Clay Richards, anarchist blogger, writes about politics, art, sexuality and emerging digital realities. More poststructuralist than postmodern, politically incorrect to some, harshly critical to others, the Postmodern Anarchist believes in anarchy without anarchists, yet will freely discuss anarchism at the drop of a hat. Contact: postmodernanarchist(at)netweed(dot)com
The Postmodern Anarchist now resides at postmodernanarchist.com!
It's the eventual presidential election that has got me thinking about this and the fact that the Green Party of the United States held a meeting over the weekend at which they decided to run a candidate. I found out about this decision from an article at Common Dreams, a great news source that links to multiple news outlets and articles.
Apparently it became clear at the meeting that Greens are very strongly for fielding a candidate. And this makes a lot of sense because building a credible third party will take multiple failed candidacies to break into national office. And even though Howard Dean looks interesting and is attracting a lot of attention, it's really difficult for me to support yet another Democratic candidacy that will siphon energy off from grassroots movements for social change.
I'm feeling oddly compelled to get involved with this election cause I fucking hate Bush and the assholes with him who are running things. However the last time I got sucked into electoral politics (other than doing anti-Reagan street art) was Jesse Jackson's second run for office back in the 80s. For those who don't know, the first run helped build the Rainbow Coalition, a multiracial network that had incredible potential for building grassroots democracy. That first run convinced a lot of people like myself to start to get involved the second time around, just in time to witness Jackson and his cronies rewrite the bylaws, turn the Coalition into an electoral machine and sell his ass to the Democrats. Until Ralph Nader, Jackson was the last progressive politician with the potential to serve as a credible presidential candidate, but service wasn't on his agenda.
Nader interested me as a candidate and he almost convinced me that his candidacy was plausible. Of course, he's not a Green, but the Greens' decision to support his candidacy at that time seemed to be a smart move. Apparently the current folks putting themselves forth have said they will most likely withdraw if Nader decides to run. But it's not clear to me that this would be a great move. Nader showed that he can mobilize a reasonably active base of support, yet he refused to run a credible campaign. For example, his vice presidential candidate, whose name I honestly cannot recall, stated that she would not be able to actively participate. That in itself should have disqualified her. I talked to numerous Nader supporters at a grassroots level, with no connection to the Greens, who did not even know that there was a vp chosen. And they didn't recognize her name when I told them.
In any case, the Greens will have to decide if they are going to take themselves seriously enough to field a candidate who will actually run as opposed to one who ends up race walking. The inability of Nader to get the 5% needed to ensure matching Federal funds for the next campaign (details from my half-assed memory) should have been a wake up call for Nader and the Greens. They should have been able to get that and they wasted a lot of momentum by not going the distance. Though I don't blame Bush's victory on Nader, I do think the next run will be much more difficult. Gaining 5% and independent credibility would have done much to offset those who will never forgive Nader for their perception that he caused Gore to lose. Also lost are those supporters who are now repentant. Elections are won, in part, by such half-assed supporters. They are necessary for victory.
I should make it clear that I am an anarchist who sometimes votes, who sometimes works on electoral campaigns and who refuses to state categorically that voting or not voting is the proper path. Under the current system, involvement in the electoral process is a tactical choice that must be based on larger strategic aims. The illusion that we are creating a Habermasian space for democratic dialogue must also be left behind. We are clearly in a time of power games and must learn to play or continue to watch the Bush family party their way through the 21st century. Remember, Jenna and her sister may be getting busted now, but that's the family way. So I'm weighing my options, either supporting a candidate who might be able to beat Bush (a choice that feels like a losing hand), or supporting the Greens in inching towards becoming a force to be reckoned with (a choice that has the potential to change at least some of the rules of the game).
I'm bringing this up because mobs seem to be getting a lot of attention these days. I first noticed it with Howard Rheingold's book Smart Mobs and the blog on his site is playing with the notion of technology facilitated mob action.
More recently an urban participatory theater phenomena, called "flash mobs" or "e-mail mobs" by some, is getting quite a bit of attention. If you've somehow missed it, email lists are used to announce gathering points for people who show up and do odd things in a group. One site intended to facilitate this process, Flocksmart, is still in process but makes nice use of the related term "flock" and moves towards posting flocking events. The best coverage I've seen so far has come from Wired News and this somewhat recent article makes a nice point of the similarity of this event to projects organized for many years in San Francisco by groups such as the Cacophony Society. Plus it's got useful links that I won't replicate here.
It's an interesting development in terms of anarchist organizing as well as nonlinear social theory. If it goes much further it may be worth looking at more closely.
A recent featured website on CounterPunch was The Lipstick Librarian. It's often included in links pages that focus on radical approaches to librarianship. And this week's featured website on netweed was the Anarchist Librarians Web. Ah, synchrony.
The Anarchist Librarians Web is particularly strong, in part because ChuckO, also known as the Reverend ChuckO, is the webmaster. ChuckO posts news to the site as well as to the hosting site, infoshop.org. And he's a very smart guy. I first encountered his insights on an antiglobalism email discussion list that was intensely active before 9/11. Although the list was ultimately undermined by various raving leftists who couldn't quite get the idea of responding to group needs, especially after 9/11, ChuckO's contributions were always well thought out and represented some of the strongest anarchist perceptions available.
Starhawk was really on target as well. But she's not a librarian. Hmmm, have to do a web search on Pagan Librarians. Is there a witch in this library?
How'd I know? Why, I just visit infoshop.org for my anarchist news!