In the last several days, corporate talk radio has been swamped with almost non-stop coverage of the issues that dissidents have been working on despite a virtual media blackout for many years. Suddenly, corporations seem to be stirring from their insensate fog. The dissident ideas that were too ridiculous to refute a year ago are now hotly contested with an absurd lack of basic familiarity that is so extreme as to be giddily disorienting to activist listeners. It seems at times that the corporate media is even trying to transform itself into an organizing tool for counter protesters.
Now that the corporate media is painfully acknowledging that there IS substantial dissent, their task at hand is to ADJUST. This is what elites do when confronted by "the beast"; they adjust. The Washington Post's webpages about the recent protests at the White House (01/19/03), for example, look more and more like an Indymedia page, complete with links to maps of march routes and so forth.
In order to mount the most effective possible offensive against corporations and corporate miltarism, we must not waste this moment. Millions of people are being openly defiant of entrenched power and may even want to take part in a visionary alternative way of doing things. The miltary knows what it is afraid of: It is afraid of complexity. That means large decentralized movements, too complex for any one perspective to apprehend. This is not something an authoritarian structure can create, as a matter of logic. The Washington Post, for example, is unlikely to do it.
On the other hand, our audience is broader than ever before and our messages must address their concerns, many of which do come from coporate propaganda sources. For example, if you count the number of times that corporate media points out Saddam Hussein's defiance of UN resolutions in a day, you might begin to have ideas about how to address that legitimate concern. So one message that would surely resonate with millions now that they all know how sacred UN resolutions are.... we could have easily our biggest protests yet outside Israeli consulates all around the world, specifically demanding that the government of Israel answer for its decades of Saddam Hussein-like defiance of UN resolutions.
The Washington Post would prefer that we focus our criticism on Iraq's relatively short hsitory of defiant brutality. Fox News and the AM loonies might even believe that they are capable of starting a substantial counter protest movement (for purposes of disruption at the very least, they hope). In any case they have clearly indicate their intention of taking this protest movement very seriously and combatting it with great vigor (and embarassing ignorance). They may not count us. They may not photograph us from their helicopters. But they WILL cover our issues. a lot. In order to keep everyone away from our less accessible independent media and in order to create a hostile counter position.
Unfortunately, our independent media are uncharacteristically slow and inflexible in rising to the service of the groundswell of open dissent in the U.S.A.. Pacifica radio stations often play music all night while AM talk radio is frantically attacking everything from the anti-war movement to the merits of organic agriculture in contexts that specifically address and slander protesters. Indymedia Centers across the country are plagued with technical failures and insufficient support. Certainly the level of activity on local IMC's is often so low that large numbers of activists feel that their energies are better directed elsewhere.
But where do people go when they look elsewhere? Fortunately, these days people are not leaving activism itself behind when they get fed up with the IMC or Pacifica. The "stickiness" of our movements is rapidly increasing.... in the short term. This is largely, i think, because of the enormous momentum of our various movements spurred on constantly by a global situation that gets more ominous by the day on every front. But one thing is clear: with numbers of activists as high as they are, the sound of Pacifica and the look of Indymedia should be changing much more rapidly.
The power of radio is well understood by the U.S.A. military / corporate establishment. Perhaps (if we have the energy to follow the amazingly complex struggles of Pacifica) this is ultimately why our local Pacifica affiliates are too often playing music or discussing eastern mysticism (from a european perspective no less) while AM talk radio stations are exhaustively saturating the entire nation with counter protest type propaganda. I listen to this right wing insanity myself sometimes, for lack of a Pacifica analog. I have little doubt that activists in large numbers are doing likewise. Check it out, it's much more than previously. Hopefully we will not soon be depending on the Washington Post or Sean Hannity to tell us when the next protest is and what the march route is.
Independent Media Centers, on the other hand, represent a relatively brand new threat to the U.S.A. military / corporate establishment. The latest buzzward in military strategy is NCW (Network Centric Warfare). Here is an exerpt from Stefan Wray's article in the January, 2003 Z magazine: "The Information Systems Laboratory.... [is] researching 'complexity management to better understand, mitigate, prevent, and devise more effective ways to cope with complex situations.. events that can become threats to U.S.[A.] national security.' These threats include assymetric warfare and cyber terrorism." Note the attitude here towards "complexity" and "complex situations". When it comes to the latest, hopefully justified, paranoid preoccupations of the U.S.A. military / corporate establishment, Independent Media Centers pose a very serious threat. This is because the IMC's are already coordinating a global movement that is too complex to be understood at any one time from any one perspective. This is true in spite of the IMC's inability, so far, to keep up with the pace of the popping anti-war movement (SF-IMC may almost be an exception that proves the rule). When it comes to complexity, the IMC has the structural capability to help coordinate movements even on a local level that are many times more complex than anything Pacifica could do, for example. If we can win the participation of the millions who are pouring into the streets around the world, there is no telling what we can do. if we allow our IMC's to continue to fail at this moment, a very large majority of these people, perhaps too large, will turn to the more available alternatives. To the extent that this happens we can expect to see a less complex, more authoritarian movement that is far less threatening to the U.S.A. coporate / military establishment than it could otherwise be.
My own hope is that we can use our independent media institutions more effectively than we are presently doing in the service of the millions who are demanding another way of doing things.
to that end:
1. Don't ignore the corporate propaganda - expose it's hypocrisy!!
2. Don't settle - Demand participatory anti-authoritarian ways of doing things!!
3. Use our independent media!!
4. Participate in our independent media!!
5. Read and listen widely but don't use corporate media as an organizing tool!!
6. No more mysterious breakdowns at IMC's!! tell everyone how they can help!!
A PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITY FOR PALESTINE?