Friday, November 04, 2011

Vote in 2012 against The Fool's Game

In his essay “There are Realistic Alternatives,” Gene Sharp, the renowned scholar/thinker on the use of nonviolence, outlines the “elements of strategic planning” necessary for effective nonviolent struggle.

The elements are worth reviewing in the context of the “Occupy” movement. Unless those in the movement are purposely hiding their planning, I’m seeing very little evidence of it.

What we get are shards, fragments and chucks of vital issues, but there is no evidence of systematic strategic planning.

Rather than go into the requirements as Sharp lays them out, I urge you to download the pamphlet from the Albert Einstein Institute web site. The essay and several others by Sharp are available free on-line.

Here is just one example of a fundamental missing element in the “Occupy” movement: “Develop a grand strategy for the overall conflict. Identify the objective of the struggle in clear, specific terms.”

Unless I’m missing something, we are still waiting to learn the “objective of the struggle in clear, specific terms.”

So here’s one attempt to define an objective and describe a strategy to achieve it:

We, fellow citizens, are playing a fool’s game called “Democracy American Style.” It is literally rigged for and by the rich and has produced a plutocracy/kleptocracy.

Here’s just one way it works: our system can’t represent or understand the will of the people because the major means of communication is paid for and controlled by wealthy vested corporate interests. The U.S. Constitution legalizes media domination and distortion by a wealthy elite.

Democracy requires an informed, thoughtful public making rational — not emotional — decisions. Our capitalist, controlled system of communication is not providing that information or that opportunity for full discussion and reflection.

I also believe that the size of our government makes it so diffuse, impenetrable and powerful that it cannot be responsive to the people it governs. We should be a nation of small regional or local governments. At most the “national” government should be an alliance of these small, responsive, local governments. The United States cannot be both “a major power” and a major force for good. The two have been proven to be incompatible.

The over-arching objective of the nonviolent movement should be to put an end to this Fool’s Game and to create a truly representative, fair, responsive and compassionate system of governance based on local representation and involvement.

At the end of his essay, Sharp lists 198 methods of nonviolent action. The sheer number boggles the mind. The diversity is likewise staggering, everything from strikes (he lists 21 varieties) to various kinds of boycotts, to rent refusal, to mock funerals, to marches and pilgrimages, to prayer and worship. The list goes on and on.

But one, number 124, intrigued me in light of the above objective. It reads, “Boycott Elections.”

What if we boycotted the elections of 2012? What if we “voted” by submitting blank ballots. The tally of unmarked ballots submitted would wildly exceed the number of votes cast for candidates. The tally of blank ballots would constitute the vote against “The Fool’s Game.”

What would the consequences be? Exactly what we’d get if we did cast ballots for candidates — more of the same. A continuation of the Fool’s Game.

But by voting against the system, we would have proclaimed that we, the majority, are no longer party to it — that, in fact, the resulting government does not represent the people or their “will.” These “minority unelected” representatives are hence illegitimate.

The only way to restore legitimacy is to establish a new constitution creating a truly representative government (or governments) that can address this society’s needs. A true “government of, for and by the People.”

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Witness to the Occupation

I’ve pondered deeply, as you no doubt have, what the Occupy movement is all about.

I’ve conclude that, at its root, it is a witnessing — witnessing for justice and a just society.

“To bear witness” is a spiritual term, and this movement is certainly that. It is driven by a spirit of outrage, of non-violence, of consensus, of fairness, of peace, of equality, of community and of justice....the list goes on and on.

To bear witness is also a legal term. Unrefutable, unbiased, untainted witnessing is the basis of justice in our courts. The Occupy movement here in Portland is encamped next to the County and Federal Courthouses. But the bearing of judicial witness is not for those courts alone.

The witnesses here have brought themselves before the court of public opinion, whose verdict, one hopes, will be cast at the polls.

So far, surveys tell us, the public sides with this committed eclectic community of witnesses. Their testimonies are beyond credible. They need only point to the homeless and bereft who have joined them. They too — the veterans, the mentally ill, the bankrupt, the homeless — are witnesses to the injustices of our society.

They also point to the greed of the one percent.

What society dare arrest and detain its honest, non-violent witnesses? That’s the question posed to those who hold public office. Here in Portland, so far, our public servants recognize the righteousness and truth of this cause.

They recognize the need of the public, to whom they answer, to fully hear the testimony and fairly weight it.

In places like Oakland, public officials will pay the price of stifling the sworn and overt truth of this movement.

To those who have not become involved but who have seen this movement and heard its message, realize that you too are now witnesses. How long will it be before you volunteer to take take the stand, to swear to tell the truth — to testify.

Remaining silent in these troubled times is not an option.

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