// dana williams // 2004 !!! //

Another year of possibilities. Another year of elected and unelected despots determining who dies and who lives (only to suffer). Another year of people resisting in tiny and major ways. Another year to celebrate the meaningful expressions of real people living with real joy and real disappointment. Another year of humble attempts on my part to throw a literary wrench into the gears of authority. Another year for me to analyze the chaos in-between my ears and live the aesthetic of "each one teach one". Onward!


Week 12: 07/25/04
Activist Burn-Out
The question of counteracting activist burnout is always on my mind and I've struggled with it for many years and assume I'll continue to struggle with it. Here are a few thoughts about what we can do about it. If you view (as I do) activism as organizing outside of the institutional system of politics, the cards are already stacked against us, because we are challenging that system. Therefore there is more resistance within the system and by other citizens who are socialized to not see problems.


Week 11: 07/19/04
Getting Over Fear: The Homeless as Society's Conscience
I have to admit that I grew up with some sort of illogical fear of those who are less fortunate. I can't really explain how it happened, except to say that society socialized me, against my will, to fear the poor, mentally ill, homeless, and, yes, people of color. Admitting this is a tough thing to do, especially for someone with left-wing politics. But, it's true. Mass media's movies, TV news, magazines, and pop culture makes one fear the “degenerates” of society. For someone who was raised in a middle-class family with very little contact with people unlike me, it's difficult to know any better. Sure, most of my friends through out grade school and high school were working class, and only one good friend of mine actually went to college and graduated. But, they still looked like me.


Week 10: 06/06/04
Remembering Reagan
Ronald Reagan just died. The news media is awash in patriotism over the “great communicator” (i.e. “the actor”). CNN proudly quoted Bush Jr. who (with a straight face) proclaimed him a “gallant leader in the cause of freedom”. I never trust what Bush says, but this is particularly atrocious. First, let me explain that although he just died of Alzheimer's, I'm not taking advantage of his senility (although it was rampant through his entire Presidential stint). My grandfather died of Alzheimer's less than 10 years ago, and it's no laughing matter. But, we must be able to critique public figures, and it seems far easier after they have passed off this earth.


Week 09: 05/25/04
The Blame Game
It sometimes seems to me that people in the US have been programmed to respond to anything that they disagree with or have never considered with immediate contempt and dismissal. This also leads to people seeing the Left as a "bunch of complainers" who are "blaming everyone" for the problems that they see. I'd like to point out that the toughest thing to do is actually look in the mirror in the morning. How's that old saying go? "When you point your finger at someone, the other fingers point back towards you."


Week 08: 05/18/04
Obey the Thirsty Oil Gods!
Pop quiz: what's the fastest way to get an entire nation of Americans to start whining? Answer? Raise the price of oil. Well, don't raise it to the level of Europe or Asia, or most anywhere else in the world, but raise it a few cents on the gallon, and you'll have an entire nation of obese, lazy, over-indulgent, luxury car-drivin' Americans whining as if you'd threatened to smother them with a pillow.


Week 07: 04/01/04
Jesus Made Me Do It!
Somewhere between the benign “what would Jesus do?” (WWJD?) crowd and goose-stepping fascists, are those who call themselves the “religious Right”... as if there were anything “right” about it, except its political orientation. These folks seem to think that the laws of religion are as flexible as the laws of gravity are to Jackie Chan movies or “The Matrix”. They utilize all sorts of religious passages, sayings, psalms, and teachings to suit their own individualistic (and sick, in my opinion) purposes.


Week 06: 03/21/04
Am I A Pacifist?
“Am I a pacifist?” Why this might not seem the most burning question to many in their daily life, it's a constant factor in mine. I have come to understand, through personal observation and analysis, that we live in a very, very violent world. Knowing this, I must make a decision to “play along” with “business as usual” and be violent myself, or at least complicit in it. Or I must make an intentional and meaningful stance against it that tries to limit my own complicity, involvement, and acceptance of the violence around me.


Week 05: 03/03/04
I Love Libraries
Libraries are a good judge of how civilized a society is. The more knowledge freely available information is, the better the society (generally, at least). Libraries facilitate the free sharing of information, regardless of race, gender, education, and age (at least nowadays). Access to information, ideas, data, and such are bedrock resources for allowing citizens to foster intellectual self-defense against those in power who distort and lie about their actions.


Week 04: 03/01/04
Winning Economic Reforms
I believe in “revolution” -- the large scale transformation/evolution of human values and arrangement in a more just, free, and sustainable fashion. I believe that the way to achieve such r/evolution is through a long-term process of reform and rebellion, and an effort to create societal counter-institutions (i.e. “dual power”). As such, I have a few basic ideas that can help to win economic reforms that will improve the lives of real people struggling day and day out in the US. Hopefully this struggle will indirectly aid in removing the West's boot from the neck of the Global South, too.


Week 03: 02/15/04
The Democraps
I come from a Democrat-voting household. I've got no reason to suspect that either of my parents have ever voted anything other than Democrat. They likely have a few [unfortunate] disagreements in general ideology, such as on the issue of a woman's right to choose, but otherwise are what I'd call strong Democrats. That said, the Democratic Party is the most worthless excuse for a political organization this country has today. I don't just mean in its lack of a cohesive ideology or vibrant vision; I mean in it's ability to do anything, to stand up to adversity, or to even speak out against the Republicans. Not that I'm all broken up inside because of this -- I'm an anarchist and thus fundamentally opposed to the idea of party politics (at least as its constructed in its current configuration).


Week 02: 02/01/04
The Joys of Snow
I've lived in Ohio now for over three and a half years. The one thing I haven't really been able to adapt to is the relative lack of winter. Sure, winter exists, but it seems to come and go in a half-hearted manner, not snowing much, not getting too cold, and the weather and snow-accumulation widely oscillating. My Minnesota upbringing has raised me to expect winters of multiple-feet deep snow drifts, temperatures dipping to twenty below Fahrenheit, and a winter that extends from Halloween through March.


Week 01: 01/11/04
Transportation Transformation
I know many bicyclists who never drive in cars and rarely ride in them. I know other bicyclists who drive and ride in cars regularly. I fall in the latter category. I find it particularly intriguing that I go through a psychological transformation when I get off my bike and step into my car. A similar transformation occurs when people park their car in a parking lot (often in these ugly suburban strip malls) and get out to walk through the parking lot to where they're going. In both of these mode-changes people seem to re-evaluate their relationship to the terrain and exert themselves differently for each.


dana williams: 2003

My year-long project to explore my ideas more in-depthly was a relative personal success. It allowed me to combine disparate ideas into [somewhat] cohesive tracts. The many topics I wrote about often reflected the various activities and projects I worked on, but also general things that were merely running through my mind. A number of them made their way into other venues, such as Vastlane.org, the zine "agricouture", and into self-published pamphlets. Outside of those, I have no idea if anyone other than myself benefited from them. It'd be nice to think someone did.

These are essays that have been written during the 2003 year. They range from the quaint to the "grand", from the personal to the political (and everywhere in-between). I hope some of these essays are worth your time. And if you're inspired, take action! Thanks for the sympathy and patience. Have a nice day and a peaceful year.


Week 21: 10/17/03
Electoral Action Ain't Democracy
It should be a given that voting isn't the be-all and end-all of democracy. If people think that walking into a little booth once every year (or every four years) and poking a few holes in some pieces of paper is the pinnacle of modern democracy, they are selling themselves-- and the idea of democracy-- short. There are many avenues for people to act politically, many of which can be conducive to the practice of democracy.


Week 20: 09/13/03
What Human Nature Isn't
Actually this title is deceptive. There's a lot of things that "human nature" isn't, but there's a lot that it is, too. That's my point: human nature is a subjective thing that someone applies to selective human behaviors for their own reasons. Human being s are so complex, diverse, and creative that monolithic explanations are very tough to swallow. Many believe that personalities and social characteristics are determined by a unique mix of "nature" and "nurture". That is, that someone's genetic makeup is combined with their child raising and socialization experiences.


Week 19: 08/17/03
All POWER To The People
Lord Acton once said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Although he was not referring to electrical power, the same could be true in the following case. On Thursday August 14th, 2003, electrical power went down in much of the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada. Most of this power was generated by highly-centralized private power, in an “absolute power” sort of way. Speaking as someone who was in the dark for roughly 5 hours on Thursday night in Ohio, it was a great opportunity for us to reflect on the really important things in life. Regarding energy policy, it makes perfect sense for the US (and the American people) to start seriously considering a few things.


Week 18: 08/13/03
Nations, states, and The State
Americans are far too casual with their speech. We carelessly use words to describe things inaccurately and, as a result, frequently find ourselves unable to understand complex things about the world-- and about ourselves. Take the idea of the “nation-state”. When this phrase is used, people usually mean to say “country”. A nation-state is an incredibly rare thing on our planet. As Martin Glassner notes in “Political Geography”, a state is a political unit, a nation is a group of people, and a nation state is the intersection of the two. Thus, a nation-state is a geographical region that is both a state and composed of a nation (note: not multiple nations).


Week 17: 07/14/03
No More Prisons!
Dave Dellinger once stood before a judge prepared to sentence him to prison and stated: "I think that every judge should be required to serve time in prison before sentencing other people there, so that he might become aware of the degrading and anti-human conditions that persist not only in Cook County jail but in the prisons generally of this country." In Dellinger's bold and brash pronouncement, there lies a simple truth-- prisons are the warehouses of America's poor and powerless, not places that society's elites frequent.


Week 16: 06/23/03
A Love Affair Evolves
I learned to ride a bike when I was six. My parents had weaned me on bicycling years before that with child seats on their bikes. I guess you could say that bicycling has been one of the longest obsessions in my life. During my junior high and high school years it was my escape from home, where I'd go biking to the mall, or just around the mall and back. It was my chance to see places I hadn't seen before and scout them out. I loved going further and faster than the time before. I took short bike trails that had jumps in them. I learned to bike with no hands. I figured out the best ways to survive biking on busy streets. But, then, for some reason I forgot all this.


Week 15: 06/06/03
Fantasy of a City
Many great thinkers have debated the “ideal city”. Peter Kropotkin, Paul Goodman, Murray Bookchin, and David Harvey all have strategized, planned, theorized, and reminisced. Although none completely worship the past, they all point to previous cities as useful guides for the present. Even in Kropotkin's time, he referenced a pre-industrial society that was scaled to its needs, in his book “Fields, Factories, and Workshops”. What are the elements of a sustainable, diverse, and liberating city? If I had the power to design it, how would the “perfect” city look? Here's my humble attempt to fantasize about what a good city should have and how it would fit together.


Week 14: 05/31/03
Turning Twenty-Six
For many young adults, milestones include the “Sweet 16”, the legal age of 18, or the drinking age of 21. For me, there was 26. You see, since turning 18. I have become seriously adverse to violence, especially its manifestation in war. For American men, 26 is the magic age out of the draft. I no longer will be drafted by the US government to fight another stupid war for American imperialism and capitalism.


Week 13: 05/22/03
Burying Our Heads in the Sand
I frequently encounter people who see problems around them and know that society is “messed up”, but never seem to make any efforts to change things. Most people can logically understand all the arguments social activists put in front of them, but to make them do anything takes much more work. If activism is defined by “activity”, then “hip cynicism” is the ultimate embodiment of passivity.


Week 12: 05/09/03
Recipe for Revolution
Radicals often speak of “revolution”, not as an abstract process of widespread societal change, but “The Revolution” as a discrete event. This trivializes the work needed to bring about revolution. Those of us who are serious about revolution and believe in its necessity need to appreciate the long hard work ahead of us, and to strategize intelligently to get there.


Week 11: 05/02/03
Defense Mechanism
Most complex biological organisms have built-in defenses that react on an instinctual level. Humans also have this on a biological and psychological level-- such as white blood cells and the fabled “fight or flight” instinct. Human societies are also complex organisms, which have similar defense mechanisms that react to threats. In repressive societies (in the present-era, this is the majority), the response to such threats (i.e. liberation) is more repression. Thus, in American society, the Capitalist-Military-Police-State responds to movements and actions designed to disrupt it, such as anti-war activism.


Week 10: 04/17/03
Media: Wheel-o-Crapola
Leftists are often heard saying that the mass media/corporate media lies. I don't know that it really lies as much as it swallows lies told it. The media should be viewed as a funnel that channels together lots of crap, which must be squeezed out into tiny droplets. If the mass media is a part of Corporate America, it will obviously replicate the attitudes, values, and interests of that system.


Week 09: 03/15/03
Coloring Outside the Lines
A friend of mine was arrested March 15th. She was walking on the side of a road in downtown Akron, right before a St. Patrick's Day parade holding a puppet (with the help of two friends). A policeman angrily told her to get out of the road, even though there weren't any cars. No cars that could run into or be hit by the puppet (being run by her and two others). He threatened to arrest her, indifferent that the road was closed down for the specific purpose of having people walk on it with funny costumes, floats, and, yes, puppets. Then he did arrest her (and would have likely arrested the other puppeteers and myself if more police had been around).


Week 08: 03/01/03
Music That's Rocked My Ass
I used to think records were hokey relics of the past. I used to tease my parents about owning them. Considering this, it's horribly ironic-- and a bit humbling-- to acknowledge that I now own dozen of records, and surprisingly, most of which are not “thrift store” records or golden oldies. There's something hypnotizing and strangely comforting about listening to records. I think I like them for reasons not dissimilar than why I like stereos with analog volume dials. Or why I like graphic sound equalizer displays. I've purchased records from those aforementioned thrift stores, swiped a record or two from my mother (all jazz), came across a huge motherload at a yardsale for a record station foolishly selling their entire Ramsey Lewis collection, at rock-n-roll shows, and, yes, through mail order companies.


Week 07: 02/28/03
Presidents are Kings are Shit
For a long time I've wondered why the U.S. has presidents. It doesn't seem to make much sense to me. Why? Because I've been under the impression that the U.S. attempts to be a democracy. So what, right? Lots of democracies have presidents or prime ministers. Maybe that's the problem: everyone thinks it's normal that a free, democratic society should be entrusted to one individual.


Week 06: 02/22/03
Does George Bush Believe In Dragons?
There's a few questions that have been burning in the back of my mind for awhile. I wonder if George Bush believes in the Tooth Fairy. And I've always wondered if he believes in unicorns. I'm just curious, of course. And, well, what about dragons? I wonder if he's ever considered the existence of dragons? I know it's incredibly tough to believe in something without any proof. It's even tougher when most everyone in the world is telling you that you're delusional about your personal belief in far-out-things. I've gotta sympathize with how tough it must be for George.


Week 05: 02/06/03
The Public Tragedy of Shuttles (But Not Rape)
This past Saturday I drove to Cleveland to attend a sexual assault conference. On the radio that entire morning (and afternoon and evening and next day...) was news about the space shuttle Columbia’s ill-fated return to the US. The voices of the many commentators revealed the horror, sadness, and sense of loss that they felt over the death of the 7 astronauts (or maybe just the blow to the American space program). They all remarked about how tragic it was, how devastating this would be to the American people, and how this would “set us back”.


Week 04: 01/24/03
How To Put Anarchy Into Your Daily Life
Anarchism has a long history, huge volumes of theory, and tons of ideas. It might seem daunting, even impossible to think of how to apply it to everyday life. Thankfully, putting anarchism into practice is pretty damn simple. It's about living your life in the most free way possible, it's about standing up for each other, and it's about challenging authority and domination. So, in the spirit of healthy rebellion, here are some casual and lo-fi ways to put a bit of anarchy into your daily life... but don't forget, anarchism isn't a theology. Come up with your own ideas, too!


Week 03: 01/17/03
Celebrating Dead People
Our holidays are littered with tribute to dead people. Especially dead White men. Occasionally people like Martin Luther King Jr. can be celebrated, but usually it's dead presidents. And Jesus. There's nothing wrong with this practice, per se, except when it creates false images, and thus false history. And the idea of worshiping the memory of a single dead person-- to the absence of the thousands of others who are likely equally deserving of recognition-- is cult worship.


Week 02: 01/14/03
The Many Ironies of Media
I got a call today from a reporter with the Akron Beacon-Journal today at work. The Beacon is “the” newspaper in Akron and a Knight-Ridder subsidiary. It is a part of the “mass media”, in every sense of the phrase. The fact I got a phone call from a reporter is not really surprising. I've often spoken to and allowed myself to be interviewed by the mainstream press, for a variety of causes, events, and reasons. This time it was about a large national anti-war march/rally in DC next weekend. The ironic thing about the phone call was that I was wearing a t-shirt that says “Don't Trust the Corporate Media”, while I cheerfully answered the reporter's questions.


Week 01: 01/07/03
(Probably) The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done
I was living in Walsh Hall my freshman year of college at the University of North Dakota. I had a brand new roommate who turned out to be a complete asshole after the end of the semester. It was winter, and just off winter break. Grant (the asshole roommate), Mark (a neighbor across the hall), and myself were walking to Wilkerson Hall on a Sunday evening to eat dinner. It was dark out, it was cold out, and we were cracking jokes about something. Something that must've been pretty damn funny, because I was about to do something really dumb. Of course, what we were talking about would pale in comparison, but it must've been funny.


two-thousand-three - two-thousand-four.