TORTURED TOSCA TALK

15 AUGUST, 2012 UPDATE FOR TY, CAROL, ANDRES ET AL.: SCROLL DOWN ABOUT SIX PARAGRAPHS TO WHERE THE NUMBERS BEGIN (Name of Party).

VERY SPECIAL NOTE TO ROBIN written on July 27 in a rush: One of the problems with the Occupy interaction is that none of the General Assemblies which I attended were set up to conduct leisurely, in-depth Q&A. And, in fact, none of my contacts with organizations and individuals over the last few years encouraged — to put it mildly — such a dynamic. THAT is what I am asking from you, Robin. Everyone is too busy, for one reason or another, for that. Neither the back and forth which is allowed in alternative media outlets nor what is going on in any of the alternative realms I’ve traveled thus far is conducive to such exchanges. And that’s an even bigger problem than the one I mentioned in passing on the phone, the inexplicable fact that exciting alternative writers are either not accesible on any meaningful level, or totally unreachable soon enough.

NOTE: ANYONE WANTING TO CUT TO THE CHASE ABOUT TOSCA, CIRCUMVENTING ALL OF MY BLAH BLAH, SIMPLY SCROLL DOWN TO WHERE THE NUMBERS BEGIN (”Name of Party”). This is an archived site. The articles are written for specific audiences for particular purposes. Not knowing context can be puzzling and/or off-putting. This piece was composed for the residents of Clear Lake, California, mainly for the listeners of KP?? radio where I was interviewed on St. Patrick’s Day. It is UNEDITED. If others read it or related postings, I trust that I won’t lose anyone over my writing style… which has its own life day to day. [Pause.] Usually in the early mornings… when I am in touch with God knows what.

WARNING: In considering taking action, I highly recommend that one be on guard about the tendency to project what others will or won’t do. Such thoughts are responsible for much inaction; they often serve as a basis for rationalizing doing nothing, or simply staying in the ‘ineffective’ activist rut one occupies. I submit that focusing ONLY on the one-on-one interaction one is engaged in (with me) in the present is the only healthy point of departure for ‘fresh’ action in solidarity. Meaning, I encourage an immediate Q&A session respecting the content below at your earliest convenience. You can take it from there. Dead Lies Cries Due is a companion piece for the blah blah below, by the way… before you go on your way.

TORTURED TOSCA TALK
Dedicated to dealing with deadlines of all kinds in a new way
by Ox (March 18th)

Note: I don’t think that it’ll matter that the delineation below is somewhat disjointed and unedited. There should be plenty that’s clear to chew on. Follow up Q&A should suffice, then, as a basis for some movement in solidarity, hopefully. I am certainly open to changing gears, tweaking, and the like. Tortured because of the rush here. Tortured because of our momentum.

After appearing on a local radio show, I was reminded that I should never try to describe TOSCA without first feeling out my audience… ideally, in person. Regardless, I should find out at the top whether or not people feel a sense of deadlines. And I should discuss with them the merits of any (obsolete?) forms of protest or efforts at bringing about change that they’re involved in. How bad are things? What needs to be done by when? What, if anything, are you engaged in vis-a-vis activism? That sort of thing. To determine if someone acknowledges that we have deadlines, and that current methods for creating institutional change are seriously wanting as things stand. Then, perhaps, they should glance at what’s below… to see if anything therein resonates. To determine if a discussion is warranted… for the purpose of trying to agree on a plan of action in solidarity.

1. Name of Party: TOSCA, the acronym standing for either Taking Over the State of California or Transforming Our State of California. The name, as is the case with the entire plan for action, can be tweaked/replaced. Toward Our Sustainable California? I would just love to be able to call it The Music Party… with you know what at its core. Update: Recently, in considering that the model here could be embraced by just about any state, TOSCA seemed call for Transforming Our State with Citizen Action; that’s very Saul Alinsky, yes?

2a. Major Premises: Although the electoral arena is corrupt with unacceptable downsides institutionalized, in wanting to do something in solidarity which is (for the most part) legal and (if possible) nonviolent, one is obliged to consider possibilities within the established political framework; this must be done, however, following a fresh paradigm. Which means, in part, rejecting ALL career politicians, careerists from the two major parties AND the permanently marginalized third parties. Another fundamental point is that we have deadlines with regard to several crucial issues. That crises of various kind demand that we move expeditiously, 2014 being the longest we can wait to secure significant reins of power and influence. The “influence” must be nationwide, but the initial reins of power secured cannot be on the federal or local level. Efforts made in those realms should not be the subject of one’s primary or exclusive focus.

2b. Immediate aim: To have twelve unaffiliated, non-politician citizens serving as Governor of California together on an equal basis once TOSCA’s figurehead write-in candidate is elected. The number of gubernatorial members is somewhat arbitrary. With a write-in campaign no significant number of signatures will have to be secured. More time, then, for other things.

3. Political agenda: Readers can glance at the newly edited “Unilaterally, Virtually Overnight, Legally and Nonviolently….” article for starters. In short, however, my political agenda, or yours for that matter, is not of overwhelming significance point for point. Meaning, what’s more important is for the game board to be upended; biz as usual terminated. We don’t want to replace a white (c)rook (or policy) with a red one, or a black bishop with a green piece. Rather, we look to turning the toxic, uneven game board over, to start a new game. With new rules, etc. YOUR political preferences are important, but our guess is that you’ll have a better shot at having the policies you like most implemented with this approach than you would following the usual steps for influencing career politicians.

4. Transparency: All decisions, all discussions will be totally transparent. No closed doors. Communications, conferences, etc. with corporate reps, talks amongst the gubernatorial coalition members, will always be accessible to the public in real time.

5. Campaign:
a. Zero budget, no fund raising necessary. This has positive implications from a number of angles which cannot be summarized here adequately. But success secured in this way, obviously, will inspire others in a truly transforming way; even a near-miss campaign with this approach could stir up ripples which could create a watershed in history. In other words, even in a well-run loss more could be accomplished than what has been accomplished to date by the co-opted Occupy Movement. Please ask for elaboration on this. For even if one does not agree that OCCUPY has been co-opted, its energy can be channeled into TOSCA’s thrust as part of the essential OCCUPY agenda, its spirit.
b. Media Bias will be balanced by our embrace of what can be called Ecstatic Politics, which will make use of masks, music, sensuality, comedy and more in unprecedented ways. Since we will not be seeking to attract voters from the last two gubernatorial CA contests — the regular voters — particularly, we can care less about fair coverage, the potential for demonizing*. In that we will be spending our energy on appealing primarily to those citizens who are disenchanted with politics, not registered (for good reasons), etc., we’ll be able to be more radical in our approach, intriguing them — we believe — by presenting images and generating feelings which are attractive, unprecedented in the electoral arena. There was a 39% turnout in 2006, and something like a 50% turnout last time around. The math says we don’t need a single vote from that quarter, though we have no doubt that we will attract some/enough of those voters with our vibrant, visceral freshness.

*It’ll be difficult to demonize our candidates (one or more of the twelve), for starters, because of the number involved. In addition, the attitude toward mainstream media people can be in their face. There can be a clear stance which says that the coalition is not interested in the opinion of their regular voting readers, certainly not intending to court them for poll purposes. We don’t want your vote should be the mantra. In the context that we realize that our only hope is to draw those who have — for smart reasons — rejected politics of the recent past. People who know that as things stand voting is a scam. It will be hard to demonize along the usual lines with twelve wild, entertaining, attractive souls engaging in Ecstatic Politics, driving their cause across to the pubic viscerally, making a new kind of fun of the attempt to demonize.

6. Electoral Fraud Potential. It’s a given that the powers-that-be will not permit any third party candidate to take office. In that sense, potential is misleading. All those recruited will be prepared regarding what can be done to ensure that our gubernatorial coalition takes over the office if it wins legitimately. We will have something** in place so that we can verify the official vote count. Meaning, that if the official count is off by any significant number we’ll know.

**In the spirit of TOSCA, we will discuss this one-on-one, not over a megaphone. Not here. For some reason, third parties planning to bring about radical change feel that they can announce everything ahead of time without worries. This has nothing to do with expecting total secrecy on anything from beginning to end.

7. In Office:
a. 24×7 Access to those in power. No generic communication.
b. The Governor of California (all members of the coalition) will communicate with the public daily via the Guv’s Own Media Outlet. There will be no dependence on any mainstream or alternative media businesses. The idea — and this is MAJOR — will be to help the public to self-educate vigorously, repeatedly and creatively.
c. The Guv will walk citizens through the direct action and other steps that will be required to influence gangster politicians, and any career politicians who aren’t serving the public’s interests first.
d. Feedback/Checks & Balances: Monthly — zero cost — reviews will be conducted so as to confirm that policies implemented are aligned with the majority of citizen approval. Something along those lines.

8. Winning With a Losing Campaign: With the one exception of Upton Sinclair’s wondrous campaign of the 30s, there has never been a gubernatorial contest in the history of the U.S. whereby ALL third parties ever gathered more than about 500,000 votes. I can guarantee that TOSCA in 2014 could secure a million votes. Garnering DOUBLE what all third parties ever collected in a given gubernatorial contest would give those involved in TOSCA an ongoing positive spotlight, which could be honed, etc. via its own media outlet so that the public could be helped with self-education, and helped with regard to new options for direct action. Anyone who thinks that THE MOTIVATION among the public in such a scenario would not be significant is not aware of the degree to which a zero budget campaign (securing a million votes) would create a true watershed in history. It would be enough to upset the game board described above, and give us all a fresh start. We’d have a good shot at that in such a losing campaign. Certainly, we have no shot at all the way things stand.

9. Recruitment. This should be discussed in person in confidence. I can tell you this here and now, however: Recruitment won’t be depending upon flyers, signs, and high tech gadgetry and/or our new forms of social networking. It will be one-on-one in person intimately, offering up details on a need-to-know basis, case by case, door by door… with a new kind of ‘knocking’. And it won’t be characterized by rushing or distance at any juncture. It will focus on the 61% who stayed away from the CA gubernatorial polls in 2006, which, for the most part, comprises the 50% or so that passed in 2010.

10a. Philosophical/Practical outlook: Hey, like the late Howard Zinn said years ago, “If voting could change anything, it would be illegal.” Howard, who gave his imprimatur for TOSCA (along with a host of high profile, well-respected other international figures) meant voting alone, electoral participation that is one’s primary or exclusive means of protest. That’s the Big Kahuna. The impractical attitudinal set embraced by the public which says that hitting the polls every now and then will do the trick doesn’t cut the mustard. Not by a long shot. TOSCA is, in large part, about addressing apathy, resignation, cynicism, ignorance and atomization which dominates a citizenry which is preoccupied with unambitious and unattractive attempts to simply survive day to day.

10b. Lyrical Outlook: The arts can be at the core of one’s existence, not resigned to the periphery of a heartbreaking public school curriculum.

11. Commitment: I am working 24×8 to have some kind of chance to deal with those who are working 24×7 against the good of the commons. But those on board with TOSCA do not have to commit to anything whatsoever. Just to agree to vote when the time comes. No meetings, no correspondence. There is much that can be done for those who are interested. But any commitments made can be quite flexible.

12. Celebrities: We will be recoiling in horror from any but highly select celebrity endorsements. That’s a function of the fact that it is the rare entertainer or high profile person who doesn’t put career interests above political engagement. That said, we submit that once certain celebrities do come on board our numbers will grow overnight, in part because of the truly singular nature of our offering.

13. Tentative List: ASAP we would like to compile a tentative list of citizens interested in serving on the gubernatorial coalition… as Governor of California, in effect. If we start with twelve youngsters from a particular educational institution, or a dozen teenagers we come across at a concert it matters not. It’ll only be necessary to come up with a set list by 2014, so we can hawk it. In the interim, parents — in the example provided above — could replace their offspring in part, or in whole. Or friends could substitute. Or an acquaintance with absolutely no experience in any particular realm. You see, we will have lots of what are called experts in all fields hanging in the wings, ready to support, advise and educate those heading our ticket. And so, a given unknown face… with a given beautiful character shining through will do fine… all the way through. Then again, a high profile individual who can sing or dance or play like a virtuoso on something sweet would be a treat for one and all… from another angle. In both of the last two cases, I submit that we are dipping into assets which will have an impact in terms of the principles of Ecstatic Politics… with its visceral appeals. [Pause.] Do you want to make a run with us? You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that candidates do not necessarily have to make appearances or talk to the press or anyone. It’s understandable that no one would be able to visualize the kind of no stress scenario we have in the works. Details upon request.

14. Non-profit organizations’ participation: The powers-that-be have pulled a smart trick on non-profits. Such organizations get a certain tax status in exchange for agreeing not to participate in the electoral arena. We can circumvent that scam, by having members of such organizations participate in TOSCA as individual citizens only. Please note that although TOSCA intends to work within the confines of a zero budget, that does not preclude my raising funds for a particular organization in need during the process of working in solidarity.

15. Other ‘Third’ Parties: TOSCA might be able to help a given third party enormously, pushing their agenda in unprecedented fashion. The fact is that there are a few third parties in California which have many priorities which are aligned deeply with the thrust of TOSCA. It would be a complicated matter, in some cases, to work in solidarity, but the effort might be worth the candle. Regardless, it might be very interesting to explore the possibilities, keeping in mind that TOSCA is only interested in shooting for success in one year in one particular contest. Electoral fusion is outlawed in all but eight states, but that is NOT what we are proposing.

CONCLUDING NOTE: I will edit the above from a number of angles, time permitting. Readers are free to telephone me if I’m still at ___________ at any hour. Email to aptosnews@gmail.com will enable me to provide current phone access always. If anyone has no clue as to what I mean by “deadlines” above, perhaps a viewing of the 17′+ video about Tar Sands will help you. There are at least 100 other examples which I can list of issues/momentum which cannot wait for years to pass before we stop or reduce or change something. Deep life and death matters, not the least of which are touched upon by Paul Street in a recent posting. Elaboration, discussion, rendezvous… upon request.

For those who do not know what I mean by obsolete forms of protest, please glance at the following select list of examples (noting that there’s nothing wrong with embracing them, as long as they are NOT one’s primary or exclusive means for bringing about institutional change):

1. Marching in circles with placards. [Pause.] Or in relatively straight lines. With or without megaphones. With or without tactless advance notice for the powers-that-be.

2. Collecting signatures for petitions.

3. Contacting political representatives along the usual lines; via telephone calls, telegrams, emails, and the like.

4. Getting arrested.

5. Getting one’s head bashed in at the barricades. Or doing that to someone else… anywhere.

6. Marching on Washington.

7. Boycotting.

8. Letters to the editor.

9. Disrupting unconscionable speakers who represent horrid policies.

10. Circulating or posting flyers.

11. Spreading the word courtesy of social networking and high tech gadgetry.

12. Writing or collecting a check for fund raising purposes (even) for a decent organization.

13. Submitting/posting articles, videos, etc. and/or performing on (or off) stage.

Ah, there’s a ‘baker’s dozen’ to dwell on. In prep for our talk.

No way to deal with this overwhelming assault? Wrong. Way. Just stay with me long enough to talk, to walk through the tortured exchange required to address what Pam Martens has laid out in http://www.zcommunications.org/wake-up-congress-before-the-next-collap se-by-pam-martens. Specifically, let’s address the main elements brought up by Frank Partnoy and Nomi Prins at the end of Pam’s article, the two quotes which lie just above her conclusion that says something about time not being our friend.

Contact Richard, the author, at aptosnews@gmail.com.