Uncensored: The Narrative Is Not a Story of Technology

Update: This essay was published on June 11 at the former site of The Field, and was censored at 9:30 p.m. ET that evening, I was told, because it mentioned "Saul Alinsky," "Andrew Kopkind," and "Rules for Radicals."

A brief press conference now ensues:

Q. "Mr. Giordano, what is your view of such McCarthyism-style censorship?"

A. "I reject it."

Q. "But do you denounce such censorship?"

A. "I reject and denounce it. I will not be party to it. I disassociate myself from those that have engaged in it. And therefore I have moved The Field to this address:


Q. Can you tell us more?

A. On Monday, I will begin to tell all. It's really a fascinating story, and a microcosm of a much larger struggle going on in the United States. Meanwhile, bookmark this site, the new and improved home of The Field.

Note: The 300+ co-publishers of Narco News, all using their real names, can comment here. To apply for a co-publisher account (and learn about what it is) click here.

Also, for the first time ever, Narco News is opening one of its blogs - this one, The Field - to comments from everybody else, whether or not you are a co-publisher. Those comments are moderated and therefore may face some delay before being seen on the site.

Here is the uncensored post, as it originally appeared...


By Al Giordano

The analyses and explanations have gushed from the media geyser over the past week, attempting to answer the why and the how that the Obama organization beat an entrenched political regime and replaced it as the dominant force in the Democratic Party of the United States.

And yet I have yet to read an explanation by anyone that satisfactorily captures this moment in history (perhaps thats too tall an order, still, because the moment is still unraveling before our collective eyes?). It ought to be a humbling experience for we writers to not yet be able to put the big picture into a coherent set of words. I know it is for me.

Building upon my June 5 entry, No More Drama, I'll continue to use the Jack the Ripper approach, and take it in pieces.

But of one thing I'm certain: The technological explanation offered by some colleagues does not even begin to sufficiently explain why the Obama campaign succeeded while, for example, the Howard Dean campaign of 2004 did not. If what happened in 2008 were merely a matter of Internet politics we'd be blogging President Dean's reelection campaign right now, and Ron Paul's pending Republican nomination to challenge him.

So when colleagues like Doc Searls write, "It's about the Net. And the Net is us. Its all outside, not inside," and when colleagues like Dave Winer write, "The Internet destabilizes every hierarchy it contacts. It erases every barrier to entry," such technological wonderment sounds no more convincing to me than, say, if someone were to write, the invention of radio explains the rise of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. A half-century from now, technological explanations of the Obama phenomenon will sound a lot like that.

I met Micah Sifry, now at TechPresident, during Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign (both of us studied political journalism at the feet of the late, great Andrew Kopkind), and he has detailed authentic historic memory of Jackson's 84 and 88 campaigns, Ross Perot's in 92 and 96 and Dean 04, too.

He resurrects an April 30 video of Obama in Indiana, in which the candidate notes: "weve built a structure that can sustain itself after the campaign":

Sifry writes of the campaigns he's covered over the past 24 years:

"In each case, a charismatic candidate with a powerful message drew a ton of new activist energy into the process. And in each case, the movement and the man faced a moment of truth: is this about you, or the larger movement?

"If Obama wins in November, the question will loom larger for one critical reason: because his supporters have the capacity to self-organize on a scale never seen before in our lifetimes."

While its certain that Internet and technology in general have provided the networking and communications tools that made such massive self-organization so rapid the difference between the Obama campaign and all others before it comes down, for me, to a more human factor: that the candidate has studied, practiced and believes in community organizing.

Many commenters here have asked me to elaborate more on this suggestion. But how does one boil down a life's study and praxis into a blog entry?

As an exercise in removing the curtain that blocks a fuller view, lets pull on one early thread: Community organizer Saul Alinsky's 1971 list of 13 Rules for Radicals:

1 ) Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

2 ) Never go outside the experience of your people. It may result in confusion, fear and retreat.

3 ) Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear and retreat.

4 ) Make the enemy live up to his/her own book of rules.

5 ) Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

6 ) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

7 ) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

8 ) Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

9 ) The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

10 ) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

11 ) If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into it's counterside.

12 ) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

13 ) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.

Now, kind Field Hands, as an exercise in developing the narrative, pick one, just one, of those 13 rules published 37 years ago, and use the comments section to explain how that "rule" applied, or did not apply, to the 2008 campaign so far.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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