Sunday, October 27, 2013
21st Century Revolution
Barry, My Liege :
The people of the United States of America as well as the people of many other countries today recognize that power in our respective countries is held by an oligarchic few who use their power to prevent the people from creating a good life for themselves so that the few may accumulate even greater fortunes.
And, people recognize that the few are actively destroying the very physical resources that sustain life itself in their fortune building process.
My Liege, that is not sustainable.
It will change.
And, that change may take one of two possible paths.
In one path, we can wish for an enlightened political system to change its direction in favor of creating a better life for all people and away from the oligarchic swamp toward which we are headed today.
After all, many popular movements in the United States have resulted in social changes mandated by the Government : Anti-slavery, Women's suffrage, Right to vote, Temperance, safety in the workplace and other popular movements have resulted in legislation which enacted the will of the people.
We pray, My Liege, that our future change will be a legislative change instead of a violent change.
In another path and to imagine the arc of a violent revolution in the United States, we simply have to look at Syria, Iraq, Tunisia and other countries which have endured revolutions in modern times.
We are not prepared for drone strikes, midnight assassinations, internment camps, torture, airstrikes on suburbs with cluster bombs and the like in the United States.
Yet, it is likely that a violent revolution in this country will look like that. The oligarchs are already fearful and paranoid; the first reaction of our government to any political disagreement is to alert the armed security forces.
Perhaps even more damaging than the physical violence is the rending of social fabric that will occur in any revolution. The Communist Revolution in Russia is a prime example.
Thucydides is the best writer I have seen on the social effects of Revolution. Here in an excerpt from his Book III,  he describes how citizens deserted rational behavior and followed the more extreme leaders in the Peloponnesian Wars:
"...struggles being everywhere made by the popular chiefs to bring in the Athenians, and by the oligarchs to introduce the Lacedaemonians. In peace there would have been neither the pretext nor the wish to make such an invitation; but in war with an alliance always at the command of either faction for the hurt of their adversaries and their own corresponding advantage, opportunities for bringing in the foreigner were never wanting to the revolutionary parties. The sufferings which revolution entailed upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and will always occur, as long as the nature of mankind remains the same; though in a severe or milder form, and varying in their symptoms, according to the variety of the particular case.
In peace and prosperity, states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master, that brings most men's characters to a level with their fortunes. Revolution thus ran its course from city to city, and the places which it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried to a still greater excess the reinforcement of their inventions, as manifested in the cunning of their enterprises and the atrocity of their reprisals. Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. [Ed note. - See '1984', George Orwell]
Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defense. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries.
In time, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea of a crime where it was wanting, was equally commended, until even blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve; for such associations had not in view the blessings derivable from established institutions but were formed by ambition for their overthrow; and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any religious sanction than upon complicity in crime. The fair proposals of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger of the two, and not with a generous confidence.
Revenge also was held of more account than self-preservation. Oaths of reconciliation, being only preferred on either side to meet an immediate difficulty, only held good so long as no other weapon was at hand; but when opportunity offered, he who ventured to seize it and take his enemy off his guard, thought this perfidious vengeance sweeter than an open one, since, consideration of safety apart, success by treachery won him the palm of superior intelligence. Indeed it is generally the case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest, and are as ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being the first.
The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceded all the violence of parties once engaged in contention. The leaders of the cities, each provided with the fairest professions, on one side with the cry of political equality of the people, on the other of a moderate aristocracy, sought prizes for themselves in those public interests which they pretended to cherish, and, recoiling from no means in their struggles for ascendancy, engaged in the direst excesses; in their acts of vengeance they went to even greater lengths, not stopping at what justice or the good of the state demanded, but making the party caprice of the moment their only standard, and invoking with equal readiness the condemnation of an unjust verdict or the authority of the strong arm to glut the animosities of the hour.
Thus religion was in honour with neither party; but the use of fair phrases to arrive at guilty ends was in high reputation. Meanwhile the moderate part of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape."
My Liege, we pray you avoid this for our future.
And, we recognize you must work miracles for our better future.
Your faithful servant.