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Weissman writes: "The argument will fade away if enough of us learn how to use mass civil disobedience to change the system - and the political culture - as we go along."

Photo of December 4, 1967 draft protest, San Francisco. (photo: AP)
Photo of December 4, 1967 draft protest, San Francisco. (photo: AP)


Mass Civil Disobedience Ain't Masturbation!

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

19 December 13

 

n response to my last column on the call to direct action by Daniel Ellsberg and others, one commentator - # Shorey13 - suggested that without changing the system, "our protests are just a form of political masturbation." It's an old canard and could easily be taken as an excuse to stand on the sidelines, though I do not think Shorey intended that. In practice, the argument will fade away if enough of us learn how to use mass civil disobedience to change the system - and the political culture - as we go along.

This was the pragmatic, non-ideological, post-Gandhian approach many of us took against segregation, the suppression of free speech, and the American war in Vietnam in the 1960s. We called it tactical non-violence - I even taught it in a free university course at Stanford - and it worked to bring political change in the real world.

Though we did not know it at the time, the underlying idea goes back to an aristocratic 16th century French judge, philosopher, poet, and humanist named Étienne de La Boétie. He was, as it happens, born in the medieval village of Sarlat, not far from where my wife Anna and I are now growing old in the Dordogne. Local linguistic purists pronounce his name as he probably did, [bwa'ti], while a plaque on his higgledy piggledy old house commemorates his life. But few here or anywhere else know of the political time bomb he left behind with his short, brilliantly reasoned "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude."

Writing his tract while still a law student, La Boétie raised questions that almost no one had ever bothered to think about. Why, he asked, do ordinary people obey their rulers? Why does the vast majority consent to their enslavement by a small minority? And to borrow an exquisite phrase from the right-wing American anarchist Murray Rothbard, why does the majority give the tyrant its civil obedience?

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome, the young Frenchman began with an insight that remains wonderfully subversive. Even absolute tyrants rely on the tacit acquiescence of their subjects. "It is the people who enslave themselves, who cut their own throats, who, when they have the choice of being either free men or slaves, give up their freedom and take up the yoke if they accept their ill, or rather pursue it," he wrote. The choice is not the tyrant's, but their own.

"Resolve no longer to be slaves and you are free. I do not want you to push him or overthrow him, but merely no longer to sustain him and, like a great colossus whose base has been pulled away, you will see him collapse of his own weight and break up."

Why the "stubborn willingness" to remain subservient? Does it come from fear, cowardice, or constraint? La Boétie thought not. Subservience prevails primarily because the mass of people grow accustomed to their lot. "It is unbelievable how people, once they are subjected, fall so quickly into such a deep forgetfulness of freedom that it is impossible for them to reawaken and regain it," he wrote.

"They serve so freely and so willingly that you would say to see them that they had not lost their liberty but won their servitude." The tyrant encourages the consent with bread and circuses, mystery and magic, religion and ideology. He presents himself as defender of the public good and surrounds himself with a hierarchy of supportive subordinates who share in the plunder and rush to defend his tyranny. But most people go along because they no longer know how to do anything different.

La Boétie never published his youthful discourse and few knew of it until the Protestant Huguenots used it to defend their rebellion against France's Catholic king in the religious wars that swept much of Europe. Anarchists of both right and left subsequently found inspiration in La Boétie's ideas, as did the historic sages of nonviolent passive resistance - Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, and Mahatma Gandhi. What a perplexing legacy! From religious blood-letting and anarchist bomb-throwing to the liberation movements against colonial rule in India, racial segregation in the American South, and American intervention in Vietnam, the little known La Boétie has left a profound mark on a wide and contradictory range of human struggles.

Sadly, as I wrote in "How Washington Learned to Love Nonviolence," La Boétie's latest enthusiasts have now extended his influence to imperial power plays to topple Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, tame the Arab awakening, and install pro-NATO regimes along the borders of the former Soviet Union. But we can learn from their strategies and tactics even as we oppose their Washington-backed meddling.

La Boétie framed the problem, and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg have heroically offered the beginnings of a solution. But what about the rest of us? Do we stand on the sidelines and play with ourselves? Do we stick a toe in the pond by signing petitions, sending checks, and periodically casting too often worthless votes? Or do we fully withdraw our consent and add needed muscle with massive nonviolent actions against the invasive and imperial National Security State and the Big Money groups who destroy our planet and impoverish the vast majority of us?

I would love to know where you stand.

One final note. Yes, please blow whistles at demonstrations and check out Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility at www.peer.org, all with a tip of the hat to # peterkofod in Denmark, # grandma lynn in New Hampshire, # seeuingoa, and # Secular Humanist, wherever he or she may be.



A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+20 # dkonstruction 2013-12-19 13:21
The author writes:

"This was the pragmatic, non-ideological , post-Gandhian approach many of us took against segregation, the suppression of free speech, and the American war in Vietnam in the 1960s."

"But what about the rest of us? Do we stand on the sidelines and play with ourselves? Do we stick a toe in the pond by signing petitions, sending checks, and periodically casting too often worthless votes? Or do we fully withdraw our consent and add needed muscle with massive nonviolent actions against the invasive and imperial National Security State and the Big Money groups who destroy our planet and impoverish the vast majority of us?"

The question for me is civil disobedience for what? Specifically. The Civil Disobedience to end segregation or to end the war in Vietnam were for specific demands and in support of concrete programs.

What's the demand here? While I am all in favor of direct action and civil disobedience I think that too many on "the left" have completely fetishized protest for protests sake (may make you feel good but accomplishes nothing e.g., did it stop the war in Iraq even though more people came out and protested before the war even started than at any other time in US or world history).

Civil Disobedience is a tactic not an end itself. We need more tactical and strategic thought and action not just fetishize "protest" for its own sake. That's not the point of civil disobedience.
 
 
+24 # tedrey 2013-12-19 18:12
I think the point is that we're not merely protesting a few issues, but that we are saying that the government is illegitimate and that we do not recognize it as having authority to speak for us, to command our obedience, or to act against our well-being. We will do what is necessary for our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, and when enough of us do that, the present government will have changed to something else entirely.
 
 
+7 # Marieke 2013-12-19 19:10
I like the idea but don't understand how that would play out in everyday life?
 
 
-20 # jazzman633 2013-12-19 19:42
Quoting tedrey:
I think the point is that we're not merely protesting a few issues, but that we are saying that the government is illegitimate and that we do not recognize it as having authority to speak for us, to command our obedience, or to act against our well-being. We will do what is necessary for our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, and when enough of us do that, the present government will have changed to something else entirely.


Right you are. If anybody has any doubts as to what must change: it is a tyrannical government that long ago exploded beyond its Constitutional limits.

How did Obamacare get passed, since it is clearly unconstitutiona l? Because nobody cares, nobody, especially Congress, takes the Constitution seriously.

It's probably too late. The military- industrial complex controls everything, politicians promise everything to everybody whether it's Constitutional or not, the government and the bankers are in bed (as they have been for decades, the one pretending to regulate the other) and have a lock on the country's wealth, and the Internet and iGadgets have mesmerized the populace far better than bread and circuses (though watching somebody actually die in front of you must have been be pretty interesting).
 
 
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-12-19 21:28
So we should all just give up & go home?
 
 
+3 # pbbrodie 2013-12-20 06:20
Right out of the Tea Party playbook.
 
 
+1 # ericlipps 2013-12-20 07:04
Quoting pbbrodie:
Right out of the Tea Party playbook.

Except that the "tea party" threatens actual violence if it doesn't get its way.

Oh. not on the floor of Congress. But out among the people, it uses language like "Second Amendment remedies" and links up with the "birthers" and "tenthers" to argue that President Obama is illegitimate and that (at least as long as he's in he White House) so is the federal government.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-12-20 10:42
What is "Right out of the Tea Party playbook."?
 
 
+13 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-19 19:44
Or we get organized and have a legal revolution. Give Me Liberty is a guide.
 
 
+3 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 07:21
Quoting tedrey:
I think the point is that we're not merely protesting a few issues, but that we are saying that the government is illegitimate and that we do not recognize it as having authority to speak for us, to command our obedience, or to act against our well-being. We will do what is necessary for our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, and when enough of us do that, the present government will have changed to something else entirely.


--- I disagree that the "present government will have to change". This implies ... continued
 
 
+7 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 07:22
Part 2

they are capable of any other thinking than the thinking they are currently engaged in. If we impose change on them (as they are trying to impose change on us) it is bound to fail. People are what they are and these people are born-again crooks and the only way to deal with them is to flush them from our government apparatus and install people (like Elizabeth Warren, Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala) who will run our government the way WE want them to, starting with not abusing all the money we give them.

We never authorized this current pack of jackals to use 57% of the money we give them to engage in imperialism for their exclusive benefit and that of their crony industrial pals.

They've got to go, and we have got to put in some kind of screening method to make sure that people like this never even get a chance to run for office in the first place and if, for some reason, they are able to slip the net, there will be such severe penalties that will make it not worth their while, like immediate death or life in prison without the chance of parole. ***
 
 
+3 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:18
The problem, as I see it, isn't that the people running it are corrupt (current pack of jackals), by the system, relying as it does on the initiation of force, if for no other reason than to collect the taxes on which it depends, is corrupt and corrupts all who take a hand in it. To be frank, and not to hurt your feelings, but the people you mention are, IMHO, no better than any of the other jackals. Nonviolence is the answer, and that means we must do away with this idea of people ruling other people by force, in other words, we must do away with government. Strike the root, not the twigs that grow out of the branches. They way to do that is to stop paying taxes. I am not recommending illegal or violent nor even dishonest withholding, but adamant resistance well thought out.
 
 
0 # jwb110 2013-12-20 12:24
And there is a Constitutional Amendment providing for replacing a Go'vt that no longer functions or has a heel on the necks of it's citizens.
 
 
+3 # DPM 2013-12-19 19:14
Your plan, dk?
 
 
+4 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:51
Revolution has to grow in all directions and develop in new and effective ways. I know we can avoid the old violent rev traps, but we will have to be brave and smart.
 
 
+24 # Floe 2013-12-19 17:51
We need to disobey on all fronts. Some will use protests, some may start new factions that build on a new paradigm, and some may contact friends and others through social media etc. One thing's for sure, the "established" media and political system is a total waste of human effort. Well maybe not total, sometimes crumbs come our way, but you know what I mean.
 
 
+5 # RLF 2013-12-20 06:50
Except that people have homes that will be taken away when they quit paying their mortgage...then where will they put their xbox? People need to quit paying taxes. They need to quit going to work. They need to quit paying for gasoline and groceries. That is real civil disobedience and it draws violence back. People are so misinformed and obligated that they don't even feel like they can go to a single protest because the have 50 things to get done before sunday is over and they have to go back to work at Walmart. Obligation and keeping up with the jones' (consuming at the mall) are what keep americans slaves and information control keeps them thinking it is OK. The plutocracy has those things locked up and until sufficient people lose everything to not give a shit, they will stay locked up. Wish for a bank collapse...it is the only way sufficient numbers get out to combat the control that currently exists.
 
 
+7 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 07:33
[quote name="RLF"]Exce pt that people have homes that will be taken away when they quit paying their mortgage...then where will they put their xbox?

--- I don't think it needs to be that drastic. Remember the 'bank out' we had not too long ago? When I went to my bank and made a large withdrawal to pay my regularly scheduled monthly bills, a look of terror came over the teller's face I'll never forget. I think it is possible to achieve our means with scheduled bank outs and boycotts. Like, everyone take all your money out on Monday. If everyone does it, it would send a clear message. If the government doesn't respond, then we go one deeper and we have one day when no one moves any kind of vehicle at all across this whole country.

You see, the problem is getting the whole country on board. The problem is that enough people just don't want to be bothered. I put this down to laziness as well as being mis-informed. In time, enough people will get around to realizing the mess we are in and decide it's time to come off the bench. But for now, people's eyes are still glazing over at the thought of having to do anything other than beer and games on the tube.
 
 
+4 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-20 09:01
I'm with you, friend. As Anne Feeney wrote "If you've been to jail for justice, then you're a friend of mine."
 
 
+3 # ericlipps 2013-12-20 07:06
Quoting Floe:
We need to disobey on all fronts. Some will use protests, some may start new factions that build on a new paradigm, and some may contact friends and others through social media etc. One thing's for sure, the "established" media and political system is a total waste of human effort. Well maybe not total, sometimes crumbs come our way, but you know what I mean.

Disobedience "on all fronts" is a recipe for imprisonment unless it becomes general. And if it does, it's a recipe for a bloodbath, especially if a right-wing government comes to power; many of those folks seem to be positively panting for a chance to machine-gun down left-wing dissidents.
 
 
-1 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:24
I'm afraid I find the political left wing to be quite as violence prone as the political right wing, perhaps even more so.
 
 
+2 # RHytonen 2013-12-22 18:56
If only.
 
 
+7 # hankgeorge 2013-12-19 18:03
Two things are essential: a charismatic leader people can rally around and the willingness to overlook ideological differences so we can work effectively as one group. The Left has forever been fragmented over ideological trash talk instead of uniting behind a few core issues - like the end of the Orwellian nightmare and the concept that the interests of the many trump the interests of the few.

Can we really do this?
 
 
+3 # Marieke 2013-12-19 19:12
You're right: lack of a leader, and fragmentation over ideological minutiae is what collapsed the Occupy movement.
Now, where to get a leader? We all thought Obama could do it, but it looks like he fell into the money well that swallowed all the other "elected" officials.
 
 
+11 # Henry 2013-12-19 21:08
The Occupy movement is not "collapsed."
 
 
+1 # Marieke 2013-12-19 23:16
Henry - where is it then?
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2013-12-20 10:47
They have allocated over 1 million $$ to home owners with bankruptcy problems. They are still out there.
 
 
+7 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 07:40
Quoting Marieke:
You're right: lack of a leader, and fragmentation over ideological minutiae is what collapsed the Occupy movement.
Now, where to get a leader? We all thought Obama could do it, but it looks like he fell into the money well that swallowed all the other "elected" officials.


--- We had a leader in Alan Grayson; what a firebrand! And what did the people do?
They allowed him to lose his seat in Congress.

We have a leader in Elizabeth Warren, but people want her to stay in the Congress; one lone senator in the Congress as opposed to the policy setting president of the US; the rate of the captain is the rate of the ship.

We had a leader in Dennis Kucinich, and the people allowed him to be marginalized and then lose his seat in the Congress, while they played footsie with the Extreme Right.

We have leaders, we just don't have enough followers yet. Maybe after the next bank collapse and the start of the Second Great Depression beginning in February of 2014, will light a match under some folks.
 
 
+2 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:29
No politician is a leader. They are rulers. Leaders lead by example and persuasion with integrity. Rulers pass laws that strong-armed men with assault weapons of every stripe will enFORCE. Leader and ruler are incompatible in the same person. I would not follow one of the politicians you mention into heaven, for I'm sure it would be hell to live there with them in charge.
 
 
+17 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-19 19:46
I don't know if we can really do this, but what's the point of not trying? Giving up will only lead to a deeper corporate neo-feudalism and eventually a fascistic world order with the US as enforcer until overstretch finally causes disintegration of the empire.
 
 
+3 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 07:44
Quoting Inspired Citizen:
I don't know if we can really do this, but what's the point of not trying? Giving up will only lead to a deeper corporate neo-feudalism and eventually a fascistic world order with the US as enforcer until overstretch finally causes disintegration of the empire.


--- Exactly. Obama has been in the process of beefing up US military bases on islands all over the world: Guam, Jeju (S. Korea), Whidbey, Mauritius... This is where a lot of the money is disappearing to.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2013-12-19 21:09
Some charismatic leaders rise to greatness, but others fall to perdition. As with Mr. Clemens, the stories of the death of the Occupy movement are greatly exaggerated. I have to wonder where the person who says otherwise is getting her or his information. Many years ago in San Francisco I went to the auto electric shop to pick up the starter for my 1952 DeSoto that I had left for rebuilding. I asked the old German who ran the place if the operation had been successful. (With apologies to all, but especially those of Germanic descent):

"Ja," he replied, "zees old ones haf plenty of copper. Here, I show you. Here iss your starter, und here iss a modern one. You see, not much to rebuild there. You know, the trouble iss, za leaders ve haf today, not goot for nothing. Ja, vas ve need iss a LEADER!"

1) Be careful what you ask for. . . .

2) I suspect that Mr. Weissman (pun?) could tell us all something about movements with distributed leadership, especially those of us not aware of the critical role the BFSM played in the development of what passes for the left in America today.
 
 
+8 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-12-19 21:13
A charismatic leader is needed? Hey, what about Obama? Wasn't he charismatic enough? We don't need any leader. We need to stand up for ourselves. In a democracy the people are the leaders! Get up off yer butt and DO ALL YOU CAN TO TOPPLE THIS CORRUPT GOVERNMENT. We have to do it together. Get out and talk to people---face to face. Get away from that computer into real life and make a change.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-12-20 10:49
My dears, the nature of the beast is that it has to have a leader. Do you really think the russian revolution happened all on its own. That people just suddenly all together arose and toppled the royalty?
 
 
0 # tedrey 2013-12-21 03:43
Actually, that is exactly what happened . . . in the spring of 1917. Then by winter the Bolsheviks, following the charismatic Lenin, overthrew THAT new democratic achievement, and instituted tyranny. Beware charisma!
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-12-23 12:34
Actually you are wrong. (My family was there when it happened.) It was the rich untitled landowners that started the revolution because they knew that no matter how rich they became they could never rise any higher then they were. In fact it was the rich landowners that came to my grandfather and warned him to get out NOW because "it" was going to happened. My grandparents packed everything they could and got out. 2 weeks later the revolution began.
 
 
+2 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:52
Charismatic leaders are probably what lemmings are chasing after, too.
 
 
+1 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-21 12:55
H D Thoreau taught me to be a majority of one. I am my own "leader" whose 'government' is not of this world, my conscience if you like.
 
 
+24 # giraffee2012 2013-12-19 18:31
One little way to protest is BOYCOTT(certain banks, manufacturers, businesses, etc.

I'll think of more late --- baby is waking up now...
 
 
+6 # DPM 2013-12-19 19:15
A start!
 
 
+1 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-21 12:53
How about organized bank runs?
 
 
+1 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:37
Banks--governme nt licensed fictions.
Manufacturers (if corporations)-- licensed by government.
Businesses (if incorporated)-- given limited liability by government for their evil deeds.
Strike the root, not the branches. Get rid of the state that rules; don't feed it your tax dollars.

Manufactuers and business that do not operate with state support are a blessing. They feed and cloth you and me, and generally do no harm unless aligned with the government.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-12-23 15:20
What do you mean aligned with the government? Do you mean contributions?
 
 
+16 # seeuingoa 2013-12-19 19:11
YES !
Don´t forget to bring a whistle
when you demonstrate next time,
to show that we are all whistleblowers.
 
 
+12 # Art947 2013-12-19 19:41
As I read Mr. Weissman's essay, I was reminded of the Dr. Seuss story, Yertle the Turtle. While Geisel was writing about Hitler as his model for the despot, this figure can apply to many "leaders" in our society.

How many of us are joining with our brethren to protest the indecent wages paid by Wal-Mart, McDonald's Burger King, etc.? [I don't shop at Wal-Mart, and although I used to frequent some of the fast-food outlets, they have not received any business from me in more than 3 months!]

How do you behave when called for jury duty? Are you still helping to send minor pot-smokers to jail, while the cocaine-snortin g rich are still using $20 bills for their pleasures?

We receive many requests for funds from politicians who thumb their noses at the middle and lower economic classes when it comes time for them to vote. Support honest politicians through get-out-the-vot e efforts.

It was good to see the people of Virginia reject the false conservatives in this recent election. Can we hold McAuliffe and his team to do the right things in the new year? Will "voter fraud" go away as an issue to disenfranchise Americans?

There is a lot of work ahead for all of us. Perhaps the term we need to embrace is civil obedience. Obedience to the ideals of a just and civil society that promotes the common welfare.
 
 
+6 # WestWinds 2013-12-20 08:13
And we need to start thinking about how we can clean out the SCOTUS; what a rats nest of corruption!
 
 
0 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-21 12:35
How to behave doing jury "duty"? Nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify nullify, that's how.
 
 
+1 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:40
Walmart, McDonald's, Burger Kings, etc., all of these are government franchised and protected entities. Get rid of the state and there can be no such thing as corporations with limited-liabili ty privileges.
 
 
+14 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-19 19:42
I just posted a comment on a Facebook thread about social movements, and it applies here at well:

So this story describes one half of the difference between a movement (to achieve ends) and a revolution to take over. Street movements shift the Overton Window; revolutions, in this country, led to a war and the legal revocation of property rights, an amendment to overturn the Dred Scott decision.

At some point we need to decide what we're about: shifting the Overton Window to get more trickle down dropped our way or a genuine attempt to take over, to wage a legal revolution against the system. We can "liberate democracy" [Facebook page name] either way, but what's the point if we don't ride the beast when we've overturned Citizens United and used "mass civil disobedience" to get good campaign finance reform passed into law.

A story earlier about an untapped energy source that has apparently been suppressed conveys our urgency. We need a revolution; these corporatists will destroy this planet without one.
 
 
+14 # janla 2013-12-19 20:02
We have some movements around the country that are active and vital, such as the Solidarity Sing-along group in WI whose continuing resistance forced the Capitol police to back down from their fascist arrests of people singing every noon in the Capitol to protest what Gov. Walker did to labor in this state. It was the growing exposure of their persistent efforts to arrest singers , sometimes violently, that eventually led to them changing the rules and their tactics. But it was the persistence and growing numbers of the singers, their willingness to be arrested if it came to that (and it did, for many of them), that forced the issue - that and the reporters and photographers who shared what was happening with the larger public. The North Carolina Moral Monday group has been lead to 700 arrests after 7 months of gathering once a week to protest. We need more resistance to everything that messes with our rights and our democracy. These are both ongoing instances of energy put to good use, energy that signals our urgency and invites others to join us.
 
 
+10 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:38
Agree! I was so lucky to be in Madison and sing in the Capitol building during some of that time. A couple of my friends were arrested right out from under my nose. I was so proud of them.
 
 
+11 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:40
Just finished this sonnet this evening.

REVOLUTION
Awareness brings a call to revolution
That can’t be drawn into old habits of time.
Shooting and bombing aren’t the solution,
Killing tyrants is repeating their crime.
This is the time to rise up with reason,
We can’t let leaders steal essential change.
Resisting with anger just feeds their treason.
Remove our labor that supports our chains.
Intricate nets of desire ensnare us.
Empires seek control to suck families bare.
The earth is ravaged by greed so careless
We forget there’s enough if only we share.
The lure of their fools’ gold holds us in thrall.
Remember, mindful actions free us all.
 
 
+3 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-20 07:04
I like. I'm going to post this on Facebook.

REVOLUTION by Eliz77.
 
 
0 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-21 12:48
Elizabeth, I, too, just reposted you sonnet on my FB page John Redman. It is great work.
 
 
+1 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:43
Lovely! LaBoetie would be proud of you.
 
 
0 # Charles H. Winslow 2013-12-21 17:17
Try "Quoting Eliz77:
Just finished this sonnet this evening.

REVOLUTION
Awareness brings a call to revolution
That can’t be drawn into old habits of time.
Shooting and bombing aren’t the solution,
Killing tyrants is repeating their crime.
This is the time to rise up with reason,
We can’t let leaders steal essential change.
Resisting with anger just feeds their treason.
Remove our labor that supports our chains.
Intricate nets of desire ensnare us.
Empires seek control to suck families bare.
The earth is ravaged by greed so careless
We forget there’s enough if only we share.
The lure of their fools’ gold holds us in thrall.
Remember, mindful actions free us all.


Try "shootings and bombings"
Try "repeats their crime"
The word "essential" cannot be musically employed in a poem
Try "Empires seek control to suck us bare

Tuned up, this could be a great poem.



shootings and bombings"
 
 
+4 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:42
We must know mindful actions free us all.
 
 
+3 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-19 20:14
Well, Steve Weisman (and all and sundry), I invite you to look in on my blog, Quaker War at johnboanerges.b logspot.com, and see where I stand. I recently (prolly on FB) quoted a line from a folk song that goes "I wear no uniform to show you where I stand between the gutter and the throne" but I do. I wear a tee-shirt about every day that says No War. The one most frequently worn is from the Church Of The Open Door in Atlanta, a shelter that I lend my financial support to, as well. I don't so much ATTEND demonstrations as constantly BE one. I non-violently resist ALL forms of earthly government while affirming my obedience to my informed conscience. Hoppe wrote Democracy, the god that Failed and Larkin Rose The Greatest Superstition. Verily, I have learned that favoring ANY version of statism is to hope to exchange one version of slavery for another. Quit the matrix, people, and enjoy true freedom of the mind. Luther wrote Mighty Fortress whose modern English translation (loose) in verse 3 says "Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also, The body they may kill, God's Truth abideth still. His Kingdom is forever." While set in religious terms, it nonetheless prescribes the path to Freedom which provides the greatest good for the greatest number. The state, what ever its form, does less and, in most cases, far less.
 
 
+5 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:34
How about wearing a T with what you want, instead of the double negative, "no war". I try to wear signs that say Peace, Living Wage, Solar Power, etc. Although to tell the truth, I just helped build a huge pipeline puppet saying NO KXL. Ah, well.
 
 
+4 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-20 00:04
Dear Elizabeth,
Thank you for your words. I do not understand that "No War" comprises a true "double negative" though I consider all forms and connotations of 'war' in that light including the so-called War on Poverty. I consider all uses of funds stolen from 'taxpayers' to be war on people. I consider all functions of earthly coercive government including those bureaucratic functions performed by corporations and large companies to be war on people. I am a voluntaryist/ag orist. I do more than wear tee-shirts, though, I get arrested and go to jail rather than pay fines. Anne Feeney is a friend and example and she wrote Have You Been To Jail For Justice (Then You're a Friend of Mine). Check it out. God bless you for your activism. It is your ticket to peace of mind.
 
 
+2 # John Briggs 2013-12-19 21:10
I thank Steve Weissman for this interesting essay and for acquainting me, at least, with La Boetie.
I am not optimistic that persistent direct action on a mass scale is even possible in the United States.
The Occupy movement emerged from a widespread disgust with the state-supported manipulations of big finance, but it was ineffectual.
The civil rights movement's successes rested on widespread black understanding of injustice, while the anti-war protests gained its force from the prospect many faced of being drafted.
With that thorn removed by legislation progressives foolishly cheered, the government has been able to wage war nearly without interruption.
Unions have little clout any more, students are mostly Vicarians peering endlessly at their screens, and those who read Weissman's thought carefully or recognize Snowden's courage in alerting us to the construction of the framework for a wonderfully efficient totalitarian state are few in number and as likely, as here, to quibble.
We have become a nation of clerks, fearful of losing our insurance and the meager security of a corporate job.
I think we must acknowledge that Obama has been an unusually bad president in terms of civil rights, but the next president will be cut from the same cloth.
Direct action has a nice ring, but it won't be easy to move people from the couch to the street.
One obvious way is to reinstall the military draft, with Cheney exemptions removed. That seems unlikely to happen soon.
 
 
+6 # economagic 2013-12-19 21:17
Thank you, JohnB. It was Quakers at my erstwhile abolitionist college that gave me the information and the courage to refuse induction in 1969 after the rubber-stamp denials of my petition for CO status. Today I count myself a non-theistic spiritual humanist, but the words of Luther still ring true.
 
 
+1 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-20 00:19
Thank YOU economagic. My eyes opened fully a bit after my military slavehood. I can't quite put a name to MY spiritual journey but I travel a lot in the Quaker Way. I love it for its use of queries and discernment and vocal ministry. I have some alignment with its Testimony on Integrity until I get to page 26-27 where it falls completely apart and melts into compromise of principles (like the wicked witch, you know). I follow the good parts of many writers/activis ts who inspire me while doing my best to look beyond clay feet (just like mine), another Quaker practice I admire, but HDT and MLK and Christ and the Scholl siblings and Bonhoeffer comprise a short list. Thank you for your words.
 
 
+5 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:28
My question, exactly! I have been asking for some time why do we put up with mad men and women and incompetents and greedy tyrants? "We must remove our labor that supports our chains."
from the sonnet, REVOLUTION I just finished writing tonight.
 
 
+5 # Eliz77 2013-12-19 21:29
And don't think Occupy is done. It has gone underground and is putting down roots.
 
 
+3 # Marieke 2013-12-19 23:26
Where?
 
 
+2 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-20 00:49
Maybe http://www.freemansperspective.com/ or http://dailyanarchist.com
or http://www.nazisociopaths.org
or http://ronpaulinstitute.org
or http://www.ifstone.org/
or http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-buy-bitcoins-completely-anonymously-2013-12
or https://crypto.cat/
or http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/windows-and-office/review-jitsi-the-ultimate-sip-voice-and-video-client/6366/
or https://www.ninjacloak.com/
and a new fav https://evolvesociety.org
 
 
+3 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 15:47
Thanks for the leads, John.
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-12-19 21:30
I first stood in Philadelphia & Washington 1969 Moratorium days, & haven’t stopped since as occasion provides: most recently over Idle No More & Northern gateway.
 
 
+2 # bmiluski 2013-12-20 10:52
"Why the "stubborn willingness" to remain subservient? Does it come from fear, cowardice, or constraint? La Boétie thought not. Subservience prevails primarily because the mass of people grow accustomed to their lot. "It is unbelievable how people, once they are subjected, fall so quickly into such a deep forgetfulness of freedom that it is impossible for them to reawaken and regain it," he wrote."
Which explains the reason why millions of women continue to wear the hijab as a reminder to themselves and everyone else that women are second class citizens. Thus continuing their servitude to the ruling males of their culture.
 
 
0 # anarchteacher 2013-12-20 18:28
http://library.mises.org/books/Etienne%20de%20la%20Boetie/The%20Politics%20of%20Obedience%20The%20Discourse%20of%20Voluntary%20Servitude_Vol_3.pdf

The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, by Étienne de La Boetie


Introduction by Murray N. Rothbard


This .pdf is a superb edition of this classic essay, and Rothbard's cogent analysis and summary is excellent.
 
 
+1 # mjc 2013-12-21 11:12
Actually participating in protests of any sort do depend on the age of the protestor. When I was much younger I did all kinds of physical demonstration but in the 8th decade of life one has to be more circumspect. Being hit over the head by placards of the Phyllis Schlafly anti-ERA supporters can be borned in your late 20s or 30s or even into the 50s but being physically hurt in your senior years can be life threatening. The Occupy Wall St. youngsters were brave and probably made some small dent in the political infrastructures the hard right sets up but it is for the young. And it is important to note that there are few young folks today that really even want to be involved in any sort of protest, physically or over the internet. Job security or lack of a job can make one think twice about going against the adherents of our capitalistic police state.
 
 
+2 # Ned Netterville 2013-12-21 16:03
Protest in the streets on the weekend. Go to work on Monday to earn a living and pay your taxes to support whatever it is you're protesting. IMHO, doesn't make much sense.
 
 
+2 # Charles H. Winslow 2013-12-21 17:44
What a wonderful example of why the general populace cannot easily effect change, if change that serves their own interest. The article by Weissman provides us with some interesting history and asks the age-old question. Why must we submit to power (or, sometimes, authority)? The first commenter, dkonstruction, made some valuable points, others comment on his/ her comment and the article, and then the string of comments deteriorated into a fight, just as in standard Prisoners' Dilemma, a demonstration is real time of why we obey rulers and laws. We depend on the maintenance of patterns that allow us to live according to some level of differential aggregate performance-- our expectations as they collide with others'. The "N" cannot speak to the "ONE" at time "t", but the "ONE" can speak to the "N" at time "t" There is a built in communications asymmetry between the ONE and the N. We cannot, as Hobbes, easily "act in concert". If we organize to oppose organization, we produce more organization and conflict. My solution is not one that most people can adopt. I make strategic withdrawals from the worst malefactors in the economy, raise my own food, burn my own wood, and walk a lot of pavement trying to elect a minimax of persons to power. Also, at our Friends Meeting, I teach game theory to get people to understand the STRUCTURE of conflict. It is relatively neutral and does not lead to as many ideological and partisan fights. Many good comments above.
 
 
+1 # Charles H. Winslow 2013-12-21 17:55
[quote name="C. H. Winslow"]What a wonderful example of why the general populace cannot easily effect change, evenmembers of change that serves their own interests. The article by Weissman provides us with some interesting history and asks the age-old question. Why must we submit to power (or, sometimes, to authority)? The first commenter, Dkonstruction, made some valuable points, others comment on his/ her comment and the article, and then the string of comments deteriorates into a fight, just as in standard Prisoners' Dilemma--certai nly a demonstration in real time of why we obey rulers and laws. We depend on the maintenance of patterns that allow us to live according to some level of differential aggregate performance--ou r expectations in collision with others'. The "N" cannot speak to the "ONE" at time "t", but the "ONE" can speak to the "N" at time "t" There is a built in communications asymmetry between the ONE and the N. We cannot, as Hobbes said, easily "act in concert". If we organize to oppose organization, we produce more organization and conflict. My solution is not one that most people can adopt. I make strategic withdrawals from the worst malefactors in the economy, raise my own food, burn my own wood, and walk a lot of pavement trying to elect a minimax of persons to power. Also, at our Friends Meeting, I teach game theory to get people to understand the STRUCTURE of conflict. It is relatively neutral and does not lead to as many disputes as do issues/persons.
 
 
0 # Charles H. Winslow 2013-12-21 18:02
[quote name="C. H. Winslow"][quote name="C. H. Winslow"]What a wonderful example of why the general populace cannot easily effect change, even change that serves their own interests. The article by Weissman provides us with some interesting history and asks the age-old question. Why must we submit to power (or, sometimes, authority)? The first commenter, Dkonstruction, made some valuable points, others comment on his/her comment and the article, and then the string of comments deteriorates into a fight, just as in standard Prisoners' Dilemma--certai nly a demonstration in real time of why we have to obey rulers and laws. We depend on the maintenance of patterns that allow us to live according to some level of differential aggregate performance,our expectations in collision with others'. The "N" cannot speak to the "ONE" at time "t", but the "ONE" can speak to the "N" at time "t" There is a built in communications asymmetry between the ONE and the N. We cannot, as Hobbes said, easily "act in concert". If we organize to oppose organization, we produce more organization and conflict. My solution is not one that most people can adopt. I make strategic withdrawals from the worst malefactors in the economy, raise my own food, burn my own wood, and walk a lot of pavement trying to elect a minimax of persons to power. Also, at our Friends Meeting, I teach game theory to get people to understand the STRUCTURE of conflict. It is relatively neutral and leads to less conflict.
 
 
+1 # RHytonen 2013-12-22 19:12
One thing - research how harmful wood smoke is to yourself and others. And no, it isn't arbitrary.

It is hardly "green." Ask an asthmatic or any tree/grass allergy sufferer (which MOST people are, to some degree.)
 
 
0 # JohnBoanerges 2014-01-01 10:37
If one burns wood in a Rocket Mass Stove, the effluents are virtually ONLY water vapor and CO2.
 

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