Monday, January 23, 2017

Political action 2017

I might calm down on politics-schmolitics again here for a bit. Not because I'm trying to make or keep friends, be less "divisive" - ugh! - or anything like that. For now, I think Robots are taking your job is the most important political thing I have to say personally and I'm willing to stand with that as the last thing I say about any of that for a while.

I also might fail at this. It happens.

Now, I'm going to say something about the Women's March. Well, a couple of things, I suppose.

First, it was great. Obviously.

Vastly more people came out to protest the inauguration than came out to witness or celebrate it. A wonderful statement was made. I commend everyone involved for their action in making their voice heard and presence shown in opposition to the inauguration.


Second, can we try something new? We don't need to stop marches and rallies necessarily, but maybe calm down on them until we think of what we might accompany them with that could have a stronger affect.

Back in 1991, I took part in a couple of protests against the first Gulf War. Despite my initial excitement to take part in something like that, it didn't take long before I was turned off. First there was the useless twits who did things like complain about the vulgarity in "1-2-3-4, we don't want your fucking war." Man, do I ever want no part of solidarity with them! Complain about the triteness of using a slogan from a past war and I'm on the same page. Complain about the vulgarity? Fuck off!

But even after resigning myself to that crowd, I found myself disappointed in the futility of it. By that time I had already read Abbie Hoffman's account of his actions on behalf of the Save the River organization during his time in hiding, I believe in The Best of Abbie Hoffman. One of the things he discussed, and reflecting back on much of his earlier philosophy as well, was to find new ways to be noticed, not to just show up. Nothing about these protests showed any sign of being new or interesting. They were covered briefly on the news, but merely as an expected consequence of a new conflict.

Since then, this has become more obvious to me. The WTO Protests in part went wrong because the Seattle Police Department, in trying to accommodate the protesters, didn't play their expected role of arresting protesters who lay motionless for all to celebrate their martyrdom, so the protesters escalated their action in order to get arrested. It's supposed to be a well-oiled machine, although one of little interest to those not participating, because it's a show we've all seen before.

Occupy Wall Street did a fantastic job doing something new and interesting. It drew a lot of attention for its novelty, as well as many of the ideas it put forth. In the end, though, it kind of just petered out, though, and now the crooks on Wall Street are more powerful and entrenched than ever.

So, the Women's March is a great start. We opened with our big hit. We played it as well as we've ever played it. The audience stomped and cheered.

If we're playing the Oldies Circuit, rocking state fairs around the country, just trying to make each other smile and cheer, then we should keep going just like this. That's fine and dandy. I certainly have no issue with literal bands doing that to spread joy, but you have to stop and realize your time to change the world is done in order to do that.

If we want a new reaction, to change the world. If we want to challenge people and have a new reaction, we need to try new material. Perhaps we need even profoundly new material. Perhaps our existing repertoire simply isn't good enough, or appealing enough to a large enough plurality of the country, to play big halls in 2017.

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