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A New Form of Social Organization— For those who value Freedom

June 28, 2014

 

I want to begin this post by asking everyone, please watch this documentary if you have not already. If you get only one thing from this post, I hope it will be that it leads you to watch this documentary. The response of police and cities to protests in supposed “free” western nations in recent times is shocking, and something everyone needs to see. You should also distribute it to those you know, it is important that people understand what is happening to our freedoms today. Here is the documentary:

 

(This post will have two parts, first I will share some articles, then I will talk a little about what I feel needs to be done to safely and peacefully protect our freedom in the future. This will be one of the more important posts on this blog, which accounts for the length. You may consider reading it in a number of sittings…)

 

That documentary focuses on a protest that took place in Toronto in 2010 which resulted in mass police oppression, arrests where the protesters were held in torture-like circumstances. Watch the documentary and you will see much of it first hand.

Just to show you, this activity is not isolated to the US or Canada. Here are a number of articles from human rights organizations that detail similar experiences around the western world. I am focusing mainly on the west because most people know that this kind of oppression takes place elsewhere, which is also terrible.

Here is an article about a number of protests that were curtailed in different European countries. At one point recently in Frankfurt, protests were even banned and when the protesters tried to form they were harassed by the police, attempts to make protest illegal in Spain have also taken place, as well as oppression in Greece:

http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-193-anti-austerity-activists.pdf

Recently in May, 2014 a protest in Belgium, the capital of the European Union, a protest took place which resulted in mass arrests, a Belgian MP among those who were arrested:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ttip-100-arrested-belgian-anti-treaty-protests-1448674

This article tells of how the “kettling” tactic which you will see the documentary was approved by the European court of human rights:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/03/15/kettling_tactic_denounced_by_toronto_police_backed_by_european_court.html

Here are a number of other articles that detail similar tactics and oppression throughout the US and other countries as well:

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/global_protest_suppression_report_inclo.pdf

https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/first-amendment-violations-watch-rnc-and-dnc

https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/international-organization-finds-us-violating-rights-protestors

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/nyregion/17police.html?ex=1300251600&en=d0575173149f8baa&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=1&

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-18/news/chi-chicago-aldermen-approve-emanuels-g8-nato-protest-crackdown-20120118_1_g-8and-nato-mayor-rahm-emanuel-aldermen

https://aclu-wa.org/library_files/WTO%20Report%20Web.pdf

 

I believe that a new form of organization is needed in our society. Many people do not want to experience this kind of oppression and will stay clear of protests, making them less effective, and even when they did take place, for example I was in Toronto at the very time of the G20 protests, they newspapers were almost completely silent about them and what few articles did exist were mainly mocking of the protests, which I feel is a terrible thing, and if you watch the documentary I hope you will agree.

A quick word before I detail  a few of my thoughts and suggestions on a new form of social organization. The very things you should not do, if you are interested in this (though your actions are your own, and by all means do anything you feel you want to or should): As much as possible, do not rely on centalized resources. This means for information, like mainstream news, television, film and other entertainment sources, clothing from large brands and conglomerate corporate chains, as well as other centralized sources… This is not to say that you shouldn’t use them at all, but try to devorce yourself from a strong alliance with them. A good alternative that still utilized for example mainstream news is to instead actively search for information on different topics rather than merely receiving the information which is told to your on a daily basis.

The reason I say this is because, in the case of news, strong efforts are made to control the perception of events for the public. This can be done in a number of ways I’ve spoken of in past posts. One way is focusing on certain events as if they were the most important, or even just neglecting certain information while híghlighting others. There are many other ways, you can see past posts in this blog, or read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky, or Public Opinon by Walter Lippmann, though that is a bit dated and pretty technical. There are other documentaries available under the documentary section about that.

As for the other centralized resources: For entertainment, for one the entertainment is often meant to put certain thoughts about ways of being in the minds of people. There are a number of books written about this this you can look up. But in general think of it this way, you could be thinking and feeling a number of things, having a number of experiences. Television shows and mass produced films are often created by a small group of wealthy producers who are interested in putting certain ideas out, often they have corporate backers. Military has even been involved in film production.

Other centralized sources: Clothes and other products, besides the fact that you are paying much more than you should for a brand name that has frequently been produced by children and other labourers working under ghastly conditions, buying from centalized sources also supports large corporate entities who are the very power structures who the oppression at most of these protests are protecting. If these structures did not have terrible amounts of power this kind of oppression would not take place at all.

Instead I would recommend as much as possible buying used things, in particular clothes, even perhaps supporting friends who try to independently produce things or make clothing, even produce your own stories, poetry, plays, etc. and share them among your friends or watch, listen, or read to what your friends have produced. Some benefits to that way of arts sharing is that you are able to tell your own story, express your own feelings about life and create your own narrative for life. That way other people, your friends, etc. can learn about how you feel and about how their neighbors feel about life and can come to relate to it. Mass produced shows and films are created by wealthy executives who have a vastly different impression on life than you do.

Also, don’t be afraid of when things are realistic and depressing, though you may not want to hear it always, at least acknowledge it, because if we never acknowledge the reality we can never transcend it and create a new situation for ourselves.

 

I hope the words above will suffice. There are books and documentaries and articles available on mainy of the subjects spoken about. If you are interested I recommend you searching them out. I also always recommend educating yourself on pretty much everything, I will say more about that below.

 

In free and democratic countries, protest is supposed to be a right. It would seem that that right does not mean a lot these days. Nonetheless, our society has not degenerated into utter tyranny, and often even in tyrannical societies there is a little bit of wiggle room. It is in this leftover space that I feel we must make a new start for ourselves.

First, I want to say that this is not something I feel can be accomplished all at once. Like all important things it will take time, but as it seems by the responses to these protests, it does not seem like the government is listening, at least not in such a way which is respectful of what the people have to say.

We still have the right to organize, and the right to free speech. These, I believe, should be cornerstones in a new form of organization. Above I made recommendations that you try to support production from among your friends, acquaintances and other independent parties, that is important. This connects also to what I will say in a moment regarding organization, because by helping others and even hopefully joining with them and mutually being helped you could perhaps come to create your own decentalized modes of production from which you can make a living.

Ultimately I feel it would be important for people to have access to, either through someone they know or from a collective purchase, of some piece of land where food can be produced. That is not something immediately practicable for most people, but something to keep in mind.

That idea of coming together and “organizing” can take so many forms and have so many purposes, so I would like to keep the discussion about it open, because you or others you know may have completely different ideas about what could be done through organizing. Some things that could be done though are ingaging in different constructive projects, whether it is creating or producing things, helping each other learn or discussing things. A project for example could also be accumulating reliable information about society that people are unaware of, whether it is from accountable books or news articles, and distributing them to people at large with your own suggestions, maybe even trying to find others to join with your in an endeavour you find important. Maybe a project could also be producing a video which either shares important information or makes some kind of an advertisement for your own project or something you have created which you wish to tell in an online capacity. These are only suggestions, different people may have diferent ideas about what is important or worth doing. It is good to listen to others.

 

Some words should be said about organizing itself. There are a number of issues that can arise from organizing with others. In particular I want to talk about organizing with strangers and others you are not familiar with, in case you would seek that kind of an organization, in particular if your organization would be information, something like loose gatherings. Depending what you are trying to accomplish, that is, if it would be socially significant in such a way that endangers powerful social structures, however peacefully, there is always a small chance that your organization could be infiltrated by someone who seeks to disrupt its activity. This no doubt only applies to certain kinds of organizations. It would not be helpful to develop a paranoid atmosphere in a group. In that way you are sure to create more problems than you would otherwise solve. A few things I do recommend, and this applies equally to other less volatile groups though perhaps for other reasons, though reasons which are just as important to the groups in question, is that you get in the habit of engaging in deep discussion with others. By this I mean that you talk to each other at least to degrees in depth, even if you are a little uncomfortable at first. That doesn’t mean that you should talk to people who make you uncomfortable for any serious reasons. You should become open to question and answer formats of discussion, and really listen to the answers from people and even be aware of the questions you are getting. You need not answer all questions or expect answers, but be aware of both the questions, answers, and even lack of answers and understand their significance.

You should also, as much as possible, give everyone a chance to speak and address everyone, as well as having more personal one on one contact.

It is also very important that you keep yourselves and others educated. I personally recommend at least a little knowledge of social psychology, and to share it among your group. If you are serious about organizing, you might even consider collectively contributing to buy perhaps a used introduction to social psychology book and sharing the information together. The reason I point out social psychology is because, if you are not already familiar with the field, you will find in there a number of eye opening facts about how people interact. A couple of things you might consider looking up now are the Asch conformity Experiment, the Stanley Milgram experiment, and the Stanford Prison experiment. The least well known of those is the Asch experiment. The Stanford Prison experiment is particularly important for understanding how people come to subsume roles they are given. I think that is a very harmful effect in society, because we begin to act within our pregiven roles and it then becomes more difficult to ineract together in open and natural fashion where we rely on our own knowledge and beliefs rather than on rules that are readymade and given from above. Also remember that roles are not always as clear cut as “police officer” or even “cashier” or what have you, they can also include social fashions, even statuses…

It is not only important to learn about social psychology, but pretty much everything else. If there is a particular goal of an organization you would like to create, learning about that goal is important. Even learning concrete skills, how to building or otherwise accomplish something. But also just learning about history. In a lot of ways, I think, people have come to see history as unimportant or impractical. Some things I think you can get from history is a knowledge about how you society has evolved to the place where it is today. You can understand how social structures were created. For example, I did a lot of studying on Medieval peasants and it was very eye opening for me and actually contributed towards me becoming aware of the information on modern society. For one I came to understand how people could be terribly oppressed and used. I also learned from studying Medieval peasants about how the ordinary people would create their own festivities and modes of entertainment. A very interesting book on the latter subject is Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe by Peter Burke.

Philosophy is a similarly discreditted subject. While I personally do not have a ton of interest in metaphysics, I do recommend Political Philosophy to everyone. If you are up for the reading, two very good introductory books are Politics and Vision by Sheldon Wolin, and History of Political Philosophy editted by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. They are both pretty heavy reading, but also eye opening. I might recommend Politics and Vision first, as it is slightly easier to digest and Sheldon Wolin is a philosopher very concerned with what he sees are the negative trends in modern Democracy.

I personally also recommend when you are trying to learn things to search for books (you can do searches on google books, for example) that are printed by university presses… One reason is that those books are peer reviewed so you are somewhat guarenteed to be getting good reliable information. They are often more in depth as well.

It is important to learn for an organization for one because it will help you to gain new ideas about what could possibly be done, and even if you are not going to engage in such an organization, because it might give you new ideas about how to aim your own life path. Also, in a situation where you are interacting with many people, you might be given information, and while you might take it at face value at first, it is often good to know you are getting valid information, to fact check… Also if you are getting recommendations from an untrustworthy source, it is good to be educated yourself to guard yourself against bad decisions…

 

I recommend fact checking as much as possible. Also remember that opinions are separated from facts, and sometimes opinions can be informed by an incomplete knowledge of the facts. I will leave this here, I hope some of this may be of use to some readers.

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