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11/19/2003 Archived Entry: "Culture jamming"

Cartoon Fix: Tom Toles' "Lightning May Strike" and Ann Telnaes' "Pass it Along" both comment on what appears to be a dramatic shift in Bush's attitude toward Iraq from 2003-2004. (Bush denies that he is planning to withdraw US troops from Iraq, BTW.) Dick Wright's latest cartoon "Trapped" offers insight into why the troops may be staying. For a touch of the surreal...an animation on economists.

Bush is in Buck House, safely sequestered from protestors and other inconvenient realities including Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, who has publicly called Bush the "greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen"... The next 24 hours should be eventful but, for the moment, I want to update some comments from my last two blogs. I mentioned that prominent British politicians are threatening to influence the 2004 US Presidential election by slapping tariffs on key swing states in an attempt to punish Bush for his tariff on British steel and to win those states for the Democrats who would, presumably, repeal the offending measure. Now...

This item comes to my attention through David Beito's post on the Liberty and Power group blog to which I contribute. According to This London of 11/18/03: "George Bush's administration has called on US companies in Britain to relocate jobs to America in an astonishing move that could trigger a major trade war. US-based multinationals have been told they will receive compensation from American trade authorities if they cancel contracts in Britain and take jobs home, according to CBI director-general Digby Jones. The allegations come only a day before Bush arrives in London for his controversial State visit and escalate the storm of protest he has already caused by slapping big protectionist tariffs on European steel imports." Speaking at the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham, Jones said: "Three chief executives of American companies investing in Britain have told me to my face that they have been told to close down, bring their stuff home and make it in the US." Not satisfied with military war on an international level, Bush seems to be declaring an economic one as well.

I jokingly speculated on whether Prince Charles -- in light of the emerging sex scandal surrounding him -- would be included in Bush's royal photo ops. The absurdity of reality is outpacing my sense of humor. Here's the photo; it is just crying out for a photo-caption contest. Apparently PC was the royal assigned to greet Bush at Heathrow Airport while the Queen opted for a more private (no photo) greeting at the Palace. I wonder, which one of the men was being punished?

I have been contacted by Michael John Dobbins, author of "Stop Bush in 2004: How Every Citizen Can Help," and I encourage everyone who believes in voting to check out his site Stop Bush in 2004. Michael writes of his site, "StopBushin2004.com will provide all of the necessary Education, organization, and action resources for citizens to take effective action against Bush in 2004. When I say all necessary resources, I mean ALL of them. Every action available, every organization taking action, every educational tool, every way to get organized; everything!" As a caveat, I must add that I do not advocate participating in electoral politics in any capacity other than as a protestor. My anarchistic objections to electing rulers have not weakened but I do not look down upon those who disagree with my position and, so, feel impelled to cast an electoral ballot. I had hoped to re-open a discussion of this issue by posting a thoughtful email on political action that I received from "David" but that will have to wait -- hopefully only 'til tomorrow -- due to time pressure and too many items to cover.

As a preliminary to discussion, let me provide the barest sense of one other anti-Bush, anti-war strategy: laughing at authority and, so, stripping it of respect. This process has been called "sniggling," which is explained at sniggle.net: the culture jammer's encyclopedia. The "proper" definition of sniggle is "(v.t. To fish for eels by thrusting the baited hook into their holes or hiding places. (v. t.) To catch, as an eel, by sniggling; hence, to hook; to insnare." The new meaning: "Culture Jamming, or sniggling, is the act of using existing mass media to comment on those very media themselves, using the original medium's communication method....The word, "culture jamming" comes from the idea of radio jamming: that public frequencies can be pirated and subverted for independent communication, or to disrupt dominant frequencies....Culture jamming is a form of activism and a resistance movement to the hegemony of popular culture, based on the ideas of "guerrilla communication" and the "detournement" of popular icons and ideas."

(The following links come courtesy of Mary Lou Seymour's Liberty Action of the Week LAotW-owner@yahoogroups.com.) Culture jammers you might want to check out:
--Freeway Bloggers is a group dedicated "to free speech and guerilla artists everywhere." It operates on the basic principle of "When you put a sign on the freeway, people will read it until someone takes it down. Depending on its size, content and placement it can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people." Some of the signs they have posted on freeways: "32,000 dead and I'm still paying $2.29 gallon for unleaded," "No one died when Clinton lied," and "Dulce et decorum est pro Haliburton mori." Others messages are grimmer: "The War is a Lie."
--Sniggle.net provides an encyclopedia for culture jammers - exposing the cracks in a culture where a sniggler can hide the semantic explosives. Its creator Dave Gross writes, "If you note an insurrectionary undercurrent running through these pages, you're right on target. My feeling is that when the enemy is an army of deadening algorithms, committing buffoonery is tantamount to revolution." Explore strategies such as droplifting...shoplifting in reverse. One droplift strategy that Mary Lou particularly applauds:"the Barbie Liberation Organization" which switched the voice-generating units in talking Barbie dolls with the ones in talking G.I. Joe dolls and returning the dolls post-surgically to the toy store. The two dolls then made strides against the tyranny of gender roles, Barbie yelling "Vengeance is mine" while Joe offered: "Let's go shopping!"
--Simon Jester is a specifically libertarian organization. As Mary Lou notes, "SJ is based on the little devil created by Robert A. Heinlein in the sci-fi classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Simon Jester was the clever creation of a group of Loonies (lunar revolutionaries) fomenting rebellion. "Simon" tormented the lunar government with catchy little jokes, ditties, poems, slogans and cartoons, always signing his work with a little cartoon image of a grinning devil." The site provides a starter kit for those who wish to be jesters complete with starter slogans such as "Writing to Washington won't help; he's dead!"
--Bureaucrash -- "an international network of activists of all
political persuasions who believe that bloated, sprawling governments and the bureaucrats and politicians who control them ought to be mocked. Mercilessly."

Well...I'd best return to the real world, with just one last comment. Brad and I went to see the movie Looney Tunes last night and enjoyed it tremendously. But, then, we are both avid fans of Warner Brother's cartoons and prefer them over the softer-edged Disney or Hanna-Barbera.

Best to all,

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