October 11, 2012

Active vs. Passive Politics


I’d originally intended to write some posts reprising my criticism of the voting ideology, of representative pseudo-democracy, and of the pathology of liberals, all of this on full repulsive display these days.
Maybe I won’t bother with that after all, but it does highlight some basic facts about movement-building.
1. Nothing can work unless we first change our minds about the system itself. If we don’t recognize the power structure as irrevocably criminal and the fundamental enemy of humanity and the Earth, if in any of the various ways we still think it can be redeemed, we’ll remain shackled and on the path the terminal enslavement and death.
(These various ways include anything which in the end still wants big, aggressive government. Whether it be “progressives”, including MMTers and other “benevolent technocrat” types, who want Better Government to directly do things, or whether it be “libertarians” and tea party types who want continued big, aggressive government in the form of corporations and top-down “contract” enforcement (as well as the military and police state), it all ends up in the same tyranny.)
It’s true that individuals can get to this realization by doing something while still thinking the wrong way. They can feel the affirmative good of direct action and negatively experience how the system blocks all action at some point, and in that indirect way come to understand and reject the system. But no real freedom and redemption movement can cohere and fight except on the conscious basis of full system rejection.
2. This organic movement has to come prior to any attempt to build a political party and do system-political things like run for office. Those who want to search right now for alternative candidates are putting the cart before the horse. Something like the Green Party is negatively defined, has no coherent affirmative basis, and is thus a mish-mash. That’s why its actions, where they threaten the system at all, are so easily blocked, disrupted, or co-opted. It tries to use the system tools simply by imitating the system itself (but allegedly toward a “better” goal). But what tools can be useful at all will only be useful in totally different ways, and will require movement consciousness, training, and discipline to use them in this different way toward a coherent goal.
To give an obvious example of this, even if a crusading “alternative” candidate were to win an election, he’d find himself facing a monolithic structure and process, be isolated amid it to whatever extent he truly wanted to fight it, and come under severe pressure to “compromise” in order to “get anything done”, or even simply to get along better with the system people he has to deal with each day. Contrast that with a movement activist who sees office as an “inside” way to help the movement fight from outside the system. Who isn’t there toward the impossible notion of “enacting better policy”, but to mitigate destructive policy by being a monkey-wrench in the works. Who’s there to achieve the good by helping it triumph on its own, from the bottom up. But for this to work, the outside movement first has to exist, prior to any attempt to break in.
I recommend Lawrence Goodwyn’s book The Populist Moment for doing a great job of distilling these general principles in its analysis of what the populist movement tried to do and why it eventually failed. But meanwhile we haven’t gotten anywhere near as far yet toward our movement-building goal as they did.
That’s part of why I’ve been spending this summer and fall thinking about the long run and paying almost zero attention to the kangaroo election. (Just enough to know that pro-Democrat corporate liberal fundamentalism becomes more indistinguishable from the pro-Republican conservative variety every day, and the Obama personality cult indistinguishable from the Bush cult. Equally psychopathic and brainless.)
We need relocalization and democracy. These are essential to what’s organically human. We need economic and political relocalization and democracy. That means, among other things, becoming active participants rather than passive consumers and recipients of whatever’s inflicted upon us from above. It means that we overcome consumerism in both its economic and political forms. It means we take back our human work and our human politics. In this political forum, it means we become true active citizens and stop being passive “voters”, consumers of the system product. This means renouncing the system and building a political redemption movement from the bottom up.
I’ve said many times that pro-corporatism vs. anti-corporatism is a defining, dividing abyss and litmus test. I’ll add another: Does one see oneself and advocate for others, as one’s primary political mode (I’m not saying transitional combinations aren’t possible, but what’s critical is the vector away from the system and toward true participation democracy), bottom-up direct action and organic movement-building, or passively consuming the system (including all forms of begging it for “better policy” and to be “better elites”). Which of these is your inherent idea and will?


  1. Frustration is the reasons so many do not bother to vote. It may be the purpose of the two parties being almost the same on constitution issues. Still we have a choice of liberals not being quite as bad as neo-cons on the majorities’ liberties.

    The real problem is anyone who really represents the people is eliminated from office; by those who fund the election process. Of course the real cover story is the length of laws…thousands of pages often with more holes than a sieve, which hide the real story, which is avoidance of the issue being address by our supposed elected leaders. This should be the first thing that should be corrected; so when re-election comes around we know what was really done by our representives.

    Comment by beene — October 11, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    • What’s an example of someone who really represented the people? I’ve never heard of one.

      Comment by Russ — October 11, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

      • Cynthia McKinney and Dennis Kucinich are two. Not that it matters. As you so eloquently state, representative democracy is truly neither.

        Comment by tawal — October 12, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

      • The guy who personally whipped for Obama’s health racket bailout/poll tax in order to ensure as close to a unanimous Dem vote as possible? I’d call that notorious cave-in the “exception” that proves the rule – scratched enough, they’re all the same criminal.

        Comment by Russ — October 13, 2012 @ 1:10 am

  2. totally get what your saying about the cart before the horse.. bottom line is you still have to have both to get where we are going.. they can be created simultaneously and hooked up latter … regardless I am assuming in your analogy the cart is a benevolent altruist society and the organization is the horse otherwise known as a system of government… if so then we must have a driver for the horse and cart that knows where we want to go and at what speed..he too must represent the people as an altruist and understand the limitations of the horse and cart…

    Dave Outlaw

    Comment by W David Outlaw — October 11, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

    • Sorry, that’s what I get for using a cliche. I didn’t mean anything substantive by it. But now I’ll say we’re the horse, and we don’t need anyone to guide us or ride us. So I guess the cart, if put before us, is loaded with false beliefs. Dump those, and we don’t need the cart either.

      Comment by Russ — October 11, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  3. Russ,

    “We need relocalization and democracy.”

    I agree on the first (relocalization) but question the second (democracy). From what I can tell, even Athenian democracy was not the kind of democracy you want. Moreover, like our American “democracy”, Athenian democracy was merely a mask worn by the very power structure you rightly condemn. How can we prevent the power structure’s perversion of the ideal of democracy to suit its own ends?

    It just seems to me that we don’t yet have the language or concepts necessary to take things even as far as you would like. I agree fully with your step 1. I just think there has to be another step before your step 2 to ensure that we don’t just wind up with the same ole tyranny, as you say.

    For example, the individualism v. collectivism dichotomy has proven false because it is the elite individual whose existence relies on the collective, not the other way around. That the elite have successfully portrayed the oppressed as oppressor and vice versa is a testament to their tenacity. False dichotomies need to be laid bare so they lose their power to persuade and defraud.

    Another way of putting it is I think that what you really mean by democracy is far more profound than that word. But I don’t want to get into another debate about language. Humanity’s ability to consciously divide its labor to achieve far greater results than the individual can is a testament to man’s ability to recognize the substantial benefits of “co-opetition” over competition. Every human being deserves the dignity of determining for themselves whether they want to cooperate to achieve a particular collective goal.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 16, 2012 @ 1:00 am

    • Thanks for the food for thought, Tao. I’m sure you’re right that wherever we want to head may be different in practice, let alone terminology, from what humanity’s done before. Cooperation and community are definitely the constants, but from there the possibilities are open-ended.

      I do think that if democracy has been sufficiently versatile to encompass a range from fully participatory councils to “representative” government (even leaving aside the flat-out abuses of the term, although I call the latter such an abuse as well), then it can suffice as a provisional term for the relocalized participatory politics on the part of an active citizenry which I think is the necessary and desirable goal.

      Comment by Russ — October 16, 2012 @ 6:46 am

      • Russ the below is from my new web site…
        This excerpt is out of context and you need to read the entire Deceptionology Thesis to get it but it is mostly self explanatory. Fairism incorporates a lot of anarchy i believe in its levelocracy approach and being fashioned after the healthy human body as the ideal but avoids a lot of the PTB imposed anarchy stigma in the rebranding process.


        “Creating the future,
        creating the Onotron…
        Strategy — Phase Two
        Building The Analogue,
        The Ideal, The Healthy Human Body…
        Introduction… For guidance we look again to our analogue…
        It has been presented in the Deceptionology thesis that the growth of human societies is not cyclical but rather occurs in spurts, and that these growth spurts always have upper level commonalities; they all have alliances with a moral code (an agreed upon code of conduct); these codes of conduct are always subject to destruction from within and without through the creation of active or passive DETODs (which themselves contain in them the inherent morality of their creators); the alliances always trend, or seek, to be ever improving of the morality and more all inclusive, or comprehensive, over time as they are corrupted; the alliances are a way of mediating and balancing the growth spurts; the balancing process always seek to accommodate a base struggle of local control over centralized control to effect a fair distribution of resources.

        It is this on going struggle of local control as opposed to centralized control that has given rise to; kings, queens, princes, millionaires, billionaires, dear leaders, corporations, world banks, central banks, the IMF, etc. It is this on going struggle of local control as opposed to centralized control that has also given rise to numerous political movements, both well meaning, and not so well meaning, and the co-option of all by the Xtrēvilist forces.

        There is no doubt that the dark forces of Xtrevilism will work vigorously to discredit the concept of Fairism and it will be ridiculed, ignored, and, where any traction is gained, co-opted. Do not be swayed. Keep it simple and avoid those who will intentionally dissipate your energies. If you find your energy being drained by someone talking jargonized bullsh!t to you simply move on to some one else and do not get discouraged. Corporate Xtrēvilism occupies the aberrant moral low ground. Fairism is without question on the moral high ground. The terms are simple and direct. Direct democracy for a levelocracy; fairness, speed limits, greed limits, and a one for all and all for one alliance with harsh punishment for those who betray the public trust.

        Concurrent with reclaiming, revising, and rebuilding the levelocracy organizational structure as noted in phase 1 above, phase 2 rebuilding will require that you keep in mind this struggle to balance the growth spurts of humanity and the balance of centralized and localized functions. Local rebuilding will have the highest emphasis as it will immediately allow all to participate. It will also allow for sampling resistance and ferreting out those who are in opposition to Fairism. The Community Sustainability Centers suggested below are fashioned after past and existing Community Centers, Grange halls, etc., many of which are still standing and available today if they have not been privatized (read stolen).

        Fairism Councils — Community Sustainability Centers — One Tax — A Bottom Up Alliance… Fairism will recognize that most all people want the same things: a fair rule of law, clearly stated rights to their sphere of influence (their DETODs (their creations or property)), freedom of speech, of religion, of travel, of the press, of association, and a fair and just legislative and judicial system that provides economic stability and a trustworthy monetary and banking system. Fairism will also recognize that we exist in an ever evolving dynamic growth process and keep at the forefront of planning that we are all best served by keeping that growth, in its totality, balanced and sustainable with an eye to the future. Further, Fairism will recognize that there is a restorative burden placed upon all of us due to past excesses of the aberrant few that have so selfishly screwed things up. A great part of that restorative burden will be deprogramming from the dysfunctional wealth adoration and unrealistic goals that we have all been exposed to. We must fashion a new optimism that rewards and celebrates our achievements in a more realistic and far more satisfying fashion.”


        The premiere article is here.


        The Deceptionology Thesis lays it all out in terms of strategy and it also provides a lot of resource material for neophytes to argue against the Xtrevilist PTB. The system is totally renounced as unworkable by reclaiming and rebuilding outside the system.

        Its a lengthy read in its totality. I would appreciate any constructive feedback, you know I value your opinion.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by Warren Celli — October 16, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

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