January 3, 2009

The Inevitability of Revolution

I'm not exactly sure how to begin this post. I have always written for an audience of one: me.The reality that some people may come across this little blog of mine was always far off, and I treated this site as a diary and a record of where my mind was at a certain time, so I can look back years from now and see how much I've grown intellectually. (That is, if the internet is still free and open in the future, and just the fact that I have this doubt is a sign of the times we are living in; nothing is out of quesiton). I've lived in a state of paranoia and anxiety for much of my conscious life. I will turn 20 at the end of the month, and for the first time in my life I have a sense that I am an adult. I feel I have to say this to you because its important people know what kind of person I am before they start reading a sentence I write. I want to be a serious political writer, but my university studies are not in either political studies or journalism. But that doesn't matter. This blog is my biggest hobby. I love writing. It's one of the few skills that I know I can develop if I write every week for the next few years. I will approach this site as the playground for my mind, and nothing is off-topic. I will still write for an audience of one, okay, maybe I'll turn it up a notch and write for an audience of two. Emerson in 1848 said "happy is he who writes from the love of imparting certain thoughts, and who writes always to the unknown friend." I want to write for myself and especially for the unknown friend, whatever age and in whatever place he/she lives.

Okay, now to more serious business.

Amir Oren in Haaretz calls for Israel to prepare to attack Iran:
On the 14th story in the IDF headquarters in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, where the defense minister and the chief of staff have their bureaus, there is concern about an even more serious problem than rockets in Ashdod and Be'er Sheva. Barak, especially, has been concerned that the IDF will be drawn into Gaza, even if not in all its brigades and divisions, but certainly with the attention of the commanders and with a burden on the air force.

Therefore, the IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled. Cast lead, heavy as it may be, is still easier to digest than enriched uranium.
Attacking Iran will push the crumbling economies of the world further into chaos. Gas will shoot up. Violence in Iraq will intensify, and death and devastation will be imprinted onto the sands of the Middle East for an entire generation. I've been reading Arthur Silber's essays about the implications of an attack on Iran in the last couple of days. In August 2007, in The Worsening Nightmare, Silber had this to say:
Perhaps Israel is attacked. Again, the calls for retribution would be universal, and not a single major voice would be raised in opposition. Probably the government of Pakistan is toppled; that is close to happening even today. And then we would need to worry about actual nukes getting into the hands of those who might genuinely wish to attack us. The possibilities are many, but they all lead to the same end: widening war, war, and more war.

And now it is too late. The kind of educational campaign I recommended as essential might have had a chance six months ago; it has no chance at all today, even if someone were prepared to undertake it -- and no one is. I see only one possibility that might stop these events: a massive demonstration or series of demonstrations in Washington, probably accompanied by a massive sit-in in the offices of Congress. Nothing short of that has a chance in hell.

But that's not going to happen. So we proceed on our path to a still worse and deepening nightmare. Our destination was set a long time ago. The intention to provoke a wider war has been announced repeatedly. No one believed it could happen, or wanted to believe it could happen. Such resistance and denial are common before all catastrophes of this kind. The warning signs are all around us and have been for years. Almost no one paid attention. No one acted to prevent what was obviously coming.

And still, no one will act to prevent it. So I see no point in documenting the further steps on this route to hell, for the same reason I avoid a certain kind of horror film: it is the contemplation of cruelty, murder, barbarism and sadism for their own sake. Such exercises in psychopathology have no interest to me, and I will leave the dreadful task to others.
I have no quarrels in documenting our world's "route to hell" and if people think hell is not where the Middle East is headed, see this. But I am not going to document the "cruelty, murder, barbarism, and sadism for their own sake." I am not alarmist, the alarm bells have already been sounded off by writers much more knowledgeable than me. I see my task as writing about and supporting the cause of revolution, in the Middle East as well as in America. The regimes of Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia must go if the people in that part of the world are to be free and prosperous in this century. And for those regimes to go, the current Tsarist regime in America must go. And the regime in Iran must also go. But the bankruptcy of the Washington government will undoubtedly inhibit its influence in the Middle East and once the regime scales back its foreign appetite and brings the troops home its gaze will turn inward. One of the events I will write about in this coming year will be the economic and social collapse of the United States. If you still can't believe it, see Detriot.

I don't want to focus all on the bad news. I think the collapse of the United States is a healthy sign. There are many great things happening in the underground of American culture, many positive movements such as SlowFood USA, and these developments will grow livelier in the new America. I for one welcome the depression, the collapse, the breakdown. Richard Heinberg says the Party's Over, I say lets go to the after party. But that does not mean we should be self-indulgent and party privately while the world outside burns. We may be free in our private lives but if we do not have political freedoms then we will let down our predecessors and our children's dreams of liberty. The day may come when it will be a risk to our lives to protest and make our voices in public heard. The herd will stay inside, watching movies, going to parties, sleeping in, but the enlightened and brave few must take it on themselves and defend liberty once and for all. The America of Jefferson and Paine is not our America. But it can be as long we keep the romantic notions of liberty and justice alive.

Arthur Silber in his new piece writes:
The unending procession of oppression, barbarity and widescale murder throughout human history is not inevitable. There have always been those rare individuals who, when confronted with the horrors of their time and asked to render support for them in any form and to any degree, will declare, simply and with no claim to heroism: No. Such individuals teach us that another mode of consciousness and a radically different manner of conduct exist and can be ours.
Ron Paul is the hero of our day, he has stood his ground in the Congress for liberty and he made me realize that such men of moral courage are still alive today and that history is not hogging all the great men. Henry David Thoreau in his essay Civil Disobedience said:
"No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the muchvexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire."
Ron Paul has a genius for legisation and he appeared in our day. We must not ever forget that. They are rare and that is why their light shine so bright. Obama is an orator, and not all that eloquent. He doesn't even write his own speeches, unlike the great statesmen of the past. The American public in 2008 proved, by electing Obama, Thoreau's assertion that "we love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire." Obama had a million people at his feet and he did not use that occasion to speak the truth about American military power or about the plight of the people in Gaza. He is not a pragmatist, he is a coward. It is Ron Paul who will inspire the heroism in our day, and it will be Ron Paul who historians will look back on as the only presidential candidate in 2008, aside from Kucinich and McKinney, who told the sad truths about America.

The other day I wrote a piece called 'Truth Tellers, New Rebels' and I left out one name that shouldn't be left out on any list concerning the sad truths of our day and that name is Arthur Silber. As I said I've read many of his pieces and they all left me with a sudden urgency to act. Right now, I don't know how to act so I write. I will not attend a protest as I believe they are useless, unless they take place in Parliament, Congress, and in the newsrooms across America. If the protests do not have a direct mission then what is the point? If I want to go out for a walk I would much rather go out alone, all by my lonesome, than in a group. But if the mission is to upend the corridors of power then count me in. I do think we are a culture in a state of paralysis. We are unmoved by horrific events like the ones taking place in Gaza right now. We either try to rationalize them or we simply yell in our heads and I am one of them. I think deep down the wrath of Americans is so huge that they are unsure what is the right avenue for releasing their anger. I'm afraid that energy may be released in unconscious violence and the anger will be misused. And I count Canada in this too, although we suffer a far more mild form of it. If the wrath of Americans is not directed and controlled, then the elite and their police state will have their way with Americans. If you're unfamiliar or unpersuaded with what I'm trying to get across, here's Silber in his piece Living Under the Guillotine's Blade who says it much more eloquently than I:
This is how we live in America today. The final destruction of liberty, and of life itself, could begin at any moment. Yet we act like the man with his head resting on the block. We seem to believe there is nothing especially unusual in our circumstances, nothing that requires us to take action. Life goes on as it always did. Like the man under the blade, we could choose to alter our fate. We will not. We believe, as perhaps the man under the blade believes, that our situation isn't that bad; we'll be able to get through this, just as we always have. We forget all those who have gone before us, all those who have died bloody and painful deaths. But, we may tell ourselves, we are different from all those others. Their fate will not be ours, because we are special and unique. We forget that all the earlier victims thought the same.

And almost no one speaks of the incomprehensible catastrophes that lie in wait. Almost no one takes action to prevent even one of them. Our lives proceed as if nothing at all unusual is transpiring in our world, either abroad or at home. Occasionally, a few people shout warnings. They are almost entirely ignored.

The blade is suspended above us. With every moment that passes, the rope that holds it back frays and weakens still more.

Death hangs in the air.
In another piece he wrote in December 2007 he describes our current predicament as The Imminent, but Not-Yet, Not-Quite Dictatorship:
We exist in a netherworld, where the few remaining fragments of light slowly vanish: freedom no longer exists, and we wait to see what will replace it and just how oppressive it will be. Except for today's usual suspects -- those who are Arab or Muslim, those who are designated terrorists whether they are or not, "illegal" immigrants, many of those who are not male, white and affluent -- the state has yet to tell us who the specific victims will be. If there should be another major terrorist attack in America, these questions may well be answered more quickly than we would wish.

So what does an adult of conscience do, confronted by the specter of The Imminent, but Not-Yet, Not-Quite Dictatorship?
Now that I finally consider myself an adult, I know what I must do: support the resistance to the tyranny of my day in any way I can. Thoreau in Civil Disobedience wrote:
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
A tax rebellion is in order. On a scale that will surpise us and the whole world. Maybe then Americans will realize the real power they wield in their country.

But once we resist tyranny it's grip will be more fierce and open. When that day comes, we shall again listen to the wise words of Thoreau:
But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.
And if you think this type of reaction is too extreme, then I must ask you, what do you call the government's action? How shall we respond? The tyranny in our day is transnational but its headquarters are in America, thus, it will be Americans who will have to defend liberty. Not in the sands of Iraq, but in the sands of Nevada. The hour of active rebellion could not come soon enough, we must rise in solidarity with the people in Gaza who are living in hell as I write. And by active rebellion I do not mean a violent one. I want to make clear that non-violent action, in the tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Mandela, is the most effective action we can take. But it has to be active resistance, not passive. By this I mean not just protests but boycotts as well. Tax rebellions, worker strikes, marches on Capitol Hill, etc, etc.. JFK wrote "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Here's one last Thoreau quote:
All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of '75.
I will leave you with one final passage by Silber in a piece he wrote nearly two years ago. Its called Dispatch from Germany, Summer of 1939 (III): Building an Effective Resistance:
For many of you reading this, your involvement in and knowledge about politics is a great luxury, one you often take for granted. But I would suggest that, along with that luxury, comes greatly increased responsibility. You know more, you are able to spend more time on these subjects, and so more can rightfully be expected of you.

Yes, this is a monumental battle. Yes, the odds are not in our favor. But the stakes are the greatest ones in the world -- peace, and freedom. In different ways, many of you have indicated this was the kind of battle you wanted. Many of you have said this was why you got involved in politics in the first place.

We cannot choose the moment in history during which we happen to spend our lives. But we can choose what we do about it, and how we try to affect the course of events, to the extent we can. We are living during an especially critical time, one that is filled with terrible dangers -- and one that might change the world and our country for the rest of our lives. We may not have chosen this battle, but it is here whether we want it or not. So I hope some of you will choose to join it, on the side of peace, liberty and the infinitely precious value of a single human life.

And I hope some of you start, or continue with renewed dedication, today.