"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

In Which Josh Discovers It's Actually Quite Plausible That "They" Have A "File" On "Him"

UPDATE: Even moreso, what Justin says:

And at that time, a number of collaborators seemed paranoid when they were nervous about infiltrators...we were asked a number of times how we would deal with agents provocateur. I'm happy to say that we didn't give in to that type of fear in our planning...but it's odd to realize that in our photos and videos from that week, there are probably a few faces we never saw again, once they returned to NYPD HQ.

In addition to feeling like our privacy was invaded and our loyalty questioned by this senseless spying, I also smile a little...our movement has such a level of transparency, what did these police spies think they were going to find that we weren't already advertising over every list-serve and blog that would have us?

This is a really important point vis-a-vis my Vanguard thoughts below. To the extent that there is organizing going on which has credibly "revolutionary" potential (sorry, the wanna-be Maoists aren't that), it's being done with an unprecedented degree of transparency. This is actually a major difference vs. most power-organizing schools of thought of the past, and beyond just being novel, may actually represent a major step forward in our capabilities to undermine, subvert, collapse or control entrenched and malign power-structures. Here's hoping.

What Mike says:

It wouldn't surprise me to find MFA, myself, or people I know in those files. Sometimes thinking about where we're at as a country can get a little abstract... this article today hit me a lot harder than a blog or article about the latest administration scandal ever could.

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The Progressive Intellectual Vanguard

The political season has begun heating up, and I do a lot of back-and forth at Future Majority these days. However, it's a pretty nuts and bolts kind of website. As Mike says it's not as sexy as Revolution!, but not insignificant either. I tend to agree, but I still miss the sexy part.

One of the things I've been considering for a while is the notion of Vanguardism, especially in relation to how I and others foresee potential social change as a result of the increasingly globalized and decentralized flow of information (to wit: the internet). There's a sense of Revolutionary spirit in this, if not always Revolutionary action, and this R-word gets kicked around by all sorts, some in a sort of square business context, but by many others in a more heartfelt and (quasi)radical way.

It's not just me either; check Markos:

On our own, bloggers can do little. But by educating and motivating grassroots activists, we can truly help effect change. The real change is on the ground -- the heroes of this battle were those Democrats busting their ass for their party -- the precinct captains and party volunteers.

Sounds a lot like the task of a Vanguard to me, complete with rhetoric saying that the "real heroes" are the proletariat, or street-level grassroots activists. I don't mean this in any way as a dis. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly.

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Home tattoo!

Home tattoos.

This is one of the oldest things we as people do: we cut our hair and draw on our body (and pierce things) and (eventually) wear specific clothing as a means of signaling our cultural identity and expressing ourselves.

Now that I've got one...

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Politics Is Broken

67% oppose the war in Iraq and 70% disapprove of Bush's handling, but nobody is talking about taking a hard stance against the Bush/McCain/Lieberman tactic of escalation.

Likewise, everyone knows the health care system doesn't work and understands that the only entity which has a shot at fixing it is the federal government, but we've yet to hear anyone step up and catch that 70% of public opinion in their sails.

Finally, clear majorities want to invest in efficiency and alternative energy sources, and yet our leaders are stuck dicking around with ANWAR and a few underfunded pilot/mostly-for-show projects.

My point is, the Public is actually not that fucking stupid. Our leadership is just timid and out of touch -- if not outrightly corrupt -- and our organs for articulating Public Opinion have fallen so far from the Jefferson/Franklin ideals that they're closer to the state propaganda machines in the USSR than a legitimate Free Press.

People in this country are a little out of shape and kind of materialistic, but "big dumb America" actually has much a better grasp of what the fuck is going on than the elite leadership.

We're going to see some serious realignment over the next decade, with either a major shift in "national prorities" from the power-elite, or the rise of localism as cities, counties, states and regions begin to abandon the ossified and ineffective federal system in favor of their own problem-solving.

Hopefully we get both. ;)

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Revolution Redux

Zack Exley, a much bigger fish than me, is calling for the revolution (part 1, part 2), which is pretty neat. I haven't had my head there in a while.

There's this old post from MFA that was a stab at an agenda, and there's this old saw, plus wordpress blog posts filed under #revolution, which didn't really get off the ground.

But it's hot that Exley is beating the drum. He's a sort of elder statesman here. I'll see if maybe this can synch with The LC 2.0...

UPDATE: The game inside congress is going to be HOT too.

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On The Question of Impeachment

With Democrats set to take over the congress in 2007, there's obviously a lot of interest and wonder in the prospect of impeaching President Bush. I'm not a fan of this idea.

There are several reasons why I don't think it's especially great goal to pursue which I'll list, but I want to point out that the idea that impeachment is "off the table" is clearly bunk. It's in the constitution so it's on the table, the question is whether or not this is something that should be pursued specifically. I think not.

Why? Well here's a list of my reasons:

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Photograph your Polling Place!

The Polling Place Photo Project (PPPP). Cool. This is the sort of low-cost activity that can roll up to being meaningful over time. I'll be snapping some shots of the Westhaven Volunteer Fire Station next tues.

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Riverbend / Billmon / War Guilt

Billmon has a soul-searching post up, provoked by the first post in months from Iraqi blogger Riverbend which is in itself a vital read. His post reflects on our moral responsibility for the depth of the carnage in Iraq, which is what I want to talk about for a second:

I opposed the invasion -- and the regime that launched it -- but I didn't do everything I could have done. Very few did. We may have put our words and our wallets on the line, but not our bodies. Not when it might have made a difference. In the end, we were all good little Germans.

I also opposed the invasion, but I want to point out the logical and moral trap that comes from "you can always do more." It's true. You can always do more, but you can't always win.

Let's take Billmon's point that we didn't "lay our bodies on the line" seriously. Let's assume that the 2.5M or so people who protested here in the US were all ready to throw down. Would lying down in traffic have stopped the war? Would a mass hunger strike? Would violent resistance?

I'm pessimistic about all those options. The only way to imagine Bush not being able to launch that war would be to re-imagine the last 12 years of political history, starting with how the aftermath of the first Persian Gulf war went down, and the lessons learned there. The truth is I have no doubt that at zero-hour, or even in the Summer of 2002, mass resistence from 2.5 million Americans wouldn't have stopped the war. In fact, it may have deeply worsened the situation.

At that time, it could have led to mass arrests, and those arrests would likely have been applauded by enough people. Political leaders would have been pressed to denounce the resistance. It would have made the vaguely fascist overtones of 2006 America look like the summer of love.

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Holy Poverty

Samuel Taylor ponders the ol' WWJD, and emerges with Anarcho-christian minimalism:

i’ve been reading up on st francis of assisi and listening to some anarcho-folk punk in a room five by ten feet, minus a corner for the closet. this summer i’ve been thinking a lot about goods. artifacts. the thought process has been spiraling outwards, demanding more and more of my consideration. poverty is the big thought this summer.this, then, is something like the fruits of my considerations.

Are we witnessing the Red Dawn of Pre-Apocalyptic America or are we on the cusp of the Post-Consumer revolution? It's a toss up. The Big D is coming one way or another, and it's going to shake things up for sure. What comes out is up to us.

I used to be an adherant to the Utopa of Oblivion line of thought, but in real terms things aren't quite that dire. I think we've got the Global Thermoneuclear War thing under control. I don't belive it's Oblivion so much as the potential for a Great Leap Backward, a new Dark Age. Nor is Utopia really feasible. The challenge now is more about how to live well within our means, prevent the ice age coming, be a happy enough nation to cut back on the Prozac, get fit, etc.

I've been thinking along these lines a lot. It seems to me that most people I know (and indeed, most people in the country) believe we're "on the wrong track," as the polsters put it. Things are not working out in a whole lot of ways, and one of the critical questions we need to answer is whether we're going to face the coming troubles alone or together.

There's a chance that on the national level things will begin to swing back this fall; I think the Democrats will get one more clean crack at Health Care, and maybe figuring out how a non-Imperial America behaves in the world. But the truth is that while these are good things, the federal government isn't going to fix all our problems. It can stop making them worse and be helpful in some key areas (again, Health Care, Energy Independence, etc), but what's wrong is not just our political leadership, it's the culture and economic situation that are at the root of all this folly.

Voting alone can't possibly cure that. It goes deep. It's a philosophical and spiritual problem, and it requires answers on the same level. Government doesn't really go there-- unless it's totalitarian, which the Bush administration arguably is in some respects. What's needed is a better way of thinking about ourselves, our communities, our country and our world. Luckily, we're on our way.

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GovCamp is an event in the spirit of BarCamp for governments and other public institutions to share social and technology solutions to turn them into Government 2.0.

This is likely to be doomed to obscurity because of the lamentable lack of social capital among hacker types, and the tendency for technocrats to spawn expanding circles of beureaucracy, but it's a nice idea. I'd go to one in the US if I could.

In fact, I'd like to see a campaign based around putting the State online; massive transparency, ability to conduct business via email, etc... unlikely too, but it would be nice.

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