Saturday, April 23, 2011

Waiting for the Spark

Waiting for the Spark

by Ralph Nader

What could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism? Imagine the arrogance of passing on to already cheated working people and the jobless enormous corporate losses? This is achieved through government bailouts and tax escapes.

History teaches us that the spark usually is smaller than expected and of a nature that is wholly unpredictable or even unimaginable. But if the dry tinder is all around, as many deprivations and polls reveal, the spark, no matter how small, can turn into a raging inferno.

The Boston Tea Party lit up the American Revolution. Storming the hated Bastille (prison) by impoverished Parisians launched the French Revolution. More recently, in December 1997, an Israeli military vehicle rammed a civilian van in the West Bank killing seven occupants and igniting the first Intifada.

FB Action Sparks Protest of MI Corporate Tax Cuts, Emergency Management Powers

Last December, a young fruit vendor, abused by thieving police in a small Tunisian town, immolated himself in the local square. Seen by millions on Facebook, this self-sacrifice launched the Tunisian and Egyptian overthrow of their long-time dictators. Later, in Syria, after police arrested 13 youngsters in a southern border town for anti-government graffiti the place erupted in riots and rallies that are spreading to other cities.

A few weeks ago, many progressives and quite a few pundits believed that the recurrent, ever larger February-March rallies in Madison, Wisconsin by workers, students and others against the Governors’ and the Legislature’s attack on public employee unions and social services, following earlier blatant corporate welfare enactments, would be the long-awaited spark.

The Madison eruption spread briefly to Ohio and Indiana where Republican officials were moving in the same direction, punishing workers and families while leaving the corporate and wealthy to count their mounting privileges. There, the crowds were neither as large nor as frequent. In all these states, the Republicans got most of what they wanted, albeit with a possible, future political price to be paid. The rallies have subsided, not even culminating—as some organizers hoped—in a gigantic march on Washington, D.C.

Granted, rallying a long repressed people into losing their fear and demanding, as in Cairo’s huge Tahrir Square “out with the dictator”, is a simple, anthromorphic goal. In our country, the rallies are hardly as clearcut, though use of the citizen right of recall for Republican legislators, and later Governor Walker himself, may produce an interesting accountability election. But sparks are difficult to sustain.

In authoritarian regimes, there are few options for dissent or airing one’s grievances. So when the spark does occur, the climate is fertile for an explosion of outrages.

In the United States, there are largely myths such as “anyone can sue,” or “anyone can run,” or “anyone can directly tell off the President or the Mayor,” or “anyone can blow the whistle.” These combine with a few celebrated successes by rebels or an ordinary David taking on a Goliath for a win here and there, from a corporate-government ruling class that bends a little so that it doesn’t break.

Meanwhile, the inequality, gouging, political exclusions and overall gaps between the top one percent and the rest tighten the grip of the oligarchy and its draining, violent militarized empire.

Loss of control over almost everything that matters, including their children to daily direct corporate marketing of junk food and violent programming, is rampant. Over seventy percent of those polled told Business Week that they believed corporations had “too much control over their lives”—and that was in 2000 before conditions and controls—viz, the Wall Street collapse, severe recession and taxpayer bailouts—worsened.

The American people don’t see much they can do to counter the pressures of greed and power that tracks them daily from debt to debt, from lower standards of living to outright penury, from denial of critical healthcare to the iron collar of the cruel credit score, from inscrutable, computerized bills to fine-print contracts trapping their sense of unfairness into waves of frustrations, from being put on hold by the companies until they’re told no, no, no or penalty, penalty, penalty!

How do we break the cycle of despair, exclusion, powerlessness, and endless betrayal by those given the authority to bring down the exploiters and oppressors to lawful accountability?

The Empire rips up the Constitution and takes the reserve army of the young unemployed to kill and die in aggressive wars of the White House’s choice, with Congress watching from the sidelines; its only role to funnel trillions of tax dollars into the insatiable war machine’s unauditable budgets. President Eisenhower wanted us to control the “military-industrial complex”. Instead it grew much more out of control. Eisenhower’s grave warning as expressed in his farewell address in 1961 was prescient.

The spark can come from a recurrent sequence of abuses that strike a special chord of deeply felt injustice. Or it could be a unique episode or bullying that tolls the feeling “enough already” throughout the land. Such sparks cannot be manufactured; the power to arouse and break people’s routines is spontaneous.

When that moment comes, millions of Americans whose self-respect and keen sense of wrong will remind them precisely why our Constitution begins with “We the People” and not “We the Corporations”. They will realize the necessity for a Jeffersonian revolution.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

240 Comments so far

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Posted by Stiv

Apr 19 2011 - 9:57am

Yes, well, waiting for the spark has become like "Waiting for Godot." The MSM will ignore a revolution until we storm their buildings, many of us killed in the process no doubt, and take over their infrastructure... I'd say we're still a few years away from that scenario. But hey, earthquakes happen.

Posted by SEAGLASS

Apr 19 2011 - 12:38pm

Take over what? I got news for you pal even if we took over the buildings we would be taking over nothing. Power is no longer in those buildings. Power is in us. If we refuse to do the elites bidding as in shutting down the economy then we will beable to lever things. The elite need us to feed and cloth and shelter them. We need to stop the transport systems and computer systems and it will all ground to a halt. We can do this by studying how and where the choke pts. are. Look at how 20 men with box cutters brought down the economy and rapidly degraded America into an Imperial police state and you'll understand the vast power "WE" actually have. The problem is the elite has effectively defused the threat by isolating each of us in our own minds. Until "WE" feel like a "WE" again nothing effective can be done.

Posted by bluepilgrim

Apr 19 2011 - 12:47pm

Yes -- good quality thinking.

Posted by raydelcamino

Apr 19 2011 - 1:07pm

If the research cited in Laura Flanders' article posted on CD today is credible, most Americans don't believe that ever widening income disparity exists in the US.

Until we find a cure for the epidemic of denial that afflicts Americans, income disparity and related social problems will continue to worsen.

Posted by doubledee

Apr 19 2011 - 5:58pm

The cure you seek is in the inevitability of avaricious capitalism continueing to wreak havoc upon the people of this nation and the world. The people of Egypt , Tunisia, Syria, Libya all endured great hardships for decades upon decades before rising up, and it will be the same here.

I do not applaud the fact that more and greater hardships must be endured before we see demonstrations grow into a powerful and nationwide movement but I do strongly believe in its inevitability. Just the posts of the one who leads off this thread, decrying any attempt at change, pouring cold water upon any suggestion of working for change shows plainly that we are either infiltrated by trolls or we are too fat, lazy and sated on cheap plastic toys to care much about our own responsibilities as citizens of this nation and this world.

A wise man once noted that "Power concedes nothing without demand" thus we will continue to sink as a democratic nation, and, as we become third world we shall overcome as some third world nations are now doing.

Posted by Jim Glover

Apr 21 2011 - 12:17pm

Yes ray, I believe that is the spark that Ralph is talking about.... when enough people can't afford to deny that they have nothing to lose.
The spark only works when the tipping point of enough mass is reached.

Are we poor enough for peace yet? That is the question behind the spark and we are headed in that direction as the gravity of the multi national corporations and private banking cartels crush We the People below. The time when the tipping point is reached will see many sparks a-flyin and the people will try as best we can to get on top so it is our gravity that pressures the ruling elite to rightly equalize and balance the forces in conflict.... when the people are on top for a change.

The countries with real National Banks have this advantage for the future and when the US goes into default and the big squeeze is no longer deniable, the Fed could be nationalized so that interest to the richest is no longer the bottom line of the money supply.

I don't think the Republicans would want to give Obama all the new emergency powers that would be his in a default on the national debt so they are bluffing on that question.

Don't ask me when because that is the big question that nobody knows... but I bet Trump/Sheen could start a fire.

Posted by moonpie

Apr 19 2011 - 1:28pm

Good points, I agree with many of them. But never underestimate the power of image. Taking and holding strategic images of power while expelling those in them cannot be ignored. Dittos to cutting the press's access to the public. This is war. In war you take their shit, and just as importantly, disrupt their system (as you suggest). Choking every artery to cut the flow of life. In addition, there's also something to be said for people seeing people in action. It makes it a little easier to join when you see the face of your neighbor. Its a vital part of the chemistry.

Btw: The revolution does not need the MSM Press now.

Posted by SteppingRazor

Apr 19 2011 - 1:51pm

You Got It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The choke points are in energy and communication.

Fuels travel in pipelines and for the last leg in tankers.

Communications are in fiber for the log haul and cell towers for the short haul.
Microwave although losing its' dominance is still out there.

One may note sometimes in the news about a fiber being cut by a backhoe and all communication is lost for several states for many hours. Think about it.

Also note what happens when a pipeline gets cut. Are you thinking??

Check out the movie "Fight Club". Most proles(LOL!) concentrate on the fights and the insanity but notice the ending. Yep, take out the databases and start over at year 1. Databases are hard targets but lines of communication and supply lines have always been vunerable. It is war as Warren Buffet has said and our side is losing right now. I think it is because we didn't notice the Pearl Harbor Event of Reagan firing the Air Traffic Controllers way back in 1981.

Do you think it is about time everyone woke up?

Posted by Morticia

Apr 19 2011 - 2:48pm

Stepping, back up data bases of banks and major corps are in underground silos in remote states.

Posted by Dennab

Apr 19 2011 - 2:51pm

Many many years ago the definition of winning a nuclear war was defined to be: that country, in the aftermath, would be the victor if its banking infrastructure remained intact. Nothing has changed.

Posted by bogi666

Apr 20 2011 - 6:24am

The USG policies being followed today were establish by Reagan who had Alzheimer's and the American public wonders why the policies of someone with Alzheimer's has created a dysfunctional society of legalized criminal behavior by the USG in conjunction with the corporations. Case in point, Reagan's Star Wars initiative now almost 30 years old without a success, even though $billions are spent to ensure that it passes its tests and no reliable test has even been passed.Then their is the Pentagon protection racket scheme of; fund US, the Pentagon, for protection or else...! Or else what, 9/11!

Posted by racetoinfinity

Apr 19 2011 - 8:35pm

Great points, and notice that the healthy, made-up of unique individuals, pluralistic, (not the feared-by-them conformist not-thinking-for-themselves "we" of medieval and neo-medieval autocracy) is anathema to the pathologically hyper-individualist Randian Repubs and libertarians, leading the attempted coup back to 1890. The plutocratic elite take cover in this ideology (Ayn Randian objectivism), although it has proved bankrupt economically (only one area it's false, incomplete in, of course) - look at Greenspan's idiotically fantastic "free market of rational self-interest. - he doesn't think it worked out so well, himself; he has a headache from a non-Euclidian fly buzzing around his head.

Posted by lcotler@willits...

Apr 19 2011 - 9:53pm

Mario Savio's speech before the FSM sit-in

Editorial note: This is the conclusion of Mario Savio's memorable speech, before Free Speech Movement demonstrators entered Sproul Hall to begin their sit-in on December 3, 1964. His climactic words about "the operation of the machine" have been quoted widely ever since, out of context, as the existential emblem of the FSM. (Or mis-quoted, since he said "passively" rather than "tacitly.") The beginning of Savio's talk -- about the technical details of the failed negotiations and the administration's reprisal --has never been transcribed. We hope to make it available soon, for it provides a fuller view of the balance of thought and feeling in his speech, and in the FSM.

We have an autocracy which runs this university. It's managed. We asked the following: if President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone conversation, why didn't he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received -- from a well-meaning liberal -- was the following: He said, "Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors?" That's the answer! Now, I ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I'll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees, and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw material[s] that don't mean to have any process upon us, don't mean to be made into any product, don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!

[Wild applause.]

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

[Prolonged applause.]

Now, no more talking. We're going to march in singing "We Shall Overcome." Slowly; there are a lot of us. Up here to the left -- I didn't mean the pun.

Posted by doubledee

Apr 20 2011 - 5:56am

Always gladdened to be reminded of the eloquence of my good friend and High School valedictorian, "Bob" Savio, who was tragically taken from us far too soon. I would share that this leader of a Free Speech movement was, as a young man, afflicted with a terrible stutter. Sitting through his valedictory address was extremely painful, frankly. After an absence of several years I renewed our friendship in a chance meeting in Selma,Alabama to find no trace of his former affliction.

Just an anecdotal and,hopefully, informative post.

Posted by bogi666

Apr 20 2011 - 6:13am

The staggering scope of the defeat of the USG by some 19/20 men with box cutters is incomprehensible to the American mind. 9/11 was a One Day War, and declared so by OBL. Actually, the 19 provides an example of what can be accomplished by a small, unarmed for all intents and purposes, group of people. The fact that the 19 provide such an obvious example to follow cannot be fathomed by the Americans, whom have been instilled with mindlessness, ignorance and made stupid by the MSM. The fact that the Bush criminal gang admitted that the USG was defeated by 19 men and that Americans aren't outraged by the incompetence, at best, criminal most likely, of the Bush criminal gang and connect about how to bring down the criminal USG using the example of the "19" who should be lauded and the Bush gang held responsible for losing the War of 9/11. Instead Americans are bamboozled, the USA, United State of Amnesia.

Posted by Memory_Hole

Apr 20 2011 - 11:34am

I must disagree with you, SEAGLASS. Power very definitely exists in the buildings of NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox et al. And until and unless We the People take over and own and operate at least one channel for our own purposes, all talk of revolution is nonsense. The corporate 'lame-stream' media is the most duplicitious, cunning, effective propaganda system ever devised, and are the very matrix of our collective powerlessness. "We" will not feel like a "We" so long as the corporate media continue to exist as the predominant source of 'news' for 99% of the We the People. We would already long since have had a revolution were it not for the corrupt corporate media continually propagandizing people with lies.

The elite don't need us to clothe them. Hell, most clothes are made in China anyway! Maybe they need the Chinese, they surely don't need the US people to clothe them...

Posted by bgcd

Apr 20 2011 - 3:11pm

Yes. As long as a few big corporations (and their billionaire owners and millionaire operators) control the media universe they will control the public. And yes, the work can be done by foreigners abroad or brought here. For instance The US Navy shipyard in San Diego is now planning to use Chinese sheet metal workers instead of US union sheet metal workers.

Posted by halgol60

Apr 21 2011 - 6:21am

Seaglass: You say that until "we" feel like "we" again, we aren't going anywhere. But that seems to be a big problem in itself. What I mean specifically is that I am not sure the American public has even an abstract concept of "we" to begin with. I am serious about this.

The typical reaction of Americans to any sort of threat is not the group organizing effort required to achieve "we" as you put it. Instead they seem to think that the threat is reason to look out for themselves. Now that's just an expression, but language and reality often intersect, and I think this is one of those times it does. People really do tend to "look out for themselves," that is, move closer to devising means of protecting "me" (and perhaps their closest loved ones), rather than ways of looking out for "we."

I doubt that mere changes to the language used in Leftist rhetorical discourse will do much to dislodge this undesirable reaction and replace it with a group ("we") reaction, but it may be desirable and helpful in and of itself. Most importantly, we need to use our best science and sociology to determine how to trigger a natural tendency to seek safety and protection in numbers: Community.

And that will be difficult for those of us brought up on the suburban economic system, where everyone fends for themselves, competes with the Joneses, and eliminates the need for neighbors (other than kids for your own kids to play with). My guess is that the first step toward triggering the "we" reaction you appropriately suggest is to re-establish the concept of genuine community.

Posted by wantrealdemocracy

Apr 21 2011 - 3:59pm

What twenty men with box cutters brought down our economy? Our economy was brought down by greedy dishonest banking executives and the lack of any regulation on the behavior of these greedy bastards---who all belong in jail, but with the help of our corrupt government they get big bonuses for their good work. Kind of like the big bonuses for such a good safety record went to the BP executives after the oil drilling platform exploded with the destruction of sea life and the sickening of the people of the region.

If your comment about the twenty men with box cutters means you still believe the official story of 9/11; where you been for the last five years? The official story is not true. The planes did not bring down the two towers nor did fire bring down building 7.

The films show what seems to be a controlled demolition. We need an independent investigation of what happened that day. The official story is in conflict with science and physics.

I hope your statement on the power really being in the hands of the people is true. To regain this power we must get out on the street and demand change. Change is not putting one or the other of the two corporate political parties in office. Both of these political parties have the same agenda---enrich the already wealthy people and austerity for the working people. We need to break the two party strangle hold on our goverment to allow us to have power over our government. Only then can we claim to be a democracy.

Posted by jujubaby

Apr 19 2011 - 6:03pm

we have to light the flame, we the people have to be the spark. I have been posting here and other places: 10,000 then 20,000 then 30,000 then 50,000 then 100,000 protesters in Wisconsin for 22 days 24/7. We are all Wisconsinites and we need a multi million march on Wall Street, ABC,CBS, NBC, K Street and DC. We need to get in their faces and not let MSM ignore us get in their faces by being in front of their buildings, in your face Wall Street, K Street, DC. We the people have had enough, enough is never enough for them, but we have had enough of them. We need all the liberal/progressives radio/tv/cables/blogs/magzines/et al to organzie and promote as one for we the people to come to east coast in July with a million or more strong from all over this once great nation and maybe from the world because these sycophants crashed the world. Let's invite the people of the world to tell these so called masters of the universe (they think so) we've had enough. Each one of you can call, email your favorite talk hosts. Power to the people.

Posted by Paranoid Pessimist

Apr 19 2011 - 9:57am

If there is a spark that comes in time, economic distress may be what sets it off. The economy is going down because gas prices are going up. News reports are saying that prices are going to "level off," but that may not happen because the middle east oil countries may not "stabilize" anytime soon, if at all. Fuel costs aren't the only thing dragging the economy down, but they're a major part of the decline, and all the solutions involve projects that cannot be implemented quickly. There's no substitute for gas and diesel than can temporarily tide us over till we can get everyone into fuel efficient vehicles that run on sun, wind, or whatever. I still wouldn't want to give odds on the whole shebang lasting until Mayan Calendar Doomsday 12/21/12.

Posted by JohnShade

Apr 19 2011 - 11:24am

The really nice thing about Mayan doomsday is that you will have most of your Christmas shopping done by then.

Posted by Curtis

Apr 19 2011 - 10:01am

Eventually we will come to understand how the people of Egypt feel. It will take a while but maybe not more than a few years if you believe what money advisors such as are found at Keep an eye out for black swans.

Posted by nosurrender

Apr 19 2011 - 3:46pm

Right now, income inequality is greater in the U.S. than it is in Egypt.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 10:02am

When that spark comes, just remember who has all the guns in this country. Except for a few raving Vermonters, it's the militias, the police, the armed forces, and the NRA types. Few of them are on our side, and most would be only too happy to "save" the country by wading through rivers of Jewish, gay, Latino, feminist, and left-of-fascist blood.

Posted by Paranoid Pessimist

Apr 19 2011 - 10:16am

True. I don't think angry insurrectionist tactics that gave the establishment an excuse to crack down have any chance of doing anything other than provoking the crackdown. They not only have the guns, they have a whole infrastructure and state-of-the-art spying and "surreptitious action" setup that could be brought into play against anything they could characterize as violent.

It's a cultural and propaganda war that must be waged. Some believe that more and more people in the country are gradually beginning to "get it" and that slowing the tide of right wing progression is starting to be possible. I would like to believe that, difficult as it is. Recent accounts have the Tea Party dwindling (Rachel Maddow's show last night, for all you who never watch TV, presented this convincingly).

It will be difficult but probably not impossible to blast through the mainstream media's bias (particularly the "beltway" gang) and reach the hearts and minds of mainstream U.S. citizens who are scared and befuddled.

Posted by raydelcamino

Apr 19 2011 - 1:10pm

"Scared, befuddled", and BRAINWASHED !

Posted by Lucitanian

Apr 19 2011 - 4:40pm

You tellingly wrote:
"They not only have the guns, they have a whole infrastructure and state-of-the-art spying and "surreptitious action" setup that could be brought into play against anything they could characterize as violent.

It's a cultural and propaganda war that must be waged."

What makes you think for one moment that "They" have not read The Art of War by Sun Tzu "And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him." and also "All warfare is based on deception."

If you want a cultural and propaganda war, by deception they will give you a war of terrorism and attrition, real or of their own design so that they can play to their strengths while dividing you their "enemy" and then they will "Build (their) your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across." and like all the brave sheep you are now you will find yourself right back in the paddock ready and waiting to give your money and blood to pay their debts yet again for them.

What you should bear in mind is that the "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." and to win is you must be "Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy's fate."

Posted by peacemaker

Apr 19 2011 - 5:05pm

Paranoid Pessimist is right. The revolution must be completely non-violent.

Mr. Nader has previously stated, and now implies, that abolition of Corporate Personhood is needed. But that elegant solution ain't gonna happen in today's world, and we need a revolution.

Boycotts and flash actions are each effective ways to get the ball rolling, to spread the word. They are immune from msm and can be anonymous. Beware facebook and social media - use them cautiously, as they can be used against us.

Boycott BofA, Citi, GE, BP, Exxon, . . . . Boycott Corporations that advertise on Fox, Rush Limbaugh, etc.

Flash actions preferably are fun. Make it fun. For example, just show up somewhere and play John Lennon songs, either with a PA or not. Bring signs, hugs & kisses, good singers, and the spirit of Abbie Hoffman. Respond to hate speach with love.

Lucitanian is right - anonymous and subtle actions are best.

Posted by bystander

Apr 19 2011 - 12:14pm

Just look at what happened after Katrina.
The crazies had open season on the poor.
Too bad NATO wasn't around to prevent the massacre of civilians and faciltate a regime change from W.
a heckava job.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 12:42pm

NATO exists only to help us do our dirty work, and to buy our armaments. I'm not sure having NATO in Nawlins would've been better than having the NOPD running rampant there.

Posted by bogi666

Apr 20 2011 - 6:36am

NATO is being used to install extra-governmental administrations around the world to facilitate the One World[bankers]System, New World Order, the Beast of Revelations. This will do away with those messy elections which so inconvenience the masters of Globalization, the Beast.

Posted by Dennab

Apr 19 2011 - 1:54pm

"Except for a few raving Vermonters, it's the militias, the police, the armed forces, and the NRA types."

Hers' the thing. The NRA has no idea how many folks on the left are its members. I live in Vermont and I can tell you that many sane, decent, Vermonters and left activists who own firearms and enjoy using them are members of the NRA. The NRA membership is NOT as monolithic as the NRA would like everyone to believe. And these members have no compunction in telling the NRA when they believe the NRA is wrong.

And oh. These Vermont gun owners are NOT "raving Vermonters". They are my calm and smart neighbors and there are more of them in Vermont than in any other state by percentage -- and Vermont has one of the lowest, and often the lowest crime rate in the country.

Back in 2004 I attended a Veterans For Peace board meeting in Albany NY and I asked president, David Cline, if he owned a firearm. I was shocked to find out that he did. I asked him why? The reason he gave me is the reason I changed my mind about owning firearms. I, for one, am not about to allow the Right to take away ANY of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. And I am certainly not about to WILLINGLY give any right up while the Right does not and hoards it as their exclusive purview.

Though I disagree with Ward Churchill in his book (PhD dissertation), "Pacifism as Pathology", it should be reading for every lefty, Liberal, Democrat, and Progressive, as it clearly points out in the opening chapters that ceding the 2nd amendment issue to the Righties is not in their (the left) best interest. I highly recommend a read of Churchill's book.

Posted by bluepilgrim

Apr 19 2011 - 3:00pm

If it comes down to armed conflict, it's more important for people to know how to use arms than to have them -- one can always steal or capture weapons. That's the most important thing the military has all over civilians: the training and organization. But vioence is still a losing proposition, and will likely result in losing even if one 'wins' because of the aftershocks, fallout, and counter-revolution -- and the changes it makes in those who engage in violence. We need to recognize that sometimes violence is necessary, but there are great social and psychological costs and hazards in doing so.

Posted by Dennab

Apr 19 2011 - 3:28pm

NO ONE is advocating violence. And no one is advocating armed conflict. You missed my point, which is: not giving up willingly a Constitutional right, i.e., the 2nd amendment, to those that would hoard it only for themselves. And, as exercisers of the 2nd amendment adding a Left dimension to organizations and viewpoints that were heretofore the exclusive territory of the Right.

Posted by bluepilgrim

Apr 19 2011 - 6:46pm

Not having a gun is not giving up the right to have one. If someone wants a gun (or a collection) then get one, but I don't see it as defending the right to have one when they are easy to get, in any case.

I do see some value in training to use a gun -- and to act in a coordinated way using tactics and strategy even if to put on a non-violent demonstration.

Posted by doubledee

Apr 19 2011 - 6:13pm

I am in total agreement that violence is not the way, but I also believe it inevitable, especially in the death throes of the fascist governance we now endure. I recall vividly how the infiltrators of the antiwar movement of the sixties and seventies extolled violence and urged us all to commit such. Many were exposed by their very words and ousted from the movement, but some were successful, allowing the government to escalate that violence many fold.

Violence is, after all, a tool of power, one useful to cow the masses into obedience. But we are many and they are few and ,ultimately, our nonviolence will overcome their violence.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 4:52pm

Actually I hadn't intended an attack on your Second Amendment rights, and yet you managed to bring it up. Mr. Cline's argument -- and yours -- is immaterial, as the corporate-fascist right isn't about to try to disarm its own base, which disproportionately comprises American gun owners. Vermont notwithstanding. The corporate-fascist right in fact *needs* its gun-owner base, which will serve it well should there ever be massive unrest in the country.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 4:56pm

Oh, and the crime rate in Vermont is so low because it's among the most homogenous states in the Union. Eliminate social and racial differences, and surprise! huge drop in the crime rate.

It's not because you own a lot of guns.

Posted by Dennab

Apr 19 2011 - 5:00pm

That sounds like prejudice does it not? May I suggest the crime rate has mostly to do with poverty, and of course, being rich, i.e., corporate crime.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 5:31pm

And poverty tends to map race fairly closely. We didn't bring Africans to this continent to be our equals, and we at no point in our history have allowed them to be equals.

Posted by Emma

Apr 20 2011 - 8:19am

Thank god. Glad to hear this. I was worried that only the enemy was going to have guns. Not that I advocate using them. But the war has already started and government has been preparing for this for a long time. The country has become a huge police state at every level.

Posted by SteppingRazor

Apr 19 2011 - 2:11pm

Hey corvo, arm yourself. Then network with like minded people. Then you got a militia.
But they are better armed you say. Please note as has the government that in Rodesia one result of the embargo was ammunition became short in supply. soldiers were ordered to only fire SemiAuto. Battle results?? Unchanged. SemiAuto works in combat. The government knows it and therefore the campaign to go after semiauto weapons confusing them in the public'c mind with Machine Guns. Americans are generally pretty dumb until they get woke up and have their cup of coffee. Has everyone had their first cup yet?? I thought Wisconsin was it. Maybe we need a second cup.

It pisses me off we must suffer so much to even get rolling and take care of business.

Posted by corvo

Apr 19 2011 - 4:48pm

Can't shoot worth a damn, sorry.

Posted by SteppingRazor

Apr 19 2011 - 2:13pm

Hey corvo, arm yourself. Then network with like minded people. Then you got a militia.
But they are better armed you say. Please note as has the government that in Rodesia one result of the embargo was ammunition became short in supply. soldiers were ordered to only fire SemiAuto. Battle results?? Unchanged. SemiAuto works in combat. The government knows it and therefore the campaign to go after semiauto weapons confusing them in the public'c mind with Machine Guns. Americans are generally pretty dumb until they get woke up and have their cup of coffee. Has everyone had their first cup yet?? I thought Wisconsin was it. Maybe we need a second cup.

It pisses me off we must suffer so much to even get rolling and take care of business.

Posted by rvrwalker

Apr 19 2011 - 3:18pm

The Egyptian uprising is a non-violent one. Gandhi was able to change the world, non-violently. Non-violent civil resistance is the way forward .... and it's legal! not that the US is all that supportive of international law. If the US engaged in violently crushing a non-violent citizen inspired uprising, it would destroy US credibility in the world. Noam Chomsky says credibility is essential for the powerful. Once they lose that, all that's left is brute force and there are far more of us than there are of them.

Posted by hamster

Apr 19 2011 - 9:21pm

Yes, nonviolence works in some cases. Add South Africa defeating apartheid and Eastern Europe ridding themselves of Communist dictatorship.

Posted by tammons

Apr 19 2011 - 10:09am

Round one is a distrust of our government, seeing it as so corrupt it is unredeemable. We are past that point. But America still has faith. It has faith in the rich, as commentators like Dionne call upon the elites of this country to be patriotic and to do a better job of governing, (nobody makes that appeal to politicians anymore) and faith in corporations to put America back to work. What does the American public lack--faith in ourselves, that we can do a better job of governing than they can. Our overlords know it and that is why they are still pushing to get everything they can for themselves. Are they overreaching? You tell me Ralf.

Posted by Q

Apr 19 2011 - 10:16am

"with your chrome heart shining,
in the sun,
long may you run" Neil Young

Love you Ralph Nader, you are a constant beacon of inspiration and insight.

Posted by overlooking

Apr 20 2011 - 3:53pm

Yes Q. It is a fact.
Ralph Nader is a constant beacon of inspiration and insight.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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