Tactics and Strategies

It seems to me, borrowing from Michel de Certeau, that there are the tactics of everyday life and the strategies for systemic change.

Tactics are those things that we do, day in day out, to make our way. They entail poaching on the existing structures, plucking here, picking there, making distinctive sense of the great teeming morass. Tactics are individual and localized: this is what I do. A tactic may be as literally pedestrian as going for a walk at work rather than eating at one's desk. Tactics are necessary, an inevitable component of everyday life (de Certeau's book is called — and I love this title — "The Practice of Everyday Life").

Other tactics I've discussed: Jamming circuits in conversations; writing; teaching; driving like a human being. I'd love to compile a list of tactics, thousands of things individuals do everyday to get by, to enhance their lives from within the structures of power.

And then there are strategies — actions, techniques, approaches that have a greater sweep, that literally occupy more than local space. Strategies confront other strategies, each vying for power, each vying to express itself.

Here are some strategies I'd recommend if we wanted to change things (and why do we want to change things? Well, I do because I find the demands of survival unsustainable: I can't keep doing this, working my ass off just to get by as I wrestle failing, underfunded institutions like public schools).

How about we deny corporations personhood? This would not limit business. On the contrary, it would seem to spawn it as capital would become more decentralized. And individuals within corporations would become liable for their actions — pollute the water? Make people sick? Go to jail and pay whatever amounts are awarded in civil court (the individual would have to pay, not the company: a company is not a human being).

Or: keep corporations but, as incorporating is a privilege, make them do certain things for the social good. For instance, over x% in profit has to be redistributed among employees — that is, profit sharing would not be a perk but a mandate.

Or here's a simple one: rather than incentivizing them with tax breaks, why don't we obligate them to pay more tax?

I'm no economist, obviously. I admit readily that I do no grasp all the implications of these actions. I'm throwing spaghetti at the wall.

What other strategies are there? Oooh, how about people running for president can only spend $x and, perhaps, these monies come from taxes? That is, the rich would still have an advantage — they can take time off of work to run for office — but it would delimit said advantage.

Hmn.....what else?


Jeff M. said...

Something simple and achievable: raise the top marginal tax rate to 38%, the Clinton-era rate. Obama failed to do this when he cut a deal with GOP to extend the Bush tax cuts, but if he is re-elected who knows.

This would have two effects. It would raise revenues for the government (which, admittedly, will mostly get spent on paying for war and Medicare). But it will also, according to more liberal economist at least, be a disincentive for CEOs from pocketing company profits (as in, "Hey, boys, let's cut half our work force and use the money we save to give ourselves bonuses which we can gamble on the stock market, and if the whole economy goes down the toilet we'll get the government to bail us out").

Chad Lott said...

Campaign finance laws would be my choice.

Inlcuding: limits on advertising, mandatory debates held at the MGM Grand and announced by the voice of the octagon, Bruce Buffer. Competency testing for all public officials.

Public office should be like the Peace Corps. You do it because it looks good on a resume or you think it matters, but you should be dirt poor while you do it.

li'l girl blue said...

A heartening thing happened in Melbourne a few weeks ago, although it made no impact on the press due to the glut of front page options provided by a globe dotted with civilisations perched on spinning plates.

A bunch of right wing radio shock jocks tried to organise a "grassroots" protest against the proposed carbon tax that has politics all a-flutter down here. Two hundred people turned up to complain that of course global warming is a joke at the public's expense aimed at little more than allowing the gubberment to filch a bit more of their hard-earned dosh from their well-deep pockets.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town at a counter-rally organised at the drop of a hat by the community group GetUp, 8000 people gathered to support the tax but more generally to push for action on climate change. I was there.

The sight of their bright faces, their placards, the bikes they rode up on, their obvious desperate desire to make every effort to prevent the human race from hurtling disgruntled into oblivion...cheered my churlish heart somewhat.

Little has changed since then though.

Anonymous said...

If we simply listened to instead of talking past one another we could engage in fair social discourse..this would be a good start.

Daniel Coffeen said...

I like the idea of this: any break of the public trust by politicians should be punished by public physical humiliation — spanking and the like.

@ l'il girl: there is that — that sense of collective power, of knowing you're not alone, the seething erotics of the crowd.....or something.

And, yes, anonymous folk: listening is harder than it seems...but essential, I agree.