Independence?

Independence from what? Facist theft of property? Being jailed for political differences? Extortion of money to fund mass murder? Sanction of indefinite jailing without charges? Torture?

On this day of celebration of the formation of a state which revels in the above atrocities, I defer to Leo Tolstoy, who said in Christianity and Patriotism (1894)

Patriotism … for rulers is nothing else than a tool for achieving their power-hungry and money-hungry goals, and for the ruled it means renouncing their human dignity, reason, conscience, and slavish submission to those in power. … Patriotism is slavery.

And to Emma Goldman, who wrote in Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty

Conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. […] Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.

Governments do not create, give nor protect freedom. They only infringe upon it in different ways. Is independence from one state worth celebrating when it was immediately replaced by another?

Vote

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Vote
Use your voice
Make your choice
Take down the psychopathic power structure
Replace it with another
less diseased?
We’ll see

In a system built on violence every vote’s an affirmation
an attestation
a confirmation
that you believe in the system
That violence (when used by the right people) can make things better

In a system that is sick every vote’s an infection
A blind eye to every inspection
forced at the end of a gun

At the heart of every law is a threat
That it doesn’t matter where your heart’s set
All will comply, one by one

That they will push and pull and take you where they will
And if you stand still
They will break you down with their billy clubs and tear gas

Because the people have spoken
Your bones may be broken
For the majority have placed you in the criminal class

You see…

There is an arrogance to creating a law
Saying you know better than me what’s best for me

But I’m not looking for confrontation
I don’t want to tear you down when you try to build a better world
I just want you to see like I see
That your better world is built on bones

When you choose between the left and the right
When you fight the good fight
When you try to make a sick system kill a little slower than before

I know your heart is true
But in a system built to subdue
Your heart can be used up to feed the lust for gore

And I’m sorry
I don’t have the answers
I can’t say what can replace this Empire

See, I fear the Empire sickness
Will always be with us
Much like Christ said of the poor

So I try to speak from a place of love
Standing at the bottom, always looking above
And explain why I will not pick up your ballot shaped sword

Gabe Harrell – Vote.mp3

Nonviolent votes?

From this week’s Sojourners newsletter:

We recoil from nonviolence at our peril. Dr. King rightly saw it at the heart of democracy. Our nation is a great cathedral of votes — votes not only for Congress and for president, but also votes on Supreme Court decisions and on countless juries. Votes govern the boards of great corporations and tiny charities alike. Visibly and invisibly, everything runs on votes. And every vote is nothing but a piece of nonviolence.

– Historian Taylor Branch, in a recent op-ed, “The Last Wish of Martin Luther King.”

How is voting, particularly in government, nonviolent when every act of government is back up with the threat of violence? Votes are cast for those who support a certain sense of morality so that those who transgress that morality will be threatened with violence. As long as there are prisons, police, judges and soldiers then voting will be a violent act.

The Presidential Election

I’m amused by the grand pageant that is a presidential race. I follow along halfheartedly, thinking of the various personalities as characters on some TV dramedy, and just trying to see where the story goes. There are some I like more than others, and many I truly despise.

That said, I’m not voting. I haven’t in many years.

Now, knowing that any political post is quickly followed up by people saying “Oh, but you’re wrong!”, I’m going to write about this anyway.

The foundation of my decision not to vote is that participation in an election is entrusting one’s authority to make decisions to another party. Voting is giving sanction to the government, telling them by casting a vote I endorse the form of government and its ability to make decisions in my place. Voting is also taking on responsibility for the actions of the government. If I had voted for a senator who voted for the Patriot Act? I’d have given them the authority to do that. Voting is giving away the right to self-determination and taking responsibility for the theft of that right from others.

A further reason for not voting in a presidential race is that the President of the USA is the commander of the military forces of the country. As a pacifist I cannot say, “Oh, I’d like this person to be in charge of the murder of people.” No. I will not choose the person who has access to that little red button. I’ll settle for nothing less than the destruction of that button. I won’t try to choose someone who will use their military might with restraint. That is a sanction of the use of said force AT ALL. I won’t compromise.

Is Dubya a psychopathic warmonger? Yes. Without question.

Was Clinton better?

Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Bill Clinton, December 16, 1998

Sounds like a familiar justification to me. Less psychopathic? Yes. Still evil? Yes.

In keeping with the pacifist reasons for not voting, years ago I came to realize that the central principal of any form of government is violence. There is very little difference between Capitol Hill and the Mafia. Deviate from approved behavior and we are met with thugs threatening or using violence. Refuse to pay for protection (is there a difference between taxes and protection money?) and the thugs are at our door, stealing and brutalizing if we don’t comply. Choosing nicer bosses for the thugs does not change the centrality of violence to government, and sanctioning government by voting is saying that this violence is okay.

I’m not going to offer up my power to make decisions, my power to work for good in the world. I’m not going to say that violence is okay when the majority agrees on who should direct it. No. Not me. I will not vote.