October 30, 2007

Break the Goddamned Rules

Forgive me for quoting myself, but these passages are the quickest way to an issue of critical importance. In Part II of "A Nation on the Edge of the Final Descent," I wrote:
For this is where we are in the United States, nearing the end of the Year of Our Lord 2007: the truth is not merely unpleasant, an uninvited guest who makes conversation difficult and awkward. Truth is the enemy; truth is to be destroyed. To attempt to speak the truth on any subject of importance requires a deep reserve of determination, for to speak the truth requires that one first sweep away an infinite number of rationalizations, false alternatives, and numerous other failures of logic and the most rudimentary forms of thought -- as well as the endless lies. On that single occasion in a thousand or a million when a person overcomes these barriers and speaks the truth, he or she discovers an additional, terrible truth: almost no one wants to hear it. This is how we live today: lies are the staple of our diet. Without them, we would die, certainly in psychological terms.
Toward the end of that essay, I turned again to the Andrew Meyer incident (the tasering and arrest at the University of Florida):
It was in this cultural setting that Andrew Meyer asked his questions. His second question concerned Iran (we assume Kerry discussed Iran in his lengthy remarks, which ran longer than scheduled, thus conveniently reducing the time for questions significantly). Meyer wanted to know this: why, if Kerry is so concerned about Iran, isn't Kerry urging impeachment of Bush now, before he can order an attack on Iran? Meyer pointed out that Clinton was impeached for a blowjob, for God's sake. Shouldn't Bush be impeached now, before another monstrous crime is committed -- and before a possible world war is begun?

At this moment in history, and in view of the stakes involved -- which stakes involve literally the future of the world and of civilization, to employ those words with their genuine meanings for once -- that is the question that should be asked of every national leader at least once a day, and preferably a hundred times a day. It is the question that should be asked all the time, of everyone. It is the question that should be asked of every Democratic member of Congress all the time, every day. Almost no one asks it. Democrats and their partisans continue their dull-witted fixation on the 2008 elections, forbidding themselves and anyone else to acknowledge that by then, it may be far, far too late. Major actors in the Bush administration have longed to attack Iran for years, and they have never tried to hide it. Now, their viciously murderous purpose is being aided and abetted by leading Democrats such as Hillary Clinton.

And no one will ask: Why don't you act to stop this insanity?

Andrew Meyer asked that question.
Just the other day, in "It's Called the Ruling Class Because It Rules," I wrote:
Laws are the particular means by which the state implements and executes its vast powers. When an increasingly authoritarian state passes a certain critical point in its development, the law is no longer the protector of individual rights and individual liberty. The law becomes the weapon of the state itself -- to protect, not you, but the state from threats to its own powers. We passed that critical point some decades ago. The law is the means by which the state corrals its subjects, keeps them under control, and forbids them from acting in ways that the overlords might perceive as threatening. In brief, today, in these glorious United States, the law is not your friend.
As I discussed in these articles (and in many others), our public debate -- that discussion that involves our politicians, the major media, and most bloggers -- is almost exclusively made up of empty phrases, vacuous utterances, and meaningless gestures. We do not speak of the genocide we have caused in Iraq, nor do we speak in truthful, accurate terms of the criminal war of aggression the United States launched against that hapless nation. Nor do we speak in truthful terms of the equally criminal occupation that continues from day to bloody day -- and which this goddamned worthless Democratic Congress could end within months by simply refusing to fund it for one more murderous moment. But the Democrats and their apologist bloggers will tell you -- apparently believing that everyone is as stupid as they are and will fall for this load of shit -- that the Democrats can't end the war. They don't have the votes. Waaaaaaahhhhhh! The fact that the Democrats can't end the war, waaaaaaahhhhhh!, is, of course, why we need "more and better Democrats."


And our politicians speak of keeping "all options on the table" with regard to Iran. They talk of our "right" to threaten, bomb and destroy still another nation because it will not do exactly as we tell it -- even though that nation is not any kind of threat to us and will not be for years to come, if then. Our government is a genocidal murderer, empowered and enabled by cadres of genocidal murderers. If certain individuals do not commit the murders themselves, they make the murders possible -- and they allow them to continue.

The law is not the only method by which the state controls us, and strips our national discussion of all meaning. There is another, less formal but no less constricting means, which is commonly identified by the phrase, "the rules." We must all follow "the rules." You cannot ever break "the rules." Be very, very clear on this point: the only way you can speak the truth on any subject of importance in this country today is BY BREAKING THE RULES.

That is what Andrew Meyer did in Florida. He broke the goddamned rules. He did not do so in any way that merited his being arrested -- but HE BROKE THE RULES. This cannot be permitted, not if our meaningless, pointless national discussion devoid of all substance is to continue in its meaningless, pointless way. Breaking the rules cannot be allowed if the lies are to continue. So he was arrested.

And he was charged with a third-degree felony for resisting arrest with violence and a second-degree misdemeanor for disturbing the peace -- for asking the most urgent question of our time, the question that almost no one will ask. He was charged with resisting an arrest that should never have occurred -- and with "disturbing the peace."

Friends, if this country -- and if you individually -- are to have any kind of human future at all, and by "human," I mean a life with any genuine meaning and joy, a life not fatally compromised by ongoing murder, torture, and brutality -- you had better fucking disturb the peace every second of every day. Faced with the destruction of his life, Meyer apologized. In exchange for Meyer's obeisance to the state, to the law and to the rules, the charges were dropped.

I'll return to this in more detail when I continue the "Final Descent" series, but for now, consider this passage from one of Meyer's apologies:
In society, as in life, there are consequences for not following the rules. In this instance, not following the rules has imposed consequences for many people other than myself, people who have seen their school, and perhaps their degree, tarnished in the eyes of others through no fault of their own.
I do not criticize Meyer to any degree at all. The state targeted him for destruction. He is a very young man, with all of his life ahead of him. The cost was prohibitive. He had broken the rules, and he had to be destroyed. His example would help to keep the rest of you in line.

And speaking of that -- and speaking of the fact that, eight months after I first proposed these suggestions for halting an attack on Iran, not one major writer or blogger has seen fit to do a goddamned thing of any consequence with any of those ideas or with additional ideas they might think of on their own, if they actually gave a damn -- I wrote the following in an essay I wish more people would read, "Passing on the Sense of Wonder." For certain reasons, that piece is a personal favorite of mine. On this issue, I said:
I am enormously struck by the unnecessary and indefensible narrowness of action that most people, including almost all progressive bloggers (and certainly all national Democrats), view as feasible or "realistic." I will be discussing this in detail in a new essay I'm working on, and that I hope to complete by tomorrow; it will deal with a few political heroes on a grand scale, and how such people have vanished from our lives, to be replaced by two-bit charlatans for the most part. For the moment, I will simply observe that almost all people think only within the severely circumscribed limits of what others have already determined to be "acceptable" behavior. In connection with progressive writers especially, the irony is exceptionally heavy: these are people who endlessly rail against "conventional wisdom" and "inside the Beltway thinking," while they themselves vehemently reject the merest suggestion that anyone should break the accepted rules in any significant way, or refuse to play the game as it has always been played. In part, this is why my suggestions in "Dispatch from Germany" were almost universally ignored: I purposely insisted that the bounds of what is "acceptable" be expanded, and that the rules of the game be changed. For most people, this is unthinkable. They say such ideas are not "realistic"; what they mean is that they are not willing to take the necessary risks. But on rare occasions, a hero will come along who takes precisely those risks and completely rejects the conventional rules. Many progressives hail these heroes, and simultaneously prove entirely incapable of applying the indicated lessons to our situation today.
Brave progressive bloggers, who will not dream of or even consider breaking the rules. Brave Democrats, who helped write the fucking rules.

In following up on the matters discussed here, IOZ has another entry. He quotes from an extraordinary post at Stop Me Before I Vote Again, which includes this:
The main thing, though, is to stop being constructive. Don't waste a moment thinking about what "policies" might be better than the ones we have. The fact is that the institutions we have absolutely guarantee insane policies, and unless the balance of power between the elites and the rest of us is changed, then those institutions will continue to manufacture insanity day in and day out.

And there is, needless to say, no institutional way to change the balance of power. The institutions exist to maintain the balance of power – or, more accurately, to tip the balance of power ever more toward the elites. Changing the balance of power requires interfering with the institutions, and impairing or impeding their operation.

In short: stop traffic.
Andrew Meyer tried to stop traffic. The state decided he had come to represent too great a threat, so he had to be crushed. Now he has been.

My suggestions, and many other actions that could be taken to try to prevent an attack on Iran, involve much less risk, and probably none at all. Yet almost no one will do anything. Most people's lives are entirely constricted by "the rules." To break them is the absolutely forbidden thought. And so we continue toward catastrophe -- and this one may be the last.

And still you do nothing. So I have one more suggestion:


Your life -- and the lives of millions of others -- may depend on it.