well, what did you expect from an opera? (truegrit) wrote,
well, what did you expect from an opera?


This past weekend I went with Paper Tiger TV and NYC IndyMedia to videotape at Left Forum. Left Forum is a huge lefty academic/activist conference (mainly academic, I guess) - being there felt overwhelming but also exciting. We interviewed people in our little makeshift studio (see above) and taped some of the panels - cramped affairs in fluorescent-lit classrooms, bless it all... Not to trivialize things, but it was fun to be part of a film crew (even a disjointed ad-hoc one, maybe especially) and to have a press pass and stuff. As you might imagine from such a massive aglommeration of intellectuals and other sorts of smart people, there were ideas bouncing around everywhere. So, here are 18 ideas that were presented to me in some capacity, re-presented here out of context and without any statements of affirmation or denial on my part:

- The environment has to be everybody's second issue. Even if it's not the thing that's most important to you, it should be the second-most important - every issue always comes back to the environment.

- Right-wing anti-semitism (i.e. talk of the one-world Zionist government) is kind of like herpes: it never totally leaves the system, it remains part of the national discourse even when you think it's long gone and then suddenly flares up at inappropriate moments.

- Many of the politics that inform veganism and vegetarianism are reductive and harmful; by saying that people aren't any more important than animals, these approaches equate human and animal experience, and in this sense veganism can be thought to be anti-humanist.

- The left, as it were, needs to get better at giving people reasons to take part in leftist social movements. As it is, the left offers people long, boring meetings, scorn for not being enlightened enough, derision at the religious and cultural things people enjoy, and does not offer enough of a real sense of purpose and progress.

- On the same note, the left needs to make a bigger effort to respect sports and religion.

- Just because Obama's better than Bush doesn't mean he's nearly as progressive as he should be.

- Satanism is a potentially radical religion in that it celebrates the oppressed.

- Communications on the left are plagued with elitism and elaborate rhetoric - that's not how most people talk.

- We can't romanticize the proletariat of the past; the truth is that there are major industries in this country with large collectives of workers (like teachers and health-care workers), even if there isn't the sort of productive manufacturing base that there used to be.

- That said, the global industrial working class is actually bigger now than it's ever been.

- "Middle-class" is kind of an odd label, and it sometimes seems like everyone who isn't either living in a box and eating garbage or flying around the world in a private jet considers themselves "middle-class." One thing that this label does is obscure the extent to which so many people are forced to work, and are 'working-class' in at least that sense.

- When revolutionary movements gain real momentum, they tend to incur the wrath of the police and the military. As such, it would be a very good idea for radicals to befriend police and soldiers and try to get them onto their side. There have been times when the people sent to squelch revolutionary movements refused to do so, because they were sympathetic to the cause.

- There are marked differences between practices of art-making which celebrate radical history, and the appropriation of radical iconography in an artsy way. However, it's good to stop and ask why a political artist may feel that they have the right to use a particular image or symbol that other artists wouldn't be entitled to.

- It's important to remember that there can be such a thing as a politicized artistic practice that isn't just the production of propaganda.

- The postmodernist idea of there being no master historical narrative may have been damaging to contemporary art, as a lot of artists working right now seem to lack the sense that they're a part of a larger, collective history.

- In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, many in New Orleans experienced a sort of spontaneous gift economy based on charity and mutual aid. It remains to be seen if there's a way to harness that sort of energy in the face of larger crises.

- There is such a thing as communities that create alternatives to the economic systems in place - collective ownership of land is a good place to start.

- It may be impossible to sustain global networks of communication and culture if other global systems break down.
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