Subversion for Fun and Profit

By Roachy McBong | July 28, 2002

Hey, kids! Do you have very strongly held political beliefs? Are these beliefs operating from outside the political mainstream? I’ll bet you’d like to spread your political creed over a wider audience in an attempt to affect real change! Well, you’re in luck, because Uncle Roachy is going to teach you the finer points of political activism, or as the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities called it, shameless subversion. Gather round, kids, and I shall tell you a tale.

1. Getting Started

The first step, if you haven’t already done it, is to clarify your own political beliefs. Figure out your position on every issue imaginable. This sounds simple, but you might be astonished by how many people live their whole lives based around some extremely vague principal – “the rich are evil,” “I think fascists suck,” etc. Take that idea and expand on it. Sure you hate the rich – so how does that relate to gun control? Abortion? Drug policy? The absolute kiss of death, for any non-traditional political movement, is being accused of not having an actual, practical plan of governance (or lack thereof, in the case of our anarchist friends).

For the record, I don’t give a good golly damn what your political preference is – I’m going to try and keep this page as non-denominational as I can. I, for instance, am a young Libertarian, so I’ll be using Libertarianism in most of my examples to help illustrate concepts that can be applied to any political movement.

Once you’ve got an actual platform, it’s time to think about who you’re going to be trying to convince. For instance, in my endeavours, I’m generally trying to convince kids my age (17, in three days) to join up with us Libertarians. What do kids my age like? Well, for one, drugs. And for another, sex. And, more subtly, a desire to rise up against some unjust authority, fueled by adolescent anger and an ongoing clash with parents. So we play to that.

Now, I don’t think I can do much in the way of offering kids sex – I mean, unless the kid is a girl and she’s drunk, but that doesn’t have much to do with politics, does it? On the other hand, the Libertarian Party platform advocates the immediate end to drug prohibition, and the whole Libertarian mindset is moderately rebellious; more so than the mainstream, but not quite as much as Anarchism. The goal, then, should be to use those as your hooks to get them interested, then you can reel them in with the rest of your platform.

2. Going To It

Now let’s talk about actual transmission of your views. When choosing a medium, you should mainly consider a few important factors – ease of distribution, appeal to audience, etc. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Flyers are still the old standby. A night at Kinko’s, and you can have yourself an entire propaganda campaign set up by the time you leave. When you’re making flyers, be creative – don’t just make one that says “Politicians Suck” in plain black and white. Incorporate graphics, the more attention-getting the better. Also make sure you tell the person what to do – vote Libertarian, visit www.proletariat.com, shoot a cop, whatever. Remember, you’re not just yelling at people, you’re trying to convince them to embrace your political beliefs.
  • A little higher on the complexity scale would be the underground newsletter. Compile your statements of belief and explanations of your movement into a one or two page newsletter, make about a hundred copies, and then distribute them at school. Now, if you’re talking political beliefs that aren’t to the school’s liking – and if you’re reading this, they probably aren’t – then you’ll have to find a sneaky way of distributing the goods. Here’s an idea: does your school have any of those unused lockers that don’t have locks? Put your work in there, grab a copy, then walk up to a friend, and say “Hey, did you guys see these? Some guy put ‘em in locker 1281.” Word of mouth will do the rest.
  • If you’re good at public speaking, that can also be turned to your advantage. Most public schools offer many, many avenues that allow you to get in front of a lot of people and bitch for ten minutes. Incorporate your beliefs into English projects. Join your school’s speech team. Whatever it takes. Essay contests are also a good route – if you write a really good one and win, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to read it in front of the whole school at an assembly. That’s a lot of prospective converts!
Weiser Midpost - DIY Akashic Wisdom

3. A Brief Example

For demonstration purposes, I’ll give you guys a little example of some first-rate activism. For this we’ll be using my own beliefs in Libertarianism, but you can adapt it to whatever you damn well please.

Now, I want something fairly simple, so let’s go with some flyers. The first thing I’ll need is a hook, something that appeals to my generation’s rebellious anger and distrust of authority. So, in that vein, I’ll emblazon the words HOW LONG ARE YOU GONNA BE THE GOVERNMENT’S BITCH? across the top of the flyer. Done and done.

Next we need a kickass graphic. Time to hit the web! The internet is an excellent resource for graphics. Don’t be afraid to mix-n-match, either. After some consideration, I decide that I’ll go with a humanized drawing of the Bill of Rights cowering scared on the floor, while George W. Bush raises a fist threateningly at it. For the George W. Bush part I’ll get a picture of him pounding his fist on the podium during a speech off the internet, than cut out the podium part. The Bill of Rights will be trickier, but in the end I can just have a friend who’s good at drawing do it for me. Then I’ll cut and paste the two into the appropriate positions.

For the “call to arms,” I’ll go with some suitably confrontational text:

For far too long, the federal government has abused our rights and stolen our hard-earned income. Are you gonna just sit there and take it? Are you gonna be a bitch your whole life? Or are you gonna RESIST?

VOTE LIBERTARIAN!

Perfect! That should do just fine. I’ll put that right under the graphic, and then it’s off to Kinko’s for printing.

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