You are on page 1of 15

Walking Around Ideas

Jay Taber
Applying Social Research
Few realize how easy and effective open source research can be. I try to emphasize what a visit
to the county courthouse can sometimes yield. But to truly make room for democracy, it is first
necessary to circumscribe political violence.
The public health model of community organizing, which grew out of my research and
conversations with Paul de Armond, defines organized political violence as the suppression of
free and open inquiry. Rendering ineffective those who practice political violence requires both
training and structured reflective engagement. The philosophy behind the public health model of
community organizing is that the primary obstacles to engagement are ideological, and that the
primary task in overcoming these obstacles is a communicative one.
Civil society leaders, as such, are burdened with the responsibility to plan and prepare for the
eventuality of attack, consciously preparing themselves, their followers, and their allies to both
endure and oppose the use of fear, hate, and revenge. Isolation of these social pathogens,
inoculation of vulnerable populations, and education of those looking for certainty, comprise key
elements of the public health model.
In the body politic, social pathogens of aggression that surface in the form of such things as
racism, fascism, homophobia, and xenophobia can be viewed and approached in a public health
manner. Each of these ideological cancers have origins, histories, distinct characteristics, and can
be studied, monitored, and analyzed asking the same basic questions used by the Centers for
Disease Control and the Institutes for Public Health:
 Where does it come from?
 What conditions allow it to prosper?
 How is it transmitted?
 What is its life cycle?
 What causes it to become dormant?
 Can it be eradicated?
Through such a methodical approach to understanding social pathogens, we are best able to
mobilize with economy and effectiveness the resources available. Beginning our quest for
human dignity with an attitude of respect for the process and results of research and analysis
enables us to avoid inappropriate responses to outbreaks, while we advance our pooled
knowledge and experience.
The beneficiaries of privileged social status often live in comfortable ignorance of the rare and
latent social diseases that pose grave risks to communities, that is, until they amplify in
unhealthy environs into terrible epidemics like the Wise Use and Militia movements. The
challenge is to adapt our political public health strategy to control environments and modify
behaviors in a constantly changing world.
The public health model of community organizing assumes a constant, aggressive opposition
committed to undermining and silencing good faith participation in societal problem-solving. As
such, activists who approach organizing by bolstering community safeguards and regulating
mechanisms have a powerful asset in moral sanction. As guardians of a fair and open process,
they can claim the high ground over anti-democratic opponents, whose behavior, if not agenda,
violates societal norms.
Moral sanction alone (especially in the present where citizenship is so rare), may be insufficient
to constrain political violence or official repression, but it can bring significant pressures to bear
on public behavior as well as within institutions under the control or influence of civil society.
The four conventional models used to frame and contain anti-democratic behavior are law
enforcement, political diplomacy, military, and interest or pressure group.
The law enforcement model of constraining those who conspire to disrupt legitimate attempts at
societal conflict resolution assumes a faith that agencies so charged will be able and willing to
perform their duties. In reality, they are usually uneducated in the nuances of political violence,
are frequently used to interfere with enforcement except for political purposes, and too often are
biased to accept the view that the victims are to blame.
The use of political diplomacy for purposes of constraining political violence is not only
ineffective; it is inappropriate and signals those who use violence that their opponents lack what
Herbert Marcuse calls the “moral disposition to counter aggressiveness.” Misguided or
cowardly reformers who engage them thus, do so at grave risk to a community.
Application of the military model for the purpose of constraining domestic political violence,
that is perceived to threaten the healthful functioning of American democracy, results in
tragedies such as unregulated vigilante and paramilitary conduct against immigrants and antiwar
The pressure group model, designed for the purpose of constituent advocacy, does little to
protect or facilitate broad participation in debates about unjust or insane public policies. More
often than not, this model is used by actors from across the political spectrum to seek economic
or political advantage over others, rather than to protect a fair and open process in which benefits
and burdens are shared equally.
Law enforcement, political diplomacy, military, and pressure group models of engagement have
important roles to play when employed appropriately. They have simply not proven to be
effective deterrents to anti-democratic behavior and social disintegration.
The private and popular education functions undertaken by a network thus become central
organizing tools based on ongoing research and analysis in which all participants play a role
through observation and dialogue. The formality or informality of the network is less important
than its functionality — active communication will lead to some kind of community action.
Looking at societies, cultures, and individuals as evolving, conscious organisms that possess
organic “natures” and acquired characteristics -- that are both responsive to conscience and
vulnerable to manipulation -- encourages research, analysis, and discussion of how social change
happens. Distinction of authentic grassroots activism from more socially acceptable elite-
sponsored activities serves to both inspire and shield the kind-hearted who choose to engage in
public affairs. The application of public health methodology to the realm of politics is useful
both literally and figuratively. Without it, our mutual destruction as a species — from either
microbes or nuclear warheads — is, indeed, assured.
Communicating Strategically

In doing graduate research for the thesis included in my book War of Ideas, I developed a
curricular proposal that incorporated the study of psychological warfare as a key component of
effective social activism.

The more I observe discussion online about social conflict now taking place on the Internet and
public airwaves, the more I realize how widespread and entrenched the misunderstanding of the
nature of this conflict is, and in turn how important it is for those engaged in this war of ideas to
acquaint themselves with at least the basic principles if not tactics of psywar. For those unable to
access the classic texts on this topic -- Psychological Warfare by Paul Linebarger, and The
Science of Coercion by Christopher Simpson -- I'll try to recall them here.

For starters, there are two things to always keep in mind: the target audience, and the purpose of
the message. In a theater of war -- physical or psychological -- there are combatants and non-
combatants and at least two sides, as well as many interests. In communicating social
transformation, psychological warfare will be employed at different times and in different ways
depending on the audience targeted and what the message transmitter is attempting to affect.

In recruiting the uninvolved or uncommitted, the message might convey an urgent threat, a
righteous cause, a juicy opportunity, or a chance for revenge. In retaining the involved, a
message would likely include an appeal to pride and expectations of victory. In undermining the
resolve of the enemy, messages generally try to create doubts about all the above.

One area often overlooked by the inexperienced in psychological warfare, however, is the use of
messages crafted and delivered for the purpose of preventing the enemy from effectively
mobilizing audiences potentially supportive of its views, goals, and objectives. These
strategically-developed messages -- sometimes overt, sometimes covert -- are those most-
commonly associated with gray and black ops, white being forthright, gray misleading, and
black counterfeit.

Understanding these techniques of mass communication -- deployed in abundance in politics and

advertising today -- is essential for those who care about where the world is heading, even if in
the end they decide to avoid the field of social conflict themselves. Once educated on the topic,
they can at least refrain from unwittingly undermining those with whom they agree.

As an example, the current controversies over casinos and energy resources on Indian lands in
the US prompted us to clarify for our colleagues just what is at stake over tribal sovereignty.
While environmental issues related to endangered salmon or nuclear toxic waste dumping on
reservations are fairly well known, the goals and objectives of the Wise Use Movement are less
clearly understood.

As the primary backers of Wise Use, the ultimate goal of the energy industry in the United States
is the establishment of a totalitarian government, a state where its citizens have no civil or
human rights, a country where the rule of law protects only the powerful, and a continent where
industry can operate with impunity. The energy industry's key objectives include repealing all
environmental law, health and safety regulations, as well as terminating all treaties with Indian

Intermediate objectives of Wise Use over water allocations, energy rights-of-way, trust fund
royalties, public land leases, and tribal jurisdiction are the building blocks of corporate fascism
in the US. The inattention to this phenomenon, the inability to see the anti-democratic movement
in its totality, and the failure to anticipate the proven methods of mobilizing fear and resentment
over energy insecurity, ensure the battle for control of American energy resources will be an
especially vicious and brutal one.

Phil Williams – an expert on transnational criminal networks -- is a sober, well-informed guy.

So when he discusses the chaos likely to envelop the world as modern states collapse and morph
into criminal enterprises, I take him seriously. In his recently-published paper From the New
Middle Ages to a New Dark Age, Professor Williams examines the key factors -- any one of
which could bring on widespread panic -- and proceeds to show how the nexus of multiple crises
already well underway could literally change the world as we know it. Anticipating such man
made disasters in advance may not allow us to avoid them altogether, but they can make it
possible for us to prepare while some of us still have cool heads.

Society, as some suggest, is an ongoing experiment: try what seems to work; abandon what
doesn't. Of course, what works for some is often detrimental to others, especially in a winner-
take-all capitalist system. The European experiment in the Americas -- beginning with slavery,
murder, and theft, and, in many respects, still in that mode of relationships -- is presently
foundering on the indigenous resurgence and moral challenges posed by their cultural property

Liberals -- like conservatives -- also fear the unknown, fear fundamental change, and fear the
loss of privileges ingrained in our society for half a millennium. Their anxiety -- based on a
sense of security that is bound up with the existing system of inequality -- places them in a
juxtaposition between letting their conscience be their guide, and siding with those who would
maintain such inequities. For myself, the challenge -- or experiment, if you will -- is whether we
can surmount the communicative barriers of the status quo in order to begin to discuss our hopes
for the future.

William Vega, an American public health researcher at Rutgers -- published in the Archives of
General Psychiatry in 1998 -- observed that Mexican immigrants have roughly half the
incidence of psychological dysfunction as Americans. After 13 years, though, these immigrants
develop depression, anxiety and drug problems at the same level as the general population
(32%). Additional studies have extended these findings to other ethnic groups, leading to the
conclusion, that "socialization into American culture and society increase susceptibility to
psychiatric disorders."

In The only thing we have to fear is the 'culture of fear' itself, author Frank Furedi discusses how
fear is transmitted by cultural scripts which inform people of emotional and behavioral formulae
which have come to be part of their everyday behavior and thought. But the transformation of
anxious responses into fear, he observes, also requires the intervention of social forces, of what
he has labeled 'fear entrepreneurs.'

In my memoir Reign of Terror, I wrote about the influence of anxiety and fear inflamed by some
of these entrepreneurs in 1990s Puget Sound, and how traumatic that systematic disruption of
social institutions was for those involved. Today, given the multitude of world calamities leading
toward widespread social collapse, generating panic is a rather simple matter. Creating spaces of
calm, on the other hand, is a colossal challenge.

Navigating Sacred Dimensions

Truth and reconciliation -- as they learned in Guatemala and South Africa -- is too important to
be left to government, and too dangerous to be left to the innocent. As a process of making a
society whole, it must be carefully designed and implemented. The dominant must learn to listen
respectfully to the harmed. Evidence must be made public. A record must be constructed.

In Canada, the Anglican, Presbyterian, and United churches have joined with the Assembly of
First Nations and the Canadian government in conducting a national tour to hear the truth about
aboriginal residential schools, as prelude to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Simultaneously, the Canadian government is evicting First Nations peoples from their ancestral
territories for Olympic tourism development.

In the United States, while Congress is considering an apology to Native Americans for past
discrimination, the UN has repeatedly rebuked the US government for refusing to alter its
policies that promote ongoing institutional racism.

As we attempt to come to terms with the legacies of colonialism and racism, as perpetrated
against indigenous peoples in particular, good faith participants must also attempt to comprehend
the contradictory views held by those clinging to denial, as well as to protect the healing process
from attack.

Joining together to repair some of the damage done to our souls and our social environment is a
wonderful thing. Preventing further damage to civil society is also admirable. Understanding
how these noble undertakings mesh approaches wisdom.

(For an example of beliefs we would be wise to take seriously in public policy discussions, I
recommend listening to an informative interview of Dr. Richard Atleo, a First Nations scholar,
author, and professor from the Vancouver Island Nuu-cha-nuulth people, who cared for the orca
called Luna.)

I once remarked on the misguided progressive practice of repeating demeaning characterizations

of environmentalists or indigenous peoples' beliefs as part of their conservationist public
relations campaigns. In making this remark, I was not concerned with anyone's intentions, but
rather with the consequences of violating one of the basic principles of the well-established
science of psychological warfare.

Our enemies in business, industry and government are able to use the tools of psychological
warfare so effectively precisely because they appreciate these weapons and liberals do not.
Treating warfare as a marketing task might be profitable for capitalist activists, but the dangers
of such reckless behavior can be quite serious, as I noted in my online memoir Reign of Terror.

In the end, rationality will have little to do with the outcome of the battle. With both political
parties in its pocket, American industry will accomplish with fear what progressives will never
accomplish with reason.

As for intelligence, there is more than one kind, science and reason being but one, but it can
never endure a well-executed assault without a strong spiritual foundation. Belief in rationality
rather than morality as the ultimate arbiter of decision-making is a form of faith that has betrayed
us over and over again.

Sacred knowledge, archived in aboriginal cosmologies, begins with long, careful observation.
This keen awareness is honed by trial and error, discussion and reflection, as well as vision and

An example of a first step toward sacred knowledge is the relatively recent scientific discovery
that all things are connected. I remember the revelatory delight of a neighbor who returned from
a summer nature school with her daughters, telling me about the connections abundant in the
ancient forest where they'd camped.

Understanding that this insight is merely the trail head of a long path to wisdom, allows us to be
persistent and patient, knowing that one has to pace oneself as well as make many choices along
the way. Seeking regular guidance is also a good idea.

Once a critical mass of knowledge and understanding has accumulated, it is wise to document
and archive this information for others to make use of. Given the state of the world, we don't
have the luxury of starting from scratch.

One civilization that has taken this task seriously is Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. Zuni protector
societies meet regularly to discuss threats to their social harmony and well-being, and develop
means of guarding against poisonous ideas -- be they economic, emotional, intellectual,
medicinal, physical, political, or spiritual.

The Zuni means of preservation of memory of these tools of survival are recorded in their
architecture, food, pottery, and regalia, enabling them to adapt and endure without sacrificing
their core values.

For those of us who are relatively new to this continent, I find this instructive in the need to
develop our storytelling through art, ceremony, dance, oratory, and ritual, if we, too, are to adapt
and endure. In a simple sense, we need to live and learn.

The indigenous way of life did not destroy the ozone, pollute the rivers, or create mountains of
radioactive waste; the industrial way of life did. Continuing to invest in industrialized
corruption, aggression, and pollution is literally a dead end. The path to restitution is to be found
in a return to the indigenous way of life: cooperation, conservation and reciprocity; there is
simply no other way.

The social practice of walkabout by the world's oldest indigenous culture serves many purposes,
one of which is acquiring perspective through the literal travel through time and space at a pace
that allows continuous connectivity to one's environs, dreams, ancestors, and sense of place.
Traveling slow for those of us severed from our ancestral roots by time and space, is one
technique for initiating access to storehouses of knowledge imprisoned by the imaginative
taboos excluded by fast relocation--providing a terrestrial means of getting one's mind around
ideas new to us but old to others.

Walking around an idea or cosmology as an ancient practice has now merged with digital
technology in the form of aboriginal knowledge centers where oral histories, visual landscapes,
and three-D conceptual artistry combine the attributes of modern library and information science
with the dreamtime culture. Learning houses that simultaneously nurture the intellect, the soul,
as well as one's sense of identity are bridges to the future for us all.

Imagine that.

Understanding Multiculturalism

Removal of the unusual and exclusion of the non-conforming is the primary purpose of state-
sponsored education. Aboriginal knowledge centers, on the other hand, stress the importance of
making a place for everyone and everything.

Promoters of superficial education like to pride themselves on the practicality of career-oriented

institutions of higher learning, but one look at the world they have created should give one pause
to think.

As aboriginal cultures understand, knowledge cannot be fast-tracked. The path to wisdom is a

slow, arduous undertaking; as more of us are beginning to realize, short cuts in learning are
literally dead ends.

One hears progressives promoting the melting-pot theory of social organization even today, long
after that theory has been shown to undermine cultural diversity. The human dignity at the root
of multiculturalism requires a respect for the sovereignty and self-determination of each unique
people; while white supremacy denies different peoples equal rights as citizens, the melting-pot
theory denies the human dignity of multiculturalism.

In the United States of America, we have equal rights as citizens, but we have unique rights as
nations. As one country composed of many nations, our constitution recognizes these

The Anti-Indian message of racist organizations like One Nation United is an attack on Native
American sovereignty. The melting-pot theory of homogeneity unwittingly aids and abets that
The root term of dominion defines the relationships of governance that the Continental Congress
surmounted by threat of force; voluntary confederation of equals went out the window. Nostalgia
for dominion — above and below the 49th parallel — is a desire to subsume multiculturalism to
inherited privilege.
Using contemporary Europe as an example, the bedrock nations (i.e. Catalonia, Alba, Saami and
Pais Basque) are achieving cultural and political autonomy through the principle of subsidiarity
— governance at the most appropriate level — which enables civic participation and national
identity to flourish alongside modern state constructs.
The administrative overlay of states is less an identity than a fetish of centralized power, a power
that now requires dissemination in order for democratic principles to prevail.
Regional identities that recognize landscapes as integral to a sense of belonging, affiliation with
place, as well as one's pre-state heritage is an essential aspect of our mental health, and
ultimately might undo the unhealthy governance customs of dominion, empire, and superpower.
But in order to achieve a more human state, we will first have to dispense with nostalgia for the
dominant point of view.
Today, genocide against tribal peoples involves more than just rape and murder. The practice of
ethnic cleansing, for instance, entails forced removal of aboriginal nations from the lands and
resources that give them their sustenance and identity. Once removed from their lands and
resources, it becomes impossible to continue their indigenous way of life, thus rendering them
something other than that to which they have evolved as collective societies.
Non-tribal people worldwide, having grown accustomed to the authority of the modern states
that forceably displace tribal peoples for power and profit, are not only cognitively co-opted by
this systematic crime against humanity; they are also largely oblivious to indigenous peoples’
existence as alternative systems of social organization. Despite there being over 500 million
people living as tribal entities around the world, their non-aggression apparently makes them
It is perhaps the most tragic of paradoxes that in order to garner attention and respect, indigenous
peoples are expected by dominant societies to behave as savagely as modern states. If we
continue on this trajectory of relationships with aboriginal societies, we unfortunately might reap
what we have sown.
Fighting Political Illiteracy

In his December 1990 report Right Woos Left, Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates
examined neo-fascist overtures to antiwar activists, and the need to confront rightist ideologies
and bigotry by discussing the dilemmas posed by the transfusion of right-wing theories and
research into progressive circles. Based on these discussions, Mr. Berlet wrote the book Right-
Wing Populism in America, which focuses on the roots of scapegoating conspiracism in the U.S.
and how it is used to mobilize social and political movements. In November of 1993, he
developed an analysis of the relationship between various forms of populism and fascism and the
relevance of these movements to the candidacies of Buchanan, Perot & Le Pen.
A decade later, these same problems resurfaced in American antiwar circles whose academic
discussions had been penetrated by poisonous ideas promulgated by LaRouchians and other anti-
Jewish groups. More recently, organizations like Sierra Club went through soul-searching
shakedowns as a result of White Christian Nationalist infiltration attempting to subvert their
board into supporting anti-immigrant legislation. All of which points up the need for greater
academic rigor and integrity in the face of the ongoing onslaught of fascist propositions
promoted by nativists such as Pat Buchanan and the bastions of pseudo scholars that support
As author Sara Diamond observed, “After years of living as an anti-administration anti-
establishment subculture, many in the progressive movement know what they are against, but
have lost sight of what they stand for. This leaves persons susceptible to allying with anyone else
that attacks the government. This happened against a backdrop of political illiteracy."
By exposing irrationalist philosophies, racialist aesthetics, and anti-capitalist demagogy, writers
like Berlet and Diamond assert we can have this discussion without uncritically circulating the
conspiratorial scapegoating fantasies of the far right. As Monique Doryland of the Bay Area
Pledge of Resistance noted, “We have to be clear as progressive people that fascists, no matter
what their camouflage, are not our friends."
“The dilemma for left activists,” says Berlet, “is to sort out the various strains of fascist ideology
circulating in the United States and the world. It is a dangerous folly to ignore the threat to
democracy posed by critics of the current administration who also promote fascism.”
Whenever I am asked to advise or intervene in social conflict, I ask myself, "What's the deal?"
Because conflict is almost never what it seems.

Most activists don't do this. Most activists assume that conflict is based on misunderstandings or
misguided good intentions, when in fact they usually involve malice and fraud.

As an example, the plethora of post-9/11 homeland security programs were never intended to
address security, but were put forward as budget scams by agencies and political appointees to
capitalize on public fear and confusion. That's why we always conduct background research on
key players and their connections as the first step in developing an estimate of the situation.

The government is not intimidated by lawsuits. They do, however, fear anything that threatens
their power or influence, i.e., losing out on an appointment, promotion or election that provides
them the ability to extort bribes (aka campaign contributions and other revolving-door perks).

Open source research (publicly available information) is the best place to start, and often
provides leads for deeper digging. Few realize how easy and effective open source research can
be, although it usually involves visits to public agencies rather than relying on the small amounts
of information available online.

I was thinking yesterday about a colleague's comment regarding the lack of imagination in our
fellow citizens, and took a moment to consider where most of those who bother to communicate
are in their intellectual development.

Many have made considerable progress in their estimate of the situation, no longer attached to
institutional conventions, but still return to ineffective tactics out of what seems to them a lack of
options. Others, who have thoroughly abandoned hope for our society through established
venues, are able to clearly express an understanding of what needs to be done, but find the
isolation of this position too lonely, and indulge instead in less than coherent attempts at creating
more popular disinfotainment. Some, seeing no social benefit for them personally of pursuing
thoughtful discussion, even online, have opted for melancholia.

In this commentary on the role of media in public mental health associated with collective
trauma, my colleague Paul de Armond noted that repeated exposure to disturbing incidents or
news has severe psychological consequences. Applying this phenomenon to weblog
communication, I think that the accumulated frustrations and sense of helplessness generated in
part through the belaboring of our horrible state of affairs and absence of social leadership, has
induced a collective state of disabling depression.

The only answer I have for people is to become involved in their communities where they can
talk with and work with others. They don't have to take on criminal networks like Paul and I
have, but they do need to experience success in meeting some social need.

Unfortunately, the present weblog focus on national power-wielders exerts a fatal attraction.

As an associate scholar of the premier indigenous think tank in the world, I had occasion
recently to observe that bias against think tanks in general -- possibly because many of them are
funded by and for protecting the privileges of inheritors of unearned wealth, or for promoting
anti-democratic doctrine -- is nevertheless akin to failing to appreciate the value of gathering
intelligence or coordinating the collection and distribution of information in warfare—an
extremely short-sighted and self-defeating prejudice.

If we are to do battle effectively within the ideoscape, we need more think tanks –- albeit
reoriented –- to shore up our capacity to organize as well as our will to resist. Otherwise, we
cede the field of engagement to provocateurs, poseurs, and media pundits—-not an encouraging

Not that our readers themselves fall into the traps of anti-intellectualism, but it nonetheless is
hardly a phenomenon exclusive to the right-wing. Progressive arrogance and ignorance are at
least as damaging to our society.

It might help to think beyond institutionalized concentrations of scholars to the networked

variety of think tank exemplified by the Public Good Project. And even as a brick-and-mortar
institution of research and education, the Center for World Indigenous Studies is extensively
involved in such scholarly networks spanning the boundaries of indigenous and settler societies,
of states and nations, as well as throughout both traditional and modern cultures.

Intelligence over emotion would be a good slogan.

Finding Humanity

In the largely synthetic reality we inhabit as residents of a consumer culture, it is often difficult
to find refuge from the commercial onslaught, but it is essential that we create such spaces if we
are to begin our journey to authenticity. Taking time to think may seem like an obvious point of
departure for this journey, but without a peaceful space to consider reliable guides, the first step
is never taken. Rejecting counterfeit society positions us to begin our journey, but it does not get
us underway to a healthier mindset; the work that encompasses requires embracing genuine
relationships that only reveal themselves one step at a time.

I don't remember when irony and paradox became my constant companions, but I do recall being
vaguely aware of their presence from a young age. They only became tangible to me as a result
of civic involvement—an arena where human frailties and contradictions are magnified.

Finding humanity in places where I'd least expect it, as well as experiencing its betrayal from
quarters where I'd hoped for better, has tempered my expectations while simultaneously giving
me encouragement. As I acknowledge the need to find hope somewhere among the ruins of
human relations, I am repeatedly reminded by natural, uncoerced acts, that perhaps generosity is
a more authentic attribute than selfishness, and that cruelty is thus contrary to the order of things.

On the whole, Americans are morally unfit for self-governance. Raised, trained, and educated to
be acquiescent, the activism required to lead an independent, democratic way of life is a practice
in which they are utterly unskilled. Authentic, consensual, social democracy is entirely outside
their personal political experience.

When the Nazis marched into Oslo in April 1940 on the heels of the Blitzkrieg that knocked out
all major communication, transportation, and defense infrastructure, the Norwegian people knew
they were in trouble. And while resistance to the conquerors and collaborators was initially
haphazard, the volunteers of what became the Home Front committed themselves to what they
realized was going to be a long process of liberation.

When the fascists returned to power in Washington with the 12/12/2000 imprimatur of the U.S.
Supreme Court, many Americans likewise knew they were in trouble, and, like the Norwegians,
realized the process of liberation was going to take a long time. Perhaps, though, because of the
media-induced subversion of the American public mind, and the collusion of national political
leadership that legitimized the occupation of the seats of power in the American capitol by a
government of traitors, the process of liberation has itself been subverted less by bewilderment
than by a failure of imagination.

As Norwegian author Tore Gjelsvik recalls, "We had lost our capacity for further military
resistance...but the struggle against the political pressure and against a subversion of the mind
had to be taken up at once, or else the basis for other forms of resistance at a later period would
crumble away." .

As both Gerry Adams and Nelson Mandela will tell you, democracy is a discursive process
where everyone must be listened to; anything less is simply rule by repression. If our governance
structures (such as majority rule) don’t allow for consensual participation by all citizens, then
they must be abandoned for a system that does.

Confederated regions with aboriginal autonomies is not a new concept or practice on this
continent, nor are subsidiarities in land use, education, or economic development. Because some
federal obligations remain even with devolution of some powers to more appropriate, even
localized levels, is no reason to abandon our attention to preparing for self-determination.
Creating authentic, democratic architecture and infrastructure while subverting empire opens up
opportunities for literally anyone who wants to be involved.

Perhaps we should concern ourselves with exhibiting behavior that young people would be
proud to emulate; if nothing else, we will at least retain the sense of dignity required for
furtherance of humanity after the fall. If that means creating new conventions borrowed from
other cultures and traditions, then so be it; we have the cultural diversity to accomplish that.

One of the advantages of a network (versus an institution or other dogmatic organization) is that
we can take the experience and best ideas of each independent correspondent and put them to
use. Call it synergy or symbiosis, but the cooperative creation of narrative through unmediated,
intentional communication enhances our estimate of the situation, allowing us to develop more
effective plans. People with experience in social conflict bring a perspective to our discussions
that is useful, authentic and unique.

When we first rang the alarm about a merging of American progressive interests with fascist
ideology two summers ago, it was in response to the progressive marginalizing of alternative
views, and their adoption of other key parts of the fascist agenda. Over the past two years,
progressives have continued down this destructive path.

We suspect that this capitulation by US progressives is due largely to their failure to mount
successful electoral or judicial challenges to the fascist regime, and while initially opposed to
national aggression if not xenophobia, progressives are well on their way to endorsing the
implementation of a total national security state.

While emotional weakness and psychological dysfunction led many progressives to this point of
complete compliance, it is likely that mounting economic insecurity will seal the deal. As
America's nervous breakdown intensifies, the progressive fascist alliance can be expected to
make matters worse for us all.

For socially-conscious individuals, identifying with a movement's goals or an organization's

objectives is an important part of protecting their personal sanity. Without that connection,
thoughtful people will inevitably turn to self-destructive behavior.

While these collegial networked relationships create a sense of ideological belonging, they do
not sustain the movements with which affinity groups and individuals voluntarily identify. That,
on the contrary, can only be accomplished through shared effort and mutual support: finding
each other jobs, promoting each other's work, providing for each other's needs--the kind of
solidarity one sees in tribal societies.
Applying this type of solidarity to citizenship within modern state constructs, requires
conceptual tools and philosophical development generally unavailable in academia. As such,
online hedge schools and the face-to-face discussions they hint at meet a social mental health

Given this undeveloped sense of solidarity, the intellectual services required to attain and
maintain social sanity remain largely inaccessible. Turning this situation around necessitates
freeing individual minds from the captivity of consumerism--especially eschewing the
commodity of conventional foundation-financed activism.
Jay Taber – recipient of the Defender of Democracy award -- is an author, columnist, and
research analyst at Public Good Project.

The Walking Around Ideas brochure is the companion piece to the DVD of the same name.
Copyright Jay Thomas Taber 2008. All rights reserved.