Sunday, September 6, 2015

Resistance Does Not Necessarily Equal Violence, In fact, It is Better That it Does Not



"Protest is when I say this does not please me. Resistance is when I assure what does not please me occurs no more." - Ulrike Meinhof

        Why do people resist the law? In this pursuit, why do people put their lives on the line to defend themselves against a superior force? Why do we find scenes like this repeating themselves like all history does? Why is it important? Why should we be worried if things get out of hand? Are methods available to resist corruption, other than violence? How effective have movements that have practiced non-violence been in achieving their goals in the past? Why do these questions even need to be asked? It really is unfortunate that such questions need to be asked in the nation that is touted as being the 'Role Model' of the world. Luckily, we know that interpretation of America is a complete falsehood sustained by years of propaganda and misinformation. Well, those props are not working anymore, and every time the government, industry, or media come out with a new excuse for why something is screwed up, the people are calling bullshit. We know why this country is screwed up. It is because of the constant mismanagement of funds, the over extension of our military and imperialism of the Military Industrial Complex, and the inability of this country to provide for the basic needs of its people, which relates directly to the previous two excuses. We all know that this crap has got to change before things get ugly, but the million dollar question is, 'How do we do it?'
        There are several options available to the American people to resist the injustice in this country, most of which are non-violent. Violent rebellion is, of course, an option, but it should be the final option after all other options have been exhausted. Very possibly, if the violent options are never employed, the non-violent options will not only be more strongly heard, they will force the change that we seek. In fact, as the title of this post suggests, remaining non-violent is the better option. The easiest thing for anyone to do, when faced with violent action, is to respond in kind. Humans do have a temper, especially when they are being mistreated. Throughout history, we have proven time and time again, as a species that we have no problem whatsoever with going to war over something, ultimately minor, even though it feels major at the time. Further, we will keep fighting until we decide who the winner is, paying little attention the cost in human lives that it takes us to get to that victory. Yet, here we are, still, after millennia of violent rebellions, where only a few armed rebellions have actually managed to succeed in satisfying the needs of the rebels. Violent rebellions, time and time again,have proven to be failures, but non-violent rebellions have had several success stories. They were led by men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, to name one of King's inspirations.
         In fact, the very first rebellion in the United States happened while George Washington was still President. A group of Western Pennsylvania farmers, accompanied by other people from the western frontier, some of the most early producers of what would become American whiskey, were having their economic strength drained by the tax, or so they said. They also felt that it was an unfair tax because none of them were represented. They also had problems with how unsafe the frontier was at the time. They were upset that the government was not doing enough to ensure their safety. This was the first domestic tax that Congress had passed since the ratification of the Constitution. It was the idea of Alexander Hamilton, whose goal was to create new ways to drum of money to pay off the country's war debts. These men failed, and not only did they fail, but they did so at the hands of the first and only President to ever actually lead his troops into battle while still in office, George Washington. Afterwards, those that had not died in the fighting, or did not lay down their arms when they saw President General George Washington enter the field of battle, agreed to return home in peace and submit to the tax.
         There were other instances of resistance against the state afterwards. South Carolina threatened secession in 1828, after the passage of a tariff bill earlier in the year. They felt the tariff was unjust and bad for profits, and they refused to collect the tariff in their ports. They only gave in when Andrew Jackson posted the US Army at their border and promised to raise the US flag over their statehouse if they did not comply with the law. They gave in fairly quickly after that. The Civil War was, of course, next. The Southern states justified secession because they felt that their way of life and their profits off slave labor were to much to give up. To disguise the real reason they were fighting, they pushed the States' Rights concept. The idea was that the individual states had the right to conduct all business within their borders themselves, with no fear of encroachment from the federal government.
        I have called bullshit on this poor excuse since I first heard the States' Rights argument. What were the states fighting for their right to do? They were fighting to prop up slavery. Here is the thing that really makes the whole thing a load of horse manure. The Southern states, while they were forced to give up their part in the International Slave Trade in 1808, were heavily invested in their own domestic slave trade, which they developed into a cash for flesh operation that stretched the breadth of the Southern states. They shipped slaves across state lines, which means that, as it is written in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the domestic slave trade was actually the purview of the federal government. The states, by written law, had no legal support for their claims. As well all know, their four year rebellion, which many of them called a Revolution, came to an end with a resounding defeat and slavery, as an economic practice, was eliminated in the United States.
         Moving forward, after the violent assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, from the early sixties to the late sixties, tension was building up in the African American community and dividing the Civil Rights Movement. The more aggressive, and almost always younger members of the movement, decided that non-violence was no longer working. Unfortunately, for them, this is precisely what the US Government wanted them to do. Organizations like the Black Panther Party for Self Defense made use of firearms, whether they faced off with the government in the streets or not, and the rest is history. They had amazing social programs, However, their willingness to use violence gave the government everything that it needed to make the Black Panthers look like enemies of the state. This gave the government full license, at least in public opinion, to take the Panthers out. It also gave them the opportunity to coop the Civil Rights Movement and drain it of its real meaning, economic equality. King knew the root of all this nation's problems, from racism to sexism, was economic inequality. In fact, his last campaign was a group, Sanitation Workers, fighting for better pay and better treatment in Memphis. Without him around to temper his people's fears, their violent tendencies, tendencies that exist in every human on the planet, easily took over. The end game was what was mentioned earlier.
          Before this, though, the Civil Rights Movement was an amazing example of what non violent resistance is capable of. It produced images of the police beating unarmed civilians, children being killed in church bombings, people using dogs to attack grown adults, women and children going to jail, and many other sights that hurt the government's reputation and exposed the world to how badly people, especially minorities, actually get treated in this country. For a time, they took away the government's moral authority and forced them take actions that if, unprovoked, never would have happened. At least, not until much later. This Moral Authority is what is of key importance. Any non violent movement has the potential to rob its government of its moral authority. Moral authority is based on Natural Law, the idea that there exists in the world, a certain set of universally accepted rules that are innate to all humans. When the government violates those rules in open air, it loses its ability to call the resisters bad people, especially when those people are not responding with violence. Further, it begins to watch it credibility with the people go down the drain.
         Until the uprisings from the late sixties to the early eighties, the Civil Rights Movement had the moral authority it needed to force the federal government to take action. The moment members of the movement got violent that moral authority was lost. The result, as has been noted, was the collapse of the Civil Rights Movement. Following this collapse, the government hijacked the movement, watered it down, and attempted to convince the American people that things they were fighting for, from economic freedom to racism, had all been fixed, so there was no more need for such behavior. The result since has been a series of individual issue based movements that focus more on money and politics and that dissipate when they have met their primary goals. These movement's primary flaw has been sustainability, in that once their goals have been met, it has been difficult to keep followers engaged.
        There have also been problems with leadership, or the lack thereof. Movements remember what happened to activist leaders in the sixties. They don't want that happening again, but unfortunately for them, organized leadership is essential to the survival of any cause. Occupy Wall Street touted itself as a leaderless movement, and it has since dissipated into obscurity. Such a movement is all that regular people can use that will give them the power they need to resist unjust laws; whereas, getting violent makes them enemy combatants in the eyes of the government. That kind of movement, with leaders in place, and non-violent tactics at their fingertips, could have really done a lot of good because the government feared an organized non violent movement that they could not demonize.  Non-violence is the key, however. The rest of world already doubts this governments ability to conduct business fairly. A real non-violent movement, involving people from all other movements, could give them and us the endurance that we need to unseat a government that has been raping its people since its very foundation.

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