This is a day where everyone’s talking about those who fought for freedom, which is odd because officially it’s a day to celebrate those who fought for empire and power. However that may be, I’m grateful for the reminder to celebrate the domestic activists – abolitionists, anti-corporate dissidents, community rights activists, farmer organizers, labor organizers, environmentalists, civil rights activists, suffragettes, civil liberties defenders, and others – who are the true fighters for freedom and democracy in American history. It’s lean times for us these days.
For the moment we still live in a society where as a rule one won’t be arrested and disappeared for saying something in opposition to the government. Nevertheless, the more I think about it the more it seems to me that the situation of real dissidents against the corporate state today is more like that of the illegal, underground Russian movement under the tsar’s regime than that of, say, the decriminalized and openly legal German socialist party under the kaiser.
True, unlike the Russian socialists we can openly and freely disseminate our blogs and social media presences and, if we can afford them, our newspapers. We can call public meetings and talk about whatever we want if anyone shows up. But while we won’t be arrested for this, we will be utterly swamped by the corporate noise machine and ignored by the inertia of the mass society. Wherever we become recognizable at all, we’re targeted not for direct repression but for misdirection and co-optation by a propaganda and organization machine of unprecedented skill and professionalism. This campaign is more insidious even than that of the tsarist secret police, which also had its wiles in addition to its brute violence.
Unlike the German party, which was massive, with its ideas and influence ubiquitous, or similar American mass movements, we struggle to consistently even recognize one another and communicate, let alone organize and carry out action.
If this assessment of true anti-corporatist dissent (as opposed to the innumerable forms of reformist compromise with evil, and the innumerable forms of de jure scamming and selling out) as a kind of de facto persecuted underground movement is correct, then what organizational, strategic, and tactical conclusions would follow?