Michael Reinsborough on Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:34:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Can the Left Meme?

Hi nettimers, me resuscitating this thread to say that according to this review the right wing certainly feels that the left can meme (!) :
The blogger names this book from PM Press http://tinyurl.com/ReImaginingChange as most dangerous book out there and encourages his team to catch up by using narrative strategies.
	1) Re:Imagining Change: How to Use Story-Based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World, 2nd Edition https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=851 

  The Center for Story-Based Strategy https://www.storybasedstrategy.org/ has been around for ten + years but back in the day it was originally smaller and called 'Smartmeme' (I knew the organisation because my brother, one of the book authors, worked there then).  Ironically they found that the term 'smartmeme' was not a very effective meme in the epimimetic background in which they were working (grassroots environmental, working class and people of colour organizing) so they changed the term to 'story-based strategy'.  The term 'epimimetic' is key to what a 'smart' meme needed to be- it is not the meme that transports itself but its relation to its environment.  A smart meme is focused on the narrative environment in which it moves and what the people of that environment want to build in common, how they trust, care, and build community.  Remember the term meme is originally invented in Richard Dawkin's book the Selfish Gene Chapter 11 http://www.rubinghscience.org/memetics/dawkinsmemes.html  [to my mind, although creative, this chapter is little more than speculation, scientism].  For Dawkins, 'genetics' is to 'gene' as 'mimetics' is to... 'meme' and there the word was invented.  But today biology is unravelling Dawkin's reductive theories by looking at epigenetics as a far more important factor.  Likewise the left has shifted to epimimetics- the environment through which a narrative moves and adapts (and ironically the term 'epimimetics' is a bad meme for many left communities, although not internet activists).    Thus more shift to 'narrative'.  We now do cytokinesis as meme, the mitochondrial meme, mother cell, the kitchen tent that produces food so the movement strategy gathering can happen
   While we're on the topic of most dangerous books here's two other contenders:
  2) Alex Foti's new book General Theory of the Precariat is just out! http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/alex-foti/general-theory-of-the-precariat-great-recession-revolution-reaction/paperback/product-23344626.html A quick search through it shows the text 'meme' appears only once, the text 'narrative' once, and the text 'story' appears dozens of times but always inside the word 'history'.  So as we might expect from Foti, he emphasizes that ultimate of epimimetic inscriptions upon culture - the *histories* that we tell ourselves about struggles and divisions of labour.
  3) and I am surprised this extraordinary book on method in grassroots mass organizing Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32564956-rules-for-revolutionaries hasn't got any play yet on nettime.  It is a great example of one case (Sanders Campaign) where the techniques of mass internet communication and grassroots people to people campaigning were brought together experimentally tested for successful method- relevant to all the big left campaigns in Europe including Corbyn phenomena.  This term 'big organizing' is where the left will go/is going.. 
   As for the right here's blogger https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2017/10/08/why-nancy-pelosi-is-right-about-the-left-winning-every-fight/#1fcaccf22d5b 
  Why Nancy Pelosi Is Right About The Left Winning Every Fight
Ralph Benko

Recently, the New York Times quoted House Minority Leader (and conservative bête noir) Nancy Pelosi saying "We didn't win the elections, but we've won every fight."

It's a grotesque marvel. Yet Pelosi is right.

Want to know why this is happening? Follow along.

Two little-known, self-effacing, immensely potent leaders of the progressive movement, Patrick Reinsborough (long a friend and cherished archenemy) and Doyle Canning, are a big part of the reason for the left's relentless success. They have recently published the second edition of the most important political book of our era: Re:Imagining Change: How to use story-based strategy to win campaigns, build movements, and change the world. They have quietly and effectively been teaching the left for a long time. It is working.

This book lays out, chapter and verse, the culture, strategy and tactics by which the left continues to achieve policy victory after policy victory notwithstanding political defeats. It is the hidden-in-plain-sight secret blueprint to the left's most powerful "secret weapon." It is a blueprint the progressive movement has been following, episodically but often with great success, for decades: the innocuous-sounding "story-based strategy."

The good news? The culture, strategy and tactics they use are neutral. These would be as powerful in the hands of the right as they are in the hands of the left, at least if the right ups its game and powerfully stands for justice for all as well as liberty. (We certainly ought to be doing that.)

How powerful are these tools? They are the very tools which Donald Trump -- who, certainly, independently derived them -- used to propel himself to the presidency. Yet Trump, not exactly a man of the right, stands virtually alone in the GOP in so doing.

The bad news? The right, since Reagan (a maestro) left the scene, rarely deploys these tools. The right seems ill equipped to do so. Getting our hands on this book is kind of like being handed the blueprints to the atomic bomb. And yet, alas, we will now place it in Hangar 51, next to the Ark of the Covenant and the Crystal Skull, ignored.

Let's make an exception in passing for the extraordinary Steve Bannon, a true populist and a modern master of narrative. That mastery greatly contributes to his power.

I am very much a man of the right, once called by a Washington Post Magazine columnist, half in jest and whole in earnest, "the second most conservative man in the world" for my advocacy of the gold standard. That said, I also am a connoisseur of culture, strategy and tactics.

Also, I have an avid appreciation of radicals -- those who get to the root of things, not hooligans. My gusto extends to those who inhabit and project the counter-narrative to my own.

Game On!

Re:Imagining Change is a culture-shifting work. It shows exactly how the left is eating the right's strategy for breakfast. It shows why the left is very likely to continue to do so.

As that great proto-Supply-Sider Peter Drucker once  said "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." This book is mainly about culture.

There have been three primary defining works for political and social activists over the past century.

The first of these is the work, especially the "Prison Notebooks," of Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci, imprisoned by the Italian fascists, conceived "cultural hegemony" and laid out the principle described by left wing activist and martyr Rudi Dutschke as "the long march through the institutions" to replace the classical liberal republican free market hegemony with their own.

A founder of the Italian Communist Party, Gramsci recognized that the Communists were too weak to take political power but could infiltrate and dominate smaller civic entities such as the local school board and church vestry. Under the aegis of these socially-accepted entities they could gain power and resources, advance their agenda, and grow in power.

This is still productively being used by the left today. The left has weaponized de Tocqueville. Fiendishly brilliant!

The second of these works is Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer For Realistic Radicals.
      .....read more at 

-----Original Message-----
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:52:57 +0200
From: Geert Lovink <geert@xs4all.nl>
To: nettime-l@kein.org
Subject: Re: <nettime> Can the Left Meme?

Dear nettimers,

interesting thread so far. The question at stake here is the relation between image and politics. We all know that politics is done through the level of images, but what to make of that?

I recently published two texts on this issue.


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