01 November 2008

Graphic Solidarity

I have pretty regularly posted on topics at the intersection of politics and graphics and more specifically on campaign posters [1] [2]. Here are a set of anarchist spin-offs of the now familiar Obama campaign posters made by Patrick St. John.*

Here are a couple of thoughts, actually an observation and a question:

First, these posters are clever and good for a laugh. But this troika of radicals - Emiliano Zapata, Emma Goldman, and Peter Kropotkin - might well be rolling in their graves at the prospect of being included in this sort of derivative format. (The same would go for other American radicals - Dorothy Day, Eugene Debs, John Dewey, Walt Whitman, W.E.B. DuBois, etcetera.) I myself am afraid that we will now never see the end of such spin-offs. Given that I find the original Obama posters insipid, I'd prefer more creative, original ways of bringing the concept of actual change into the light.

Second, the real message I take from the series comes from the third of the posters. Here is my question. What does it mean, in our current circumstance, to think about mutual aid? Not only is it quite foreign to American society, but where it does exist, it typically is embedded in this or that not-for-profit, all to frequently 'faith-based' (our right-wing PC euphemism for religious), charity establishment. No politics and (God-forbid) surely no empowerment allowed. Solidarity - mutual aid - will not emerge from charity. Indeed, charity is antithetical to solidarity.
* Thanks Michael! Two things: What's with the 'Professor' stuff! Second, I'm the wrong generation for IM, can't make it work. Sorry. But I read things you send. Say hey to Angela and hug those sweet kids!

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