Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Seize The Future. Part 3A

What exactly is Civil disobedience? As Wikipedia succinctly puts it, "Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government." Generally, acts of Civil disobedience, as the name implies, disavow violence, but do advocate assertive behavior that amounts to individual, and more often, groups, "holding their ground". Sit down protests, marches, vigils, and boycotts, such as occurred in the sixties in the U.S., and that still more than occasionally occur in other parts of the world, generally don't, at least by design, set out to engage in destructive mayhem, at least not by the dissenting side.

The classic picture of Civil disobedience, the one the majority are most likely to associate with from television, if not through personal experience, is one where "the state" literally holds its ground on one side of an erected physical barrier, while encamped on the other side of the barrier-which may be defended by nothing more (or less) than a battalion of well armed local police, are some number of citizens acting defiantly, hoping, presumably as a result of the righteousness of their cause, and due to their unflagging tenacity, to overcome official recalcitrance.

And this is precisely where it gets very challenging for the would be radical change agent interested in engaging in a bit (or a lot) of Civil disobedience in the present day United States. Many, if not most of our government's most objectionable activities are occurring, as it were, off book, far away from the public's none too keen eye. From the military expeditions in the Middle East, to various government bailout schemes of private financial institutions, to the manipulation of capital and commodity markets, to the handling of the ongoing catastrophe in The Gulf of Mexico, there are no shortage of activities the government is engaged in where there are no concomitant public decrees, laws, or public ceremonies with which the eager and righteous dissenter may disrupt or defy. How does one boycott, disobey, or otherwise resist in such an atmosphere of secrecy and deception? After all, a large part of the utility of Civil disobedience is that everyone, "innocent" onlookers and bystanders especially, can get a sense of the nature of the cause, and hopefully, be persuaded to support it. So, what can one do in such a disadvantageous situation?

Here are, in my view, despite all the cover ups and under cover of darkness maneuvers by the powers that be, a few areas where the righteous dissenter might direct his or her energies.

The Two (Headed Hydra) Political Party.

1.) Denounce and boycott all elections that feature nothing but contests between Democrats and Republicans, as these two corrupt political entities are, most assuredly, (a very big) part of the problem.


Obviously voting isn't mandatory, at least not yet, and, so, refusing to vote, doesn't, at least technically, qualify as an act of Civil disobedience. However, I would argue that, where our vitiated political system is concerned, one must turn the entire process on its head such that voting-at least as elections presently function- is cast as an act of benign neglect, if not outright injury, to the state. The heaps of scorn that seem reserved for those who do not enter the voting booth for principled reasons, as opposed to, for example, those who don't vote out of apathy, should now be cast on to that portion of the electorate who mindlessly participate in the nation's hideous election year boondoggles. After all, they are nothing more than elaborate political charades designed to fool the lazy, obtuse, and/or brainwashed into thinking that they actually live in a functioning Democracy.

2.) As such we should support any and all political movements and endeavors that feature, not necessarily in order of importance, (because, frankly, I don't know which ones are the most important) the following:

A.) The removal of all troops from Iran and Afghanistan.


The so called War On Terror, where we have been gulled, prodded, and generally hounded into acting as if we must we engage in perpetual war for the purposes of insuring a permanent peace is, by definition, both a sham and a scam. I've already spilled enough ink in prior posts about what purpose the WOT is actually serving so I'll cease and desist for now. Hint: It has nothing to do with containing Islam, radical or otherwise.

B.) Something analogous to a Marshall (national energy and transportation system) Plan.


Had we not spent obscene amounts of boodle on our present military expeditions in the Middle East, we could, by some estimates, have already vastly changed the nature of our energy needs. Why, for example, isn't the entire Southwest not already heated and cooled mostly by solar power?

C.) The boycotting and ultimate dismantling of "too big to fail" financial intermediaries, and other rent seeking parasites that add absolutely no value to anyone but themselves. And that's the least of their crimes.


This is also not technically an act of Civil disobedience, but, be that as it may, pull your assets, if you are fortunate enough to have assets, out of these financial abattoirs. Stop doing business with them of any kind. This should be very easy to achieve since most of them, like Goldman Sachs, which is just a profoundly corrupt hedge fund, don't function remotely like traditional lending institutions anyway.

D.) The paring down (by no less than one half to two thirds) of the present amount of time taken up by national elections.


We mustn't try to remove money from politics. We should instead take politics to a place where money ceases to have much use.

3.) Without risking the alienation of friends, family, and loved ones, do your level best to impart the news that the system is irreparably broken. (Add that this condition is, by no means, all bad. In fact, stress that, in time, with a large dose of good luck, we will likely feel fortunate that it is past tense.) Either way, it's done for, so there isn't much point in doing anything but preparing for a very different kind of world than the one we, of late, knew.


The most effective way to "spread the news" (to the not so clued in) that the system is finished is to demonstrate that you have a modicum of insight and foresight. Start by making succinct analysis for family and friends regarding, for example, the meaning and effects of policy actions by officialdom. You may find that if, in the main, you accurately predict what transpires, you will garner some added respect and credibility. Generally all one has to do is make a few modestly successful predictions about all manner of man made phenomenon, and a few folks, a few, mind you, may want to know more about what informs your thinking. There is always the distinct possibility that some number of folks will simply revile you for your views, even more so because they seem to comport with (an unpleasant) reality. That's always a risk, but one that is probably worth taking.


attempter said...

That's an interesting sequence. I concur completely on reversing the opprobrium regarding "voting" in these rigged elections.

Today a real citizen assertively boycotts fraudulent elections, while only sheep and criminals let themselves be herded for them.

As for your proposed criteria for when if ever to vote, let me suggest an alternative. (I've written somewhat about this before and intend to focus more on it going forward.)

The stuff you listed is correct but, I think we agree, impossible to change within the system. So while it's fine for a candidate or third party to make such demands, that's really just for propaganda purposes.

But on the whole our only true recourse where it comes to e.g. the banks or the war is nonparticipation in the system, withdrawal from it, from its economy, from its politic, etc, replacing them with our own.

Unfortunately, there are two critical issues which, so far as I can see, still do require engagement within the system. These are the preservation of civil liberties, and of Internet democracy. For those two, I feel forced to regress to advocacy of the "reform within the system" position.

So, to whatever extent we want to remain serious about running candidates, pressuring elected officials, etc., I think the focus should be on one or both of those.

Just some thoughts.

Edwardo said...

Fair enough, Russ. I can see the logic in what you propose with respect to civil liberties, broadly defined.
Thanks again for your comments.

Edwardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DED said...

I like the action plan, Edwardo. Succinct.

With regards to #2:
A) Will get you heaps of scorn from the Remember-9/11 crowd who insist the Muslims are out to get us and will point to various attempted bombings to back their point.

C) Will get you branded anti-capitalist, which is tantamount to being accused of being a "commie" (out of ignorance, I must add, as the two are completely different).

D) Will be denounced as anti-free speech from the political duopoly.

Not that I disagree with you for these points, just making sure you're aware of what you may hear.

Edwardo said...

Thanks, Ded. In the meantime I look forward to the bogus criticisms.

Johnny D. said...

All good advice, Edwardo, and I have taken it, and will continue to take it.