We Americans are proud of our rebel roots. We like to trot out how we faced off against the strongest empire (not really) on the planet at the time of our nation’s birth and won. In the American South people still fly the Stars and Bars, laying claim to a tradition of defiance one hundred fifty years after the largest civil war of our country’s history (there were a few before it) ended. We like to think we are a nation of Davids standing up to an endless army of Goliaths.
The thing is, these days, nothing can be further from the truth. Oh, sure, we complain about the government plenty, as if the state itself was the bogeyman. We hold marches, rail on social media, and complain to anyone within earshot of how we need change. None of us knows really what we want that change to be though. Mostly it just means we don’t like the guy who is in office now, maybe because he is doing all the thing we liked about the last guy, but has just a wee bit too much melanin for our tastes, but I digress.
If America ever was populated by rebels, and I am not sure that really was the case, it is not today. If anything we trip over ourselves to defend the bullies. We want to be led, or at least we don’t want to do the scary work of challenging those with real power. We are addicted to our hierarchy. We have bosses instead of leaders. Employees are infantalized in business models that encourage people to think of the organization as a family, with workers as brothers and sisters and management as stern, but loving of course, parents. Never mind the fact this model undermines labor’s agency. You are not a child in a family, you are an adult in a business transaction.
We keep paying our homage to our new landlords in their boardrooms and in their island retreats. We fork over our share of our labor, our dignity, every ounce of power to these people, and seethe with rage toward anyone that stands up to them for us. We call them makers, and job creators, and the entire time they chuckle at us as they “earn” their share from inheritances and in executive positions garnered from family connections. They are no more deserving of their wealth and power than the monarchy we supposedly rebelled against two hundred thirty-seven years ago. Now, perhaps more than then, since the stakes are so high (billions in poverty, a world on the brink of ecological disaster) we need to stand up to them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean taking up arms, indeed I think that would just keep the endless cycle of violence going. There are so many ways to rebel, and so many people to do it with. The power is ours, we hold the cards, the guys in their high towers have just convinced us otherwise. We can start with realizing we are really in control, and that control is found in standing together. In standing with those the moneyed elite have convinced us are our enemies because they are the wrong color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. There are real rebels out there, standing up for you right now, find them and don’t be afraid to ask “what can I do?”
It is time to ask ourselves if we really want that change, whatever that may mean. Is our rebellious streak going to be limited to wearing a Confederate Flag or Che Guevara’s face on a tee-shirt? Or is it going to be going into the neighborhoods we have been told to be afraid to, finding our allies and standing with them, shoulder to shoulder, against the real bullies of the world? The ball’s in your court America, but there is little time to waste. It is time to ask yourself if we want to go out with a bang or a…
- The Eternal Rebel: Ronnie Kasrils by Chris Hedges (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Weapons Are Not Just Guns by Robert Fisk (zcommunications.org)
- Locking Out the Voices of Dissent by Chris Hedges (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Web Hub: ‘We Are All Trayvon Martin! The Whole Damned System is Guilty!’ (pjmedia.com)