The Regressive Librarians want you to be their tool. I've been telling you that they are interested in librarianship only insofar as it can further their political agena, which means their political ideology comes first, and librarianship comes second. Okay, who're we kidding, librarianship doesn't figure at all. It's only a tool in their political arsenal. And if the entire field of librarianship is just a tool for ideological purposes, that means that you librarians are also just ideological tools. Welcome to the world of political ideologues. When a regressive librarian wants me to be their tool, I say, Sign me up, baby!
I realize I'm being vague, so let's look at yet another case in point. This comes from a blog oddly enough called "Librarian." [Update: The "Librarian" blog changed the post! It was about the USSF, but now is about something else. It looks like the Humorless Unionator isn't completely humorless after all. You go, girl!] I say oddly enough because this is one of the umpteen blogs with "librarian" in the title run by the Humorless Unionator, who is not a librarian, but, as some of my erstwhile critics have pointed out, a "distinguished" library school professor somewhere down in the Sunshine State. I have no idea what it takes to be distinguished down there, since the only time I've been to the Sunshine State was during that ALA Conference in Orlando. Being able to survive that climate is enough to distinguish anyone as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, Librarian is, as I've said, one of her myriad blogs with "librarian" in the title. I guess she realizes that "librarian" has at least some authority with people, unlike "library school professor." I'm trying to imagine blogs entitled "A Library School Professor at the Kitchen Table" or "Union Library School Professor" or just "Library School Professor." Nope, best stick with "librarian."
Besides the duplicitous nomenclature the other distinctive feature of these blogs is that they don't have anything to do with librarianship, which brings me to today's feature. I almost waited until next week to bring this to you, since I'm vacationing and all. I only ran across it by chance. I've got a new folder in my Bloglines labeled "Gits," and when anything pops up I read it. I should have just stuck with the news.
So the ideological library school professor posing as a librarian is advertising the Regressive Librarians Guild's participation in something called the US Social Forum. Never heard of it? No, neither had I. But now's your chance to get involved.
"* Another World is Possible - Another U.S. is Necessary! June 27-July 1, 2007- Atlanta.
Librarians with two organizations based in the U.S., the Progressive Librarians Guild and RadicalReference, will attend the US Social Forum to engage in four primary activities. Our work will be framed by the question: In what ways can the field of librarianship help realize the goals set by the social forum movement?" (Why Atlanta? "The roots of oppression, injustice, exploitation and social control run deep in Southern soil. ")
Tempting, isn't it? Notice the question. Not, how can we bring the values of librarianship to the "social forum movement," but how can we use librarianship to further the "social forum" goals, whatever those might be. This is regressive librarianship at its clearest. For the librarians they might pose as librarians, but for the "Social Forum" movement, whatever that is, the truth comes out. Let's put the question another way: How can we use libraries and librarians as tools to further your political agenda, Oh Glorious Social Forum Movement?
So, you might ask, what are the goals of the social forum movement? I was curious, though I don't know why. While I am interested in libraries, I'm not terribly interested in politics, which is why I don't like it when the regressives try to make me their tool.
If we go to the USSF's website itself, we can see that they're a typical regressive organization - that is, long on good feeling, short on coherence. They want good stuff to happen to everybody and for oppressed people to not be oppressed anymore. Sounds good to me. Perhaps I'll join. When you get to specifics, they're slightly more hazy. If you go to their charter of principles and other places on their site, you'll discover some things they definitely don't like. They don't like "neo-liberalism," for example. Something tells me they don't like old liberalism either. They don't like free trade. They don't seem to like free anything, since nowhere on their site did I find any mention of freedom as a goal. Freedom is a goal of liberals, you might remember. They mention it prominently. It's not a goal of the regressives.
But they do like "participatory democracy," and considering that's the least efficient way of making political decisions, I think we're all safe from them. Liberals tend to like representative democracy, understanding that democracy is a procedure for making decisions, legitimizing governments, and peacefully changing regimes, not some lifestyle to be gushed over or some end in itself.
Here's what they say about themselves: "The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Mankind and between it and the Earth." There, that sounds specific, doesn't it.
But there's more: "The alternatives proposed at the World Social Forum ... are designed to ensure that globalization in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history." Globalization in solidarity? "This will respect universal human rights, and those of all citizens - men and women - of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples." Eutopia is coming, brought to you by the regressives. And how to they plan to achieve this? What are they going to do in this exciting Social Forum?
"The meetings of the World Social Forum do not deliberate on behalf of the World Social Forum as a body. No one, therefore, will be authorized, on behalf of any of the editions of the Forum, to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants. The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamation, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them and that propose to be taken as establishing positions of the Forum as a body. It thus does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings, nor does it intend to constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organizations and movements that participate in it."
I don't understand. Can you be a little more specific?
"The World Social Forum is a plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context that, in a decentralized fashion, interrelates organizations and movements engaged in concrete action at levels from the local to the international to build another world."
Oh. So in other words, the Social Forum is a great big regressive wankfest. If you don't believe me, check out some of the features of this year's Social Forum.
They're going to start with a march, naturally. They're going to "Hit the Streets," "Make it Beautiful," and "Make it Smooth." This'll be a great start to the conference, because there's little regressives like more than linking arms and marching somewhere chanting slogans and annoying people. And they want everyone to look pretty. "Plan to join the march as a visible contingent—wear matching shirts, carry banners, flags, props or puppets to represent your organization." Puppets? I don't even want to know.
If you're the kind of person who gets excited about marching through the streets carrying matching puppets, wait until you get a load of the workshops:
"Fighting Neoliberalism with Reproductive Justice for Women by the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective (The ALA should pass a resolution on this.)
Poetry & Liberation by the The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective (Everything is a "collective" for the regressives. This one seems to think poetry is going to liberate the oppressed. Don't the know the oppressed will be liberated with library cards?)
SONG CIRCLE: Singing for our Lives (Indeed.)
Because You Can't Have a Movement Without a Groove: The Unstoppable Beat of Collective Action (I bet this one is going to overflow with stupid metaphors and sing-songy speeches.)
A Free University In A Free Society by the Students for a Democratic Society ("Sure, it sounds hella cool, but what would "A Free University in a Free Society" actually look like?")
Building revolutionary movements in 3D interactive environments by the Second Life Liberation Army (Is this a joke? I suppose the goal is free the oppressed avatars.)"
There are hundreds of these things. How could we possibly choose amongst them? I hope they're podcasting them all, so I can catch up later.
There's something for everyone, young and old alike. They even have Youth Rock, who would like to give "Shout outs to those that have been holding it down and working extra hard."
All in all, a few glorious days of solidarity, marching, chanting, yelling, screaming, wanking, and patchouli.
And if the Regressive Librarians Guild has their way, libraries and librarians can all become tools to further the incoherent goals of the Social Forum, goals which include carrying matching puppets, singing for our lives, collectivizing our poetry, and wearing patchouli.
Welcome to the incoherent revolution.