Look What David Ker Thomson Did for Canadians et al.

This is an archived site. Each piece, each section was written for a specific audience, for a particular purpose. Please only read what was recommended directly to you. What’s below was rushed; it is unedited, truly a first draft only.

Look What David Ker Thomson Did for Canadians et al.
Dedicated to Andrew Nikiforuk and his work on Tar Sands
by O’Xman

“I’ll be away from my email until July 10, 2010. I will reply to your email when I get back.” — Email response to an urgent inquiry of the author’s (6/28/10) from the contact person for a major environmental group in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

“Thanks for using the Green Edmonton contact form. Just a note: there will be delay in responding to messages left between June 21 and July 12, 2010. We’ll get back to you in mid-july!”
— Another (6/28/10) email missive from Alberta, confirming that activists up north are moving at the same arthritic snail’s pace as their counterparts in the U.S., with absolutely no sense of deadlines.

“I used to think that resignation, apathy, ignorance, cynicism and non-activist atomization were our challenges. I thought that I was very clever in figuring out that those challenges were our enemies, not the usual conservative suspects. I was wrong. The first line of attack should be well-meaning activists who are holding us back with their obsolete models of protest.” — the author, imagining himself on Canadian radio this morning

http://www.counterpunch.org/thomson06282010.html

You might want to glance at the link above. It plants an unprecedented seed for Canadians. It makes TOCA (Taking Over Canada, a variation of TOSCA, Taking Over the State of California) a possibility.

If you look at the opening synopsis, you’ll note that there’s a reference to TOSCA. And a suggestion that it might be tweaked to accommodate activist needs in Canada. This is groundbreaking, what David Ker Thomson did, particularly with the lead story spotlight that CPunch has provided. Could be.

I mean, what do you suppose would happen if ALL stories on CPunch and ZNet, etc. spotlighted the thrust of TOSCA (in one form or another)? What do you think might happen if there was some coordination attempted among alternative media outlets. Some effort to unify one and all under the banner of a single macroscopic move. There is clearly a need for such a phenomenon. For all we have at present are well-meaning efforts, doing good, but fragmented work in little corners. [C'mon get your butt into cloudland, do imagine what it would be like if all alternative writers and lecturers and organizers not only mentioned some single, unifying effort in solidarity, but ONLY mentioned such a dynamic. If... we were all watering a single, singular seed. In fact that's what's going to have to happen for something to happen. There's going to have to be an end to our activist atomization.]

As things stand, I doubt that there will be much of a response to David’s much appreciated (by me, at least) posting. That said, it plants an enormously important seed. For one, it gives me the opportunity to use it as a point of departure for underscoring something essential here for activists. To wit, that our alternative media outlets are pregnant with possibilities that are not being used. That embedded in David’s piece is a specific proposal for action which can OVERNIGHT be embraced by one and all in lieu of our simply documenting ourselves to death… with one article after another which goes nowhere. With one recommendation after another to support this or that summit, participate in this or that conference… which also produces nothing to speak of beyond socialization and general (ineffective) networking.

The articles and book publishing should continue. The lectures should go on. The huge meetings conducted at great expense, involving untold numbers of heartbeats should be applauded and supported. BUT NOT IF ALL THAT’S GOING ON IN LIEU OF TAKING ACTION.

And by “ACTION” I do not mean marching in circles with placards. I do not mean contacting so-called representatives who are in office. I do not mean embracing anything out of Central Casting-Hollywood, and showing up at the barricades to get one’s head bashed in, or be dragged off to the local hoosegow.

All THAT should go on too, of course, be applauded, supported, etc. BUT NOT IN LIEU OF TAKING ACTION WHICH FOLLOWS A NEW PARADIGM FOR PROTEST, A NEW MODEL FOR FORCING CHANGE*.

*Readers should note that if most fund raising — endemic to NGOs, non-profit activist organizations — were eliminated… the heartbeats saved could culminate in truly revolutionary work if channeled. As things stand, however, fund raising is embraced in lieu of actually making inroads. A typical example of what I mean can be found in the recent effort of a major U.S. activist non-profit group to collect money for the purpose of sending a message to Obama via an advertisement in the New York Review of Books. One must be capable of criticizing such a foolish waste of heartbeats and pocketbooks. One is obliged to be much more creative than that. I can remember arguing with students at a recent meeting for organizing over flyers. They were all caught up with having to collect money by a certain time so that their flyers could go out on time. They had no time to consider what I tried to inject into the meeting… which I will capsule here by citing an old Mitch Hedberg joke that the comedian once delivered to me: “Richard, when someone hands me a flyer, it’s like they’re saying, ‘Hey, you, you throw this away for me, okay?’” We do have options… which can be implemented on a zero budget. That said, none of this will wash with organizations whose primary concern is… existing.

That is what I want to discuss with readers. That is what I want to have ongoing dialogue with one and all about, starting AT ONCE. IMMEDIATELY. Yesterday.

I cannot sound bite the above and do it justice. I need to talk directly with you. Ideally, in person. And if that means leaving my family to travel to Alberta and/or Toronto… I’m at your service. I will be available 24×8 as you see fit. Take me up on this singular offer, please. See where my blood flows from.

We are facing several emergencies on various fronts. But I do not see activists acknowledging that… except in the form of being on automatic… embracing obsolete models for action.

I am offering you something fresh. Something as fresh as what David Ker Thomson offered up when he injected TOSCA into his synopsis.

I told David this morning via email that when those five or six women met in Upstate New York on that hot summer day in the 19th-century… they faced daunting odds, to say the least. Impossible odds, most would say. They had no $$ to speak of, and no influence. Nothing on their side. And they were feebly aligned against deep, unbending tradition and power. The power of mean-spirited mean fully focused on maintaining the status quo. No matter, I emphasized for David, that the road they began to carve out zig zagged down the line. Took awful turns.

The point is — for us — they did not take it lying down. Lying down, no. Which also means not lying down with parameters that the powers that be have so graciously allowed us to embrace. Which we all unnecessarily embrace at present.

Blessings in solidarity,
Richard Martin Oxman at 831-688-8038 in Santa Cruz County, California, U.S.A. at any hour. OR email tosca.2010@yahoo.com or impelus@gmail.com. Also, it wouldn’t hurt for one and all to try to reach Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands, at andrew@andrewnikiforuk.com — as I have been trying to do — to rope him into this loop. As I see it, he — or someone with a similarly healthy profile — could be the next Premier of Alberta, and do one and all a lot of good.

Additional note which I trust will not offend anyone: If you glance at the coverage of things Canadian on Democracy Now! for June 28th, Monday (today), you’ll find heartfelt, respectable contributions from Naomi Klein, Jesse Rosenfeld et al. But… what does it amount to? Complaints about Harper. Overstating the obvious about what should be done? Providing another scandalous bit of info? C’mon, activists! It’s time to circumvent the over-advertised obstacles, and get with something which represents a fresh approach. I submit that studying the TOSCA stuff intended for California will stimulate ideas respecting Canadian needs and interests. 15′ with that blah blah, and then you can check in with me to get down with the devils in the details. Merci for your kind consideration.