Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Revolution is not just a word, but why revolt?

Revolution is not a word often used today in the meaningful way that it was in the past. The mildest reform or a new safety net put in place is often considered revolutionary. Advertisers of the latest product frivolously use the word in a way that nevertheless seems to subconsciously convey the inspirational meaning it had in the past. Smug academics and mainstream political partisans seem to scoff at the idea that a true revolution of values could occur by means of actual revolutionary activity. Others are so placated by the modern bread and circuses that they fail to notice growing crisis all around them.

This article is written with the intention of showing why a revolution is necessary and offers suggestions about how to make one manifest in practical reality.

Why Revolt?

With a little searching on Youtube (or another less-censored site) you will find a near endless stream of videos documenting elderly people getting tazed and having their skulls cracked by the police. You'll find videos of little girls getting beaten and maced by male-bodied pigs. Despite censorship, you'll even find videos of cold-blooded murder at the hands of the police. Mind you... this is merely what gets caught on video -- and represents only a very small fraction of the police violence that takes place every single day in the USA).

In addition to the street-level violence, the police forces in the United States then help incarcerate more people at a rate seen no where else on earth. More people are imprisoned in the U.S. than in any other nation (both in total numbers AND per-capita). Millions of people get cycled through the U.S. prison-industrial complex every year. No nation on earth imprisons more people than the "land of the free."

America, the USA, is THE police state, and the extreme subjugation of millions of individuals is big business -- entire towns now spring up around large prisons (complete with motels for visiting relatives and services and shops for the prison employees), and that's on top of the economics involved with the court systems and police equipment.

Environmental Degradation

The extent of environmental degradation is almost too overwhelming to even begin considering. However, without facing the problems collectively a person can't effectively understand the systemic quality of the multitude of threats facing the biosphere.

Dealing with just one problem at a time can leave us vulnerable to another advancing disaster. The idea that one problem can be reformed away then becomes muted because the process of reform generally does not, and can not, deal with several major issues at once. As inneffectual as reform efforts have been at dealing with the issue of global warming, for example, imagine how much more difficult those reform efforts become if they concurrently or simultaneously addressed the issues of deforestation, the Pacific garbage vortex, strip-mining, desertification, dioxin releases, the 6th extinction, et cetera, etc. In the face of such a collective crisis, the slow road of piecemeal reformism will not protect life on earth.

Similarly, the idea of setting a personal example (in terms of personal consumption) does not guarantee the preservation of life on earth. It's a quaint idea, but one that looks to the realm of spiritualism and blind faith, rather than at reality. Even if a good example was set and followed, in terms of consumption, there is no guarantee that enough people would follow it or that those who didn't wouldn't pick up the slack. Like reformism, personal lifestyle choices do play a part in terms of preserving the environment. The problem is that people are not looking beyond themselves at the complete issue of how much damage is being done by other organizations that are not curbing their overall destruction at all. Directly putting a stop, by any environmentally sound means necessary, to major polluters or sources of destruction, can be far more effective than large groups of individuals ceasing their personally destructive activities in the spiritual hopes than everyone else will follow suit.

A Variety of Wars and Their Consequences

The depletion of natural resources is a primary cause for wars. And I'm not even referring yet to fuels and mineral products used for production and consumption purposes -- I'm talking about things like fresh potable water, land, and clean air. As the world population continues to grow, access to the basic necessities of life becomes more difficult and attempts to acquire those things become more desperate on an individual and a collective level.

Obviously, the connection between militarism and environmental degradation is clear. But this fact is easily clouded by other pretenses for war such as archaic ethnic conflicts and the desire for fuels & mineral products used for production and consumption purposes. What then gets overlooked with this situation is that the preservation and defense of natural resources at local levels can prevent some causes of war.

But aside from necessities, wars undertaken by the U.S. today are largely about petroleum oil. High ranking public officials have been blunt about this, and if anyone still has doubts about this they are simple-minded (to put it nicely).

The U.S. government spends incredible amounts on it's military
. Having paid for it's gigantic army, it now needs fuel. Faced with peak oil (another idea ought to be easily and clearly understood), the wars in foreign lands are not about liberating the people there or fighting international terrorism. The wars in the Middle East are not even about maintaining relatively cheap oil for SUV drivers. The wars are about securing fuel for the military machine that's already been bought and paid for. In the final analysis, the U.S. government plans on having the only army which still has fuel to wage a total war. At that point, the U.S. will be an empire more destructive and brutal than any other in history (even to a greater extent than it already has been).

Considering the global system upheld by the U.S.A., and the level of destruction it is currently engaged in (at so many levels and in so many forms), it is not out of the question that the U.S. will use another nuclear weapon. The leaders of this rogue nation have shown themselves to be completely without ethics and insincere about any real humanitarian efforts -- they have, in fact, shown themselves to be insane (by almost any standard of definition). Their insanity and clear lack of ethics is what will allow them to launch a nuclear strike without fear of comparable retaliation. They have shown themselves capable of risking mutually assured destruction and, if they resign themselves to only attacking relatively weak nations for the purposes of fuel, who, what other nation, will risk entering into the fray with them? At that point, the U.S. empire will be completely dominant and, as long as it's leaders spread the wealth around to other leaders of nuclear-capable nations... those leaders will subdue their own populations at the behest of the U.S. empire.
One might argue that the U.S. government would not do such a thing because it would fear a domestic backlash. But I suggest, with it's police force in place, that the U.S. government does not fear it's population very much at all. In fact, much of the U.S. population, bamboozled by the corporate media, supports the U.S. government unconditionally. The brutal suppression of protest movements and a truly Orwellian level of surveillance also suggests that the U.S. government will be able to ruthlessly control it's population when push comes to shove -- even if it has to resort to much harsher methods. You will rise for the anthem -- or else. You will watch what you say -- or else. Any real exercise of freedom today can already be expected to result in unpleasant reprisal from a government that claims to defend that freedom.

For all the populist bluster about defending the Constitution, who actually has? That dried up piece of paper has been effectively neutralized -- and it doesn't matter if you realize it or not. The government treats the Constitution like a Wikipedia page, effectively changing and restoring it as seen fit. It was a fundamentally flawed document to begin with anyway and was written by genocidal slave-owners. That's the history of America -- and not so much has really changed. For all the fine quotes about freedom left for posterity by the founding fathers of America, how many more were, then and since, willfully working against those ideas of liberty? Considering quotes from Jefferson or Madison as emblematic of their time is like thinking Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are typical members of modern congress. Revisionist history might remember them as highly influential (while overlooking their flaws), but the death march of industrial state corporatism marches on.

Do Not Let Fascists Destroy the Environment While Taking Over the World

I've explained elsewhere, in other articles (with several references), why the current U.S. government should appropriately be considered fascist. Briefly, for the sake of completeness, I'll just point my readership to Mussolini's definition of "corporatism" and leave it at that. If any person ever knew anything about fascism it should be that rotted corpse. More lively, and less fascistic people, like Naomi Wolf & Naomi Klein, have also made strong cases in regard to this definition of the U.S. political system.

How should revolutionary resistance against this fascistic empire be orchestrated?

This is the world-changing question and my answer to it gives few guarantees. The main thing a revolutionary needs is awareness of the global situation and the stakes we are fighting for. With this knowledge comes the freedom to act without fear of personal loss -- because it's all going to be lost anyway, including your dignity as a human being, if no action is taken. You can either remain inactive as your freedom, your community, your loved ones, and the environment, are all systematically destroyed OR you can organize your life and fight back.

Perhaps the most difficult part of revolutionary organization is finding other sincerely devoted revolutionaries to coordinate your activities with. This is difficult for a number of reasons.

Generally, people in modern America are dumbed down and easily distracted. As much as people may think think that I'm pushing the Kool-Aid with this piece, they ignore the the pushers of patriotic American blindness that have dished the stuff out for hundreds of years. They push it to us as children at school, in church, at home, on the TV, in the malls and on the highway. We are told lies every single day through the simple nature of our consumeristic culture. We are led to believe that this is the only way, the best way, and that we had better stick with it to make it even better. And most people never see through this clearly. They can't get past it. It's too emotionally taxing for them to face and too physically threatening for them to resist -- even if they intellectually start to suspect that something just isn't right.

Conversely, it is difficult to find competent allies because many of those who are competent will have already masked their revolutionary activities. The difficulty of finding sincere individuals is also complicated
by simple philosophical and personally idiosyncratic differences. It's a catch-22 because the easier it is to find and involve yourself with active radical individuals (with whom you are compatible), the more likely it will be that their security culture has been compromised. Tolerance and cooperation with any and all suggests low standards which can easily be exploited by the state. For that reason, bonds need to be formed early on OR by means of a gradual process. Jumping into the fray with a serious action alongside someone you just met can be very dangerous to your health and freedom. The more serious you are, the more likely you will be to encounter more serious, more covert, opposition from the state. (A word needs to be said about above-ground and underground radicals, but I will try to conclude with that in the final section.) On a similar note, it has been suggested that revolutionary radicals should have children because their actions will largely offset the effects of some slightly increased demands of overall consumption.

Where to stablish a base of operations for a radical community is also a big question. A common revolutionary suggestion (which goes back historically to at least the 19th century "Narodnichestvo" movement in Russia) is that radicals should go live amongst lowest, most abused classes. At some point that may have been an appropriate suggestion (despite the complications which developed), but I think the landscape (politically and topographically) has been altered in many ways that make this a less effective strategy today.

To go live amongst the poorest today you would have to go into lands where people are, in some cases, completely disenfranchised and dying of hunger. Even in the U.S. such a strategy would suggest going to the veritable gutter where the police presence is constant. As much as I sympathize with the dire plight of inner-city residents and the hardships they constantly face, I can only recommend leaving the large ghettoized death-traps at any opportunity whenever possible. Even relatively well-to-do cities have serious impending issues and are not at all sustainable. This is not to say that all radicals will actually leave those locales but, if they don't, they should organize even more aggressively as above-ground activists against police brutality and in favor or urban green spaces. Also, solidarity actions can be taken with city-dwellers when needed -- even if you leave the city yourself.

I'm not suggesting that those confined to big city life should be completely abandoned and forgotten, but I don't think the most effective long term activities can be undertaken in the belly of the beast. The cities will break down to constant urban warfare and the state will have much concentrated power there. If you choose to stay and fight on that ground you will probably suffer great losses (and romanticizing about the flavor of industrial centers is self-deluding).

The safest and most effective place to operate and build community is near a wilderness area which is threatened by destruction but which also still remains largely intact. The benefits of living near such an area are plentiful.

While still having access to standard civilized resources, a community established in such a locale will be able to begin providing for itself by learning what the wilderness provides in a natural sustainable way. This can include hunting wild game and making use of vegetation in a sustainable manner. Additionally, some compromise might be made in establishing sustainable permaculture gardens (while simultaneously working to preserve and restore the nearby wilderness).

Another benefit of living near a threatened wilderness area is the ability to protect it. This can be done in a number of ways -- ranging from the sabotage of destructive industrial tools to more typical acts of protest and working within local politics to hinder destructive or oppressive activities (whether these activities are sponsored by the state or a corporation). The politics of local reform can be clouded by the roles of above-ground and underground revolutionaries, but it's not always necessarily an either/or situation -- local reform can supplement more radical direct actions.

Related to the last point, and having to do with a relatively low population density, is the lack of an overwhelming police force in most wilderness areas. This may change somewhat depending on the success and nature of the defensive environmental activities, but again... working within small local governments can reduce the chances of the local police forces growing.

One Basic Outline of a Sustainable Revolutionary Network

Let's hypothetically consider an endangered forest of 1000 square miles... A dozen small permaculture farms could be established around the perimeter of this forest (where it was already clearcut and somewhat developed), each farm could be run by 12 or so radicals working along the lines already suggested.

Each farm could have at least one person with the task of regularly keeping in contact with the other farms (for purposes of trade and general updates about any variety of projects or activities). Additionally, small primitive camps could be established within the forest for other understood purposes related to it's defense.

Each farm community would likely have its own character and work on slightly different goals. Some farms could be almost completely off the radar in terms of activity (engaging in very little illicit activity), while others could establish a base for the sabotage of deforestation equipment. One farm might house a politician for the local city council or even a secretary for the logging company. Another might host a weekly farmers market or a vegetable stand. One might offer a public face in terms of hosting people curious about permaculture or forest activism -- while others may not be in favor of any guests at all.

The communication and coordination between the farms could be great or small depending on their individual natures and/or the projects they are currently working on at any given time. The above-ground public farms could defend the actions of anonymous eco-saboteurs with various forms of propaganda while another could be ready to provide shelter in the event of a raid or harassment. When someone gets arrested the farms could coordinate fund-raisers to help pay for legal assistance (or they could have other contingency plans to work for any individuals freedom).

Some farms would offer friendly public outreach while others would seem pretentious, curt, and dismissive towards outsiders. Establishing effective networks and habits of security culture would be essential at all times. Wanting to know about illegal activities could often even be discouraged if the details of a project are sensitive.

This is not to say that all participants in this network couldn't or shouldn't be friendly and open with one another! On the contrary! But everyone should understand any potential limitations of their current role at any given time as a member of any particular farm.

The locations of the permaculture farms should be spread out in such a way that the most actively militant community should not be situated right next to the other 2 militant underground farms.

By means of assorted propaganda, the subtle idea of networks such as this could be spread discretely to others in the surrounding area who may be sympathetic. This could include outreach to groups or individuals who are still in a highly urbanized area. One farm could be established to observe potential candidates for "work" on other more radical farms.

Above-Ground and Underground Activities

The state is merciless and vigilant. Even you if you are merely using your supposed right to free speech, serious criticism of the government and big business will eventually draw the attention, ire, and wrath of both. Most people have no idea how harsh and brutal the government can be because they've never really done anything to challenge or oppose it. When violations of personal freedoms occur, even grievous violations, the general public is unaware and/or unconcerned. Even relatively mild and unknown radicals face a wide variety of persecution and harassment techniques. It is, in part, the above-ground radical's responsibility to make these things clear.

In many ways, the public radical must be more cautious than the underground radical. Pushing the limits of free speech is only one of her responsibilities. But, especially if working with others, she must be cautious to never violate security culture or reveal the subversive and illegal activities of other radicals -- unless they explicitly want to be associated with those activities. Not everyone wants all of their solidarity actions to be widely known at all times (even if they are public, above-ground radicals). With that in mind, communication networks must be maintained with discrete caution.

Underground radicals must be especially cautious about the friendly associations they have and the networks they involve themselves with. It may behoove the most militant to avoid getting on any lists or discussing serious politics publicly at all (and I would consider electronic communications to be, essentially, public). It's a fine line to be sure, and one may go unnoticed being on the mailing list of a mainstream organization like the ACLU, Amnesty International, Greenpeace or Adbusters, but regularly visiting some of the more radical websites & forums, or attending overtly radical public meetings, will inevitably bring you some unwanted attention. Underground radicals who are engaged in illegal activities may be less likely to get discovered if they are discrete, but if they get caught they face more certain and extreme retribution.

Some risks need to be taken in an effort to restore freedom and protect the environment -- but it is important to factor in some key variables to decide upon what actions to take. The first thing one perhaps ought to consider is... how likely are you to get away with any particular illegal radical action? The more likely you are to get away with it, the less significant the action needs to be. On the other hand, it's a numbers game of probability. If you are constantly flaunting the law every day, you increase the chances of eventually getting caught (even by things like a random police stop -- or the mailman noticing something fishy). So... an effective radical should consider the impact of any particular action. The impact can be very tangible (e.g., the lumbermill is dismantled or the funds are appropriated) or the impact may be largely symbolic (as when an effective tactic like tree-spiking or washing out a logging road, for instance, can be made public and then be emulated by others).

The police forces and their directly related suppression of the general public are likely to expand in scope regardless of any particular action. This is facilitated by the demonization of things like non-violent consensual crimes (e.g., drug dealing and use). It very well could be that the drug laws are not wholly established because of some puritanical objection to drug use so much as that pretense provides a cover for the build-up of the massive police forces which are now in place. The state has an interest in keeping some level of thoughtless crime continuing because it can use the same built-up police forces (which were ostensibly put in place to fight petty crimes) for the more political use of suppressing dissidents. The same thing goes with public surveillance systems.

With draconian punishments and brutal police responses... the punishments start to blur. It likens to a poverty-stricken "third strike" ex-con who is facing a life sentence. This person may decide, for economic reasons, to smuggle drugs in large quantities because the punishment is the same for dealing a kilo as it is for dealing a gram. If being stopped, for even the pettiest crime, this person may resist arrest with reckless violent abandon since, either way, he's going down hard if caught. So, for example, if dissent in a public forum starts to get you in as much trouble for shutting down a strip mine... you might as well shut down the strip mine (if you're just as likely to get away with it). The point is... potential punishment, and the necessity for the action, should be considered along with the likelihood of getting away with any particular illegal activity. And, often, you can do as much damage to the system by sometimes using less regulated tools (for example, causing water damage as opposed to fire damage can sometimes be just as effective while not posing as great a legal risk if caught).

The bottom line is that you need to put yourself in a position where you can tear the system down effectively, symbolically and/or physically, with little chance of getting caught and, ideally, with as little punishment as possible if you are. It's as simple and as complicated as that. If the system continues to progress as it has, we are all going down hard anyway.

Mistakes I've made and things I've tried to correct...

In closing, I would like to mention why I write the things I do and how I've had more and less success at defending myself from the state's retribution.

My life is not one without regrets. I am an empty shell of half the man I used to be. I've made horrible mistakes in which I take very little pride. Many things I've done have been ineffectual and misinterpreted. But no one can undo the things they've done and all I can try to do is move on as constructively as possible.

That said... I would like to suggest that state harassment for relatively minor things can prompt more desperate and extreme actions. If you are blatantly followed for weeks on end (an occurrence many reputable people can tell you personal stories about), it's possible that you may begin to think and behave irrationally because of the natural fear you feel. And, while the murder of political dissidents is relatively covered-up in the U.S., well-cited stories abound of such things occurring (if you care to examine the subject). And, in the U.S., you may be more likely to get poisoned by the government with psychotropic drugs than you are with lethal substances. In such a subsequently compromised state of mind, you are less likely to respond appropriately or prove the source of the drugging. This can also make you think and behave irrationally overall -- to the general detriment of your activities. The government's well-known experimentation with psychotropic drugs was part of their general psy-ops program, and I suggest this is still used to marginalize, compromise, and generally endanger political dissidents. These kinds of tactics may be more likely used on smaller and less-organized groups and individuals without much public attention (but I have heard that attempts were made to dose and incapacitate even people as prominent as Fidel Castro [although I wouldn't classify him at all in the same category as a radical freedom fighter or militant environmentalist]).

With all this in mind, and in light of the things I write, I try to protect myself legally as best I can. I assume I am under surveillance, at some level, because of the things I currently write and the things I've done in my ever-more-distant past. I never discuss or involve myself with specific illegal activities planned or undertaken by radicals (unless I am defending someone after the fact or expressing approval for an anonymous action). I avoid drugs if they are not over-the-counter, and I usually try to drink just at home. I am not at all belligerent or aggressive with the police when confronted by them in person and I try to maintain a good working knowledge of any supposed rights I may have (currently on my desk is the Law Officer's Pocket Manual and three of ACLU's handbooks entitled, The Right to Protest, Your Right to Privacy, and The Rights of Authors, Artists, and Other Creative People). I am an above-ground radical and can't afford to involve myself with illegal radical activities beyond offering general moral support and broadly theoretical discussion. Nevertheless, ironically, the state probably knows more about me than even some of my closer acquaintances -- and so I thought I'd just put this all out in the open.

I am writing this now because social-networking has allowed me to reach more people than ever before and I feel like this might actually get some circulation and be read. Also, I felt that there was a shortage of clear radical blueprints and ideas intended to actually mount a serious resistance against the oppressive and diabolical forces of the corporate state. My goal with this piece was to show a general audience that radical ideas are still in circulation (for the time being) and that they are practical as well as necessary -- now more than ever.

I don't pretend that this piece was fully comprehensive or without any errors (theoretical or otherwise). I invite others to correct errors and/or offer suggestions regarding the subject matter of this article. If you feel safe in doing so, and if you enjoyed reading this article (even if merely as a lark), I encourage you to comment, re-post, link to, and forward this article.

As someone who is living well below the poverty line, I'd also like to offer my proof-reading and editorial services to any radical publications that may need cheap help. If anyone could forward this article's link to some people like Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Angela Davis (featured in the video above), Ward Churchill (an author who writes about indigenous rights), or any radical environmentalist organizations that might be able to provide some mutual aid... that would be appreciated. I have found my writing and activism to be rather thankless work and would like to be able to continue working on these projects in a more impactful manner. I apologize for this informal and self-serving conclusion, but I hope the ideas presented in this article speak for themselves and serve a greater purpose towards a healthier world and a future of freedom.

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