LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Those of us, who are old enough to remember the invention of the Sony WalkMan, remember a world before portable music, or portable recordings. For many of us, it was a moment of liberation. All we needed was some headphones and batteries, like the song by Björk. Many of us could listen to all of our favorite music to our hearts’ content. Others of us enjoy listening to news, views, and information. Others purely enjoy subcultures and/or hedonism. Others are civically engaged. Then came the GameBoy and the BlackBerry, but we’ll leave those cultural phenomena for another time.
The rise of podcasts, especially in the 21st Century, in the post-smartphone world, has given people platforms for self-expression. Like Mos Def said in “Fear Not of Man“, if people ask how’s hip hop doing, ask how am I doing? If we ask: How’s our podcast culture doing in America? Ask: How are we doing? How’s our American culture doing? If we’re full of hate, our podcasts are going to be full of hate. If we’re full of love and at peace, then our podcasts are going to be full of love and provide some peace of mind for some people.
“Fear Not of Man” (1999) by Mos Def, taken from the album, Black On Both Sides
At any rate, it is advisable for most of us to keep a personal journal of our day to day affairs, thoughts, hopes, aspirations, dreams, and so forth because it helps us clarify our thinking. If nothing else, it’ll give future historians insight into what people were thinking when we kept crashing our economies and our environment, after centuries of colonizing and enslaving the planet. The toxic behaviors continue, despite all of our best intentions.
Some of us wish we would’ve journaled more carefully earlier on. People tried to wake us up. We may find people to the left of us, on the poltical spectrum, who have been trying to wake us up to certain things. Are we still asleep? Eyes wide shut, like Stanley Kubrick? Those persistent leftists haunt all of us because we should be haunted by the ghosts of racism, by the ghosts of imperialism. What did we do to Vietnam? Why did we do that? Was that another form of the American psychosis, which Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges teaches us about? I’m not sure. But if we simply remember our past, we will be much better off than forgetting, like we’ve been trying to do.
We want our eyes wide open. We even want a third eye. As we clarify our individual thinking, we can clarify our group-think in our immediate circles and also our collective thinking. Self-expression won’t be easy. But it is necessary. It is important that you, that we, that working class people, that people of color, tell your own story. We cannot, we must not allow anyone else to tell our story. We cannot allow organic intellectuals and organic grassroots movements and, even perspectives, to constantly be hijacked and co-opted by individuals and factions and forces, who place their sectarian group interest above the interest of the collective whole. We say common sense exposes corruption, which obfuscates, marginalizes, and censors controversial and radical perspectives, especially from a left perspective or anti-capitalist perspective in virtually all American media channels, including so-called progressive channels, even, our beloved Pacifica Radio. KPFA and Pacifica Radio has changed a lot since the 1990s. If you are a young person today, just becoming attracted to calling your representatives, then maybe organizing and mobilizing demonstrations, actions, and all sorts of practices to affect change, and so on, just becoming politically engaged and active, well, you would be disappointed with KPFA and Pacifica, if you could go back in time and experience what it was like back before the 1999 lockout. Back then KPFA and Pacifica used to be called free speech radio, which was a badge of honor. Later, that theme was abandoned in favor or the more watered-down people powered radio. And now the theme KPFA identifies with is vigilant as always. I mean the motto itself already betrays a sense of nostalgia, as if there’s doubt.
The American left, the left in the United States, needs its own radio network. The Pacifica Radio Network used to be the home of the American left in many ways. But, now, the left has been smashed so hard, that we contend it has even been driven out of KPFA and Pacifica. We could share our own personal experiences as evidence. But we want to reach out to others, who have experienced the same thing, who feel they found themselves to the left of the KPFA and/or Pacifica gatekeepers, and then was silenced, marginalized, or otherwise censored on KPFA and/or Pacifica.
We do this because we love Pacifica Radio, not out of any sense of malice or ill will. We do this because we learned from historians, like Howard Zinn and Studs Terkel, that we, especially poor people and people of color, must tell our own stories and our own narratives. We must tell the people’s history of the United States. And the more evidence and documentation and facts and charts and graphs—some people love graphs and they love econometrics—and there’s something to be said for technocratic calculation. But not everything can be quantified through regression analysis, nor needs to be. We don’t need econometrics to see that people are homeless and farmworkers are being abused and immigrants at the border, families ripped apart, mass deportations of Haitians, police state terrorism, American apartheid, the democracy deficit, the budget deficit myth. We can see the ills of society. We just lack vision as to what to do about it. As Americans, we have spun our wheels and, perhaps, become demoralized. The few newcomers, who wash ashore on the activist media beaches of Pacifica Radio find a home, but it’s one, which is not always welcome to the full breadth and depth of what it means to be working class, to be poor, or to truly struggle for freedom.
So, listeners must speak out whenever they feel that their community radio station is failing them. If we listen to NPR, and we feel a certain story was dishonest about something, then we need to call that out. And we need to counter those false narratives because they are more ubiquitous than the well-researched narratives. That also places added pressure on ourselves as well to make sure we have always researched everything before we publish. And, if we must speculate about something, or if we’re unclear, we must always qualify what we mean or what we might still be unclear about. The best expertise is honesty.
“Darkness” by Black Uhuru
For many of us brown people, the story of Black Lives Matter is also our story because brown people are also gunned down, both black and brown. If we look closely, we suppose that we’ll find that poor or low-income white people are also being gunned down by cops. We aren’t really hearing reports of an epidemic of cops gunning down rich white people or CEOs or elderly white women. The abuses of police power seem to have been concentrated, or targeted, squarely on people of color and low-income communities. That seems to demonstrate a particular agenda. And what agenda might that be? Well, it appears to be an agenda, which enforces preferential treatment for the ethnic groups of European descent in America. But the agenda, we contend, is broader than the racial divide because Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have demonstrated that assimilation does not equate to liberation. So, we contend that the core of the agenda, which is being advanced is a pro-capitalist agenda, out of which all of the other evils flow, such as racism and patriarchy and imperialism and materialism and decadence.
“Umi Says” (1999) by Mos Def, from the album, Black On Both Sides.
“Sometimes I don’t want to be bothered
Sometimes I just want a quiet life, with
Me and my babies, me and my lady
Sometimes I don’t want to get into no war
(Black people to be free, to be free)
Sometimes I don’t wanna be a soldier
Sometimes I just wanna be a man, but
“Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
(I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free)
My dreamers said shine your light on the world
(Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free)
Shine your light for the world to see
(Want black people)
My elders said shine your light on the world (Hey hey)
Shine your light for the world to see…”
[6 FEB 2021]
[Last modified on 6 FEB 2021 at 07:21 PST]