To inaugurate our new “Weaving the Streets” blog, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane—back to 2003, to be exact. Shortly after the US war in Iraq began, I traveled to Spain to promote the Spanish-language edition of Collateral Language, a book I co-edited on the rhetoric used to justify the US response to the September 11 attacks. Traveling with my co-editor and another of the book’s contributors, I had the chance to speak with a number of local journalists and activists and also participate in one of the massive anti-war demonstrations in Madrid. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards were in the streets that day to say “No a la guerra! (No to the war!).”
One of the journalists we met, a freelance contributor to the mainstream El Paísnewspaper, was kind enough to take the three of us to visit a remarkable example of how people’s movements can make use of the urban landscape. During this visit we learned that young people in Madrid had taken over an abandoned printing warehouse in the Lavapies neighborhood in 2002, renaming it El Laboratorio 3 and turning it into a vibrant squatter community complete with public art and music space, a communal kitchen, and a fully-functioning media center. It was given the number “3” to indicate its role in a longer history of establishing similar community centers stretching back to 1997.
Mama lives in Poland, a country that for 123 years did not exist – being partitioned and occupied by Germans, Russians, and Austrians. The country that lost the most during the second world war, and became a witness – to most horrible genocide and terror of Nazi Germany and Soviets’ Russia. But for some reason when Mama watched TV, and her favorite series of daily news; and when Radio and their continuing commentaries of what is local and global out there – Mama concluded: “They make us think that this is all fault of Palestinians!”
Newspapers seem to convey totality – journalists say they consider all sides of a story and the New York Times motto is “All the News That’s Fit to Print” – that implies there is nothing else. Read through some climate change articles and it's clear that's far from the truth.
With the Occupy protests still going strong, many are taking a more critical look at the actual issues the movement is addressing. Although the environmental aspects of the Occupy movement may not be at the forefront of mainstream media attention, they are playing a significant role in the demands of protestors.
From a domestic perspective mature industry should not need tax subsidies, but pundits often continue this argument by saying we should subsidize emerging industries. This allows other pundits to bring up Solyndra, which from my understanding went under not by mismanagement but because China subsidized their solar industry more than the U.S.. Politicians are often left with similar lose-lose situations: keep the banks afloat even if they caused their own demise or let them fail under your term.
The first and principal tactic of the global elite in opposition to the global environmental movement is to blame the consumer. This tactic relies on the myth of the rational consumer, which has been disproved innumerably by advertisers.
Gandhi won great successes with nonviolence and has become the case-in-point argument for his followers. The problem is that the global elite read Gandhi too.
It's hard to rely on the methods of colonial protest because we no longer live in a colonial world. Even in Iraq and Afghanistan troops aren't fighting a clear enemy. In the streets we aren't protesting foreign occupation; we are fighting a structural subconscious and ideological understatement.
El grupo de comunicación de la Asamblea de Arganzuela, distrito de la ciudad de Madrid, nos explican los orígenes del movimiento 15-M asi como su influencia en los movimientos asamblearios nacidos en la mayoria de las cuidades y pueblos del estado español en los últimos meses. La entrevista tuvo lugar en el parque central del barrio donde se reunen semanalmente para discutir de forma democrática los problemas que necesitan atención.
Today in my "Blogging the Globe" class we were discussing Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's classic work on the "propaganda model" for understanding how the news media work to legitimate and naturalize elite perspectives and marginalize dissent in a supposedly "democratic" society. As I told the students, the model isn't perfect - like all models, it can and should be subject to critique - but it has proven to be remarkably accurate, in many ways, over the years. Today we got another illustration.