A journey into the creative mind of Larry Swetman that explores his art, writings, photography, and life. Local, US, and International Politics; Art; Occupy; Social Justice; Science; Philosophy; Poetry.
The first Occupy National Gathering took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from June 30th to July 4th in the year 2012. Billed as "5 days of peace, love, and democracy" the Gathering saw over 1000 Occupiers and allies come together from all over the world to discuss the logistics of changing the world for the better. Culminating with a revolutionary democratic process the Gathering produced the "Vision For A Democratic Future" which, due to its direct participatory writing, will be seen by future generations to come as a statement of values from the Occupy Wall Street movement. What lies inside is a debrief from the proposer of the Gathering and one of its chief architects. Written days after the Gathering it captures the raw emotion that still lingered like a haze of inspiration over Philadelphia and the country. What you read here is not an end but a beginning...
What does it mean to be free? How can one be free in a society makes demands of its participants? Is our lack of clarity affecting 21st political movements? In this short piece I explore what freedom is and isn't in the interest of providing clarity so social movements can meet their goals.
Who should I vote for and why? In this piece I explore what a democracy is and is not and how that relates to the body politic in the USA, especially as indecision 2016 looms. Voting is a sacred right. How best should you leverage yours? Click here and let's think it through.
Who is Pope Franics? What is his role in society? How does he differ from previous pontiffs? What are we expecting of him that he cannot or should not dip his toes into? In this short piece, I explore the intricacies and expectations of being the "Vicar of Christ" and how Francis is not only reshaping, but possibly even redeeming, the Papacy.
No one likes to ask for money. It is a very humbling thing to come to your friends and family—let alone people you don’t know—and admit, “I cannot do this by myself.” However, life very rarely moves at the speed of our pride. Unfortunately, shit happens. Shit will always happen and it usually happens right when you least expect it. No matter how hard you plan, life will inevitably throw you that parabolic curve ball that will break the glass walls of your expectations, leaving you pick up the pieces. Some will be left to clean up the mess up alone (I have the utmost sympathy for these folks), but the fortunate among us will have loved ones who will help us bag the glass, dispose of it, get a new window, and install it. It is a humbling position for the window owner and a call to action for the community.
The Philadelphia Mayor’s race is all but over. The candidates have carved out their positions, chosen the weak spots in their opponents that they want to zero in on, and have given enough debates to create enough white noise for a horror movie. Which is why I was quasi-excited, yet steadfastly resolved, to watch Monday nights debate. I lieu of writing a treatise on my opinions I thought I would write my top five observations from the #NextMayorPHL debate.
Only when everyday citizens have an equal shot at replacing the economic and political elite can any election be deemed democratic. Otherwise, the election season is nothing more than a game of Risk for the rich and powerful. Why do you think they call it a “war chest?”
I'm often asked about my political leanings. I have never really had a satisfactory answer because I don't feel that my ideas fall on the typically outlined spectrum. I needed to get my brain working today so I thought I would try. Here is my politic:
What is the power of a person? Can an individual really change the world? Does my vote count in a democracy controlled by political puppeteers and corporate bought elections? What can I accomplish? Read here for a short examination of personal power and collective action.
What is the context of Christmas? If you pour over the histories of the Ancient Near East you will find a socio-political drama that makes the West Wing look like Sesame Street. It was a time filled with politics, mad kings, and revolution.
The problem with "black bloc tactics" is that the marches and destruction usually come at the cost of people going about their day-to-days. Why not use that rage, community focused ideology, and desire to hit the streets to PROTECT people instead of DESTROYING things?
President Obama is a very deft politician and knows how to sell a red plan and make it look blue. He was not so foolish as to attempt to tell the American people that he was putting "boots on the ground" in Iraq again on September 10th, 2014, but he did very slyly change the way that Presidents sell war policy in the public eye. No longer do we live in the era of "speak softly and carry a big stick"; from now on wars will be fought by those who have the smartest technology. We are now living in the Age of Obama's Doctrine: Modern Warfare.
There is a patch of ground inside that brick and mortar stadium that I ride by everyday that testifies that heart can overcome skill. And that's what the southern in me, the artist in me, the writer in me, the social justice fighter in me and all that is in me longs for: a world where heart checkmates the best laid plans of mice and men.
It was hot in Philadelphia on this Thursday afternoon (9/3/2014), the day of the second major nationwide fast food workers strike. The air was moist and the effort taxing, but the tough conditions did not stop workers, allied organizations, and supporters from shutting down a broad swath of center city traffic to draw attention their their demands: a citywide $15/hr. minimum wage and the right to form a union.
It seems to me that the terrorists are those who use their overwhelming force to intimidate populations into submission and using fear as the balancing factor of dissent. This is consistent in Israel, Syria, Egypt, and the good ol' United States of America. That's right folks we have a whole branch of order bringers right here at home that are state sponsored and funded—the police.
Let me start by establishing my angle. I am not an Israeli, I am not Jewish, and I am not Palestinian. Though I am not directly linked to any of the groups involved in this current war I am a hardworking American citizen whose tax dollars in part funded the Goliath known as the IDF. With that said I will say here at the outset that I intend to shame Israel for its current slaughter of Palestinian civilians while at the same time calling my own government to account for its unilateral support of this evil. I do not intend on justifying Hamas or their actions, but I would ask you to consider one question no matter who and/or where you are: if your families' livelihood, home, drinkable water, power, and access to food were being systematically demolished by a foreign invader would you too not put up a fight, even if they outmatched your military might a thousand to one?
The prima facie reason for structuring calls this way is to make them as horizontal as possible. The Global People's Movement--it seems to me--is built around the idea that those in power have built up a hierarchy of power that systematically permeates throughout our civilization and society that makes participation in movements difficult. By using telephones and the internet we are effectively removing a lot of the barriers to participation that a lot of people face. When someone does not have to travel then they are a) more likely to participate and b) do not have to take much time out of their already busy lives. If the stated goals of the People's Movement are to include the everyday person then the hardships of those people must be presupposed. In the capitalist world the everyday person works 1/3 of their lives and sleeps another 1/3 which only leaves them 1/3 for their passions, desires, and projects. Lay on top of that the constant strain of working for ends meat (and sometimes less) and the population is automatically divided into those with the privilege to participate and those without. Calls can remove this barrier at least in some capacity, at least in initial exposure.
Secondly, civilization has been segregated by the oligarchy into many different--sometimes conflicting--subgroups based on anything from race, class, and creed to nationality or religion. A lot of these designations are interpreted and assumed visually. By removing the visual component it is a lot harder to segregate a group; you cannot divide what you cannot see. Even gender can be a grey area when all a facilitator has to go is a name and a voice. Therefore, by holding conversations in the virtual agora the capacity exists to temporarily remove the illusions that the powerful have created to divide us.