The Guardian: “Why it’s time to occupy the state” (Russel Brand, are you listening?)
“We believed that, following the street protests, American democracy would have reacted by changing its way of doing things,” Micah White, the former editor of the radical magazine Adbusters, credited with the invention of the name Occupy Wall Street, recently declared. “Now we are realising that you also have to win elections, and you have to govern, not just work against the government.”
White’s comments – which came after a meeting with Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s Five Star movement, the anti-austerity party that won 25% of the vote in the last general election – might appear as a shot in the dark. But elsewhere this electoral turn is already in full steam. Take the enigmatically named X party (Partido X), in Spain. This political formation has emerged out of a wing of the indignados movement, and is tipped to run in the European elections of 2014. Similar to the Five Star movement, the X party’s platform centres on the promise of a new electronic democracy, that chimes very well with the desire for participation expressed in the occupied squares of 2011. Other activists connected with the occupation movement wave – in countries such as Israel, Turkey and Greece – are trying to open up more traditional left parties and to use them to continue where the street movements stopped.
When comedian Russel Brand (who I think is brilliantly witty) publicly notes the defects of our current system, but offers no more serious ideas about how to fix things, by NOT voting, some folks got excited because Brand was “beginning a conversation”.
Of course, not so long ago, Occupy Wall Street “began a conversation”, the extent of which went far beyond Brand’s flash in the pan political notoriety. I’m sorry, but I can’t get all that excited about “beginning a conversation”, in 2013.
Now, when Italian comedian Beppe Grillo not only serves as a lightning rod (in terms of publicity) for populist ideas, but steps up to the plate and organizes a political movement designed to take real political power, and furthermore, achieves a notable measure of success, prominent American lefties seem not to notice.
E.g., here a link to the articles tagged “Beppe Grillo” at truthdig.com. Why don’t you click on it, and see what comes up?
What I get when I click on the link are 2 items, one of which is cartoon. The other one is a serious article about what it would take to govern (the author is skeptical that Grillo’s 5 Star Movement can do so). There is mention about it’s success at the voting booth, but no suggestion that Americans (and others) look to extract anything of value from Grillo’s methodology.
Need I add that the author is not Chris Hedges, who has a column at truthdig.com? The same Chris Hedges who recently admonished us to “pick up our pitchforks?”.
Does anybody beside me not find this just a tidge strange?
ANYWAY, TO RUSSEL BRAND, IF YOU’RE LISTENING:
LEARN FROM ITALIAN COMEDIAN BEPPE GRILLO, AND SEE IF YOU CAN DEVELOP – AND PROSELYTIZE – A MORE INTELLIGENT STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE.