[iDC] activism now and

Malian Lahey mlahey at artic.edu
Thu Dec 8 06:04:05 EST 2005

to me resistance is definitely desirable, but in order to apply it properly we
will have to re-think our ideas about what "left" and "right" mean.  The folks
who seem bent on reducing human beings to consumer-cattle in a big, economic
corral, are expert at exploiting our conventional ways of thinking.  Some
examples: "Non-smoking laws are against free choice" or "Organic food is for
yuppies (it's expensive)".  The goal is to keep us addicted to things that are
supplied by the shitstem; the addiction keeps us in the cycle of consumption. 
It doesn't matter what means/form/ideology is used to keep us hooked - the
dollar is the bottom line and we are just numbers as well.  I met a businessman
from Atlanta who told me that now people are also being referred to as "product"
- you cultivate a group of consumers and then sell it off to someone.

Some of what we have considered conservatism in recent history actually can be
turned to our advantage because it is deep tradition.  Deep tradition is
behavior that human beings reproduce generation after generation, because it
just makes sense with the logic of the body.  We need to recontextualize deep
traditions and rescue them from the grey lump in our brains that we call
"conservatism" or the "right".  For example: abortion.  The right to abortion:
a "leftist" concern.  However.  Abortion sucks, when you are having one.  It's
awful.  I'm paraphrasing from Inga Muscio's book "Cunt" here; When women have
the *time* necessary to be in tune with their bodies, when they are not bullied
by an industrialist culture into believing that their bodies are
gross/confusing/time consuming/out of control, then industrialist medical
procedures like pill-taking (thanks, Novartis!) and medical abortion actually
become unnecessary.  Herbs, intuition (ie., tuning-in), an undisrupted natural
rythm, these are all extremely effective tools toward preventing and/or ending
a pregnancy.  Medical abortion is indeed gruesome and inhuman (a "rightist"
sentiment), however much I think we need legal protection for it.

Many of the "traditional" societies that the "left" are ostensibly trying to
defend against the globalization steam roller, are also extremely
"conservative" when seen up close.  Whatever those conservative sticking points
are, it's important to investigate their function in that society and its
"measurable" effects on quality of life.  Monogamy vs. polygamy might just seem
arbitrary human caprice until you start drawing connections between how a social
unit functions and its environment.  Veiling in Muslim cultures seems to us
patriarchal, yet even behind the veil - for example in Iran, women have risen
to positions of political power or prestige.  Our old categories simply aren't
adequate to describe how such a situation comes about.  It seems likely that in
some societies, the geographical conditions limit the possibilities in one
direction or the other.  This is the meaning of deep tradition.

Technology is an awesome way to help people alert each other and to interlace
scattered points of strength across the globe (I love the image of sms-driven
crowds at a protest!  Beautiful!).  But in order for us to really fight back
against the system, connectivity must be paired with consequences.  As I see
it, our job is to defend personal autonomy against people who *consciously* are
destroying it for the purpose of profit (Monsanto, for example, hopes to
privatize all major water supplies; World Bank representatives have stated
their intention to make self-sufficient farmers into a fairy tale).  In order
to do that job, we have to destroy the mechanisms of the system, in our daily


Quoting saul ostrow <sostrow at gate.cia.edu>:

> But perhaps what is most interesting especially concerning Seattle is 
> the mix-- these demonstrations brought together the spectrum of left to 
> right  -- consequently, when we speak of activism we must speak equally 
> of this span and not think that the content  and form of resistance de 
> facto infers something progressive or even desirable --
>   Saul Ostrow
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Malian Lahey

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