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Wed Apr 18, 2018, 10:39 PM

On the Limits of News Consumption

I believe this online forum offers a good service, a clearing house of sorts for a lot of news (and there's a lot!)

However I'm feeling a certain sadness welling up in me that this community isn't quite as activist and progressive as I had expected. The term "underground", at least since Dostoyevsky's "Notes from Underground", has always resonated with me, but I see more of a mainstream political culture at work here. I'm all for the Democratic party and have great faith in our ability to get out the vote this November and beyond. (You should see the hand-painted sign on the back of my Honda Civic) But the DU seems less about strategizing HOW to inspire voters, and HOW to evolve the Democratic vision, than about something involving news gathering and consuming. It's passive observation of what a horror the Republicans have become rather than a platform for deep dialogue, self-analysis and culture change.

DU's preponderance of news updates and tweet updates is often useful, but doesn't seem to lead to calls for action or serious discussions about social and cultural practices. Whenever I or others have tried to propose actions in this forum (such as anxious calls fir the white community to wake up to its complicity in black oppression) they seem uninteresting to this community. Very few recommendations occur – as if efforts to make change in the streets is less entertaining than the latest Trump-World gaff, or Muellarian sleight of hand. (And believe me, I'm praying for Muellar).

So where's the encouragement of creative resistance? Where's the colorful street actions of Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping? Why is Occupy Wall Street, one of the most profound change agents in our generation, often treated like a gadfly? I was physically there, and in the Philly version, and covered it for a local newpaper. That movement made criticism of corporations and the 1% normative. It broke through our bottled up national fear of discussing class issues. But the flippant comments I've seen about Occupy and other people's actions are often pretty dispiriting. Does anyone understand what I'm talking about?

There's a lot of righteous cussin' on DU, but it's quite en vogue these days (a la Louis CK and Dave Chapelle). I don't get a sense of the deeper human rights movement here (something I was immersed in growing up), nor any flickerings of the creative community cooking up (in our little underground lab), new ideas for the future.

You really shouldn't take offense at these comments, friends. Self-criticism is healthy in a democracy. I could begin with myself and admit to a certain stridency. I could also point out that it's due to losing one job after another, and then my family, due to 9/11, the exploitation of adjunct professors, and being a whistle blower against a corrupt CEO.

So, yeah, I want to see a little more creative noise and invention and strategizing for change. But maybe a different forum would be the logical solution. In the end the Democratic Underground is largely a news clearing house rather than an underground resistance group. There's nothing wrong with that, but I wish it was more proactive and less reactive. More progressive and inventive and less about wagging fingers at Republicans (as unnerving as they may be!)

Any suggestions for change? Or keep the status quo and send this angry American street activist out of the clubhouse?

With love,
Democracy Mouse

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Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply On the Limits of News Consumption (Original post)
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 OP
leftstreet Apr 2018 #1
sharedvalues Apr 2018 #2
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 #3
Willie Pep Apr 2018 #4
DemocracyMouse Apr 2018 #5

Response to DemocracyMouse (Original post)

Wed Apr 18, 2018, 10:50 PM

1. I rely on DUers to parse most of the bullshit news we're fed

This forum has many intelligent and intuitive members who are quick with research and can get to the truth of what the corporate media is spewing.

'Activism' without that is pointless

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Original post)

Wed Apr 18, 2018, 10:53 PM

2. Would love to see a pic of your handpainted sign

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Response to sharedvalues (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 18, 2018, 11:30 PM

3. Oh, hi! Thanks for reading! The sign says:

—WHILE CITIZENS CLASH—
–THE 1% TAKES THE CASH–
—VOTE DEMOCRATS 2018—

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Original post)

Thu Apr 19, 2018, 01:41 AM

4. Many DUers are involved in local politics.

I am not sure about other types of activist work but I wouldn't be surprised if we had many activists here too. But DU is more of a partisan (I don't mean that in a bad way) website and I think that is OK.

There are a lot of activist websites for the Left but sadly many of them have become dominated by cranks who convince people that nothing can be done about America short of an armed revolution (good luck with that), that there is no difference between the major parties and that people should not bother to vote because it is a waste of time. You saw a lot of this kind of stuff in 2016 along with calls to vote for Jill Stein. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these "activists" were conservative trolls trying to convince left-wingers to stay home.

I soured on a lot of activist and left-wing websites in 2016 and came to DU because the discussion is more reasonable and constructive than on many other websites. I don't want to put a damper on activism or say that the Democrats don't have problems and need to develop better strategies moving forward but there is just too much craziness on other left-wing websites and that really turned me off.

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Response to Willie Pep (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 19, 2018, 01:02 PM

5. Thank you. That's a consoling reflection.

I do agree it's important to stay focused on practical solutions (and nonviolent solutions only!). But my concern was that with all these fine minds in the mix at DU we could do so much more than share news bits and comment on them.

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