MAY DAY A Bust–Young Activists Dropping The Ball

About 600 people, maybe 700, on the State House Lawn today.  That’s NOT GOOD.  Considering what Shumlin and the Legislature are doing to the working class and working poor.  Considering what’s going on in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle, etc.. And considering that our Legislature is looking to eliminate state tax deductions on charitable donations under $5000.00 to non-profit and activist groups who assist the poor, the disabled, the underpaid, the environment, the people, it seems to me that whoever is responsible at the Vermont Workers Center and other groups to get the people out is really doing a terrible job.

I was talking to my friend Duke Forcier, a guy my age who used to run Blouin’s here in Montpelier years ago.  We agreed that May Day turnout, instead of increasing over the last few years, is now in an anemic phase, and getting worse.  We both were underwhelmed by the crowd today, and wondered WTF is going on with the so-called activists who are supposed to be getting the crowds out so the media will do bigger stories and the politicians will take notice.

Duke and I are both 66.  Having been active with Leftie groups myself since the sixties, and having organized Marches and rallies and forums here in Montpelier since ’98, I put THE BLAME squarely on the backs of this younger White Semi-Yuppie generation of activists who think everything can be done electronically.  That sending out an email and phoning the same people who already got the email is enough.  IT IS NOT!  Young and Dumb!  Duh!

You need MEDIA!!!  You MUST have PSAs on the radio stations, stories in every paper, announcements in every community calendar, phone calls, emails, faxes AND personal contact with news people from WCAX to The Montpelier Bridge and The World. And I mean over and over again right up to the day of the event. 600, 700 people on MAY DAY???  Should be 6 to 7000.  Some people are not doing their PR jobs.  Or else activism in Vermont has become an INSIDER thing–an Elite ‘Feel Good’ Club.  Today’s May Day turnout would shame the TEA PARTY.  It should certainly shame you new generation of activists

Call VPIRG and every other activist group and get them to pitch in with mailings and phone calls.  Duke suggested you could call on Ben & Jerry, or some other RICH Lib-er-al to donate a few thousand dollars for a media blitz.  Get on VPR and WDEV.  Where was the front page story in the Main or State section of the Times-Argus this morning?  What The Fuck do you youngsters think?  That ‘word of mouth’ will do your job for you?  That people will come out because they like you?  I don’t much fucking like you now, and haven’t for years.  Since ’98 here in Montpelier, I’ve seen the lazy half-assed approach you have to organizing and publicizing a political event.  There was an old joke in SDS in the sixties:  “The Left could fuck-up (or be late for) an ambush.”  Well, yes, we had our fuck-ups back then, but nothing as DISGRACEFUL as today’s non-event.

I shook hands with you, JAMES HASLIM, just before the rally started, expecting, I guess, more people to show up.  I should have given you SHIT about the turnout then.  Cause it didn’t get any better.  And WHERE was the Workers Center post on THIS blogsite?

A spade is a spade.  You people maybe need to sit down and go back to March & Rally 101 from the sixties.  And, for Christ’s Sake, PLEASE don’t pat yourselves on the backs for today’s event.  It was a LOSER!

This is why the RICH and the Republicans are WINNING!!!  SHAME!!!

Peter Buknatski

Pissed-off in Montpelier, Vt.

2 thoughts on “MAY DAY A Bust–Young Activists Dropping The Ball

  1. For starters, the premise that today’s rally in Montpelier was mis-organized and conducted in a futile, cyber fashion is patently false.  Some extremely talented and intelligent organizers, including some folks who are coveted nationally for their skills, are organizing here in Vermont and were a part of a large number of organizations and unions who put Montpelier’s May Day events together.

    Yes, I and many people I spoke with were surprised and dismayed by the turnout.  Not that getting several hundred people to an event is easy, but past turnouts have been better and, given all else (including what you listed, Pete) one would hope and even expect more folks to be engaged and excited to be in the streets.  This leads me to a couple other points: for one, if you’re going to point to the way things were done “in the 60’s” then perhaps you’d care to back that up with some of the great successes your strategy achieved- the end of institutional racism? Of imperialist war? Of an inhuman and unjust class-based economic system? The whithering of a social order built on greed and exploitation?  Sexual and gender equality? Last I checked, the radical- meh, even the merely progressive- movements of the 60’s accomplished a few window-dressing victories, alongside providing a blueprint for an expanded hegemony of capital, the state, the police state, and institutionalized oppression.  The greatest victory of the 60’s- the liberation of “individualism”, is at its heart most responsible for exactly your gripe; namely, lack of engagement socially and politically, a looming sense of disempowerment and indifference, and most of all a religious belief in “me” over “we”.  I mean, when you courageous 60’s troublemakers started, college in the US was outrageously affordable, if not free.  Guess that makes you responsible for the collage debt crisis as well as the millions upon millions who don’t even dream of higher education because it’s so impossibly unattainable?

    Which leads me to this synthesis (between the “brilliant” tactics of the near rebellion of the 60’s and your assertions that activists today failed because so many activists stayed home this afternoon): maybe, just maybe, no one cares or should care how many fucking activists are in the streets.  Organizers don’t need to care, politicians don’t need to care, the capitalist class doesn’t need to care… Maybe what we need are working class people- blue collar, regular Joe folks.  Would you like me to share some videos of regular, poor people- not activists- who are in the streets of Baltimore as we speak? The ruling class are shaking in their loafers (or did you miss that Baltimore is currently under military occupation to try to beat them back?).  And that more weren’t in the streets of Montpelier today is s failure of the movement and those who work for it, but we can also, hopefully, recognize that engaging “regular” working people (instead of self-identified “activists” or those from the more privileged and comfortable edges) has for millennia been THE challenge for those working for social change.  It’s chiefly a challenge in this country because in the 60’s they couldn’t relate to what the hippies were doing, because they weren’t engaging anyone but other hippies.

    To declare the organizers working in VT are a failure because of a single parade’s turnout rather than looking at the tremendous efforts being taken on literally dozens of fronts for even many more dozens of issues, is ludicrous.

    Speaking of ludicrous: have the radicals of the 60’s grown so cynical at their failure to transform society in a meanibgful way that you’ll actuall sit on the sides watching a March pass by while saying “this thing wouldn’t be such a failure if more people were marching instead of sitting on the sides watching it pass by”?

    Gimme a fucking break, Petey.

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