[Update: An empirical view of the power of non-violence can be found at Sojourners (free registration to read) - People Power by Erica Chenoweth. (h/t Lisa Simeone)]
Image found at Secret History
As I write this, there is a rather serious conversation going on over at Ian's place regarding the "options" available to those of us who have seen the bankruptcy of the current order. The commenters at that site are an erudite and philosophical bunch - out-of-the-box thinking tempered with a natural hewing towards the pragmatic - so this subject frequently crops up. But of late there has been some focus.
The three posts (as of this writing, of course) that have stimulated this post, in chronological order:
Stephen Moss tells us the powerful do as they will and the weak can suck it up - 2011/06/07
Strategies for Resistance and Change - 2011/06/10
The shiny - 2011/06/11
I have written about revolution before, and these discussions have clarified my thinking further. I was pleased to see, however, that my basic positions have not wavered. Excerpts:
...Stop playing the oppressors' game. The game is - you want what we have and you can't have it. To stop playing it, you simply say, "No, actually, I don't want it."A Word About Revolution
- Stop respecting the idea of property....
- Money should never be used to transact in human rights...
- Do not exploit the labor of your fellow human beings for your own profit...
Just those three things are so revolutionary that you will bring upon yourself a great deal of resentment from the players in the oppression game - both sides. That should sate some of the initial impulse to dance with these fools.
Remember, the revolution I advocate is primarily a mind-set. It happens, quite successfully, one person at a time. My kind of revolutionary can live amidst any settled social arrangements, it is my behaviour that counts, not the world's.More Words About Revolution
This does bring up another matter. One of the reasons that I am so certain that this will work is because the capitalists have told me so, in no uncertain terms. Because capitalists evidently can't live with me.... they cannot have people dropping out of the game, because then their game loses its meaning, and their gold loses it shimmer. And they object. Strenuously...
You, too, will be demonized and shunned. When that happens, you know you're doing something right.
As I am understanding the discussion thus far, there is a fading tension between the hues within the rainbow of (would be?) revolutionaries. I would characterize that spectrum as moving from pacifists, demonstrators, non-cooperatives, non-violent resisters, towards off-gridders, saboteurs, and outright in-your-face Che motherfuckers. I would remiss not to note that the latter is not a frequent or popular position - as I said, there is a natural hewing towards the pragmatic with these folks.
As can be seen from my posts, above, and some of my drive-by comments in Ian's threads, I could be characterized as an "off-gridder," but note that, in the above spectrum metaphor, I placed it closer to the "Che motherfuckers" than to the pacifists, and even at a distance from the non-violent resistors.
For those who are fixated upon the concept of open, violent clashes with the "State" - "The shiny," as Ian puts it - the point is often made over how out-gunned "our" side is. Of course. That should be the first signal that wading right in with that sort of activity is kind of stupid. My idea of "off-gridding" addresses this point in three different ways. Briefly:
- Depleting their resources. The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex are dependant upon your facile participation in the consumer society. We don't need a tax revolt. Stop buying shit.
- Make them come to you. All insurgencent activity is most successful if they come to your neighborhood, rather than seeking out the adversary on its own turf.
- Winning hearts and minds. A strong side effect of the strategy above - when they come to tax or otherwise appropriate your neighborhood garden, you have a neighborhood on your side, likely to include local cops and their families.
For it is indeed a Faustian bargain that the good people of America and elsewhere have entangled themselves in. The payoff is that we get to blame "unproductive" and "unambitious" "other" people for their troubles - we're doing the right thing over here! As Ian said:...which is what the rich bribed the middle class with – you can have your little castle and your unearned unwarranted wealth increase in your unproductive suburb away from brown and black people, in exchange we get to be really, really rich...Really rich, and really stupid about what it is to be a human being in this world.Faustian Dealings With The "Rapacious Warrior Class"
The point being - if we do not deeply acknowledge our own sicknesses, we will simply carry them forward no matter how "successful" a revolt may seem. It will not be a successful revolution at all.