Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dystopia Now! How bad does it have to get?

Humanity is in crisis, bodily and spiritually. Humans are the direct cause of the current mass extinction. The biosphere is being laid to waste, in new ways all the time, at a quicker rate each passing day. The evidence, from prestigious bodies of scientists, is readily available via our toxic computers and the world wide web. We who are fortunate enough to get these facts ignore the information, dismiss it, or don't act upon it nearly to the degree which we ought. Human caused mass extinction will eventually catch up with our own species.

Despite pockets of affluence, more people around the world are starving today than at any point in human history OR pre-history (both in total numbers and per-capita). Agricultural practices have allowed for a global population boom but they also deplete the capabilities of the soil with each harvest. Deforestation and petro-chemicals only temporarily alleviate the problem by creating more farmland and fertilizers. But these tactics are not a long-term solution by any means and, in fact, make the long term consequences much worse. Unfortunately, these are the most common solutions implemented.

The potential for devastation caused by war has not lessened since the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. More devastating technologies have since been developed and more groups have an easier time gaining access to them. Intelligence agencies designed to prevent it are often complicit in proliferating the technology. Archaic religious wars have reached the age of nuclear weapons and hostilities are just as great as ever. It is only a matter of time before a new Hitler or an evil Ayatollah/Pope gets access to this technological power.

I would make the case connecting the progress of industrialized education with the progress of technological weaponry, but the institution is sacrosanct and scientific progress is presented as both unstoppable and desirable. Consequently, whether that's true or not doesn't matter... too few question or resist it. Most luddites are presented as historically irrelevant, currently misguided, or revered only in the realm of science fiction. Let me just say that primitive children living in the wilderness know as much about the world as children repeating their abc's and multiplication tables.

The prison-industrial complex
is a fast-growing business. Already though, in America, more people are imprisoned in total numbers (and per-capita) than in any other nation. Land of the free indeed.

To the extent that other oppressive regimes exist around the world, they work with each and/or the United States of America. The Peoples Republic of China, for example, is the number one trading partner of the U.S. and both benefit by keeping large portions of their population repressed. Oligarchic powers around the world all benefit from (and desire to keep) large segments of the global population repressed and in poverty. They are able to pit these oppressed people against each other by old religious and nationalistic methods as well as modern media propaganda -- and do you think that the U.S. leaders would really want the Chinese to rise up in liberation to throw off their oppressors? No more than the Chinese oligarchs would want domestic upheaval in the USA.

This all amounts to modern humanity, and all life on earth, being in an unprecedented crisis. Our ethics and morality have only kept up with our technological capabilities insomuch as the more that we could do, we did. And make no mistake, supposedly benign mathematics can have surprising implications towards less noble pursuits -- Einstein should have taught us that (if Alfred Nobel didn't). And who are the esteemed intellectuals of science? Why they are rocket scientists, of course. But the point is that the fruits of benign sciences can plant the seeds of further devastation. This is a point that should not be as readily dismissed as it often is.

What we need is a fundamental break from the technological oligarchy, but this is no small chore. Those in power will not accept this because they don't have to face the common realities of the masses and, even if they knew of our crisis, they may be content to let the world die with them. How unprecedented is it that so many care so little about their children and their subsequent descendants? How much more true must this be for a high-tech war-profiteering arms dealer? We are talking about people who don't really care even about their immediate families -- much less you or any of the other billions of people on this planet!

Momentarily, I will get on to a milder response to the present situation but, what we really need is a revolt against the whole techno-industrial oligarchy. Even if they can't be stopped, even if they wholly intend to take the world with them, basic human dignity demands that we resist and rise up against their efforts. It may be wholly futile, but at what point is your entire lineage essentially dead anyway? In the name of non-violence, some people wouldn't punch someone in the nose to prevent them from launching a nuclear holocaust -- I am not one of those persons. As the most domesticated animal, humans have been bred into passivity or blind servitude, but I suggest you break those mental chains and act for the greater good of not only yourself, but also future generations.

In less dramatic terms, we must push the precautionary principle as far and as hard as it will go! The current wikipedia definition will suffice:

The precautionary principle is a moral and political principle which states that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. But in some legal systems, as the European Union Law, the precautionary principle is also a general principle of law. This means that it is compulsory. The principle aims to provide guidance for protecting public health and the environment in the face of uncertain risks, stating that the absence of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason to postpone measures where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm to public health or the environment.

There are many definitions of the precautionary principle. Precaution is caution in advance, or ‘caution practised in the context of uncertainty’. All definitions have two key elements.

1. an expression of a need by decision-makers to anticipate harm before it occurs. Within this element lies an implicit reversal of the onus of proof: under the precautionary principle it is the responsibility of an activity proponent to establish that the proposed activity will not (or is very unlikely to) result in significant harm.
2. the establishment of an obligation, if the level of harm may be high, for action to prevent or minimise such harm even when the absence of scientific certainty makes it difficult to predict the likelihood of harm occurring, or the level of harm should it occur. The need for control measures increases with both the level of possible harm and the degree of uncertainty

Full implementation of the Precautionary Principle is just a start of the epic project which humanity must commence with. Not only must we work to prevent the implementation of new potentially devastating technologies, but we must stymie the usage of several ubiquitous technologies which already cause great amounts of destruction. Even simple projects protecting local green spaces are useful endeavors. Horticultural gardening to prevent the need for so much industrial agriculture (and processing) is a simple step which not only works towards these ends, but it is also a pleasant activity which can considerably help preserve financial resources. The list goes on, but moving away from the industrial cycle of consumption is key.

Again, however, we are faced with the problem of power dynamics. As a twist of Margaret Meade's famous statement about activism... I like to point out, "It only takes small group of committed individuals to do a great amount of environmental and social harm." Those who have demonstrated their commitment to environmental destruction and promote policies of war must be stopped. The key is consciousness of our own complicity within the destructive systems and an honest effort to move away from such practices -- without that we are less than human. But you are not on the same scale of a Hitler if you fight back against a rapist and using a tissue is not the same as enthusiastically encouraging the destruction of the rain forests. It is foolish not to consider intent or scale when thinking about such matters. Violence in self-defense (or in defense of others, or in defense of the environment) is not the same as aggressive violence for the purposes of greed and destruction. Do not let people convince you that saying a hurtful word is the same as the President, on national television, encouraging war. Yes, we are all sinners and are flawed, but some of us are just human while others are absolutely diabolic.

Preemptively, in terms of my own personal computer use, I like to say, for example, "The best uses for the tools of destruction are against the other tools of destruction." I hope that makes sense to some people.

Finally, I'd like to take a moment and talk about suppression and repression of radical environmentalists. In the past it was the communists/socialists who were seen as the preeminent threat to big business interests, but now it is the radical environmentalists (who often have a more anarchistic stance). The "red scare" has become the "green scare" and the tactics used previously are being used again. Before 9/11 it was the Earth Liberation Front that was considered by the U.S. government as the #1 domestic terrorist threat. This despite the fact that no one was ever physically harmed in an action claimed by that group. This despite the fact that the KKK still exists and neo-nazi's still flourish. This despite the fact that the police forces in this nation still kill innocent people every day.

So take this as a warning... if you want to struggle against the state's interests, even if you organize in the most peaceful ways, the state will take notice. Resistance is needed, but you must fully consider the consequences of even your most trivial participation in such activities.

With any luck, someday the value system of techno-industrialization civilization will be completely turned on its head. We will have peace and not war. Freedom and not constant surveillance by our so-called leaders. Conservation and sustainability rather than unhindered environmental degradation. But we must work and struggle for these things if we truly want change. It won't come from above, not from god or a politician. We must take it upon ourselves to bring about this the reality or it's not going to manifest. It is our responsibility. It is our duty as human beings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Open Challenge to Chomsky, Zerzan & Zinn

Like many others around the world, I owe a great deal of my political awareness and social consciousness to Noam Chomsky, John Zerzan and Howard Zinn.

From reading Chomsky I was made aware of the ongoing effects of bureaucratic policies sanctioning war and death squads. Zerzan made clear the depths of alienation from sustainable pathways and the need for truly radical change. Zinn not only impressed upon me the honest brutality of American history, but his his promotion of Gandhian non-violence (which I don't wholly agree with) is so much more promising than the useless finger-wagging and petition-passing undertaken by so many in the name of activism.

I have personally spoken with Zerzan and Zinn and have exchanged written correspondence with Zerzan and Chomsky in the form of letters and email. And, as much as I respect and admire these three, I have tried to challenge them rather than simply flatter and defer. Often it may have come across as youthful arrogance or hubris, but great people need intellectual challenges from those who esteem them and regard them as allies. Simple deference and toadyism is best left to crumbling aristocracies.

To Chomsky I once wrote:
"I do believe that violence is an ever-present reality that has brought (and can bring) some degree of liberation. For example, when the British pulled out of Gandhi's India it wasn't just because of Gandhian satyagraha -- it was also because many Indians were starting to get up-in-arms and menacing to the empire. Similarly, here in the US, it wasn't just the freedom riders and the MLK's that brought some degree of justice to African-Americans. The black militants of that era proved that people of color were not going to be pushed around any more. They set an example and the riots may have sealed much of the equal rights deal.

As for peak oil, we'll have to agree to disagree. I believe the science is out there to prove it's reality. Furthermore, alternative energy is just not a realistic substitute for all of the uses for petroleum. Solar power will never move grocery store semi-trailers and wind power isn't capable of diverting the Colorado river to the people of Los Angeles. The subtle role petro-chemicals play in our lives will have a devastating effect when the petroleum they derive from is gone. Processed petro-chemicals (largely for agriculture) are the number one export of the US. I'm sure we both agree on the danger of nuclear power (and besides, it's depletable too)."

To Zinn, whom I've spoken with at two of his speaking engagements, I once asked (in my blunt youth):

"How many people do you think it would have take chained to the gates of Auschwitz to shut that camp down?" Caught off guard, he flippantly replied, "About a million," and then went on to explain that WW2 was not about freeing the Jews. And while he was right about the latter point, I couldn't disagree more with his initial response -- and I think it reveals a literally fatal flaw in Gandhian non-violence when dealing with a truly despotic regime.

To Zerzan, I played the devil's advocate in questioning his denunciation of reformist procedures. I did so, mostly, just to get a rise out of the man whom I regard as the most important anarchist philosopher of our age -- and I succeeded. He once bought me a bus ticket out of Eugene.

I beg them all now to forgive any lack of tact or social grace that I may have exhibited. Those who know me, know that I am a flawed character -- and I am painfully aware of this reality of myself. I have tried to become a milder, less objectionable person... but I probably still have a little bit of work to do in that regard.

Let me get to the point of this open letter by way of some personal history...

I am an activist, a radical activist and, in my younger days, a very radical activist. I burnt my first flag in high school while a member of the debate team and I wore its charred tatters on the back of my jacket. After that, I produced a little zine promoting veganism and Gandhian non-violence. Later, I hitchhiked up and down the the west coast with a suitcase full of Gandhi autobiographies for sale. I've been the guest anarchist on a talk radio program and I've called in countless other times to comment -- even getting through to Larry King Live once. I've protested everything from wars, to the KKK, to McDonald's (and the McDonald's I worked against most directly is now a post office).

At the WTO protest, in Seattle '99, I was not only teargassed and pepper sprayed, but I was also drugged at the Capitol Hill protest when the police ran amuck. I was encouraging people to stay in the streets and pointing out the police thugs in the crowd who were wearing the same yellow jackets as the thugs on nearby rooftops. I was generally encouraging resistance and mocking the city councilman who was trying to get people onto the sidewalks. Then a guy approached me with some funny $3 bills (with Bill Clinton's picture on them) suggesting the symbolic act of burning the money. As soon as I took the money my my fingers immediately got sticky and I noticed the guy who handed it to me was wearing gloves. He disappeared into the crowd and I tried to warn others about what just happened. A while later the councilman walked through the crowd again, looked me square in the face with a smile and asked, "So, how are you feeling?" While fairly inexperienced with most drugs, I never tripped harder in my life -- or in a more unpleasant environment. My friend and I were the last two protesters on Capitol Hill that night and I practically had to drag him away as the police were advancing through the teargas.

But it wasn't until I started publicly advocating the actions of the Earth Liberation Front (NOT engaging in their activities, mind you) that the heat really started coming down on me. (I had been run down on my bicycle by a private snowplow [in 70 degree weather] by a driver who should have seen me, but I'm not certain I can blame the sustained injuries on the state.) When I started advocating the actions of the E.L.F. I was assigned a constant tail. This worm showed up everywhere I went in town (Arcata, CA). He parked in front of my apartment (Judi Bari's old Earth First! office) and late at night, when I went to the grocery store, he would be the only other customer there. (I have good reason to believe that he was involved with the arson of the old Northcoast Environmental Center but I have no definitive proof and I am not naming names as I hope to get this article syndicated.)

Suffice it to say, this was a very psychologically taxing time. My friends, and even housemates, were behaving increasingly suspicious. I would find leaflets on my doorstep promoting self-euthanasia in support of the environment. People close to me began spreading lies about others and so... I decided to go back home to Rockford, IL. My grandmother bought me a Greyhound ticket and I began my journey home on the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001.

When I arrived back home, after a long absence, my life was in shambles. Physically, mentally, spiritually and psychologically I was in shambles. I was 27 years old, defeated, living with my Grandmother and working as a clerk in a gas station/convenience store.

On the morning of November 23rd, 2001 (the day after Thanksgiving) I attempted suicide by means of self-immolation at Cherryvale Mall (in a would-be last act of protest against materialism, consumerism and generally what I felt was wrong with this messed up world). I went to the upper level, failed to handcuff myself to the thick railing, told everyone to "STAND BACK," and I lit myself on fire. Even now, seven years later, it's hard to talk about. Adbusters published an abbreviated letter I wrote on the subject and that's about all I've said about it.

I expected to die, I expected the mall to close for the day, and I expected my protest to be understood for what it was. I was wrong on all accounts. It was the worst mistake of my life -- one that I regret every day -- and I am ashamed and sorry for what I did. I am thankful to the good Samaritan who saved my life and am glad to be alive (despite being in a coma for a month and having scars over a third of my body). Suicide is a poor option and I hope no one makes the choice to do what I did. I spent 6 months in a mental institution after I got out of the burn unit and, all in all, I can't hardly imagine a more hellish experience.

You don't have to feel sorry for me (as it was my mistake and I've since tried to move on with my life in more healthy directions). But most people aren't aware of all the circumstances and, while they don't justify my actions, I do feel that I was somewhat pushed in the direction I regretfully went. Psyops are used by the U.S. government, people are drugged by the state, and healthier people than me have probably cracked; been pushed over the edge.

The three of you (to whom I address this open letter) may not have experienced this kind of thing personally, but I beg you to consider the truly insidious and diabolic nature of the state -- especially when it's agents feel they can act with impunity against someone, someone like me.

I come from very humble origins, have no degree (was expelled from high school), and socially I'm awkward even outside the realm of politics. I come from a place with horrible politics, redneck central, and standoffish eccentrism has probably served me well in that environment. But the point is... I was isolated. It's true that your books helped, but I was self-educated and radicalized on my own -- alone with hardly even any liberals around. My activism was my own and I stood alone, easily targeted.

But I don't feel that I was targeted because I was simply an activist, I think I was good at what I did. More people have probably read my writing and seen my agitprop than is realized. Sometimes as a sticker, sometimes as a leaflet, sometimes as a letter to the editor, I found ways to spread my ideas without always going through the normal channels or receiving any recognition or accolades. Regardless, I feel like the memes I've helped to spread have, in fact, spread. I even suspect that some of my original ideas may have possibly taken root. This is probably because many societal problems are at a crisis level and people feel the need for direct, radical and immediate action. In any case, ironically, the state probably has a more comprehensive summary of my activism than many of my friends (most of whom know little to none of the information I've written here).

So now that I've told you where I've been and where I'm coming from, I'll tell you where I'm at and where I'm going -- and why I've written this open letter...

I am not the agitating young firebrand I was. I'm honestly less concerned than I was with changing the world and I've realized a certain amount of futility in trying. Not that I'm hopeless, merely that I'm not expecting as much positive change or as consumed by the world's problems. These days I spend as much time playing cards, video games and fantasy baseball as I do on anything else. Nevertheless, some of my recent articles have been syndicated and even headlined at OpEdNews. I think this goes show the level-headed populism of my work. Other individuals have seen the articles at that website and reposted them elsewhere -- again demonstrating the relatively mainstream practicality of my writing. But success has come at a price... I fear that I may once again be on the governments radar.

My most recent article, "Tactics and Prognosis for a Successful RNC Protest" was headlined at the prominent anarchist site Infoshop News and that version of the article has now ranked for about a week near the top of Google search results when querying "rnc protest". As of today, it's the third listed item for that search (only after 2 links for And two other versions of the article (which random people have reposted on their own) are regularly ranking in the top 20 search results (so people looking for RNC protest information can't help but to see the article title appearing repeatedly). Consequently, while I was honored that Infoshop News headlined the article (and that others liked it enough to re-present it on their various sites), I worry now that the state may target me again for continuing to be a successfully vocal dissident. If you search for "RNC protest activist" or "RNC protest anarchist" my article is at the very top of the results page (sometimes in all the various versions, sometimes with the older articles) and that has me a bit worried -- if somewhat proud at the same time.

"Tactics and Prognosis" is the third article I've written on the subject in recent months and the other two, Thoughts on the Upcoming RNC Protests & Be Prepared for Police Violence at the RNC Protest, also appear fairly high in various searches on the subject. In none of the articles do I encourage violence or property destruction on behalf of the protest. The rub is that I don't condemn those who are striking back against the corrupt system which is destroying their lives. In fact, I think certain levels of physically aggressive militancy are quite justifiable. But I'll say it again... I am not going to be violent or destructive at the protest (or in the foreseeable future beyond the protest for that matter). I simply don't want to go through the incarceration process again. I'll be present to stand in the streets with the masses -- armed only with cameras. If I get in trouble, despite my relative passivity, I'll be ready to make my case and tell my story.

In addition to justifying (not encouraging) physical resistance, the articles support the proposed blockade tactics (which many groups have signed onto) and also the idea of breakaway protest marches (as a permitted protest isn't much of a protest at all). The articles also present many clickable text links to video examples of police brutality (which frequently occurs at these mass protests directed especially towards non-violent protesters) and I also focus on the ways in which the corporate media outlets whitewash the criminal police misconduct. The point is that the police are supposed to be disciplined and practice restraint (even with surly protesters) but they readily brutalize even the most passive and non-violent of protesters (not to mention uninvolved passers-by). The pigs should be called out on this and potential protesters should be expecting this treatment (even as they commit to show up and express their dissent).

My fear is that I will be targeted again (as I was at the aforementioned WTO protest) for spreading these ideas in light of my previous protest history. It may even be more likely this time around.

So what I'm asking for (from Chomsky, Zerzan & Zinn) is your public support if the state goes after me. This was obviously written preemptively, but I still fear it may happen and I may at least require legal assistance if I'm not violently decapacitated in some way. You may think it grandiose and absurd of me to suggest these things because I've not had books published or gained any notable public recognition. But I've been in the streets, am going back to the streets, and I've been a part of the revolutionary liberation movement (what there is of it) for years. And that's precisely what makes me a target. I am not the idealized notion of a radical/activist, but I don't think I should be forsaken while my work is trivialized. Here is the challenge I issue to the three whom this article is addressed:

1) Publicly support and encourage people to protest the fascistic Republicans as they gather and organize in St. Paul, MN (Sept. 1-4, 2008). They are going to be networking, promoting and celebrating more of the same destruction they've already wrought.

2) Help find legal support for myself and others when we are targeted by the state for protesting, organizing, and/or advocating radical activity.

3) Consider making an effort towards finding a place for people like myself in more established radical circles. Even work as a fairly compensated wage slave could be helpful. We can write/edit/bake/sew and we deserve support from established communities (rather than being forced to work for a pittance under petit tyrants in the system we are struggling against).

I realize that these challenges combine community building with calls to action, but I only know how to make radical requests. Please respond to the best of your ability, however you may, in as timely a manner as you are capable. I am requesting that this open letter be featured at OpEdNews (as they have a good progressive network in place and deserve any traffic your responses may create). I will also be emailing this to your respective accounts and reposting it in various newsgroups (like & alt.anarchism). I am requesting that your friends and colleagues bring this article to your attention as well. Whether any of you three choose to stoop in response to this letter, I would ask that you each publicly support a growing protest movement as energetically as you are able. Specifically to Mr. Zinn, I request that you, if you choose to disparage other forms of militancy, pointedly encourage Gandhian militancy (because Gandhi and MLK did much more than simply wave signs and march down permitted routes).

Respectfully & Sincerely,
In Revolution,

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tactics and Prognosis for a Successful RNC Protest

This year's Republican National Convention is likely to face the most aggressive, direct action, take-to-the-streets-style protest that the U.S. has seen since the WTO was shut down in 1999. It likely will be even larger than that protest and, maybe, even more effective. Relative to the WTO, more people in this country are more aware of Republican crimes and, also, living conditions (not to mention civil liberties) have deteriorated greatly since the historic protest of the World Trade Organization. The general public is riled up and in need of protest like never before.

The organizing for this protest has been unparalleled. Use of the internet has expanded greatly over the past few years as a tool for revolutionary activists. Not only are we able to be more informed about why we should protest, but we are also more informed about how we can effectively stage a revolt against the Republican fascists. We have unprecedented access to potential lodging opportunities, caravans, and logistical considerations for this protest. Tactically, we have the works of everyone from Gandhi to Sun Tzu at our fingertips (via the world wide web). More specifically, we have access to information about this particular protest readily available. This protest is going to be historic.


People in this country have rolled over and played dead long enough. This country began with a revolt against tyrannical forces and the initial protest involved more than milquetoast finger wagging (specifically, it involved destroying government property in the form of tea). But modern Americans have been tamed and pacified. We hardly even know how to complain properly (due to fear of our fellow citizens putting us on a watch list and Big Brother surveillance having finally become a reality).

But now is the time to break our socially constructed chains of passivity and obedience. Each moment of hesitation is a moment that moves us closer to the abyss of no return. The fascists have already taken over and they have nuclear weapons (along with the mindset to use, improve and spread them). This cannot, must not, be tolerated any longer.

America has become a police state. More people are imprisoned in the U.S. per-capita, and in total numbers, than in any other nation. Surveillance cameras have become common on street corners in every major U.S. city (to say nothing of the cameras which the state can sequester). Our phones and computer networks have bluntly been opened up to eavesdropping by the state. Even the so-called "opposition" party has signed on to these intrusions. The state has the ability, will, and the documented history of attempting to crush dissent in it's infancy. The aforementioned violations and intrusions make these trends of power evermore simple to carry out in the effort to reach their fascistic goals of centralized power.

The fascistic state is carrying out immoral wars of aggression against civilian populations (certainly with large civilian casualties) around the world. If you haven't noticed this reality you've been living under Iraq... I mean, a rock. Anyway... the question is: what are you going to do about it? Blogging about it, even waving banners and signs, has had very little effect in stopping the war crimes. Funny that the state doesn't respond to humanitarian petitions, but it doesn't. It continues to plan, promote, and celebrate the war. That's what the Republicans will been doing in St. Paul (the week of Sept. 1, 2008) and that's why we need to take to the streets and shut their convention down.

Beyond the Iraq War and the growing police state, Republican policies (hand in hand with the Democrats) are causing human suffering and environmental degradation around the globe. People are starving at this very moment and the Republicans will be toasting in St. Paul with $525/shot scotch. The environment is being laid to waste and the Republicans promote more drilling for oil. So where do you really stand on these issues or, do you not take a stand at all?


Already I have mentioned the blogging articles written, like this one, and that's all fine and dandy -- necessary even. But this protest will give us the opportunity to really take a stand and make a statement to the world. We are done rolling over.

Most people who attend the protest will come to take place in the permitted march. They will gather in the ten-of-thousands and march and chant and carry signs. They are to be half-heartedly saluted and congratulated for their courage. These marchers will be good people with good intentions. It's just that a permitted protest isn't really much of a protest. They have been given permission so as to pacify them further (to keep them in line) and their march won't really hinder the Republican party. This type of "protest" is best left for the elderly and the feeble (to whom I would give a whole-hearted salute and sincere congratulations for their courageous participation).

But the march from the State Capitol to the Xcel Energy center is a logistical nightmare. The initially requested route was denied and the route given will, by most estimates, not be large enough to contain the teeming masses in attendance. And then, when it gets to the convention center, it's supposed to double back on itself! It's possible that some will still be leaving the Capitol grounds when others are starting their return. The whole way there (down Cedar to 7th Street) the marchers will be flanked, on both sides, by hundreds of police officers who will effectively be intimidating and demoralizing the marchers. Just be aware that once you get into the main march it will be hard to get out of it.

Fortunately, there will be plenty of alternative actions (requiring various degrees of commitment) in addition to the permitted protest march. With tens of thousands of protesters (and only about 3500 police officers), a breakaway/secondary march is the most likely, and least extreme, alternative protest tactic. If hundreds of people can resist being intimidated (by a few dozen officers at any given intersection), they should be able to go wherever they want in downtown St. Paul. These breakaway/alternative marches will actually make the permitted march useful since it will still be the most heavily policed area. I expect the breakaway marches will head down John Ireland Blvd. to Kellogg and/or another might head southeast (Away from the capitol grounds), but this is pure speculation. The first "alternative" route down John Ireland was the originally requested (and denied) route -- so it seems the most likely path for people who want to go where they choose. If the police decide to try and be present at multiple routes they will spread their forces thin and the marches can flow wherever the crowd takes them regardless of police scare tactics. The thing to remember is that a breakaway/alternative route is going to require a sizable bloc of people to initially be a little pushy in demanding their rights to free movement.

These breakaway marches will effectively serve as a roving blockade to prevent the Republicans from gathering, promoting and celebrating their polices of war and destruction. I honestly don't know where they will go (or how effective they will be) but I guarantee that large groups of freedom-loving people will tend to go where their hearts lead them. Hopefully these roving blockades will go to the west and the south of the Xcel Energy Center (where most of the off-ramps and convention entrances are). They won't have to take the most direct route to get there (bring a small map) and they can take their time getting where they need to go. How effective these breakaway marches will be depends on how likely people are to hold their ground and march right past a relatively small number of police. Hopefully these protesters won't be too intimidated or faint-hearted, but they should consider the real risks that some of the other people at this protest will be taking...

Some people will be engaged in hard-blockade, locked-down civil disobedience. I don't know exactly who or where these people will be doing this civil disobedience, but I know for a fact that it WILL be happening. Just think WTO and you'll get the idea. They expect to be arrested and probably, also, physically abused. These are brave souls intent on stopping the Republican war machine. They effectively will be saying, "the Republicans will not pass."

The next level of risk involves those who, like at the Boston Tea Party, see property destruction as a powerful symbolic act. This is generally a bit more controversial because many people in our pacified conservative society don't get the idea that a window isn't alive and breaking one isn't on the same level as pepper-spraying, beating or executing someone. If breaking the window of a war-profiteering corporation is violent... then tazing someone for it is utter brutality. But it's the former that's more likely to get punished and condemned. I, for one, don't condemn those who will engage in minor property destruction. These corporations that are directly involved with the destruction of the environment and war-profiteering might deserve a brick through their window if no other real justice is going to be meted out and their corporate crimes are going to continue. A smashed window gives them a black eye like a written-off fine cannot (since they budget for their violations and expect trivial lawsuits). I most certainly (and absolutely) won't be engaged in this type of activity myself, because I'm a coward, but I can't condemn those who aren't so spineless.

The next type of protester is the one who has been utterly screwed-over by the system. He lost a brother in Iraq. He lost a sister to the drug war. His father is incarcerated for a non-violent crime. His pension was destroyed in some Enron scandal. He's unemployed and won't take a job at McDonald's for minimum wage. This guy is not happy, and for good reason. What do you expect him to do, write his congressperson? You want him to hold a sign saying, "Out of Iraq," or maybe whistle and dance at some "revolutionary" street party? Well, I got news for you... this guy is going to fight back. I don't blame him and I won't condemn him. I won't join him, because I'm a coward, but I won't try to stop him or get him arrested either.

It is the police who are inevitably brutal at these mass protests and I don't mind a guy kicking back a tear-gas cannister or even throwing a rock at the heavily armoured police with their shields. These kinds of protesters actually keep the rank-and-file police in check because, when people are ready to fight back, and ready to defend themselves, the cops can't just come in and club everybody for merely walking where they want to walk. A few such people like this in your march (and there are more than you might imagine) can keep you from getting totally bludgeoned by the police. I really don't expect there to much actual violence on behalf of the protesters though (since it would be very atypical and since most of the wild ones end up in cages or are culled by the state).

One final suggestion on protest tactics... save some energy for later in the day and/or for later in the week. Be loud when confronted, but quiet when you are not engaged in what might be considered actual protest.


Even if you're not able to physically attend the protest (for whatever good or bad reason) you can still support the protest (it basically just requires the simple effort of plugging in). But first... I should mention that some of the clickable links above will provide you with all the information you need if you just show up in St. Paul (prepared and preferably with at least one friend).

If not able to personally attend... you can lend moral support, legal support, and/or financial support (if you want to help a friend or organization cover the costs of participating in the protest). Some people are working on textmob systems so that protesters will be able to communicate with other protesters, in real time, about developing events in other areas of the city. Others will be editing and distributing footage sent in from the protest so that the corporate media doesn't have the first and last word on what happened at the protest. Some people might simply be staying by a phone to help keep coordinate and touch base with their activist friends.


Finally... I'd like to request that you don't let the corporate media steer public opinion about the protest. The Republicans are oligarchic fascists. They are literally fascists by definition. They perfectly embody Mussolini's ideal mixture of "corporate and state power" (and corporatism by any other name would smell as sweet). They will be networking, organizing, and promoting their destructive policies at the RNC and that is why it has to be shut down.

When they toast with their $525/shot scotch it is a direct provocation. How can they celebrate and cheer as thousands are dying in the wars they promote?! How can they spend so lavishly when hundreds of millions are malnourished and people around the world are rioting over food costs? These are the questions a critical press should really be asking. But you will be required to speak on behalf of the protesters who are on the scene and ask these questions yourself in any forum you are able. You must work to prevent the demonization of the protesters as the police become brutal and the Republican devils get away with murder around the globe.


Also see:

Thoughts on the Upcoming RNC Protests

Some more RNC Links

And please check out the clickable links in this article! Some of them might impress you or give you another angle on the protest activity which you may have not considered before.