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On Dissidents and Their Voices

Part of the fun of having your own blog is that you can post something in a post that really should be a comment, in an attempt to get more people to read it.

First, I had no idea because there was no campaign whatsoever regarding it, that I was going to walk into my precinct and vote on a Constitutional Amendment that would define marriage, in the State of Florida, as a union between one man and one woman.

Um, no.

Next, in response to yesterday's post about my vote for Nader/Gonzalez (or more accurately, the fact that I didn't vote for Obama), I voted for Nader because he has spent his career fighting The Man. And if we are to develop a viable third party in this country, which might be the only thing that can save it, we have to start supporting it with our votes.

Rather than blathering on, allow me to refer to three articles on Dissident Voice that help explain my position.

  1. A book review posted last night called "Critical Reading–The Democrats: A Critical History," which I'm putting on my list. Pham Binh reviews the book . . .
"With less than a month to go before the election and Obama’s inauguration a mere three months away, Lance Selfa’s The Democrats: A Critical History is critical reading for anyone interested in real change we can believe in i.e. not the kind Obama will bring. . . . Unlike the Republican party, the Democrats incorporate representatives of the oppressed and exploited (women, blacks, gays, unions) within the party as a subordinate component, to give them a meaningless 'seat at the table.' Doing so helps the Democrats maintain the fiction that they are the 'party of the people,' or that they’re 'friends of labor,' as opposed to the bad big business-backed Republicans. . . .

Two themes run throughout the book and form Selfa’s conclusion: 1) the Democratic Party is part of the problem, not part of the solution if you want real, meaningful change in this country and 2) change comes from grassroots movements independent of (and in opposition to) the Republican and Democratic parties. The lesser-evil strategy has been and will always be a complete disaster, allowing both parties the freedom to become more and more 'evil' as time goes on so long as they don’t become equally 'evil.'"

2.    "How Should You Vote?" by Jeremy R. Hammond. Again, partly about the lesser evil syndrome (and Florida in 2000, where I was a "spoiler" who voted for Nader) and this round's third-party darling, Ron Paul (except for that anti-choice stance that I can't get beyond). Hammond writes of how the lesser evil strategy is doomed. . .

"The truth is that the only reason a candidate like Ron Paul is “unlikely” to win an election is because people won’t vote for him. And they won’t vote for him because they think he’s unlikely to win, which of course results in the self-fulfillment of that reality.

The American people need to recognize that an alternate reality exists, and that the way to bring it about requires merely a shift in paradigm. American voters should shift their electoral strategy from seeking to put the lesser of evils into power to seeking to elect the force for the greatest good.

There are, of course, those who already adhere to this alternative framework. If there were a few more among their numbers, alternative candidates like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Ralph Nader would gain more votes. They might still lose. But does voting for a losing candidate mean one’s vote has been wasted? How much more wasted is a vote that goes towards the lesser evil? You’ve still voted for the perpetuation of evil. . . .

The only real voting strategy that can offer real hope for change is the one wherein Americans vote their conscience and cast their ballot for the candidate they think is truly the most worthy to be called by the title of President of the United States of America.

Until Americans realize this then there will indeed remain little hope for the future."

3.    Mickey Z. (need I say more?) in "Myth America: A Stand-up Tragedy" begins by speaking (this is a talk he's been giving) of what, in my experience, few mainstream Americans (read: not you, and not those who get their information from alternative media sources) talk about–or even know about (thanks to history textbook publishers, among others): September 11, 1973.

"On that date, the US government helped fund and sponsor a military coup in the South American nation of Chile. The democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown and killed. They said he committed suicide…with a machine gun. In his place, the US propped up the dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. Not surprisingly, under Pinochet taking power, human rights violations in Chile skyrocketed."

There are bestselling books (Confessions of an Economic Hitman comes to mind), films ("The Battle of Chile" and the subsequent "The Pinochet Case") and even pop songs (I think Sting's "They Dance Alone") that refer to what the US has done in Chile (and other countries), under both Republican and Democratic administrations, but still there is either a forgiveness or an amnesia about what Democrats have done that scares me.

Mickey Z. gets right to it.

"I’m going to provide some of the many, many reasons you shouldn’t vote for McCain:

He’s raised twice as much money from Wall Street than his opponent. He voted for every Iraq war appropriation bill he faced. He refused to be photographed with San Francisco’s mayor for fear it’d be interpreted that he supported gay marriage. He voted against single payer health care. He supports the death penalty, the Israeli war machine, and the fence on the US-Mexican border. When asked if 'there’s anything that’s happened in the past 7 1/2 years that the U.S. needs to apologize for in terms of foreign policy?' he responded: 'No, I don’t believe in the U.S. apologizing.' He voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State and to reauthorize the Patriot Act. He…uh-oh. Sorry, I messed up and gave you some of the many, many reasons you shouldn’t vote for Barack Obama. My bad…"

And Clinton?

"In the first three years of the Clinton-Gore regime—two of which involved a Democratic House and Senate—Clinton and his green buddy gave us fun stuff like: The passage of the salvage logging rider, the continuation of the use of methyl bromide, the weakening of the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, the lowering of grazing fees on land, the subsidizing of Florida’s sugar industry, the reversing the ban on the production and importation of PCBs, and allowing the export of Alaskan oil.

When Clinton and Gore ran for re-election in 1996, David Brower, former president of the Sierra Club, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called 'Why I Won’t Vote for Clinton.' In this piece, Brower declared that Clinton and Gore had 'done more harm to the environment in three years than Presidents Bush and Reagan did in 12 years.' That’s Bush the Elder, not Bush the Lesser.

But most important for my purposes . . .

"To me, America’s two-party system is like buying a ticket on a commercial airline. You can request a seat on the right side or you can request a seat on the left side of the plane. But it doesn’t matter as long as the pilot is in control.

Sure, voting for Barack Obama will prove once and for all that you’re more open-minded than your Republican brother-in-law but it’s time to recognize the most consistent and primary difference between Republicans and Democrats is this: they tell different lies to get elected."

A fabulous deconstruction of what it means to "support our troops" follows.


"No matter what you call it, there is an alternative to terrorism. It’s called justice. But to seek justice, we must first recognize injustice—even if we play a direct or indirect role. To do that, we have to open our eyes and then take action. . . .

To do that, we have to remember that the few successful movements in this country’s history—civil rights, women’s suffrage, labor—prevailed in part because they utilized tactics that were outside of what was permitted at the time. . . .

Clearly, the old strategies are not working but until our tactics evolve, we remain accomplices to the perpetual global crime we call
civilization. What kind of tactics? That’s up to you but, before you rule anything out, consider this: Let’s say I step out side get some air and see one of you lying on the ground. Standing above you is a large, menacing man with bad intentions and clearly, he has incapacitated you with a surprise blow. Your eyes meet mine and you indicate you need help.

I could pray. I could meditate. I could chalk it up to bad karma. I could ask you to recognize that the attacker is a human and tell him that you love him. I could blame patriarchy, the Republicans, or gangsta rap. I could ask myself: What would Jesus do? What would the Dalai Lama do? What would Oprah do? I could try to remember that excellent saying about non-violence I got from my Pilates teacher.

OR: I could stomp my foot to draw his attention downward and promptly whip out a finger jab to his eyes. When he brings hands up (too late) to protect himself, he leaves his mid-section exposed. I kick him in the balls—doubling him over—then grab him by the hair and bring his face down into a powerful knee blow. Then I’d grab the victim get the fuck out of there as fast as we can.

It’s either that or chanting. The choice is yours."

And tomorrow, it's back to the animals (and by the way Mickey Z. does refer to them and their plight).

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Patty #

    Thank you for this post, Mary. I have been agonizing over this election. Neither candidate of the major parties reflects my views. It is even more difficult living in Los Angeles, a city that quakes (no pun intended) at the sound of Obama's name and shuns anyone who might not sing his name so loudly. Looks like I have some homework to do. I need to read up on the other candidates to find the one that will get my vote.

    October 22, 2008
  2. Yes, Mickey Z does talk about animlas and their plight. He writes great columns for VegNews (though I don't think the articles are available online).

    October 22, 2008
  3. Davedrum #

    Mary. Thanks for this post today and the links you provided. I have to say first that though you mention ron paul, one could look at that prick bob barr in the same way. He's on the ballot in several states as the liberatarian candidate. He's against the patriot act and stands up for freedom of speech. Would i vote for him? Never! I'd rather vote for boris and natasha! It comes down to being vegan. . . . Who i am at my very core. . . . That being said, nobody will stand up for what i myself believes in. . . . Not even nader. What i said yesterday i truly believe, real change starts at the bottom. Yet we as vegans do not have voice as a voting block. Ever hear a pollster ask what the "vegan" vote is? We are at the bottom. . . That's ok. . . But what can we do to make and see the changes we want? Mary, you know that any of our votes will do nothing to see the changes we wish for. So. . . . Where do we go from here? With regards to what you said about the one being beat in front of your eyes. . . I don't think one can give a true answer unless in that situation. I have many rescue dogs. . . I've saved so many in my life. . . I think i would do all i could to save one weaker than i. . . Yet i could not honestly say what that would be. . . I'd truly have to be there. . .

    October 22, 2008
  4. bunny #

    Micky D's: "OR: I could stomp my foot to draw his attention downward and promptly whip out a finger jab to his eyes. When he brings hands up (too late) to protect himself, he leaves his mid-section exposed. I kick him in the balls—doubling him over—then grab him by the hair and bring his face down into a powerful knee blow. Then I’d grab the victim get the fuck out of there as fast as we can. It’s either that or chanting. The choice is yours."

    I would love for some violent extremist from the underground movement to step in and help me out! Because, even Steven Best says in his introduction of the book you urged me to read, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters (pg 46), that my hero Dr. Martin Luther King would approve of that! Here's what Best has to say:

    "King was well aware that the 'extremists' were in fact his allies, for, as he said, 'I am only effective as long as there is a shadow on white America of the black man standing behind me with a molotov cocktail.'"

    …it's just too bad that King never actually said that though…ever! (You will not find that quote in any of King's writings.) You would think that someone like Best would actually double check these kinds of things, since he is apparently a "scholar" with a PhD. He and his ilk try to bolster up their theories by giving the false impression that the leaders of non-violent direct action actually approved of the types of tactics of underground movements like ALF. And Best, being the charlatan that he is, will stoop so low as to lie about it in order to support his crusade. Cheap move. CHEAP MOVE.

    It is downright disgusting. And he does an incredible disservice to a brilliant compassionate person who paved the way for civil rights. Any person who has ever read King's writings or knows even an inkling of his beliefs would tell you in a second that King NEVER supported the underground movement or any even remotely violent tactics.

    "To do that, we have to remember that the few successful movements in this country’s history—civil rights, women’s suffrage, labor—prevailed in part because they utilized tactics that were outside of what was permitted at the time. . . ."

    These are also the types of examples Best and others of his type use to prop up a false ideology. His introduction (60-something pages long) is rife with historical misinformation and especially inconsistencies (he flounders in his definition of violence, going back and forth and all over the place depending on the example he is using).
    Anyone who actually digs deeper than just reading TOFF and a few animal/civil rights books (and, most importantly, is not hungry for any false facts that will prop up their defense of animal liberation) will easily see through the egregious misinformation.

    I could comment on the rest of the gaping historical holes in your blog entry regarding politics/Clinton/South America/etc., but there is no point. I'll simply take my leave…again…

    In the meantime, I will leave you with the following two essays written by Jeff Perz, which surprisingly echoes many of my own thoughts about the subject, and thankfully sets at least some of the record straight, the record that is continuously mangled by animal liberationists and the like (it's nice to know that there is at least one other person out there doing their homework, and finds the topic of nonviolence and its history to be of utmost importance): (this link is currently not working for me, hopefully it will work for you)

    Just one more thing…you know, it's one thing to make the claim that there are legitimate reasons for the methods of ALF and other underground social injustice movements. It is a wholly other thing to call these methods "nonviolent" (I liken it to welfarists falsely calling themselves abolitionists to make themselves feel better about what they do). And then going a step further and spreading damaging falsities about the established principles of nonviolence, using it as a way to prop up an already weak and debilitated stance. It's just plain low.

    October 22, 2008
  5. Jonathan #

    I can't believe you actually referenced "The Man" in political discourse. I think I'll be unsubscribing from this blog…

    October 22, 2008
  6. Jonathan,
    I don't get it. "Fighting the good fight against The Man" and other such phrases simply refers to fighting the establishment.

    From Wikipedia–the first line is sentence of the definition is:
    "The Man" does not usually refer to a specific individual, but instead to the government, leaders of large corporations, and other authority figures in general, such as the police.

    October 22, 2008
  7. I don't know if King ever wrote that or more likely said it, and I'm sure bunny has no way of actually knowing either, but I know King was intelligent enough to understand it. I know that Thoreau, often cited as an inspiration of Gandhi and King, was an ardent supporter of John Brown who actually murdered people instead of just burning their cars or sending faxes. I know the meek won't inherit the earth, I know Santa doesn't care if you've been bad or good, I know folks in power aren't going to change their ways if you say pretty please with sugar on top. What I don't know is if Jonathan doesn't think The Man exists or if he's just upset that The Man got mentioned.

    October 22, 2008
  8. Jonathan #

    Exactly. That sort of logic is akin to us-against-them; usually used by reactive people who feel emotionally unfulfilled unless they have a personified machine to rage against. It's a good thing utopia doesn't exist, for were humankind ever to reach it, these people would end up depressed.

    A government isn't some sort of absolute negative entity. It's essentially a form of efficient geographic mass organisation, by us, people. And the police aren't an absolute negative entity either. They exist because most people agree that we need them to enforce that aforementioned organisation. The concept of animal rights in particular rests entirely on authority! On government regulation of legal rights and enforcement of those laws.

    If you think the governmental or judicial system (or parts thereof) needs fixing, ascertain how and advocate change for it. Don't personify and villainise it. Be proactive.

    That's pragmatism — practical fact-based solutions. The Man exists as the opposite — emotive ideology.

    October 23, 2008
  9. Davedrum #

    Greentangle, i'd be curious to general best's source for his "quote" from dr. King. I know he often lists his sources for all quotes and referrances. All one needs to do is a simple google search of that quote and dr. King. I tried, yet could not find it (under dr. King). If you, or anyone here can find it. . . Please share it with us. If not, maybe we should ask best himself for his source. . . I myself won't bother to email him because i wish no correspondance with the man. . . But perhaps someone here can contact him and ask him just where his "quote" came from. Dr. King's writings and speeches are well documented.

    October 23, 2008
  10. I'm glad you asked.

    The source is listed. The quote has footnote #64, and when you look it up (on page 63) it says: "Cited in Christopher Manes, Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization (Boston: Little, Brown and Company 1990).

    More important is the context of the quote that bunny posted. It's far less controversial-sounding when you read the entire paragraph, which probably isn't news to anyone, but here it is . . .

    "[M]ainstream organizations don't have to openly cooperate with or support the ALF to benefit from their actions. The ALF enhances their credibility and effectiveness by providing a militant alternative that makes them seem reasonable and temperate in comparison. The 'moderate' and acceptable path of change is defined only in relation to a more controversial and 'extreme' road. Mainstream wilderness organizations often got additional land designated as wilderness areas only because Earth First! was demanding far more. Similarly, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience were more easily embraced by the state because they were less threatening than the fiery radicalism of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Unlike the aboveground animal rights movement, King was well aware that the 'extremists' were in fact his allies, for, as he said, 'I am only effective as long as there is a shadow on white America of the black man standing behind me with a Molotov cocktail.'"

    October 23, 2008
  11. Dan #

    On the underground helping the aboveground:

    The underground certainly can help the aboveground, but ONLY when there is enough aboveground membership to deflect attention away from the newsworthy spectacles themselves and onto the underlying issue that motivated the newsworthy spectacle. At this point in the history of the animal movement, it is the newsworthy spectacles themselves that the media shines the spotlight on because the aboveground is not big or strong enough in numbers and political power to make that light shine on the horrific atrocities that motivated the underground actions. The result is that the aboveground is, at least to some degree, further marginalized by the underground.

    I’ll give an example that I’m sure will touch the hearts of leftist radicals everywhere. When you finance a business with a large percentage of outside debt, it acts like a magnifying glass on the results of the business for the equity owners. If the business does well (makes a profit) with this “financial leverage” (debt), the “return on investment” as a percentage of the investment gets magnified. OTOH, if the business does poorly with the debt, the loss on investment as a percentage also gets magnified. In the analogy, underground actions are similar to the financial leverage (debt) that magnifies the public reaction (the return on investment). If there is sufficient public sympathy with the underlying cause, underground action will tend to magnify/increase the public sympathy just like debt does to the return on investment in a business. However, if public sympathy with the underlying cause is weak, underground action backfires on the cause just like debt does to a leveraged business.

    The bottom line: underground action is risky and can either help or harm a cause depending on existing public sympathy. When public sympathy with nonhuman beings is strong, we ought to leverage that sympathy with underground action against the more implacable exploiters. Until then, we must garner public support in less risky and less potentially destructive (to the cause) ways.

    October 23, 2008
  12. bunny #

    I see that you are not posting what I wrote earlier. I'm guessing you object to what I wrote about Best. I am not a fan of censorship, but I "cleaned up" what I wrote. I see nothing objectionable about the following. It simply presents the facts as I know them. Please post this. Please allow me to defend my claim that the quote has a questionable background. Thank you.


    Mary Martin: "The source is listed. The quote has footnote #64, and when you look it up (on page 63) it says: "Cited in Christopher Manes, Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization (Boston: Little, Brown and Company 1990)."

    EXACTLY what I found. That is the ONLY place you will find it – in some obscure book written in 1991 by a member of Earth First! (read: another person who advocates underground tactics, including driving spikes into trees). I have searched my books on Martin Luther King for this quote and googled it, and do not find it anywhere else. Though I don't like the tone of the following article regarding activists, I am inclined to believe what they say about the quote is right:

    Basically, if you follow the short trail of footnotes and sources from there (the Green Rage book), it runs cold. It doesn't end up coming from any place legitimate, like King's writings or an interview with King. Look, ANYONE who has read King's writings KNOWS he wouldn't say that. It would be so out of character it's not even funny. That's why my ears perked up when I read it and was compelled to find the source of the quote. Read his autobiography and his chapter on Malcolm X; I think he explains his views (in his own words) very clearly: he did not approve of the violence of the underground movement.

    Best has a responsibility as an author (and a scholar) to prove when and where MLK said this. And prove where MLK wrote or said ANYWHERE that he supported the underground movement.

    October 23, 2008
  13. Bunny,
    Nowhere in my post do I refer to Steve Best. You don't like him–we all get that.

    You have an issue with his scholarship–we all get that.

    So contact him and ask him. I'm not his agent and my blog does not exist as an opportunity for you to go off topic and demand anything from anybody.

    I suggest starting your own blog.

    October 24, 2008

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