Where is the left I want to join it?

Thoughts on: The reinvigorating of the common dream and the struggle for a broader collective social conscience.

“Enough of the perfection of differences! We ought to be building bridges.” Todd Gitlin

In Gitlin’s book. The Twilight Of The Common Dream he explains this “obsession with group differences” as the (unintended) legacy of the progressive social movements of the 1960’s, which operated on the principle of separate organization on behalf of distinct interests, rather than a universal principle of equality.’ ENotes  

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From an activist notebook

The term activist is a bit odd as it implies everybody else is inactive, which is far from the case. But for this we will imagine an activist as someone engaged in public life, in political life, is interested in things outside of the private. Should that not be everybody? Is there such a thing as inactivism? After all, to do nothing has as big an impact on things as whatever else happens.

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Today maybe more than ever. So what is meant by activist, or activism, here is a marker to describe those odd people, to varying extents, that have some kind of political obsession. I guess what is meant by politics here needs some clarification to. Politics, in this sense, is what we do together; by discussing things, coming up with ideas consensually, by inclusion and by keeping as many people happy as possible, before making final decisions and acting on them. Politics is the act of engaging in public life. This description for the purposes here, should not be confused with “party politics”, which is something completely different.

So what is activism here, in terms of what has being described above? Well specifically, activities towards implementing ideas that will force institutional change. The banking institutions; corporate institutions, state institutions and the powerful conglomerates, who for profit, ensure that many live in poverty. This is the high end of what needs to be achieved. If we can understand a bit about what is going on up there, we can understand what we need to do down here. This is the bit, apart from the obsessed, where peoples eyes start to glaze over. Attempting to explain to folk who are politically disengaged for many reasons, what is going on up there, in the corporate stratosphere . All they can see is the mad rush of their lives flashing past. All the things they need to do, or would rather think about, apart from, (to them) the abstract and intimidating world of the “activist”. What’s this got to do with me?  A question constantly posed and rarely answered.

The general problem with the activist, (self included) is that they usually know a lot more about what is going on up there, than they do about what is going on down here. This isn’t a criticism of the need for better understanding, more a question of context, more a question of what is needed at this point in time. The question is not only about getting folk away from the television, consumerism and private life into public life, into the community, but also about getting the activist away from academia, social media, esoteric groups, the protest culture and the constant defense of their own righteous position, into the same community. We all need to have things we enjoy doing and that interests us. The point is. If that is all that we are doing, no matter how important we feel it is, we also need to ask. Who, and what purpose is it serving?

“If you look over the developments in recent years, there’s been severe retrogression on economic and political issues, but considerable progress on cultural and social issues.” Noam Chomsky

In other words we are making much progress in cultural change and around social issues. There are a mass of wonderful things going on. But there are two things. Where is the infrastructure work growing out of this progress that will be powerful enough to challenge institutional power, i.e. the banks? Where is the work going on to engage the many ordinary folk we will need to raise to that challenge? In the world of the activist, we can usually fill rooms to listen to and watch how others, in other countries build and raise the kind of awareness and solidarity needed to challenge corporate power. Which is ok in itself. But in our own communities the same handful of folk will turn up when the problem is our own social housing, or such like, that is at stake. Sure there is commendable stuff going on on the ground and much to admire that we should be thankful for.  But it is enough to shift the might of the powerful? To hurt as Michael Albert says, what they hold dear? That will take a massive mind shift in the population, but will still have more to do with practicalities than philosophy. A bit less peer to peering on the network and a bit more education to where it is needed most. By us getting out more, by showing up, by being active, in all the right places.

The following offers some ideas for going forward. Yet again not much is mentioned of building grass roots networks that relate to peoples day to day lives. Maybe that could be part of a shared program?

People for a Shared Program
People for a Shared Program is a place to explore, develop and organise around left programmatic ideas. http://www.sharedprogram.org/#!faq/ryp9j

Intercept?

By Michael Albert
Source Z Communications

Greenwald is as quick, succinct, and clear in conversation as he appears in videos. He stuck me as likeable and certainly not the harsh fellow he is often made out to be. But some of his interview answers were troubling.trigger more text

Greenwald understands the coercive possibilities of capitalist owners or the state curtailing adversarial journalism from above. That is the danger Greenwald believes will not overtake First Look/Intercept because he feels the owner, Pierre Omidyar, is sincerely committed to never imposing restrictions and, more positively, to actively establishing a journalism-friendly workplace.
Keep reading article INTERCEPT?

Open Learning

Free University Open Learning

“Workers City; the subversive past”. 45 mins duration.
A documentary chronicling some ideas around radical Scottish working class history.
Interviews with:

Farquhar McLay, poet, editor of “the Voices of Dissent” and “Workers City” anthology of prose and writing, subtitled the Real Glasgow Stands Up’.
John Taylor Caldwell, archivist, biographer of Guy Aldred and author of “Come Dungeons Dark” recently published by Luath Press.
James D. Young, historian and republican socialist, author of “The Rousing of the Scottish Working Class” and others. Recently working on major biography of Red Clydesider, John Maclean.
Hamish Henderson, Folk collector, songwriter and founder of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University. Writer of such ballads as “Freedom Come All Ye”. Variant Video


Spirit of Revolt Archive Glasgow from City Strolls on Vimeo.

April Third Movement  – Father and Sons

In Fall Quarter of 1968 and the Winter Quarter of 1969, a Public Broadcasting Laboratories team led by filmmaker Don Lenzer followed members of the Stanford Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society to meetings, parties, rallies, and protests. Their 90-minute documentary, Fathers and Sons, was broadcast in the Spring of 1969. While many of us criticized the film for its focus on four male undergraduates, the movie offers unusual behind-the-scenes glimpses of activists in that era. A video of this film is available on YouTube. Due to its length, it has been posted in seven parts:

Go to

The April Third Movement WEBSITE • PSC • 278A Hope Street • Mountain View, CA 94041

Boggs Educational Center Detroit

Re-Imagining Education. Children who attend the Boggs Educational Center walk to school each morning. Some walk with their parents, some with their siblings. This is easy to do; their school is located in their neighborhood.They play on the way, meet up with friends. They say hello to the adults they have come to know while walking this route since kindergarten. They pass gardens that they help senior citizens tend. They may stop to pick a weed or to filch a ripe cherry tomato. They pass art installations that double as functional play equipment and swing or jump or climb. They know all the tricks; they have helped design and build them.From the kids who have attended this school since its inception to the very new arrivals, everyone feels safe. They are surrounded by people who love them and who will look out for them and they know this to be true. They have risen to the high level of academic and social expectations asked of them at their school. The community has also risen to the level of support they need to be whole, healthy, and strong.

Their school does not open at 7am and close at 3pm. Instead there is activity all day and all year round. The school is known for its beauty. Flowers, murals and sculptures decorate the grounds. It is also known for developing the potential of both the children and the adults involved. It has helped to stabilize the neighborhood. Jobs at the school have drawn carpenters, electricians, and artists–who in turn, have wanted their own children to attend. Because of the school, families seek to stay in the neighborhood, passing along news of apartments with decent rents. Once vacant houses are being renovated as community projects to improve the safety and viability of the neighborhood. And there are after-school and summer apprenticeships for older students to participate in its revitalization. The school has improved the quality of life in Detroit.

Math and science concepts are learned from activities that serve the community, from the pond designed and built by the biology classes to the baseball diamond designed in geometry and built by the students. The community is the classroom and the classroom serves the community: trucks from restaurants come to pick up produce the children have grown in the working farm next to the school; peer tutoring sessions are being conducted in the outside classroom built by the students; local teenagers run a day care program so that parents can attend a resume workshop and look for jobs online in the parent resource room. Some kids are getting haircuts at the neighborhood barbershop that was started by a former high school dropout who took entrepreneurial classes at the school. Students and their teachers are finishing up a mural designed by the art class. This mural decorates the playground that was built by members of the community over a series of weekends. Bikes are being repaired in the neighborhood bike exchange garage. Older students teach classes in bike-ethics and safety. Students petition the city for bike lanes and safety curbs on major streets near the school. In the auditorium, kids are rehearsing for the school play. Outside, music is blaring as dancers prepare a routine for a morning assembly.

All around are examples of real-world learning and student engagement, laughter and camaraderie. When there is conflict, the kids are not just told not to fight; they are taught how to work through their emotions and solve conflicts peacefully. The school honors voices, from the youngest student to the oldest, and seeks their input in all decisions that affect the school.

Our students have the academic and emotional tools to create meaningful lives. We graduate young men and women who feel successful whether they attend elite universities or begin self-run businesses in their neighborhood. They view their careers not as a means toward building individual wealth, but as a way of actively creating a just and equitable society.

The school’s students and graduates feel successful because they believe that their existence alone entitles them to be respected; they learn their lives have meaning. Student’s lives reflect an education that respects their unique contribution to building our society. They are not seeking an education as a means to get out of Detroit; they see their education as a means to make Detroit a wonderful place to live.
Place-Based Education

To fulfill our goals, we have selected to implement a Place-Based Education (PBE) program. PBE is a nationally renowned and research-based model that has facilitated high student achievement in areas like Oakland, Louisville, Boston, Portland, and New York City. BEC will pioneer PBE for low-income students in Detroit. PBE immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the school and local community.
Place-Based Education

The following are the principles of the Place-Based Education model:

Learning takes place on-site, in the schoolyard, and in the local community and environment.
Learning focuses on local themes, systems, and content.
Learning is personally relevant to each learner.
Learning experiences contribute to the community’s vitality and environmental quality and support the community’s role in fostering global environmental quality.
Learning is supported by strong and varied partnerships with local residents, organizations, businesses, and government.
Learning is interdisciplinary.
Learning experiences are tailored to the local audience.
Learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place.
Local learning serves as the foundation for understanding and participating in regional and global issues.

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