LUMPENPROLETARIAT—As a decades-long listener of free speech radio KPFA (Pacifica Radio, 94.1, Berkeley, CA), one of the most sincere voices I’ve heard on KPFA is that of one Abby Martin. The reason I say this, despite the brilliant voices for social justice on KPFA (e.g., Dennis Bernstein, Bonnie Faulkner, Nora Barrows Friedman, et al.), is because Abby Martin was one of the few voices I heard in the public realm who made it a point to challenge the USA’s two-party dictatorship as a matter of course. Although she used the term “false left-right paradigm” and I preferred Ralph Nader’s term, two-party dictatorship, we both understood like most people, that the Democrat Party is not the party of the working class. Moreover, we both agreed that there was no reform-from-within solution to the problems of the Democrat Party.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Abby on MediaRoots.org from about 2011 to 2013, when I began studying heterodox and orthodox economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, an economics department, which Dr. Michael Hudson (on KPFA’s Guns and Butter) has called the anti-Chicago School of Economics. (I intend to cross-post or archive my old articles at Media Roots here at Lumpenproletariat, as time allows.)
I joined the Media Roots team around the time that the Occupy Wall Street movement started spreading nationally and internationally. So, Media Roots contributed as correspondents in the SF Bay Area covering the Occupy movements for the global RT (TV Network). A memorable experience was discussing the Occupy Wall Street movement with Alexa O’Brien of US Day of Rage, one of the five or so original groups, which organised the original Occupy Wall Street, including Take the Square, Antibanks, US Day of Rage, WL Central, and ROAR Magazine. It was, ultimately, disappointing that the broader Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t champion US Day of Rage’s platform of pursuing a constitutional amendment, which was like today’s tepid Move to Amend campaigning, but on steroids. The idea is to leave behind our current system of one-dollar-one-vote for the more democratic one-person-one-vote.
O’Brien is still one of my favourite activists because she also has articulated most clearly above all other activist voices today, the problems facing our society. Despite the weak social ties, which plague us as a society (which O’Brien mentioned in the interview I conducted for Media Roots), and despite the lack of expansive group solidarity, O’Brien went on to do big thangs, including suing Obama, alongside Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and others as well as providing “an extensive archive of the only available transcripts of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning’s closed trial.”
RT, eventually, asked Abby to do a prime-time international news and politics TV show: Breaking the Set. Abby kicked ass at RT until, apparently, RT realised that she was too outspoken and posed too much of a PR liability, as Russia’s geopolitical dynamics intensified, particularly in the context of US/NATO imperialism, with the 2014-2015 Russian military intervention in the Ukraine. So, it seems inevitable that the relationship between Abby Martin and RT would eventually strain to a breaking point. To her credit, Abby stuck to her principles and gave the world one of the most candid and sincere public affairs TV shows, probably, ever. Only a Russian international TV network, it would seem, would allow unfettered critique of USA’s domestic and foreign policies on prime-time TV. The only question would be, whether RT would allow Abby the same freedom of the press when it came time to apply the same sincerity to the Russian government.
Even if Abby hasn’t been an academic expert specialising in any narrow field of political science, political economy, or whatnot—and, which journalists are?—surely, we all agree we’d rather have a sincere person on TV than an embedded journalist, embedded in corporate culture. (Abby does hold a degree in political science with a minor in Spanish.) As I mentioned to Abby once, even Amy Goodman’s hallowed presence on Democracy Now! seems to evince Democrat Party apologism. We know Goodman isn’t the only person on Democracy Now!’s board, as her long-time associate Denis Moynihan once reminded me at a 10 Women Campaign Award ceremony in San Francisco when I approached Amy Goodman about the internecine strife within her network Pacifica and, especially, its parent flagship station, KPFA. Amy Goodman, who admirably ambushed Bill Clinton during one interview, remained silent when I did the same. But she is Amy Goodman. What can we do? We must take the good with the bad. At some point, you either play ball or you don’t. But that’s probably why RT decided to do Abby Martin dirty. Abby wasn’t taking guff from anybody.
Abby Martin recently spoke with Joe Rogan again on the Joe Rogan Experience (episode #634). Among many other things, Rogan asked Abby about her rise and fall at RT.[*] (See video here.) In the opening minutes, Joe Rogan said, matter-of-factly: “I’m assuming that everybody who’s friends with you is on some sort of a list.” What else is new?
[*] I haven’t spoken with Abby since I left for university (or scarcely any human beings, given the academic isolation of the proverbial academic reading room).
[last updated 17 APR 2015 11:03 CDT]
[Thanks to RDM for bringing Abby’s new interview on The Joe Rogan Experience to the attention of Lumpenproletariat.]