RevolutionZ

Ep 261 Israel Palestine and Diverse Reactions, Both Pro Palestinian and Zionist….

December 24, 2023 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 261
RevolutionZ
Ep 261 Israel Palestine and Diverse Reactions, Both Pro Palestinian and Zionist….
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 261 of RevolutionZ Is another in the Ruminations Sequence co-hosted by Alexandria Shaner. We discuss the Israeli invasion and diverse reactions to it, including demonstrations, civil disobedience, and the new Zionist driven Mcarthyism and good and not so good responses to it.  

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Michael Albert:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This is our 261st consecutive episode and my guest or really my co-host for today, as she's been on many times in the past in that capacity as Alexandria Shainer this means today is another in the sequence of unplanned, unscripted, spontaneous explorations of topics that arise as we go along. You can hear past ruminations, episodes and indeed any past episodes you may have interest in, via patreoncom, slash revolution z, or via the links on znetworkorg, which is now hosting the podcast, and also where Alexandria is staff, or is one of seven staff. But today's episode may be a bit different for another reason we are going to try out recording both video and audio, whereas until now I've always recorded only audio. The audio version will remain, like always, but there may arise a video YouTube version as well, extending into the future. We will see. So, with all that out of the way, welcome back, alexandria.

Alexandria Shaner:

Thank you for having me.

Michael Albert:

It's good to be here.

Alexandria Shaner:

I'm a little uh yeah. Well, we'll have to see how this video thing works. If people like it, I guess that'll be great, but I'm watching people I'm.

Michael Albert:

I join you in the sentiment but nonetheless we'll experiment and see.

Alexandria Shaner:

Probably give a disclaimer. I have a reflex eye roll habit and that I will try to control. Not that I would roll my eyes ever at you, michael, or at me At any point, I'm revolution z. But I will try to control my face, you're warned audience?

Michael Albert:

No, but you see, if you try and control it, that's what will cause the whole thing to be Not a natural.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think what's supposed to happen is if we don't know. All right.

Michael Albert:

All right, I just turned it off. There is no video.

Alexandria Shaner:

Great.

Michael Albert:

Lied. Okay, so as a topic on my mind lately is the unfolding horror of Israel's assault on Palestine, but also, in particular, what to me seems like the incredibly intense and passionate response to it on all sides. I wonder have you been surprised by reactions here in the US?

Alexandria Shaner:

I don't know if I would say surprised, but I've definitely noticed what you're describing, that that there there is a popular movement for solidarity with Palestinians which definitely has not existed at this level in the US at any moment. That certainly I can remember, probably ever, and that's great and I want to believe that it's a result of kind of maybe a sign of some health, of intersectional movement, consciousness and passion and just frustration with all the horrors of the world and connecting everything to see where I'm involved in a lot of climate activism and a lot of eco-activist groups are joining and have been joining in Palestinian solidarity actions and making those connections, and I know there's been crossover between labor movements, so I like to look at it as a natural result of that building through past movements in recent years.

Michael Albert:

Yeah, I think that's the aspect of it that has got me focused, I think. The first of all, the scale is incredible, I think anyway maybe somebody else doesn't just maybe it's a week ago, maybe it's a little less than that Eight bridges in eight major cities were blocked, essentially simultaneously. Okay, I'm an old guy, I was around for the 60s, the early 70s, involved in it. We never did that. Okay, the 60s were bigger so far, but we never pulled off something like that. So that's remarkable, or at least to me it's remarkable.

Michael Albert:

And the extent of the I don't know what to call it. It isn't just that people are taking a side, which is already great, it's that people are passionate and, and you know, really involved, and that, to me, is quite remarkable. And I have to say I don't think this may be heretical, I don't think you can explain it by just what's happening in the Middle East. I do think it's an outgrowth of. It's simmering, it's sitting there people wanting to have an impact, most of the time feeling like it's hopeless. I can't do anything, and so it's invisible. But it sure as hell is simmering under the surface and this is bringing it out because it's an avenue where you, where you feel that you can. You can express yourself individually and have it be part of something much bigger at least, that's my feeling which is very promising if true.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think you're right, I agree with that, and I also think that you know whether it's even possible to celebrate something like this or just observe it. But this is a lot of people are saying this is like the most visible I mean I don't want to call it a war visible atrocity that's going on because of the internet and all the platforms and just, I think, the accessibility of the technology. You know, everyone, even in some of the poorest areas in the world, can get access to some kind of camera or smartphone. So it's also just it's impossible to hide. You know the the information is out there. So I think that is maybe another factor that's kind of contributing to the level of outrage. It cannot be hidden, you know, in in the US, especially when it comes to what goes on in Israel and Palestine. It's been hidden from us intentionally for my entire lifetime and I think that's also that.

Alexandria Shaner:

That action you mentioned the closing of eight bridges.

Alexandria Shaner:

It was also organized, I believe, on the eighth night of Hanukkah by some of the more active Jewish groups opposing the Israeli genocide in Palestine. And for me, as a person who grew up in a Jewish household myself and was raised not religious, but definitely Zionist, but by liberal. You know good-hearted people who did not view themselves as racist or colonialist or any of those things. I had overcome through learning and unlearning to understand even what. What is the state of Israel? How does that reflect on Israeli people? How does it reflect on Jewish people worldwide? And I think that this movement we're seeing, especially led by groups like Jewish Voices for Peace and if not now, when is just really incredible, especially for people like me who had to kind of unlearn what we were taught and I think that goes for Americans in general, not just Jewish Americans because we were all taught a completely wrong story of Palestinian liberation and what that meant, and now it's much less possible to hide, because you can see it, you cannot avoid it yeah, there's another dimension of that.

Michael Albert:

That also has surprised me greatly. I know most of our allies, most of the people who are like us, have been saying that the media coverage is atrocious. You know, it's absolutely horrible mainstream media coverage and they're repressioning and it's outrageous. Well, to my eyes, the media coverage is much less bad than it has been typically. The media coverage of this, as compared to the media coverage of the invasion of Iraq or the prior 60s you know Vietnam is is vastly less exclusive, exclusionary and less lying. It's. It's remarkable to me. I mean, I'm not saying it's good, it's horrendous, it was a very low bar to be better than. And I'm not saying either that it's a function of media motives. It's rather a function of what you're describing, the visibility, and there's another part to it that's even more weird to me and I don't have any explanation for. Back to those eight bridges. One of the reasons we couldn't have done that in 1970 or 69 was because before we got on the bridge we would have been under assault, and that's not happening now.

Alexandria Shaner:

There are there are demonstrations on police or?

Michael Albert:

yeah, by police, but in in mass, and you know, I don't understand it at all. For some reason we have simultaneously the rise of fascism and a reduction in some sense of media manipulation it's still horrendous, but reduced and of violent repression, at least regarding Palestine. I don't know why and maybe my impression is wrong, but it really seems to be the case.

Alexandria Shaner:

Well, I mean, I was not around in the 60s, but I don't know. Yeah, there certainly does seem to be a lot of violent police repression that does exist, and violent repression through the courts as well. And I'm not sure about the media. I wonder if it's more that there's just more. There's more available. So not only is there independent and alternative media and internet social media platforms where a lot of people get their news, but there's also, I would think, more of a diversity of corporate media channels as well, like there's just more of them. So there might be a little bit more between Fox News and CNN or BBC. I don't know If. Yeah, I mean I wasn't around back then so I can't make the comparison, but it seems to me like there's still a lot of it's horrendous. Yeah, it's not a it's horrendous, don't hear it wrong.

Michael Albert:

I mean I agree with you, it's horrendous, but it's not as horrendous. I think there's one other possible explanation of that, which, again, I'm not, you know, I'm winging it here and it's Israel's response. That is to say, when countries embark on horrific activities and this certainly qualifies as that in spades they generally try to hide it, they generally try and rationalize it. Israel's approach is quite different than that, I think, and in an earlier podcast the Maison Komsayus tried to explain that to me and he said look, you have to understand in Israel, Netanyahu, the government, the generals, they just tell the truth, they're not hiding anything, they're bragging about it. And so a close to honest report, that is to say, we want to either drive them out or kill them, is broadcast, not, you know, kept quiet. And how do you, if you're American media, ignore or, you know, deny the facts that Israel is bragging about? It's hard to do so.

Michael Albert:

I think that maybe is a part of it. I just don't know. But it is pretty remarkable. What about the other side? The intensity and passion of the reaction, reaction against siding with Palestine of a particular sort, not so much the police in the streets, but rich donors pressuring universities and administrations, pressuring teachers and all the rest of that, which also seems to me to be somewhat unique. Chomsky wasn't threatened with being fired during the Vietnam War. Nobody was, virtually nobody was. Administrators weren't being removed because they had the audacity to be critical of the war, but now that's commonplace.

Alexandria Shaner:

Well, to me it's a reflection of the consolidation of power. It's just power dynamics. I mean we're yeah, we're in a time you know, after since the time that you're talking about, we've had decades of neoliberalism and it's just this is the result, to me at least. You know this just happened and does happen all the time.

Michael Albert:

But it's so blatant. Now Somebody says to Harvard well, here's the thing, fire the damn president or I'm cutting off my $100 million donation. And it isn't done in closed doors, right, it isn't done behind the scenes, it's right out in the open.

Alexandria Shaner:

It's, it's. It can't even be culturally celebrated. Yeah, you know it's. I mean, I keep going back to this neoliberalist capitalism but like it's not just an economic system, it's a culture and this, this kind of like well, I have the money, so I have the power. And I say, you know it's why all these people flock around Elon Musk and celebrate these billionaires, even though they're these billionaires are not making anyone's life better, especially the people who tend to to follow them as like a cult of personality. But what we have this like cultural phenomenon, I guess, where people see that you're, you know if? Well, if you're a billionaire, it must be because you're better than everyone else, you're the smartest or the strongest or the best, whatever, and so your power through your money is like something to be celebrated as if it's a true meritocracy and and you know, it's kind of like showing your power- and showing your greatness and to an extent in a lot of circles that's deeply culturally ingrained as something to celebrate and to aspire to.

Michael Albert:

So what should be the response? Take, for example, the I mean we could take lots, of, lots of examples of people at different levels say on campuses but what should the presidents of those three schools it was MIT, harvard and Penn what should they have done as compared to what they did do in response to the attack on them?

Alexandria Shaner:

Are you asking what? What should they have said in their congressional hearings, or what? You have done after they were fired or threatened.

Michael Albert:

No, in those congressional hearings, what did they do? I think that they were on their hind legs, you know. They were retreating the whole time, legitimating the idea that they should be questioned about this stuff, which is ludicrous.

Alexandria Shaner:

I mean easy easy for me to say not sitting in the middle of a congressional hearing, but you know, I think to one extent they were right in like a in their role as university administrators or as people from a legal background, to kind of bring up that look, there's a difference between I think it was harassment, which needs to be directed at a person, like to intimidate or for whatever negative motive you have, versus freedom of speech, which is something different. So I think, on a technical level, they were right to say yeah, there's context and like, especially at a university, a place where we want people to speak out, and there's gonna be times where we don't agree, even if they're saying horrible things that's kind of the point of a space like that is to protect that freedom of speech while, yes, absolutely condemning any kind of harassment or verbal or you know, violence through making signs or graffiti, anything like that yeah, that's harassment and that we condemn.

Alexandria Shaner:

So I think they were right to an extent in their answers, at least to the point that I've. I didn't watch the hearings, I just read about and read quotes from it, but I think it's just the delivery and these days they they didn't do a good job and they kind of fell into the trap of the congresswoman who was interviewing them. And you know, I'm not saying they should have just done this and it would have been great like they were badgered. And this is a tactic that people do in interviews all the time and they use things. You know, they use these hearings as a platform in a stage more than an actual investigation, where they want answers they're performing. So the woman just kept on interrupting, interrupting, and I think, yeah, you're right, they got on their back foot. So I think there was an element of their answers that was correct, but the delivery just completely played into the hands of the people who were trying to engineer this situation and succeeded.

Michael Albert:

We agree completely and I think it's a real issue. I don't know whether you well, you don't remember HUAC, but perhaps you read about it the yes, no. Maybe you know the the.

Alexandria Shaner:

McCarthyism, oh, mccarthyism, yeah.

Michael Albert:

Right and and it would involve these kinds of confrontations, in other words, the the House on American Activities Committee would call in somebody and would essentially interrogate them, with the premise being not only do we have the right and the responsibility to do that, but you know, you are, what we say, you are, etc. Etc. And to a degree, that was broken by Abby Hoffman. You know who he is? Yes, okay, well, lots of people don't, but in any case, he just ridiculed them.

Michael Albert:

He went in and treated them like they were less than you know, unworthy of the slightest bit of respect, and he pulled it off and it was effective, and I'm not sure that those university presidents, presidents, couldn't have obliterated the stance and the you know not just the substance, but the motivations and the behavior which was indeed a perfect example of actual bullying and actual intimidation, you know. So they could have said where do you get off? You know, but that somehow and I don't understand how everybody is on their back foot, and you know everybody is is going backwards, as if not just that fascism was a thing, but it was already in place, had all the power in the world, had the whole population on its side, and we have to run scared, and I don't think that's the case, you know, I think. I think it's the other way around, in a very real sense, as far as the population as a whole is concerned.

Alexandria Shaner:

Yeah, people are intimidated, but they don't agree there's maybe two, two things going on in general with stuff like this, both in public-facing interviews and in private conversations, or just maybe even like conversations you might have at your workplace or whatever, where something like this happens, where you feel like you're you get put on the back foot by a twisted reality and a kind of yeah, like you're just being set up. And one. One aspect of this, I think, is just tactical and like something that maybe people can learn to an extent as a skill just in conversation, and especially in a public-facing conversation, where the point is more with the audience here's and that's kind of not not to fall into that trap of just getting badgered and misled from what's the real issues we're talking about here, like getting entrapped into a conversation of legal use on what we're really talking about here is justice, which is, I think, what happened in those in that congressional hearing. So the one thing is, it's just a tactic of not being trapped by that kind of behavior, and I think there's a few people that just pop into my head who do a really good job of not falling into it, and for two different reasons. So one is, I think, people who are just naturally skilled and not caring so much what other people think because they are so deeply comfortable with their understanding of power and justice and where their position comes from.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think Norman Finkelstein is someone who does an amazing job and job and has been recently in debates where you know I'm not talking about what he says or his position on various things, but like someone can be interrupting and attacking him and throwing all kind of misleading questions and he just keeps on what you know, his point, what he talks about, and that's something that maybe you know people can just learn or not learn how to do in conversation, but the real, the real, like the better reason and the better thing that maybe we can all focus on, that maybe as helpful in these situations is to always bring it back to the values and and kind of the bigger picture, systemic connections, because that's really what we all need to be talking about in all these situations.

Alexandria Shaner:

And some other people, I think, who do a really great job at that is well, again, like coming from more of my my experience in climate activism, I think Greta Thunberg has always done a really good job. Interviewers can throw at her all kind of silly like off the wall things trying to derail the conversation and she's just like, no, like. What we're talking about here is the difference between right and wrong, reality and disconnect from reality but what's the?

Michael Albert:

what's the short thing from Greta that you most remember and that everybody most remembers?

Alexandria Shaner:

I don't know. There's a lot that come blah, blah, blah yeah, the, exactly like she just took that's what I'm talking about.

Alexandria Shaner:

Reality, yeah, and I think for all of us, in any conversation we have, we don't need to be, you know, someone with Chomsky or Finkelstein's memory ability or debate ability. We just need to be confident and secure in, like the base of what we're talking about and try and bring it back there, because that's where the truth lies. And also, I think what you were maybe hinting at before is this like emotional and and like values-based connection that we have with these issues, where we can't get distracted by all the nonsense and be led down these nonsense rabbit holes by by people who are either legitimately confused or intentionally confusing the situation. I think Roger Hallam does a really great job again, regardless if you agree or disagree with what he says, but in interviews he brings it back to this like very visceral, emotional level of like look, this is what I'm talking about, this is what we should be talking about, and I think that that's a really powerful way for all of us to communicate in these situations and to organize together, like to inspire other people as well.

Michael Albert:

Now there's a downside. So, for instance, to doing it wrong, to doing what you're talking about and feeling confident and strong in it, there can also be a downside. I think so. For example, one of the things that's been going on lately is pro-Palestinian reactions to Bernie Sanders. When Sanders didn't come out for a ceasefire, he started getting attacked severely, pretty severely so, the same person who a week before would have said oh, bernie man, decades of devotion and, and you know, effort on on the part of making the world a better place, I've learned from him, etc. Etc. And then all of a sudden it reverses. Same thing happened with Noam during the election Chomsky, where he says vote the lesser evil and everybody thinks not everybody. A subset of people think he's. All of a sudden, you know, a running dog for the liberals and Bernie is a, you know, a neoliberal, just another guy. And so the same question arises what's going wrong in those cases, if you think something is going wrong, and maybe what's the antidote?

Alexandria Shaner:

well for my vast wisdom. Here's the antidote. I I feel like maybe I'm I'm not trying to cop out of your questions, but I feel I always give an answer of a little bit of both. So I think, in in these situations, there's something good going on and there's something not so good going on. So take, take Bernie, for example, or even Biden, for that matter you know if we're looking ahead to 2024, you know if he's gonna be our choice against Trump or another Republican nominee.

Alexandria Shaner:

His actions of recent have like made it near impossible that near anyone I know would actually want to vote for him. But you know, like you're saying, we have to have context in mind, at least I think what you're hinting at. So I think that in one way it's good, because progressive politicians like Bernie or like AOC, they actually need movements and activists to push them to stay progressive and to be more progressive, because they're still operating within the context of the electoral system, either the Democratic Party Bernie is, I think, independent, but he works with the Democratic Party a lot. So they, you know, I think probably I don't know Bernie, but I would assume he doesn't want kind of his movement base to just say, yeah, it's fine, you know, we're with you, bernie, whatever you say, we understand you're like constrained, you're doing the best you can. He politicians like him need, you know, an outside force, and AOC even talks about this like it helps progressive politicians to an extent to have the movement pushing them further and demanding more. And demanding more because if there's a popular outcry demanding more, that gives progressive politicians to do more and have a mandate to do more. So I think that's the good thing where, no, we shouldn't just say like, oh, bernie's the best we've ever had in US government and so we should just let him let him alone and not criticize. We have to criticize and that helps him do what he probably would like to do more.

Alexandria Shaner:

The bad side, however, yeah, is that you can't you shouldn't, in my opinion erase a lifetime of commitment and work and, to a certain amount, success in Libertary organizing based on something that is not something, that is not good. So, yeah, I'm not saying if he came out and said you know, we're like Biden did full on, I'm going to give as much money and weapons to Israel to obliterate Gaza as they want. No, that's unforgivable. But that's not what he said. So I think for us to say, oh, anyone now who supports Bernie is an enemy of the people and he's a. You know, get all conspiratorial. Like, oh, he's paid by the Israel lobby to. You know, he's been a sleeper, I don't know. It's like everything. You just can't, you can't take it to like an out of whack situation. Like, absolutely, call out what's wrong. That's important and necessary, but don't I don't know, don't go too far in to the point where you're no longer strategic and you're hurting your own movement.

Michael Albert:

Yeah, but it's also the mindset that loses track of reality and focuses in on one thing without, as you say, context. So let's do both Noam and Sanders first Noam, because it's so trivial, right that is, you know, you learned about imperialism from him, you learned about this from him, you learned about that from him the day before he was God and the next day he's a sellout liberal imperialist. Because he says vote Biden against Trump. And it doesn't cross people's mind and this is what I think is the bad part, because it can spread. It doesn't cross people's mind that. Well, wait a second. Maybe he knows something we don't. Just, maybe it's possible.

Michael Albert:

And so I should maybe reserve judgment a little bit, jumping from one thing to the denial of 50 years worth of things, and maybe I should consider the argument. And with Sanders, I mean, my reaction was, yeah, I'd like to see him. You know, I would have been happy if he said ceasefire, but it wouldn't have meant much, it wouldn't have done much. So what is he doing? And I thought to myself maybe he has a different agenda, maybe he has something in mind that we don't, because we're not in there and we're not seeing how it's operating in the innards where he works, and within a few days he put aid to Israel on the national agenda. And now he has put forth a Senate proposal vote dynamic which is incredibly strong, as best I could tell, and it's basically saying you know, no more aid unless reports reveal the following, and the things that they have to reveal are the complete termination of grotesque violence.

Alexandria Shaner:

Yeah, I think we published that resolution on ZNet last week it was very strongly worded and yeah, so like I agree with you and I don't want to make it sound like I'm saying look, people who have done a lot of great work over their life are therefore have a pass if they want to.

Michael Albert:

Not a plan.

Alexandria Shaner:

No, obviously not.

Alexandria Shaner:

And I'm saying, in fact, it's good, you know, when you say, well, maybe Bernie was trying to do something else or maybe he wasn't and we just didn't have the full picture.

Alexandria Shaner:

Yes, but it's still our job as movement participants to call him out and say, hey, this is not good enough. I don't want to do this as a betrayal, because that actually gives someone in his position more power to do better, but what I would draw the line at is to say you know him personally is a genocidal war criminal. I don't think we have enough information to make that claim and I also think that it's not helping our movement to do that, and it's not. You know, bernie Sanders did not invent and personally support and uphold Zionism over these last years or today. So it's not useful. And, to be honest, I don't see a lot of people doing what you say. I do see some people at the fringe making crazy claims like that about Chomsky, about lots of politicians, but I feel like it's more like a fringe voice that maybe gets amplified due to share media but if you actually talk to most people at least.

Alexandria Shaner:

I haven't come across a lot of people who seriously believe stuff like that.

Michael Albert:

Probably between what you're saying and what I'm saying. But let's switch to your other case, which was Biden. And so there he doesn't have any record, or at least has only a miniscule record, of serious justice fighting, and he's done stuff that is utterly despicable. And so you do have, I think, a situation where a large, perhaps huge number of young people that's what polls are suggesting are so angry at him that, as you say, it's not just that it will be hard to vote for him, but I won't, and I won't on principle. And the principle is he's a, you know he's a and a better of genocide, and so I can't vote for him. But the trouble is, there are circumstances under which one may have to vote for a better of genocide to avoid it, and it becomes so firm of a perspective you know, I'm right, you were wrong, you being Biden, and so I can't support you and it loses track of why you vote for somebody. And this just gets back to the less evil stuff.

Michael Albert:

I saw today a I get very few things from Facebook, but I got one today. I'm not even going to say who it is. Basically, he was responding to somebody saying I'm not going to vote for Biden and nobody should vote for Biden. And he said well, you know, we can talk about that the day after the election and the camps, and it was a very clever. I thought it was a very. If you're going to play the Twitter game, it was clever, but that's you know, that's an element of it.

Alexandria Shaner:

Again, I, my instinct is the same as the other issue. I think this is the noise that rises to the top, and I'm not saying it doesn't have consequences, but this kind of mistaking radicalism for extremism is exactly what the most popular social media and even you know general media platforms. It's what tends to get elevated, it's what causes the most outrage and the most engagement, and so that is why it's the most audible or most visible. But I do think you know from outside of that sphere, just talking to people, I think there's a lot of confusion and a lot of heartache and questioning of you know who? Who do I organize for? Who do I try and mobilize for?

Alexandria Shaner:

Yeah, against MAGA and against Trump or any of the other Republican candidates, and against the very real rising fascist phenomenon that's going on in the US and around the world, while at the same time, I mean, the Democratic Party is just so complicit and even responsible for a lot of this and there's no candidate this time around, like we had Sanders and Warren there's no candidate within the Democratic Party that we can even see a glimmer of our movements in. So what I see going on is just this kind of holy shit moment of like, I know who to organize against, but who are we and like we need some kind of organization around that, and it's not.

Alexandria Shaner:

It doesn't look like it's even possible to come through the Democratic Party, and I know a lot of people are asking these questions in a really serious way and trying to organize some kind of response and some kind of organized vehicle and just coming together to do something about this. I was talking earlier this week with Bill Fletcher Jr, who you've had on this podcast and known for forever, and his response was well, what he's working on and people that he's working with are working on, is that we have to absolutely create a broad, organized front against MAGA, against rising fascism, against Trump, while at the same time, of course, still clobbering Biden and the Democrats on Palestine and on lots of other stuff. But the two are not and cannot be mutually exclusive, and I think to me that sounds like a good way to frame it, because we're just going to have to get serious about holding contentious and sometimes contradicting realities at the same time and organizing through that and keeping our clear vision and keeping solidarity and community while we do that, which is not easy.

Michael Albert:

Yeah, I should own up to something. If you go back to again that past Humphrey against Nixon, I didn't consider, didn't even contemplate, it didn't even cross my mind and nobody I knew considered, contemplated or had it cross their mind to vote for Humphrey. We just didn't vote. So it's basically I don't want to make it sound like we're going downhill here. In a way, we're going up. That is the left. In those days it wasn't even an issue, right, it didn't arise. I mean, maybe it did for Noam, I don't know, or, you know, for Howard Zinn or somebody. Maybe they thought, okay, you know, we should hold our nose and vote for Humphrey, but not me and not people I knew. So I totally I don't know whether empathize is the right word, but you know, empathize with the horror that people feel at Biden and at the Democratic Party and at the idea of voting for someone who basically is they're not even just abetting Israel, right? Israel learns this stuff from us, you know, from the US, is armed by us, learns by us and is defended by us. So how are we less culpable? You got me, I don't know. So, that being the case, I certainly empathize with it. But you know, as you say, it may be essential to be able to hold more than one thought in our minds at a time, and I think it's going to be essential. But on how to deal with the right and how to deal with Trump, I'm not sure. My own inclination is maybe just a little bit different.

Michael Albert:

I don't think Trump's support is policies. I don't think it's reasoned. I don't think it's based on evidence. I think it's based on he's my guy. I'm on that team. Why? Because and this is the sad part to me, if I'm right because I get a sense of efficacy from MAGA. I get a sense of participation from MAGA. I even get support from other MAGA people. We're like a community. We see each other, we're positive about each other. We're not attacking each other. You know we're trying to change the world.

Michael Albert:

It's really sad. They're a movement and we are wallowing around not delivering those things as well. I mean, a large part of MAGA support should clearly be on. The left, should clearly be horrified by MAGA and supportive of the kinds of things that progressives and leftists are involved in, but they're not getting one thing from us respect, they're not getting dignity, they're not getting a sense of involvement and he of all people and MAGA are providing that, and so somehow it seems to me that, just like Abby Hoffman had to ridicule Huak to show what it was, somehow progressives have to stop sort of elevating fascism and destroy it by undercutting its claim on support.

Michael Albert:

I'm not sure how you do that, but it doesn't seem like you do it with evidence, right. It doesn't have any bearing. You know, trump did this, trump did that. Trump is annihilated on late night TV. Trump is being destroyed in the court cases and it's visible. It doesn't have any impact. It's not why people support him and it's not why people are part of that community, and so somehow we have to address that, and you know, we haven't even raised it as a thing to do, much less done it. Well, that's the way it seems to me anyway. So I agree with Bill. But what Fletcher that is? But what is it that? What's the glue and the focus and the claims of that coalition? What is it doing If all it's doing is saying Trump's a bad guy, maga's bad, here's why it's not going to get anywhere. So it has to do something else? Well, I think.

Alexandria Shaner:

Be that way, but I think it is that way.

Alexandria Shaner:

A few things you mentioned I 100% agree on, and that is that people resonate with and are attracted to a sense of efficacy, both in their movement itself but also in personally, in being able to change their own life. Even if it's just an efficacy of feeling efficacy and feeling dignity because of that, if you're even better, if you can change some material circumstance. But it doesn't even have to go that far. So efficacy at community is the other one I think is really really powerful. And I think that the other component is storytelling, whether you call it vision or whether you you know and I don't, I agree with what you say. I don't mean just hashing out facts and know this is actually how it is and this is not how it is, but more in like a, I guess, a farry and sense of, you know, a critical, literacy inspired sense of like helping people to see themselves within the system that exists, in doing so in community, so that they're part of a community that can change that system for the better. And I think storytelling is a huge part of that. As far as like how we do it, I think solutions based talk and organizing is really important, like offering actual alternatives, whether you know like you can go from broad vision to what is the liberatory society and what could it mean for all of us to like very close to home? And I don't mean like policy reforms, I mean more like material, visceral stuff like how do we live, how do we relate to each other, how is our conditions at work, how is our you know, how are we able or not able to make decisions about our own life and direct our own life? So things that relate to that are really powerful, and I also think that one maybe ray of hope is in the US the labor movement.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think it would be a mistake to confuse the success of the labor movement as in itself something liberatory across the board, because a lot of working class people within labor movement who were on strike with UAW weeks ago are Trump supporters. However, I think that is a bridge that has already organizing, it has community, and if the left can tap into that through storytelling and through organizing and I think there's some powerful figures like Sean Fain, for example, who definitely speak to a lot of left thinking and systemic analysis I just think that to me, that's an opportunity for the left, where I don't see the Democratic Party as providing that as like an organizing vehicle at this point, and it doesn't even speak to the working class and to lots of constituencies that we need to be speaking to or with, but I do think the labor movement is a big opportunity. And then, of course, as always, grassroots community based very close to home organizing, that can and should have a liberatory outlook and can help people make those connections.

Michael Albert:

I agree with you completely. But I also wonder. Imagine there was a candidate running against Biden in primaries. The candidate was like Sanders, but better younger, so that we might have Hopi last, and also, or she'd last also able to address this emotional dimension, this daily life, integrity, respect, community dimension, while simultaneously demolishing false claims, et cetera, et cetera. I think the person could win hands down right. So the problem isn't that the public would not be able to relate to it. The problem is the barriers to entry, the money that you need, the ridicule that you take before you can even get off the ground, et cetera, et cetera. It's not that the public wouldn't resonate to that. I think they would. I think it would just overwhelmingly.

Alexandria Shaner:

And they have in years past. I mean Bernie's campaign speaks to that and it's kind of the Democratic Party machine that squashed that, not the American public.

Michael Albert:

Well, partly Sanders did get heard in those Southern primaries, but the oddness of it was that it was partly the black vote in the Southern primaries and that didn't have to happen. That could have been, to say the least, avoided by a candidate doing some things differently than Bernie did. And I still have hopes. I mean, most people think I'm crazy. I have hopes for AOC. She seems to me to be somebody who understands dealing with popular culture and is not intimidated by it and probably can't be intimidated by it. But that's often the future, I guess, although I don't know why. I mean it's another example. Why does everybody, why do these college presidents give into the pressure? Why do all the Democrats, with very few exceptions, ignore polls and give into some internal pressure? I don't fully understand. I mean, one answer is well, there are really sellouts and the positive stuff is just rhetoric. But I don't think that's the case.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think it's more power dynamics and it just shows that these people don't see polls, they don't see the people as having the power, they see moneyed interest and especially in politics electoral politics absolutely it's completely beholden to capital.

Michael Albert:

But it's just a furthering prophecy.

Alexandria Shaner:

Exactly so. They're just behaving in a way that's organized by the existing power dynamics. So I think it seems maybe like a wishful thinking to be talking about reforming and overhauling how money works in the US electoral process and even how voting works different forms of voting that different countries have when we have such an urgent freak out like oh my God, what if we have a fascist president in 2024, full on. But those things, nothing is going to change ever, unless we change the structure of our democracy, because that is what continuously elevates moneyed interest number one and lends itself to fascism, because it's basically a way for those money interests to consolidate more power.

Michael Albert:

And yet part of me holds out in the belief that Trump may not run. I think he may be replaced, mostly because of the legal stuff, but not entirely. I think Biden may not run. I think that I don't know.

Michael Albert:

It's another oldie's blast from the past, but Lyndon Johnson, who was sitting president, was removed from running for office. Basically, they called it at the time the wise men, in other words, a bunch of money bags, the people who run the country, sat down with Lyndon Johnson and said you're out Now. Lyndon Johnson was one of the most progressive domestically. That doesn't mean he's the leftist, you know, but he had lots of domestic progressive programs. But nonetheless the movement had this passionate hatred for Lyndon Johnson and the powers that he decided he was too much of a lightning rod. This is my explanation anyway. It wasn't that he was threatening them by virtue of his own beliefs or inclinations, it's that he was too much of a lightning rod and he had to be removed to remove that spur to the movement.

Michael Albert:

I think slightly different dynamics, fear of fascism, not all capitalists want to see a hugely repressive turn in American society and I think that they may come to the conclusion you know, he's not that bad from our point of view, but he's going to lose or he might lose, and we don't want that. The problem is who takes his place. So I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if neither one of them is running next election. And what worries me about Biden is not that all the people, all the young people and somewhat older, who will now say there's no way I would vote for Genocide Joe, a lot of that will wear off going toward November. But what won't wear it off is there's no way I will work for Genocide Joe. So, in other words, your friends you, you know in swing estates will, nauseated, go to the polls and vote for him, but they won't work for him. And that may be enough for him to lose, and you know the power. They understand this the the so I think he may be removed.

Alexandria Shaner:

We'll see you're an eternal optimist yeah, maybe so. I want to believe you, I really do.

Michael Albert:

I just said may, I didn't say will, and I I think it's a possibility. Anyway, I had one other topic I wanted to do, although we're getting close to an hour, but it's very much connected to all the rest of this, obviously is it's connected to everything, which is what the hell are we doing, even with respect, to say, okay, we're doing a podcast, right, are we?

Michael Albert:

yeah, that's a question, and we may even go video and why are we doing this and what should be our measure of worth, of success, in other words, well, I think that's clear enough. You know? Why do it again? Why do I do 200? And what did I say? 261 consecutive weeks I've done one of these things. Why? And am I crazy?

Alexandria Shaner:

you want it. You want my honest answer yes, yeah well, I don't know.

Alexandria Shaner:

I ask myself that question daily, if not multiple times a day, about lots of things and ways that I choose to spend my time, and sometimes I ask that question out of fatigue or frustration when things are not going well, which I think is just natural and understandable, and maybe even good, because if something isn't working out, it's good to take a step back and reassess and maybe there's something wrong or you should do something different. But I also think that, yeah, I don't know, I mean we, if you're, if you're someone who wants to spend your time and energy trying to make things better, it's just it's not, it's not easy, it's never gonna be easy. No one said it was easy, so of course you know you're gonna run into moments where you don't know if anything that you're doing is having any effect or if you're just grinding yourself down because you have a hero complex and you're just being silly. I don't know. I mean, I don't think anyone knows. But I do think it's a good thing to ask, and not not because I think we should all get into crisis mode and feel like we're we're useless and you know what are we even doing with our lives, but it's just a good mentality to have to be able to take a step back and ask why you're doing what you're doing, and does that connect with your, your values and and your aims, your long-term aims?

Alexandria Shaner:

I have that question all the time since starting to work on Znet a few years ago, because, going into the project, my thinking and feeling was we are so saturated with media all the time. You can listen to it, watch it, read it. It's like you just absorb it walking around. There's just so much information and noise being made about everything. So do I really want to contribute, and is it necessary or effective or good to contribute to another project in that realm? Doing more of that?

Alexandria Shaner:

And I still don't know the answer. And I've been doing this for a couple years now and I spend a lot of time and energy on it. So maybe I'm crazy too, but I think that it's actually good that I have that in my mind, because I'm not interested in just doing more. Because, again, culturally, I think we're in a culture that pressures more, more, more, constantly for everything you know. Work more if you like, if you like running, become the best runner and join this club and do this competition, like everything, is more, more, more. So I think it's just good to be able to step back and ask why you're doing what you're doing, and sometimes the answer is well, actually, maybe it's not what you should be doing, and sometimes it is, and sometimes we just don't know.

Michael Albert:

Sometimes, it's sometimes it's well, I've been doing it, so I'll keep doing it exactly I stopped doing it.

Alexandria Shaner:

I was an idiot before yeah, does that mean, I've wasted time, or? You know looks like fool and said things that now I think are maybe not true and you know, it's all possible. I think that.

Michael Albert:

I think that I think an advisory comes out of this because of, for instance, your, your reaction to media, that has an obvious advisory attached to it, I think, which is don't reproduce what's out there yeah don't reproduce what there's an abundance of, even if it would be successful, right?

Michael Albert:

so in other words, you know, z, for example, or Revolution Z, should not do things, like you said, to please the audience, that would please the audience and that would grow. Instead of things that will challenge, that may make a difference, that, instead of being redundant and changing nobody's mind about anything, might actually lead to some new insights. So that should be, you know, the sort of emphasis that's that's my feeling anyway just just to add on to that point.

Alexandria Shaner:

I think there's a community aspect which you know we've been talking and everyone talks about the importance of community.

Alexandria Shaner:

It's also, to an extent, if you know, we're trying to be strategic and ask yourself why we're doing what we're doing, and even particularly in producing left media.

Alexandria Shaner:

I really am committed to this idea and feel deeply that I have no interest in competing with other similar projects out there or any other projects out there, and that doesn't mean that I don't want what I do and what we do at Z to be really, really good or even like the best of doing what it does, but it means that I'm rejecting this need to compete and instead I want to do something different, or something that's not being done, or something that supports good work that others are doing, and it's really more of a mindset that then shifts your strategy and and what the outcomes are.

Alexandria Shaner:

So, again, it maybe sounds vague, but I think it's really key and it builds community, because we're not trying to compete within the sphere of left media and you know you're not trying to compete in the sphere of podcasting or anyone who's organizing anything. If you're, if you're looking at it from a different mindset of how can this build the wider community, of the bigger goals of our project of creating a better world but there's still a moment or a an element that can yield depression.

Michael Albert:

And why am I doing this? Okay, so, if I'm doing this to have the kind of effect that you're describing, which I think is the right or a really desirable reason for doing things, and I'm doing a podcast or I'm doing a media apparatus like Z, what if the audience is small?

Michael Albert:

what if I you know, my partner for decades did theater and she used to do, and it was incredible and it had those same motives. And so sometimes she'd come home from in the evening of putting on a play that she directed, wrote and acted in and others acted in, and she'd be depressed because there would have been 10 or 15 people and I had to sort of say something. I mean, what do you say? And the only thing I could ever come up with was yeah, but maybe Rosa Luxembourg was sitting in the audience and you could have performed that thing for a thousand people and it would have meant nothing. Maybe you could have performed it for ten people and changed history, and you don't know. And so sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't work as far as her mood, but I do think it's true, and the thing I quote all the time, which comes from Rosa Luxembourg you lose, you lose, you lose, you win also bears on it.

Michael Albert:

And yet I don't think it's enough. In other words, so Chomsky's version is I know that if I don't do what I do, there's a slightly smaller chance that will create a better world. I certainly know that if I don't do it, and we don't do it, we don't all do it, we're not gonna survive. So I do it. And the trouble is, I think that for most people, that's not enough. They need and I don't contest this and I don't criticize, and I think it's arguably right I think we may be the crazy ones. In other words, they, they need to know that what they're doing matters. They need to know, they need to have a rash. You know, a sensible, not manufactured belief that they are, their activity can make a difference, which is why I think you know vision and strategy matter, so much so that it also causes you to be careful about what you're doing. You know, to try and have it accomplish as much as it can but as to this podcast.

Michael Albert:

It's, I'll tell you, it frustrates me sometimes. I well, let me use somebody other than me. Ron Daniels used to tell me he ran for president at one point in time and he would go around to give these talks, you know, because he was running for president. And he would tell me Michael fucking, a Thursday night I gave a talk. It was absolutely I couldn't do better. It was really fantastic and eight people heard it, and you know what it's. It is frustrating. So sometimes I feel like that was a really good episode. Who's gonna hear it? You know who should hear it, and then, not just who's gonna hear it, who's gonna have the wherewithal to criticize it, you know, and to think about what could be done better and how they don't know well, that's the thing.

Alexandria Shaner:

You don't know and you can't know, even without these days, all our metrics of clicks and how much time did they spend on this page or how many listens, we don't know and you can't know. And I mean, that's just life, like we can't actually control most of the outcomes. We can only control trying. We can control practice. We can control to an extent how we live. We'd like to be able to control that more. And I think another, another thing that people benefit from if there is a situation like you're describing, where this kind of abstract idea of like you try, try, try, you win and you're just happy to be part of this process, that's greater than yourself over the years of struggle, so that at some point nobody ever knows something is gonna happen and grow and build and be better. And it's happened in the past, it happens all the time. It's gonna happen again. Humanity is is not a linear experiment. It's it's full of wiggles and waggles as far as how we live. So you know, if just like the concept of being a part of that liberatory community and that ongoing struggle and where who knows what set off different chains of reactions and big things happen or didn't happen if that's like too abstract. I think for me it's been really helpful and I have observed in others that it's really helpful. The other side of that is through experience, through practice. Where that abstract idea of being part of a tradition and an ongoing community of struggle becomes real is when you actually do something where you feel a part of it. And it can be, you know, very small, like, you know, even a volunteer event in your community. Or you know it can be big, like marching through the streets with a hundred thousand people or being part of civil disobedience, and, you know, shutting down some corporate meeting and spending a night in a jail cell with your friends, like. Those experiences, all across that spectrum, are where, at least for me, you can tend to feel, finally, like alive and connected to the world as you understand it and how it could be, and like it feels real.

Alexandria Shaner:

And I think something that a lot of people suffer from these days is just disconnect, whether it's, you know, through like a work analysis, where you call it alienation, or an ecological analysis where you, you know, feel like we are, we're too separate from the environment, from our ecology, and that causes pain and trauma. However you look at it. We all suffer from disconnect and I think in our organizing that's no different, because the internet is great and zoom is great, but, like, until you feel you kind of embody somehow the experience of doing the work, that that is the reward it like, I feel like I live in a most liberated world and I'm living my most liberated life when I'm doing the work. So it's.

Alexandria Shaner:

It might be a hard sell at first to someone who doesn't want to engage or doesn't think they'll feel efficacy, but I think we need to find ways to show people, to let them experience and embody the work of organizing and of activism, because that that is the efficacy, that is the way to like live the revolution, to have it now, without promising that we're gonna, you know, bring it all down and raise up something better tomorrow. But we can live it to an extent and to me that's as good as it gets, and I don't say that in a pessimistic way. It's incredible and it makes you feel alive.

Michael Albert:

I think that's a good note to end on. So this is Mike Albert signing off, until next time with Alexandria, who will be back often.

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