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Monday, April 19, 2010

SYMPTOMS OF REVOLUTION – YES, IT CAN HAPPEN HERE

I’ve never particularly been a student of history. Not that I didn’t think that history was interesting, just that I wasn’t too terribly concerned with it. Everybody, of course, has heard the Toynbean quote that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Usually, folks hear that and it goes in one ear and out the other, because, after all and especially in this country, it couldn’t happen here. Why, we’re the best country in the world. We’re the freest and most open society that’s ever been. We are the richest and the most prosperous society; we are the most transparent society as far as government goes. Sure, there are groups within that society that are marginalized, a BIT, but gosh, at least they’ve got a voice. So, what’s to worry about here? Plenty, folks.

I’m starting to become a student of history now. I don’t see that I’ve got any choice in the matter and, for that matter, we all need to stop and take a look around us, because we are, right now, on the verge of another bloody civil war.

According to Aristotle, revolutions arise from inequalities, numerical or qualitative, IE a numerical mass claiming an equality denied them, or from a minority claiming a superiority denied them. He further states “In all revolutions, the conditions which leads up to them is the desire of the many for equality, and the desire of the minority for effective superiority. The purposes with which they are set on foot are profit, honour, or avoidance of loss or dishonour. The inciting occasions are many: jealousy of those who have wealth and honour, official arrogance, fear of the law or of its abuse, personal rivalries, failure of the middle class to maintain a balance, race antagonisms, antagonism of localities, and others.”

So, where are we on this bell curve? We’re currently living in a titular republic which is actually an oligarchy. At least 75% of the folks here now are living pretty unhappy lives. Of that 75%, at least 90% are living under the poverty level, are unemployed and in a lot of cases unemployable due to health, age or educational levels. The rest of us are living on unemployment because the government is not doing its job of keeping us out of wars, regulating the multimegacorps so that they don’t steal us all blind, and generally following the Constitutional mandate of providing for the common good. The conditions that favour revolutions usually come from the jealousy of those excluded from power, personal ambitions, and great inequality of wealth - and the fear that, no matter what, they are disposable. In a constitutional government, the main cause of discontent and revolutionary fervour is the incomplete fusion of the these three criteria: wealth, numbers and merit. The comparative stability of constitutions comes from the greater relative weight of numbers. They are, however, more liable to be revolutionized by external pressure, which is pretty much what's happening here. Equality in proportion to merit and security of rights are the true conditions of permanence.

In other words, the many are ruled by the few. There is a disproportionate amount of wealth and power concentrated in very few hands, the elected officials are owned by those folks/corporations, and everybody else, basically, is fucked.

What caused the French Revolution? Once again, inequality. France in 1789, while it was facing some economic (especially taxation) difficulties and simplicities, was one of the richest and most powerful nations in Europe. The Ancien Régime in France was brought down partly by its own rigidity in the face of a changing world and partly by the ambitions of a rising bourgeoisie, allied with aggrieved peasants, wage-earners and various individuals of all classes influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. As the revolution proceeded and power devolved from the monarchy to legislative bodies, the conflicting interests of these initially allied groups would become the source of conflict and bloodshed.

France needed to raise most of its government's revenues internally rather than from external tariffs, since France was not one of the major trading nations. Sound familiar? We’re in that position now. We import more than we export, because we can’t compete with the slave labour nations like China, India and Pakistan. These problems were all compounded by a great scarcity of food in the 1780s. A series of crop failures caused a shortage of grain, consequently raising the price of bread. Because bread was the main source of nutrition for poor peasants, this led to starvation. The two years previous to the revolution (1788–89) saw bad harvests and harsh winters. Again, does this sound familiar? The only difference is that, while our own harvests haven’t been all that bad, about 70% of our corn crop has gone into peoples’ gas tanks.

The disparity between the haves and have-nots, once again, is the biggest factor in a pre-revolutionary condition. When the gap between rich and poor becomes so great that the poor can no longer survive under these conditions, they revolt and establish a system of wealth redistribution. Once the wealth has been redistributed, the poor are happy again and eventually grow apathetic, then the rich begin their quiet revolution of taking the wealth back and continue to do so until the disparity between the have's and the have not's becomes so great that the poor can no longer survive under those conditions, which leads to another revolution, etc.
Majorities in the Pew Research Center survey call Washington too big and too powerful, and say it's interfering too much in state and local matters. The public is split over whether the government should be responsible for dealing with critical problems or scaled back to reduce its power, presumably in favor of personal responsibility. About half say they want a smaller government with fewer services, compared with roughly 40 percent who want a bigger government providing more. The public was evenly divided on those questions long before Obama was elected. Still, a majority supported the Obama administration exerting greater control over the economy during the recession. This is one of the rare cases where more intervention can and already has had a positive influence.
"Trust in government rarely gets this low," said Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan center that conducted the survey. "Some of it's backlash against President Obama. But there are a lot of other things going on." And, he added: "Politics has poisoned the well."

The split in ideologies has gotten worse and worse. More and more people are living on less and less, more and more people are not just afraid, they’re terrified – and more and more of us think that the government needs to get OUT of our lives, and do less. I’m all for this, believe me!
Revolution involves a radical change in government, usually accomplished through violence, that usually results in changes to the economic system, social structure, and cultural values. We’re on the verge of this right here, RIGHT NOW. Take a look at the Tea Party if you don’t believe me.

Do not say that “it can’t happen here”. It can, and it’s going to. I am hoping that it’s going to be a bloodless revolution – vote the rascals out, put some new ones in place – but I’m not sanguine about the prospects.

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