Published on Dissident Voice, an Interview with Richard Oxman by Mickey Z., July 30, 2009.
… California-based organizer, educator, activist-writer, and playwright (and, oh yes, home schooling father and devoted spouse) Richard Oxman knows the answer. He’s more than aware that our current system – our very culture – is designed to shove the “big” questions to the fringes. This is why Oxman has conjured up a unique form of dissent: TOSCA – Taking Over the State of California …
… MZ: Who – besides me – have you asked to serve as an advisor and who have approached about being a candidate? What kind of response have you generally gotten?
- RO: High profile figures and others such as Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Bill Blum, Derrick Jensen, Glen Ford, Afshin Rattansi (in Iran at present), Jennifer Loewenstein, Greg Moses, Wallace J Nichols, Michael Stocker (of Ocean Conservation Research), the great African specialist who constantly risks his life to get great news to us… Keith Harmon Snow, Dave Lindorff, Cindy Sheehan, Ron Jacobs, Kim Petersen (of Canada), Henry A. Giroux (who Routledge named as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period), L.A. attorney/author Ellen Brown, Argentina’s Marie Trigone, Bruce Anderson (of the Anderson Valley Advertiser), Devinder Sharma (of India), Ronnie Cummins (Executive Director for Organic Consumers Association), David Yearsley, organic farmer Dr. Shepherd Bliss of Sonoma State University, Murray Dobbin (of Canada), Stephen Martin, and artist Jerry Fresia (in Italy) are just some of the people who have offered us their public imprimaturs.
- We’re still in the process of trying to recruit Mike Davis, Paul Hawken, Michael Albert and Arundhati Roy… and everyone else! Noam Chomsky hasn’t come on board yet, but we haven’t given up on anyone, and even people like Noam — who for very legitimate reasons want to take “a little more time” to consider all aspects of what we’ve put on the table before adopting a public stance — have taken the heartbeats to go back and forth with us, very generously. Much is not written in stone, and so we can take the time to ask people to make recommendations, to feel free to tweak this and that to, possibly, suit their own purposes … their angle on society.
MZ: So the reactions have been encouraging?
- RO: Everything considered, I’d say that we’re getting an over-the-top positive response. I mean, the above list was compiled over a period of only about two weeks of me working alone, spending only minimal time on recruitment. That’s actually phenomenal by any standards, yes? And one really has to factor in that we’re coming out of nowhere, dumping ourselves in the inboxes of individuals and organizations quite suddenly, absolutely no prep for what’s essentially, arguably, the most radical proposal in the realm of politics… for the electoral arena… in the history of the country. IRV is one of our big/small potatoes.
- Some groups and some activists are truly puzzling in their responses, but that’s another book, as they say. The reasons for silence in response to my missives sometimes, the dropping of the ball inexplicably by some, the lack of nurturing well-intentioned efforts like TOSCA’s, and premature dismissal of what we put on the table for consideration now and then is all part of the animal we’re taming. By which I mean any effort to mobilize citizens for the purposes of moving in solidarity meaningfully – not in lockstep automatic meaningless mode following old paradigms for protest/change – is going to encounter all kinds of resistance for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is what I call territorial trauma. But that’s part of the beautiful satisfaction that’s coming our way, this TOSCA making a dent in all that. The fact is that there’s nothing else on the table that I know of which has a shot in hell at saving this “heaven on earth” in time.
MZ: How can readers learn more and get involved?
- RO: Readers should contact me directly IMMEDIATELY. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com for starters. Urgent connection is crucial… whether one wants to limit one’s participation to only ten minutes total running up to the election in 2010, OR whether one wants to work alongside me 24×8 to create this watershed in history. PLEASE NOTE that I always get back within 24 hours at the outside. If one doesn’t hear back from me directly within that time frame, something’s amiss. The link http://oxtogrind.org/archive/353 is a decent place to start learning about TOSCA, and a reading of that can be followed by encouraging others to contact me.