New York, New York (TFC) – Born and raised in Astoria, Queens (NYC), Mickey Z. is the only person on the planet to have appeared in both a political book with Noam Chomsky and a karate flick with Billy “Tae Bo” Blanks. Armed with a high school diploma, Mickey has spoken and lectured in venues ranging from MIT to the Broadway branch of the Queens library, from Yale University to Occupy Free University. He is the author of 13 books, most recently “Occupy these Photos,” which can be found here.
1. What are the issues you focus on?
It’d probably be easier for me to list the issues I don’t focus on! Seriously though, I try to stay informed about all forms of oppression and address a wide range of social justice concerns. My root focus, however, is the root itself: male supremacy.
2. What got you into activism?
I’ve always been an anti-authority type but I also very much identify as a work-in-progress. Thus, as I educate myself, decolonize my mind, challenge my conditioning, and do the work to peel away the propaganda and privilege, I keep learning and evolving as an activist, writer, and thinker.
3. What your beliefs and who inspired them?
As I said, my beliefs are ever-evolving thus I remain inspired by anyone who challenges me to question those beliefs. At this moment, I am utterly enthralled with the work of Andrea Dworkin.
4. Who are some of your favorite radical artists?
Interesting question because as my awareness deepens, I find it increasingly difficult to support artists (of any medium) who use their work to keep systems of oppression alive and/or don’t use their work to provoke social change.
5. What do you think of as specific steps toward dismantling Male Supremacy?
I certainly don’t have a series of specific steps to offer but I can suggest others seek out the amazing sources I’ve been blessed to find, e.g. Dworkin and other radical feminist pioneers. Also, I recently wrote this article – aiming for a male audience: http://worldnewstrust.com/10-easy-ways-for-men-to-smash-gender-roles-mickey-z
6. What organizations do you see as working toward an end of oppression and authority?
Um, well…I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
7. What are some words of encouragement you would give young activists? advice?
Ask yourself: Where do my passions and skills fit in and how soon can I get started?
8. In your most recent book, you say “speak to a Native American if you want to understand terrorism.” What did you learn from those, who as you say, have “struggled against empire for 5 centuries”?
It starts with the most basic of facts: We’re all living on stolen land.
9. How did you get over your cynicism in activism?
I didn’t, truth be told. I think cynicism is a healthy ingredient for anyone choosing to challenge the status quo. To paraphrase G.B. Shaw: “Acute perception is called cynicism by those who do not possess it”!
10. Can you discuss a bit about how photography made you witness the occupation of Zuccotti park from a different lens?
Since OWS was headline news for a while, I felt a strong need to document what the corporate media was consciously ignoring. Being able to take photos to accompany my writing was an amazing opportunity to share the excitement of those heady days. They also allow me to look back now and have a clearer perspective of what that event offered and lacked.
11. When big media corporations like Time Warner that sponsor candidates, like Hillary Clinton, can fair election coverage be expected or are they simply manufacturing consent? What other elements of media coverage should we question? What about when they give time to social causes we agree with, is this simply that they can’t ignore it, or could they have an alternative agenda even then?
Whether you label them liberal or conservative, most major media outlets are large corporations owned by or aligned with even larger corporations, and they share a common strategy: selling a product (an affluent audience) to a given market (advertisers). Therefore, we shouldn’t find it too shocking that the image of the world being presented by a corporate-own press very much reflects the biased interests of the elite players involved in this sordid little love triangle.
If you created a blueprint for an apparatus that utterly erased critical thought, you could make none more efficient and far-reaching than the American corporate media — and please don’t fall into the trap of only demonizing Fox News.
A major component of the free press illusion is the notion that some media outlets are more liberal while others are more right wing. Belief in this odious myth further limits the already limited parameters of accepted debate. Reality: The media are as liberal or conservative as the corporations that own them.
12. What are your thoughts on Bernie Sanders? What about the Green Party?
Sanders is serving a useful purpose: keeping the liberals attached to the Democratic Party, despite all prevailing evidence. As long as (so-called) progressives are busy “Feeling the Bern,” more grass roots-oriented organizations like the Green Party are left in the shadows, with virtually no funding. By the way, I recently compared Sanders’ current rhetoric to other faux liberals in previous elections, all the way back to 1988. Readers might wanna take a look: https://mickeyzsays.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/liberal-quiz-for-the-bernie-sanders-faithful/
13. What do we need to do to help create a stronger activist movement here in the United States? What are some of the biggest obstacles to accomplishing this?
Every single activist “movement” I’ve participated in or studied replicates (to various degrees) the same nightmarish hierarchies and tendencies we claim to be struggling against. So, for starters, I feel we must openly and relentlessly name the problem: Male Supremacy (with capitalism and white supremacy as two of its tentacles).
You and I are the problem. Men are the problem. Patriarchy, male supremacy, male pattern violence — and all the institutional structures created to maintain and obscure this necrophilic system. If we want to live up to lofty, self-appointed labels like revolutionary and radical, we must name the problem — over and over again — until we stop being the problem.
Whether we admit it or can even recognize it, we males are benefitting from the oldest, most foundational form of oppression. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: What am I doing — every minute of every day — to learn and grow, to help smash the patriarchy?
In this struggle, there is no neutral. Complacent = complicit. Which side are you on?