21 February 2011

'A Fiercely Independent Newspaper'

Hobbyfan, an occasional correspondent here, occasionally forwards me interesting publications he gets in the mail. They're usually things he doesn't want, sent to him by pen pals who don't realize that Hobbyfan doesn't agree with the viewpoints expressed in these papers. Worse, he often finds them downright offensive, especially when writers indulge in conspiracy theory. As a result, when he got a complementary copy of the Rock Creek Free Press, an eight-page monthly broadsheet published out of Bethesda MD with a Washington DC dateline, it ended up in my mailbox.

The RCFP is probably best described as a left-leaning "truther" publication. One of the front-page articles in the January 2011 issue heralds Geraldo Rivera's alleged awakening to at least the possibility of conspiracy in the destruction of Building 7 at the World Trade Center. On the back page are advertisements for various truther resources. The left lean of the paper is apparent in another front-page piece advocating freedom for long-suffering convicted murderer/political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and a denunciation of Wall Street bonuses.

Within that range, the RCFP tries to offer a variety of viewpoints. The January centerspread is a kind of debate on the significance of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Along with a reprinted interview with Assange and a defense of Wikileaks by Chris Floyd there appears a critique from "Eric Blair" dismissing Assange as "not a genuine whistleblower" and Wikileaks as somehow a creation of the establishment for the purpose of justifying a crackdown on the Internet. Meanwhile, Gordon Duff accuses Assange of being an Israeli agent for having allegedly censoring documents that might prove damaging to the Zionist entity. The charge seems to be based on the fact that the Wikileaks document dumps have so far included nothing to confirm Duff's apparent belief that Israel was in some way involved in the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The absence, for Duff, can only be explained by Assange's suppression of damning data that must exist.

I probably shouldn't overstate the left lean of the RCFP. While it doesn't show the anti-"government" bias that usually indicates a right lean, there's still an overall anti-"statist" vibe to the paper. Absent from its pages is any commitment to collective action to reform society or build a new one for everyone. Instead, individual writers steer the monthly in a survivalist or secular come-outer direction. Simon Black, a self-styled "SovereignMan," takes "Lessons from the Fall of Rome," the primary one being that it's better to quit a declining country rather than try to reform it. He rejects the charge that such an option is no more than "running away" from problems, arguing with subjective pragmatism that an ideological struggle at this stage of national decadence is unwinnable.

Government controlled educational systems institutionalize us from childhood that governments are just, and that we should all subordinate ourselves to authority and to the greater good that they dictate in their sole discretion. You're dealing with a mob mentality, plain and simple. Do you want to waste limited resources (time, money, energy) trying to convince your neighbor that s/he should not expect free money from the government? You could spend a lifetime trying to change ideology and not make a dent; people have to choose for themselves to wake up, it cannot be forced upon them. And until that happens, they're going to keep asking for more security and more control because it's the way their values have been programmed.

"Nobody is born with a mandatory obligation to invisible lines on a map," Black continues, while allowing that "if you really want to effect change in your home country, moving away may be the most effective course of action." Doing so would "starve the beast," you see. Whether you believe that or not, Black believes that "our fundamental obligation is to ourselves, our families, and the people that we choose to let into our circles ... not to a piece of dirt that's controlled by mob-installed bureaucrats." His article is probably the closest to "right wing" of anything in the RCFP.

Further forward, the front page announces "12 Simple Things You Can Do to Prepare for the Coming Financial Apocalypse," a list that originally appeared in a publication entitled End of the American Dream. "We all need to start becoming less dependent on the system," the author argues, "In the end, you are going to have to take care of yourself and your family." With that in mind, a dozen suggestions are offered, most of them predictable enough. People should buy land and learn to grow their own food, for instance, while developing alternative energy sources and reliable water sources. They should acquire gold and silver and learn self-defense, though the RCFP helpfully illustrates this point with a photo of martial arts. The twelfth and final point is the maybe the most surprising one in such a list and definitely the most encouraging.

Make Friends. It is really, really hard to 'survive' by yourself. Those who will thrive the most in the future are those who will have a community that they can depend on. Americans are always at their best when they work together. Don't be afraid to reach out to your family and friends. In the times ahead the world will be a very cold place, and a little love and compassion will go a long way.

While nothing in that paragraph necessarily contradicts Simon Black's every-man-for-himself directive, there's at least a greater faith expressed in collective action, if not quite the democratic faith in the collective action of the entire community. Either way, the Rock Creek Free Press probably isn't a liberal paper if that means a commitment to the survival of everyone. It's not easily labeled in any way, nor do its publishers seem to lay down any kind of party line. There's plenty of food for thought in its eight pages, though nutritional content may vary. An understandable antipathy to trutherism probably shouldn't impel potential readers to ignore everything that appears alongside the annoying stuff. All of us need to cultivate an editorial tolerance in dealing with diverse points of view. Many of us may have utterly crazy ideas about why so many things have gone wrong, or untenable ideas about what to do about it all, but with so many people arguing, however cacophanously, that something is wrong with America, democracy obliges us to give more voices a hearing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If all of those people who foretell such a dire future would simply save themselves and their families the horror and misery that is to come by ending it now, perhaps the future would be brigher after all. Just a little positive thinking there...