Power to the Peaceful

26 Jan

Watching the State of the Union did not put me in a good frame of mind —but at least watching on (unnarrated) C SPAN was palatable, without the mediating and smarmy gibberish of a network anchor like Diane Sawyer (am I the only person in America who finds her inept?). I actually found it interesting watching the millionaires club AKA as the US Senate walk from their chamber to the House’s house where the President gladhands a gaggle of apparatchiks and then delivers his oration. Can I say that I would be hard put to find a a more unappealing and unlikable cohort? Watching John McCain and John Kerry walking together was an unsettling reminder that these two poppinjays were actually presidential candidates—oh my.

Speaking of matters of governance and politics, Josh MacPhee’s wonderful anthology Celebrate People’s History: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution (Feminist Press) was (and is) a splendid antidote to the annual pantomime of democracy I viewed last night. Macphee has been commissioning and collecting posters that salute social justice in all its manifold modes since 1998. This anthology of about 100 of such by over 80 engaged artists like Cristy Road, Swoon, Nicole Schulman, Christopher Cardinale, Sabrina Jones, Eric Drooker, Klutch, Carrie Moyer, Laura Whitehorn, Dan Berger, Ricardo Levins Morales and Chris Stain is a stirring visual reminder of some vital moments in American history. Rebecca Solnit comments in the book’s foreword:

Josh MacPhee’s long campaign of putting his series of radical history posters up around the country matter. They are a small gesture perhaps, but small gestures accrue, and democracies and revolutions are made up of the myriad gestures of the small. I have long thought of pedestrians, of people who walk their cities and know them, as keeping alive a confidence and familiarity that has great potential in crisis and revolution. These posters do for the walls what the walkers do for the streets:keep alive some power and some hope in the public sphere. Just as the individuals accrue into civil society,so these individual commemorations of bygone heroines and moments cohere into the radical past on which a radical future can be built.

Also, note that tomorrow is the anniversary of People’s Historian Howard Zinn’s passing and in the spirit of activism (“Don’t mourn. Organize”) of which he was a champion , friends and comrades of Zinn are encouraging various community activities around his last major project, The People Speak http://www.thepeoplespeak.com/dont-mourn-organize which is a brilliant complement to his magnum opus, The People’s History of the United States.

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