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Al Giordano

Sharing the internet with Narco News and other brave activists is what makes this work worthwhile

Dear Colleague,

Today we publish Part II of our seven essays from "We Are Everywhere", the book that chronicles the growing radical social and political movements across the globe over the past ten years

Al GiordanoTake notes, kind reader: the hour has come to prepare ourselves for the blessed post-election era that comes in ten days, when we can start making progress again for authentic democracy, authentic journalism, and to end the US-imposed "war on drugs."

If you missed Part I of this series - "Emergence: An Irresistible Global Uprising" - it's available, now, on Narco News, along with the next installment - "Networks: The Ecology of the Movements":

We're all very excited by how much public and reader interest we've received in recent days regarding our publication of this important work by the Notes from Nowhere collective that authored and edited "We Are Everywhere" (Verso Press).

Do you know that between the time we published the first essay on Thursday and this weekend, the book's sales ranking at climbed from #262,000 to #26,000 - bypassing 237,000 other books in the line in two days?

You might say that these fast developments are just one tangible result of having built a global *network* over the past four-and-a- half years but, of course, the authentic victories can't be measured in mere economics

And that is what this essay is about: the construction and use of networks, how the network model operates so totally distinct that of from "organizations" or other more traditional forms of collaboration I am writing, of course, about the boredom-inducing old ways of seeking social change that too often create bureaucracies that begin to mirror, become co-opted by, or turn into, the evil forces they first set out to oppose.

I started to "get" this concept of networking as a journalistic and political weapon ten years ago, when, wanting to find out more about the Zapatista indigenous rebellion that had begun in Southeastern Mexico, and being new, in 1994, to the Internet, I subscribed to an email list with the quirky name of "Chiapas-L."

Back then, there were no graphics or photos or video or audio on my little used Apple computer (and yes, Virginia, there weren't any of those obnoxious pop-up ads either!), connected by a phone line to the Internet. There, one could read something called ASCII text: imagine this, kids it was words only!

Suddenly, on a given day or night of 1994, 1995 or 1996, the rebels would send out a communiqué from the jungle and it would appear immediately on that email list and at my desk far away in the Boston Phoenix newsroom.

Then somebody would translate it from Spanish to English and other languages.

Then it would spark solidarity actions around the world. International gatherings were convened deep in the Lacandon jungle - invitations flew across the fledgling, ever expanding, networks - to which people would come from the five continents and then disperse again back to their own lands better armed in knowledge, ideas, tactics, and inspiration for the struggle.

It didn't take too long before I got down there, South of the Borders, myself. The rest is a story known to longtime Narco News readers This intercontinental ballistic online newspaper grew out of that network, and created yet other ones putting drug policy reformers (coca growers, harm reduction workers, legalizers... even some presidents and congress members!) throughout the hemisphere in contact with each other for the first time constructing a powerful and horizontal network of Authentic Journalists training and helping each other to be better and safer through the School of Authentic Journalism

Of course, we lived through at least one case for the textbooks: the mercenary lawyers at Akin Gump and their clients at Banamex-Citibank didn't know what hit them after our networks swarmed all over their lawsuit against us in 2000 and 2001, stunned them, confused them, pulled them off their traditional playing fields, and won the day for the First Amendment rights of all Internet journalists.

Yup, the recipe ain't secret: It was a matter of constructing networks!

In any contest between fixed institutions and fluid networks, the networks are winning the day. That's the Narco News story and that of many others; a defining narrative of our era.

Beyond the Zapatistas, many international, national, and local movements have found much success with this same kind of network model - low on cost and bureaucracy, high on communication and speed, allowing for and provoking spontaneous and surprise action, and assuring that all done on a small scale finds a greater reach beyond its moment and geography. Certainly, the autonomy movements that have put the "Global Trade" barons on the run have utilized, and evolved, ever-new forms of networks to get the job done.

As today's essay on Narco News, titled, "Networks: The Ecology of the Movements," notes, "it was the RAND Corporation, a US military think tank, who actually came up with the most accurate description" for the "formless howling mob" that has shut down international trade talks time and time again. Viewing the RAND-published book, "Networks and Netwars," from the distinct perspective that comes from looking up from below.

The "We Are Everywhere" authors focus on the concept of "the swarm" (a concept we've openly borrowed, many times, here, when speaking of "the Narco News swarm" of Authentic Journalists on big and breaking news stories from Bolivia to Venezuela to Mexico and elsewhere).

RAND's think-tankers, note the authors, "predicted that swarming would be the main form of conflict in the future. While for most commentators, a bottom-up system that functioned so effectively was totally outside their conceptual framework, the RAND Institute, steeped in the latest developments of systems theory and complexity, turned to the natural world for the best metaphor that there is enormous power and intelligence in the swarm."

This essay embraces four axioms as keys to successful social change:

- "More is different"

- "Stay small"

- "Encourage randomness," and

- "Listen to your neighbors."

We'll be discussing these concepts, among the others raised in these essays, on the swarm-inducing Narcosphere as we publish each of the seven parts, one after another, trying to see how the strategies and tactics unveiled can be better applied to journalism and the drug war.

So keep reading, and join in the discussion. It's heady stuff, but not difficult for everyday people llike us to understand. I know that *you* will understand them.

(Some say that "networking" is in our genetic coding; the authors point out some very interesting examples, too, from the animal world of how species act distinctly in groups than as individuals)

And, I repeat, for anyone who really wants to win the battles and causes that concern us, to develope a more precise understanding of how all this networking networks is a prerequisite to effective journalism and political action in 2004.

It's show time!


From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano Publisher The Narco News Bulletin new email:

Narco News is supported by:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 71051 Madison Heights, MI 48071 USA

The Fund receives online donations at this web page:

Hot Muckraker: Al Giordano (bio from 2000)

Giordano was born on December 31, 1959 in the Bronx, New York City.

In 1978, Al Giordano, now forty-one, was arrested for criminal trespass while protesting a nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. He was sentenced to 100 days in jail, but succeeded in causing enough trouble to get kicked out after twenty. Since then, he's been causing various kinds of trouble as a political organizer and a reporter and, in general, continues to afflict the comfortable. Now he's being sued by a multi-billion dollar opponent who isn't having a whole hell of a lot more luck with him than the New Hampshire jailers.

The deal with the current litigation is this: In 1997, Giordano had gone to Chiapas, Mexico, to hang with the Zapatista rebels. He was then thirty-seven and had been, until the previous year, the political reporter at the Boston Phoenix. "I wanted out of journalism," he says, "I had been covering politics, but nothing was happening in politics." He began to read Spanish-language newspapers. "And I found that even though Mexican journalists are subject to much more repression and danger than journalists in the United States they're far more courageous in reporting on difficult subjects like the Drug War."

Consequently, in the spring of 2000, Giordano launched, a nonprofit pro-legalization site that presents Giordano's reporting on the Drug War as well as the best of the Latin American reporting in translation. ( "Pro-legalization is just the train," Giordano says. "The destination is much more sweeping - authentic democracy, peace with justice, human rights." ) The lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court last August by the National Bank of Mexico - Banamex - alleges libel, slander and interference with prospective economic advantage. The alleged defamatory statements involve reports that major narcotics trafficking was occurring on property owned by Roberto Hernandez, the bank's owner and president.

It is probably safe to say that this suit is not about money. Since filing the suit, Banamex was sold to Citigroup for $12.5 billion dollars and Hernandez, who ranks 387th on Forbes magazine's list of the wealthiest people on earth, is worth about $1.3 billion. Conversely, Giordano's most valuable possessions are a $1,200 laptop and a guitar.

It is also probably safe to say that in filing this suit, Banamex didn't know with whom it was picking a fight.

If you took it in a straight line from the dissatisfaction with the world he began to express as a student at Mamaroneck High School in suburban Westchester, New York, to the present, the Bronx-born Giordano's biography would go like this: In 1976, when he was sixteen, he went to Albany and testified before a legislative commission in the state senate against nuclear power, felt completely ignored and concluded that the tactic of lobbying the government was futile. He was arrested for what would be the first of twenty-seven times on May 1st, 1977. When he was twenty and living in a cabin in Rowe, Massachusetts, running the Rowe Nuclear Conversion Campaign, which ended in the first-ever shutdown of an operating nuclear power plant in America, he met Abbie Hoffman, who called him "the best political organizer of his generation." The two worked together until Hoffman's death in 1989, opposing U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and fighting to save the Delaware and St. Lawrence rivers. He also occasionally worked on political campaigns, notably for senator John Kerry.

Around 1988, after winning more than twenty referendums and political campaigns in a row, it occurred to Giordano that he could also effect social change through journalism. For the next eight years he worked as a political reporter, ending up at the Phoenix, where he still occasionally publishes.

Unhappy with what he saw as the decline of journalism in the U.S., he wrote an essay to that effect called "The Medium Is the Middleman," which his friend the late Jeff Buckley adapted into a song called "The Sky Is a Landfill," (it appears on Buckley's posthumous 1998 record Sketches for My Sweetheart, the Drunk). Shortly after that, Giordano moved to Mexico.

Obviously, given the sale to Citigroup, Banamex can afford to continue filing suits against Giordano in as many cities, countries or universes as they can find a pretext for, effectively turning Giordano into a full-time international defendants. "This is a harassment suit," says Giordano, who is currently $200,000 in debt from his legal battles. "Narconews is the canary in the coal mine, and if that bird stops singing, then all the miners of authentic journalism will have to evacuate the mine."

source: Media Awareness Project by: Richard Lake

The above bio was written in the year 2000. Since then, Giordano won the lawsuit against Banamex (a stunning victory with implications for all of us who seek to tell the truth on-line and off-line) and has expanded Narco News into a news source to be reckoned with. inJusticebusters covered the Banamex story at the time.

In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Al Giordano was a supporter of Barack Obama and opposed Hillary Clinton while in 2016 he was an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton and an opponent of Bernie Sanders.

News sources reported that Giordano discussed running in Vermont, in 2018, for Bernie Sanders' US Senate seat. In 2017, however, he stated he has been battling cancer and will not run.