The View From Outside
A Unique Perspective
- Art, Identity and The Sacred by Shannon Kringen
Shannon Kringen's 140 page book of multi media art, mostly photography, and her philosophy on how art, identity and the sacred relate to each other as a spiritual practice.
- Shannon Kringen.com
Multimedia artist and model Shannon Kringen
- Shannonkringen's Photostream
The Flickr Photosteam of Shannon Kringen.
- Typecast Dragon
A documentary about Shannon and her days on Seattle Public Access TV
What Democracy Looks Like?
Since I headed off to college, I have found myself a magnet for unique individuals. Social media sites like Facebook and Flickr have provided me opportunities to meet folks I would not have met otherwise. One example would be Seattle-based artist Shannon Kringen, She's also a fierce critic of America, especially the corporations that seem to control so much of it. She is where I picked up the term "USA Inc." to describe the vision of an America of, by, and for the "%1" that the Koch Brothers and ALEC want to create, with help from the Tea Party.
She has also traveled the world, most recently she was in Scotland. These travels inspired her to write a piece on what she saw as differences between the "Socialist Democracies" of Europe, etc and the "Capitalist Democracy" of the United States.
I think a better term for many of the "Socialist Democracies" she admires would be "Social Democracy". The style of society that one sees in places like Norway, Denmark, etc. I think this may be the style of society that many on the American Left aspire to.
But there are obstacles along this path. Some are structural; our two-party system, our winner take all system for presidential elections, and the necessity for huge amounts of money to mount an effective campaign.
But there are also some roadblocks that may be more cultural. Americans seem to have a different relation to government than Europeans. Many Americans see government as an adversary, the mantra of "Big Government" coming from big business and it's mouthpieces on AM-Radio and it's cable news affiliate. Neither of these phenomena is new; Americans have always had a distrust for government, and the wealthy have always had a desire to possess political power beyond their numbers. Over the last 30 years though, we have seen both grow. The roots of this might though go back to the 1960's when Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil RIghts Act and began a "War On Poverty". Hard-working, White, Americans' money were going to "those people", who now had the rights to vote and were protected from discrimination.
Thus, a second cultural obstacle. European countries, as a whole, are more racially homogeneous. The American "melting pot" has been more often brought to a boil as reactionaries have created outgroups to scapegoat and divide folks who should be allies. As I have said before, this is a common trait of right-wing movements. Right-wing parties in Europe have seized on this, as countries like Norway deal with immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.
Will America ever catch up to it's neighbors in the 1st world in areas of social and economic justice? That may take more Americans realizing how far we lag in areas of social and economic justice. The "Occupiers", to their credit, may have caught on.