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Jill Stein on running to lose, being too political, and whether justice is possible under capitalism

14 Jun

Marisa Egerstrom, Jill Stein and Rene Perez in the space shared by UNregular Radio and DigBoston

Our guest on “Banned in Boston” last night was Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate in 2012. We discussed the protests in Turkey this month centered in Gezi Park and what Stein calls “a general outbreak of justice and democracy.” Then, addressing the question “how do we turn public will into political will?” Stein described being excluded from a recent rally against tar sands in which she was deemed “too political” too speak. After that, we turned to a statement by Slavoj Žižek, perhaps the most high-profile philosopher of our time, in which he alleges far-left candidates run to lose. Before wrapping up, we wrestled out an answer for the big question, “are peace and justice are possible under a capitalist system?”

Along the way we touched upon austerity, the Black Agenda Report, breaking up the banks, eviction blockades, the Economic Bill of Rights, fair trade, the Forward on Climate rally, Greece and Latin America, fracking, the Green Shadow Cabinet, the Green New Deal, Left Forum, lesser evils, Noam Chomsky, Occupy Wall Street, parliamentarianism, police brutality and intimidation, predator politics, presidential elections, suppression of free speech, tar sands blockades against TransCanada, tree hugging, wars for oil, unions and the labor movement, Barack Obama, local Socialist candidate Seamus Whelan (misidentified as “Sean Whelan”), Chuck Turner of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada, the perceived lack of ethnic diversity in the Green Party, and even FDR’s New Deal.

This episode was co-hosted by Marisa Egerstrom of the Protest Chaplains, Rene Perez who is known to some as the “man in the Yellow Hat,” and me, John Stephen Dwyer. Thanks to Noah Evans, Chris Faraone, Liam Leahey, and Jeff Nunes for submitting questions , Evan Greer (our guest on next week’s show) for the music, and to Occupy Boston for their support . To stream or download the mp3 file for this episode click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

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Political protest as an “adults only” activity

9 Mar

To all the parents out there? How can protests and movements better cater to you? What would you like to see at rallies, meetings, marches, etc.?”

That was a question asked today on the Facebook page of Occupy Boston. “Kids corner…lots of juice, diapers, non-MSG and non-sugar snacks” was among the typical responses. I disagree and don’t think the presence of children is appropriate at a real protest.

The purpose of a protest isn’t recreation, or socializing, or fresh air and exercise, or spending quality time with children, or making us feel a false sense of “having made a difference.” These needs can be better filled by other activities.

The purpose of a protest should be to create a shock that demands a response. Political will isn’t created until people without power do something that makes people with power break a sweat and say “oh damn, either we react or this will get worse for us.” Shock and response is the pattern of history.

Are you sad now because I said you shouldn’t take your kids to protest? Don’t be. You can still attend pseudo-protests like the “Forward on Climate” rally held on February. They called it a protest, but it was nothing but a polite, permitted march through the deserted streets of DC on a freezing Sunday afternoon. Vis-à-vis the false sense of accomplishment it created, it was literally worse than if people stayed home.

If you want take your kids to a parade disguised as a protest, be my guest. They’ll be plenty of them in 2013, organized by well-scrubbed, college-educated folk with plenty to lose. Tear away the social and recreational aspect of one of these farces and there’s almost nothing left. They are fun, however, for those who think you can make an omelet without breaking any eggs.

How do you know if you’re at a real protest or not? Ask yourself if civil disobedience is involved, and if it feels like someone might be pepper sprayed by the police. If the answer is “no” to both of these questions, then I hope you and the kids enjoy playing your theater roles. If the answer is “yes,” then congratulations. You’re probably at a real protest. Now get your kids the hell out of there as fast as possible.

350.org disses Obama’s golf holiday with encouraging candor

20 Feb
Comments like this one make it hard to be optimistic.

But comments like this one make it hard to be optimistic.

350.org is currently distributing a photo of Obama, with text, via Facebook.  Nothing new about that, right?  But this doesn’t show the president next to an inspiring quote, or caught in some photo op that makes him look like a hero.

This image from Huffington Post shows Obama in the Florida sunshine, playing golf with fossil fuel executives on the same day – February 17, 2013 – that thousands of protestors shivered outside the White House in what’s being called the biggest climate protest in US history.  It makes Obama look really bad, as it should.

Lately, I’ve been a critic of 350.org for the over-sympathetic and under-critical messages they have been broadcasting about Obama through social media and other channels.  I am glad, however, to see that someone administering their social media “gets it” enough to unflinchingly point out who and what Obama really considers priority.

How does 350.org suggest people express their outrage at Obama’s cavalier snub?  They provide information about contacting the White House via telephone and email. Not exactly the stuff of revolutionary politics, but that’s okay, for now.  Rome didn’t fall in a day.

The action in DC on February 17, 2013 looked, sounded, and felt like an Obama rally. That hurt the movement because it completely disgusts many of the radical people that are needed under this “big tent.”  I hope the backlash from non-Democrats of many stripes – Greens, Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, whatever –  has been loud enough that it doesn’t happen again.  Until it does, I will try to be optimistic.

Here's what 350.org posted on Facebook after the State of the Union Address on February 12 with the recommendation "Click LIKE if you're ready to see the President put these words into action..."

Here’s what 350.org posted on Facebook after the State of the Union Address on February 12 with the recommendation “Click LIKE if you’re ready to see the President put these words into action…”

The climate movement has a tough, uphill battle.  What hope we have seems reliant upon the movement being both uncompromising and uncompromisingly non-partisan.

Last night, on Occupy Boston Radio’s “The Realm News” with Frank Capone and Andrea Romig, I outlined three assumptions that I think are crippling the movement against climate change.  If this is something you care about, please listen here.

“Tonight the President said he would end the drone wars”

13 Feb
2010 photo by John Stephen Dwyer

2010 photo by John Stephen Dwyer

Last night, Barack Obama gave a State of the Union address that began with a quote from John F. Kennedy telling us that his task as president was “to report the State of the Union.  To improve it is the task of us all.”

What came next might surprise some people.  Keegan O’Brien, a student and activist in Boston, encapsulated it as follows:

Tonight the President said he would end the drone wars, repeal any law that indefinitely detains Americans, repeal any law that gives our government the right to kill someone on suspicion on anything, tax the rich their fair share, propose a single payer health care plan, decriminalize drugs and fund rehabilitation centers, enact a plan to phase out all oil and gas drilling, reunite families torn apart by immigration raids, dramatically reduce the military budget, guarantee housing as a human right, and work hard to pass inclusive non-discrimination policies across the board. #NOT

Obama did actually say some good things he plans to do, like improve education and fight to raise minimum wage to $9 per hour.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure he was lying.  A transcript of Obama’s speech is posted at the Washington Post.

Dissing the DHS on Blog Talk Radio

5 Feb

 

Annie Lindstrom disguised as a wise old owl.

Annie Lindstrom disguised as a wise old owl.

I met Annie Lindstrom, a cheerful Florida resident who hosts a show called “Talkupy” on Blog Talk Radio, early last year. Today was my second time on her program and we began with a brief discussion of some of the projects that have grown out of Occupy Boston since its eviction.  We then turned our attention to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) activities in Massachusetts ranging from a US Customs service raid at Westgate Mall in Brockton last weekend to the ongoing intensification of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints on the Boston’s public transit system, the MBTA.  We ended with conversation about the tar sands pipeline situation in Portland, Maine.  Here’s a link.

1,500 march against tar sands in Portland, Maine (are you in this video?)

27 Jan

About 1,500 people defied the bitter cold on January 26, 2013 to protest the transport of dangerous tar sands via pipeline from Montreal to Portland, Maine.  Here’s a video from the march.  Can you find yourself among these defiant souls in this video or in this photo album?  If you weren’t there, don’t feel guilty.  The fight against this project has just begun.  Join us next time; this is a winnable battle and the next round probably won’t be so cold.

Rita Sebastian and Ned Paschene on “Idle No More”

18 Jan
Nelson Terry, Rita Sebastian, Sage Radachowshy and John Murphy in the studio.

Nelson Terry, Rita Sebastian, Sage Radachowshy and John Murphy in the studio.

Rita Sebastian never fails to impress me with her rare combination of bravery, compassion and tenacity.  She was in the Banned in Boston studio last night as we talked to Ned Paschene, a Cree activist involved with the Idle No More protests erupting across Canada.  A direct link to the episode is here.

Rita has a tendency to get where the action is.  Last week, Rita headed up to Ottawa in answer to an invite from Ned Paschene.  On Friday, January 11, she joined a call for women to prevent Chief Matthew Coon Come of Quebec and others from attending a meeting with Stephen Harper since certain people were excluded. Here’s video of that.

Here’s a clip I shot of Rita last night outside UNregular Radio.  In this second clip, Rita talks about Idle No More, Chief Theresa Spence, and what happened outside Stephen Harper’s meeting.