Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hijacked Film Screening Hijacked

Green candidate tries to upstage film screening

Sometimes, the most amusing stories about an election campaign are those that never hit the news media.

The story of Brian Tobin being turned away by a normally-reliable Liberal voter because his party had called an election in the midst of Manitboa's Red River floods is a story that comes to mind.

Under the "lost cause" category of politics, the following is one of hundreds of such stories that almost certainly will emerge in the course of the 2008 federal election:

"Never Mind the Ballots - Politician hijacks film screening I have been organizing and attending all kinds of rallies, discussions, and gatherings arround many issues for many years now, and one thing has over and over made me angry.

Tonight there was a film screening at a local volunteer run community space that I work at. I was there as the host, it was a great video, with a great turnout, about 50 people showed up to see "Hijacked Future" a documentary about the pattening of seeds, and how GMO crops, and corporations are destroying local agriculture.
it was a diverse crowd, many farmers, many seniors, many anarchist punks, and youth, and one guy in a suit.

After the film there was a discussion, the first person to put up their hand was the skinny guy in the suit. He introduced himself as someone who works on a farm, and is running for office in the election as a Green party candidate. Throughout the night he kept putting his hand up to keep adding something about how you could join groups that were working to stop this, like the green party, or how you could support good politicians, or similar crap that really boiled down to "vote for me."
Three things bothered me about this;

First off, the fact that over and over the conversation kept being centered around his campaign, he spoke a lot each time he spoke, he kept speaking, which took up a lot of the time, and many people never got to speak at all...

Secondly how the resistance to this corporatization was narrowed into 2 options, vote green party, or buy organic and local. These are both very problematic. I, for example, could not afford to buy organic. Many people cannot which means that we could not be part of the activism if that's all we can do. This option makes activism only possible if you are middle or upper class.

As well with the voting (as if that ever changed anything) if the candidate does not win, then what? Wait till next election?? But the problem is continuing on right now... As well, what if the majority does not care about your issue, or understand it, dose that then mean it is not important? Democracy is based on majority rule (not like we actually have a democracy anyways), thus meaning that if the majority does not agree with your opinion, your voice does not count, and what you think does not matter. this is what Bakunin called the tyrany of the majority. As well there are other options, but the candidates don't went us to think about them. In Oaxaca, and Chaiapas for example the indigenous farmers have decided to go with solutions to their food security that do not involve the government at all, like collectivism, and these strategies have worked well. As well there are many good strategies against corporate control that have been used by other groups like SHAC which is a anti-animal testing group that has done incredibly successful campaigns against HLS a huge animal testing lab based out of the UK and the USA. They have almost shut down this company, and used strategies that are neither based on political parties nor having enough money to be part of it. Rather they have used ecconomic stratagies based on targeting the companies that do buisness with HLS, causing over 500 companies to quit buisness with them, and almost bring the corporate giant to it's knees.

The last thing that bothered me about this was the opportunism. I have known many people that became politicians, often for good reasons. At first they see it as a strategy to get issues dealt with, then after a while it reverses, they seam to see the issues as a strategy to get elected. If he had been there to support the event, he would not have crowded the speaking time, he likely would not have gone home and changed into a suit first, he would not have handed out buisness cards, and would not have made sure to be the first person to speak, and the last for that matter. But this is typical of the politician. He, a new farm hand, came to a meeting attended by many farmers, and told them what they needed to do to resist, as if the farmers did not know better that he did about thier own lives. This attitude is the same attitude that colonialsist used, that many white activists use towards non-whites, and that many men use towards womyns groups.

It seamed ironic to me, the film was called Hijacked Future, and what we ended up with was our event being hijacked by the Green party. They, like all other parties want our support, and will say anything to get it... These are people who show in their actions that they will do almost anything to get power. Do we want them making decisions that affect our future?
The organizer in question is Victoria-area social activist Conrad Fletcher. Among other things, he's involved in groups such as Noise Not Bombs.

The Green party candidate in question is most likely Adam Saab, who's running in Victoria, the riding in which the event was held. His behaviour should have Green Party leader Elizabeth May asking herself a question:

Is hijacking community film screenings really the kind of behaviour she condones? Like the Liberal party and their troubles with Green Shift Inc, does May really want her party to be in the business of cutting the throats of those whose support she would otherwise be soliciting?

Just like it's hard to build a Green industry when you're constantly making adversaries out of environmental firms, it's hard to build a relationship with the grassroots -- especially the radical grassroots -- when you're constantly disrupting their events.

One would think that a fringe party like the Green party would understand the fringe political movements they want to appeal to. Instead, it seems that they just don't get it.

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