Monday, 13 February 2017

Now What?

So now that all your most childish adolescent fantasies are coming true, and it's up to YOU to save Civilization As We Know It... well, uh, how exactly?

I expect to be wrestling with this question for some time to come myself, but the ideas I'm coming up with so far seem to fall under three general headings.

I'm also giving another plug for Bob Altemeyer's The authoritarians, and Jane Jacob's Systems of Survival. Long reading, but those two books have really clarified and directed my views of society for at least the last decade, and are both highly pertinent to the situation we find ourselves in. Like, seriously, written for it. If you do nothing else, please read those two books.

Continue to Educate Yourself:

No Time to be Nice  Naomi Shulman

On Being Good The Belle Jar

These times require a new language... William J. Barber II (NOTE: contains religious language)

Intolerant Liberals Tucker FitzGerald

Fight Fascists with Mockery not Violence David Neiwert

All of the above and the first 2 links in particular are important, it seems to me, to understanding the reality of being a resister. The point that every-day fascist followers are frequently nice people (as opposed to the political leaders who clearly aren't) is vital to understand. The mere fact of being a nice person may, in fact, lead you to behave in ways that support fascism. It is really hard to stop being a nice person when you have been trained to be one for your whole life. This is particularly true, I think, for women.Making the decision to stop being nice and start being a fascist resister requires working some mental muscles that most of us have not exercised too well.

In my experiences as a landlord, I found pretty much everybody, without exception, was absolutely frightened of any conflict and would go out of their way to avoid any interaction with others that could be interpreted as even mildly critical or confrontational. People would come to me, of course; full of complaints and wanting me to deal with it, whatever it was. So I've had a certain amount of training in telling people things they don't necessarily want to hear. Admittedly I was approaching people from a position of power, but it's notable that nobody ever responded to me with violence, and rarely with threats or insults. It can happen, of course, especially in these times when the nasty are emboldened. But people are generally much less prone to such responses than seems to be the general idea. Stand up for yourself; stand up for others. The more you do it the easier it will become, and it is a genuine contribution to a better world.

Take Actions:

Does going to demonstrations and public meetings actually do any good? YES, IT DOES. Go to demonstrations and public meetings:
 
Rise Up: This is not complicated

It may take only 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator...

We Can't Let Trump Go Down Putin's Path

Contact your government and engage in public discourse. As Canadians, we don't have much input into the American situation, but there is plenty going on here that is wrong and dangerous; now is the time to keep on top of that stuff and contact your MPs and MPPs as appropriate. Give 'em an inch; they'll take a mile. Fight back now.

This one is for Americans, but Canadians should read it too, and consider the equivalent possibilities:

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

Next up, don't buy products made or sold by companies that are damaging the world, as much as that is possible. In a way, that's always the central message of this blog. And as with local food, I try to be in it for the long haul and don't worry about being perfect or complete in my avoidance of products made by suspect companies. A million people eliminating 80% of their purchases of products produced by companies of ill-will would likely be a lot more effective than 10,000 who achieve perfect avoidance - if such a thing is even possible, and I'm not sure it is in the modern world.

We are so much more than consumers, but there are an awful lot of powerful people who regard us as nothing but that... the least we can do is be mindful and careful consumers.

Grab Your Wallet Boycott Tool

In particular the above focuses on companies dealing with the Trumps and so many of them aren't here in Canada. But I do note some that Canadians may have dealings with: Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Hudson's Bay, Walmart, and a fair few others as well. Check it out.

Cultivate Connections:

Don't Be a Bystander  BCRW Videos

Here is a short little video about responding to the public bullying that happens more often when fascists are emboldened. People are often paralyzed by the fact that they have no mental preparation for dealing with shocking breaches of usual public behaviour. Having an idea about how you might act in advance really helps you deal with it if you are there when it happens. (If you prefer, there is a transcript here at Shakesville where I first saw it.)

Other possibilities; look for your local interfaith group and check out what they are doing.

Volunteer for something, somewhere. It's not enough to fight back against what is wrong; it's important to be building what is right as well. It doesn't have to be "political". When Mr Ferdzy got horribly distressed and depressed about the state of the world a few years back, I told him to stop complaining and do something. To my surprise, the thing he chose to do was to go volunteer at a programme that helped autistic and other developmentally delayed children get ready for school, and so once a week he would go off and wrangle 3 and 4 year olds for an afternoon. It was not just a socially useful thing to do, it also really helped cut his feelings of powerlessness and isolation, even though in the greater scheme of things it was a very small action and had nothing to do with the things that originally were distressing him so much. 

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This doesn't seem very well organized or well written to me, but it's what I have at the moment. I have some more ideas that are still percolating; we'll see if I manage to do anything with them.

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