Off The Cuff: How Do You Start A Revolution?

Presenting The CaseI am thinking a lot about the concept of revolution, these days. At this point, most people in the United States can agree that something has gone terribly wrong. We may disagree about when it started to go that way (my personal contention being “with Teddy Roosevelt”), or how far away from our original promise we have come (I would contend “a long, long frickin’ way”), but we all know that something’s amiss. In spite of the assurances we keep getting that the economy is fine, in spite of the assurances that people are happy, in spite of the assurances that things are going to get better…we all know that none of this is the case. Our government is a trainwreck happening in interminable slow motion, and most of us feel powerless to stop it. The tool we were given to change the system was voting, and the powers that be have effectively neutralized that. So now what?

Well, the only other option is revolution.

When you say revolution, everyone leaps to the conclusion that we are talking violence. I deplore violence (well, I admit to a penchant for kung fu movies, but that’s different), and fortunately violent revolution is not the only option. But before you can even address the question of effective nonviolent revolution, you have to deal with a couple of other issues. Like what, exactly, do we need to change, and what the hell is it going to take to get people to move out of their depressive apathy and actually try to change it? Today’s random thought is about what needs to change.

Personally, I think that if you are going to bother with government at all, a real democracy is an acceptable way to go with it. It’s not great, it’s not perfect, but it will do (I am totally open to suggestions, here, if anyone has a better plan). So my reckoning is that we aim for that. The Constitution really was a pretty decent document, and while parts of it could use some serious modernization, it’s an all right base platform. So what are the big things that need to change to get us some place close to there? The big things that have to go are those that stand in between the representatives and the people (and yeah, a representative democracy is still a democracy, and trying to come up with ways for a country as big as the U.S. to be a direct democracy makes my head hurt). So we have to get rid of lobbyists, corporations as people, a hackable voting system, a corrupted and biased media, and closed-door meetings where we the people aren’t supposed to need to know what is going on. I might make an exception to that last one for military planning sessions if they were recorded and given over to the public domain in their entirety as soon as relevant military actions were over, with a definitive date at which they must be released no matter what (and I am banking, here, on the idea that given transparency and accuracy in reporting, we probably are not going to have so many damned military actions). Everything else though, if they can’t tell us what they’re doing, they need to not be doing it.

So far we have the blogosphere and citizen journalism starting to make a small dent in the corrupted media. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Using that, I think we have a good launching ground for changing the rest. We can use the growing online community to expose and report on the influence of lobbyists and corporations on government, to report on and fight back against the ruined electoral system, and to share what information we can find on what our government is doing where we cannot see. It’s not gotten far, yet, but really we’re just beginning to realize how much power we can take back in this arena. The first step is gaining and sharing information, and getting more people to realize that most of the power has slipped out of their hands. That’s where it has to begin, and that is the first battle to be won. In a sense, then, the revolution has already begun.

So, think on that. I’m gonna think on that, and be back with part two tomorrow.