Archive for Activism

On Loving Conformity

Notes from the forthcoming “PoPoMo Manifesto” —

Dorothy Gambrell’s Cat and Girl, if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, is a webcomic diamond in the rough. I was reading through the archives the other day and there’s this really awesome one that she does where she introduces the idea of Strummer’s Law, which states that —

Any rebellion against external conformity just reinforces internal conformity.

Which, while initially sounding like something profound and non-obvious, actually makes alot of sense when you think about it. In substance, the underlying principle of Strummer’s Law greatly resembles the Uncertainty Principle of Relationships, which states that —

One cannot define relational momentum and position simultaneously. For a relationship to exhibit motion, it must become ambiguously defined. Similarly, for a relationship to become more discernable, it must by necessity approach stasis.

That is to say, tautologically, that once you know for sure what a social phenomenon is, it ceases to change, or show unpredictability of behavior. Or, in short, that the act of defining defines — it sets boundaries on what something is. Strummer’s Law just states that rebelling against something requires the rebels to enforce some standard on themselves, to define who they are as a community.
In doing so, the community of rebels requires its members to be a certain way, follow certain rules, or believe in certain credos. Indeed, the very act of advocacy is a call for conformity. That is, advocacy is the act of expressing that others should. True, maybe a different code of conformity than what is commonly enforced, but a code of behavior nonetheless.

Of course, there’s an asshat meta-ing that you can do with this argument too. That is, that even advocating for choice is in itself a kind of conformity (conforming to the need to choose). Simply put: believing in ‘freethinking’ is just as constricting a belief as less traditionally free doctrines.

This much is a pretty unoriginal old hat critique on counterculture. What’s more interesting, I think, is how one deals with this.

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A Brother Nathanael Post-Mort

Some of you may remember that I blogged a few weeks ago about Brother Nathanael’s week-long incredibly inept hate-mongering one-man protest against the ACLU where he sported cowl, big ass cross, bike reflectors, and a huge “ACLU JEWS ARE ANTICHRIST” sign.

He recently scored an exclusive interview…with himself…about his protest of the ACLU. It’s been posted to his livejournal — which features a whole new crop of insane MS-paint composed collages and incredibly leading questions.

It’s awesome: a little like watching someone really getting into talking with themselves.

And here it is.

Vaguely interesting tidbits, after the jump.

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The Gerrymandering Game

Sam recently brought this to my attention. Educational AND awesome. You get to play a dirty politician denying people their voting rights by redrawing district lines. What could be better???

The Redistricting Game

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Why Harvard Needs The Culture Jam

Although by now it’s no longer accurate to hip-smugly call the culture jamming/Reclaim the Streets movement “underground” (Banksy was in the New York Times and the Yes Men were in the Washington Post for god’s sake), it’s critique, so nicely put together by Naomi Klein in her canonical No Logo, is still pretty terrifically viable despite coming together close to a decade ago and being severely rhetorically ripped a new one in Heath’s The Rebel Sell. In its broadest construction, the idea is pretty simple: we used to have a public space, which provided the positive room for discussion and creativity. But this got enclosed. We need to take it back.

Though it applies broadly to all sorts of situations, I think Harvard itself desperately needs active culture jamming, if not only because the space it creates is so symptomatic of this critique.

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My Way or the Pie Way

I was reading Ourspace by Christine Harold and found mention of this most excellent culture jamming group, the Biotic Baking Brigade. Their tactic is simple, beautiful, and…uh…delicious. When a politician, businessman, or public figure does something out of line, the Baking Brigade reprimands them with a simple pie to the face. An example:

Yep, that’s Micro$oft CEO Bill Gates with a lot of pie all over him. Other victims have included: Willie Brown, ex-mayor of San Francisco, Fred Phelps, Milton Friedman, etc.

Christine Harold makes an excellent argument for why this type of silliness is actually a more effective culture jamming strategy than, say, the glossy parodies of Ad-Busters. She refers to a pie in the face as “visual Esperanto”. A review of this book is DEFINITELY forthcoming.

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Brother Nathanael vs. the Anti-Christ (ACLU)

BREAKING NEWS: The law offices of the ACLU are officially being protested by Brother Nathanael, dressed in a black cowl and brandishing a “ACLU GAYS ARE ANTI-CHRIST” sign. The interview with him is awesome.

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PETA is Crazy

So, I think the idea of animal rights makes sense.

For example, clubbing baby seals — there’s a reasonable case for that being kind of mean.

But, taking someone’s grandmother’s corpse and holding it hostage = not so classy.

Plus, get this — it’s illegal too.

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