Archive for the ‘ashley sanders’ Category


The Said and the Unsaid

January 26, 2009

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 “Enough, one must go on, these are things that one thinks but does not say.” –Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

“It was their everyday duty.” –Primo Levi, on Nazi brutality

I recently read the morning paper. I shouldn’t have done that. I also recently read Survival in Auschwitz, by Primo Levi. I shouldn’t have done that either, but for different reasons: it demanded too much grief and asked too many questions. Less recently, I went to a public meeting about a new pet-coke plant that Consolidated Energy wants to put next-to-the-refinery-next-to-the-freeway-next-to-the-asthmatic’s-worst-nightmare. I also shouldn’t have done that, and not just because it involved fighting odious big business practices, but because I never feel as lonely as I do in political meetings where everyone agrees with me.

There is a connection between the shouldn’ts, but that will have to wait.

This time there were about 500 hundred people who agreed with me. They had brought signs and their kids, and also their kids covered in signs that said things like: “Don’t make me breathe dirty air.” The Department of Environmental Quality was leading the meeting, and a sad-looking man behind a microphone was trying to assure people that, not to worry, the coke plant wouldn’t exceed DEQ standards and that – even though pet-coke was the dirtiest residue of the fuel extraction process, and even though it would be shipped across the country in open-air train cars, and even though the area surrounding the refinery already was three times the limit of normal air quality levels, and even though the citizens wouldn’t even get the power that was generated, and even though we did not need another power plant, and even though the world was rife with alternatives – he was bound and obligated to approve it. The man was summarily booed, and by people who had never said boo in their lives before: booed by women with acrylic nails and tiffany heart bracelets next to a man with coveralls and a trucker hat, also booing.
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January 14, 2009

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“A real revolution turns things upside down; it gets at the root of a problem or radically includes or excludes a new or old idea. What we got from Obama was not a revolution, as even a cursory study of his own centrist, American-myth-heavy rhetoric would attest. What we got from Obama was just what Adbusters (glowingly) said we got: a President who used technology to speak to us in a language we understood.”

It’s inauguration time, and you know what that means: last chance to board the bandwagon headed toward happy delusion. This time around, the Dems have even saved some space for erstwhile opponents—people who can usually keep a cool head amidst all the media hoopla. From the looks of it, Adbusters saw fit to drop their bionic anti-advertising stare and reserve a seat right next to the New York Times and a bevy of other “progressive” magazines that wanted to celebrate the reality they created.

Don’t believe me? Here is the prompt Adbusters sent out to all their meme warriors in holy expectation of the upcoming coronation (an event that, beyond being as transcendentally historical as we’ve been promised, will also usher in a whole new generation):

Meme warriors, cultural creatives and Generation O:

The outpouring of euphoria around the globe following Barack Obama’s victory has raised expectations. Like the president-elect, we (and you) have been calling for change for eight long years. On November 4th we got it, a genuine, bloodless revolution. The question now is: will it amount to anything?
Obama’s campaign benefited hugely from enlisting young voters in the cause. Obama told them that the post-baby boomer era had begun. He challenged their cynicism and spoke to them through their own media: through Facebook, through Twitter. They overwhelmingly gave him their support at the polls. And they won. They won big. Maybe now Generation O will finally drop the hipster pose and become a force to change the world.
For the next issue of Adbusters we want your thoughts and opinions on whether you think Generation O has revolutionary potential.

So I responded. (What pissed-off, media-abused leftist wouldn’t?) Here are my thoughts on the so-called Generation O.

There was something a little less than comforting about the prompt Adbusters used to solicit our thoughts on the revolutionary potential of Generation O. In their solicitation, Adbusters gave a series of givens before asking their readers to answer for the undecided: It was incontrovertible that Obama had contributed to an “outpouring of euphoria across the globe,” that he had been extending the mission of Adbusters by “calling for change,” and that his election amounted to a “genuine, bloodless revolution.” All that was decided. Agreed upon. Now the only question left was whether Generation O would “drop its hipster pose” long enough to carry the revolution forward.

I think Adbusters’ givens beg far more questions than their actual question does, and while the actual question is not whether Obama will bring change, but whether the younger generation will carry out that change, I believe the attitudes Adbusters revealed in their intro to the question are the same attitudes that will keep Generation O from possessing or exercising true revolutionary potential.
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