Notes on Charlottesville

Dear friends and allies, I am watching the news and considering this moment.

We need all the love we can muster to combat so much hate. I pledge to express more love.

We need brave visionaries in governance. I pledge that The Laura Flanders Show will continue to find and celebrate them.

We need local justice-makers, defenders of the oppressed, and we need them funded. Help us find and publicize them.

Yesterday we were normalizing nuclear war: (just don't condition your hair we were telling the people of Guam). Today it's Nazis. Fascism is not "alt-right", it's fascism. I promise to keep featuring truth-tellers and stand-takers. Name yours.

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LF Excerpts: Music, Spirit & Protest: The Hippie Idea & Climbing Poetree

Can music make a movement? This week legendary music producer Danny Goldberg takes us back to a time when all you need is love was not meant to be ironic. Danny will reflect on the 50 years since the summer of love and go in search of the lost chord the title of his new book. Then from today's music movement scene, Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman of Climbing Poetree talk about their new album Intrinsic and perform live in studio. 

Laura Flanders:This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the summer of love, the hippie revolution. It's also the year that Muhammad Ali was convicted of failing to report for the draft and Dr. King came out against the Vietnam war. In 1967, Stokley Carmichael championed black power. Rebellions in Newark and Watts left those communities in flames. In a time not unlike our own, the establishment was on the rocks it seemed but its critics spoke in no single voice. Would change come through love, through rage, through be-ins or sit-ins? Long time music executive and author Danny Goldberg has returned to 1967 in his new book In Search of the Lost Chord. What was lost, what was found and why go back there? Goldberg is also the former CEO of Air America radio and the author of Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit. Danny, welcome back to the program. Glad to have you.

Danny Goldberg:Hi. Thanks for having me.

Laura Flanders:Good to see you. Were you a hippie? Do you think of yourself as having been a hippie?

Danny Goldberg:I identified with the hippies. It was a funny word. It was really a media creation of some columnist in San Francisco and people always had mixed feelings about calling themselves hippies at the time but in retrospect, of the different tribes as they said that existed then, I'd probably identified a little more with the hippies than the others.

Laura Flanders:So what did the media get wrong in our understanding of hippie, that word, media creation or not?

Danny Goldberg:Well, I think over the years it's become dumbed down to a kind of cartoon version that consists of just long hair on guys and slang like groovy and cool and far out and the Cheech and Chong type stoners and those things were part of it. People did get stoned. The guys did have long hair. We saw the Beatles were attractive to girls with longer hair so we all said "Let's try that."

Laura Flanders:Reason enough. 

Danny Goldberg:But to me, at its core and the subtitle of the book is 1967 and the Hippie Idea and why I coined that phrase was that behind those symbols which very quickly became passe, co-opted by commercialism and predators, behind it to me was a spiritual movement, that it was a reaction against materialism and in some part for some people a reaction against the religions they were born into, but one of the reasons to go back in time, hopefully not just nostalgia although there are people of my generation that we do like kind of reliving those moments, is to identify human things that aren't dependent on the 24 hour news cycle or the fashions of the day that are the same really in some ways from decade to decade and century to century and that ebb and flow in mysterious currents.

And the idea that there was more to life than just how much money you made or what university degree you got was a revelation to a lot of people in the sixties which was coming out after all of the fifties which were known as the sort of Mad Men materialistic time and between the suspicion of authority that was bred by the war in Vietnam which for many of us was incomprehensible, the upheaval involving race relations, trying to finally remedy this horrible legacy of segregation, slavery in the country, the early stirrings of feminism and the gay rights movement which came a little bit later in terms of the public eye but were obviously bubbling up in the culture at that time and the sudden availability of psychedelics. It was a lot going on. 

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LF Excerpts: Reality-based Economics with Renegade Economist, Kate Raworth

Throw out what you think you know about economics. This week, self-described renegade economist Kate Raworth of Oxford University explains how to think like a reality-based economist. And two ecofeminists, one from South Africa the other Mauritius, share a chat under a tree about Marx, feminism, and life on the planet. 

Laura Flanders:Throw out the growth curve. Embrace the doughnut. What the world needs now is planetary, not flat-plane economics. That is the message of a new book by self-described renegade economist, Kate Raworth. For too long our mind's eye map of our economy has been all wrong, she says. Simplistic on its face, wrongheaded in what it tries to depict, and altogether not helpful to a reality-based world with limited human and planetary resources. Lucky for us, Kate's got a fix, seven ways to think like a 21st century economist, and as befits her concern with images and maps, she has sketched out a new picture, not an ever-rising takeoff line or even a humpbacked cosmic curve. It's concentric circles, hence the title of her book, Doughnut Economics. Raworth's an advisory member at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute and teaches in its masters program for environmental change and management. She's in the United States on a book tour. The book's just out from Chelsea Green Press. Welcome to the program, Kate. Great to have you.

Kate Raworth:My pleasure.

Laura Flanders:So, tell the story of how our map of the economy got so poorly diagrammed and what GIs had to do with it.

Kate Raworth:Well, poor old Simon Kuznets back in the 1930s, the American government asked him to come up with a measure of national income, which he did. And he said when he first produced it, "Don't mistake this for the welfare of the nation." His caveat got put aside because once there was a single number of what the economy was worth and you could compare it to other countries and look at it year and year, we got hooked on growth.

Laura Flanders:And you had that nice little upward going on.

Kate Raworth:That's right. So, this curve. The picture of what economic success looks like in our minds is this ever rising line that just goes up, up, up, up. Endless growth.

Laura Flanders:And what's the problem with that picture?

Kate Raworth:The problem with that picture is if you think about nature, 3.8 billion years of experimentation, nothing in nature from your children's feet to the Amazon forest, nothing grows forever. Things in nature, they grow, healthy phase, but then they mature and come to thrive. What I find extraordinary is that when I studied economics at university and I'll bet anyone studying now, the question as to whether an economy comes to a maturity point and then thrives, it's not asked. What if the economy can't grow forever? What would it look like to create an economy that didn't try to grow forever, but that it thrived? I think these are questions we need to start asking.

Laura Flanders:So, what does it matter if we have a wrong image, and hasn't it been corrected and debunked and challenged?

Kate Raworth:So imagery, what I've learned is imagery is incredibly powerful, and if you open an economics textbook it's full of words, it's full of way too many equations, and often there's a little picture on the side as if just a mere illustration, but any neuroscientist will tell you that over half of the nerve fibers in your brain are serving your visual cortex, and any image goes into the back of your brain and it sit there. It lingers like economic graffiti long after the words and equations have faded. So, we really should pay a lot of attention to the pictures that we use to draw what the economy is and what it's for and who we are and how it works.

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F-Word: On the Side of the Mob - American Interests in Venezuela

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The week was drawing to a close when the news took a turn to the grotesque.  

As he spoke to police officers and sheriffs on Long Island Friday, the President was suddenly talking all about blood.

“Cartels and criminals are preying on our citizens,” said the president, then something about healthcare, then back again to blood. Bloodshed, blood and burning, and something about people stuffed in barrels, and kidnappings and not being nice.

I should clarify. I do try to watch the president as often as I can. He’s the president, after all, even if he sometimes turns your stomach.

From blood, the president went off on a riff about disrespect for the rule of law,  and murder, and butchery and beatings. I was glad there were no children in the room, and frankly, I began to lose track. He mentioned knives and stabbings and peaceful neighborhoods transformed into bloodsoaked killing fields…

“We can not tolerate the spilling of innocent young vibrant people, “  I think he meant blood.  “We can not accept this violence one day more. We can’t and we won’t.”

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LF Excerpts: Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth by Gar Alperovitz

Read the full book for free at The Next System Project

Why is pluralism necessary to guarantee ecologically sustainable ends?

It is nonetheless clear that the profit-driven and growth oriented dynamics of capitalism lie behind a number of our current ecological challenges. Capitalism, however, has not cornered the market on ecologically destructive outcomes. The state socialist experiences were worse in many environmental respects. A systemic design different from both is clearly necessary. It is only through weaving together mutually supporting institutions at a plurality of scales that we can build a truly effective and resilient approach to guaranteeing a healthy planet.

What are the key strategies for environmental protection in the Pluralist Commonwealth?

Above all, EVOLUTIONARY RECONSTRUCTION and DISPLACEMENT are critical. If corporations following narrow profit goals must prioritize GROWTH, disrupt communities, create inequality, and undermine local ecological relationships, new institutions attuned to the environmental ecological requirements of the era in which we live need to become central to development.

At one level this involves the construction of new cooperative, municipal, and state economic institutions. At another level inclusive neighborhood-wide and city-wide OWNERSHIP patterns that directly institutionalize and “internalize” community inclusive values and interests are important. Through the pressures of competition, corporate institutions are driven to reduce costs, dumping pollution and other environmentally destructive outcomes on the larger local, state, or national community. The same is true even for many larger scale worker-owned businesses, which may be forced to reduce costs to compete whether they like it or not.

Broadly speaking a CULTURE of COMMONWEALTH, grounded in a sense of ecological stewardship and shared responsibility, is indispensable, especially if we want to challenge a paradigm that depends on the assumption of unlimited GROWTH and unrestricted consumption. What is required are new institutions that inherently internalize (rather than “externalize’) costs and that are inherently more attuned to ecologically sustainable outcomes. When a local neighborhood or municipal enterprise (or joint enterprise involving cooperatives in a more complex community-related structure) faces a choice between reducing costs and polluting the community or neighborhood, its calculations are different from that of a private firm. No longer can it simply externalize costs by cutting down on environmentally necessary but expensive processes. To do so simply means burdening the community itself with environmental degradation. By virtue of design, community-inclusive economic institutional forms inherently internalize externalities. 

 

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F-Word: The Diggers - The Revolution Will Be Fed

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When you think of the protestants, anarchist politics might not spring to mind. But for the 17th century diggers, direct action was a divine mandate. Planting vegetables on public land as food prices surged, they sought to create a new sort of economy, one that advanced collaboration and equity in a fundamental sense. Their calls for land redistribution quickly irked local landowners, who called on the army to intervene. The anti-gentrification movement of their time, they suffered beatings, attacks from local gangs, and arson attempts -- all at the behest of the lords and landowners who were right then busily enclosing and privatizing public land. As these relentless attacks carried on, the diggers split off and were ultimately evicted. But their legacy continues.

Fast forward 3 centuries, to the 1960’s, and the Diggers in San Francisco were distributing free food to the people who needed it. As Danny Goldberg reminds us in his book, In Search of the Lost Chord, the diggers participated in the Be-In’s that took place 50 years ago this summer. Inspired by the 17th century radical Brits, they didn’t believe in money or commercialism - and they also provided free legal aid and a healthcare clinic that’s still around today. The same period saw the Panthers run free breakfast, health, and dental clinics. An integral part of their plan to meet peoples’ needs while changing the world. Which all leads me back to New Economics. For the first diggers it was a spade, for the second a spoon; what’s our new politics serving up for the people today?

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F-Word: People Who Stand for Justice, Not the Just-Us

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Reproductive justice in action? It looks like bravery. 

The bravery required to stand up for everyone not just a few; for the whole not the fraction or the piece. People who stand for justice, not the just-us approach to something like Reproductive Rights, often meet resistance: We need to move incrementally, say the incrementalists, let’s get the easy wins first, then the rest. So history advances, we’re often told, piece by piece….

Except usually what happens is we get piecemeal progress. Not quite enough to get us what we wanted, just enough to serve a portion of us, for a bit. Attacks usually come, and those who’ve won piecemeal progress find out their movement’s in pieces. Surprise surprise, they’re not on great terms with the ones they left behind. And those they left at the back of the priority line aren’t so excited about being at their back. Which is why it’s important to notice when progressives pull together to go further. In Oregon they did just that earlier this year, with the passage of the Reproductive Equity Act HB 3391 - passed by a 17-13 vote. 

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F-Word: A Hunger Strike Against Inhumane Detention

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Eight people have died in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers so far this year compared to 10 in all of 2016 according to a review by The Daily Beast. 15 out of 18 of those deaths took place in privately-owned facilities. You know the ones, the ones run for profit. In two days this May, two ICE detainees were found dead in one place, Georgia. One 27-year-old, Jean Jimenez-Joseph hanged himself in his cell following 19 days spent in solitary confinement. While Donald Trump's travel ban is on hold, the immigration story seems to have faded. We, the public, know next to nothing about any of these deaths. ICE is required to investigate every death in detention and produce a detainee death report, but generally they don't release those to the public, and when they do, there's no guarantee of coverage, which is part of why detainees have regularly launched hunger strikes to try to call attention to their plight.

Earlier this summer behind the razor wire fence ringing California's biggest detention center, about 30 women went on a three-day hunger strike. They're asylum seekers. They have no criminal records, they said, and still their bail is set impossibly high for poor people, which is what they are. The hunger strikers issued demands that included reduced bail, political asylum, new uniforms, healthcare, and 24-hour access to clean water. What they really want of course most of them is to be released and united with their kids and safe. That's why most of them came to the US in the first place as part of a caravan fleeing violence in Central America.

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July 12 Day of Action for Net Neutrality

Join Battle for the Net tomorrow as they host a day of action to support net neutrality.

The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them

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F-Word: Hell in Hamburg? Stories from the G20.

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It could have been worse. The G20 Summit could have gone swimmingly. 

The tear gas, water cannon and masses of riot police that met protestors at the G20 in Germany cast an unsettling pall over the meeting, that’s for sure. But the stated goal of the G20 was supposed to be “Shaping an interconnected world”. What if they had? 

Money media love to tell history as soap opera. In this season, they are reporting endlessly on the supposed clash between Donald Trump  and Angela Merkel.

In the real world, that boils down to a choice between bullying by a macho spoiled-boy brat, or Merkel’s faux market-driven kind.  99.9999 percent of the world have no dog in that fight; and even less interest in those two bullies connecting. 

Want US/European unity? Reporters on the G20 should have asked the Lampedusa refugees what they think. They’ve been languishing in Hamburg since the US and NATO bombed Libya. Their country destroyed, hundreds of them were forced to flee, first to Italy, then to Germany, where they’ve been told to find work, but denied the permits to do any such thing. So much for Atlantic interconnection. So much for a European Union.   

I was in Hamburg for a night just ahead of the G20 meeting, and one organizer explained pretty convincingly that the main reason Hamburg was picked for the Summit was to pay the populace back for voting against Angela Merkel’s bid to have them host the Olympics. 

In a grand swipe against Free Speech, almost the entire city was declared a “protest-free” zone. Still, hundreds of thousands of protesters showed up anyway. 

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