Some environmental activists argue the only way to stop the impending ecocide is to carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measure to halt carbon emissions by 2025, and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels.
In What Is To Be Done of 1902 Lenin opposed revolutionary spontaneity because it “strips away the disciplined nature of the Marxists idea of revolution, leaving it arbitrary and ineffective.” True to himself, Lenin then returned to opposition to spontaneous revolution after WWI during the German Revolution of 1918-19 when in a spontaneous uprising against the post-WWI system Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacist League failed in an attempt to overturn German capitalism.
If we, the people, wrote a constitution now, what would go in it? Equal rights for women, men, non-binary, and undefined? Caps on wealth tied to poverty levels? Rights of nature? Reparations for past crimes, wrongs, and thefts? Limits on military spending? A free and open Internet? Abolition of mass incarceration, or the entire prison system; replaced with restorative and community justice? Free healthcare for all? Living wages or universal basic income? Would we keep corporate personhood or the electoral college?
If you like being a peon, a serf, or a slave, by all means, continue on with business-as-usual. Your corporate overlords are delighted to exploit you. They’re thrilled at the prospect of profiting off your descendants for all eternity. But their hourglass is running out of sand. The planet’s ecosystems are collapsing. We will not last long as underlings. This is a paltry comfort as we slide toward mass extinction.
Greed is an addiction. Like lab rats choosing pain to get doses of opium, the greed that underlies our way of life is killing us – and make no mistake: our way of life must die. Pathological consumption is no more acceptable in human beings than in locusts. It will die or we will die. The question is only: will we go down with the sinking ship of our culture or will we evolve again, past the folly of homo sapiens’ dubious wisdom into a species willing to live in balance with our one and only planet?
What do we do when we finally understand that the elections really are stolen? Or rigged? Or thrust out of our reach by the manipulations of rich and powerful people? Corrupted by corporations? How long does it take before we call the bluff? Another disappointing election cycle? Two? Three? How much more gerrymandering, corporate buying of elections, voter disenfranchisement, and outright fraud can we stand? When will we take seriously the necessity of change?
“Suppose that some great disaster were to sweep ten million families out to sea and leave ‘em on a desert island to starve and rot. That would be … an act of God, maybe. But suppose a manner of government that humans have set up and directed, drives ten million families into the pit of poverty and starvation? That’s no act of God. That’s our fool selves actin’ like lunatics. What humans have set up they can take down…. Whoever says we’ve got to have a capitalist government when we want a workers’ government, is givin’ the lie to the great founders of these United States….”
You must believe that pockets of resistance exist. As America plunges into darkness, some people burn with resistance like fires in the night, aglow with respect for the civil liberties that define the modern ideal of freedom. The quiet murmur of their impassioned voices will call to you as they discuss nonviolent strategy and struggle, but you will not be asked to join them until you strike the matchstick of your heart, build a fire of your determination, ignite the blaze of your courage, and reach out to others.
“We are not fighting against men or a kind of politics but against the class which produces those politics and those men.” (from Dirty Hands, a political play by Jean Paul Sartre, first performed in Paris on April 2, 1948.)
Curse the war culture! It leaves us at a loss for words, bereft of metaphors to describe our situation. Our minds become blank slates, unable to recognize dangers at the door unless they carry assault weapons or drop bombs on our heads.
It is not enough to hurl your rage at tyranny … every bully knows how to dodge a hothead. Anger is the alcohol of emotions. We flush, courageous in its drunken heat, but our blows miss, we flail, and our opponent easily dispatches us.