Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.'
Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I've Been to the Mountain Top
This event builds on years of organizing, not just demonstrations but organizations. It is not an event coming out of nowhere or disconnected from other organizing work. And, none of us see this event as the final event that will solve all the problems the United States is facing" We see Ovtober2011.org as another event building an independent movement. This even is not about "instant' gratification; it is about persistent, well-informed citizen action that demands an end to war and domination by concentrated corporate interests.
-Kevin Zeese, Organizer, October2011.org
"As the thing started to unfold and there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth. Who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."
These are the words of the former FOX News host Glenn Beck, following the bombing and shooting in Oslo, Norway that left 76 people dead. Never mind the muddled, hate filled mix of Right-wing, fundamentalist-Christian thought of Anders Behring Brevik. Beck draws attention to the Labour camp of young people discussing "politics." It must be similar to young recruits during the Nazi regime in Germany, he tells U.S. citizens! Imagine - young, political activists! They must be Nazis or leftists (not right-wing, corporate enthusiasts, right?). Beck apparently forgot or has never learned that Europe is not the United States!
The former press secretary to Norway's prime minister, Torbjorn Eriksen, responded: "Young political activists have gathered at Utoya for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about"Glenn Beck's comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful" (Washington Post.blog, July 26, 2011)
But that is the way of the world here in the United States. For a group of young people from various racial and ethnic communities to come together to learn a pro-human ideology (democracy) rather than an anti-human ideology (white supremacy) is disturbing! Suspect!
Why, we don't do that here!
No, we do not! We have Anders Behring Breviks here, without the bombs and the gun, average young American citizens, who before the identity of the culprit was revealed, spread their learned hatred of Muslims and Arabs throughout the Internet. Most every story in the first two days was followed by comments suggesting that "peaceful" Norway close its doors to Muslims.
We have, here in the U.S., "camps" of sorts, too, where corporations recruit Black youths and young adults into allegiance with the good old American "get rich quick or die trying" ideology. Total loyalty and total immersion is demanded of this population. Above all, the recruits are taught to think less about the American Past and more about Master as the provider of "success" and "Black progress." Recruits come to understand that "all things corporate" is the mantra for today, the mantra for everyday the corporate sun rises and sets in their world. Democracy is Corporate Style, "dog-eat-dog," cut-throat competition, survival of the most robotic, the most detached. The "way out," as they say, is the way in!
And, yet, these" camps" of Black youths and young adults are not even suspect, let alone disturbing.
In the old days, the slaveholders could spot the enslaved African who could become the most reliable, the most fearful, and the most complacent candidate for the role of an overseer. A little training - brutal slashes to the backs of other enslaved Africans or witnessing the assault of an enslaved woman - could yield a bowed and timid overseer.
The manipulation of the human spirit has a long tradition in the United States!
In a world where Corporate Style is the way of the world, experience living is exceptional living! The "powerful," as they wish to be perceived by the ordinary, are about nothing if not about style.
Kate Middleton's wedding dress is placed on display and even the economically poorest commoner and others in the Western world are expected to catch a glimpse of style.
It is not about functionality but style, and the corporate thinkers have seen to it that style is costly. Style has the support of the ordinary and commoner who have learned to recognize the value of a $300 dollar pen versus a $1 dollar BIC pen as a matter of desire - desire to be an individual worthy of other's attention: I am the $300 dollar item and not the $1 dollar item! I am the extra-ordinary, living the exceptional life!
I am what I buy; and I just do not buy anything! I buy style!
So it is with housing. These days experience living / exceptional living is for you! That is, Corporate Style!
Democratically affordable to all? Democratically livable? Not exactly!
Corporate Style substitutes for "Urban Renewal"; on the surface, it appears to have gone beyond the foul smell of racism that transformed urban blight, the abandoned buildings, the demolished public housing, and the vacant lots " into "Gated Communities," leaving Blacks and Browns scattered in search of other housing. Experience living, exceptional living, so it would seem, is racially inclusive: racism is a thing of the past! Experience living, exceptional living is for you and it does not ask what you want because everyone wants style. Everyone wants the appearance of the powerful: everyone wants to be the powerful!
But, in fact, corporate style is as militaristic a mission for capital as war - perpetual war. It is perpetual racism, perpetual exclusion of the poor, working class, and increasingly, the middle class.
No racial discrimination, of course. Corporate Style does not discriminate!
But check out the building down the street. See our ads: smiling, happy women in bikinis. Follow the extended arm and the finger pointing out the modern, state-of-the-art kitchen and bathroom appliances. STYLE!
Appearance matters! Existing Black management spruces its appearance: hair and hair pieces, straight and long, dyed, shirts to match ties, and dresses, pants suits that say S-T-Y-L-E!
It is Master !
Do you not recognize him? Or her? - appearing in darker shades these days and even in the million-dollar-dress-jacket-look with straight long hair and great long nails. It is the way of the world. A Black young woman of Corporate Style speaks of "our investment" as if she personally owns it, but she does not understand why her Masters trust her to work the existing management staff and maintenance crew to exhaustion. Sixty-day probation for the existing Black management staff and maintenance crew, and everyone knows power has arrived. Come aboard and comply or fly with pink slip in hand! "Professionalism," these days, instills fear!
It is the way of the world , a world in which Corporate Style invests heavily to garner the hearts and minds of the younger generations of Blacks who will not ask questions, who will only desire all things material to fill tin shells where no hearts exist and where they are never on their way to OZ until it becomes a mall. The Black Front, "familiar" faces of today's corporate spirit seeks M-O-N-E-Y! Corporate Style, after all, is about MONEY and the status associated with its acquisition.
Corporate Style dissolves the potential for the rise of a Left Front in the U.S. Its spirit of repression isolates and silences dissent, particularly among Black Americans. Corporate Style is about exceptionalism alright - of the modern-day overseers - trapped by the Master narrative of white supremacy that excludes racial, ethnic, gender, religious, class difference - the majority!
Fascism is indeed friendly looking these days: "mothers," "fathers," "grandparents," "aunts and uncles," "the elderly and disabled." - t here is no community! Move to a temporary apartment in the other building! WE are installing the Corporate Style, exceptional living experience, in your building! Or you may leave! Adios! Goodbye! Plenty of PEOPLE are OUT THERE to experience Corporate Style!
Dirty work for the Corporate Style; storm troopers engineered to produce maximum profits for the Master. Dirty work! Blood money!
But ferocious fathers in the animal kingdom tend to kill their young!
Meanwhile" whites in white shirts with black ties, exiting Mercedes and BMWs and SUVs, "feel-good-today and every day" as they walk past Black tenants of no consequence to the powerful and enter nearly constructed offices. Closed doors and silence. Truck loads of supplies; white contractors too, and buzz saws fill an otherwise tense atmosphere in which mum is still the word .
The corporate "camps" for Black managerial overseers is not disturbing? No, not here in the United States, the home of the democratic experiment!
And not in the city where the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. It is President Barrack Obama's "kind of town," Philadelphia, where the over 40% Black population are residents of the Yes, We Can credo. In this city, where fear limits the small talk to small talk: yes, we can! Obama's the Man!, where you cannot mention Mumia's name and it is Leonard Peltier - who?, a sentence or two about Iraq and Afghanistan, the drones in Pakistan, the support for armed and ethnic killing by "rebels" in Libya is met with silence. Obama's nod to a militarized police state at home and abroad and to a corporatist rule everywhere disturbs the unenlightened listener who cannot believe you! Bring up Obama's name in the same sentence with reference to a militarized police state, and you are accused of repeating right-wing propaganda! Or are you one of those extremists the good secretary of state points to?
After two years of depressing statistics on Black unemployment and the widening gap between white wealth and Black wealth, on the declining middle class, on the number of students no longer able to attend college, on the demise of unions, benefits, and social services, it is inconceivable to envision 100,000 workers gathering in the plush Center City area of Philadelphia for days on end as they did in Madison, Wisconsin or to envision workers in West Philadelphia or North Philadelphia staging a lock-in as the workers at Republic Windows in Chicago who demanded to be treated as human beings. You want to be human - go shopping at the many shops below ground level under the Comcast skyscraper!
Colorblindness is manifested in the march of Corporate Style. Genocide and slavery ushered in the democratic experiment in the United States - for white wealthy landowners. To use Michelle Alexander's words, colorblindness "prevents us from seeing racial and structural divisions that persists in society: the segregated, unequal schools, the segregated, jobless ghettos, and the segregated public discourse - a public conversation that excludes the current pariah caste" (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness).
It is so blinding the victims cannot see it!
So it is no wonder that for many Blacks, no matter the class or employment status, materialism has become the adopted ideology. Materialism is the ideology for the individual in search of an identity when the thief has absconded with the substance of his or her humanity. Materialism sidesteps the pain of being Black in America. In the innocent admiration for Corporate Style, racism, and more importantly, the recognition of white supremacy, is invisible.
They say it is the way of the world, in Philadelphia. Fighting "the Man" cannot be done! Given in! Relax and your problems are solved! At least we ain't slaves anymore!
Along with the signatories at October2011.org, I say, no! No more of this kidnapping of Black hearts and minds! We have had enough! The corporate way of perpetual race, class, religious wars, is not the way to experience being human. The corporate way is militaristic; it is daily living the experience of death!
We do not accept Corporate Think! Corporate Style! The October2011 event "seeks to Stop the Machine and Create a New World" (october2011.org/node/473). We are ready, writes Kevin Zeese, a worker-activist and organizer of October2011, "to revolt against the tyranny of corporate power." We "have had enough."
If you think, "it can't be done," think: "we'd still be living in caves and not growing our own food."
African would still be slaves in the United States. Women would not be allowed to vote. All these changes became inevitable after seeming impossible. Indeed, change is inevitable. Our economy is collapsing and government is dysfunctional. This cannot continue. Change will occur. It is our job to direct it to a better world.
If you think, "it can't be done," think of those low-wage earners, those elderly tenants in Philadelphia being shuffled in and out of doors because Corporate Style knows what is best for them!
If you think, "it can't be done," think about those young people who attended the Labour Party camp on Utoya Island. Honor those who lost their lives and those who are injured.
Go to October2011.org and sign the Pledge!
I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day or the days immediately following, for as long as I can, with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza until our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning.
If you are disturbed by the corporate and military coup that has been in control of the United States in the last 30 years, then be in Washington D.C. on October 6, 2011 - and remain committed and engaged in the experience of living the Struggle!
Editorial Board member, Black Commentator.com, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory.