I first encountered Dave Berman after the 2004 Presidential
election. He had been writing about election integrity - and the lack of it - for years. I've invited him to talk about what he's up to now. Welcome
to OpEdNews, Dave. The subtitle of the second volume of We Do Not
Consent* is "Advocacy Journalism for Peaceful Revolution." Could you
please define advocacy journalism for our readers? And peaceful
revolution, for that matter.
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journalism means transparent use of media as an organizing tool to
create the change we want in the world. The transparency is really key
as it sets apart true advocacy journalism from the propaganda of the
corporate/military/government/media juggernaut that pretends to be
neutral and objective ("fair and balanced") while actually deceptively
advocating for parameters of acceptable debate and even the nature of
reality. The juggernaut has made truth into a wedge issue by creating
a rift in the perception of reality.
revolution may sound grandiose but can actually be rather small,
sometimes on the individual personal level. With credit to Rebecca Solnit's "Hope In The Dark," I define it as a change in
the relationship of power between We The People and the juggernaut.
The success of advocacy journalism should be judged entirely by its
ability to create the change aimed for. So when we use advocacy
journalism successfully, empowering citizen journalists and independent
media makers and even communities, we are changing that relationship of
power with the juggernaut. In other words, advocacy journalism is
inherently a peaceful revolutionary tactic.
Let's go back to something you said about wedge issues. What do you mean exactly by that?
Wedge issues are usually thought of as things like flag burning,
affirmative action, gay marriage and abortion. These are reliably
trotted out to divide the public and I think this is well understood
now. Truth as a wedge issue is more insidious because people on both
sides of the rift in the perception of reality are convinced the other
side is being deceived. Information falsely sold as "fair and
balanced" (it goes way beyond just Fox) is being intentionally used to
create the rift as a means of keeping us divided and therefore less
likely to unite in peaceful revolution.
examples of issues that help create the rift in the perception of
reality: election results that can't be proven, yet get reported as
fact; the official story of 9/11, which is full of contradictions and
scientific impossibilities leaving unasked questions a greater enigma
than unanswered ones; devolving matters of science into differences of
opinion, such as denial of climate change, the health risks of tobacco,
and the health benefits of marijuana. This is all historically
classic as the function of propaganda, which is never expected to
convince everyone of the same thing but rather to leave the public
divided about what is really going on. This is at the heart of what I
have called the Cold Civil War.
Can you give us some concrete examples of the ways advocacy journalism can make progress towards peaceful revolution?
Consider the phrase "weapons of mass deception." Say that to anyone
and they know you are talking about the corporate media and
consolidated control of information. Recognizing that media are being used as a weapon against us, we must then protect and
defend ourselves by turning that weapon around and using it as a tool
for our own good. Like I said, advocacy journalism is inherently a
peaceful revolutionary tactic. Perhaps that is more conceptual than
More concrete would be the Project-Based
Format. This is how I think an advocacy journalism talk show should be
run. Ideally it would be web-based video and audio, integrating all
available media and social networking tools in an interactive and
collaborative program that actually does organizing work, completing
public service projects, especially ones that help people and
communities create sustainable and equitable ways of life independent
of the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut.
I've been talking and
writing about this vision for seven years, including in We Do Not
Consent, Volume 2. During this time I didn't have the means to
directly pursue the talk show so the least I could do was write. I
wrote about the work I was doing for election integrity, peace,
veterans issues, media reform, and generally strategic thinking about
peaceful revolution through advocacy journalism. I recently exited a
business partnership that is allowing me take this all to the next
level now through my new video website, ManifestPositivity.org, which aims to turn itself into this talk show.
I can't wait to see how this spins out. Let's back up a bit. Could
you talk about how you came to activism in the first place, Dave?
I suppose it started for me on November 28, 2000. The Gore/Bush
election results were still in the air and I wrote an essay saying the
process had made any eventual outcome illegitimate, concluding: "either
foreign powers will choose not to recognize our next government or the
entire world will be complicit in our illegitimacy. Either way, it
would not only serve us right, it will be what we deserve." Those
words were seeds that rooted subsequent years of focus on election
integrity, particularly emphasizing the meme that election conditions
give us "no basis for confidence" in the reported results.
co-founded a citizen watchdog group called the Voter Confidence
Committee and wrote the Voter Confidence Resolution, which was adopted
by the City Council of Arcata, CA. A version derived from that was
also adopted in Palo Alto, CA. I worked with election integrity
advocates throughout CA and across the country, doing lots of writing,
public speaking, and media appearances, my earliest advocacy journalism
efforts, chronicled on my first blog, GuvWurld, and distilled into the
first We Do Not Consent book. I became a big fan of the Declaration of
Independence, which says government legitimacy derives from the Consent
of the Governed. Our Consent is now being assumed and taken for
granted, rather than sought and given. So We Do Not Consent, my second
blog, was always about shattering the assumption of our Consent, and
working to withdraw our complicity from the things that do us harm.
Dave with Riverside CA's Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE
includes staying in a perpetual state of fear and anger, which is
constantly stoked by our corporatist, militarist culture of
sensationalized consumerism. With inspiration from people like MLK,
Gandhi and Michael Franti, as well as personal growth from reading
books like Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth," and Rob Breszny's "Pronoia,"
my work for peaceful revolution now comes from a place of love at ManifestPositivity.org.
Do you feel that the public is frustrated enough to actually see that
we have legitimate grounds to disengage from this government which does
not represent us? Is that why you include the Declaration of
Independence in your book? It's so eerily similar to our present
I agree the patterns of abuse outlined in the Declaration of
Independence resemble today's America. I've seen this connection for
years, and have been writing and talking about it since I started to
see it that way. That's why the Declaration appears in both of my
As far as public sentiment, I want to believe
enough people have "had enough" to be ready for peaceful revolution on
a large transformational scale. Ready or not, climate change and a
completely unsustainable economic system requires fundamental change
right now. There is a saying that when the people lead, the leaders
will follow. So as a matter of strategy, we are better served changing
what we ourselves do, rather than continuing the unsuccessful and
essentially futile task of asking or lobbying or even demanding change
from the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut. A leopard can't change its spots and you can't
get blood from a stone. Insert your own metaphor here. Just don't
keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Tell our readers about the "least you can do" challenge.
It is really more of an operating strategy than a challenge. The
idea is that big picture goals are achieved in a series of steps so
plan campaigns and choose tactics by identifying the least you can do,
and committing to doing at least that much. When I have a daunting
task, or I'm juggling too many things at once, I often pause to find
clarity this way about what to do next. It is a great simplifier.
is also part of getting people involved, overcoming apathy or
complacency. You can't ask any less of someone than the least they can
do. Now I'm seeing a movement toward "micro-actions" at sites like The
) and IfWeRanTheWorld.com
I think this stems from the same premise, asking people to fill their
sporadic idle moments with quick acts on cell phone apps. This could
represent back-end infrastructure for the type of talk show I'd like
Many people know the name of Malcolm
Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point," but perhaps do not recall the
subtitle: "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference." The least you
can do is a strategy meant to consciously cultivate a path to a tipping
point. This also involves the three principles of a well chosen goal,
meaning choose "least" acts that will: create an immediate tangible
impact; cause ripple effects of future influence with a cumulative
impact; and address the relationship of power between We The People and
the prevailing power structure. As almost a bonus, my experience has been that using
this approach repeatedly results in my "least" increasing.
Thanks, Dave. Let's pause here. When we return for the second half
of our interview, Dave will explain the philosophy behind Manifest
Positivity, how to avoid burnout, and more about withholding consent.
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