“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” – George Orwell (1984)
“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” – Victor Hugo
For years before Russell Brand last month thrust the idea into the English-speaking mainstream, certainly since the 2008 global financial collapse, the desire for revolution has been simmering throughout the world in nations rich and poor. The rise of the amoral force known as neoliberalism has brought unprecedented levels of inequality, creating mass poverty and boundless human misery. It has made practically obsolete the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the fundamental document on which modern bills of rights are based – and has in turn led to a global corporate coup d’etat through various mechanisms of control, soon to be crowned by the TPP and TAFTA ‘partnership agreements’. The representative democracies we live and vote in are demonstrable shams, facades for de facto corporate dominium over the planet and all its denizens.
Literally hundreds of movements and protests have sprung up, many aiming for radical societal change and/or change of government. A full list (clickable) can be viewed here, but it is doubtful casual news consumers will have heard of many of them.
And there is a very good reason for that.
A quick glance at the Arab Spring tells us that even movements which are ostensibly a success at first ultimately bring about no improvement, make things worse even. In Egypt the Tahrir Square protests led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and ultimately brought about the election of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. After gaining office, Morsi granted himself unlimited power on the pretext of protecting Egypt from remaining Mubarak power structures, later issuing an Islamic-backed draft constitution and calling a referendum. This, along with anti-democratic actions such as arrests and prosecutions of journalists, brought the masses back onto the streets in their hundreds of thousands. Morsi was removed in a coup d’etat led by General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who then suspended the constitution and ordered a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Huge protests continue despite the use of live ammunition by brutal security personnel.
Like anyone else, ordinary Egyptians just want their vital infrastructure to function so that they can live and work in peace; just want security, justice and freedom. And they are perfectly well aware that they are denied this in no small part because of the direct interference of the United States in its society, as Glenn Greenwald (in his Salon days) writes in December 2011 (my emphasis in bold):
Over the past several weeks, the Egyptian government has used brutal and indiscriminate violence against citizen protesters. On November 21, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Military police used rubber bullets, truncheons and tear gas in a failed attempt to expel protesters from” Tahrir Square and that “at least eight people were killed . . . and 192 people were injured.” The same day, The New York Times reported that “the Health Ministry said at least 23 people had died, and several doctors treating patients at a field clinic and nearby hospital said several had been killed by live ammunition, contrary to denials by the Interior Ministry.” That day, White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a bizarrely neutral statement which called for “restraint on all sides” — a statement that triggered predictable and justifiable anger among Egyptians:
The US attempt to reposition itself as a supporter of democracy and human rights in the Middle East is being undermined by a growing Egyptian perception that Washington will back Egypt’s military junta unreservedly despite its increasing repressiveness.
That perception was reinforced yesterday, when a White House statement on the clashes between protesters and security forces appeared to place the blame equally on both sides for violence that has killed at least 29 protesters since Saturday…
That call for restraint on “all sides,” in the face of days of excessive use of force by police and soldiers, was met with incredulity in Cairo. Security forces have shot not only tear gas and rubber bullets, but bird shot and live ammunition at protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. “Should we stop dying? Is that how we should show restraint?” scoffed protester Salma Ahmed as heavy gunfire echoed through Tahrir Square.
In recent months, Egypt’s military rulers have become increasingly repressive – torturing with impunity, jailing bloggers, sending more than 12,000 civilians to military tribunals, and using excessive force against protesters, killing dozens. Yet as the abuses have stacked up, the US has mostly refrained from public criticism of Egypt’s military, whose $1.3 billion in US aid could come under review if critics in Congress prevail. Washington’s relative silence has created the appearance that the US has returned to its Mubarak-era policy of turning a blind eye to its ally’s abuses to preserve the relationship.
Unsurprisingly in light of these facts, the actual Egyptian people don’t share CAP’s view that President Obama deserves credit for supporting their transition to democracy, as multiple polls over the last 18 months show that the U.S. is viewed even more unfavorably in that country than it was during the Bush years. That’s particularly disappointing given that Obama’s April, 2009 speech in Cairo was one of the more impressive things he’s done: standing in the middle of the Muslim world, in front of President Mubarak, and eloquently arguing for the imperatives of democratic reform. But Egyptians obviously have come to realize, as many Americans have as well, that President’s Obama’s pretty, pretty speeches are often not backed up — or are even aggressively negated — by his subsequent actions.
All of this is likely to get worse as a result of yesterday’s disclosures by Amnesty International that, even as the Egyptian military brutally attacked protesters, the U.S. continued to arm them with crowd-control weaponry:
Data obtained by Amnesty International shows that the US has repeatedly transferred ammunition to Egypt despite security forces’ violent crackdown on protesters.
A shipment for the Egyptian Ministry of Interior arrived from the US on 26 November carrying at least seven tons of “ammunition smoke” – which includes chemical irritants and riot control agents such as tear gas.
It was one of at least three arms deliveries to Egypt by the US company Combined Systems, Inc. since the brutal crackdown on the “25 January Revolution” protesters.
This is the kind of opposition that groups dedicated to real change have to deal with: overwhelmingly powerful external forces concerned only with their own interests that always coincide precisely with the strategic demands of empire or economic control. It is self-evident that such interests are anathema to democratic values.
Egypt, as a principal Arab nation, is a special case; control over its military and populace is essential to US and Israeli interests. However, there are other forms of opposition any movement for change must confront:
1. Media Smears:
As any Occupy Wall Street activist will tell you, the corporate-owned media will launch into attack mode if any movement seriously threatens the establishment. Protesters will be smeared as lazy ‘hippies’ who should ‘get a job’ instead of ‘causing trouble’ for honest folk. That many of these activists spent months freezing outside in an effort to change life for the better for ordinary citizens is ignored, and even if it is raised, the claim is ridiculed, with protesters denounced as ‘naive’ or ‘idealistic’.
The (eventually successful) Quebec student protests last year also suffered media smears. It is very easy for safe establishment stenographers to play on human nature; namely the deep irritation people unconnected to protests will feel when roads or walkways are blocked, or if public transport is delayed or cancelled. The general ignorance and apathy throughout the population fostered by decades of rote-based education policies, lack of direct engagement with the democratic process, and mass media distraction is exploited to full effect to shift the focus of the story from the legitimate demands of the protesters to personal attacks upon them and their perceived motives. [Aside: This fine article cut through the smears handily.]
2. Police Militarization and Brutality:
These two articles about police militarization in the US and the UK are eye-opening. Read also about the experience of Patrick Meighan, a writer on the Family Guy show, after he was arrested at an Occupy LA protest.
From his account:
As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.
When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.
It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.
My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.
I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel (and sit–SEE UPDATE) on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.
[Note: Please read all of his account from the link above.]
And Naomi Wolf here details how even the FBI was involved in coordinating the crackdown on Occupy, a group exercising their legal, democratic right to protest. The comments below the article are also worth reading, with astroturfers clearly working in concert with readers brainwashed by media smears of the Occupy movement.
If peaceful protesters are smeared and brutalized in this organized and terrifying manner, just imagine what will happen if violent protests occur. Hundreds of innocent people will be killed or injured, and the violence will provide the authoritarians in power with the perfect excuse for ever more draconian powers over privacy and freedom, all cheered on by establishment stooges throughout the media and a sizable portion of the population, deceived via blanket media coverage of violent scenes involving protesters into believing such measures are in their interest: namely, for their protection.
John Lennon: “They got all the weapons. They got all the money. And they know how to fight violence because they’ve been doing it for a thousand years. And the only thing they don’t know about is nonviolence and humor.”
Wisdom that must be heeded.
Effective change can therefore only come about through an assault on all fronts, but without resort to violence, and this is already occurring. Corporate media control of global news is being challenged by transparency organizations like WikiLeaks and social media, with independent media groups and (often unpaid) analysts, bloggers and commentators providing vital perspectives that are habitually omitted from the mainstream narrative. Movements around the world are raising awareness of the crimes of the giant corporations and their pet state governments. Hidden history is being revealed to an ignorant generation.
Revolutions in the traditional mold are doomed to fail because even a completely new group of people in power will always be constrained by external entities of control like powerful nation states, the IMF and the World Bank. If a nation is in debt, the new rulers will remain subordinate to the global financial system at the expense of the welfare of their own citizens. The rule book must be ripped up, and all subordination to external powers, all corporate monopolies, debt-based currencies and traditional authority structures (like the aristocracy) must be dismantled for any chance of a truly democratic system to come into being.
Further, the spreading of awareness among ordinary people is now increasingly vital: the fanatical football supporters and celebrity followers so brainwashed and distracted that one can only think of them as fast asleep in those pods in the Matrix.
Linear descriptions of the threat facing humanity sometimes lack the power to impress, so it may help to depict it in analogous terms. [Readers who dislike extended analogies, please look away now!] Picture a monstrous earth-sized mosquito, its legs clamped securely upon our planet. Instead of one bloodsucking proboscis, however, it is constantly evolving new ones, with each deeply embedded into the vital resources of the planet: the fuels, the metals and – increasingly – information. New probosces (sorry!) are now beginning to feed on the water and the air, even on the infrastructures built to nurture and protect us like health and education systems. Even human genius and creativity are being sucked dry, all co-opted for use in the sustenance of this single, all-encompassing entity.
This giant parasite is invisible to 99.999% of the planet, and the few who are aware of it, warning desperately of it, are denounced as insane or conspiracy theorists. Calling these people ‘sheeple’ is unlikely to open their minds or gain their sympathy, and so patience is always required to light the spark…
…which may be all that is required. When people first get a glimpse of reality, the result is often startling and, indeed, heartening. Facebook and Twitter now buzz with ordinary people who have realized the truth – who are furious – often working tirelessly as activists, spreading article after damning article to bemused family members and friends, detailing the endless criminal abuses committed behind our backs.
People often talk about the Nazis or Stalin or Mao as the worst mass murderers: their victims can be counted in the millions or tens of millions. The victims of empire and predatory capitalism number literally in the billions: these are the two greatest evils, made even deadlier as they flourish within illusory systems of democracy, in which people are relentlessly taught that they are free.
Enlightenment of the masses. Only then can the true revolution begin.
[Author’s note: Please read and support this suggested method of societal change.]
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