Finding The Shadow In Broad Daylight
As I was out taking care of errands morning, I came across a small notice, stuck to a light pole, announcing the 58th issue of The Shadow, available for purchase for one dollar. In the middle of this little advertisement was an image of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a two-headed monstrosity, being honored with sacks of money from corporations including Exxon, Aetna, Pfizer and Goldman Sachs. In this graphic, the A in the Shadow was replaced with the symbol for anarchy. Underneath that was the motto: “Information is strength. Knowledge is power.”
I wondered at this juxtaposition of words and imagery. In the image, clearly, money is power. If information is strength and knowledge is power, how come the artist didn’t show Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump receiving information, or going to the library? Furthermore, if knowledge is power, how come the creators of The Shadow are asking for a dollar in payment for issue #58, instead of tips about leads on new information or knowledge?
It was a confusing, but intriguing, presentation. I wanted to find out more, but there was no information on the advertisement about exactly WHERE I could find a copy of The Shadow for sale for a dollar.
I was feeling powerless and weak, lacking this vital bit of information, so I went online to find out more. What I came across was not a web site for The Shadow, but a Facebook page with the following message at the top: “The Shadow is on Facebook. To connect with The Shadow, join Facebook today.”
The thing was, I didn’t want to sign in to Facebook. Of all the corporations in existence today, Facebook is one of the most powerful, and the most abusive. It snoops on people, gathering bits of personal information about them, and then sells that information to other corporations who want to use that information to increase their own power.
If The Shadow truly believes that information is power, and it chooses to help Facebook gather that form of power over its readers, what does that say about the motives of The Shadow? Certainly, Facebook’s methods are not at all in tune with the principles of anarchy.
Can an underground newspaper be on Facebook? Being on Facebook is like being out in the middle of the day, in the middle of an open field, in the bright sunshine, with cable TV news cameras pointed at you. Facebook is as un-underground as it is possible to be.
Furthermore, The Shadow claims to be New York’s “only underground newspaper”, but how can it possibly know that? Maybe there are other underground newspapers in New York that the people at The Shadow just aren’t aware of, because, well, they’re underground.
I haven’t found answers to my questions about The Shadow. I can’t even find issue #58.
I have, looking at that image of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on that advertisement stuck on the light pole, found a small epiphany: I don’t think that information is strength. I don’t think that knowledge is power.
Really, we all have access to the knowledge that The Shadow’s cartoon of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton points to. Mainstream, corporate journalists have already reported on the big money connections of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The information is readily available. Yet, revelations of that information don’t appear to have changed people’s decisions about how to vote in this year’s presidential election. The knowledge hasn’t translated to action. The information remains pathetically impotent, unconnected to any consequence.
I’m sure that the people at The Shadow are doing their best to challenge big systems of power in this country, but from what small bits of information I can find about the publication, it hasn’t been successful. The Shadow as been around since the 1980s, publishing a lot of information to very little effect.
If publication of information isn’t an effective tool of building grassroots power, though, what is? What’s the alternative to to working with knowledge?
I can’t find issue #58, and I can’t come up with an answer to this question.
Does anyone else out there have a suggestion?