Updated: Feb 19, 2020
A New Tool for Activism!
Do you have parents who are stuck inside the corporate media bubble, who refuse to read or listen to any independent media, who are planning to vote for more neoliberal corporate-supremacist monster parties and candidates whose nomination will doom you to suffering, starvation, world war, and extinction?
Have you been asking them to take a look at progressive political parties and candidates with bold plans to truly tackle the pressing and immediate issues of our time, such as climate chaos, ecological breakdown, and the erosion of democracy - but they're refusing?
Are they hard deniers (e.g. Republicans, Tories, and Fox News Viewers), who openly flaunt their apathy about our future?
Are they soft deniers, who feign *token* concern about our survival, and gladly make affirmative statements about how much they care, but still vote for parties and candidates (e.g. the corporate Democrats and their "centrist" or "center-left" overseas counterparts) who will do almost nothing to save our planet? Are they telling you that the "almost" part is a justification for their intended vote, because "at least they're not doing zero"?
If they are, then they're failing to understand the simple fact that we *don't have time* for their incrementalist approach. The biosphere is in free-fall collapse right now, as we speak, and we will be just as dead under a Corporate Democrat "environmentalist-for-the-cameras" plan as we would under a Republican do-nothing plan. Both lead toward the same result.
We know the story. You've tried to explain all this to them. But they refuse to budge. Not only will they not change their minds, but they won't even *listen* to us explain *why." Have you had this experience? Have you tried to reason with a parent about this? If you have, you likely get one of these responses:
-I have a right to vote for whomever I want! Stop bothering me!
-So-and-So is the best candidate to beat Trump! (or Johnson etc.)! Stop bothering me!
-We have to defeat Trump / Johnson / et-al before we can worry about saving the planet!
-You have your opinion, and I have mine! Stop bothering me!
-Just stop bothering me!
Not only is it impossible to dissuade them from voting for their own children's collective execution orders, but it's impossible to have a *conversation* about it. They won't even sit down and reason with us.
So what can we do?
We have to go to the root of the deniers' dysfunction. What is the root?
It's their media.
All of the deniers - soft or hard - who refuse to reason with us - all of them, without exception - are consumers of corporatist propaganda, fed to them through the behemoth network of billionaire-press conduits like CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and their "centrist" or "center-left" counterparts overseas, along with all of the fake-progressive news sites like Vice, the Daily Beast, Politico, and so forth.
The problem is the media they consume. It's all carefully curated by Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Ag, the Big Banks, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the fossil fuel industry. They're not getting any information from outside of that corporate-approved bubble. They're not bad people - they just have literally no idea what's actually going on in the world.
We need them to start obtaining information from outside their bubble.
But how? Most people in the Corporate Media Bubble are unwilling to listen to anything that doesn't come from the TV. They'll usually say something like:
-I can watch whatever I want! It's a free country! Stop bothering me!
-You watch what you wanna watch, and I'll watch what I wanna watch. Stop bothering me!
-Oh, and YOUR news sources are sooooo much better? They're biased too!
-How do you know whether YOUR sources are truthful?
-Who the hell is __ (insert name of independent journalist), and why should I believe them?
-You're arrogant for thinking you know better than me!
-Stop bothering me!
So... They're voting to kill us... and they won't reason with us about why they shouldn't vote to kill us... and they're unwilling to allow any external information, from outside the billionaire-press bubble, to reach them.
So what do we do? How do we crack this shell?
What do we do with these people? They're holding our whole planet hostage, because a little flashing talking box is telling them to.
And they won't stop watching the box. And they won't let go of power. And we're watching them rip our future out from under us. They expect us to stand by and watch as they burn our world to the ground. When we protest, they call us spoiled and entitled, and tell us to "get jobs." And when we want to talk about any of this - just talk about it - they refuse. Or they talk, but interrupt and talk over us 10 seconds in. Or they listen, but refuse to use logic, or refuse to answer any questions in good faith, and display no sign that they received or processed the things we actually said to them. If we press them to adhere to the protocols of rational discourse, they go straight into evasive maneuvers, personal attacks, shouting, and general verbal abuse of any kind they can find that will knock us off our footing and make us lose our train of thought, until we give up in exasperation. We beg for our lives, and they turn up the volume to drown us out. What do we do? Our lives are what's at stake. What do we do? At what point does it become Reasonable, and within our rights, to forcefully interrupt the flashing talking boxes? At what point does smashing their TV's fall under self-defense? Has it perhaps already? President Kennedy said that "those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."
We have tried every peaceful method we could think of. We've been polite, patient, understanding, gradual, and respectful of their boundaries. We have tried to bring them to the table, to listen to Reason, and talk about these things calmly and logically. And they refuse it all, categorically. They have shown themselves to be completely dismissive of rational discourse, and impervious to even the most fundamental of human instincts: the parental love of offspring. So attached are they to the politico-religious matrix the TV has woven for them, that they're willing to choose it over their offspring. So enthralled are they by the television, that even the cries and pleas of their own children, begging for their lives, cannot dislodge them from their trance. If this were a movie, this would be the point where the hero picks up the TV and throws it against the floor, smashing it to bits.
Well, good news: We don't need to *smash* them - at least not yet. There's another option in between. There is a middle ground. We can non-violently disrupt.
It's called TV Strike for Climate!
(Or "TV-Strejk för Klimatet" in Swedish).
The idea is simple. It goes like this:
1. Compile a short-list of independent journalism outlets that you'd like your parents or relatives/friends to start listening to. It helps to have SPECIFIC ARTICLES and/or SPECIFIC VIDEOS, at least in the beginning. Make a list of about a dozen or so, and try to draw from a wide, representative range of topics - e.g. ecological breakdown, militarism/imperialism, poverty and inequality, factory farming, authoritarianism, the war on visionary plants, persecution of journalists, and so on. Try for one or two videos from each topic.
(If you need a list of good sources, there's one provided at the end of this post).
2. Politely ask your parents if they will watch/read/listen with you. If they agree, then great! Do it together.
3. Afterwards, have a discussion around the table, about what you just watched/heard/read.
4. Ask them to commit the *first hour* of *every day's* media consumption to *independent journalism*. If they're going to watch media, then the first hour of each day of it has to be independent. Non-corporate, non billionaire-owned. And after they spend an hour on that, then they're free to watch some corporate propaganda mill, like MSNBC, *afterwards*. But the *first hour* has to be independent, every day.
Furthermore, ask them to commit to Weekly Mature Conversations, in which you discuss whatever independent journalism they read/watched/listened to during the week. And they have to commit to discussing it *rationally*. See here for guidelines about how to follow Reason in a discussion.
5. They must agree to ALL of the above. If they refuse ANY of #2, #3, or #4, then here's where the Strike / Strejk part comes in:
Stand in front of their television until they agree.
Print your demands on a cardboard sign, like so:
... and stand, with your sign, in front of their TV until they accede to the demands on the sign.
This may sound a little extreme. You might be wondering if it's worth causing such a disturbance this way. You might not want to "rock the boat."
But keep in mind, this is our *lives* on the line here. The life-and-death nature of this battle justifies drastic action. We have good reason to circumvent the "normal channels" of discourse, considering that those channels have proven futile.
Disruptive activism is becoming more and more common these days. As the entrenched powers prove ever more clearly that they will never, ever budge willingly, more and more people are losing hope in the efficacy of established democratic channels. The people of this world are getting ever more desperate to avoid the ecological catastrophe that the deniers are forcing us into. As time goes on, you're going to see disruptive activism become more and more common... and more and more disruptive.
And by comparison to what others are doing - like shutting down traffic in busy downtown intersections - the blocking of a single TV set is practically nothing! This is *light* action, when you think about it. Don't be afraid to use it.
Furthermore, this idea might be *more* effective than what Extinction Rebellion is doing. XR's tactics are great at drawing attention, but terrible at starting *conversations.* We really need to start having one-on-one, substantive conversations with people, if we're actually going to start winning hearts and minds. And TV Strike for Climate is a perfect avenue for that. Once they agree to talk to you, you've got someone right in front of you to have a one-on-one conversation with!
And it's also something that the state can't criminalize. They can make protests illegal, and send in militarized police forces to clear the streets, and they can send in helicopters, and spray gases, and beam microwave crowd-control cannons at us, and throw people in jail for "causing a public disruption" - but they'll never criminalize standing in front of your parents' TV set!
Now... I know what you're thinking.
"What do I do when they demand that I get out of the way?"
"But what if they become physically violent?"
Make them hit their own children. Make them do it.
Isn't there a part of you that's curious to find out whether your parents would actually *hit* you - just for trying to have a *conversation* with them?
Gandhi did it. Indians did it, with the salt march. They stood in a line, and there was a British soldier at the entrance to the salt silo, with a bayonet. They'd march one by one and get beaten bloody. One by one, filing past, for hours, getting beaten up.
If they could do that, you can face one or two parents in a living room.
So make your parents follow through on their threats. Expose them for what they are, *if* that's really what they are.
It's time for true colors to come out. We are in the midst of an apocalypse - but that word doesn't mean what most people think it means. It comes from the Greek: "apo", which means an opening (the root from which we get the "aperture" of a camera), and "calypso", which means "hidden." Apocalypse translates, literally, as "the opening/revealing of that which is hidden." And that is the spirit of the times that we're in now. As the potential end of human civilization approaches, everything is "coming out." And the closer we get, the more the filters will break down, and the more we'll see one another's true colors.
If a parent is really willing to physically attack their child, over TELEVISION, then make them show their true colors, so you can see truly what they've been about, all this time.
"What if they call the cops?"
Well, first of all, some of us are willing to get arrested in the name of climate action.
If we're willing to get arrested on the street, then why not in our parents' house?
Most such arrests result in a single night in jail, and release the very next morning.
The following day, we can come right back!
"What if they refuse to allow us into the house again?"
Make them show their true colors. If this is who they really are, then you'll WANT to see it.
In any case, you can find ways to disrupt them from the lawn. Blow a horn. Speak into a megaphone. Bang on the door.
"What if they threaten to file a restraining order?"
There is a huge difference between *threatening* to file a restraining order, and *actually filing* one.
Make them do it. Make them literally go to the courthouse, and hire a lawyer, and fill out the paperwork, and appear in front of a magistrate, to get it all done. Make them actually file restraining order against their own child.
They're not gonna do it. Parents like to huff and puff a lot. They talk a big game. They like to get all offended and angry, in the heat of a moment, and they'll say terrible things during that heat.
But filing a restraining order requires a *process*, and during that process, there is plenty of time to cool down. Getting emotional and yelling at their kid is WAY DIFFERENT from going through the sober process of hiring a lawyer and going to court. They WILL calm down before they're able to do all that.
Their threats are all bluster. There's no substance to any of it.
We CAN force these concessions out of them. It WILL work. It will require courage, and looking people in the face who are really really angry at you... but it'll work.
And even if it doesn't, it will still accomplish one very important thing: catharsis.
Catharsis is part of that whole "collective mass consciousness healing" thing that everybody knows needs to happen in order for humanity to graduate from civilization school, and become sustainable. And this is a good way to start. This is forcing conversations that have been procrastinated for YEARS. Conversations that needed to be had decades ago. And it would be enormously cathartic to see which of the two outcomes you get when you do it. Does the parent break down and open up? Or do they initiate violence against you (either with their own hand, or the hands of armed agents of the State, summoned by telephone)? Everyone should know the answer to this question, about their parents. Everyone should know whether their parents are willing to hurt them for merely trying to have a conversation. And how far they are willing to go.
The family is an important social unit. Families nowadays are broken and don't talk to each other, and this is a large part of the reason why. We know our parents generation has been ruining the planet and robbing us of our future, and we're angry about it, and this anger underlies so much of the strife within families. In order to heal the strife, you have to address the underlying issue. We have to force this conversation. This is the way in which humanity begins healing.
So try it. It's practically guaranteed to be fruitful.
The media that our parents watch has turned them against their planet, and against us. Because of how this media has programmed them, they're endangering our very survival. We demand that they let other voices in. We demand that they listen. And we demand that they talk to us.
Thank you for fighting for our Planet!
The Earth Party
P.S. Do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase "OK Boomer" during any of the aforementioned conversations.
P.P.S. Here are some resources to help you get started in your conversations:
First of all, if your Boomers are hard deniers (Republicans, Tories, etc.), then show them this:
That's a step-by-step explanation of what ecological breakdown is about.
And if your Boomers are soft-deniers, then show them this:
That's a letter that will explain the difference between corporate Democrats and progressives, and why it's so important.
And without further ado, here is a list of independent journalism sources:
And specific journalists (people who actually GO to where stuff is happening, including active war zones, and report on what they see, rather than merely receiving a script from their bosses or the CIA and then reading it to you):
Professor Richard Wolff
Want a specific place to start? Watch Noam Chomsky's classic documentary, called "Manufacturing Consent", which explains how big business colludes with the major media networks to manufacture consent - YOUR consent - for whatever policies they want to enact, and whatever crimes, domestic or abroad, they want to commit.
That'll get ya started.
Be strong, and be brave!