Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Can We Do?

                                       
                     

                                                             From The Ramparts
                                                            Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                                              What Can We Do?

            There are many who subscribe to the notion "you can't fight city hall" so they deliberately avoid trying solve and resolve problems. That type of thinking negates our sense of  agency, self-determination and our ability to act in our own best interests. I know from experience you can take on the powers that be and affect change!
            The United States is drowning in corruption, fraud, criminality and malfeasance to the point it is obvious to even the most casual observer. This is why so many people feel angry, overwhelmed and anxious about their future. This is why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were able to resonate with people on all sides of the ideological spectrum. This is why Congress is held in such low esteem. This is why so many have opted out of the electoral process and don't vote.  But we already know this, the question is what can we do?
            The corporate media is a propaganda machine that serves as the stenographers and megaphones for the 1%, their minions and flunkies. Their goal is to maintain the status quo. They want us to think we can't win.  What can we do?
            Often demonstrations and protests fail because the government intervenes and break them up like the US government did to the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. But there are other ways to get our point across. During the Vietnam War era people tired of the mainstream media's lies and created independent newspapers dedicated to peace, liberation and truth.
            While some still exist today, the new communications paradigm is the Internet, wreless streaming and social media . We can replicate the efforts of the dissidents and activists of 60's and 70's by creating Websites and social media platforms to get our message out, share our perspective, change the narrative and offer counterbalance to the corporate media's disinformation and propaganda.
            Because of the streaming capabilities of the Internet, we can effectively counter the corporate media's influence at a fraction of the costs. There are numerous Websites, Internet radio and television stations, streaming platforms and services we can use to get our ideas, images, ideologies and information to the masses. Social media is the modern way to galvanize and organize!
             Websites come and go, change is an ever present reality but opportunities are still available.  Since 2000 I have been involved with numerous Internet radio stations, only a few are still operational today. Nevertheless, new technologies and opportunities constantly arise to facilitate, create, produce and share content and I have taken full advantage of them.
            Each municipality, state and the federal government has "right to know" or "freedom of information" legislation. Except for top secret or classified data, you can write to them to request their records, minutes, internal audits and notes. You can then share this information with the community and world via the Internet.
             I have made such requests, fortunately because of a positive relationship a key person at the institution gave me the documents without me having to make a formal written demand.
            In 1971 a group of anti-war activists broke into the FBI office in Media Pennsylvania and stole records that revealed the existence of a massive nation wide surveillance and counter insurgency program called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was one of the major campaigns the US government used to illegally spy on ordinary citizens, disrupt dissident groups, viciously attack the Peace, Civil Rights, anti-war, Native American and organized labor movements. The perpetrators were never caught or prosecuted. I am not advocating breaking the law or violence but there may come a time when it is necessary. Civil disobedience and direct confrontation can be effective means to social reformation and change. Those tactics brought down legalized US apartheid and the Vietnam War! Of course you have to be prepared to face the consequences such as arrest, jail having an arrest record but real heroes have the courage of their convictions.
            Today whistleblowers, hackers and leakers can easily gain access to government, corporate and individual documents and reveal them to the world. We can cut through the government wall of secrecy and get to the truth. We see it all the time.
             You can organize to file a lawsuit or a class action suit to seek redress for an issue. In 2014 I was part of the group of alumni who filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of their egregious neglect of Cheyney University and their failure to abide by a 1999 consent decree agreement to fund programs and renovations at that HBCU. Our lawsuit contributed to the defeat an incumbent governor and brought the new administration to the negotiation table, committed to saving the school.
            When it comes to dealing with corporations and businesses the best way to affect real change is through their bottom line, disrupt their income flow via boycotts, disinvestment strategies and where possible in the board rooms by gaining support of sympathetic shareholders. Since WWII numerous leaders and organizations have successfully used selective patronage and withholding dollars as a means to get the attention of the powers that be. Organizations have led boycotts of cities, voting not to hold their conventions in that town thereby depriving them of millions of dollars and discouraging tourism. These tactics are very effective.
            We are not hopeless nor helpless. There are numerous ways we can take on the powers that be and win. The first and foremost action is, to believe we can.

                                                                        -30-



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