April 15, 2011

Where Will We Find the First Wave?

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Tags: , , — Russ @ 1:48 pm


In his book The True Believer, Eric Hoffer postulates that a mass movement cannot spring into being solely of its own accord, but that the road must be prepared by the steady, corrosive educational work of “men of words” who are alienated from the existing regime and have broken with it completely. Conversely, where all intellectuals and writers support the regime, the movement will never rise.
Today in America there’s no such alienated faction among the various groups of publicly visible writers. In the MSM, in academia, among established NGOs, the communicators are overwhelmingly flunkeys of the corporate regime. Whether out of real belief, or cynical careerism, or cowardice, they’re all public lackeys. Offhand I struggle to think of even individual exceptions, let alone discernable groups.
It looks like the alienated men of words and revolutionary writers exist only here in the blogosphere, a place isolated from the public and whose very existence is tenuous. How do we break out to reach the mass consciousness? To ask a more specific question, with whom should we start as a target audience? The answer seems obvious.
One of the most extreme examples of this regime’s short-sightedness, and one of the real reasons we have for optimism, is its disregard of the same intellectual-literary basis of its support I just mentioned, one of its main bulwarks against an adverse movement’s rising.
This is the way the regime is proceeding, for nothing but the sake of short-term bankster profiteering, to liquidate the job prospects of the newly educated, even as it saddles them with undischargeable debt. It’s doing this even as it continues to exhort and practically order everyone who can “afford” it to go to college. In this way the regime will produce an ever-growing logjam of unemployable, financially pre-crippled intellectuals. History proves that there are few social bottlenecks which are more explosive.
It’s clear that here, among these unemployable college graduates and permanent debt slaves, their entire lives ruined before they’ve even begun, ruined by an intentional government/bank/university scam, is where we must seek the intellectuals of the movement and the first big wave of its real cadres, to join the handful of us who are now trying to pioneer this movement. Once this is achieved, we’ll have the manpower to make a mass appeal.
So one of the first tasks is to figure out how to attract this Internet-active audience to our websites.


  1. You’re already doing it. By leaving breadcrumbs at sites like Naked Capitalism, you draw us in.

    The broader question should be, how do you organize this manpower for the localization movement. We need real-life salons for debating and fleshing out the rejection of corporatism and the development of the alternative dialectic.

    The blogosphere gives a false sense of belonging. It is hollowed because we cannot interact. I cannot look you in the eye. We cannot sit around and contemptuously lampoon politicians, or gnash our teeth over the abuse dejure of FINCAP and LAWCAP.

    We need local groups.

    Comment by Ross — April 15, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    • Agreed. One of the most fruitful aspects of relocalization (political and/or economic, as I discussed in my recent “Basic Question” post) groups is meeting face to face and working side by side.

      Probably one of the best uses of the blogosphere would be to help organize these real-life groups.

      Comment by Russ — April 15, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    • “The broader question should be, how do you organize this manpower for the localization movement. We need real-life salons for debating and fleshing out the rejection of corporatism and the development of the alternative dialectic.”

      Well, I certainly agree that this is step one. There are enough political blogs our there, and despite the fact that they can serve as a decent way to educate people, the truth is that the vast majority seem to be there just to blow off steam. It can feel cathartic, but in the end, where does it leave us? The danger is that people think that spending an hour a day on political blogs is doing something, when spending an hour a month on the street organizing would be exponentially more helpful.

      As Tom Lehrer said about his music:
      “It’s not even preaching to the converted; it’s titillating the converted”.

      The problem is that meeting up with like-minded individuals, though a step above prowling political blogs, also can easily end up falling into the same routine of slapping each other on the back, talking about how bad the system is, and feeling like you have done something when you haven’t.

      A good example (both positive and negative) is the Howard Dean internet movement in 2003. It was entirely created outside of the Dean campaign (though members of the campaign would later try to take credit for it), by people that spontaneously decided to organize online in support of Dean. I was at the first meeting, and there was a campaign staffer there that went to check out the event because the campaign had heard about it but was confused by it. The meetings grew larger and larger each month, but they never really seemed to figure out anything to do besides meet up and talk about how they supported Howard Dean. The campaign didn’t think of much to do with the groups besides asking them for money, and, eh, asking them for more money, and collecting their e-mail so they could ask their for money over the internet.

      What’s interesting to note is how quickly people would organize once given even a small reason to do so. Keep in mind that this happened completely outside the Dean campaign, and at the time the mainstream media was largely ignoring Dean. Another lesson that should be learned is that, as impressive as crowds are, they don’t mean anything if they’re just an unorganized party to meet others like you. The Dean meetings were like this, as have been meetings with the Green Party that I’ve attended (one of the main reasons I don’t support the Greens is not that others write them off a not being viable, but that they seem to do this themselves).

      So, I agree. If we took just 20% of the time we spend eating the junk food of political blogs and put it into doing things out in the real world, there would be a hug difference. If that number was closer to 50% or 70%…well, you can imagine. But real life actions would have to be focused, with a plan to win, not a protest movement that has resigned itself to defeat from day one, or a happy hour to talk about how evil our political opponents are.

      In short – if you are wondering why things are so bad, ask yourself – what have you tried?

      Comment by Chatham — April 17, 2011 @ 2:12 am

      • Hi, Chatham. I agree completely about most blogs. It’s either happy hour or reformism.

        As for my idea, the basis of the movement is every kind of economic and eventually political relocalization.

        I briefly discussed a plan of action just over a week ago:


        To give one example, more and more people of various political persuasions are becoming interested in growing their own food. They may not yet fully consciously understand how critical this is economically and politically (in the face of rampaging corporate food tyranny), but they sense the need to do it in the face of a growing threat. And they’re becoming affirmatively interested in it, as something spiritually wholesome and something which can help rebuild our shattered communities.

        So movement activity would center on everything involved in food relocalization, from growing Victory Gardens and saving Freedom Seeds to establishing community gardens, seed banks, farmers’ markets, food banks, and localized food distribution networks. All of this would take place concurrent with political education and discussion, which could be faster or more gradual, formalized or informal, depending on the circumstance of a region.

        That’s just the food example, but other examples could focus on local currencies and money alternatives, transportation, energy, education, just to give a few.

        All of this constitutes the fundamental movement activity. Like I said, gradual politicization goes along with it. And then organized overt political activism would be built upon it at the tempo which circumstances dictate.

        Comment by Russ — April 17, 2011 @ 4:05 am

      • Russ,

        Just read that post of yours. Some of your thinking is very similar to mine as of late, and I would be surprised if there weren’t many others out there who felt similar. It seems (and others have said this) that the first course of action would be to organize an arena, both on the web and on the ground, that is focused on planning and strategies. I’m out of the country right now, but as soon as I make it back to the US, I plan to start looking for others in my area who share similar thoughts.

        Your point on keeping it small and tightly knit at the beginning is also welcome. It might even be more useful if the people you meet to help you plan aren’t even in the same group. I’d like to avoid the authoritarianism and soapboxing I sometimes see in political groups that seem more focused on patting themselves on the back then in getting things done.

        As for having a strong focus on local politics and issues, I agree again, this is good on many levels. First and foremost, it would express (not only to others, but also within the group) that this is not merely a vanity project like many groups out there, but one that’s actually finding actionable ways to make people’s lives better. It’s also a great way to connect, and to bring back a sense of community, which I feel is sorely missed a lot of the time.

        With regards to your post:

        To be honest, I would be pretty happy with reforming the system if it was a reform that actually worked. Higher taxes on the rich and lower defense spending, more spending on infrastructure and a larger social safety net, sensible drug law and prison reform, public health care, strong regulations and anti-trust laws on corporations, strong carbon admissions laws and investment in renewables, etc. None of which seems particularly radical, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were quite popular with most Americans as well (once freed of the background noise, of course).

        The problem, as I see it, is that politicians are just agents that react to an outside incentive system (not quite as simple as this, but it helps to look at it this way sometimes). Right now there isn’t much incentive for them to move in the direction we want them to. Make the AIPAC’s and NRA’s of our own interests. About 2.8 million voters voted for Nader in 2000. If each of them put up $10 a month towards groups like this (not saying that they would be easily persuaded to do so), that would have a huge impact. I’m not talking about MoveOn type “we’ll give money to whoever is the least bad” groups. I mean a legion of very dogmatic issue focused groups that wouldn’t care about party affiliation or stance on other issues, but would hammer somebody who goes against them and make it clear that there was strong support available for whoever decided to make their issue a focus point (again, look at how AIPAC functions).

        These are just a few ideas, and this is probably getting much too long for a comment section. But again, let’s get together with some like minded people, either over the internet or real life, through some ideas around and figure out our strategy (well, it will probably end up being strategies, with different people deciding to go different routes – which is good). It seems you’re already starting to do this. What’s the next step? Some sort of webboard, mailing list, or just one on one e-mail where we through around some plans?

        Comment by Chatham — April 18, 2011 @ 2:54 am

      • Chatham, unfortunately the problem goes far beyond single-issue lobbying. Even according to the reformism you say you could accept, we’d still be talking about a complete overhaul. People can’t pressure politicians for that in the same way they can if they’re nothing but gun fanatics who don’t really care about anything else.

        Besides, the record is that where it comes to issues of economic rationality and justice, no matter what promises politicians make, they break them. Every time. I really don’t see the point of proving one is insane by performing the same failed action over and over again expecting a different result. The proven fact is that representative pseudo-democracy is a scam (Madison admitted as much already in Federalist #10 and 51), and at any rate a failure.

        To make a further humanist point, I think that by now it’s beneath our dignity as human beings to still supplicate before political “elites”, who we know are not only not elites, but are far beneath the average quality of humanity.

        (I continued this comment on reformism in today’s post, since I figured it would be well to highlight the point again.)

        But again, let’s get together with some like minded people, either over the internet or real life, through some ideas around and figure out our strategy (well, it will probably end up being strategies, with different people deciding to go different routes – which is good). It seems you’re already starting to do this. What’s the next step? Some sort of webboard, mailing list, or just one on one e-mail where we through around some plans?

        I’m not sure yet exactly how to do it. In previous comment threads we’ve discussed web forums, or a network of individual sites linked by some “brand name” and agreed upon platform they all carry, although the individual emphases of the sites would vary. Optimally, I’d love to get enough bloggers together who agree upon the basics that we could then delegate tasks among ourselves. One could write about the ongoing bankster crimes, another about food corporatism, another about the SCOTUS and courts, another would keep a running log of protest actions everywhere, and so on.

        That’s one possibility. As you said there are others. I guess we need to discuss it further.

        Comment by Russ — April 18, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  2. Hey Russ, a belated welcome back.

    Speaking as a member of the group you’re describing (disaffected intellectuals with too many letters after their names and not enough job prospects), I agree with Ross in that I think you’re doing it to an extent already. I also agree with you regarding the explosiveness of educating a large number of people to a very high degree and then not giving them anything productive to do. I’ve been looking to the student movements in 1987 and 1989 in China recently, wondering if the “ant tribes” there will result in a similar phenomenon. Currently I would say that graduates in North America are currently too beholden to the system, due to the debt loads and the failings of their education (in particular a deliberate de-emphasis of philosophical and moral education I’ve outlined here before). That can’t last forever, though, as one thing every student going through this system does learn is how to rapidly find and assimilate information. I think people will break away from the corporatised universities in dribs and drabs- it’s beginning to happen already, and a lot of the people I tell about my plans (not doing a post-doc, trying to start a local co-op myself) are sympathetic if not yet eager to do likewise. I think it’s going to take a few years for the bottleneck to really force major chunks of the population coming up through the system out of the academy and its various hidey-holes and industry hangers-on and into society at large, but when it happens a significant chunk of them are going to feel angry and betrayed. Keep up the writing, and we’ll do our best to spread the word.

    Comment by paper mac — April 15, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

    • Thanks, paper mac. I hope that’s one of the purposes this blog will end up serving.

      You’re probably right that we’re still a few years out from there being any kind of large-scale epiphany among the pre-liquidated college grads, that they’re the mass victims of a monstrous system crime.

      In the meantime, the dribs and drabs need to steadily organize themselves into a gradually growing and articulating presence. The more effectively this is done, the more likely we can help accelerate the coming of this epiphany.

      Comment by Russ — April 15, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    • I was going to comment, but paper mac summed up my thoughts pretty well. I’d only add that universities today do a very fine job of turning out neo-liberals. From what I’ve seen, they are taught the constitution is a “piece of crap,” and needs to be completely rewritten or scrapped.

      Comment by Johnny D. — April 16, 2011 @ 8:33 am

      • I haven’t seen much of their saying that in principle, but it’s certainly what they think and do in practice.

        Comment by Russ — April 16, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  3. Russ,

    My take is that TPTB are more sophisticated crooks than were their predecessors (robber barron crew of shrewd rascals who were deposed to a large extent in the late 19th century). However, after reading M Hudson’s book, Superimperialism, I realized that a lot of plotting had gone on in the early 20th century with which I had been unaware. The information in Terry Bouton’s book ‘Taming Democracy…’ shows that there has been a division between the elites at the time of the revolutionary war and the majority; William Hogeland’s recent blogs have presented a more comprehensive picture in that regard.

    Recently, I came across a couple of blogs – DeepCapture.com and Antisocialmedia.net – which demonstrate the clever Mafia-associated tricks which are employed by the naked stock short sellers who manage to loot investors as well as managers/employees of many small (biological and tech) companies by using these techniques to manipulate prices. Not only are the players crooks, the SEC has refused to investigate most such behavior.

    I have previously mentioned the strategies employed by the jewish/ neocon lobbyists who focus American policy decisions in the Middle East. As Jeff Gates pointed out, the Zionist supporters have been frequently funded by people who have known criminal records.

    As your blogs have summarized, the actions of the Supreme Court in support of bogus arguments involving person-hood claims by corporations have legitimized obviously antisocial organizations and empowered the powers of corporations.

    I applaud your recognition that we are currently at an impasse. My personal opinion remains that the concepts being promoted by the MMT advocates are the only ones likely to have near-term benefits. Thus, I have been commenting at their sites to encourage better explanations by employing audio/visual tools coupled with written descriptions. There is some movement in that direction, but it is very slow and suffers from a lack of financial and technical support. Check Warren Mosler’s and Mike Norman’s sites to get an idea of what is going on.

    Meanwhile, will continue looking and following your efforts.

    Comment by William Wilson — April 15, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

    • Yes, the intent of the criminals (to steal as much as possible) hasn’t changed, but their vision of how much is “possible” (i.e., a totalitarian all) has expanded and their technique has improved. That’s the difference between normal corruption and full kleptocracy. It’s just like how Nazi Germany and militarist Japan weren’t technically different in kind from the 19th century British empire.

      I’m not sure how MMT, even if fully enacted in its mechanical sense, could have short-term benefits. The government issuance would still be orchestrated to benefit the banks (and used to justify ending all taxation for the rich, but not for the non-rich; for them, taxation must still be used as an instrument of social control – that’s why I call for No Taxes, period) and lent/spent according to a corporatist policy.

      MMT is only any good if part of a broad reform package including a jobs program, etc. But such things are politically impossible, and wouldn’t be desirable even if possible.

      Comment by Russ — April 16, 2011 @ 4:13 am

  4. The power of the internet is somewhat illusory because of the self-selecting nature of the audience (birds of a feather), its susceptibility to agent provacteurs (aka paid comment trolls), and the safety of anonymity. The internet is best viewed as a tool for organizing real-life get togethers.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 15, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    • It can also be the best way to achieve ideological consensus on a broad basis in the first place. I suppose I haven’t yet listed all the principles and a platform derived from them in one place, so I still need to do that. But once done, then anyone who broadly agrees can look to this site as a base, and sites with similar outlooks can affiliate under some kind of banner. That would be part of the confederation project. But I agree the real earthly foundation has to be real-life groups.

      Comment by Russ — April 16, 2011 @ 4:03 am

  5. Glad to find another Eric Hoffer fan…You may not want to hear this, but the group most likely to fuel the first wave are the angry whites that have seen their world destroyed by corporatists from the defeat of the Confederacy, to the inundation of illegals and their effect on low & middle class wages. Disaffection runs a direct line from Andrew Jackson’s fight against rechartering The National Bank to rage over todays criminal Wall St banksters. They have compatriots in European groups like France’s National Front- which recently gained legitimacy. The groups are well linked through sites like VDARE & The Occidental Observer.

    Comment by Natalie Golovin — April 15, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    • Bircher-inspired Alex Jones is far more likely to fuel the first wave than neoconfederates. The good news is that AJ is a bit more broad in his point of view than typical Birchers. The bad news is that AJ attracts Birchers. Paul Craig Roberts is a good example of this strain of conservative, and he posts on VDARE. So does neocon Michelle Malkin. Big difference.

      I can deal with paleocons like PCR. I can’t suffer neocons, which are just a species of neoliberal.

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 16, 2011 @ 1:11 am

    • By “first wave” I wasn’t referring to radicalism as such, but to a truly democratic movement.

      You’re right that today a quasi-fascist populism looks more likely to come sooner than a democratic movement.

      Comment by Russ — April 16, 2011 @ 4:16 am

      • I so hope you’re wrong, Russ, but I fear you’re right.

        Comment by Johnny D. — April 16, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  6. You wrote: “I struggle to think of even individual exceptions…”

    IMO, Glenn Greenwald over at Salon is doing excellent, tireless work.


    Your point stands, however. Glenn is just one.

    Comment by Paul — April 16, 2011 @ 12:32 am

    • Greenwald still gets blinded by his own partisanship at times, as Russ has noted.

      As a modern lawyer, Greenwald is a trained technocrat with a predispoition towards neoliberalism, which is an inveterate part of the institution of law these days. He’s doing a good job fighting his training, though. I hope he wins.

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 16, 2011 @ 1:15 am

    • I’ve read Greenwald extensively and written about him often. He’s good on his core issues of civil liberties and war, but is prone to lapse into standard liberalism (and pro-Democrat partisanship) where it comes to any other issue or to the picture as a whole.

      But you’re right enough that his name did cross my mind while writing this, although I dismissed him as well for the reason I just gave.

      Comment by Russ — April 16, 2011 @ 4:19 am

  7. For what it is worth, Russ, I think you don’t need a movement.

    My studies of psychology, sociopathy and history have made me wary of ‘movements.’ Since the French Revolution is my specialty, I think of the Vendee revolt and what happened at Nantes. Kind of permanently put me off revolution and broad activist movements of any nature.

    I understand that you have excellent, well-thought out ideas, and if I were you I’d live them, but I wouldn’t try to disseminate them more than you and the brilliant others who comment here do.

    First, sociopathy is on the rise and even in the best societies may be 4% of the population. Movements give them the excuse to prey on others with the cover of ideology.

    Second, if people truly wanted these ideas they could come to them as you did–from intelligence, motivation, research, intellectual honesty, observation, etc. I’m in my second century and I don’t see many people who really want to engage in those activities or get the results. Many more people than are sociopathic are pathologically prone to following orders. For example, the student in a college class who scowls both at the student who argues with the professor and equally scowls at the professor who questions the society. These persons want order and black/white answers. They’ll follow anything as long as it tells them exactly what to think and do. You could disseminate all you want to them and only get fanatics against you or, worse, for you, who would then do things that would make you shudder.

    If I were you, and I’m assuming you’re under 40, I’d get a farm somewhere, obey all the local rules in that area, break the ones no one could know about, start a school, ditto, and live happily among the 20, 200 or 2000 who want to join you.

    I think (may be wrong)even Howard Zinn would say that giving a living example of something is better than trying to get agreements in the broader society.
    You might die out like the Shakers or you might spark a movement that would grow slowly and organically. (Not that we have time for that.)

    More likely you would simply live and die as happily as we can in Doomed Amerika.

    Comment by Janice — April 16, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

    • Thanks, Janice.

      1. I personally do want to be involved in the food relocalization movement, and I already am on a volunteer basis, but I haven’t yet put it on a paying basis. But I’m trying to figure out how to do that. I’d love to become a farmer, although my personal experience so far is just with a small garden plot.

      2. I appreciate the advice, but you mistake my nature if you think I could be content trying to tend my garden somewhere and not be fighting back.

      Besides, as I’ve written many times, I think they’ll be coming for all of us. We can either come together to fight back or be destroyed one by one.

      For both of those reasons, I think we need to build a movement.

      When I say “broader society”, I mean (1) finding the worthwhile people to begin with, (2) building the movement framework with them, (3) preparing to receive an influx of refugees once the Depression and the repression really set in.

      As for the sociopaths, like I said they’ll be coming for us regardless. We can either fight them or not. If we want to fight them, we need to organize to fight them.

      So yes, I do think we need an economic and political relocalization movement.

      Beyond the self-defense imperative, positive democracy is my great affirmative ideal, and I believe in the human imperative to fight to establish it. It’s the only way for humanity to achieve its potential (as well as continue to feed itself post-oil).

      So there’s what I see as the affirmative and negative reasons we need a democratic movement.

      Comment by Russ — April 17, 2011 @ 3:50 am

  8. Russ, your points are excellent. I suppose I see withdrawal AS defense, but it is unlikely that martial law would leave anyone in peace. I would never stop acting in the interests of the society at large–for example, boycotts or protests–so I understand that you wouldn’t either.

    Comment by janice — April 17, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  9. […] probably just a matter of seizing upon the most radical idea lying around.) I previously devoted a post to this factor.   5. Professionals are also a key system base element, as long as their jobs are […]

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