Political activism as an aspect of practice
Save the world by doing nothing? Or maybe by being focused on a few important things and resisting distractions? Or..
Added by colin #442 on 2004-03-26. Last modified 2008-03-05 08:04. Originally created 2004-03-26. F0 License: GNU Free Documentation License
The do-nothing revolution-or-
Timeless political activism-or-
Written upon hearing of the reinstatement of compulsory military service in the US by 2005-or-
Political activism as spiritual practice-or-
Coping with despotism
For those of us who aspire to focus on the most timeless and beautiful concerns, wavering not to distraction by ephemeral political events or the murmuring of the evening news or the cry of independent media--
For those of us who feel, though, and who hear of atrocity upon atrocity being planned and committed by governments, corporations, and unthinking masses in aggregate--
Of which we are a part--
What is the artful way of dealing with hateful Chaos or hateful organization?
Some get the hell out of the US.
Some make little money, aspiring not to pay for the abuses of government.
Some give unto Caeser what is Caeser's, deigning not to vote or participate in politics beyond the level of their ordnung.
Some head to the hills in tyrranical times, eking by.
Those who leave one hateful government will find another, but truly it may not be as hateful as what they left (e.g., leaving Nazism for something else...?).
Those who make little money... perhaps that is the way? It means non-participation in so much... Which might be beneficial. Does appreciation of the timeless and greatest beauty benefit from money and power? "He who kisses the joy as it flies / lives in eternity's sun rise" -W. Blake
The Amish will find themselves cited for not having slow-moving vehicle triangles on black carriages in the dark. Either that, or they are hit and killed by motorists, or both. Refusal to compromise beyond the minimum compulsory cooperation may have a poetic and timeless quality. [My fact-checking is giving me conflicting information about whether the Amish vote. It seems clear they do not run for office. Some groups allow slow-moving vehicle triangles. The basic message is of the Amish focus on principles, e.g., the importance of family, and of their creating a set of community rules that subordinate political activism and use of technology to the service of that basic principle. Conceivably they could cause road conditions to be better for carriage use if they were more politically involved, but other principles are more important.]
Those who head to the hills must have hills to head to, and an ability to eke by. Both require planning to avoid government and landowner interference.
When we stay in the warming cauldron, focusing on our fine poetry and finer consciousness, at what point does the hatefulness of the political situation call for action? Possibly it never does. They came to take the Muslims, and you did nothing. They came to take the activists, and you did nothing. They come to take you, and you do nothing, other than what you were doing before. If not killed on the spot, you are forcibly removed to a horrifying prison or labor camp. If you had signed the party oath and attended the right meetings, maybe you would have been left alone.
Now, what of "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead
What should I be committed to? When the annoying helicopters repeatedly hover over my neighborhood I call representatives, I organize citizens.
The Libertarians have many positions worth supporting, but a near unconcern with environmental issues, and corporate abuse.. though both can be addressed in small-government ways. The Libertarians, Greens, and independents all would benefit from proportional representation / instant runoff systems (cf. fairvote.org). Moveon.org and John Kerry may relieve US from Bush, and the draft, but I am not enthusiastic about either product of the repressive two-party system.
That's all I have to say... Now, back to that timeless and beautiful thing I was doing before being interrupted by that email about the draft. What was I doing...? Writing that powerfully moving thing that will get more people to share my vision...? Or at the least, enjoying the great writing of others and trying to keep physically healthy and find a way to comfortably live out my days in an enjoyable way. Or-- distracting myself from the great beauty by reading emails. Or maybe this is all part of the wonderfully mediocre life?
Yes! That must be it!
Links:The do-nothing revolution: Fukuoka, Elpel, google on Fukuoka
Reinstatement of draft: google, indymedia, AFSC, Time, ProjectCensored, S89, HR163, AFSC2, DemocraticUnderground
Politics: Libertarian, Green, Moveon, fairvote, google on PR, Ron Paul, google on Ron Paul, civil disobedience, The project on corporations, law, and democracy, the long now foundation, long bets, war tax resistance, how I found freedom in an unfree world
Painful tailbone: coccyx.org
"All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable, and so they will always be. So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is." --Joseph Campbell, Myths to live by, p. 104
Postscript:All that seems interesting for me to read, but evades some serious questions. Governments do serve a purpose, as did the tribal organization of times past. Now that more people live closer together and engage in trade involving people and places from around the world, both local and world governments and associations have importance. None of this is news to the reader. One title for this essay I considered was something like "political activism as spiritual practice." That gets more closely at the question behind all this: How am I to participate in the political landscape? The ProEvo guideline recommends following the joy: whatever enlivens do, what enervates do not. That guideline is not as useful for long-range planning. From the above summary, the most timeless activism would be supporting proportional representation. The government most offending my sensibilities at present is the U.S. Federal Government. How would proportional representation work there? It seems we'd need, say, the House to be proportional, from across the whole U.S., but the Senate to be district- (ideally bioregionally-) based. It's just amazing that the Senate is not based on population. The U.S. system does seem inappropriate for the present day. But few things appear more unchangeable than that system.
And yet, how ridiculous is it for progressives / conservatives / whatever to go on feeling un-represented, or that at every idiot federal bill they should rally every one they know to complain to all their representatives? As Quinn suggests, we need new visions, not more programs. This means, perhaps, working quietly away at the new visions, neglecting various exhortations to action, maintaining focus on the fundamental change most worth working for, plotting how, amidst all the petty issues, the cause of that vision can be furthered.
And that is what I'm after, perhaps: an organizing principle for my political action. Aside from a carfree, lowercase-libertarian focus, I don't have one yet. Maybe it will be working on broadening my awareness of the effects of the system itself and of alternate possibilities to the present system, like proportional representation. But then again, there is a tradeoff between making things happen in the current system and progressing toward the realization of significant system change.
I don't know the answer. I'm not calling anyone about the draft bills. I'm past the draft age, should it come to that, and many bills are proposed that have little chance of success, like Ron Paul's resolution to repeal the selective service act, HR 487.
Post-postscript: primitive mindI didn't evolve to deal with the U.S. Federal Government, nor with writing things like this a second time, nor with a screaming neighbor-stranger who shouts hatefully at her children, disturbing my peace.
I was made for tribal life, not this.
When they come after me to take me away, I will attack with a spear and enlist my fellow tribespeople for the cause.
I will not write a first or second time.
I plug my ears to the motherly screams and the cries of her children, either that or storm into her hut and demand an explanation, or appeal to the tribal council for intervention. There was no CPS / CPSWatch, no living next to strangers.
A tribesman didn't have endless choices of occupation or living location, so likewise I limit myself to what is within walking distance, and focus on opportunities available through nepotism.
I am not a tribesman, but considering how the conditions my mind may have been made for may differ from the conditions I face allows me to change my focus and my environment in ways the die-hard modern never will. And to choose to ignore those things the tribesman would not concern himself with.