By Amitabh Pal on December 27, 2011

It’s not often that The Progressive and Time magazine agree, and so when they do, it does mean something. This year, both publications dedicated their year-end special issues to the protester, showcasing the convulsions that have shaken countries all around the world since last January.

It’s good to see the mainstream media finally recognizing the importance of peaceful protest. Alternative publications such as The Progressive have been cheering nonviolent change forever and a day. Finally, corporate outlets have joined in the affirmation.

The Arab Spring was particularly heartwarming for me, since I’ve written a book on nonviolence in Muslim societies. The fact that mostly peaceful agitations were able to get rid of longtime despots in two countries—Egypt and Tunisia—gave lie to the notion that Muslims are incapable of adhering to nonviolence. It also marked perhaps the first time when Westerners were exposed to scenes of positive change from the Middle East. Media giants like CNN and Time had given short shrift to past instances of peaceful agitation in the Muslim world—such as the 2007-08 lawyers’ movement that ousted Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf and the ongoing demonstrations against the Israeli separation barrier—but they finally paid attention.

The protests in Europe and the United States were also extremely important, since they were challenging the global economic system that has brought such pain and misery. In taking on Wall Street and various international financial institutions, people finally said: “Enough!”

Again, in acknowledging this upsurge, publications like Time have been way late to the game. For years, alternative outlets such as The Progressive have been chronicling the depredations of free trade and free markets. Corporate media giants such as Time finally jumped on the bandwagon. Only when the protests gained momentum, did such media conglomerates deign to change their snide tone. It’s fascinating to see Time magazine now accepting the legitimacy of the protesters’ demands after extolling the virtues of globalization for so long. “Two decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they're experiencing the failure of hell-bent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract,” the magazine says. (Note the use of the prefix "hyper-" here to soften the publication’s endorsement of the critique, but the magazine going even this far would have been previously unimaginable.)

This being Time magazine, however, the coverage would be incomplete without complete howlers. Consider this sentence in the lead article: “America's great 21st century contribution to fomenting freedom abroad was not imposing it militarily but enabling it technologically, as an epiphenomenon of globalization.” This is nonsensical on so many levels. The Iraq War is relegated to the memory hole, as is the U.S. backing of dictatorships around the world. Corporate globalization here is considered as the wellspring of democracy, rather than a contradiction. And adhering to the line taken by much of the mainstream media in their coverage of the Arab Spring, the global protests are seen as largely a result of technology gifted by the United States.

Such silliness is not surprising, since this turf is very new for publications such as Time. For better coverage of the earth-shattering events of 2011, you’ll have to turn elsewhere.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "We Need a Different Approach Toward Iran."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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