Monday, 19 March 2012

Kony, Bono and Dangerous Slactivism...

By Plot Tracer

Until recently I didn’t fully understand the term nor the danger suggested by the term "slactivism."
What is slactivism?  The “Sl” doesn’t refer to Second Life – but some SL activists COULD be accused of slactivism, and I fear there are some in SLLU and other SL activist groups who are dangerous slactivists.  Because slactivism is dangerous, and reactionary.

Slactivism seems to be a term meaning someone who jumps from cause to cause- each cause being as worthy as the next, giving little thought to the cause beyond, “it looks worthy.”  The term could, at its least dangerous, be given to people who loosely link causes together and change focus regularly.  Each cause is, at least on the surface, one that can be supported by activists, each cause bringing with it a new meme or a new trendy logo and visuals.  The more links on the internet, and the more trendy Youtube videos attached or witty banners etc, the more attractive the cause will be to the slactivist. 

But its seeming worthiness is its inherent danger as Governments take advantage of this lack of focus and critical thinking. 

Back in 2005, we were told that clicking our fingers would “Make Poverty History.”  Bob Geldoff, a huge tax dodger, said that sharing some money and wearing a white teeshirt would force Governments to drop 2/3’s World Debt.  Of course this altruism does not extend to the poor in his own adopted home – welfare projects and education and health benefit lightly from his taxes as he has found out how to hide money in properties purchased abroad.  Bono etc are the same – Ireland is in huge crises – poverty in his own country is increasing hugely, but to him, his tax millions are better in his own offshore accounts.  Slactivist after slactivist clicked and wore out white shirts. 

I remember while giving out leaflets at a “G8” Make Poverty history demo in Edinburgh that said, “Make Capitalism History – poverty will follow,” a slactivist dressed in white with stickers and mobile phone in hand to text his Make Poverty History message to the big concert screen came up to me and berated me for “politicising poverty.”  Poverty, to the slactivist, would disappear if we paraded around Edinburgh, sang along with Annie Lennox and clicked our fingers.  Polite cheering on Bush Blair et al would induce massive change; pull the 2/3 world from poverty and not really effect us other than be out of pocket on a white rubberwrist band and a sore arm from waving a placard sponsored by the Daily Mail.

Make Poverty History Pants

I can be sure the bloke who attacked me for thinking economics and debt and the now failing capitalist system were political was a slactivist, but what about Bono and Bob Geldoff?  They are two characters who are stranger than strange – both from rock bands that in some way de-politicised music in the pretence of politicising it (the subject of another article methinks) and both very much friends with those they were asking to make change – ie Blair, Brown and Bush et al.  The point here is that poverty was not made history, and in fact the continuance and depoliticizing of the message to the G8 that year actually allowed the powers that be to make more protections of the system that ultimately failed in 2008 and created even more poverty.  Geldoff and Bono are guilty of at least the worst slactivism in history. 

A slactivist has three massively detrimental personality disorders – these disorders can have a huge negative impact on real issues.  One, a sense of righteousness; two, a laziness and three short-termism.  They have an ideological deficit- they see only black and white in all situations and have no "hook" - no measure of how right a cause is.

The slactivist will label him/herself with something that will sound liberal, yet in some way make the pretence of challenging the status quo.  The most recent “slactivist” I have been talking to has labelled herself, an anti-imperialist, atheist red capitalist.  I told her she was not an activist then.  She was supporting the inequalities that the present economic system needs.

Occupy and UK/USUncut, are disintegrating, Julian Assange is slowly being forgotten and Anon masks will be last weeks thing in the coming weeks - slactivists are moving on to the next big thing.  Iran nor Palestine aren’t trendy enough (they have too many of those arab looking people) - and the Tory wrecking of the world renowned and admired UK NHS is a bit boring, but this Kony guy has a name like Sony and the video created by these IC (JC?) people is like far out man.  It has everything.  Disfigured children, raped women fantastic visuals and a charismatic leader holding guns in the Jungle – almost Che/Jesus-like, but without the reference to that old fashioned socialism stuff.

Recently in SL, a slactivist has been punting the Kony cause across SL groups.  This slactivist has no qualms in supporting “No Attack on Iran” (he was part of the infamous "Dont Iraq Iran- Lag for Peace" movement back in 2007) but cant seem to see that calling for US troops to help a repressive African regime is in any way similar.  There are the resources out there for critical analysis, if only the slactivist would go beyond the charismatic leadership of IC and well produced videos.  Resources that not always come from the old fashioned, cynical left (this resource is a good one – but will not convince the slactivist as, ‘didn’t socialism become as bad as Hitler in the era of Stalin and stuff..?’ 

But even the mainstream British media has become more than cynical about this “movement” -

Of course, the IC crowd and slactivists who “don’t like to be wrong” are on the attack, saying this cynicism is going to allow Kony off the hook (which he definitely shouldn’t be), but what they are calling for – ie. US intervention supporting a despotic regime that uses child soldiers openly is way short of what Uganda deserves.  It was way short of what Afghanistan and Iraq deserved – the peoples of those two countries were butchered and continue to be because of US strategic interest (as most will accept, the involvement of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq has helped destroy these countries rather than help to build).  What is the common denominator in these countries?  The supply of oil to the US.  The profit bottom line. 

May I suggest to anyone who calls themselves an activist – cast your eye over our Charter and Aims and Principles.  It was hammered out by a group of people back in 2006 – it is a document that SLLU should be proud of, because if those who are part of our group have any doubt over whether something is a good cause or not – test it with our principles.  Using the document as an activism “hook” would ensure that no-one who really calls themselves an anti-imperialist activist could be supporting any military intervention.
The first principle of a Doctor is, “Do no harm.”  The USA decision to be the “healers” of the world should be treated with the cynicism it deserves – because the ill patients it seems to try to cure are harmed beyond healing at least within the next few generations – and the healing will not really take place until these exploited lands run out of oil – nor are strategically important by way of geography.  Kony is something that the US government loves.  A bad person who may take years to find, but in the meantime they can slowly build bases within Uganda and prop up the Government that is every bit as bad as the dreadful Kony.  The US has no qualms in propping up despotic Governments that ensure profits keep rising and in doing so, many thousands of innocent people have died.  Slactivists should stop propping up the despotic US military machine and perhaps tighten up their critical thinking.

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