Tag Archives: self-organizing

Political Connections: Lafayette to Montpelier

19 Sep

On the one hand I’m involved in projects in my neighborhood (Lafayette in Jersey City, NJ), most notably a community garden, but also an anti-litter campaign, and I’m looking to do something with music. On the other hand I just got back from a trip to northern Vermont where I was part of a five-state aggregation of nine musicians that provided music for a conference on Vermont independence, which means Vermont seceding from the United States and establishing itself as a sovereign nation once again (Vermont was a republic between 1777 and 1791).

What do these two spheres of activity have to do with one another? What are the connections?

Some People Links

There is, of course, the fact that I’m involved in both sets of these arenas. I live in the Lafayette neighborhood of Jersey City and am working to make it a better neighborhood. Lafayette’s my home.

I traveled to Vermont at the behest (when was the last time I used that word?) of Charlie Keil, an intellectual and musical compatriot. Charlie is an anarchist, as am I, and a pacifist, ditto. We were both conscientious objectors during our years of draft eligibility. And we’re both musicians.

In particular, Charlie is interested in getting more people to make live music and he’s interested in what he calls a 12/8 Path band, which is a strolling brass band at home in 12/8 time. We’ve played many demonstrations together in New York City, including a large anti-war demonstration prior to the invasion of Iraq and an anti-nuclear demonstration where Japanese and out-numbered everyone else.

But, how’s that get us to Vermont celebrating the future independence of Vermont? Simple, really. Charlie believes in “small is beautiful” and I’m OK with it. Breaking the USofA into a number of smaller and more flexible states seems like a reasonable thing to do. That’s something advocated by Thomas Naylor, an economist and an activist for Vermont independence. It’s Naylor who brought Charlie to Vermont and I came along.

Me and a bunch of other guys. Since this post is about connections I could legitimately talk about these others. But I won’t. For one thing, that could easily go on and on and on as I start moving out along those networks. For another, I don’t know much about most of them except that they’re good and versatile musicians, which I learned from playing with them, some of the for the first time in Vermont. But I’ll mention one, trombonist Steve Swell, who’s sympathetic to Charlie’s politics and mine. You can track his musical links through his Wikipedia entry. Also, Steve’s loosely familiar with my neighborhood as he went to college in Jersey City. Continue reading

Downsize the State: Nothing Succeeds Like Secession

4 Sep

The good people at the Second Vermont Republic are at it again, helping to organize The Third Statewide Convention on Vermont Self-Determination, with a keynote address by Morris Berman (Why America Failed).

The convention will be held in the Vermont State House, Montelier, VT, on Saturday 14 September, 2012, from 9AM ro 4PM (party afterwards!).

Occupy Secession has this to say:

Only in Vermont would it be possible to hold a statewide convention on political independence in the House Chamber of the State House, where the Governor, the Lt. Governor, Council of State, Congressional Delegation, and the vast majority of the members of the State Legislature are all unconditional apologists for the American Empire and vehemently opposed to Vermont separatism. Yet that is precisely what is about to happen in Montpelier, Vermont on September 14th. Not only that, it is the third such convention, the other two having been held in 2005 and 2008. There is no charge for the use of the most prestigious venue in the entire Green Mountain State, because it happens to be the People’s House….

At the end of the meeting convention delegates will be invited to consider endorsing The Montpelier Manifesto calling for the rejection of the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire as well as its rapid and peaceful dissolution. Not unlike the 1963 Port Huron Statement issued by the Students for a Democratic Society, The Montpelier Manifesto is aimed at all citizens of the United States, not just those living in Vermont. Continue reading

Thank You, Anarchists | The Nation

20 Dec

The anarchists’ way of operating was changing our very idea of what politics could be in the first place. This was exhilarating. Some occupiers told me they wanted to take it home with them, to organize assemblies in their own communities. It’s no accident, therefore, that when occupations spread around the country, the horizontal assemblies spread too.

At its core, anarchism isn’t simply a negative political philosophy, or an excuse for window-breaking, as most people tend to assume it is. Even while calling for an end to the rule of coercive states backed by military bases, prison industries and subjugation, anarchists and other autonomists try to build a culture in which people can take care of themselves and each other through healthy, sustainable communities. Many are resolutely nonviolent. Drawing on modes of organizing as radical as they are ancient, they insist on using forms of participatory direct democracy that naturally resist corruption by money, status and privilege. Everyone’s basic needs should take precedence over anyone’s greed.

Through the Occupy movement, these assemblies have helped open tremendous space in American political discourse. They’ve started new conversations about what people really want for their communities, conversations that amazingly still haven’t been hijacked, as they might otherwise might be, by charismatic celebrities or special interests.

via Thank You, Anarchists | The Nation.