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Stephen Moss tells us the powerful do as they will and the weak can suck it up

2011 June 7
by Ian Welsh

So, here’s Stephen Moss interviewing Arundhati Roy:

    I want to talk more about Mary Roy – and eventually we do – but there’s one important point to clear up first. Guerrillas use violence, generally directed against the police and army, but sometimes causing injury and death to civilians caught in the crossfire. Does she condemn that violence? “I don’t condemn it any more,” she says. “If you’re an adivasi [tribal Indian] living in a forest village and 800 CRP [Central Reserve Police] come and surround your village and start burning it, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on hunger strike? Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation.”

    Her critics label her a Maoist sympathiser. Is she? “I am a Maoist sympathiser,” she says. “I’m not a Maoist ideologue, because the communist movements in history have been just as destructive as capitalism. But right now, when the assault is on, I feel they are very much part of the resistance that I support.”

    Roy talks about the resistance as an “insurrection”; she makes India sound as if it’s ripe for a Chinese or Russian-style revolution. So how come we in the west don’t hear about these mini-wars? “I have been told quite openly by several correspondents of international newspapers,” she says, “that they have instructions – ‘No negative news from India’ – because it’s an investment destination. So you don’t hear about it. But there is an insurrection, and it’s not just a Maoist insurrection. Everywhere in the country, people are fighting.” I find the suggestion that such an injunction exists – or that self-respecting journalists would accept it – ridiculous. Foreign reporting of India might well be lazy or myopic, but I don’t believe it’s corrupt…

    I question her absolutism, her Manichaean view of the world, but I admire her courage.

Could Moss be a bigger sack of sanctimonious shit?  Calling her Manichaean for allowing that people have the right to self defense, while not recognizing his own Manichean thinking that only the state should engage in violence, no matter what it does?  Thinking that his business is not corrupt, the business which repeated the lies which lead to the Iraq war, and that he knows better what’s going on in India than she does.  Thinking that what journalists think matters, as if such injunctions can be disobeyed when they are enforced by editors neither assigning such stories nor running such stories if submitted without being asked for.

There has been a major insurrection going on in India for a long time, it’s true that newspapers like the Guardian don’t cover it, but a cursory google search brings up plenty of information: entire provinces are in dispute, this is not in question.  Moss hasn’t even bothered to do any research before dismissing Roy.

The sanctimony of Moss, where ordinary people who might kill people fighting back should just take it and always engage in peaceful protest, while the nations of the world, including India, kill far far more people than those guerillas do, ever day, is staggering in its immensity.  The willful ignorance, the assertion of moral superiority, the smug judgment is all immense in its self-absorption.

It’s such a pity that the Glorious Revolution and Founders of the US, and so on, didn’t have people like Stephen Moss around to tell them that non-violence is always the way to go.

Non-violence works when you are dealing with people who give a fuck what you think.  When you’re a bunch of dirt-poor peasants whose only value is the land you’re living on, you have no leverage.  None.  There is nothing you can do that outweighs the money that is to be made by moving you out of the way, and if moving you means getting you dead, that works too.

This lesson, of the sharp limits of non-violence, is one the world’s effete leftists are going to have learn, and learn the hard way.  At the very least you have to be willing to make life unpleasant for your enemies, to get in their face, to shut down their hotels, their factories, their airports, their refineries, their businesses.  That is at the least.  Modern elites are selected for their ability to do make decisions based on cost-benefit analysis, taking into account only money, the possibility of harm to self or the immediate family, and the possibility of going to jail (minimal).  Everything else is irrelevant to their decision making calculus.  If the cost of moving you aside, to them, not to you, or to the environment, or society, or to the children, or to God, is less than the benefit of doing so, for them, they will do so. End of story.  Morals and ethics do not come into it.  Period.  The communications industry runs on minerals out of the Congo, which is a region ruled by mass systemic rape.

There used to be some in-groups.  That is to say, if you were American or European, you could expect to not be treated like a black African.  You could expect that the benefits of hegemony would be spread around.  And as Asian nations joined the club, their governments took care of them too.  If you didn’t have a government capable of or interested in looking out for you, well, too bad (see South America, post-war decline).

Those in-groups are fading.  In the Western world they are gone or going in major nations.  American elites do not think they need share anything with Americans.  The Brits are heading down this road.  The French still will share with whites, but dark immigrants can suck on it.  Harsh austerity is being pushed on Spanish, Portuguese, Irish and so on, and their own elites are have their hand on the pointy end of the stick, driving it into their citizens throats.  “Cough it up,” they scream, “we know you have more blood to give! More!  More!  MORE!”

This is the modern world, where in nation after nation the elites have become unmoored from any concern, not for general humanity, neither they nor the populations they rule have ever had that, but even for concern for their own populations.  The disease is not at the same stage everywhere, the Chinese still care for the Han, the Indians take care of non-aborigines, but the in-groups are shrinking, and what is shared with them, what they are seen as deserving, is being reduced, step by step.  I remember when I was in England, being told by a friendly ex-Pol that of course austerity was no big deal, and those multi-generation welfare bums had it coming, as if welfare had anything to do with the financial crisis, and if the amount of money which could be saved by screwing the poor would be enough to make a difference.

As Thucydides said, “the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”  I don’t think he approved of that maxim the way that Moss appears to.

Instead men like Stephen Moss are there to justify the abuse of the weak by the strong, to denigrate the right of people who are having everything taken from them to fight back, to spew their bullshit about how violence is only justified when it’s the state bombing someone, but never in fighting back against an unjust state.  The world has many Stephen Moss’s, the world will have many more, and the world has always had Stephen Moss’s, the moral apologists of corrupt systems, the men who wring their hands and tell the powerless they should stay powerless, that they should never fight their enemies with the same violence their enemies use against them.

86 Responses
  1. jcapan permalink
    June 7, 2011

    “There used to be some in-groups. That is to say, if you were American or European, you could expect to not be treated like a black African. You could expect that the benefits of hegemony would be spread around. And as Asian nations joined the club, their governments took care of them too.”

    This! How many earnest-liberal-bourgeois-fucks have I had to explain this to over the years. That their pathetic middle-class consumerist lives come courtesy of the poor, from their own countries, yes, but especially from the developing world. And even after one gets past the doe-eyed, banal stares, even when understanding is approached, they simply don’t give a shit. Addiction to comfort and meaningless leisure leads to embraced ignorance, and their comeuppance is long overdue.

    It amazes me that Arundhati Roy is still alive. Heir to Orwell and Steinbeck, we need more fearless leaders like her in the west. And if we want a sustainable future of any kind, the revolution has to be global.

  2. June 7, 2011

    She is magnificent. She is a hero.

  3. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    June 7, 2011

    There is nothing you can do that outweighs the money that is to be made by moving you out of the way, and if moving you means getting you dead, that works too.

    This lesson, of the sharp limits of non-violence, is one the world’s effete leftists are going to have learn, and learn the hard way. At the very least you have to be willing to make life unpleasant for your enemies, to get in their face, to shut down their hotels, their factories, their airports, their refineries, their businesses. That is at the least.

    That may best describe the heart of Machiavelli’s observations on the obtaining of power, the exercise of power, and the function of power; power being the ability to control and direct the resources of a political (and economic) entity. Machiavelli’s “Discourses on Livy” reveals the observations of the historian of the Roman Republic – Livy’s considerable opinions as to why that Republic had lasted as long as it had and how those reasons were successful in preserving the Republic against assaults upon the integrity of the Republic, by avarice and ambition for generations beyond recall, without the Republic succumbing to the systematic failure of pervasive corruption. There were a little more than 10 generations that covered the founding of the American Republic until its fading into an incapacitating morass of corruption, there were about double that number of generations between Rome’s last king and the Julian usurpation of absolute power (which got Julius Caesar assassinated) establishing imperial Rome.

    The existence of Republic requires that the citizens of that republic have the capacity and the ability to control and direct the resources of their political (and economic) entity. This requirement is no less present should democratic control by universal suffrage be in effect, the ability to direct and control the resources of the political entity must be effectively controlled by the designated citizens. To effectively control, the same education and training that is afforded governing princes must be available to each citizen, whether in a Republic or a Democratic state, anything less will provoke failure of that state; anything diminishing the education of citizens, diminishes their ability to control and direct their state and its economy. The education of princes has one fundamental fact, no other individual or likely confederacy of individuals can be allowed to control and direct greater resources than the prince, that same fundamental applies to Republics or to Democracies, to be ignorant puts either Republics or Democracies at great peril, the citizen will suffer the same fate as unwary princes, they get turfed from their privilege, usually under the turf.

    Livy pointed out (through Machiavelli’s writing) that in times of peril to the state, the control and direction of the state was best served by a single authority. This enabled the expansion of the Roman city state into the great empire covering a substantial part of the globe. But there were absolute checks upon those entrusted with the full power of the Roman state, one control being assigned a specific task (e.g. defense of Rome against external threat) coupled with a limited time (usually a year) with which to accomplish the task, thereafter the power reverted to the customary wielders of that power (who jealously retained the ability to recover their traditional powers). Those who were given extraordinary power and abused that power for personal gain or ambition also faced execution for their folly; tends to keep the stables clean and the systematic corruption to a minimum, execution does.

    When the founding generation wrote of empire, the territory and natural wealth of the original colonies were certainly the equal of any existing European state of the time. It was likely, with the further western development of those colonies provided the founders with expectations of “empire” internal to “to be developed boundaries” as compared to then existing European empires. Their estimations were well founded; the westward spread of the original colonies to the western ocean did indeed create the world’s greatest economic production engine in recorded history, one that was several degrees greater than the European states and their empires production combined, only remotely approached by German production or Russian potential production. The greatest political flaw in US economic development was the failure to observe the rule that no one nor likely combination were to control greater resources than the state had at its disposal. Economic monopolies and monopolistic control of every vital economic process developed and their control was put into unassailable corporate death-defying trusts. Those trusts have, after a century of public invisibility, have been the instrument that has corrupted the political process of control and direction of the economic process. Wresting that power away from corporate control is not assured and probably unachievable given the pervasive political corruption, the consequences for either the Republic or Democratic political control threaten the extinguishment of both experiments. The likely future appears to be some form of corporate autarchy, either virulent or benign depending on resistance of the public to surrendering to corporate will.

  4. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Another excellent post. Lisa, do you hear that. At what point do the Peasants-In-The-Making in North America (specifically Canada and the U.S.) and in Europe, as well, engage in violent insurrection. Currently, out of fear, I presume, because it is is perceived there is still something to lose, those who activate in the West, always make sure to push the non-violent meme, but at what point do they say enough is enough, and engage in violent disobedience? I don’t know, and that’s why I’m asking. Where is that line? Is there a line? Or, are people in the West so thoroughly conditioned that docile submission is the only thing of which they’re capable. My concern is that the anger and violence will continue to mount in the West, and one day that rusty wire that holds the anger in will break lose, but the Plutocrats will implement their plan, prepared for just such an eventuality, and inculcate an environment that encourages that the newly matriculated Peasants to kill each other, rather than the real Enemy. It’s an old trick, but no doubt still works like a charm.

    This line jumps out at me because I’ve been thinking about this lately.

    . “Cough it up,” they scream, “we know you have more blood to give! More! More! MORE!”

    Is it coincidental irony that Vampires have been the entertainment trend the past several years? Is it some kind of Freudian manifestation that the existence of this trend coincides with this latest vamped-up blood-sucking by the Plutocrats? Also, I must mention, we have a tick plague here in the deep South. I’ve been here nine years now, and never have I encountered so many Ticks…..and Birds. It’s bizarre. For nine years I have never had a Tick bite, but this year, I’ve been bitten three times already, and one bite was particularly nasty and concerning. Ticks are insidious Arachnids, and when they breed in large numbers, it seems rather nightmarish. Plutocrats are the same way.

  5. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    jcapan, yes, yes, and yes!!!

  6. June 7, 2011

    MB, I don’t know the answer. I’m still committed to non-violent resistance, but then I don’t live in the jungles of India or elsewhere where people are fighting for survival. I, too, fear a scenario such as the one you outline, especially since in this country every goober with a grudge can get a gun.

    (Love your vampire analysis, by the way.)

    Along these lines, I just relayed this comment from another site to my mailing list:

    INCUBUS wrote:
    What’s happening in both Greece and Spain is receiving zero coverage in western Europe (with the editors and owners, [Bilderburgers] of the TV news and newspapers working to their class interests), and this alone tells us how terrified the ruling class are of the assembly movement. They deny the ‘oxygen of publicity’ so that they can prevent the movement from spreading, linking, and growing internationally. They fear the unity of common people as much as they cherish the unity of their own class across borders. The more they suppress information, the more freedom it gives them should they choose to use physical force to repress the movement- but this presents them with a problem.

    So far the mass assemblies have been peaceful, more democratic than any parliament, and autonomous of any political or union affiliations…They have no ‘angle’ to exploit, in terms of any ‘leadership’ that can be co-opted, manipulated, or blamed, and they know full well that masses of people are uniting regardless of political persuasion, on purely economic grounds. The assemblies dismiss politics (and in Spain, refuse money!). These movements are purely products of the failure of capitalism and the liberal democratic model and they know it.

    It would be easy to merely send in the riot cops (as has been done in Barcelona and a few other cities to ‘test the water’, and they have failed), the next option would be to insert agent-provocateurs to facilitate and justify more head-breaking, but his too is doomed to failure.

    The best they can come up with now would be some covertly constructed distraction which is a big enough event to justify repression…They cannot afford to ignore the movement indefinitely, since the constant lies and broken promises only cause more indignation…

    The IMF’s bailout and the attached conditions must be implemented, regardless of the political and social costs in Greece, they cannot and will not back down. The scene is set for a collison between the forces of capital and labour, the like of which has not been seen for decades.

    This conflict will either result in the destruction of the current, failing political economy, the imposition of new forms of dictatorship across Europe, or a new global war, which none of us will survive. In short, the battle about to begin is one for true freedom, and the survival of our pitiful species. Greece is just the beginning. These are the early days…

    Monday, June 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm
    | Permalink

    http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2011/06/06/611-athens-sees-its-biggest-gathering-in-years-more-than-150000-at-syntagma-square-as-the-build-up-for-the-general-strike-of-june-15th-begins/#comment-16939

  7. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    but then I don’t live in the jungles of India or elsewhere where people are fighting for survival. I, too, fear a scenario such as the one you outline, especially since in this country every goober with a grudge can get a gun.

    What about the Concrete Jungles in the West? Have you heard the recent statistics about how many are on Food Stamps? People are struggling to survive here, and they are being genocided, as a result. Those struggling to survive in the West can expect to live much shorter lives than those with means. I’m sure at this point, some intellectual numb nut will pop up and post a study that shows us that homeless people have much greater longevity than the Plutocrats. Look at what Ian posted about not feeding the homeless people. They have been devalued to the level of geese…..not even that, because the Plutocrats like to watch the geese, they just don’t like people feeding them…with the homeless people, they not only want them to starve and go away, but they don’t even want to see them at all. To the Plutocrats, they don’t exist, or in the least, don’t deserve to exist.

    My point is, things are getting that bad in the West, and have been that bad for a certain underclass for quite some time…..that underclass is now growing exponentially, so we can’t engage that Exceptionalism once again, and say “well, at least it’s not the Jungle here……because there but for the grace of dog, go I.”

    It’s here, it’s now, and my concern is that we are on the brink of it being too late, if it’s not too late already.

  8. David Kowalski permalink
    June 7, 2011

    One can’t count on media coverage in the US either. The largest worldwide demonstrations in history gathered to oppose the start of the Iraq war, 6 million people. Compare the coverage it got to the non-stop years long coverage of the much smaller corporate-sponsored tea party or the efforts to wreck Medicare and now Social Security (Santorum).

    Traditionally, what has worked is to go for the wallet. Gandhi combined non-violence with a boycott of British goods, in particular cloth. The spinning wheel is on the Indian flag for a reason. The original tea party was a strike against the British East India Company. Colonists, among other things, replaced drinking tea (“British”) with drinking coffee (“patriotic”, but a direct strike at the British East India Company).

    It is a lot easier to do this when the target is off-site. The merchants of London were crucial proponents for making a deal with the colonials and getting on with business. It doesn’t always work. The Confederates tried to force British support by cutting off cotton exports. Britain (and the textile industry was a British rather than Scottish phenomena) found another source of cotton, Egypt, and was able to mesh abolitionist sentiment with business greed.

    Unless it is easier for the elite to settle, and much easier, the natural tendency is to crush. Those villages don’t have the time or provide the markets to make boycotts effective unless it is done on a national scale.

    Unfortunately, the next step from fear of losing money is often fear for one’s life. Both India and the United States are democracies but there is little fear of the ballot and the politicians seem to be the owned property of the elite.

    Manichean? I haven’t heard the word since college in the 70s. Ross is a pretentious little sucker. Anybody using terms like that instead of the usual propaganda is not to be feared.

  9. June 7, 2011

    I agree that economic pressure is effective. We’re planning on shutting shit down in October. Will the riot police be called in? I don’t know. We’ll see.

    And yes, MB, I hear you.

    P.S., y’all, it’s Stephen Moss of the Guardian.

  10. atcooper permalink
    June 7, 2011

    L.S. ,

    Incubus is Mr. Moss? Am I reading you right?

  11. June 7, 2011

    No. Stephen Moss is the reporter at the Guardian who wrote the original story. (In other words, Moss, not Ross.)

    I copied and pasted a comment from another site, a completely different site, by a poster called “Incubus,” because I thought it was apropos.

  12. June 7, 2011

    Wisconsin Protesters Erect ‘Walkerville’ Tent City To Protest Scott Walker’s Budget Cuts
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/05/wisconsin-protesters-walkerville-tent-capitol-scott-walker-budget_n_871523.html

  13. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    David, I would also add that action against the media conglomerates themselves should be in order. It’s not secret where CNN is…..or FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, The New YOrk Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, etc. ad nauseum. What about a March on the Fourth Estate….or should we say, Failed Estate….by the Fifth Estate? Take the airwaves back….just as Chavez did in Venezuela….and that includes National Propaganda Radio…..sorry, Lisa, but they’re no better. Just don’t be in the studio when the March is scheduled….which should be a surprise March……likened to the spontaneous spectacles at Liverpool Station. Of course, it would be much, or should be much, more than a dance.

    http://www.maniacworld.com/dancers-prank-in-a-train-station.html

  14. June 7, 2011

    “All that is solid melts into air.”

    Gandi was an intensely moral man, very much a law-giver. He bore little resemblance to the advocates of non-violence you excoriate. Gandi, yes, would have condemned the violence of the adivasi. He was that stern. He was willing to sacrifice his own life for his principles.

    More to say on this, but my work day is starting.

  15. June 7, 2011

    Hey, y’all, for the record, I’m an independent citizen, working on my own as a freelancer for various entities, and NPR is not one of them.

    Other than that, you’ll hear no defense from me about the MSM, any of it.

    And yes, we have some things in mind. But the whole event will be dictated by what people there on those days at those moments decide to do. We’re not a group at the top telling the tens of thousands we hope will show up what to do. It’s going to be very fluid.

  16. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 7, 2011

    Name corrected, probably shouldn’t post at 4 am.

  17. David Kowalski permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Great idea Morocco Bama. The media is a big problem. A lot of it is now interconnected. Ruppert Murdoch’s company owns Fox, the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London. The Time right-wing incompetents now run CNN as both Ted Turner and the AOL people have been pushed out of control.

    Much of this could be done by the stroke of a pen with the correct person in the White House but the money power has infected both parties. The current mode is for the Republicans to go extreme right and the Democrats to go bipartisan and compromise by giving away 75% of the store.

    Yesterday, Santorum opened his campaign by saying he wanted to end Social Security. Today, the Republicans have a plan that will phase it out into voluntary nonsense over 15 years. The grabs just keep on coming and the push back is kept invisible. It is past time to make the push back visible. You are on target with the media, MB.

  18. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    A Rolling Stone gathers no Moss. Here’s to a Rock Slide Avalanche of epic proportions.

  19. anon2525 permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Name corrected, probably shouldn’t post at 4 am.

    You got most of them. Here are a couple left uncorrected:

    The sanctimony of Ross, where ordinary people…

    The world has many Stephen Ross’s, the world will have many more, and the world has always had Stephen Ross’s, the moral apologists of corrupt systems,…

    (Please feel free to delete this comment.)

  20. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Who’s Stephen Incubus, then?

  21. Allotrope permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Those in-groups are fading. In the Western world they are gone or going in major nations. American elites do not think they need share anything with Americans. The Brits are heading down this road. The French still will share with whites, but dark immigrants can suck on it. Harsh austerity is being pushed on Spanish, Portuguese, Irish and so on, and their own elites are have their hand on the pointy end of the stick, driving it into their citizens throats. “Cough it up,” they scream, “we know you have more blood to give! More! More! MORE!”

    Orwell foresaw such a trend resulting from the development of nuclear weapons, and I suspect he was right in the long run and while he was wrong about the Cold War (it effectively nullified any credible threat of a superpower using nukes in its near abroad) in a more unipolar world things seem to be shaking out more or less as he imagined.

  22. madisolation permalink
    June 7, 2011

    “Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation.”

    On liberal website after liberal website, we read how non-violence is the only option we have. Most liberal websites don’t even allow the smallest calls for violence. One website actually had a discussion on whether anger was an appropriate response to the situation we face today.
    A look back at Chicago in August of 1968:
    “At approximately 3:30 p.m., a young boy lowered the American flag at a legal rally taking place at Grant Park. The demonstration was made up of 10,000 protestors.[16] The police broke through the crowd and began beating the boy, while the crowd pelted the police with food, rocks, bags of urine, and chunks of concrete.[17] The biggest clash in Chicago took place that day. Police fought with the protestors and vice versa. The chants of the protestors shifted from “Hell no, we won’t go” to “Pigs are whores.”[18] Tom Hayden, one of the leaders of Students for a Democratic Society, encouraged protestors to move out of the park to ensure that if they were to be tear gassed, the whole city would be tear gassed, and made sure that if blood were spilled in Chicago it would happen throughout the city.[19] The amount of tear gas used to suppress the protestors was so great that it eventually made its way to the Hilton Hotel, where it disturbed Hubert Humphrey while in his shower.[18]” (I love the part about disturbing Hubert Humphrey in his shower :) ).
    “In February 1970, five of the Chicago Conspiracy defendants were convicted on the charge of intent to incite a riot while crossing state lines, but none were found guilty of conspiracy.
    Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced all of the defendants and their attorneys to unprecedented prison terms ranging from two-and-a-half months to four years for contempt of court. The convictions were eventually reversed on appeal, and the government declined to bring the case to trial again.[25]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Democratic_National_Convention

    The world didn’t end when people rioted in Chicago or anyplace else. I agree with Roy: what are people supposed to do? Furthermore, I don’t think the police will necessarily be on the side of the government if riots break out this time. And I’m not so sure our big, brave CEO’s don’t already have an emergency bag packed. If we fought back, I’ll bet anything we’d see wave after wave of these sleazy politicians announce their resignations. If people stormed the Supreme Court, I’d wager the neocons in the Roberts court might very well resign, fearing for their lives. People have the power to effect sweeping changes. It’s just a matter of time, and I don’t believe all of it will come about by peaceful means, as nice as that would be.

  23. BDBlue permalink
    June 7, 2011

    But is it true that we’ve really exhausted non-violence here? There are lots of things we could do to inflict pain – everyone could pull their money out of, say, Bank of America on the same day or stop paying debt owed to Bank of America or both (or any other bank). Unlike the villages of India, a lot of money is still made in the U.S. and that gives us power if we act in large numbers. Similarly, we haven’t really tried massive protests that shut shit down. The French, IIRC, shut down refineries. Bank runs, debt “holidays”, general strikes. These are tools that might actually scare the MOTU. They have before, but we don’t really try them now.

    What we do is show up to protest for a few hours in a park and go home and wonder why nobody cares. Or we vote for one corporate party over the other and wonder why we don’t get change. (And I’m as guilty of this as anyone else).

    Things may eventually turn violent – hungry people are desperate people – but it’s ridiculous, IMO, to write-off non-violence when it hasn’t really been tried to any significant degree.

    And I should be clear that by non-violence, I mean the initial actions by the people. Any truly threatening non-violent action is likely to be met with violence and how to deal with that is another matter.

  24. June 7, 2011

    BDBlue,

    We’re trying. Click link at my name.

  25. BDBlue permalink
    June 7, 2011

    I’ve already checked it out, Lisa. It will be interesting to see what happens. I’m encouraged by the effort, although I admit that I’m not sure simply gathering in Freedom Plaza, even if people stay, will have much of an effect. Massive protests haven’t changed much in Wisconsin (although, again, it’s heartening to see). I think it’s a good first step – to get attention, to get organized, to get people active. But I think to have any effect, real pain (by which I do not mean violence) will have to be inflicted on our elites’ day-to-day lives. How exactly to do that effectively, I think, is the question of our time. Hopefully, this will be a first step.

  26. June 7, 2011

    But I think to have any effect, real pain (by which I do not mean violence) will have to be inflicted on our elites’ day-to-day lives. How exactly to do that effectively, I think, is the question of our time. Hopefully, this will be a first step.

    Indeed.

  27. just me permalink
    June 7, 2011

    When one actually sees how this country was “founded”, one also sees that, from the beginning, it’s downfall was only a matter of time.

    I guess time is up and everyone pays the piper.

  28. atcooper permalink
    June 7, 2011

    The Orwell article linked above is quite good. I cannot believe I have not seen that one before.

    I used to say that everyone should have a nuclear bomb. That would introduce the possibility of respect for one another again. These days I am weary of voicing such moribund jokes, but the sentiment is still there. Maybe flying death robots for everyone?

  29. Tony Wikrent permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Perhaps in the 1840s, non-violence might have worked. After the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, there was never any possibility of any workable solution other than the military annihilation of the slave oligarchy.

    I have written a number of times, that the U.S. political situation today is about where the U.S. political situation was in 1854. The new financial oligarchy might have been stopped non-violently 20 years ago, when there was a debate over whether or not to allow Bankers Trust to use “off-balance sheet liabilities,” and John Gutfruend getting over $4 million a year was a shock.

    Now? Well, as Ian writes. “This lesson, of the sharp limits of non-violence, is one the world’s effete leftists are going to have learn, and learn the hard way.”

    (For a fuller discussion of the historical parallels, see my January 2010 blog, The Leadership of Necessity

  30. jcapan permalink
    June 8, 2011

    I’m reading Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London for the first time, and a couple passages leapt out at me. Of the rich, he says:

    ‘We know that poverty is unpleasant; in fact, since it is so remote, we rather enjoy harrowing ourselves with the thought of its unpleasantness. But don’t expect us to do anything about it. We are sorry for you lower classes, just as we are sorry for a, cat with the mange, but we will fight like devils against any improvement of your condition. We feel that you are much safer as you are. The present state of affairs suits us, and we are not going to take the risk of setting you free, even by an extra hour a day. So, dear brothers, since evidently you must sweat to pay for our trips
    to Italy, sweat and be damned to you.’

    As for the equivalent of our educated, professional class, this:

    ‘naturally they side with the rich, because they imagine that any liberty conceded to the poor is a threat to their own liberty. Foreseeing some dismal Marxian Utopia as the alternative, the educated man prefers to keep things as they are. Possibly he does not like his fellow-rich very much, but he supposes that even the vulgarest of them are less inimical to his pleasures, more his kind of people, than the poor, and that he had better stand by them. It is this fear of a supposedly dangerous mob that makes nearly all intelligent people conservative in their opinions.

    ‘the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor … so remote is even
    hunger from the educated man’s experience.’

    Nothing that any readers of Zinn haven’t been exposed to over the years, but the answers have been there for generations.

  31. Celsius 233 permalink
    June 8, 2011

    jcapan
    June 8, 2011
    =========================
    Your above post brings to mind a saying I heard many many years ago;
    “Only equals can be friends”

    If, as I suspect, that is true; it says volumes about our future.
    Its people like Lisa Simeone who still give me glimmers of hope, but (spoiler) I suspect that if the next 6 months does not bring the end of the IMF grip on Spanish, Portuguese and Greek economies, then all is lost and Orwell was in fact as prescient as he appears to have been.
    I’m glad I’m old; the coming neo-feudalistic society will be a cruel place for us neo-serfs.

  32. guest permalink
    June 8, 2011

    “On liberal website after liberal website, we read how non-violence is the only option we have. Most liberal websites don’t even allow the smallest calls for violence.”

    Well, duh. Because the people calling for or encouraging violence are most likely cops or G-men or whatever. Big brother is watching. They won’t be able to prevent violence when things get too bad, but that’s not their purpose. Their purpose is to prevent organized violence that might threaten the rich. The incoherent violence that will break out will will just threaten the rest of us at random.

    In the end, I don’t think violence will achieve anything, no matter how much certain people deserve it.

    Just watching how the last presidential election convinced me of that. There was no way the Republicans could have won, but watching all the idiots rally so quickly to Obama was like watching a herd run off a cliff. All those people who told me it didn’t matter whether Obama wouldn’t keep any of his promises, because he had empowered a whole generation with HOPE who would now do amazing transformational things without needing no stinking government help are all looking a little stupid now that those kids are empowered with bitter cynicism and no prospects for jobs for another decade. Not the kind of judgement I will be looking forward to leading a revolution.

    Genuine grass roots violence is not something that can be organized, controlled or directed, because people, by and large, are stupid fucks. Don’t kid yourself.

    On the other hand, it’s coming one way or the other. So if that’s what you’re into, join up. But I would suggest you don’t blog about the best way to go about it on ianwelsh.net or weather_men_r_us.org.

  33. Celsius 233 permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Violence; interesting concept and an even more interesting reality.
    The violence presently directed toward the U.S. citizenry is massive when one looks at all of it’s iterations; banks and their credit policies, un-winnable wars using the disadvantaged as cannon fodder, unemployment, real jobs going overseas, skilled individuals imported at greatly reduced wages, the wasting of manufacturing capability, no medical care, and and, it just goes on and on.
    This has been going on for years, no decades, and the resultant passivity of the populace is overwhelming.
    That said; I have no doubt that if the people (U.S.) were to demonstrate violently, they would be shot down like dogs. The other option is to do as the Syrians and Bahraini do and get shot down like dogs…

  34. Oaktown Girl permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Right fucking on!

    “Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.”

    I call up that quote because in the absence of any mainstream media coverage of protests, I think a good tactic would be to find ways to make our presence felt directly on the lives of the “comfortable”. And here I’m not just talking about shutting down Bank of America branches and other corporate vipers temporarily, though that’s very good and we should continue to do it as much as possible, media coverage or not.

    No, what I’m talking about is getting directly in the faces, lives, and spaces of the everyday Very Comfortable Americans. Basically, as it stands right now they literally don’t see us. If they had to actually start seeing us, it would make them very, very uncomfortable and unhappy. Instead of limiting our protests to the big city centers where we continue to be invisible for the most part, we could start bringing our actions directly into the neighborhoods of the Very Comfortable – they’re not all fenced off. It doesn’t have to be a big march requiring a permit, just organized groups of individuals on a regular basis being on their streets, outside their kids’ excellent schools, outside their ritzy country clubs with signs like, “How low do your taxes have to be before I can get a job?” Make them have to start explaining to their kids who these “poor” people are. Oh, they’ll be pissed. And bothered. And uncomfortable.

    Then these Very Comfortable Americans might start making a fuss and calling not just on the police, but on their elected officials to do something. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing many of these Very Comfortable Americans would be more than happy to revisit this “austerity” thing and pay a few more dollars in taxes just to get the riff-raff out of their neighborhoods.

    Just a thought.

  35. guest permalink
    June 8, 2011

    “I could be wrong, but I’m guessing many of these Very Comfortable Americans would be more than happy to revisit this “austerity” thing and pay a few more dollars in taxes just to get the riff-raff out of their neighborhoods.”

    LOL, only part wrong. They’d be willing to pay more taxes to hire more cops to taser you out of their sight. But not for creating productive jobs. And as far as the taxes go, they’ll pay them if they have to, but really YOU should pay since you are causing the trouble, so first, let’s try a consumption tax on your gruel before we resort to taxes on the Galtian overlords.

  36. Everythings Jake permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Partially I guess because I feel like I’m staring down my own inevitable doom and am scared out of my wits, I spend my days alternating between rage and despair.

    I keep thinking about the quote from Matt Taibbi’s article “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail”:

    “You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

    I don’t think that’s enough. I’m pretty convinced these guys won’t stop until they’re afraid. My terrible dark fantasy, the one I wish I wasn’t subject too, is that someone wipes out one of the heads of these banks and their entire family including twenty seven cousins twice removed all generations back and forward so there’s just no chance that the wealth could go anywhere but back to the state. Keep doing that industry by industry (health insurance, pharmaceutical, energy) until the state is forced to start redistributing the wealth.

    And just saw Jamie Dimon’s harangue against Bernanke earlier today complaining that too much regulation was holding back the economy. I’m going to need an extra hour of meditation tomorrow.

  37. jcapan permalink
    June 8, 2011

    I dunno Jake–they’re killing corrupt officials by the dozen in China and graft is still legion.

  38. Celsius 233 permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Well, as near as I’ve been able to figure it out; we’ve been “Shock Doctrined”. What they (Obama, Summers, Bernake, and the cabal) did to America and Europe is straight out of Naomi Klein’s book.
    They had plenty of practice all over the rest of the world and so far, they’ve pulled it off in the states.
    Unfucking believable…

  39. June 8, 2011

    Oaktown Girl, some of that has been tried — demonstrating in front of financial titans’ houses and such — but I agree with everyone up-thread who said that if we tried this on a grander scale, we’d all just be Tasered or beaten up or shot by the police. There is No Fucking Way our overlords are going to allow the unwashed masses to mess up their neighborhoods.

    And whoever said that Big Brother is reading blogs and watching email correspondence — yes, of course.

    Celsius 233 wrote:

    The violence presently directed toward the U.S. citizenry is massive when one looks at all of its iterations; banks and their credit policies, un-winnable wars using the disadvantaged as cannon fodder, unemployment, real jobs going overseas, skilled individuals imported at greatly reduced wages, the wasting of manufacturing capability, no medical care, and and, it just goes on and on.

    All true. But so many Americans still won’t let go of their cherished myth that they, too, could someday strike it rich. It’s an absurd fairytale that would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. They’ve swallowed this fiction, they’ve internalized it to the point that they actually believe it. So why would they rise up against their betters (and sadly, many of them think these people are their betters), when they, too, might one day join their ranks?

    All that said, I still think there’s a lot of anger out there. I don’t believe that everyone has been bamboozled by what’s going on. Though the apathy of my circle of supposedly liberal, supposedly give-a-shit acquaintances is driving me crazy. They are so insulated, and they just don’t fucking see it.

  40. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 8, 2011

    I’m with jcapan on that. Also, I don’t condone prison rape…..on anyone, regardless of their offenses. When the Cuban Revolutionaries executed the worst offenders of the Batista Cabal, they did so with dignity and mercy…..meaning quickly and without celebration. Sure, it was public, but that’s as it should be….transparent, for all to see, yet not a celebratory spectacle of blood lust.

    If the System that spawns these sociopathic megalomaniacs remains in tack, imprisoning them, or even executing them, will not solve the root of the problem. It is the System. I’ve said this before here, but most people don’t seem to get it, so I will say it again. Highly centralized, hierarchical social Systems will always result in the same ultimate outcome. Eventually, corruption will entrench, and because of the tremendous leverage the centralization provides, the implications are easily spread to the entire population. Not so in a highly decentralized and diversified arrangement.

    So, if we’re going to have protests and movements, we need to do so with a grand plan of with what we’re going to replace the current System. I don’t see any sign that anyone is willing to go there, and that’s why I say these protests, in their current incarnation, are meaningless. Those who represent this System at its highest levels aren’t listening. Shout all you want, they don’t care. I like what David says, his method is more direct and to the source…you have to go after the Paymasters…those holding the Puppet Strings, but you can’t just get in their faces and shout and stomp and cry and beg, or intimidate. They must be removed from their lofty status….their status must be nullified, and the System that creates such a status must be torn asunder.

  41. Suspenders permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Morocco, do you have any historical examples of the type of societies your thinking of with a “highly decentralized and diversified arrangement”? I’d like to chew on that a bit more…

  42. June 8, 2011

    I guess when I see calls for others to risk their lives in acts of revolutionary violence, I like to see analysis that’s a little more robust than what I’m seeing here. (I know this is paradoxical, since (a) no serious discussion of such things would take place in an open forum, and (b) in a closed forum, the first one to call for violence, hook up the handy explosives vendor, and supply the uniforms is so very often the cop).

    For one thing, it’s not clear that a single model works world-wide; I’m personally advocating for non-violence, on pragmatic grounds, in the part of the world I have some understanding of. For another, it’s clear that a reputation for non-violence is a strategic asset; and one can only wonder why some would advocate that asset be squandered. It would be tragic if Thailand in 2010 was a harbinger of future outcomes (as it now seems that it was in 1997, with its hot capital crisis), given that the faction controlled by the typical general in sunglasses got a lot of people killed, and to no good purpose.

    On another note, what Lisa said:

    [T]he whole event will be dictated by what people there on those days at those moments decide to do. We’re not a group at the top telling the tens of thousands we hope will show up what to do. It’s going to be very fluid.

    And so not what Morocco Bama said:

    So, if we’re going to have protests and movements, we need to do so with a grand plan of with what we’re going to replace the current System.

    Sure, turn a war of maneuver into a war of position, and make sure a new set of bosses rises to the top. What could go wrong?

  43. June 8, 2011

    On “pain.” Thinking of this post by Ian, no, we don’t want to inflict pain; the elite are drugged by their wealth. We want to inflict suffering. Suffering can take many forms.

  44. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Suspenders, not off the top of my head, but I would imagine with some research, we could come up with something, however, having an affinity for active Nihilism, I like the idea of formulating such an approach from scratch, on our own, without, as much as possible, the taint of the former world and its social arrangements. Don’t get me wrong, I know the likelihood of any of this coming about is highly improbable, but I do believe it is what is necessary to make it through the crucible this current System has created to the other side and evolve from there.

  45. alyosha permalink
    June 8, 2011

    @Tony Wikrent – I’ve often thought along the same lines. Thanks for linking in your article, it adds needed detail to my thinking. Also read Stirling’s article linked to therein. The past is a useful roadmap.

  46. June 8, 2011

    MB and Suspenders,

    What a new system would look like is something we talk about constantly among the Oct 6th people. I don’t have the answer. Some of the folks there have tons of organizing and activist experience, and they have definite ideas. I think it’s too big a subject for a blog comment, and only time will tell, anyway. These things will have to evolve. What’s possible? What’s desirable? Etc.

  47. June 8, 2011

    My long comment is awaiting moderation, so I’ll make it shorter.

    The events of the Arab Spring weren’t precipitated because Noureddine Adnane tossed a rock a Starbucks window. And the march on Mubarak’s palace came at the end of that phase, and not at the beginning. The timing was the result of decisions on the ground, and not a master plan… Which probably accounts for the success.

  48. soullite permalink
    June 8, 2011

    You nonviolent types have had your say. You’ve had decades to prove that you can accomplish things. In that time, things haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse.

    Protests only work as a threat; to say ‘this is how many people we can bring down on you. They don’t have to be carrying signs next time’. There isn’t much of a threat when the powers that be know you’re never going to take it beyond the signs. Maybe nonviolence worked at one time, to be honest I’m not even sure about that outside of a handful of extremely publicized cases, but maybe its track record was actually decent. It’s pretty obvious that it isn’t working anymore.

    How long do you all really expect the rest of us to wait while you sit around chanting, pretending that you’re actually doing something beyond making yourselves feel special.

  49. June 8, 2011

    How long do you all really expect the rest of us to wait while you sit around chanting, pretending that you’re actually doing something beyond making yourselves feel special.

    I don’t know. I didn’t realize we were supposed to make it easy for you to sit on your ass and toss verbal bombaloos.

    Non-violence has been extraordinarily effective in the past, when combined with economic boycotts. Hit people in their pocketbooks, make the powerful, as Lambert put it, suffer, and things change.

    Money talks. It was ever thus. It is now.

  50. June 8, 2011

    Since my long comment seems to have gotten eaten, I’ll just say that those who ask others to die — or rather kill — for their cause need to make a stronger case than that articulated here. Otherwise, you end up with a lot of people dying, as in Thailand last year, because a general in sunglasses thought that would be a good idea.

  51. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Lisa and Lambert, let me ask you. If Che, Fidel and all the other Cuban Revolutionaries merely engaged in non-violent methods, do you think they would have achieved the same result?

    Also, I’m not asking anyone to kill or die for my cause….I don’t have a cause, really. I’m asking questions and throwing out observations and ideas. You can make of it what you will.

    I will also say, that you are insulting when you say what you said, Lambert, and actually you deserve the same criticism Ian levies on Moss, because you’re doing the same thing. This System is literally killing people in a myriad of ways across the globe, including the U.S., and you’re doing as Moss does, and criticizing people for entertaining the notion of violence and in so doing, by engaging that double standard, you condone the violence inflicted by the System and those at its highest reaches.

    In the depths of this conversation, someone had the unmitigated gall to link to Dkos. Dkos!!! If you haven’t written off DKos by now, you’re lost….you’re clinging to a tentacle of the Octopus. Let it go. Think for yourself. Shut these deceitful, treacherous creeps off. The guy that runs that site is a duplicitous jackass, and you lack credibility if you read that site and/or write and post to it. It’s designed to steer the well-intentioned sheep into holding pens.

  52. willf permalink
    June 8, 2011

    I agree with BDBlue that non-violent methods of direct action have not been exhausted, and I would posit that the word some are looking for when they talk about inflicting pain or suffering on rich elites is disruption. If you can disrupt the day-today business of the rich, disrupt their cash flow, then they pay attention.

    Like commenter Lisa Simeone (I believe) said” Hit them in the wallet”. But economic disruption doesn’t just mean hitting them in the wallet once. It means a pattern of disruption that causes massive loss of revenue over a lenghty period of time. The longer the drain goes on, the better. Think about what the blogger Spocko did with the radio chain that owned KSFO. He eventually cost them well over half a million dollars, just through the simple actions of recording the awful things the DJs from KSFO were saying live on-air, and then writing nice letters to the advertisers and informing them of what he had recorded.

  53. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Why not take their wallet? It’s stolen wealth, anyway, so make them give it back….or do you think it belongs to them? If you think it belongs to them, and I’m thinking you do, then we’re not only not on the same page, we’re different books. Did you ever stop to think they have their bases covered for economic “disruptions?” There’s a little thing called insurance……and it applies to revenue disruptions, as well. What do you think those highly paid Risk Managers are doing with their time? Also, don’t forget about too big to fail. What that means is that the taxpayer will pay for it in the ass when it’s all said and done. Apply enough economic pressure to bring a large corporation to its knees and Uncle Sam comes in with a bail-out….courtesy of you. You’re backed into a corner. Holding up a sign won’t change that fact……and senseless violence won’t either. There’s still no plan, and without a coherent narrative resulting in a plan of action with many levels, contingencies and a blueprint for a new System, a new Way, the Plutocrats will just continue on their merry way until you’re so thoroughly weakened from malnutrition, you won’t have the capacity to resist and defy, if you ever did.

  54. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 8, 2011

    Such a good thing that America’s founders understood you should never use violence.

    Sorry, the case for violence is well established, but how it works in practice at this stage is simpler. You show up in places that will cause the police to do something stupid, and then you don’t move till they move you. (What you do when they show up is left as an exercise for the reader, for reasons which should be obvious.)

    As for Egypt, did they succeed? We’ll see. But when they succeeded to whatever extent they was when they did what I was saying they needed to do for weeks before they did (this is public record), when they marched on Mubarak’s palace and made the army choose whether they would shoot them to protect Mubarak.

    Answer: no. Answer since then? They’ll shoot to protect their own interests, just not Mubarak’s.

    And note, again, I was saying this was what they needed to do far before they did it. Why, because I’ve studied this stuff. It doesn’t mean it was bound to work, it means that it was what had to be done, because key decision makers needed to be forced to make a decision.

    As for cries of cowardice, remember, you don’t know shit about the people you’re talking to and what they’ve done in life and there is a time and place for all things. Right now this is the time and place for making the case that the advocates for only nonviolence are the problem, not the solution, because the delegitimize a strategy which will be needed for success.

    As a friend of mine likes to say, if you show that you’re willing to live on your knees rather than on your feet, the next question is if you’re willing to crawl on your belly.

    I learned long ago that when someone hurts you willfully, you have only two choices. If they’re someone you are in a relationship of love or friendship with with, you turn towards them and show them the pain. If they’re anyone else, you turn towards them and you hurt them at least as much as they hurt you.

    I’ve lost a lot of friends over the past few years to the policies pursued by America’s elites. They have KILLED my friends. They have KILLED your friends and family.

    But sure, turn the other cheek. It works so well.

  55. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 8, 2011

    One more point on Egypt, notice the lesson learned by tyrants from Egypt. It is “shoot first”. They understand Mubarak’s mistake as being not having killed enough protesters.

  56. June 8, 2011

    Morocco Bama: What “double standard”?

  57. Cloud permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Orwell’s nonfiction is, generally, just about my favorite writing ever. In addition to Down and Out, read Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier, not to mention the essays.

  58. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 8, 2011

    Lambert, the double standard that Moss uses, that’s what double standard. You’re asking dissenters to be rational, reasonable, to not do anything rash, yet the Powerful in this System aren’t playing by the same standard, and in fact, are using that double standard against any potential dissent, thus neutralizing it.

    Also, your tone is very much that of Moss’s. Are some of us here to whom your comments are directed also absolutist and Manichean in our world view?

  59. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 8, 2011

    I suggest folks look in to the Maoist revolution in India, then if they still have what it takes, let us know if they have the guts to tell those people they don’t have the right to use violence to resist.

    Oh, and again, tell it to your founding fathers. It really is too bad that they didn’t understand how non-violence is always and everywhere the solution.

    This is not to say non-violence never works, nor is it to say that non-violence shouldn’t be used alongside other strategies (in fact, I think it should, always leave the oppressors someone “more reasonable” to negotiate with. Malcolm X makes MLK much more viable. “Well, you can make concessions to me, or you can make concessions to him. Your choice. I hope I can keep my followers from joining his, they’re getting awfully impatient.”)

  60. atcooper permalink
    June 9, 2011

    It is very hard for me not to cheer on Annonymous. A King to their X may be just the thing needed to get the ball rolling.

  61. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 9, 2011

    The Bilderberg is meeting in St. Moritz, Switzerland the next several days, starting today, and yet I hear no mention of any form of protests, non-violent or violent, by the effete “Leftists.” I wonder why that is? Perhaps because they would be considered Conspiracy Theorists by giving any attention to this innocuous little social gathering. Why is it that the grossly incompetent and cowardly Al Qaeda never target easily targeted events like this? How convenient, wouldn’t you say? Or, is it a matter of not biting the hands that feed you? I think it’s the latter, and that’s why the Plutocracy is never a target of these highly nefarious terrorist organizations. It is as it ever was.

  62. June 9, 2011

    US universities in Africa ‘land grab’
    Institutions including Harvard and Vanderbilt reportedly use hedge funds to buy land in deals that may force farmers out

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/08/us-universities-africa-land-grab

  63. Old Wolf permalink
    June 9, 2011

    With some reluctance, I’m going to pour some cold water on a good testosterone binge.

    I am not saying that violence will not be necessary against our corporate masters but I always get a little concerned when people start casually talking about violence as a tactic. The right wing Keyboard Kommandos and militias have been quite rightly ridiculed about how long they would last against (or how long it would take them to run from) trained military units. They aren’t unique.

    I have 55 years of firearms experience. I’ve owned a hundred or so over my life and shot at least as many more including sniper rifles and automatic weapons and I’ve been proficient with all of them. I’ve filled numerous freezers with formerly living beings so I’m well acquainted with the face of death. And I’m pretty knowledgeable on military tactics and equipment for a non veteran. How many of those advocating violence here can even claim that much relevant experience?

    Violence against the upper class will not consist of you burning some rich fucker’s Escalade and going home to bed. The state has a massive array of weapons from bird size surveillance drones to almost unimaginable firepower. The militarization of police forces has reached the point where most jurisdictions of any significance have units better armed, equipped and trained than the army of 20 years ago. Violent action against the elite will get you introduced to as much of that arsenal as required to eliminate you as a threat.

    If you are convinced that violence is the only option, I suggest a) you start training now because you have a lot to learn and b) you STFU about it on unencrypted public forums. Remember, 10 people can keep a secret but only if 9 of them are dead. In the mean time, think about how willing you are to be the first to take an M203 round up the ass for the revolution.

    I have perpetrated violence against a good many living things and seen a lot of death – I talk of neither lightly.

    Just sayin’.

  64. June 9, 2011

    off topic, why would a Canadian nurse come to the US? http://twitter.com/CrytzerEngland

  65. David Kowalski permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Several points:

    1) Tony Wikrent mentions the 1850s. The slave states were offered a series of compromises but accepted none of them. They knew that their political power was waning and so overplayed their hand perhaps out of desperation. The economics of slavery demanded expansion as monoculture wrecked the soil. The options for expansion were increasingly limited and often barren. No Kansas? No California or Oregon? What was left was Oklahoma, New Mexico or Arizona and that was impractical and unlikely to tilt the balance.

    The first “offer” was to rule the country or at least have veto power through the Presidency of conservative northern Democrats. Pierce and especially Buchanan went a long way trying to make this work but it broke and broke two ways. Southern Democrats refused to accept accomodationist (but unionist) Douglas; northerners refused to accept an accomodationist not even recognized by the south. Breckinridge could not win in the electoral college; Lincoln could and did.

    The second offer was from Lincoln. No expansion but no immediate effort to end slavery which seemed certain to die on its own.

    Slavery, a “system” with 3 million victims was finished either way.

    2) We lucked into peaceful solutions two other times. The Gilded Age and the long recession climaxed with the Panic of 1893, a five year down turn that rivals the current era as the nation’s second worst economic collapse. By sheer blind luck or divine intervention the corporate tools were replaced by reformers, especially Teddy Roosevelt but also (to a lesser extent) Wilson. Some monopolies were broken up. Businesses were regulated. Labor unions got some support (under TR anyway). We bought another 30 years.

    3) The economy as a whole fell apart in the Depression. FDR started a period of tremendous growth with the top benefiting but less than the economy as a whole. He saved capitalism by broadening the benefits to include a majority of the population. This was so successful it lasted over 40 years and the consensus even included many Republicans. We now have Reagan/Bush light. Then we had FDR/LBJ light.

    That’s it. Do you really think we will be handed a surprise reformer because the elite screwed up (TR but also Cardenas in Mexico)? Unlikely. The surprises run the other way these days.

    Do things have to get worse before they get better? Will peak oil, etc. doom even the possibility of an FDR?

    One of the intriguing little tidbits of history is that the czarist government bankrolled the Russian Revolution. When the records were opened many of the top Communist figures turned out to be paid agents of the czarists or more accurately they were on the payroll. The Okrhana thought they were double agents but they were triple agents. Maybe some were simply opportunists playing both sides.

    Bismarck co-opted social security circa 1870 to buy off the reformers political base. It worked. The current crew is too greedy and short-sighted to do this.

    We not only lack an FDR or a Lincoln but even lack a TR or a Bismarck. Yikes.

  66. anon2525 permalink
    June 9, 2011

    The state has a massive array of weapons from bird size surveillance drones to almost unimaginable firepower. The militarization of police forces has reached the point where most jurisdictions of any significance have units better armed, equipped and trained than the army of 20 years ago.

    That’s one more reason to reduce the u.s. military and “intelligence” agencies budgets to caretaker status. There have been warnings about the danger of a large standing army since the start of the country.

    Legitimate governments do not need a large military to threaten the population because legitimate governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. If a government has the consent of the governed then it has nothing to fear from it.

  67. June 9, 2011

    @Old Wolf:

    The right wing Keyboard Kommandos and militias have been quite rightly ridiculed…

    …and b) you STFU about it on unencrypted public forums.

    Yes, and yes. You would think that if one were serious…

  68. anon2525 permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Will peak oil, etc. doom even the possibility of an FDR?

    Yes, the largest problem in the world–global warming and the consequent climate change–has been reduced to “etc.”.

    F4 and F5 tornadoes, the flooding of the Mississippi, the far larger flooding of Pakistan, the heat wave that put Moscow’s temperatures over 100°F, major hurricanes, droughts and crop failures. Maybe the mighty military and “intelligence” agencies can defeat these “enemies” with their mighty array of weapons. Or, they might have a problem with getting diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel and “decide” to stay home.

  69. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Old Wolf, you could have reduced your response to one sentence, and that sentence would be exactly the sentiment of Ian’s post title. Here it is:

    Shut the hell up, lay down, and take it up the ass, or we’ll fill you full of lead.

    For the record, I haven’t advocated violence. I’m not advocating anything, but nor am I going to condemn or cast judgement upon those who do when they are doing so in order to survive. I did state that if people were serious about changing all of this, and erasing this dilemma, violence would ensue. It’s only natural that it would….it’s predictable. If you’re not serious about changing this dilemma, it will resolve, one way, or the other, because this can’t go on forever. In that case, violence will also ensue, but it will be senseless, misdirected violence, and many innocent people, or relatively innocent people, will be killed and maimed.

    For the record, destruction of private property is now considered violence. I wonder how many material objects Old Wolf has killed….since we’re counting heads. Hey, Old Wolf, how many of those living things that you killed, and apparently there were many as you so poignantly boasted, were threatening your life and existence and the life and existence of everyone you loved and cared about? I’m going to say zero, and yet you killed them, but you wouldn’t lift a finger against those who need to be defended, and you admonish those that would. Big Studs like you kill me. You’re a coward who stands by and watches as the Plutocrats rape, figuratively and sometimes literally, his wife and children. Who knows, maybe you do the raping for them. Sweet.

    So, do we live in a Police State, or not? For those of you claiming that merely the discussion of this topic, the history of it, and our current state, will get your brains bashed in or get you thrown in Guantanamo, do you not recognize the irony? If that truly is the case, then the imperative for coordinated action by whatever means would seem in order. That’s not an advocation, it’s a deduction. Are you saying that living in a Police State is not the line in the sand to which I was referring earlier? If not, what is? Is there a line? Or do you advocate peaceful protest all the way to the metaphorical gas chambers in the hope that the Plutocracy and the MIC will suddenly become benevolent and give us another FDR to placate us for a while until another rainy day when the rain check must be cashed?

  70. June 9, 2011

    Interesting discussion. I think the issue of violence being discusssed here is not so much using it to overthrow the system but using it in self defense against the system when necessary. Let’s take the example in the article, armed police surround a populated village and proceed to start to burn it down and Moss has the gall to “chastize” Roy for suggesting that those people use violence to defend themselves! Really?

    Overall, non-violence can be effective but, it has to be the right kind of non-violence. The elites here know what they are doing when they call for the people they are oppressing to be non-violent especially with the “free speech zones” and other police state style laws and surveillance procedures they have firmly put in place. To echo Roy, non-violent protest of any scale here has largely devolved into theatre, full of “Sternly Worded letters” and one day marches or protests, etc. IOW, it’s become a modern media event which the elites are perfectly comfortable dealing with and the media is perfectly comforable with covering. Speaking of the latter, remember how they treated the WTO protesters where violence was minor at best? They used that to delegitimize them but notice how the much more serious violence of the ant-abortion movement, up to and including several murders, hasn’t delegitimize it?

    In terms of the right kind of non-violence, one of the things that annoys me to no end is the misrepresentation of the Civil Rights movement. I swear, I think some people actually believe that MLK Jr. showed up one day and said “I Have A Dream” and all was well. While MLK and Co. were non-violent, they were incredibly active on several fronts. Step back and think about for a minute. Every day they got up to protest or march, they faced the very real possibilty that police dogs would be sicced on them, water cannons turned on them, police and others would beat them, they would be jailed, their families would be hurt or killed, people would curse and spit on them and they kept at it day after day after day for years AND kept fighting on the legal front AND engaged in effective, as opposed to symbolic, economic boycotts.

    Are people really prepared to do all that now and keep doing it? I’m doubtful

  71. June 9, 2011

    Yikes, apologies for all the grammatical errors.

  72. Old Wolf permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Morocco Bama
    My short response to your diatribe is fuck you.

    You don’t know me or anything about me. I’ve been fighting these people for the better part of 50 years in circumstances you couldn’t begin to understand. Try googling “PROFUNC”. The point was that calls for violence against the upper class have rather more credibility coming from someone with 2 tours in Afghanistan on his resume than 2 tours of Doom.

    There are ways to plan and organize militant action. Yipping and kiyiing on a public forum isn’t one of them unless you want to get busted before you ever do anything. Next time try engaging your brain before you put your mouth in gear.

  73. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 9, 2011

    There are ways to plan and organize militant action. Yipping and kiyiing on a public forum isn’t one of them unless you want to get busted before you ever do anything. Next time try engaging your brain before you put your mouth in gear.

    Strawman, and not worth a reply.

    What would two tours in Afghanistan on your resume give you? Is that considered an asset?

    Seriously, though, I’m getting a kick out of the irony. The NRA Gun Rights macho man is siding with the non-violent side of this debate. For the record, I don’t have a side, and I don’t want a side, but I can see you want to divide as such, so sides it will be. What an odd combination, and to further add irony to the equation, I don’t own a gun. Up until now, I have never considered using one because I have never killed anyone, or anything, at least not deliberately with a weapon.

    And no one here, including myself, said go senselessly kill the rich, as you are falsely asserting. I did ask someone a question. I said why not take their pocketbook….since it’s your money anyway. Of course, if they were to do that, they would be tossed in jail, but it’s perfectly alright for the “rich” to take the plebs pocketbooks with the full backing of the police and the courts.

  74. Everythjngs Jake permalink
    June 9, 2011

    @ MO & OW

    MO: Isn’t OW’s point is fair and realistic? See Chris Hedges on Bosnia – there, the “criminal” class (those with the propensity and training for violence) organized the defense of Sarajevo and they didn’t broadcast their intentions. I think you misread OW and countered with more attack than inquiry.

    OW: Doesn’t struggle (whatever form that eventually takes) have to start as an idea shared – even one that first propagates itself in a forum visited by some who may at present be silly armchair warriors with internet connections. It seems to me that armies do not fight without the support of plenty of those that never pick up a weapon (I mean less politician and more supply sergeant), and if there were to be violent struggle, some would have to inhabit those roles and that is resistance too.

    As life has a way of rolling on inevitably in its own deathly momentum and making protest seem pointless, it seems doubly hopeless when persons who appear to share a desire for similar outcomes aren’t listening to and devolve into sniping at one another. Yeah, somebody may have started it, but will one or both take the steps necessary to end it?

  75. Everythjngs Jake permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Not incidentally, on Sarajevo – Chris’ point wasn’t that all warriors are criminals. There, somebody had to defend against the siege, and in that place and time, with no standing militia, “professional” training (regardless of moral bias) was in real demand.

  76. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 9, 2011

    Old Wolf is, of course, right about the overwhelming power of the US state. The goal is to change the cost/benefit calculus. A spiral of violence won’t necessarily see the state win in any meaningful sense, there are a lot of people back from places where the art of area denial has been raised to a fine art, and that art is being perfected in Mexico right now. Add to that the collapse of the economic underpinning of the state and the calculus of violence will change. The problem is that if it gets to that stage, everyone loses. The state’s current weaponry is excellent at stopping proto-states from forming (blowing up clinics, etc…). The current insurgent toolkit is excellent at stopping the state from effectively imposing the rule of law anywhere, and at destroying productive assets. That’s a really bad place to be.

    People are at a different place than I am. What I am saying is that if you are the Greeks, and you’re going to riot, go riot amongst the mansions or other places the state can’t ignore. You’re rioting anyway, you’ve already decided on violence, if you’re going to do it, do it effectively.

    But for those who don’t want to start violence, you still need to hurt the rich where they live. Go and occupy refineries, sit in around their mansions. Don’t do anything violent, just shut down the streets and the refineries. Let the other side start the violence. This is especially a good tactic in places like refineries. They aren’t going to go into such places with the A-10′s.

    There are other things that can be done. During the Great Depression foreclosure sales all the neighbours would show up, and make it clear that if the bank’s assessors bid on the foreclosed property (or anyone did), they’d get the beating of their lives. And y’know what, no one saw a thing…

    Get the truckers involved and the construction workers with the big equipment and you can shut anything down. I could go into this in detail, but I’ll leave it as an exercise for readers. Suffice to say, no government is all-powerful.

    To be clear, of course I am not advocating violence in the US. I would never do that. I’m just saying that if someone’s going to do it anyway, they might as well be effective about it. And there are steps short of starting violence which are much effective at hitting where it hurts than what is currently the norm.

    To bring it back, what I was saying was the Indians being forced off their land into camps in India have a right to fight back. Similiar to another set of Indians in a country much closer to you, actually. Maybe that’s why Americans don’t want to admit the right to self defense.

  77. Morocco Bama permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Lisa, thanks for the link about the Africa Land Grab. It’s just one of a bevy of injustices carried out every day as a result of this System. So, Old Wolf, what do you do about it? I’d like to hear your action plan. You’ve been “fighting (violent term there, by the way, and it’s the one you chose….how very telling)” this sort of thing for 50 years now, presumably non-violently, because you empty yourself of all that homespun testosterone-laden violence on some innocent animals that never did you any harm, and yet the System has grown stronger and more brazen, signaling that whatever you’re doing, it doesn’t seem to be working, and yet you believe that more of the same will somehow now yield more effective results?

    What is your action plan considering this latest violent injustice by the Universities in conjunction with the Hedge Funds are but a leaf on the tree of this destructive System. Do you scream and holler at the leaf from a chained off area three miles away? Do you vote for a bozo scam artist who tells you he/she will make the leaf behave? Do you boycott the leaf? If you do any of that, what of the tree the leaf is part of, and the forest in which the tree resides?

  78. June 9, 2011

    Since we’re wading into prescriptions (and I too lament the flare-up between MO&OW, I’m sure it’s just a “moment”)…

    My comprehension of economics is infantile compared to many who inhabit this blog, especially the author. However, some things “feel right,” and one of those things is the sensibility that money, currency – the conversion of simply everything into some sort of generic fungibility – debases the human experience and enables those assholes who are always just too clever by half.

    Economic hits. They’re quite violent, except that they’re humane in that they only afflict those vested in, and buttressing, the system that is hurting all of this, or those mandarins (read: affluent middle class) who enable these greedheads.

    Money sucks, but in the short term converting your assets immediately to cash fucks their shit up in your own small way. Yea, get the auto-deposit on your paycheck (ah, to have a paycheck again!), but withdraw it all as soon as you can. Talk your landlord into taking cash. (Mortgage holder? Delusional wanna-be property thief.)

    Never, ever, ever, ever sell your future in slavery again by acquiring things on credit. Hurt them. Refuse any loan. Learn to live without a car.

    Try to arrange service and goods bartering to the extent that it’s practical for your particular life situation. That means know your neighbors. If there’s any gardening going on, there’s lots of place for swap. If you know how to hammer metal and make parabolic ovens, you can probably get some decent barbeque for your efforts.

    Drop out as practically as you can! Do it incrementally, don’t hurt yourself. :)

    Caveats.:

    1) The infrastructure for this sort of behaviour at this point in time is, er, challenging for most of the residents of the U.S. My recent poverty has made it easier to go this route, and that’s a daunting consequence, but I can assure you that the sense of community (which is essentially neutered in an eerie way when one is “successful”) more than makes up for the imagined deprivations.

    2) Kind of a corollary to 1): Pissing in the wind. Ten years ago, it would have reasonable to see it as quixotic to consider dropping out to this degree, but I submit that enough are being forced to find “alternative” economies these days that this might just take alight now. The sheer numbers of us will truly hurt…

    …and they will respond. They will try to appropriate and tax our neighborhood gardens, and I mean that as only partially metaphorical. Then… then we will see what we are truly made of.

    That should cover both passive-resistance and some of the excitement of revolution, no?

  79. Celsius 233 permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Morocco Bama
    June 9, 2011
    because you empty yourself of all that homespun testosterone-laden violence on some innocent animals that never did you any harm,
    ============================
    A nit to pick:
    OW’s implication was that he ate the animals he killed. Every person who eats meat kills, albeit indirectly, the animal thus eaten. The potential hypocrisy from meat eaters here is enormous.
    I’ve also enjoyed the shooting sports for well over 50 years (gave up hunting over 30 of those years ago) and there is an element of macho shooters out there who talk utter nonsense about how they’ll go to the hills and blah, blah, blah…
    I don’t know OW, but 2 tours in Afghanistan in a combat unit certainly would be good training for any form of counter insurgency in country, any country.
    I’m not an advocate of violence; but I see us moving to the possibility of that scenario because of our own failures to protect our freedoms.
    If we end up there (violence) we can only blame our own lack of due diligence…

  80. anon2525 permalink
    June 9, 2011

    The militarization of police forces has reached the point where most jurisdictions of any significance have units better armed, equipped and trained than the army of 20 years ago.

    Recent exhibit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXpMzT5yGp8

    Listen from 0:09 to 0:14 at high volume.

    Somebody cue James Brown singing “Living (Dying) in America.”

  81. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 9, 2011

    Local municipalities have been para-militarized, no question. However, it’s also worth remembering that that militarization, to a large extent, is based on local and state tax bases. I regularly see news in which local and state police are having to cut budgets, get rid of choppers, lay off police, etc… Para military policing is not cheap.

  82. anon2525 permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Recent exhibit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXpMzT5yGp8

    P.S., I see from the comments that WikiLeaks picked up on this event, too:

    “Miami police threaten cameraman after police shooting (cell video)”

    http://twitter.com/#!/wikileaks/status/78965730330152960

  83. Everythings Jake permalink
    June 9, 2011

    After the military rejected these for Afghanistan (military thought they’d incite nearly everyone to join Al Qaeda), Los Angeles happily bought a few:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmuyLIrSjxI&feature=related

    Note the kind of cold, technocratic tone of the narrator and those interviewed (which almost frightens me more than the thought of the weapon itself).

  84. jcapan permalink
    June 10, 2011

    The ready antagonism between leftists makes it hard to imagine America, after a 2nd revolution, being any more idyllic than Stalin’s Russia, Orwell’s allegory, or our present state.

  85. Celsius 233 permalink
    June 10, 2011

    jcapan
    June 10, 2011
    The ready antagonism between leftists makes it hard to imagine America, after a 2nd revolution, being any more idyllic than Stalin’s Russia, Orwell’s allegory, or our present state.
    ===================================
    Cutting to the chase; that’s a fair statement…

  86. June 10, 2011

    dcblogger: The answer is money. Some health care providers can get paid more in the USA than in Canada. It’s not like they’re poor in Canada, usually, but there’s a big grass-is-greener effect.

Comments are closed.