Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Josh Fox and Friend's Interpretation of What Democracy Looks Like

There's a popular chant in activists circles that goes like this, "Show me what democracy looks like, This is what democracy looks like". Presumably it means that democracy requires participation, including some of the staples of activists and movements like the mass march or a small protest, a chant, and civil disobedience. In the rockaways however it appears that to Josh Fox and friends, including Zephyr Teachout, democracy looks like something much closer to theatre, the circus, a PR campaign or something Samuel Clemens might have written about rolling into town on a steamboat. The image above is a screencapture of a form of social media: a tweet, which is a modern form of communication, to Governor Cuomo from Josh Fox and Gasland. The picture that's part of the tweet is supposed to be representative of the rockaways, a peninsula with a population of approximately 130,000 people according to wikipedia, "demanding" offshore wind not LNG. The "community" is apparantly making this demand at a performance of A Solar Home Companion, which is described by Fox and Solutions Grassroots as:

"Lightly parodying NPR/Garrison Keillor’s popular “A Prairie Home Companion” the show is like an old fashioned variety show, with music, stories, film sequences, and Americana but with a new twist: this show teaches it’s audience how to go renewable and how to organize for a sustainable future."

It's not a picture of a very large gathering.

One could interpret what the anti-fracking battle is about by analyzing a Truthout's headline of an interview with Gasland director Josh Fox from 2012. One interpretration could be that this great fracking battle is really about who the American backyard or your backyard, your property or town belongs to. Is it Mr. Fox, and by extension the movement that he is a part of, or you or a larger group of people? There are people no doubt living in the southern tier of NY and in other places where the battle is being waged, who might see the war in this way. The anti-fracking movement has framed this battle in the press and other places as a fight for the American backyard between the community and the gas industry. It's David vs. Goliath. It's "the people" vs the corporations or the people vs big gas and big oil. In reality the great fracking pipeline war in real life looks like people battling other people.

If you asked me, in the rockaways, brooklyn and long island, the anti-fracking battle has always been about who will represent the interest of your community when it comes to your parks, your environment, your ocean, the climate, your energy choices and on and on. In a way the battle really has been about democracy, what it looks like or should look like or what's best about it.

The antifracking movement, or to be precise some people in it, spent years lying to the public about the rockaway pipeline project. They spoke over local stakeholders even going so far as to completely erase them from any narrative on the rockaway project's history and then they spent two years lying to reporters, politicians, the Coast Guard and people in communities all over Long Island, Brookyn Queens and Manhattan about the Port Ambrose proposal as well. In their preferred form of government, apparantly the only voices that matter are their own.

Is this What Democracy Looks Like?

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