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(DV) Random: Remember the Bastille







Remember the Bastille: A Response to Mickey Z  
by Jack Random
April 26, 2006

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A recent article by the incomparable Mickey Z in Dissident Voice (“15 Minutes of Radical Fame: America Meets Blum and Churchill,” 4/24/06) raised the question: “Can mainstream exposure to progressive ideas really make a difference?” 

The inquiry garnered responses from a fair sampling of free thinkers: 
Howard Zinn: “It’s only the accumulation of small differences that may occasionally reach a critical point and be identifiable as having been effective.” 
Joe Bageant: “Until Ward [Churchill] is on Oprah nobody will care.” 
William Blum: “Who’s to say what the long-term effect will be?” 
Michael Parenti: “Where in the major media are Churchill and Blum now? Back into oblivion.” 
Greg Elich: “For most viewers/listeners, the ideas are likely to come across as being from another planet.” 
Rosemarie Jackowski: “For meaningful change to occur it will take more than just exposure to a different set of facts.” 
The response that he did not get is: What’s your point? 
The presumed reality of no discernible effect should be liberating. If you subscribe to the Joseph Campbell construct, you choose your part and follow your bliss. If knowing that your efforts are not likely to change the world is sufficient to stop you from doing, writing or speaking out, then you should no longer do, write or speak out. 
We do it because we are called to do it whether that calling is perceived as purely internal or mysteriously connected to external forces. 
The very fact that mainstream media occasionally responds to a radical idea is in itself an effect. Can it make a difference? It must -- as surely as the draft of a butterfly in flight. Whether the net result is perceptibly positive or negative is not only beyond our control, it is not worthy of deliberation. 
What matters is that we are compelled to answer the call. We are moved to fill the void where dissent must be. We take comfort in the numerous dissident voices of the past. As we admire them, so they inspire us. 
We are moved by the possibility, however remote, of a Prague Spring followed in due time by a Velvet Revolution. We are encouraged by the demise of monarchy in Europe and the spread of democracy. We are inspired by the peoples’ movements throughout Latin America. We are heartened by the uprising in Nepal and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine no matter how they play out. We are encouraged by the defeat of Berlusconi in Italy. We are bolstered by the emergence of a million protestors or more from among the most exploited, oppressed and disenfranchised among us: the immigrant army. 
With the decline of support for our president and signs of life in the political process -- John Kerry’s exceptionally late call for withdrawal from Iraq by year’s end and the astonishing passage of an amendment banning permanent military bases in the House -- there are in fact more encouraging signs in today’s political landscape than there have been in decades. 
We should not forget that Ralph Nader’s stated objective in running for president in 2004 was to make an impact on mainstream politics -- specifically, to move the palsied Democrats to the left. 
Admittedly, it has often seemed like trying to move a mountain with a garden hoe. Nevertheless, it seems to me there are finally indications, however subtle or modest, that we are succeeding. Some of the radical ideas we presented more than three years ago -- that the war was predicated on lies and deceptions, that the war itself was a crime against humanity, that the intelligence was not wrong but deliberately distorted, that it was an ill-conceived and ill-fated venture, and that the president himself was an incompetent corporate proxy -- have slowly made their way into the editorial pages and media round tables. 
Is there a discernable effect? There is if we believe there is. We are, after all, creatures of faith. It is our strongest asset and greatest liability. There would be no dissidents, no independence movements and no third parties if we did not believe in the improbable. There would be no American republic, no civil rights, no unions and no women’s suffrage if our forbearers did not believe. 
There are times in history when the iron gates of entrenched power suddenly spring open, exposing the corrupt as vulnerable. The curtain drops and the man behind the mask stands naked before us. It is for us to be poised and ready to lead the wayward masses through the maze of smoke and mirrors, through the gates of oppression. 
The truth is and has always been the most powerful message. It is not sufficient to speak it loudly and clearly. It must be repeated again and again until it finally seeps through the muck of government propaganda. 
As Joseph Campbell said, follow your bliss. 
As Danton must have said, remember the Bastille. 
As Tom Hayden, Jerry Ruben and Abbie Hoffman might have said, keep the faith. 
As the winged goddess of athletic shoe wear is rumored to have said, just do it. 
Mickey Z is a clever man. I suspect that this response or something like it is exactly what he was gunning for.

Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: Random Jack.

Other Articles by Jack Random

* Designated Fall Guy: Replacing Rummy
* Libertad Y Justicia Para Todo!: Liberty and Justice For All
* Barry Bonds and the Steroids Saga
* Defiling the Grave of an American Hero: The Censoring of Rachel Corrie
* Starving the Beast: Programmed Ineptitude
* Constitutional Suspension: An Abdication of Democracy
* Right and Responsibility Depictions of the Prophet Mohammed
* Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan: Challenging the Pro-War Democrats
* The State of the Union: A Stumbling Illusion of Strength
* The Presidential Power Grab
* Surrealistic Pillow: The West Virginia Mining Disaster
* Pataki & Bloomberg: How to Bust a Union
* The Imperial President and the NSA Spying Scandal
* France and the Burning Embers of Repression
* The Activist Court & the Neoconservative Agenda
* The Agnew Factor: Clearing the Impeachment Path
* Iraq and New Orleans: The ABCs of Police Lawlessness
* The Age of Catastrophe: Preparing for Disaster
* No Tears for Rehnquist: The Legacy of a Chief Justice
* Zero Tolerance: Bush Gets Tough as New Orleans Suffers
* Hugo Chavez and the American Slug: Pat Robertson’s Call for Assassination
* The Lie of a Strong Economy (Beneath the Towers of Avarice)
* Fooled Again: Major Party Turnabout
* The New War Candidate: Major Paul Hackett for Congress
* Free Judy! The Fine Art of Calling a Bluff
* Executive Blackmail: The Betrayal of Democracy in Haiti
* Blame the Democrats & Move On: The Federalist Court
* Against the Wind: The Inevitable End of the Iraqi Occupation
* London and Madrid: Reflections on the War on Terror
* Judith Miller: The Anti-Hero
* Schizo Scherzo: The Last Waltz
* The Last Throes: The Light at the End of the Tunnel
* Impeach Bush -- US Out Now!
* Recall the Governator
* The Gates of Hell: Occupied Iraq
* May Day: The Rise & Fall of the Middle Class
* The Papal Aristocracy: Confessions of a Nonbeliever
* No Citizen Left Behind
* A Marine Comes Home: The Untold Story of War
* The Compassionate Leader -- In a Time of Crisis
* In Defense of Barry Bonds
* Defending Dan? Rather Not
* David Went to Canada...& Johnny Got His Gun