We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Mass Civil Disobedience, Our Last Throw of the Dice
The author's views are very representative of left thinking in the US. There is an awareness that "the thin veneer of democracy will be ripped away, to be replaced by a despotic technocratic rule"; but, like others, this author categorically insists that our opposition must always be non-violent.
I have encountered this theme so many times in left circles--even in the most benign of political organizations--that I've come to wonder if at least some of these people weren't actually in the employ of the ruling One Percent. Chris Hedges has been the most outspoken propagandist for this position, and a 51:47m video inspired by a book by Hedges is featured in the article.
The video exhibits a very shallow political understanding of the evolution of capitalism to the stage where we are today--a threatening totalitarian state. According to the video, it seems that capitalism's virtues turned sour after WWII when the capitalist class suddenly realized how profitable war was, and the concomitant development of propaganda to manufacture consent for war.
In this view, corporations are the "evil-doers" who are trashing the democracy we once had because government lost control over corporations. This view is shared by exponents of liberal capitalists across the existing political spectrum. And, their only remedy is mass civil disobedience.
The video co-opts the language of the radical left by using words like "capitalism", the "dynamics of capitalism", and "empire". Throughout the video the future is seen as a horrific representation of a dystopia that looks like an updated 21st century version of the "Brave New World". However, the narrator makes clear that we must use non-violent "acts of resistance not because they are effective, but because they are moral." Such acts could be effective if our masters were moral human beings instead of sociopaths whose primary commitment is to wealth and power.
While the narrator correctly argues at one point that the indoctrination agencies will try to keep us in a state of passivity, it seems to me that his portrayal throughout the video of a juggernaut of a terrifying totalitarian state against which "rebels" fight back with ineffective, but moral acts of resistance would leave most viewers with a sense of helplessness and passivity.