Posts Tagged ‘Counter-Revolution’

A pre-emptive counter-revolution in the USA?

October 8, 2013

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Eric Hoffer wrote in The True Believer that people do not revolt because they are poor and miserable.  If that there the case, the world would be in a constant state of revolt.  No, Hoffer wrote, people revolt when something to which they think they have a right is taken away from them, or when hopes are raised that things will get better.  Having a lot of highly educated young people without jobs is a spark that sets off the tinder.

If that is the case, the American people are ripe for revolt right now.   Although we are wealthier and more free than much of the world’s population, our economic security and political rights are being eroded.  The younger generation knows it is worse off than the generations that came before.  And the hope of change generated by Barack Obama has proved to be an illusion.

Historically the powers that be in the United States headed off revolt by responding to the discontented and bringing them into the system.   This happened with the labor movement in the 1930s and the civil rights protests of the 1960s.  But I think this time is different.

The electoral process is being altered to increase the power of money and to shut out minority groups, poor people, young people and others who might upset the status quo.  The legislative process is being altered so as to give veto power to the opponents of progressive reform.  The administration of government is becoming interlocked with corporations and shielded from public view.

Protest and dissent are being criminalized.  The U.S. government has the legal and institutional basis to impose a police state.  And the United States is being locked into NAFTA-like trade agreements which give corporations rights that override national law.

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Charles Stross on pre-emptive counter-revolution

October 8, 2013

The British SF writer Charles Stross, disturbed by the UK equivalents of the U.S. Homeland Security Administration, thinks his government is acting as if the powers-that-be fear a public uprising.

I have a new speculative hypothesis … . It is this: the over-arching reason for the clamp-down on dissent, migration, and freedom of expression, and the concurrent emphasis on security in the developed world, constitutes the visible expression of a pre-emptive counter-revolution[snip]

Charles Stross

Charles Stross

I believe what we’re seeing is a move towards the global imposition of a police state in the developed world, leveraging the xenophobia that naturally emerges during insecure times, by a ruling elite who are themselves feeling threatened by a specter.  Controls on movement, freedom of association, and speech are all key tools in the classic police state’s arsenal.

What’s new about this cycle is that the police state machinery is imposed locally, within national boundaries, but applies everywhere: the economic system it is intended to protect is transnational and unconstrained.  Which is why even places that were largely exempt during the cold war are having a common police state agenda quietly imposed. There is to be no refuge, other than destabilized “failed states” where the conditions of life make a police state look utopian in comparison.

via Who ordered *that*? – Charlie’s Diary.

Democracy in the UK is ineffective, Stross wrote.  He sees the Conservative, Labor and Liberal Democratic parties as different wings of the same Ruling Party—much as I see the Republican and Democratic parties in the USA.  If there is no hope for progressive change within the political system, then, as a matter of logic, the only possibility for change is a revolt against the system.

My conclusion is that we are now entering a pre-revolutionary state, much as the nations of Europe did in 1849 with the suppression of the wave of revolutions that spurred, among other things, the writing of “The Communist Manifesto”. It took more than a half-century for that pre-revolutionary situation to mature to the point of explosion, but explode it did, giving rise to the messy fallout of the 20th century.

I don’t know how long this pre-revolutionary situation will last — although I would be surprised if it persisted for less than two decades — but the whirlwind we reap will be ugly indeed: if you want to see how ugly, look to the Arab Spring and imagine it fought by … killer drones that know what you wrote on Facebook eighteen years ago when you were younger, foolish, and un-cowed.  And which is armed with dossiers the completeness of which the East German Stasi could only fantasize about.

via A Bad Dream – Charlie’s Diary.

Revolutionary violence does not appeal to Stross, nor to me.  But as President John F. Kennedy said, those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.