Saturday, July 28, 2007

On Anarchy: For Benjamin

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” (Oscar Wilde)

One thing that my education and experience have taught is that freedom comes with a price paid in the process of procuring and, once secured, in preserving it. That price, history has shown, is the willingness of the people, to leave the relative peace of their jobs, homes, and families to physically confront tyranny and oppression. Those forces of oppression, even when out of power, still desire to hold on and regain their former status. They do not change their stripes nor do they go quietly into the night. They attained and held their power through blood, slavery, and deceit and it is through such savagery, or the threat thereof, that power is to be wrested from them.

It is unfortunate that any human endeavor, especially one as noble as social justice, should be awash in violence and social upheaval. None of us desires civil war. However, we should not allow the false tranquility of the present, nor the fear of possible future chaos, to deter us from speaking up or acting out for social justice and parity. There is much to risk and much to lose, and the human psyche, once acclimatized, abhors change. Yet, like an addict seeking recovery, there comes a time where that man, or that society, reach the bottom of what they can endure and risk everything to ensure their survival.

Non-violence is a wonderful idea and, in a perfect world, Gandhi’s image of a peaceful transition of power to the people would be a welcome sight. However, we are not marching against a far-off British Empire split amongst itself on the issue of colonies and self-determinism encased in the courteous affectations of the Victorian Age. Those seeking ‘empire’ now do not break for tea at a set hour each day. We are now dealing with local and national police acting solely to protect corporate interests. These police agencies arrive in full combat gear and operate in full combat mode. They are fully prepared to do harm to peaceful protestors. How many times must we witness the trampling, gassing, and beating of peaceful citizens, exercising their 1st Amendment rights to gather peacefully, before you and others finally believe what your eyes are telling you?

We have all been thoroughly lectured by our media and those in power to believe that violence is no way to solve problems yet, those same people who speak against it, use it willingly and often when it suits their own personal or ideological ends. Why is the violence done by men in Kevlar helmets and badges condoned and supported, while the same violence perpetrated by men in tennis shoes and faded blue jeans, in reaction, considered as criminal? Is it the uniform and the ‘order’ it represents that you worship or do you ever consider the root causes?

The corporate overlords did not achieve their wealth without shedding someone else’s blood. Pick any industry or commodity around the globe and you will find human beings exploited by the hirelings of some far away and well-protected corporate master. For them, it is just ‘business as usual’. They are detached from the sufferings of every-day human beings by their social station. They do not share in the labor or witness the real-world nuts and bolts goings on of what must occur in the real world for them to amass such power and wealth.

Democracy and ruthless greed cannot coexist. Eventually, the people tire of their masters and rebel en masse. The lessons of history i.e. the American, French, and Russian revolutions that we, the people, so often take for granted, are not lost on the corporate aristocracy and their underlings. They know full well what will happen and are already making careful and deliberate plans to counter any dissent or rebellion. Those in power have a plan and are implementing it. To do so, they must diminish the power of the vote and voice of the populace, either through clever marketing or, if necessary, by subterfuge or military force.

Of course, anarchy can be peaceful. We can boycott those corporations we don’t like and we can still speak out. However, civil disobedience, such as that of an H.D. Thoreau is laudable, but the somewhat quaint circumstances surrounding his particular time no longer exist. The penalties for non-compliance are these days are much higher and much more costly. Thoreau chose not to pay a tax levied for the Mexican war and he spent a few days in a local jail for his anarchy. Choose not to respect and comply with today’s revenue service and the consequences prove to be good deterrents to any such form of dissent.

“When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.” (C.P. Snow)


Benjamin said...

This is the post I would have expected to see the first time around. As far as Snow's quote, it would depend. Where does he count the deaths under the reign of Mao (if Snow is a modern commentator)?

I suppose the most unsettling implication in these recent two posts is that while death is necessary, those who end up dead didn't necessarily make the choice to put themselves in the scenario that resulted in their deaths.

"Choose not to respect and comply with today’s revenue service and the consequences prove to be good deterrents to any such form of dissent."
True, but this falls merely under the material comforts heading of things to give up for the revolution. The government will probably not physically torture you for tax evasion (and if they do, then you will gain at least one more reluctant member in your revolution).

Almost Cinderella said...

I find it coincidental that this topic was a theme of my final essay for a condensed Western Civ course this summer: the virtues of being contrary (er, ah-- "rebellious" ;), and how it set the precedent for others in history.

I'm enjoying catching up on your writings Shlomo!

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