Volatility

June 7, 2012

A Note on Wisconsin

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 8:30 am

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“Wisconsin and the Left: What Happened?”
 
Here’s what happened: Those who call themselves “the left” chose yet again to set up everything in terms of the same old confrontation between the Democrat tribe and the Republican tribe.
 
They did it in a way which could never enthuse principled electoral abstainers or “apathetic” non-voters.
 
They did it playing on big money’s chosen battleground.
 
Given that pathetic setup, I don’t think this outcome was unexpected.
 
Meanwhile, the term “general strike” only briefly bobbed up in the dog days of the protests, only to sink again without a ripple. Indeed, the very people broaching the term were careful to stipulate that “we won’t actually do it because it’s illegal.” Heroes of democracy indeed.
 
Just like with Occupy in general, Wisconsin will need to start over, and this time completely renounce electoralism as a rule.
 
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I found this piece via the Organic Consumers Association. I’m not systematically familiar with Counterpunch, having read many articles there in ad hoc fashion, like in this case. But I often see criticism of the site, and it’s sometimes the kind of thing borne out by a quote like this:
 

People, as a mass movement in the United States, are attracted to right-wing populism, embodied by the likes of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who recently won the recall election by an astounding 7-percent landslide.

Sure, there are refrains, such as “this was an auction, not an election,” and that “money won this election.” But people still voted and have agency. And Walker won by a long-shot.

 
Are they in the habit of validating phony elections by calling them “democracy in action”, and saying “the people have spoken” with great “agency”? That’s complete idiocy, and plays into the representation scam.
 
That’s a basic dividing line – does one consider the outcomes of representative government, whether directly rigged or just systemically rigged, to be legitimate, or not.

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12 Comments

  1. Russ: “Just like with Occupy in general, Wisconsin will need to start over, and this time completely renounce electoralism as a rule.”

    Thanks for this post and I totally agree with you that Occupy and Wisconsin will need to start over.

    I’m also not sure about Counterpunch, I still read it haphazardly and at times they have interesting articles, but it’s disappointing that like Noam Chomsky, even Alexander Cockburn seems to accept the official government version of 9/11 and won’t allow anyone to question it.

    Some days I think Counterpunch has been hijacked as well.

    Can you recommend other sites for alternative media?

    Comment by Sophie — June 7, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    • We’ll need to build our own sites. We have this forum which we’ve been neglecting, but which we could try to build into an online site for Food Sovereignty and positive democracy discussions.

      http://bulletin.mkyserv.com/index.php

      It doesn’t seem like there’s much out there yet in terms of building a true democratic/food sovereignty movement. I’d love to hear of good sites, though. Here’s the best I know of, Food Freedom Group.

      http://foodfreedomgroup.com/

      For an intense but exasperating discussion, highlighting many of the problems we face herding philosophical and tactical cats in the first place, see the threads here.

      http://www.thecompletepatient.com/

      Mostly we need to use sites that exist as good sources of information, but be slow to accept anyone’s interpretations or analysis.

      But here’s a few examples of good pieces I’ve seen on Wisconsin, this particular microcosm of electoralism in general.

      http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/2012/06/whats-matter-with-wisconsin.html

      http://blackagendareport.com/content/wisconsin-what-happens-when-movements-turn-campaigns

      Comment by Russ — June 8, 2012 @ 1:46 am

      • Thanks for this, I’ll check out all the sites you mentioned.

        You said: “Mostly we need to use sites that exist as good sources of information, but be slow to accept anyone’s interpretations or analysis.”

        I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion. I still use sites such as Counterpunch, eXiled, the New Left Review, even the links of the day at Naked Capitalism, etc… but as sources of information only.

        Personally I’ve come to the conclusion there’s no point arguing with, or even listening anymore to those who are still defending the present system. Life is short, we need to choose our battles strategically and if someone hasn’t chosen which side they’re on by now, what is there to say?

        For instance, if someone is still defending the Democrats, even after Wisconsin, still defending Obama, or still defending capitalism at this point, etc, it’s probably a waste of time trying to argue with them.

        In my view, there’s almost no point listening anymore to those who find something good, or something worth defending within the present system; or even, in some cases, to those who simply don’t catch on quickly enough, such as that poor misguided neighbor of mine, who despite everything, still believes in Obama’s “good intentions”.

        Gee, what can I say to her at this point? I’ve tried pointing out things in the past, but it was like speaking to a brick wall.

        Anyway, thanks again, Russ, for referencing those websites.

        Comment by Sophie — June 8, 2012 @ 10:12 am

      • Unfortunately, that’s been my usual experience as well. I seldom bother trying to argue with people who are presenting a complacent front. Only if they volunteer doubts might I try to plant broader seeds of doubt and rejection.

        But in general I focus on affirmatively asserting my own point of view. Let others worry about whether or not to argue with me.

        Comment by Russ — June 9, 2012 @ 2:30 am

  2. It appears, from indications given by Adbusters, that Occupy The Farm is going to be the basis of a new strategy for Occupy. TAZs, et. al.

    How’s the garden, Russ?

    Comment by Ross — June 7, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    • Uh-oh (see my comment below)

      Comment by Ellen Anderson — June 7, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    • That’s what I want to hear – focused action with the express goal of restituting the land. Nothing else can work without it. Occupy Our Food Supply is a prime example of focused action, and the anti-foreclosure, organized squatting, and other commons reclamation actions also help constitute the movement frontier.

      My garden’s doing OK, and I’m also working a larger plot at a friend’s nearby farm, growing edamame and sweet corn. So far so good. Our farmers’ market starts next week, and other projects are thriving as well. How’s all your stuff going?

      Comment by Russ — June 8, 2012 @ 1:49 am

      • I managed to sow a bunch of buckwheat during the March heat wave which is flowering and should be ready to harvest in another week. I’ve been having issues with caterpillars and pillbugs eating my greens. That started in the last two weeks.

        We haven’t had enough rain in Chicago for the amount of heat we’ve had since early May.

        The community farm has graded our site and they’re raising money on Kickstarter for an ethnic heritage garden.

        Here’s a link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/375961841/ethnic-heritage-garden-for-the-howard-street-farm?ref=live

        Comment by Ross — June 8, 2012 @ 8:38 am

      • That’s great, Ross. I’m sorry to hear about your pest and water issues. Recently we’ve had superb weather around here – lots of both sun and rain. So I haven’t yet had to water anything I’m growing.

        I’d like to hear about how the Kickstarter’s going. We’ve talked about using that ourselves.

        Comment by Russ — June 9, 2012 @ 2:35 am

  3. Hi Russ – I do read Counter Punch or at least check it out. I actually have subscribed to the paper edition and I think I need to re-up. They are a mixed bag. Ralph Nader posts, Craig Paul Roberts, Noam Chomsky. They are the old left and some of the new left and some people who are hard to classify. I don’t think there is a party line. If I have time I like to read what is there and I have a lot of respect for a lot of those (mostly old) men and women. As it happens I agree with what you said they said this time. (I haven’t read it myself.) “The people” are generally mystified, filled with resentment, anger, fear etc. If you actually went out an forced people to vote (or paid them well enough as it sounds like they did in Wisconsin) they will act out their current emotional problems. They know something is wrong and they need to blame someone so they blame unions. We would call that right wing populism, I guess.
    What will people do collectively once the current system collapses, that I don’t know. But I would fear the masses right now. They are not with Occupy Wall Street and they have been trained to hate and resent public employee unions.
    We know that representative democracy mostly represents the well-to-do. But we also know as farmers that if the people ever get their way, at least in the short run, they will want to take the food we have grown and not to pay for it. That is why peasants were considered to be conservatives. The Russian communists took all of their food to feed “the people” and left the farmers to starve.

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — June 7, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    • “We know that representative democracy mostly represents the well-to-do. But we also know as farmers that if the people ever get their way, at least in the short run, they will want to take the food we have grown and not to pay for it. That is why peasants were considered to be conservatives. The Russian communists took all of their food to feed “the people” and left the farmers to starve.”

      Peasants have been considered reactionaries by structuralist marxists since the 1800s, the Russian experience with collectivisation didn’t have anything to do with it. Beyond that, unless Occupy is planning on rushing out and collectivising farms, declaring moderately properous farmers kulaks and executing them and their families, I don’t see how the comparison is useful or revealing.

      Comment by paper mac — June 7, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

    • One constant which has cut across almost all ideologies and movements has been to regard food producers as a resource to be mined. With Food Sovereignty we finally have a political philosophy and movement dedicated to the fact that food growers constitute the foundation of all human and social existence. Its slogan could be, All Power to the Growers. All land as well.

      But this doesn’t mean any necessary conflict between food growers and “the people”. On the contrary, food relocalization must work hand in hand with every other kind of economic relocalization and reskilling.

      Meanwhile, the example of Bolshevism is a typical example of how the hostility of city-dwellers toward food growers has always been generated from the top down, as a standard mode of divide and conquer. Today’s political whipping-boy “farm subsidies” is the same kind of thing. The subsidies are evil, but they’re not profit subsidies for farmers, who are mostly sharecroppers carried along by the government. Rather, all government agricultural policy has as its basic goal to force commodification and reduce prices for commodity buyers – millers, packers, any kind of processor.

      So there, as always, the real enemy of growers is hierarchy, in the form of corporations and governments. It’s these who use ideological and political lying to synthesize artificial hostility on the part of non-grower parts of the 99%.

      A goal of Food Sovereignty has to be to break down all such ideological barriers, in part by encouraging as many people as possible to grow some of their own food, to directly get to know local farmers, and in general to become as educated as possible about food issues.

      That’s the only way we’ll build a movement which shall redeem the land for food democracy, and in the process forestall the kinds of internecine strife you fear.

      Comment by Russ — June 8, 2012 @ 2:01 am


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