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Communicating Social Transformation

An Argument for the Public Health Model of Community Organizing

Jay Taber
59 Eldridge Ave
Mill Valley CA 94941
415-381-9349
tbarj@yahoo.com

MA Thesis
New College of California, San Francisco
Dr. Jo Sanzgiri
14 December 2002

CONTENTS

Note from the Author


Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART ONE

THE PROBLEM
Chapter One: Obstacles
Chapter Two: Needs
Chapter Three: Resources
PART TWO

PUBLIC HEALTH MODEL DEFINED


Chapter Four: Isolate
Chapter Five: Inoculate
Chapter Six: Educate
PART THREE

PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS OF MODEL


Chapter Seven: Moral Sanction
Chapter Eight: Core Values
Chapter Nine: Strengths & Weaknesses
Chapter Ten: Related Aspects of Leadership
PART FOUR

COMPARISON WITH OTHER MODELS


Chapter Eleven: Law Enforcement
Chapter Twelve: Political Diplomacy
Chapter Thirteen: Military
Chapter Fourteen: Pressure Group

PART FIVE

METHODS AND DEVICES


Chapter Fifteen: Research
Chapter Sixteen: Education & Organizing
Chapter Seventeen: Community Action
PART SIX

CASE STUDIES
Chapter Eighteen: Western States Center
Chapter Nineteen: Center for New Community
Chapter Twenty: Public Good Project
PART SEVEN

PROGRAM PROPOSAL
Introduction
Summary
Course Descriptions
Course Readings

Conclusion
Bibliography

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR


At one time, I believed that most elected officials and public servants were doing
their best to uphold the laws and to make our society work. I also believed that through
participation in official opportunities that my neighbors and I could shape the type of
community we needed. Ten years ago, I began to experience a rude awakening to the
reality of official corruption, malicious harassment, and domestic right-wing terrorism, all
bent on undermining the process of participatory democracy.
My undergraduate Prior Learning Portfolio serves as an exposition of my experience
and the lessons I learned in trying to protect my neighborhood, community, and
eventually, Northwest Washington State, from the tragic influence of trade and industry
groups that covertly created grassroots organizations to obstruct and disrupt public
processes by threatening and intimidating their social and political opponents.
In my Senior Thesis, I attempted to put current conflicts between democratic,
theocratic, and fascist movements in the US in perspective by exploring the convergent
history of corporate conservatism, religious fundamentalism, and the Republican Party. In
addition to the historical analysis, I reviewed academic papers and literature that helped
to shed light on the basic forms of societal organization, the dynamics of producing
change in an open society, and a brief discussion of how differential resources contribute
to exclusion from normal membership in society.
Based on my experience of malign neglect by media, the market, and government, I
have long sought for a viable means by which average citizens could inform themselves
in order to be more effectively and meaningfully engaged in their communities and
nation. Hoping to learn how structured research might serve as a progressive organizing

tool in combating such things as racism, conspiracism, and xenophobia, my investigation


led me to interview four prominent political researchers around the US who have aided
ordinary people, like me, in dealing with extraordinary situations in their communities.
In that survey, I specifically wanted to know if there were methods being used that made
communities less vulnerable to obstruction or subversion of self-governance, especially
by the New Right. My attempt to extract the most salient points of these interviews is
contained in my analysis, and indeed forms the basis of my MA Thesis.
It is my hope that by incorporating my community organizing experience with the
informed views of the authors cited, that readers will be both inspired to get involved in
correcting the inattention, cowardice, and laziness of public officials, as well as
forearmed with the benefit of the lessons I learned the hard way.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Unfortunately, crediting all the people whove assisted in the development of this
thesis is an impossible task. The authors cited receive their due, but the devotion of a
select few friends, expressed through their kind and generous support, deserves special
mention.
My life partner, Marianne DAngelo, sustained me through the trials and tribulations
of activism, and the subsequent academic process of coming to terms with the lessons
learned. My activism partner, Sherilyn Wells, was steadfast in her personal loyalty,
honoring my integrity, while ignoring my faults. My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Carol
Silverman, became my trusted mentor, reminding me of my potential, and always
offering candid, practical advice. My prior learning advisor, Tom Parsons, was
respectfully unrelenting in his insistence that I obtain the greatest insight possible from
my activist experience. The primary reviewer of my prior learning portfolio, Professor
Heinberg, honored the worthiness of my reflections on activism. My graduate advisor, Dr.
Jo Sanzgiri, offered gentle reassurance when my confidence or enthusiasm wavered. My
boss, Karen Prescher, the school librarian, did more than I could ever ask for in
accommodating my personal and academic needs in order to make the most of my higher
education. Finally, my sleuthing associate, Paul de Armond, who first opened my eyes to
the value of opposition research, and continues to help me put into perspective and
context the challenges I choose.
To each of them, I offer my deepest gratitude.

INTRODUCTION
In the concluding remarks of my Senior Thesis, I observed that effectively pursuing
democratic ideals is a complex, difficult, and risky business in which bad faith
participants must be constrained. To truly make room for democracy, I noted, it is
necessary to circumscribe political violence. The Public Health Model of Community
Organizing, which grew out of my research and conversations since 1994, defines
organized political violence as the suppression of free and open inquiry. The remedy of
rendering ineffective the agents who practice political violence, in my opinion, requires
both training and structured reflective engagement in the methods of doing so.
This MA Thesis, which also serves as justification for my approach to an activist
political science curriculum, relies heavily on the power of moral sanctionboth in
constraining violence, and in overcoming laziness, cowardice, and the desire for
reassurance that leads people to accept and follow dangerous leaders. It also relies on a
respect for the practice and results of research and analysis.
Moral positions, learned slowly over time through social interaction, observation,
reflection, and study, are best internalized absent coercion or indoctrination. Moral
lessons, conveyed by parents, pastors, teachers, and philosophers through the ages, are
woven into the societal myths, laws, and codes of behavior that guide us through life. The
evolution of human consciousness in defining and redefining morality, however, has
encountered a formidable obstacle in the modern spectacles of consumerism and
militarism, amid what I would term the perpetual carpet bombing of advertising,
propaganda, and amusement. Devoting adequate attention to the discussion and

consideration of moral values thus requires the creation of time, space, structures, and
activities conducive to weaning and shielding people from these psychic intrusions.
My current estimate of our social and political situation is that, over time, reactionary
forces can be isolated. In the meantime, we must position ourselves to subvert these
dominant forces while integrating what resistance there is in order to prepare for claiming
power. We must also establish and exercise intelligence and security capabilities.
Otherwise, we risk losing a marvelously inspired and dedicated generation of intellectual
and organizing leadership. With American reactionaries eager to begin nuclear war over
the control of the worlds oil supplies, this is a risk we cannot afford.
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. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the
efficacy of the public health model applied to social and political engagement, and
ultimately to spark discussion of and experimentation with strategies and tactics that
foster greater autonomy and accountability throughout our society.
The antidote to our crisis of values is the articulation and dissemination of moral
sanctions; the eradication of the social cancer of fascism, based on official terror, requires
the informed and careful application of the devices of ideological warfare. Only when
nodes of resistance in the US recognize and coalesce around these principles, will new
leadership find expression capable of mobilizing the social support necessary to catalyze
a mass movement of liberation.

PART ONE

THE PROBLEM

Chapter One

Obstacles
The greatest obstacles to communicating the ideological social transformation needed
to mobilize public support for socioeconomic autonomy and political accountability are
inextricably bound up with our societal mythology regarding democracy and freedom.
One can see, time and again, evidence of this in the persistent adherence to American
exceptionalism--the ideological basis of the extra-terrestrially blessed concepts of
Manifest Destiny and Pax Americana the consequence of what Peddlers of Crisis
author Jerry Sanders describes as, the aggressive huckstering of US commercial,
political, and cultural interests [that] etched empire into the national consciousness as a
deeply engrained way of life (11).
American society, although founded on the institution of slavery and exclusion-especially of minorities, women, and the poor--from normal and meaningful participation
in self-governance; systematic murder of and theft from Native Americans; and robbery
of working class immigrants as well as third and fourth-world resources, nevertheless
believes it saved the world from Fascism and Communism and thereby stands alone as
guarantor of global order and morality.
The creation of a national consensus behind the United States moral mission of
upholding the rule of law in international affairs was initiated under President Truman,
who, in 1947 said, the world must choose between alternative ways of life based on
either free institutions or terror and oppression (Zinn 417). Restoration of the
Amercentric world system, shattered in the Vietnam era, through a revived Containment
Militarism [devised in 1951], relies on the notion [indeed the ideological bond] that
resistance to [American] empire abroad is a threat to security at home (Sanders 18,19).

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As Alan Wolfe states in the 1983 foreword to Peddlers of Crisis, Peddling crisis is not
complicatedIn a world dominated by nuclear weapons, fear is a realityThe
Committee on the Present Danger [CPD] was successful because it understood basic
American ideology and how to manipulate itWar provides a source of unity in a
divided societythat during difficult periods seeks the familiar to relieve its anxiety (36). What is most familiar to Americans is the rule of force and Cold War demonology
promoted by CPD warriors like current and former Nixon White House Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As Sanders puts it, To combat non-alignment and selfdetermination in international politics [that] necessitatedthe resort to force must
commend itselfas an inescapable exception to the basic idea of freedom (34,44).
Admittedly, we see cracks in the veneer of American sanctity, most recently
dramatized by global demonstrations against economic and military hegemony, but the
American attitude of arrogance continues largely unabated, as though our relatively high
economic security and political maneuverability is unrelated to our sordid history. As
these cracks widen, hastened by such events as the December 2000 presidential coup
detat by oil and military interests, the September 11 revenge taken by primarily Saudi
militant elements of third world resistance to oil and military domination, and the recent
unraveling of Enrons piratical methods of global energy control, development and
distribution, the sanctuary of American piety becomes increasingly vulnerable to dispute.
Nothing is more revealing than US policy in the Persian Gulf region, the basic thrust
of which is to maintain Arabian Peninsula monarchies as Washingtons chief strategic
allies and to marginalize both Iraq and Iran. As noted in Slow Motion Holocaust by
Stephanie Reich, the US carried out this policy during the Iran-Iraq war by assisting one

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belligerent and then the other, about which Henry Kissinger said at the time: The
ultimate American interest in the war is that both should lose (22). Two administrations
later, responding to reports citing more than half a million Iraqi children killed by UN
economic sanctions, US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright replied: we think
the price is worth it (26). Coming full circle from the 1985-6 Iran-Contra affair in which
then Vice President George H.W. Bush directed illegal arms smuggling to Iran, the
present Bush administrations characterization of rogue nations like Iran and Iraq
(which resisted first British, then American oil control) as constituting an Axis of Evil,
rings somewhat hollow.
Perhaps most telling in terms of our diminished moral prestige was the removal of the
United States from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by secret ballot on
May 10, 2001. Writing in January 2002 for the Albion Monitor online newspaper,
Gustavo Capdevila claims, Sources close to the Commission said western Europe
wanted to teach Washington a lesson for its condescending, isolationist behavior in the
Commission and other international fora. According to Capdevila, the US vote against a
resolution on the right to food (the text declared unacceptable 826 million people unable
to meet minimal dietary needs) on top of the United States abrupt withdrawal from the
Kyoto Protocol on global warming created an adverse attitude toward the US. The April
2002 rejection by the US of the International Criminal Court (for prosecuting war crimes,
genocide, or other crimes against humanity), following on the heels of US nonparticipation in the UN conference on racism one week prior to September 11, 2001,
fixes the US position of unilateralism firmly in the mind of the world community. The
moral force behind the Court, which, according to Human Rights Watch spokesman

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Richard Dicker has the potential to be the most important human rights instrument
created in the last 50 years (Bone 1) will unfortunately not extend to the US.
Chapter Two

Needs
The danger associated with confronting the American psyche under such traumatic
and turbulent circumstances lies in the personal and collective limits of our ability to
absorb and internalize this horrific reality. It will take time to digest the fact that, for
many of us, our entire public education and media indoctrination was based on official
lies about American piety and goodwill. Consequently, our perceptions of Americas role
in the world have been turned topsy-turvy, leaving some of us adrift, searching for some
kind of certainty, and others hunkered down in denial. Americans who fought the Nazis,
served in the Peace Corps, or participated in the Civil Rights Movement, rightly feel
bewildered and betrayed.
The primary challenge, for those engaged in the movement against war, racism, and
poverty, is in reaching out to the bewildered and dismayed with firmness and
compassion, anchored by genuine American ideals of equality and justice. Insistence on
accountability from the domestic, anti-democratic elites that brought on the terrible
episode of events under the second Bush administration is fundamental to our ability to
survive psychologically our inevitable epoch of decline, indicated by the accelerating
trends toward isolation of the US by the European Union and the United Nations.
The desire to kill the messenger bearing such discomforting news is most aptly
expressed by the oil-military-financial triumvirate, represented by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and
Bush, who threaten to unilaterally destroy the economies and infrastructures of all who

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oppose US dominancewith nuclear weapons if necessary. For those of us attempting to


communicate social transformation as the necessary evolution of survival, the point must
be made emphatically, and repeatedly, that our illegitimate national government not only
represents illegitimate interests, but also represents illegitimate points of view and
illegitimate values in the context of American democracy. The evolution of our
mythology can no longer evade the moral sanction associated with our inherited
privilege.
As Sanders states in Peddlers of Crisis, How deeply militarism is rooted in Americas
political culture must rank as the most profound question of our time (19). Referring to
the Cold War hysteria of the 1950s through the 1980s, [and equally applicable to the post
9-11 War on Terrorism, in which George W. Bush is clearly trying to whip up panic as a
substitute for leadership] Sanders observes that, Overselling the threat scared the public
into acquiescence and undercut the dissident elite from mobilizing a mass base (16). The
CPD devise in 1950 of a fraudulent military threat as a strategy for acceptance of a U.S.
arms buildup was candidly revealed by Secretary of State Dean Acheson who later
remarked, The purpose of NSC-68 [the National Security Council document that
manufactured the non-existent Soviet threat] was to so bludgeon the mass mind of top
government that not only could the President make a decision but that the decision could
be carried out (31). Dissemination of the new doctrine to the wider circle of opinionmaking elites in business, academia, and media, was aided by restricting the debate to
circles where Containment Militarism enjoyed clear hegemony within the overall
imperial framework (102). Not unlike the situation in the current U.S. Congress, Sanders
makes the point that, Only an extraordinary atmosphere of crisis and a credible external

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threat could justify a departure from distrust of centralized power and excessive spending
(90). The Establishment elite policy of tripling military expenditures [under Truman,
under Reagan, and now under Bush II] required a public campaign to create a mood of
impending crisis to surmount inherent tensions of the democratic political system (114).
Success of CPD is attributed to its control and synchronized manipulation of official
doctrine and popular ideology. According to Sanders, the critical question for CPD in
1976 was how to get President Carter to lead an ideological coup of his own
administration. Their plan, coordinated with the private National Security Information
Center, was to 1)interact with policy echelons in the White House and Pentagon 2) tutor
Congressional staffs and brief members 3) work with trade associations with an interest
in defense 4) generate public information through the Washington press corps (196-7).
CPD not only subverted and attacked the conclusions of their adversaries, which included
Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, they attacked their credibility and contested their morality. CIA Director George
H.W. Bush, in June 1976, [in anticipation of Carters election] appointed a [CPD] team,
which according to former CIA Deputy Director Herbert Scoville, was dedicated to
proving that the Russians are twenty feet tall (199).
The key connection to Conservative grassroots mobilization, says Sanders, were
people like right-wing direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie, publisher of Conservative
Digest, who with the American Security Council and the AFL-CIO produced the film The
Price of Freedom (208-9). Adolf Hitler, quoted in The Fine Art of Propaganda by Lee and
Lee, observed A lie is believed because of the unconditional and insolent inflexibility
with which it is propagated and because it takes advantage of the sentimental and extreme

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sympathies of the massesTherefore, something always is retained from the most


impudent of lies (73).
Chapter Three

Resources
Strategic solidarity has emerged with the advent of the April 20, 2002 national march
against war, racism, and poverty in cities across the US. The post-demonstration phase of
resistance will require the linking of national, regional, and local movement development
resources through a process of dialogue and integration. The leading involvement of
moral and religious authorities and organizations assures the proper movement emphasis
on moral sanction, central, in my opinion, to rebuilding democratic society. But moral
sanction, alone, is insufficient to constrain reactionary political violence and official
repression; that will require continuous research, analysis, and investigation--the civil
society equivalent of wartime intelligence operationsin order to weather the
psychological warfare associated with the disease of aggression.
Psychological warfare, according to Paul Linebarger of the School of Advanced
International Studies, is a continuous [propaganda] process not controlled by laws,
usages, and customs of warcovert, often disguised as the voice of institutions and
mediaa non-violent persuasion waged before, during, and after war (1). The two
principles of long-range psywar, notes Linebarger, are 1) Given a choice between
conversion and extermination, formal acceptance will become genuine acceptance if all
public media of expression are denied the vanquished faith. 2) The same result can be
effected by toleration of objectionable faith, combined with issuance of privileges to the
preferred faith. If all participation in public life, political, cultural, and economic, is

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conditioned on acceptance, all up-rising members of society will convert, over


generations, in the process of becoming rich, powerful, or learned (13).
Most countries, notes Linebarger, suffer from ideological confusionan instability of
basic beliefs. In states anxious to promote a fixed mentality, the entire population lives
under conditions approximating the psychological side of war. Allegiance in war is a
matter of ideology, not of opinion (32). Coordinated propaganda machines, he observes,
include psywar, public relations, general news, and public education. Psywar, he warns,
has in private media facilities, in an open society, a constantly refreshed source of new
material that, when selectively censored, can prevent non-governmental materials from
circulating (35). Advanced as a science in World War II, this tool under the Nazisthe
diplomacy of dramatic intimidationrelied in part on public opinion forecasting and
analysis of counterpropaganda. German psywar, claims Linebarger, depended more on
political background than on psychological techniques: disunity among victims;
complaisance of powers not immediately affected; frightful applications of new weapons;
and appeasement by pacifists (42).
As Kalle Lasn, publisher of Adbusters Magazine said when interviewed in the July
2001 issue of The Sun, Its impossible to live a free authentic life in America today
Our emotions, personalities, and core values have become programmed (7).
Lasn, a former advertising executive for thirty years, understands the power of
propaganda as advertising. He also understands the keys to undermining this corrupting
influencepersistent ridicule, and appeals to conscience. Kalle not only writes, speaks,
and publishes on the harmful anti-democratic aspects of advertising, he sponsors
international conventions to discuss advertising ethics and morality. Culture Jamming

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provoking thought; getting consumers to pause; jarring conscienceis not just the
method of Adbusters Magazine. It can be seen in graffiti, signs, and banners present at
every meeting of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank over the last four years.
Antonio Gramsci, writing in Prison Notebooks, observes that, Civil society operates
without sanctions or compulsory obligations, but nevertheless exerts a collective
pressure and obtains objective results in the form of an evolution of customs, ways of
thinking and acting, and morality. The eclipse of a way of living and thinking cannot take
place without a crisis (242). Civil society today, I would argue, exists in a perpetual state
of crisissome fabricated and some realthat, with the advent of alternative media,
desktop publishing, and Internet communication, offers an unprecedented opportunity to
begin this eclipse. As Gramsci observed from prison in 1930s Fascist Italy, If the ruling
class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer leading but only dominant, exercising
coercive force alone, this means the great masses have become detached from their
traditional ideologies and no longer believe what they used tothe exercise of force to
prevent new ideologies from imposing themselves leads to skepticism and a new
arrangementa new culture (275-6). A fine example of this was seen in the November
1999 Battle in Seattle, when new technology enabled millions to simultaneously view
network news talking heads on TV claim that protesters were attacking police, while
satellite-linked Independent Media live video footage played over the Internet exposing
robo-cops beating and pepper-spraying passive protesters engaged in civil disobedience
sit-ins.
Essential to Gramscis approach, according to editors Hoare and Smith, is the notion
that an intellectual revolution is not performed by simply confronting one philosophy

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with another. It is not just the ideas that require to be confronted but the social forces
behind them and, more directly, the ideology these forces have generated and which has
become the uncritical and largely unconscious way of perceiving and understanding the
world (321-2). As Gramsci asserts, Creating a new culture means the diffusion or
socialization in a critical form of truths already discovered and making them the basis of
vital action, an element of moral orderThe co-existence of two conceptions of the
world (words versus deeds) is the profound contrast of a social historical order and
signifies the social groups conception may be embryonic, manifested in sporadic action
(325-6). Noting that superficial, uncritical, inherited consciousness [as seen in liberal
reform postures] influences moral conduct in that it does not permit any action, decision
or choice, Gramsci observes that insistence on the practical element of the theory-practice
nexus means one is going through a historical phase in which the structural framework
is being quantitatively transformed and the appropriate quality superstructure is in the
process of emerging (333,335).
We can see both of these shifts in the non-hierarchical pro-democracy movements use
of strategical netwar, emphasizing autonomy and accountability both internally and
externally. Using what author Luther Gerlach refers to in his November 17, 2000
presentation to the American Anthropological Association as segmented, polycentric,
interacting, networks, or SPINs, anti-WTO forces combined diverse voluntary tactics
with messages focused on morality and ideology that resonate with American values.
Gramsci claims The history of philosophy is the history of ideological initiatives
undertaken by a specific class of people to change the conceptions of the world that exist
in any particular age and thus to change the norms of conduct. The philosophy of an age,

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he says, is a process of combination of cultural complexes which culminates in an


overall trend which becomes a norm of collective action (344). The focus of religious
authorities on the use of moral sanction against instruments of globalizing poverty, seen
in the Jubilee and School of the Americas movements, have forced many to question
basic assumptions about economics and international relationships.
Only through this grounding in consciously articulated values can we exit the
inevitable social disintegration with a disdain for violence, in all its forms, and enter a
period of reintegration around altered relationships that enables our evolution toward
greater fulfillment of these values. Our faith in the possibility of justice is sometimes all
that prevents the complete annihilation of human dignity. The cognitive dissonance
generated by false values of superiority and privilege has prepared Americans to accept
expressions of dissent that reaffirm their most deeply held beliefs; to stir these thoughts
and compete with official obfuscation and spectacle, movement speakers must be
selected who can not only access these depths, but who also have organic credentials to
speak with authority.
Ignorance and lethargy, claims Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the
culture of silence, is the direct product of economic, social, and political domination
By making it possible for people to enter the historical process as responsible subjects,
enrolled in self-affirmation, they can avoid fanaticism. Fear of freedom, seeking refuge in
security rather than the risks of liberty, sees questioning the status quo as a threatThey
are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they
have internalized (10,20,32). The foremost task, as I see it, is to confront and constrain
those who make this affirmation threatening. As Freire insists, The oppressed must see

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examples of the vulnerability of the oppressor so that a contrary conviction can begin to
grow within themAs long as the oppressed remain unaware of the causes of their
condition, they fatalistically accept their exploitationIn working towards liberation, one
must neither lose sight of this passivity nor overlook the moment of awakening (51).
Freire warns that The inability to act responsibly causes men to reject their
impotence, often by submitting to or identifying with a person or group having power
(65). These populist manifestations of rebellion seeking a feeling of effective action, as
he calls it, seen in the Wise Use and militia movements, as well as in militarist
nationalism, indicate the need for ideological intervention and subversion of psywar
opponents preventing others from engaging in the process of inquiry through
intimidation--political violence.
Freire asserts, The complex of interacting themes of an epoch constitutes its thematic
universeAs antagonism deepens between themesthere is a tendency for the themes
and reality itself to be mythicized, establishing a climate of irrationality and sectarianism.
In such a situation, myth-creating irrationality itself becomes a fundamental theme
Thematic investigation (the way people think about and face the world)fatalistically,
dynamically, or staticallybecomes a striving towards awareness of reality and selfawareness, a starting point for the educational process or cultural liberation (92). Freire
notes that in order to increase passivity, oppressors develop methods that preclude any
presentation of the world as a problem, showing it rather as a fixed entity to which people
must adapt. Keeping them passive, is accomplished by depositing myths indispensable
to preservation of the status quo: free society; free to work; this order respects human
rights; anyone who is industrious can succeed; equality; ruling class as defenders of

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civilization; charity and generosity of elites; rebellion is a sin; private property


fundamental to human development; the oppressed are lazy and inferior (139).
Liberation movement 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. A more complete
definition of this model of social organization is the topic of part two.

PART TWO

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PUBLIC HEALTH MODEL DEFINED

Chapter Four

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Isolate
The primary mission of institutions charged with protecting the public health is to
contain outbreaks and to prevent epidemics associated with infectious disease. The first
order of business in the public health regime is to isolate and study the various pathogens
that pose such a threat to society, in order to determine the most effective means of
prevention and containment. Through research, essential characteristics of the disease can
be determined. Through analysis, options for intervention are continually reviewed,
tested, and revised with an eye toward the development of prophylactic measures,
treatment, and medicines, as part of the array of intervention methods at the disposal of
public health professionals. In addition to the biological and infrastructural investigations
conducted, committees, divisions, and departments are established for the purpose of
interdepartmental communication and coordination engaged in developing appropriate
legislation, budgets, and operational manuals for all the ancillary public agencies
necessarily involved in implementing the mission of public health administration.
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 similar 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?

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Through such a methodical approach to understanding social pathogens, I would


argue, are we 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.
Building Democracy Initiative Director Devin Burghart works out of Chicagos
Center for New Community helping religious leaders in the Midwest to contain racism
targeted largely at immigrants in rural areas. Devin claims research is essential for several
reasons: By knowing your opposition, you not only know whom its going to be
impossible to work with, but also which constituencies those groups are out there trying
to recruit. By figuring out those two things, you can employ a strategyto isolate the
source of the hatred.
Tarso Luis Ramos, Director of the RACE and environment program at the Western
States Center in Portland, Oregon, conducted the Wise Use Public Exposure Project for
Western States from 1992 to 1999. The project used opposition research to organize
against the anti-worker, anti-environmental political movement that had strong resource,
industry, and corporate support. Mr. Ramos says, The demand for research training shot
up stronglyparticularly on Wise Use, but also in relation to the Christian Right and
some white supremacist organizing as well. Commenting on a common pitfall, Tarso
says, A very mistaken notion of power, but a prevalent one, is that knowledge is power;
that correct information is enough to discredit illegitimate arguments or organizing
efforts. Our experience has been thats simply not true.

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Chapter Five

Inoculate
With the development of vaccines, public health officials added a powerful defensive
weapon to their arsenal. To varying degrees depending on the disease, the combination of
vaccination programs with the management of host conditions improved life immensely.
People not only lived with less disease; they lived with less fear of disease, and were thus
less susceptible to psychologically disturbing explanations of its causes, previously
associated with such things as morality, magic, and religion.
Likewise, health professionals, through the accumulation of data and the observation
of results of vaccination campaigns, became aware of the differential vulnerability to
contracting disease. Through trial and error and reflection, they came to understand the
plurality of factors that bear on an individuals propensity toward good or poor health.
Over time, a more holistic perspective developed to include consideration of diet, habits,
stress, genetics, age, and gender. Thus informed, guardians of public health are better
prepared to initially target the most vulnerable populations in mobilizing the resources of
disease control and epidemic prevention.
Populations most vulnerable to ideological diseases are equally identifiable,
considering such conditions as employment, education, religion, location, and economic
status. Systematic study, research, and analysis of their historical development within the
current political context allow those considering intervention measures to anticipate and
possibly head off dangerous events. At the very least, operating from an informed
position provides activists with the ability to not make things worse.
By adopting the medical credo do no harm, socio-political public health warriors can
develop an attitude that prepares them for what Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of

26

Trust, calls The Coming Plague. Although referring to disease in the microbial sense,
Garretts profound question: Can it still be assumed that government can and will protect
the populaces health? applies as well to sociological pathogens that have found ways to
circumvent normal host defenses. If the answer to this question is, as I contend, no, then
those of us who try to heroically cover for official complacency and public indifference
find ourselves in a position similar to health workers in the developing worldstruggling
without resources against insurmountable odds. Referring to Third World health workers,
Garrett says, It is the paradox of our era that while they struggle, we are so privileged
that we are frequently unaware that their struggle exists (preface).
It is equally true of American society that the beneficiaries of privileged social status
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. As Garret observes, effective public health
systemsmonitor the health and well-being of its citizens, identify problems in the
environment and among the members of its community and establish public health
practices to address these problems. Her dire warning that, We live in a world in which
new human pathogens emerge and old infectious diseases once thought conquered can
resurface with a vengeance reminds me of a World War II Jewish refugee who made a
comment to the effect that he thought we had ended anti-Semitism with the surrender of
Nazi Germany. The analogy is perhaps best summed up by Garrets remark on the perils
of reliance on pharmaceutical technology, Resilient mutated strainshave evolved and
flourished in part through ignorance of the need to complete a prescribed courseand by
the overuse and misuse of drugsThe challenge is to adapt our public health strategy to

27

control environments and modify behaviors in a constantly changing world (preface). As


with microbial infections, so with ideological.
Burghart says, Its been a tactical flaw that traditional progressive organizations have
had for quite awhile in not reaching out to broader constituencies, particularly those
which are targeted for recruitment by the Right. To create moral barriers to keep out
violent, hate-mongering groups like Posse Comitatus, Burghart observes, The important
thing is to first identify those constituencies. Unless you have a fairly broad-based group,
initially, that has feelers into those different communities, then you wont know quite
often.
Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts, arguably
the premier researcher on the Far Right in the United States, has worked with both
mainstream and fundamentalist congregations. Referring to a fundamentalist conference
he attended in Summer 2001, Chip says, They were very open to hearing that
demonizing each other in disagreement on questions of abortion and gay rights was
wrong Thats very different from the kind of direct mail rhetoric that you see from a lot
of liberal groups, where they portray the folks theyre organizing against as stupid,
irrational, lunatic fringe, or extremistbasically pretending that issues of oppression are
not woven throughout this society.

Chapter Six

28

Educate
Once a disease is contained, educational efforts aimed at broadening public support
for and cooperation with health agencies become part of an ongoing system of
monitoring, reporting, and situational assessment conducive to institutionalizing
practices, behaviors, and investments in achieving optimal health. Wavering commitment
to these educational efforts means that gains made in disease control for one generation
might be lost for the next; betrayal of public trust through laziness, cowardice, or
dishonest acts, especially for political purposes, also endangers the public sense of
citizenship.
Thus, in order to recruit and convert sufficient numbers of the populace to participate
in healthful practices, working relationships need to be built and maintained by honoring
that trust with frankness, obligation, and accountability. When that trust is broken, it must
be painstakingly rebuilt. Similarly, social activists need to be vigilant in not overstating
problems, not underestimating the seriousness of problems, and in not shrinking from
their obligation to articulate and disseminate their assessment candidly and repeatedly,
regardless of the popularity of the message. Eventually, integrity has its reward.
Communicating social transformation based on ideological research, analysis, and
education, within the framework of the public health model, incorporates tools of
intelligence and propaganda from military warfare, applied to community organizing.
Convincing people to participate in, or persuading them to cooperate with, such a
tumultuous endeavor requires the clear articulation of the philosophy behind it.

PART THREE

29

PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS OF MODEL

Chapter Seven

Moral Sanction

30

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. In this way, prodemocracy activists and organizers can increase the likelihood of broad-based
conscientious involvement in public policy decision-making.
Moral sanction, based on a belief in the imperative to seek justice, is, in my opinion,
central to the struggle of rebuilding democratic society. Robert Bellah in Habits of the
Heart puts it thus: It is peoples political understanding and moral character as a whole,
developed through practical experience, that condition their abilities to participate
politically. Political organizingthe practice of citizenshiphe says, provides a context
in which to nurture the moral development on which democratic self-government
depends. Civic justice, as he sees it, secures the dignity of citizens through their
participation. This civic republican tradition [seemingly at odds with modern
individualism], according to Bellah, views work and politics as cooperative forms of
moral life in which the individual finds fulfillment in social relationships organized
through public dialogue (216-18).
Bellah notes that, while successful at ameliorating the ravages of a corporate
economy in disarray, the Progressive and New Deal reformers of the early and mid 20th
century hoped to enhance the possibility of democratic citizenship by making politics
more rational. But they were never able to formulate a vision of the national polity that

31

would legitimate their efforts in terms of a moral discourse of the common good and
provide an alternative to the culture of individualism (209-10). Rather, the growth of
centralized planning and administration came to symbolize professionalism without
contentwhat Tocqueville foresaw as American administrative despotism (208).
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. Indeed, reform and revolutionary movements, as
well as other forms of resistance in fundamental conflict with despotic powers, rely on
moral sanction as an essential component of political warfare.
In fact, the commitment of social movement participants and the approbation of noncombatants and potential recruits are largely determined by the ability of resistance
leaders to articulate and disseminate the moral values at issue. In this way, resistors and
allied advocates can gain not only attention, but also recognition of the validity of their
grievances. At the same time, the moral prestige of oppressive or repressive institutions is
diminished, and opportunities to obtain concessions or to leverage discussion and
dialogue are enhanced.
Chapter Eight

Core Values
Patterns of cultural preference, consciously articulated as values, provide continuity
and grounding in times of social disintegration, turmoil, and transition. The core values
expressed in acts of moral sanction, even if they at times motivate righteously indignant
believers to commit violence, are ultimately the foundation on which a new society can
reintegrate around altered relationships of the old. The moral ambivalence, produced by

32

the popular confusion associated with sorting out the logic of individualistic ideology in a
complex interdependent society, views entitlementseven morally legitimate claimsas
matters of power, rather than matters of justice. In what Bellah describes as a culture of
self-proclaimed moral equality, the American language of individual rights makes sense,
but the consensual political community commonly envisioned by Americans requires
coming to terms with complexity and developing a conception of society that generates
a language of common good (204-7).
Democratic ideals as expressed in American sacred documents center around notions
of autonomy and accountability. Our statutes and mythology pay more than lip service to
these core values; they interpret the philosophy around which our society has been
constructed, providing doorways to their future realization. The key to the restoration of
our sense of social obligation, in Bellahs view, is found in our community histories
where examples that embody and exemplify the meaning of community, in character,
virtues, and shared suffering, turn us toward the future as communities of hope. People
growing up in communities of memory, as Bellah calls them, participate in practices of
commitment that define patterns of loyalty and obligation that keep the community alive
(153-4). If Americans despair at the corruption of the powerful and privileged, Bellah
argues, relief is to be found in the ancient image of the active citizen contributing to the
public good in a context of moral and religious obligationthe classical republicanism of
early colonial America (142-3).
Communication of these values, I would note, leads to the empowering acts of
individuals that develop commitment to a process of transformation they believe will lead
to greater fulfillment of these values. Faith in the possibility of justice, by a process that

33

transcends issues, acknowledges the supremacy of human dignity and the ethical
imperative to act. As Bellah observes in reviewing the observations of Tocqueville, The
habits and practices of religion and democratic participation educate the citizen to a larger
view, leading Bellah to conclude that community responsibilitythe practical
foundation of individual dignity-- is the only reliable bulwark against despotism (38).
These habits of the heart Tocqueville describes in Democracy in America, according to
Bellah, create the kind of person who could sustain a connection to a wider political
community and thus ultimately support the maintenance of free institutions (viii).

Chapter Nine

Strengths and Weaknesses


The strength of the public health model, when applied to community organizing, is in
its view of the body politic as an organic, dynamic system of adjustment and evolution,
that, like the human body, requires maintenance, nurturing, and protection from external
threat in order to function optimally. The central perspective of this model is a faith in
humanity to resolve conflict given the opportunity to work. Cycles of subversion and
integration, when functioning organically, strengthen a societys immune system allowing
it to adapt to new circumstances with greater resilience.
The weakness of the public health model lies in the vulnerability of its practitioners to
accusations of conspiracism, and the tendency of overzealous devotees to neglect the
holistic requirement of integrating their practice with those engaged in reform advocacy,
political diplomacy, law enforcement, and military deterrence. Actors accustomed to
functioning as the white blood cells of society, by definition, are programmed to be on
the lookout for social viruses. The difficulties of integration with sympathetic actors, not
34

so inclined, arises when these threats successfully elude popular detection and are able to
spread covertly, infecting unsuspecting target populations, including ones allies, through
lazy and corrupt media habits.
This is not to say that the model is flawed; rather, that the social immune system can
only work when the other systems function properly. The symbiotic relationship and the
guardian cells ability to protect society break down when any of the systems
malfunction.
Debbie Garrett observes that, it was in Gotham at the dawn of the twentieth
century that bands of sanitarians, germ theory zealots, and progressive political leaders
created the worlds first public health infrastructure primarily focused on prevention and
surveillance, rather than cure (2). She notes that society of that era, when strides in public
health far surpassed those of the last half century, needed to take aim at a far more
complexand elusivetarget comprised of science, politics, sociology, economics, and
even elements of religion, philosophy, and psychology. Noting that public health
infrastructures were not terribly resilient in the face of societal stress and economic
difficulty, Garrett forewarns, an unstable, corrupt society is inevitably a public health
catastrophe (4).
In the present era of malign neglect and rampant corruption at the highest levels of
American business and government, it is a dire warning indeedin terms of public
health, safety, freedom, and life itself. So vital to societal stability and so vulnerable to
political disorder, public health in either sensephysiological or psychologicalwhen in
crisis, can bring down a government.

35

Chapter Ten

Related Aspects of Leadership


Garrett observes that, To build trust there must be a sense of community. And the
community must collectively believe in its own future (585).
Core values of a society, when superseded by false values or fraudulent
representations of true ones, occupy the collective subconscious and create a cognitive
dissonance that prepares a population to accept expressions of dissent that reaffirm their
most deeply held beliefs. To stir these thoughts and compete with obfuscation and
spectacle, resistance leaders must be selected who can not only access these depths, but
who also have organic credentials to speak with authority.
Making room for the spirit of reflective, conscious, self-disciplined thought that leads
to political engagement is a leadership task that combines both facilitative as well as
inspirational talents, and may not be found in a single individual; hence, the advantage of
networked, shared, cooperative leadership that has the diversity of experience and
perspective to develop activities and actions that serve to enact the collective vision, that
in turn catalyze movements in quest of truth, liberation, and reconciliation.
Leaving room for the intuitive in the arts and sciences of leadership, leaders are
advised to methodically prepare themselves, their followers, and their allies for the
eventuality of attack. Anti-democratic regimes and ideologues are well-versed in the use
of fear, hate, and revenge as a formula for undermining and destroying opposition.
The degree of commitment and courage among their supporters will vary greatly, ebbing
and flowing with the tumultuous circumstances of political conflict.

36

For Mahatma Gandhi, like other great souls, the act of resistance was a reclamation of
the soul of his community. He was chosen to lead by his mentors and advisors because of
his spirit, patience, and powers of analysis in communicating the vision of transformation
achieved through the use of moral sanction. This vision of transformation was thus able
to seize the initiative in proclaiming a war of ideas, rather than a war of individualsa
conflict in which ordinary individuals could both participate in a national movement as
well as grow in self-worth. With the help of international media, that was yet to become
amoral, the injustice was made visible to the world, and the power of moral sanction was
exercised.
Key to Gandhis success in mobilizing world opinion and the Indian people, were his
notion of ripeness of issues and the discipline of preparation. From his experience in
South Africa, he realized that people needed time to absorb new ideas, and to develop
convictions based on these ideas, before they could be effectively mobilized. From his
experience in the judicial system, he also knew the importance of honoring the positions
of all parties in a dispute as a means of constructing consent to the resolution reached. A
significant aspect of Gandhis philosophy, rare in the cynical populism of America as we
enter the era of demise of our empire, is his implicit trust in human nature to want to do
what is morally right once the truth is revealed. What today seems nave is, I propose,
misunderstood; Gandhi was referring to the human nature of people living and acting in
harmony with their beliefsnot to the perverted acts of the desperate, of sociopaths, or of
neurotics.
While we tend to focus on heroes at the moments of final victory, the development of
moral sanction often evolves over several generations: witness the progression of

37

acknowledgment and understanding by the dominant society of the suasions of civil


rights protagonists from Frederick Douglass through Martin Luther King. And while it is
true that preparing new leaders and battling societal mythology takes many years, we
must recognize the role of as well as acknowledge the achievements of impatient,
sometimes martyred leaders, in helping to define and make visible the social forces in
conflict.
The clarity of argument for moral sanction against aggression is most pronounced in
the case of classic colonialism, where a foreign power occupies, or controls by its
military force, the territory of another people. It is less clear in the case of neoliberal
economic colonialism that often relies on puppet regimes, economic penalties, and
mercenary or paramilitary forces to suppress the fulfillment of social needs. But it is most
obscured where the descendants of colonists, through the passage of time and
consolidation of control, manage to assuage their collective conscience regarding their
inherited privilege.
The evolution of their mythology in rationalizing the acts of their ancestors during the
process of invasion and conquest is a continuous, semi-conscious, collective effort at
avoiding moral sanction. The dissonance of conscience provoked by this mechanism of
self-delusion is most dangerous when confronted with the reality of resistance by those
deprived. Resistance based on principles allows the work of social change to be
constructive.
In confrontations between the fantasies of the privileged and the realities of the
deprived, an array of social responses develops across the socioeconomic spectrum:
revolutionary calls for fundamental restructuring; liberal calls for reform and

38

accommodation; conservative calls for law and order; and reactionary calls for
scapegoating and the crushing of dissent. Poised to pounce on these opportunities for
enhancing political power are social movement entrepreneurs. As predators of social
disintegration and conflict, these individuals, groups, and networks take advantage of
official as well as civil society processes convened for the purpose of resolution. Indeed,
demagogues and associated entrepreneurs whose interests coincide around inequality
often provoke escalation of hostilities in order to create a volatile political climate that
simultaneously attracts violent supporters and repels conflict-averse opponents. Generally
speaking, these situations are created by conservatives who manipulate reactionaries in
order to silence reform liberals and to marginalize revolutionary progressives.
The four conventional liberal models used to frame and contain this anti-democratic
behavior are law enforcement, political diplomacy, military, and interest or pressure
group.

39

PART FOUR

COMPARISON WITH OTHER MODELS

40

Chapter Eleven

Law Enforcement
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, frequently used to interfere with enforcement except for
political purposes, and too often biased to accept the view that the victims are to blame.
Perhaps the most notorious example of this is the US presidential election in which,
between 1998 and Election Day 2000, Florida Secretaries of State Sandra Mortham and
Katherine Harris, under the direction of Governor Jeb Bush, conspired to rig the election
in favor of the governors brother George by ordering the illegal removal from voter rolls
of 57,700 mostly black, nearly all Democrat, voters. Under the guise of removing exfelons, Secretary Harris--also at the time co-chairwoman of Floridas George W. Bush for
President campaign--with knowledge that many, if not most, of these citizens were
innocent of all crimes, paid a multi-million dollar bonus to a Republican-tied database
firm (which originally proposed using address histories and financial records as a crosscheck to confirm the names) to not use manual verification of these purged voters as
required under Florida law. Both Harris and Governor Bush then ordered county officials
to reject attempts by these eligible voters to register, despite an internal Florida State
Association of Supervisors of Elections memo, dated August 1998, which warns that the
Secretary of State had wrongly removed eligible voters. Perhaps more distressing than
these high crimes and felonies committed by elected officials in Florida was the response
by the Supervisors who agreed to keep their misgivings within the confines of the

41

bureaucracies in the belief that, entering a public fight with [state officials] would be
counterproductive (Palast).
The post-election strategy choreographed and financed by the Republican National
Committee, in which Congressional staff aides to, among others, House Majority Whip
Tom Delay were dispatched (with travel and expenses paid) to Florida to harass the
canvassing boards attempting to conduct the manual recount, is archetypical of the new
Republicans. Witnessing tactics of intimidation on television, like pounding on
courthouse doors while yelling threatening and intentionally distortive slogans about the
boards trying to steal the election from Bush, I had to ask why the Florida Highway
Patrol were not dispatched to remove them. These angry demonstrations encouraged and
orchestrated by the Republican Party resulted in: a brick thrown through the window of
the Broward County Democratic office; demonstrators in Miami-Dade shouting and
waving fists while rushing the offices of the elections supervisor; one Democratic official
being chased by GOP protesters; Democratic spokesman Luis Rosero getting shoved,
punched, and kicked by Republican demonstrators; and Democratic U.S. Representative
Peter Deutsch being manhandled by what he called an illegal mob. Republican
demonstrators, urged to join the protest by Republican phone banks and bussed to events,
were, in the words of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph I. Lieberman,
designed to intimidate elections officials (Milbank).
The answer to my incredulity at the aforementioned political violence allowed to go
unchecked is provided by the actions of Florida police powers themselves: carpools of
African-American voters were stopped by police demanding to see a taxi license; in
Osceola County, Hispanic voters were required to produce two forms of ID when only

42

one is required; many African-American first-time voters who registered at motor


vehicles offices or in campus voter registration drives did not appear on the voting rolls;
and the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that the department did conduct what it called
a routine check point near a black precinct in Tallahassee on election day in which they
asked black men to get out of their vehicles and produce identification (Jordan).
The subsequent media focus on miscounted ballots and official insinuations that black
voters were too stupid to vote is no different than blaming blacks for poverty in America.
The current President Bushs appointment of Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Anton Scalia, as the No. 3 official at the Labor Department (Bumiller), is
hard not to construe as quid pro quo for Justice Scalias vote and blatantly partisan
advocacy to halt the Florida vote count in order to appoint the son of former President
Bush to the White House.
Law enforcement, when it works, usually consists of arresting perpetrators of physical
violence. The harm done to society by demonization, intimidation, electoral fraud, and
paramilitary mobilization continues mostly unencumbered by official interference, until
property or people have been harmed or murdered. Occasionally, enforcement agents
apprehend those in violation of arms and explosives statutes, as they did with the Militia
of Montana and the Washington State Militia in the mid 1990s. Rarely are the felons
engaged in creating the overall political climate, that signals the reactionary underground
and sociopaths to emerge and act on their beliefs, indicted for either explicit or complicit
violations of the law. Low level activists that do things like listing addresses of abortion
clinic physicians on Internet hit lists may find themselves subject to civil penalties and
censorship, but high level activists, such as Wise Use operatives linked to big business

43

have, to my knowledge, never been charged for inciting assault, arson, and attempted
murder against their political opponents.
When it comes to political violence, used to prevent discussion and open inquiry,
official agencies often ignore behavior or exacerbate tensions by overreacting.
Dismissing concerns of individuals targeted by political violence, or telling them to buy a
gun, leaves people adrift. They are certainly not going to continue to participate in the
societal debates and discussions we need to maintain a democratic society.

Chapter Twelve

Political Diplomacy
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 Marcuse calls the moral dispositionto counter aggressiveness
(10). Faith in diplomacy assumes the possibility of mutual good faith participation in a
process of negotiation and compromise. Political actors who operate from a core agenda
that denies equal protection and opportunity to others; whos strategic formula of fear,
hate, and revenge uses systemic violence to gain or maintain privileges; and who are
willing to commit or abet crimes against their opponents, are neither deserving of trust
nor a public platform for promotion of their ideology. Misguided or cowardly reformers
who engage them thus, do so at grave risk to a community.
One of the greatest perils of piety is the faith that no matter how perverted or distorted
the position of ones opponent, they will be won over with reason and compassion. This
is not to say that they in turn should be demonized; it is simply a plea to acknowledge
that diplomacy has a limited effect on someone who views other segments of society as

44

evil or subhuman. Perhaps their hearts and minds can be changed by some transformative
experience, like time in prison or coerced participation in a truth and reconciliation
process, but constraining their behavior is of primary importance to the well-being of
society. As my colleague said, Whats to negotiate with a gay basher or holocaust
denier? That homosexuals deserve three quarters of the rights of heterosexuals? That the
Nazis only killed four instead of six million Jews (de Armond)?
The danger in entering diplomacy with Free Market, White Supremacist, or theocratic
fundamentalists, in the public arena, is that the conservative ideology behind their
reactionary agenda is given legitimacy as a valid, albeit different, point of view. In a
democracy, everyone must be allowed to hold and express their views, no matter how
repugnant, but they neednt be given a public platform to do so. Serious problems arise
when civil responses are overly tolerant of inappropriate behavior, or when official
responses are overly intolerant of unlawful behavior. To me, the organic instincts and
spontaneous reactions of a group of white male college jocks in my former community
were morally sound in spite of their ideological simplicity. When neo-Nazi Skinheads
physically attacked a black male student for walking hand-in-hand with a white female
student in front of their house, the athletes ran from the house and proceeded to enlighten
the Skinheads on the culinary delicacy of force-fed pavement.
Appeasement works no better with new Republicans than with neo-Nazis. When
they are not constrained by societal norms or laws, they need to have their clocks cleaned
it is all some of them understand.

45

Chapter Thirteen

Military
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 like Jackson State, Kent State, Ruby Ridge, and Waco. Most recently,
the militarization of law enforcement functions, such as border patrol and protest
management, has situationally altered the policing mandate from serve and protect to
search and destroy. This altered relationship between police and some communities and
ethnic groups has the tragic, if unintended consequence, of condoning unregulated
vigilante and paramilitary conduct. When non-violent activities such as civil disobedience
or unlawful border entry encounter a militaristic official response, the message sent to
reactionaries and bigots is that these illegal acts are committed by enemies of the state,
rather than by a loyal opposition or harmless unfortunates.
The use of military forces or tactics against political opponents, even anti-democratic
ones, only harms the health of society. The oppressed live in terror; the repressed shrink
from their duties; and the confused either indulge in other outlets for their aggression or
prepare for civil war. Combined, these conditions are conducive to further deterioration
of democratic society, paving the way for monopoly, tyranny, and the impunity these
conditions enjoy. With the institutionalization and consolidation of the militaristic model
for domestic purposes, constituent advocacy becomes increasingly meaningless.

46

Chapter Fourteen

Pressure Group
The pressure group model, designed for the purpose of constituent advocacy, used
both for reform as well as privilege maintenance, is most noted for its success in
generating legislation. The resultant laws and rules, when enforced, provide some degree
of relief or restitution to the groups or constituencies involved, but often do little to
protect or facilitate broad participation in the debate 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. Consequently,
unhealthy relationships develop between dominant groups and those in power, to the
detriment of everyone else.
To their credit, some pressure group professionals recognize the need for strategic and
tactical planning and the development of an agenda to development momentum. They
anticipate and prepare for public debate and convey articulately their constituents
entitlement to relief, and rightly focus on the need to demand accountability from
officials. Some of these professionals acknowledge the difference between trivial and
fundamental change that empowers ordinary people, the best of them cognizant of the
need to examine alternatives to achieve their goals.
Those who invoke the values of their audience and identify unsavory aspects of the
opposition come closest to conversion to the public health model. Building solidarity,
reducing isolation, and linking actions to an agenda are all consistent with this model.
The weakness of pressure groups is their focus on their adversary to the exclusion of their
opposition. This notorious blind spot to organizations, movements, networks, ideologies,

47

and covert activities that comprise a whirlpool that encompasses seemingly


straightforward interest group conflict, can bewilder and dismay pressure group
participants and completely erode progress made through decades of effort overnight.
The American system of majority rule poses a constant threat to minority rights, often
leaving numerical majorities with little or no voice in decisions that directly affect their
survival, their liberties, and their quality of life. Pressure groups that avail themselves of
protest and political diplomacy in securing concessions on the behalf of deprived
constituencies, often find themselves negotiating away rights of the least influential or
functioning as unwitting informants to those in power, seduced by the sense of
importance these relationships convey. A local organization I once worked with became
so obsessed with obtaining official approval for human rights that they agreed to a
compromise with the Christian Right to delete equal rights for homosexuals from their
resolution to the county council. As I later learned, the organizations immigrant leader, a
refugee from Central America, was being strong-armed by the INS and FBI to report on
the groups members who spoke against US foreign policy.
Without the active participation by broad segments of society in the vital discussions
of self-governance, autonomy and accountability are unlikely to obtain. Even wellintended, altruistic pressure groups can make things worse through their doctrinaire
reaction to frequently fantastic interpretations of frightening behavior, rather than through
action based on research, critical thinking, analysis, and careful preparation. Moral
theatrics may be gratifying to the self-righteous, but they often get in the way of efforts to
develop reflective, self-disciplined, popular education and community-building networks
that act as a defense against subversion of self-determination.

48

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 in the US. As such, an examination of the methods and devices of the
public health model deserve further attention.

49

PART FIVE

METHODS AND DEVICES

50

Chapter Fifteen

Research
As noted in part two, the successful application of the public health model to
ideological disease control depends on the early detection and analysis of organized antidemocratic aggression, systematic study of and intervention with vulnerable populations,
and educational campaigns aimed at broadening public support for the investments
required. In this chapter, we examine the essential integrative techniques used to
construct the working relationships needed for building a community of sociopolitical
health practitioners.
The first thing to recognize in this endeavor, as noted in chapters three, six, and seven,
is that this is sensitive, potentially dangerous work that should not be undertaken
haphazardly nor alone. The creation of enduring institutionalized programs critical to its
effectiveness, as explored in part four does not come about by bureaucratic meansthey
are created from the ground up, and rely on the participation of local moral authorities.
Consequently, concerned citizens as well as community organizers interested in
personal security, movement continuity, and a politically healthy community, must
establish and operate within a network that involves intentional collaboration between
churches, schools, human rights groups, neighborhood associations, labor and civic
organizations, and individuals who perform research and investigative functions. The
face-to-face networking that takes place in communicating the need for and agenda of
such a network is the adhesive of community-building. The glue that holds us together as
a communitywhether local, national, or globalis our hope for a better world, and,
perhaps more practically, our fear of disaster.

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Lengthy discussions, socials, and workshops organized around timely, accurate, and
relevant information that makes a community threat visible and understandable generates
concern and allows a nascent network to determine its educational and organizing needs
most likely to lead to effective community action. Local research linked with regional
and national resources provides historical background and political context, as well as
presents options and locates targets for this action. Network solidarity, cemented by wellarticulated ideas and based on the experience of other communities, then becomes the
foundation for engaging in personal reflection and community education.

Chapter Sixteen

Education & Organizing


Once a network has determined its educational needs, it can pool connections and
resources to provide opportunities both separately and jointly for their organizational
members, depending on the focus and comfort level that exists. Initially, the delivery
style, references, and language used may differ significantlyeventually a mutually
recognized set of values and purpose will develop.
Individuals and groups within the network will progress at their own pace in absorbing
and adapting to altered perceptions of society and conflict. Network leaders who monitor
and communicate this progress can best determine when and how their group is ready to
act. Cross-pollenization between groups both accelerates the progress and breaks down
barriers or misperceptions between groups that previously received only mediated
impressions of their new allies. Public events that promote core values already shared by
the network nodes serve as recruitment tools that can funnel the unaware into educational
functions where deeper discussions that lead to conversion take place.

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The private and popular education functions undertaken by the network thus become
central organizing tools based on ongoing research and analysis in which all movement
participants play a role through observation and dialogue. The formality or informality of
the network is less important than its functionalityactive communication will lead to
some kind of community action.

Chapter Seventeen

Community Action
Community action, whether a containment, prophylactic or remedial intervention,
involves high profile events and public dramas that also serve as educational and
recruitment venues. As such, they should be approached and designed with the assistance
of people who have connections and experience in public relations, theater, media, and
education. Plans, materials and scripts for associated press conferences, speaking
engagements, and literature dissemination should be strategically developed. Timing and
sequence of delivery, when rationally executed, helps to minimize confusion as well as
disarm opposition.
Sticking to the network-adopted mission and objectives reduces the likelihood that
wedges can be driven between network participants. Pre-selected, well-recognized
spokespersons trained and prepared to deliver the message with confidence and
conviction helps to avoid losing the initiative by lapsing into a defensive posture.
The first public impression of the meaning and importance of the action can not only
be manufacturedit can help determine the course of the ensuing conflict and
community discussion. Self-restraint, a sense of humor, and controlled righteous
indignationbeing firm on principle, but fair in application--are powerful attributes

53

when delivered by or with the consent of visible moral and religious authorities.
Subsequent cycles of analysis, action, and reflection can then reinforce individual group
actions initiated within the new political context, with the initial joint action and theme
serving as the touchstone. Continuous network communication allows for spotting and
assessing opportunities for advancing its agenda, extending its influence, and
consolidating its power.
Three case studies reviewed in my undergraduate survey report, detailed further in the
archives of the participants, provide concrete examples of the public health model of
community organizing in action.

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PART SIX

CASE STUDIES

55

Chapter Eighteen

Western States Center


The Western States Center, a Portland, Oregon independent non-profit research,
education, and training institute, in response to fear-mongering and scapegoating by
resource extraction employers in the Pacific Northwest during the 1990s, initiated the
Wise Use Public Exposure Project. The project was initially built on a formal
collaboration between Western States and the Montana State AFL-CIO, in a partnership
around opposition research and organizing strategies to defeat what they mutually
understood as a political movement with strong resource, industry, and corporate support
that was anti-labor and anti-worker, as well as anti-environmental.
In addition to providing factual analysis to labor, news organizations, and government
agencies that explained the market forces behind the demise of the timber industry and its
impact on organized labor, the center offered alternative scenarios for resource
management that would be less disruptive of the resource dependent communities. But
most importantly, the staff of the center made an intentional effort to establish a working
relationship with religious leaders and environmental organizations involved in the
political turmoil surrounding protection of the Spotted Owl and wild salmon.
The outreach undertaken by the center staff, based on the dissemination of the results
of solid research, and multi-directional communication that included many conferences
and informal group discussions, culminated in the formation of the Institute for
Washingtons Future, which comprised formal collaboration by the State Labor Council,
Washington Association of Churches and Washington Environmental Council.

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The educational programs conducted in churches and labor halls, statewide, led to the
development of a political agenda for the provision of immediate relief to affected
families and communities, as well as lines of communication between previous
adversaries for developing additional political remedies for diversifying rural economic
development. This agenda was then brought forward jointly before the state legislature,
which subsequently funded new programs in job training and environmental restoration
projects that targeted unemployed loggers, miners, and resource dependent communities..
When Western States success resulted in demands for research assistance that
exceeded its capacity, it began to provide research training as well as training in such
areas as fund-raising, organizational development, and leadership. Many of the
organizations it worked with early on were not socially based or engaged in community
organizing, particularly the advocacy organizations that relied on legal and media
strategies, and consequently had difficulty in building power and succeeding on their
issues. Reluctance on the part of these organizations to reconsider their fundamental
strategic approach, according to Western States researcher Tarso Luis Ramos, is based on
a very mistaken notion of power--that information alone is enough to discredit
illegitimate arguments or organizing efforts.
While many grass roots groups Western States worked with lacked the resources to
support independent research, they did become aware of its value in broadening their
recruitment, outreach, and view of potential allies. Thus the importance of linking
community based organizations with regional, national, and freelance local researchers
that can help move their agenda forward. To do this, it is important to link research to
strategy development, defining research needs in relation to that strategy.

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Key to Western States current efforts at stabilizing rural communities, is the


continued involvement of religious leaders and environmental lobbyists who help provide
an ongoing prophylaxis through community discussion and public investment. A new
focus on understanding the role racism plays in hindering recovery from economic
transition, combined with their annual week-long training conference in Portland, allows
Western States to bring together the emerging citizen leaders from throughout the region
for workshops that teach public skills and encourage organic activists to do such things as
run for public office. The networks fostered by these gatherings provide both perspective
and moral support for these individuals who often feel under-appreciated or overwhelmed
by the challenges they face daily in their home towns.

Chapter Nineteen

Center for New Community


The Center for New Community in Chicago, that has a 20 year history of organizing
farmers and the religious community to deal with the collapse of family farms and the
decline in rural America, has two essential projects: faith-based community organizing,
and a broad-based Building Democracy Initiative (BDI), that brings together religious
and civic groups to build effective moral barriers against hate. Operating in 16 states in
the Midwest, and three foreign countries, it focuses on research and monitoring of white
nationalist activity.
BDI, based on a belief that white nationalism requires a broadly anti-racist and antifascist local response from young adults, religious organizations, media, government civil
and human rights commissions, and law enforcement, focuses on reaching out to
constituencies targeted for recruitment by the Right. BDI staff begin by locating local

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leaders who are initially willing to speak out, providing them with research and
organizing support, leaving the development of rhetorical strategies to these leaders who
can speak in a rhetoric that resonates with the particular constituency.
Working in a region that has become a dumping ground for the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, in providing factory farms with cheap labor, BDI tracks nearly
400 white nationalist groups. Initiative training involves a mixture of opposition research,
propaganda analysis, and investigative techniques, depending on the needs and the
interests of the people involved and what theyre facing in their community, as well as
putting it into a framework of how to look at the situation, and what good research can do
for them. The training has helped BDI establish a regional network of organizations that
keep an ear to the ground doing local research, while continuing to develop themselves
organizationally. This base of people, trained in research, allows BDI to look around and
strategically target new problem areas, using locally generated incident reports.
BDI does organizing in a way that respects the importance of research and analysis
within groups, that helps reach a balance between the individuals and the thinking of the
group as a proactive organization, that promotes unity and diversity in a community, as
well as part of the group, that wants to spend more time doing the reactive anti-fascist
work. BDI staff thinks the two views are complementary, and that as long as respect for
the importance of research is built in from the early going, a balance can be maintained.
One of the more fascinating aspects of BDIs work is the interaction generated between
mainstream and fundamentalist churches around Christian Identity, a biblically based
white supremacy ideology. Leadership coming entirely from the religious community, in
towns such as Quincy, Illinois, has been able to turn away Christian Identity leaders, to

59

completely keep them out of town. While issues of abortion, homosexuality, or racial
equality may have to be left to another day, a broad swath of the religious community has
come together to say no to demonization and organized violence. In the case of Christian
Identity, it has been particularly useful to show fundamentalist churches how they were
singled out by identity doctrine, and the potentially tragic impacts this can have on
families. Racist beliefs are one thingacting on those beliefs using violence can result in
the loss of life, employment, and personal freedom.
Having a network in place, and having the research to support claims, has been an
essential component of building trust and credibility for BDI as a media source. People
associated with BDI in local communities can then frame stories more appropriately,
helping to avoid the marginalization by media of the allies they need in order to portray
their opinions as representative of large portions of the community. By knowing its
opposition, BDI associates know whom its going to be impossible to work with, as well
as which constituencies those groups are trying to recruit. They can then employ a
strategy to isolate the source of the hatred, and inoculate the potentially vulnerable
constituencies by helping them understand the issue before the other side does.
Consequently, BDI can do educational and organizing work to move beyond short
term problems. It can do better advocacy, because it knows in advance the arguments the
other side is making. It can also plot a better course in dealing with conflict because they
know what their opposition is up to. One learning technique used by BDI is to conduct
workshops involving people from other communities that have dealt with similar
problems. They film peoples stories, take them on the road, and write about them in the
BDI monthly action report.

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BDI staff emphasize the importance of conducting good research, respecting its
findings, expanding institutional memory to keep the information brought in through
research and analysis, disbursement of the information, and internalizing it enough to
keep the information flowing beyond any single persons involvement. By developing
financial and organizational stability, groups avoid ad hoc responses to incidents. By
being engaged with regional and national organizations, they share information that may
be vital to another community. This in turn helps to maintain perspective for those who
might be tempted to think their local community is representative of the entire world.
As BDIs experience demonstrates, research capacity within an established community
based network can be an effective safeguard against obstructionist or subversive
interference. Equally valuable lessons can be drawn from unprepared communities that
had to scramble while under attack.

Chapter Twenty

Public Good Project


The Public Good Project, a networked pro-democracy think tank based in Bellingham,
Washington, served as the primary research source investigating the subversion of county
level self-government throughout Washington State by national Wise Use operatives
during the mid 1990s. The political undercurrents and illegal covert mobilization efforts
of trade and industry groups that surfaced in the Growth Management conflict,
particularly in Northern Puget Sound, are instructional for the type of research needed to
detect fraudulent popular movements, that often incorporate hidden agendas and
plausible deniability to protect the real beneficiaries.

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Public Goods 1995 report, Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound, uncovered these
economic links and exposed the methods used to incite anti-Semitic, anti-Indian, and
anti-environmentalist individuals and groups to threaten and intimidate political
opponents of the trade and industry groups involved. The documentation and analysis in
this report, that examines the relationships and dynamics between business associations,
media, political parties, government bureaucracies, law enforcement, and advocacy
groups that allowed this tragedy to happen, pays attention to both the unlawful,
unprosecuted activities as well as the legal but deceptive strategies used in the multiple
coups detat of state and county governments.
Similar in many respects to the methods used by our current U.S. President in
obtaining the reins of power, the documentation and exposure of these sordid deeds
served initially to invite moral condemnation and community organizing, later followed
by legal sanctions, destruction of some political careers, and a handful of convictions of
the most violent offenders. It is a story that continues to play itself out a decade later,
ideologically, politically, and socially, as communities experience mixed success in
overcoming initial misperceptions and prejudices, especially where media participation in
the hoax was most egregious.
Nevertheless, the public health model in essence worked, not prophylactically in this
case, but rather by post outbreak research and analysis, containment through exposure,
and rapid response educational efforts through pre-existing advocacy networks, and later
through religious and civic organizations. Linkage with religious and human rights
organizations provides some degree of confidence that future recurrences might be

62

prevented or dealt with in a manner less traumatic or disturbing to democratic institutions


and the peaceful, civil functioning of communities.
To understand the challenges faced by freelance researchers with insufficient
resources, social support, or community mobilization capacity, one needs to realize the
reluctance of enforcement agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, public disclosure
and electoral commissions, or the FBI to get involved in the prosecution of crimes that
finance the political activities of anti-democratic groups. Presidential pardons and
Supreme Court rulings that reward white-collar crime only mirror what happens routinely
at the state and local level. Given such a permissive climate for organized white-collar
crime, law enforcement agencies might understandably ask themselves, why bother? In
the worst of cases, police are actively involved in cover-ups and political harassment.
Confrontation in these situations is essential both for bolstering public servants integrity,
and for lifting the veil of denial that is more pervasive than not. Even in liberaldominated communities, where such things as cross burnings or Skinhead riots are
unimaginable, privilege and its partner oppression maintain an unhealthy environ in
which political violence can flourish when under stress.
This state of affairs does not excuse official laziness or corruption, but does point to
the need for communities to protect themselves and to organize to exercise what political
and moral influence they can muster.
Confronting misbehavior by commercial interests is difficult enough, but when
commingled with racist right-wing ideology and activists many of whom have suffered
organic brain damage, uninformed liberals who look to diplomatic or law enforcement
models will soon find themselves in confusing and dangerous circumstances. When

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government fails to assure people basic human rightslike being safe from attack
networks through social organizations, like churches, provide some degree of security
and resources that can be mobilized.
The reason advocacy groups do not conduct opposition research is that their models of
society do not work. Consequently, there is a tremendous amount of re-education or even
de-education that needs to be done first. Usually people do not do any research at all.
They have what, according to Public Good researcher Paul de Armond, amounts to an
ideological response to the problem in a complete vacuum of information. In
confronting right-wing demagogues, he says, liberal groups frequently get involved in
ineffective responses because they dont know what theyre up against.
Media usually makes matters worse by interviewing clueless people quoting other
clueless people which becomes very circular and hard to break. Operating within a
corporate status quo bias, reporters and editors who view the world more broadly are
filtered out of the hiring and advancement process. Those who are willing to adapt avoid
fundamental issues that address oppression or privilege. On top of all this, concentration
of media monopoly and bottom line emphasis put severe restrictions on time and other
resources available to reporters, who are often young, ignorant, and lacking in
experience. The natural thing for them to do in this situation is to simply phone
prominent activists and recognized authorities to ask their opinions. The he said/she said
articles that substitute for research and hard facts are then edited and titled by superiors
who know what will not offend the local political and economic bosses who provide the
bulk of advertising revenue. By the time this process runs its course, readers are left with
little substance and often a distorted view of reality.

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In the case of the rebellion documented in Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound, the fact
that the real estate development industry was directly responsible for the property-rights
insurrection, that unleashed a white supremacist/militia horror on 14 counties, placed
many reporters in an impossible situation. In several instances, such seemingly venerable
institutions as the Chamber of Commerce, Building Industry Association, and County
Council were actively engaged in promoting racism and in defying state and federal laws.
Beyond the comprehension of most liberals, this disorienting new reality also, upon
reflection, pointed to their complicity through silence. In Ordinary Men: Reserve Police
Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, author Christopher R. Browning observes
that as a methodology, the history of everyday life becomes an evasion only if it fails
to confront the degree to which the criminal policies of the regime inescapably permeated
everyday existence under the NazisNormality itself had become exceedingly abnormal
(xix). The preexisting normalcy prevalent in Puget Sound, relied on habitual opinions
promoted by business through media. Arguments in favor of preserving such a perverse
Establishment, that includes both liberal and conservative privilege, thus serve as hosts
for pathological developments when inevitable social tensions arise. Actors and agents
may exhaust themselves, returning communities to this comforting, familiar normalcy,
but unaltered host conditions that neglect communal health only guarantee future
outbreaks of disease.
By focusing on policy to the exclusion of process, advocacy groups like League of
Women Voters or Common Cause, perceived as guardians of democracy, fail in this task
because they are not engaged in opposition activity. They are engaged in political
diplomacy. Hence, much of the training work done by Public Good is of individuals

65

already persuaded of the importance of opposition research. Acting from the public health
modelwhich is to look at the causative mechanism, how the behavior is transmitted,
and what sort of interventions can either prevent or modify itenables these individuals
and associates to respond to the pathology of violence and intimidation that prevents
community participation and conflict resolution.
Institutional change, currently based on the four inapplicable models, is a long way
off, says de Armond. Government and philanthropic funding is almost exclusively
restricted to the four ineffective models. Training around pressure group tactics used to
get laws passed that will not be enforced might be considered a waste of time. Even
human rights groups that do good training and education devoted to tolerance often view
their work in building contacts with law enforcement as educational, when, in fact, they
are often being used as an intelligence sourcefor political intelligence. The buy-in by
most of middle and upper class society to the American system of inequality,
wastefulness, and environmental insanity, required to sustain the existing systemwhen
combined with the enormous resources of the primary beneficiaries of the system
creates a self-perpetuating mechanism that can only be interrupted by severe economic or
moral crisis. The global system of exploitation, however, is so engrained in the American
means of survival that moralitya deep questioning of our humanityis our only hope.
In Marcuses view, In the face of an amoral society, it [morality] becomes a political
weapon(8).

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PART SEVEN

PROGRAM PROPOSAL

67

Communicating Social Transformation


Introduction
Contrary to claims that political non-participation by most Americans is an indicator
of widespread apathy and cynicism, I would argue that the choice to refrain from activism
and the duties of citizenship is largely a symptom of the terror deeply embedded within
the collective psyche of a society held captive by the fear of punishment administered by
the Free-Market system. What is significant, in my opinion, is the degree to which some
highly-motivated Americans, as citizens of a state of unparalleled privilege, have
nevertheless demonstrated a willingness to risk economic punishment or social exclusion
compelled exclusively by conscience.
When we examine selected social justice movements in American history, the
recurrent basis for engagement is concern or survival; for commitment, a conviction
based on values, rooted in morals, and expressed in our religious, ethical, and legal codes.
The crucial question raised by such acts of altruism is: What structures and methods
have successfully inspired the requisite confidence and courage within these individuals
to articulate and act on their convictions?
Global liberation and self-determination movements, of the last two decades in
particular, demonstrate that the primary obstacles to engagement are ideological, and that
the primary task in overcoming these obstacles is a communicative one. Organizations,
nations, groups, and networks that have managed to facilitate open, uncensored,
unmediated dialogue and discussion, through which group wisdom and collective values
are expressed, have consistently generated the empathy, understanding, and insight
needed to dream of a better worldand more importantlyto attempt to bring these
dreams alive.
The challenge for academic institutions devoted to training and nurturing agents for
social change, is in providing programs that focus on the specific tools these agents will
need as teachers, organizers, and inspirational leaders engaged in strengthening civil and

68

indigenous societies. It is my hope that the program outlined in this proposal will be a
useful contribution toward that goal.
Summary
Communicating Social Transformation comprises six seminars that examine key
factors influencing public participation in the democratic process. The purpose of these
six complementary courses, that, combined, might constitute the core of a graduate level
degree program, is to spark discussion of and experimentation with strategies and tactics
that foster continuous societal debate, dialogue, and discussion regarding the
development and implementation of public policy, active resistance to oppression,
internal truth and reconciliation, and the restoration of honorable relations between
nations. In short, the program focus is on the art of facilitating citizenship.
The program includes analysis of both theory and case studies of the civil society
process of communication essential to breaking the cycles of misinformation and
spectacle generated by state and market sectors, fundamentalist religions, synthetic ngos,
and criminal networks. This knowledge of communication provides a bridge that enables
a social base to find expression of their values and beliefs in a way that leads to
organizing groups and networks, which in turn facilitate democratic community action.
By examining historic examples of communicative projects that moved groups from
apathy or cynicism to concern and commitment, activists and potential activists enrolled
in such a program could become acquainted with the means by which discontent can be
channeled into productive avenues for changing society.
Each course contains readings that relate theory with methodologies used by various
groups in communicating their claims to economic, civil, and human rights in a manner
that generated discovery, revelation, excitement, engagement, and commitment. The
program, adaptive to both formal academic and informal popular-education settings,
builds on social and political awareness gained through academic as well as experiential
learning, and is designed for enriching feedback and interaction between these two
spheres.
Graduates of such a program will have gained an appreciation of alternative
approaches, models, and venues in seeking accountability from power-wielders, mastered
the tools needed for accurately assessing the political sophistication and assets of

69

constituencies, as well as learned to do, discuss, and respect the results of research and
analysis critical to functioning better and surviving longer in such hostile settings.
Course Descriptions
The Public Health Model of Community Organizing
Case studies, combined with interviews of political researchers and organizers
engaged in monitoring and exposing anti-democratic groups and movements in the US,
serves as the foundation of this course. Candid reflections on the strengths and
weaknesses of community-based research in protecting democratic electoral,
administrative, judicial, and legislative processes from subversion provide sober analysis
of obstacles to self-governance. Successful methods are explored in detail, with an
emphasis on comparison of commonly-used models of engagement.
Social Movement Development
This course focuses on the dynamics of movement growth and interaction that
positions groups and networks advocating social or political change for opportunities to
seize power or influence. Using such examples as the world indigenous movement and
the transformation of American conservatism, studies look at structural and historic issues
that serve to further or hinder a groups goals.
Society in Conflict
This course provides a framework about societal evolution and the emerging types of
organizations societies are building, with a focus on the movements that launch processes
by contesting established orders, rules, and cultures. Particular attention is given to the
generation of uncertainty, complexity, and turbulence in society as resource management
regimes require greater organization. Dynamics embedded in this framework and some
future implications are discussed. Fresh insights into the influence of organized crime on
governments, financial institutions, and above world enterprise are also reviewed.

70

Grassroots Communication
In this course, techniques used to communicate with each other as well as the outside
world are examined through the experiences of such groups as the World Indigenous
Movement, Latvian Independence, Polish Solidarity, the American Negro Revolution,
Italian Social Centers, Palestine Liberation, and Argentine Neighborhood Assemblies.
Emphasis is on integrating formal academic disciplines and perspectives with the
informal, often tense setting of poverty and malign neglect. Comparisons of
communication in violent, non-violent, and hybrid insurgencies and movements are
particularly instructive when viewed in light of the lessons examined under Society in
Conflict.
Psychological Warfare
Psychological warfare, which includes the use of propaganda analysis and
intelligence, focuses on the analysis of basic deceptive devices as used in World Wars one
and two. As an approach to the study of current social issues, familiarization with the
planning and operations of this type of conflict enables activists to be better shielded
from this kind of assault, as well as prepared to use these methods on their opponents.
Analysis of Popular Education
This course examines, through case studies, methods of assisting marginalized and
oppressed peoples to participate in the development of the educational tools they need to
organize themselves into socially-based activists. Attention is given to the analysis of
social control by looking at the effect on society of the sacredness of illusion, in which
simple images become effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

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Sample of Possible Course Readings


The Public Health Model of Community Organizing
Wise Use in Northern Puget Soundde Armond
Research as Organizing Tooledited by Taber
Betrayal of Trust--Garrett
Social Movement Development
To the RightHimmelstein
Anti-Indian Movement on the Tribal FrontierRyser
The Formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples--Sanders
Society in Conflict
Tribes, Institutions, Markets, NetworksRonfeldt
Networks and Netwarsedited by Arquilla & Ronfeldt
Managing Global Change--Gerlach
Grassroots Communication
The Free Speech Movement & the Negro RevolutionSavio, Walker &
Dunayevskaya
Poland: The Making and Unmaking of the NewsBesser
Lessons from LatviaCakars
Electronic IntifadaOnline
Psychological Warfare
Psychological WarfareLinebarger
The Fine Art of PropagandaLee & Lee
Peddlers of Crisis--Sanders
Analysis of Popular Education
Society of the Spectaclede Bord
Pedagogy of the OppressedFreire
People Power ChangeGerlach
Prison Notebooks--Gramsci

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Course Justification
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. Scrutiny of movements, actions, and fundamental
conflicts in multiple eras, societies, and venues provides a context for engagement that
enables both holistic thinking and critical examination of often unquestioned perspectives
and personal positions. 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: Our collective, globallyinterdependent ideological and sentient well-being depends not just on autonomy and
accountabilityit depends on systematic prophylaxis exercised by civil society. Without
it, our mutual destruction as a speciesfrom either microbes or nuclear warheadsis,
indeed, assured.

73

CONCLUSION
In writing this paper, it was not my intent to downplay the need for institutionalized
law enforcement, military preparedness, or political diplomacy. Nor was it my intent to
disparage the important efforts of those engaged in social reform. Rather, it was my hope
to examine these approaches vis a vis their ability to protect society from obstructive or
subversive interference that threatens public participation in the regenerative process we
call democracy.
Analyzed from a functional standpoint, it was my expectation that they might be better
understood as models of engagement. Critiqued for their weaknesses, I hoped to provoke
reflection on the need for examining these models within a political context that has an
historical background. Doctrine and dogma is, in my experience, just as debilitating to
reform as it is to reaction.
Contrary to popular views, I contend that what is needed is more thought and less
action. The regular undirected or ill-considered expenditure of energy through ineffective
models produces frustration, that, when repeated, can lead to cynicism. To overcome
forces of reaction requires careful preparation and education based on a clear
understanding of the spectrum of opposition to democracy, its agendas, and its methods
of operation.
It is my opinion that to be prepared for fundamental conflict with an opposition that is
determined to dominate not only our society but the entire world by any means necessary,
organizers need to consider and develop research and analysis capacity in a manner
similar to intelligence and security capabilities conducted during military warfare.

74

Mastery of ideological warfare is what has enabled a minority of aggressive elites to rule
it is the field of battle where political outcomes are determined.
To wage ideological war against those who are terrorizing the entire planet requires
serious disciplined investigation and study--not sloganeering, hyperactive zealotry, or
fear-mongering. Those are the methods of militarists and colonialists bent on preventing
open inquiry and freedom of expression. My faith in humanity to resolve conflict when
the white blood cells are functioning depends in part on my ability to persuade readers
that the public health model is appropriate for circumscribing political violence.
That it must incorporate tactics from the other models as well as acknowledge its
location in a world where the operations of these other models are taken into account is
assumed. That we live in a world of perpetual trauma where the temptation to shut down
emotionally is great, and impatience and argumentation has intensified to the point where
many no longer want to stop and listen to the grievances of the deprived, must be
approached in a way that gives people comfort and peace of mind, that restores their
psychic well-being. Peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace buildingthe public health
model of social changeis a philosophers task. The task is to honor our collective
wisdom.
Leadership is not the ability to get people to follow you; it is the ability to inspire
confidence in others to act on their convictions by helping them articulate the beliefs and
values they hold dear. It implies trust and care, generated by honest and open dialogue,
through which the group wisdom expressed by a leader is composed. This in turn
becomes the basis of the power to endure and create. By exercising this power, we gain
empathy and understandingthe insight needed to dream of a better world. The

75

dynamics and relationships explored and communicated through open societal discussion
bring these dreams alive.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bellah, Robert N.. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life.
Berkeley: UC, 1985.
Berlet, Chip. Personal interview. 10 August 2001.
Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final
Solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993.
Burghart, Devin. Personal interview. 20 July 2001.
Capdevila, Gustavo. UN Human Rights Commission Begins Year Without U.S. Albion
Monitor. Online. Internet. 16 Jan. 2002. Available: file://D:\TEMP\triCEKFB.htm
de Armond, Paul. Personal interview. 9 June 2001.
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