Why We Fight (and Podcast): A Green and Red Manifesto

cross-posted from Medium

by Scott Parkin and Bob Buzzanco

As we reach the end of the first year of the Green and Red Podcast, we have more clear ideas on what we’ve done both good and not-as-good and where we want to go moving forward.

There are about one million podcasts in America, many of them political and many of them stressing some form of Left or radical politics, at least rhetorically. Finding a place within an independent media and political galaxy of that size is not easy, but we believe we offer information, insight, and even instruction in ways that others don’t.

We believe that many/most of the Left media with which we’re familiar — podcasts, blogs, even Twitter and Facebook postings — focuses on a critique of elections and elected officials such as the Bernie Sanders campaign, The Squad, the shortcomings of Democrats and Biden, legislation, the need for better laws and policies, whether AOC should run for the senate, and so on. All of those issues are important in some realm. But they’re also a clear and damning indication of the shortcomings of the Left.

The Sanders campaign, despite the best, and at times exclusive, efforts of the likes of Jacobin and other media outlets, blew through $180 million dollars, exhausted millions of person-hours, and ended up with the Vermont Senator folding like a beginner’s origami. “The Squad,” while providing some hope and even inspiration at times, consists of about 6 officials in a 535 person body, and is reviled and scapegoated by its own leadership as much as employed as a bogeyman by the GOP. Issues like Medicare-for-All, while necessary more than ever, will be blocked by the Democrats and never even be discussed in Congress (unless the Republicans do it to put the Democrats on the spot). If people want to vote, no one should stand in their way. If DSA wants to run candidates in local elections in big cities, we should hope they do well. But is this the best way to use the limited resources of the Left?

Green and Red has focused and will intensify its efforts in 2021 to talk about what we can all do in lieu of electoral politics. In an essay that has well stood the test of time, the historian Paul Faler wrote almost 50 years ago, in a discussion of shoemakers in the 19th Century in Lynn, Massachusetts who discarded their radicalism to focus on electing sympathetic candidates, something to the effect that “the ballot box was a coffin for workingmen’s causes.” We continue to believe that.

In 2020, we saw countless inspiring sights in the streets. As COVID struck, activists, especially younger activists, formed community aid networks to make hand sanitizer, provide food and blankets to the homeless, and arrange for medical assistance for those in need. When the rebellions in the aftermath of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others began, millions took to the streets — especially with Black Lives Matter and various Antifa groups — and fought against the police, demonstrating moral courage in the face of inevitable state violence. As we write this, there are activists doing sit-ins and lockdowns at Line 3 in Minnesota, in the spirit of the DAPL protests or the uprisings at Ferguson and elsewhere.

Yet those organizers and brave activists do not get anywhere near the attention of Left celebrities or Left media talking to each other.

At Green and Red, those are the people we want to introduce to the Left world. They’re not obsessed with complaining about Biden’s cabinet picks or whether AOC should force a performative vote on M4A. They’re not involved in social media disputes with Jacobin, Jimmy Dore, Krystal Ball, the Young Turks or other Left media figures or the Brooklyn Soviet. They’re taking on an oppressive system at the point of its production and violence.

And at Green and Red, even more in 2021, that’s who we will talk to and talk about and hopefully offer a vision of what we can do beyond what we’ve seen so far.

We also believe at Green and Red that it’s vital to understand our history — not, of course, the typical, establishment history taught in school and presented by the ruling class media, but also not the often-too-romantic Left history that others provide. We offer shows on radical history that won’t be found elsewhere and that will offer a hard-headed but hopeful look at what people can do if they take to the streets.

This is our mission — not to become celebrities or make money or get quoted in The Guardian or New York Times. We want to give a voice to the voiceless and let people know that, amid a ruinous and ominous landscape, there are people out there struggling and doing everything they can to make a difference.

So if you think that talking about BLM activists standing up to cops, or activists fighting a pipeline, or anarchists doing mutual aid is worth knowing about, worthy pursuing, check out the Green and Red Podcast on any major podcast platform, like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter, subscribe on YouTube, please RATE and REVIEW, and most importantly, SHARE our interviews, history segments, articles, and whatever else we put out.

For more on Green and Red, see

Author: Sparki

Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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