Standing Rock

The continuing release of e-mails and FBI reports on the current Clinton scandal has the potential to either again unite, or further divide, those who participated in the Sanders Revolution in the democratic primary. Let’s consider the negative potential first. There are good people who feel discouraged by Clinton’s “victory” — which was not legitimate, due to the coordinated corruption uncovered on the DNC and state levels. There are people who are angry that Bernie didn’t “fight harder.” There is the possibility that many of the college students who enthusiastically worked for Sanders will not vote in the November elections. More, those people who do vote may split their between Hillary and Jill Stein, rather than fully supporting the Green Party as a voting block.

I believe that one of the most important things, for empowering progressives in the context of a voting block, is understanding systems. Clearly, the DNC’s activities demonstrate a system that has ethical decay. It is an unethical machine. That doesn’t mean that everyone within that system is “bad.” But those good ones have little or no power within that system, while those with power were corrupt.

A proper understanding of systems — as Vine Deloria, Jr. pointed out in his classic, “We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (Dell; 1970) — is a benefit that allows the group to exert maximum pressure at the most vulnerable points within the system‘s gears. That may not be the head of the despised system as often as we would like. Yet, as the great heavyweight champion Joe Louis said, “If you kill the body, the head dies with it.”

One of the most important points of Deloria’s book is the concept of group rights being protected by the Constitution. In part, that was a result of his training, first for the ministry, and then as an attorney. More, it reflects his thinking, in the context of his being Native American.

By no coincidence, Vine Deloria was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. Today, of course, there is a crisis in the Standing Rock Sioux’s territory, in which an “energy corporation” is seeking financial profit, by exploiting the Indians. This is a perfect example of a situation where literally all of the people who worked for and supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, should be exerting at least equal energy into the Standing Rock crisis.

Indeed, it is a fight that can be won — that must be won — and that will take more than sharing reports on face book, or signing internet petitions. At the very least, we should all be making phone calls to our elected officials daily. We should support the Native American nations’ efforts to get the United Nations to take a more active stance on this. And, if possible, going and standing with the Sioux.

We share a common struggle against an economic- political-social machine. It has no conscience. In the crisis at Standing Rock, that machine takes the form of bulldozers, that are destroying Sacred Ground. That is Sioux territory.

Jill Stein is there. Bernie Sanders just issued a statement:

When the energy corporation’s mercenary forces let dogs loose upon the Sioux , it reminded many of us of the rabid Bull Connor, ordering the canine attack on the Civil Rights demonstrators half a century ago. In a just society, this would not happen. We need to deal with it, now, and as a group. That means exercising our constitutional rights, especially those identified in that Bill of Rights. And, as with those brave Civil Rights activists, we will have times when participating in civil disobedience will be required, in a non-violent manner that speaks to the consciences of human beings, rather than mere machines.

For, as Mario Savio said, at a demonstration in1964, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”