Nancho Advisory: This is the Spirit! In every sacred and secular sense, Sri Ventura has captured the revolutionary essence of our age and discharges it here with inspiring force. The Nancho site offers many tools, arms and strategic resources for the conduct of your own uprising, but whichever you choose, stay close to these words. They command the high ground.
BY MICHAEL VENTURA
There is no alternative but revolution. There is never a day when revolution is not needed. Not anymore. Because there is never a day anymore when millions of us, most of us, are not faced with the loss of our liberties and power, the loss of dignity, the loss of community, the loss of livelihood--the loss, in every sense, of a today worth living and a tomorrow worth caring about.
The questions are: What kind of revolution? By whom? Against whom? How? And toward what end? Every term must be redefined, every tactic must be conceived anew, every assumption must be questioned. The old "isms"--socialism, capitalism--must be left behind. The capitalist countries have proved that basing a society solely on profit leads eventually to social breakdown: the demise of the socialist countries proved that excluding individual profit also leads to chaos. These can't be the only two possibilities.
And yet there isn't time to theorize much about a third, or fourth, or fifth possibility. Too many people are working too hard for too little, and all for the profit of too few. Their choices erode every day. They are too discouraged by broken promises, and haven't the time or energy to dream anymore about some ideal state. We need something different, and we need it now, and nobody's going to do it for us. We must do it on our own. Which is what revolution is all about. To accomplish the needed change ourselves, and not to delegate that task to others-- this is the essence of revolution.
But before the word "revolution" can inspire us again, another word must be dealt with, one often coupled with revolution: "violence".
To equate revolution with violence, to accept violence as part of the necessary struggle in any way, dooms the future to repeat the past. To kill people you don't know, who have done you no personal harm, for an idea, a goal, or a cause is the madness that has perverted human history--and is no different, in function or result, from killing a lover for jealousy or a storekeeper for money. All such killing assumes that your desires are worth another's life. That assumption is the root of all oppression. To advocate violence is to announce that if you achieve power then you, too, are willing to oppress. No one needs that kind of revolution again.
Tactically, in today's United States, violent revolution is suicide. The military forces that will array against you are overwhelming. But the tactical considerations pale beside the moral. Morally, killing destroys not only those it kills, but also the soul of the killer and the validity of the killer's ideas. To kill for a cause is to kill the cause.Even if you win by killing, you will have corrupted your humanity so deeply that you will be incapable either of justice or of the mercy without which justice withers-- and "Justice or Chaos" is the moral imperative of our time.
In a system maintained by both direct and indirect threats of murder, imprisonment, and hunger, the fundamental revolutionary act is to abandon those threats. The means never justify the ends. We are what we do, not what we want.
But no revolution is possible without direct action. Violence won't work, so what might? To figure that out, you have to first identify what a new conception of revolution must attack.
There is no point in attacking the federal government. If we define our intended system as "government of the people, by the people, and for the people", then we don't have a national government anymore. What we have now is an enormous bureaucratic political buffer between the people who control money and the people whom money controls. With rare exceptons, politicians always follow the money. Appeals to this "politics" merely set you up to be sold out. For it's possible that our government isn't incompetent at all; it's likely that the government they're giving us is the government they intend for us. Money keeps pouring into the politicians' coffers, so somebody is certainly benefiting. Under the guise of mediating between corporate interests and the people, our elected representatives give what I call The Corporate Web (the interlocking powers of immense business concerns) more and more, while the citizens get less and less. This theft is their object, and it is accomplished under the rule of law -- law made and administered by officials who owe their office and livelihood to those who finance their campaigns. (Is this what you believe that law should be? Is this a concept of law that you feel bound to respect? Your choice.)
It is not important who the politician is anymore, or what beliefs he or she fights for. If they call themselves "Republican" or "Democrat", and they work within those party organizations and rules, they are valueless. The good ones are hopelessly outnumbered, and the rest are not good--they are bought and paid for, and they obey their keepers. At this moment in history, those few politicians with integrity are either unable to face the consequences of their powerlessness or too cowardly to take on the task of forming a third (and fourth, and fifth) party.
Voting for independents, or for virtually any conceivable third party, is today almost a revolutionary act in itself. It is not nearly enough-- only direct action has a chance, but anything that weakens the Republican/Democratic stranglehold on the national agenda can't be all bad.
Voting, in itself, is not useless. In a truly representative republic, voting would be essential. But it's useless to vote for Republicans and Democrats. Given the steep descent of our nation on all levels in the last 20 years, anyone who gets distracted by the present Republican/Democratic monopoly is pretending that what has done such harm will somehow, magically and suddenly, be beneficial. Anyone telling you to vote for such people is selling you out. Whether or not the sellout is intentional is, by now, beside the point. Because voting for party politicians, on a national level, is worse than a waste of time. It is a waste of belief. A waste of possibility.
What possibility? The possibility of direct action against the forces usurping our freedoms and threatening our livelihood. What belief? The belief in ourselves--which is the belief that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish.
It is not easy to take direct action against the economic forces that threaten us, but it is easier than rebelling against the federal government. The federal government has the military, the police, the FBI, the CIA, the IRS. The corporations don't -- not directly. The corporations have to manage those forces through their pet politicians, an unwieldy and slow precess that must take place (at least partially) in public. So the strategy of a new revolution must be to bypass the federal government entirely. Stop being distracted by the middlemen (and middlewomen) who exist as players in a kind of spectator sport meant only to distract. Go to the source of the problem: the corporatism that has clocked itself in the trappings of what used to be Western democracy
Corporations are vulnerable because they exist only to make money. Money is, literally, their blood. In the new revolution, depriving corporations of money is the historical equivalent of shedding blood. Even a small drop in profit can cause enormous internal turmoil within corporations -- can alter decisions, can even alter the corporate decision-making process. This isn't idealism, it's a matter of record. In small ways, you can read about it in the Wall Street Journal every day.
The Corporate Web makes its money from what we buy. This gives us enormous collective power. There is no law that says we have to buy any particular thing.
This fact is the precious key.
To underestimate this key is to give up what may be our last chance at equality, dignity, self-governance. It is to give up the possibility of fruitful work that both sustains the present and creates a hopeful future. Direct economic action, coupled with nonviolent civil disobedience, is the key to a possible revolution. Not futile rebellion against a government that functions merely as a buffer between The Corporate Web and our discontent; but a slow, certainly painful, yet possible reclaiming of our birthright -- a birthright which is nothing less than the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and the power to decide what that labor truly consists of, how it's used, and what it's worth.
(Reprinted in the World Wide Free Press from the Austin
Chronicle by permission of Michael Ventura. Recycled here because the WWFP site unfortunately no longer carries these extraordinary pages.)