Shock Doctrine”.

Early last year, I worked as a temp in an office where a discussion was being had about the new healthcare legislation. I could easily recognize the Republican and Democratic noise machine talking points. However, I wanted to test both groups employees, so asked them both “What do you think about Billy Tauzin’s deal with Obama?” Nobody, but nobody, even knew who Billy Tauzin was.

I was not surprised. If people did know who Tauzin was, I doubt that either the Democratic or Republican talking points would interest them so much!

My point here is that even if Naomi Klein’s thesis has gotten lots of exposure in blogs like FDL, and even TV exposure on Rachel Maddow’s show, I fully expect that most Americans are clueless about her thesis, and it’s relevance to, e.g., the recent events in Wisconsin.

Consequently, I’m requesting that Naomi Klein grant permission for her book to be freely serialized and distributed. I realize that this might entail some economic sacrifice, however, it might have the opposite effect – i.e, it might actually rebound in greater book sales than would otherwise occur. E.g., parents who are reached through such an effort might catch fire, metaphorically speaking, and decide to gift the complete book to their friends, relatives, and even neighbors for Christmas.

I would much appreciate serious and prompt consideration of this request. I have already floated this idea to Anthony Noel, but I’ve no idea if he presented it to Naomi Klein. My apologies if you’ve already been hit up with this request.

You can read more on the NPA in Anthony Noel’s diary “Pick Up the Cry!”, here: http://my.firedoglake.com/newp…

Please note that NPA boasts a steering committee which includes Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West, David Swanson, and others. Perhaps someday it will add Naomi Klein to that list. (Hint, hint.)

Sincerely,

……

1 comment

    • metamars on March 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm
      Author

    I think the basic idea, of teachers using their First Amendment rights to convey political messages that tend to be suppressed or ignored in mainstream media, is very important. That’s because there’s little outside-the-box methods being used or tried, to do so. And the main goal, of course, is to get those messages from students, to their parents, and beyond to their parents’ social networks. I refuse to accept the notion that Americans cannot be politicized, in a healthy way, and I can assure you that there are lots of other ideas that could be utilized, but haven’t been, to accomplish this.*

    The NPA angle points to a potential synergy that I’m very interested to promote, but in fact teachers could promote any political message they chose to. In my view, the fact that the public is so ignorant of, e.g., Obama’s deal with Billy Tauzin is intolerable. If teachers wanted to exploit their opportunities and status to propagate educational material about single payer, I’d be quite enthusiastic about that. For that matter, I’d be happy to see many (but not all) teachers promote political messages that most progressives would find intolerable – e.g. Tea Party notions. That would spur a reaction, methinks, and progressive teachers would be more motivated to also exercize their First Amendment rights to propagate messages that they believe in.  Public sidewalks and other public spaces belong to all of us, not just progressives, and not just Tea Party types.

    In my view, political messages should more or less never be propagated without an easily discoverable pathway to an electoral remedy. This is simply a common sense notion that is nevertheless very important, but also not generally done (partly because there’s no voting bloc infrastructure in place). It’s not enough to stir people up, or even stir them up enough to donate a few bucks, here or there, and add their names to a petition. They need to coalesce their efforts, as efficiently as possible, to fire the bastards in Washington, and replace them with somebody better. (Or in your state capital, as the case may be.)

    NPA could (potentially) be one such electoral remedy. In the case of Wisconsin, it’s a fair bet that their most likely short-term remedies are the efforts to recall state level Republicans, and replace them with state level Democrats. Other states would have more hurdles to master. E.g., here in NJ, the teachers pension funds have been underfunded for 17 years. It’s kind of a no-brainer that the teachers will get screwed, sooner or later, and they can probably thank the Democrats as much as the Republicans. (I wonder, too, about the union leadership. Why didn’t they sue the state of NJ??)

    BTW, Anthony Noel is exerting great efforts in this regard, and could really use some volunteers. I would have been happy to help him much more, but need to focus on getting a job. For those of you out there reasonably employed, who want to do more than “blog to the choir”, and instead want to both reach out to the unblogged masses as well as help develop a political force that isn’t beholden to the corrupt Democratic Party crime family, this is your chance.

    Finally, I hope to write a sort of Part 2 to this diary. The teachers also have opportunities to have “teach-ins” in their local communities, perhaps in coffee shops. (I’m thinking small and non-disruptive.) These teach-ins could get recorded, and then posted on youtube, where the links would appear in subsequent pamphlets. Etc. There’s all kinds of teaching and organizing opportunities, and teachers are uniquely positioned to exploit those opportunities.

    If anybody out there wants to write a diary or two on a similar subject, and hopefully feel out local teachers about these ideas and write that up, also, please do so.

    * Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party want their bases to be aggressive, whereby they will make demands that may not suit the financial interests of the DP and RP insiders. I recommend the excellent diaries by John Emerson at OpenLeft, where he discusses the ‘demobilization’ of bases after elections. E.g., in diaries where he discussed Indispensable Enemies. From that diary:

    The parties and the pros work for themselves first, last and always, and a party’s ruling group would always rather maintain control of a losing party than win and lose control. Parties do not depend on elected officials for funding. Quite the opposite: elected officials who don’t have their own organizations and who can’t self-finance are pretty much dependent on the party. (This is especially true of low-seniority members of the House, who are little more than but peons.)  The party gets its funding from donors, and donors give money as often to prevent action asthey do to get action: sometimes all they want is nothing.

    By and large party leaders do not want reform, progress, or change, since anything new makes  their job harder and threatens to bring in new and competing leaders. The two party oligarchies support one another against the dissident forces in either party, and often their disputes are choreographed dog-and-pony shows leading, like pro wrestling, to foreordained conclusions — as we have seen with free trade, tax reduction, and deregulation, often the two parties are in agreement on the issues.

    Some examples of what party leaders will do in order to keep control:

    ….

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