Keeping Democracy Down

Keeping Democracy Down

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May 12, 2012

It takes a lot of effort and money to prevent discussion, deny obligations, and derail reconciliation in our country, and maybe that’s why major media had to consolidate so drastically between Bush 1 and Bush 2. I mean, even with the willing help of pseudo public ombudsmen like 60 Minutes, PBS, and NPR, it isn’t easy to fool all the people all the time when evidence to the contrary lays scattered about the landscape like rancid buffalo carcasses during the wicked wasting of the Great Plains.

Which is probably why the anti-democratic movement in America has had to rely on segmenting it’s war across a broad front of issues in order to prevent the electorate from comprehending they’re all part and parcel of the same tyrannical package. While actively colluding to exclude us from the decision-making process on all public issues, they simultaneously promote the idea that we can be against one or two aspects of corporate tyranny — i.e. war of aggression or nuclear power — but the social system that enables these abominations is not up for discussion. Yet that is precisely what we need to talk about.

Subverting solidarity, undermining unity, hamstringing hope–this is what an overwhelming absence of independent media has done to our struggle for equality and opportunity in the US. As a ploy, though, parrying public participation has rendered diminishing ethical returns; as a point of vulnerability, we must be relentless in our attack.

In the long run, though, we will need to think about conversion of some of our opponents in positions of power; in the short term, that means neutralizing their spear carriers in law enforcement and the military. We saw hints at that in the national political party conventions of 2008, where militarized police stopped assaulting youthful war protestors for a moment, while Iraq Veterans Against the War marched past in close order drill in their uniforms while chanting anti-war messages and holding a pro-peace banner. It’s the same type of discomfort Christian clerics in uniform caused when they led marches against American apartheid in Alabama fifty years ago.

In Guatemala, not too long ago, Mayan villagers disarmed an army post in their village by surrounding the compound and singing songs in their native tongue about love for the land and each other; in Portugal in 1974, thousands marched in their Sunday best in silent opposition to the dictatorship, and when soldiers arrived to slaughter the resistance, they found families, children and grandmothers offering the soldiers red carnations which the soldiers began putting in the ends of their gun barrels.

I’m not saying that singing or offering flowers to American police and military would have the same effect, but we do need to think about alternatives to present tactics that make dissent more respectable, less frightening and more effective. Using our imagination and exercising a little self-restraint might help to get us out of the box where our actions are predictable and everyone plays their habitual role to freedom’s detriment.

If we want to convert others to a peaceful agenda, we first have to recruit them by appealing to their sense of decency, fairness and decorum. Only then can we begin to have discussions about the future of humankind.

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