Violent Revolution is Not the Solution by William John Cox

by William John Cox
Writer, Dandelion Salad
November 12, 2013

Nov 19 March & Re-Occupy Oakland 038

Image by Ryan Van Lenning via Flickr

Two hundred and fifty years ago the people of America were subject to an unrepresentative government controlled by powerful commercial interests. They rebelled and formed their own government, which has now come to be controlled by powerful commercial interests. Once again, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” What lessons can we learn from history to help us through this crisis?

Samuel Adams was the Father of the American Revolution, and it was his formation of Committees of Correspondence that allowed information to be quickly disseminated throughout the colonies. Using handwritten letters and printed pamphlets delivered by fast horses and ships, he was able to solidify the rebellion and sway Tories to the Patriot cause. The committees also enforced the boycott of British goods by publishing the names of local merchants who violated the ban.

The use of violence by the American people was their last resort after years of petitions and nonviolent protests failed to make a difference. The English Parliament did not represent the interests of the colonists, and their own elected legislatures could be dissolved at will by their king-appointed governors. Even so, the level of confidence in the English government by the colonists may have exceeded that of the American people today in our own Congress and other elected officials.

The secret “committees” of the colonial legislatures and “councils of safety” allowed the rebels to unify together in defeating the British Redcoats and their German mercenaries. Much like the inability of U.S. today, with the most powerful military in the world and its “coalitions of the willing,” to crush foreign insurgencies, the English army and navy were unable to stop the colonists’ drive for self governance.

With the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that created our present constitution and government, Congress may have replaced the local committees that once represented the people; however, the independent spirit of the American Revolution lives on in today’s Tea Party and Occupy movements in communities across the country.

Although the Tea Party is dominated by conservatives and libertarians and Occupy is supported by liberals and greens, the two movements have far more in common than they realize. Each movement is subject to propaganda that demonizes the other and prevents them from uniting their efforts. Both sides of the political divide will have to find common ground; however, if an effective campaign against the current unrepresentative government is to be organized.

The unifying battle cry for the colonists was “no taxation without representation.” American voters must come to a similar agreement about what is most important to us, if we are to successfully take control of our own government.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of groups and organizations on the left, right and middle of American politics, each promoting its own agenda, often to the exclusion of all others. While we are fighting among ourselves, the government caters to the interests of a narrow spectrum of wealthy individuals and large corporations to the disadvantage of ordinary voters, of every political persuasion. To become an unstoppable force all of us must push and pull in the same direction, at the same time.

It may be impossible to isolate a single issue all voters can agree upon; however, we should be able to identify the essential elements of good government most of us can demand from those we elect to represent us.  To start with, how about fair taxation, protection of freedoms and control of corporate power?

Tax us fairly! Ordinary workers, professionals and small business owners can readily see their personal incomes are substantially reduced by taxes. They can easily figure out that the wealthy and large corporations are able to escape paying their fair share of taxes by controlling elected officials and creating loopholes. What about a simple toll tax on all financial transactions, including stocks, bonds, futures and currency purchases, loans and monetary manipulations?  Workers and small businesses would see substantial reductions in their taxes, while corporations would have to pay for the services they use.

Protect our freedoms! By now, every American is surely aware their “government” is recording their phone calls, copying their emails, photographing their mail and conducting secret searches at will, all in the name of the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs. Our government must protect, rather than destroy our freedoms.

Rights for people! Every citizen knows that, while corporations pour billions of dollars into elections, buy the politicians we elect, and control our governments, corporations are not people. Corporations are not mentioned in our Constitution, and they cannot be allowed to share our rights.

A number of constitutional amendments have been proposed to remedy these issues; however, the process is virtually impossible. Nonetheless, there is much that can be accomplished, if we look beyond our differences and come to agreement on what we have in common.

Our rights, freedoms, and livelihoods are once again in grave danger, as we confront another “American Crisis.” This time, however, revolution is not the solution. Nothing worth having can be achieved at the point of a gun and the overwhelming firepower of our government will crush any uprising, along with any remaining freedoms. We have learned that violence begets violence, and our commonsense tells us to avoid its brutality. Instead, we must use our freedom and the tools on our digital workbench to nonviolently come together and take control of our government before it is too late.

If Samuel Adams were alive today, he would be all over the Internet and social media establishing nonpartisan Committees of Correspondence in every community. These committees could demand that every local political candidate, irrespective of party or office, affirms the essential elements of good government and pledges to support these elements, if elected.

Using the Internet, local committees could link together to form state and national Committees of Correspondence. These could compel affirmations and pledges of the essential elements of good government from all state and federal candidates, including those who want to be president of the United States.

Just as revolutionary committees shamed merchants who violated the boycott, modern committees can monitor elected officials to ensure they keep their pledges and immediately report noncompliance.

Two of my ancestors, Solomon and Samuel Cox, were disowned by their Quaker congregation in North Carolina for “militant activities” during the revolution. They, along with all other patriots who stood up and fought for our freedoms, left us a valuable inheritance. The time has come for us to defend our heritage, but let us do so in a way that sustains our legacy of freedom, while demonstrating to our progeny how we nonviolently defended our freedom and secured good government.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer who writes on political, policy and social matters. More at


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Ralph Nader: Where Do We Go From Here? Unite On Populist Policies

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21 thoughts on “Violent Revolution is Not the Solution by William John Cox

  1. Pingback: The Man From The North: How to Fight a Tyrant | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: David Steindl-Rast: Revolutionizing the Concept of Revolution | Dandelion Salad

  3. From:

    “What makes a Christian different from everyone else? What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction.”

    See previous posts on non-violence:

  4. The point is that championing the founding fathers and the revolutinary war, while at the same time, calling for peace in a time that may turn out to be far deadlier, doesnt make sense

    • As is said in Ecclesiastes KdelphiKD, “There is an appointed time for everything…. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.” This is not the time to throw stones, it is a time to embrace. ~wm

  5. It’s extremely difficult for me to group the Occupy Wall Street movement with the corporate-controlled Tea Party. It seems disingenuous to try and act as if there is a way to reconcile an attempt to create a society in which ALL people are given the basic necessities in life with a corporate-minded sickness in which greed, hatred, ignorance and intolerance are not only accepted – but encouraged. Some may say that I’m just increasing the separation between two ideologies, but when one of those ideologies is based on negative emotions and is obviously a dead end intended to be used by the corporate rulers to continue an oppressive system in which creative thinking is called treason – a line must be drawn. We can’t continue to be forced to choose between moderate corporate control and extreme corporate control. We must stop giving credence to corporate-sponsored forms of self-censorship and destruction of human rights. We must evolve, not devolve into a society of selfish automatons content with being consumers of unnecessary products and devoid of any spark of what being truly human is. Thank you for a thought-provoking article.

    • I think it is important to recognize that the Tea Party and Occupy are representative symbols of a far deeper and widespread distrust of government experienced by millions of voters of every political persuasion. As long as we concentrate our support of and/or anger toward the symbols, instead of recognizing how much we have in common with each other, we are denying ourselves the power to make effective change. ~wm

  6. seems odd anyone was shamed for “militant activities” during the Revolutionary War….why was the bourgeoise revolution of the founding fathers worth blood, the freeing of slaves worth blood, but my starving friends are not worth your blood?

    I am not advocating violence as a first option. But, when ppl are freezing and starving to death, dying for a lack of insulin, how is that NOT “violence”? (I enjoyed your article just the same)

    • Not only were the Quakers opposed to all wars, but many of them remained loyal to the crown. So my forebears, Samuel and Solomon were banned from the church for their “militant activities,” whatever they were.

    • K — Zinn lays out the folly of the REV WAR , the civil war , and WW2. all of them built on propaganda . the first one was a bunch of rich men not wanting to be taxed, while the founding farmers resisted peaceably .
      the civil war had nothing to do with slavery . almost all the farmers in the south did not own any slaves. it was Lincoln;and his thugs greedy land grab .
      WW2 — another lie . we never needed to get into that one . Howard Zinn explains how all of these wars were lies that most still believe in America.

  7. The Tea Party and Occupy are oppisite ends of the situation. Early on before the Tea Party became a wholely owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers and other corporations which poor money into that organization they may have had a chance to come together. But not now. The grassroots people are not in charge of the Tea Party any longer.

    • well, around here, the Tea Baggers screwed that up/ we tried to work with them, down at the city park, and, all they wanted to do was throw homeless ppl out and talk about $$….that makes them “all over” for me

    • What you say is true Kathy, and I have found that it is impossible to connect with the rank and file Tea Partiers since the organization is controlled by the administration, which is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. But, all of that is not to say that there are millions of disaffected people with conservative inclinations who share a disgust with their “government” with the Occupiers. Unless they join together, we will never defeat the powers in control. ~wm

      • william , you are batting good on this post .

        everyone needs to read a lot of Jesse Ventura ! he is the lightening rod for government discontent from all sides of the idealogical spectrum .

    • both you and kdelphi may want to reconsider what is called ”building broad based coalitions”. the left /right divide is more media bullshit . there is no left –right .

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