Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peaceful Protest And Limits

Well, well, well. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

In response to the brutal attack by Oakland PD upon peaceful demonstrators at the Occupy Oakland site, Desertpeace has a lovely quote from Jack London, (of all authors!), specifically a largely-unknown work of his entitled "The Iron Heel" -

We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power…We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words–Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.

Certainly not what you think of when you hear the name Jack London, is it? In contrast, the rest of his works seem like books for children.

And just yesterday my own father emailed me in response to a video I'd sent him last week, showing a similar crackdown by our own local cops against the Occupy San Diego site. What did my Dad have to say? "It's too bad, but the 'occupy movement' or any other form of peaceful protest just doesn't do any good."

Uh huh. Do I really need to say that I agree?

And yet, in a certain coldly cynical sense, peaceful protest does serve a purpose. It demonstrates its own futility, so that all can see other measures are also necessary. And it provides a casus belli, to which The People may afterward point and say, "We tried".

For an interesting historical example, see the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the death of Crispus Attucks. Note that these events took place five years prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord, which are generally considered to have begun the American Revolution.

And on the other hand, Desertpeace, on a relentlessly optimistic note, also offers us this little homily to John Lennon

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