Friday, February 25, 2011

Civil Disobedience

Henry Thoreau, the American philosopher, famous for his book, Walden Pond, his minimalist stay for a time in fellow philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson's cabin, wrote a tract on Civil Disobedience.  He further refused to pay taxes at one time resulting in being jailed. The Americans, starting with their refusal to pay the increasing tea taxes and the resulting Revolution of Independence, have had a long history of grass roots revolt that began historically with England's Magna Carta and the French Revolution.
Throughout history the line between tyranny and anarchy has moved back and forth much like the power struggles of parents and children.
The revolutions of the USSR saw the separation of Hungary, Checkoslovakia and eventually the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Today we see Tunisia and Egypt demand for a different regime.
In western democracies the leadership has been 'smug' seeing these upheavals as vindicating the various 'party' systems and apparent choices available to citizens of the once great revolutionary empires, England, France and the United States of America.
The argument goes that 'there' they are fighting for 'basic rights' whereas here in 'paradise' no one should be fighting at all because the conditions are so much better. The French Queen had said , "Give them cake" thinking that's what the guillotine was ultimately about. Truly a costly mistake.  And one that seems possible for the truly materialistic rich today who are so far removed from this planet as to comprehend the dignity in Tienemen Square.
They may think, sure a few people will lose their passes to tanning salons and go from owning houses to renting houses but really is that what it's about. Each side is spewing  more of the rhetoric which is strewn all over a debate which left 4 dead at Kent State.
Jesus said he brought a new accord and that the message of peace would turn fathers against sons and brothers against brothers.  Reform simply is the enemy of anyone who benefits from the status quo.  Evolution comes with equal parts of pain and  devolution.
The western revolution of change began in the 60's at a time when the polls began with 80% of people believing the statements of the leadership, specifically about the Vietnam war and ultimately about the 'special interest' groups transforming the 'democracy' of Washington.  With the revelations of the media, Watergate and various other gates the polls changed to 75% of Americans distructing the statements of their leadership. Wikileaks certainly confirmed the thorough lack of transparency in world governments.  No wonder the mad fear the CIA and M16 or even aliens are controlling the world.
Never before perhaps have the electorate been so informed and had so much information to guide their opinions on yet felt so unheard and unable to effect change in the existing systems.
The Mubarak regime was seen as Mubarak so that when this tyrant fell hope was restored in the country of mostly young people that greater freedom would be possible. In America however Obama was seen as representing 'change' but the regime, the military industrial complex, the sweet deals, the banking and insurance conglomerates, all seem to remain the same with a desire in Wisconsin at least to see a change in the "regime."
In response to the fears of the future there is ghetoization.  Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain declared the death of multiculturalism there. Gated armed upper class communities are the norm in Houston.  
Alternatively there are those with the idea that if enough mental power is brought to bear on the problem, greater representation and input in decision making by the grass roots collectively then there will be a solution. The latter see the problem as special interests and a homungus system in America not dissimilar at all to that in the USSR or Arab tyrannies to protect a few at all costs.  Here the idea is that if everyone's individual computer were connected to a problem everyone could benefit beyond the wildest dreams of all because this mega cray solution would come and the rich wouldn't lose but both the rich and poor would gain immensely.
It's rather utopian.  Much on generality and platitudes but little on detail.  Saving planets and spotted owls seems part of the solution too.  Last I heard some of the proponetns of the everyone will benefit if we just hug naked campaign for change were abducted themselves by aliens while eating flowers in California. California has become a bad debtor not surprisingly in direct relationship to the increasing numbers of marijuania clinics which are opening to offer a psychedlic solution to Californians already lining up for Solent Green  wafers. Hollywood puts out propaganda movies with as much fervour now as Nazi Germany did with it's once lustrious film industry.  At least the Emperor has new clothes.
I personally don't have a solution.  I do know that Canadians collectively love to judge Americans while some say the promised land is Cuba or Venezuela and others say it's New Zealand.  Meanwhile Canadians idea of civil disobedience is the choose to refuse to drink an Americano unless it's named Canadiano.
Today in record low temperatures in Vancouver the homeless are sleeping on the cold streets and quite possibly some will die tonight not fighting the authorities but in simply facing the environment.  The same was true in Winnipeg when every year people actually froze to death in their stalled cars and getting drunk and lying down on the way home from the pub.
Blessed with clean water, clean air, amazing engineers, mostly reasonable lawyers and judges, doctors and nurses who still work at times for free, with teachers that commonly volunteer their time, unions that only occasionally strike, politicians whose principal fault is being boring (in contrast to Ghadaffi's flamboyantly murderous insaniety), communities where kids can and do grow up safe, with the world's greatest of all hinterland's and wilderness, we really can't complain too vociferously.
We're collectively apathetic and personally cowardly whereas for a just cause we produce armed forces that strike terror around the world and our RCMP now that it's got rid of it's wannabe civilian beaurocratic leadership is back to getting its man or woman.
Canadians are mostly chopping wood and collecting water.  Canada could never produce a Mubarek. We rather like our Thomson's and Pattersons despite their blemishes.  Conrad Black was sometimes outrageous but having  the brilliant and gorgeous Barbara Amiel beside him made his own blemishes pale.
There's a homeliness about Canada that probably comes from the fact that even if we camped out in a public square before too long  we'd all eventually go inside to get out of rain, snow or away from the mosquitos. Our fight is still with Mother Nature.  As true survivalists we collectively think the American survival series silly.  Sarah Pallins Alaska has more testosterone.  Canadians seem to understand and appreciate time in a way that the American Idol set can't.   Toronto and Montreal can get their knickers in a twist on occasions but quickly Saskatchewan or Newfoundlanders bring them back to their senses.
Sitting on top of the world we can look down upon all those lesser souls with their government and interpersonal problems and remember that we are probably still the freest people in the nation.  We have the North and we are proud and free.  It's intrinsic to the Canadian soul.  We are notoriously civil too.  I don't know if I'd like to see us truly 'disobedient'.  Just imagining what that would like like made me realize why the authorities signed a pact between Ottawa and Washington to share military and police resources to counteract civil disobedience.
I can never forget that when Farley Mowatt shot a 22 rifle at the American bombers passing through Canadian airspace the response of the greatest nation then was immediate.  There's something about Canadian men and women that simply scares the living shit out of the greatest nations of the world.  In contrast to the failure of England's multiculturalism Canada has the toughest people in the world. We'd stand together too if the need arose.  English, Scots, French, Ukranians, Poles, Russians, Irish, Chinese, Kenyan, Afrikaner, Latinos, Indians, and every nation on the planet plus our founding Natives, are a force to contend with.  But really we're too getting our cars started or shovelling snow to bother with a revolution.  Maybe in the summer.  The trouble is they're so short Canadians don't like to waste them on politics.

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