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National Conference on Organized Resistance
March 9n11
American University

The Industry: social justice, radical discourse, collective empowerment

The Attendees: 800 activists trying to break the corporate/government/mainstream-media stranglehold on the American public

The Issues:

Mad About Pad: Advocating “DIY gynecology” to escape the grip of the patriarchal medical system and chemical-centric, eco-unfriendly feminine-hygiene profiteers, “Tampaction” activists demonstrated how to make reusable cloth menstrual pads that are better for the environment, the body, the psyche-and look pretty too. Attendees learned best practices for disinfecting pads (soak with thyme and tea-tree oil in pickle jars), how to recycle menstrual blood to fertilize plants, and about the moral support available from “non-menstruator allies” (aka males).

Unbroken News: Professor Colman McCarthy contrasted headline-dominating “hot violence” such as Katrina and Columbine with barely reported chronic realities such as the tens of thousands of people dying worldwide from hunger and preventable disease, and millions of animals cruelly treated at factory farms and labs. “Reduce complicity,” he advised, by adopting plant-based diets and buying only cruelty-free products that aren’t tested on animals. The former Washington Post columnist attributed the lack of press scrutiny to influence from agriculture and food producers whose ad budgets finance the media.

Protest March of the Penguins: To promote passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, corporations ran full-page newspaper ads portraying ax-wielding and hairy-legged vegans, owls carrying dynamite, and lobster soldiers crawling on dry land. Effects, explained journalist Will Potter, include diverting tax dollars from national security to protect big-business interests and scaring anti-cruelty advocates from legal boycotts.

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Action Figures: Public space is highly scripted, noted presenters of “Creative Disruptions of Space, Memory, and Power.” They’ve responded with awareness-raising actions, such as outfitting a Troy, N.Y., Uncle Sam monument in solidarity with the striking teachers of Oaxaca; posting a life-size image of slave liberator Harriet Tubman, and erecting a counter-narrative exposing Christopher Columbus’s dark side as a slave master and agent of genocide. The latter nonpermitted public landmark stayed on display three months until a citizen attacked it with a crowbar and, in his own intervention, declared that Columbus “really loved the natives!”

Just Because: On “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year, anarchists used iPod technology to tune a Wal-Mart’s boom boxes to the same station, rescripting the space into a flash-mob dance bomb. The party continued several minutes until security guards intervened. When asked how this action spread the anti-consumerism message, a “Creative Disruptions” presenter replied that wasn’t the point. The session “Culture Jamming 101: Pranks with a Purpose” started a few minutes later.

Free Airtime: Write on your shirt with wide-tipped markers, scope out high-visibility standing room at Congressional hearings, and broadcast your message on C-SPAN. And disseminate your counterculture message with balloons. “No one will stop a kid from taking a balloon no matter what’s printed on it,” said a presenter.

“Fighting Corporate Psychiatry”: Labeling anxiety and depression as “brain diseases” mandates pharmacological treatment of symptoms, speakers said, without addressing the root disease: the economic, political and social ills plaguing society. Coercing people to take drugs is a form of oppression that benefits the elite, controlling the individual, weeding out the grass roots needed to nurture anti-authoritarian social movements, and enriching the medical establishment. Furthermore, they claimed, drug residue is transported via urine into the soil, affecting wildlife and the human food supply.

Just say “Whoa”: Ask questions before saying yes to drugs. And find out what questions youngsters are being asked during evaluation screenings. Positive responses to “Do you have more energy some times than others?” and “Do you ever get mad at your mom?” can lead to a long-term prescription.

New Improved Guy: During the “100% guilt-free” workshop, In Search of a Positive Male Identity, one attendee suggested a less loaded, more logical ambition would be “a positive human identity.”

Resist Yourself: One presenter contended that street art can transcend social release to become a mobilizing grassroots counter-institution challenging the dominant mainstream media. One example: “Please don’t graffiti in here. Last year, NCOR was fined $1,000. We just can’t afford it.”