….from OTG stuff. I admit that, freely (and obviously somewhat regularly). I kinda do my own twisted version of political commentary now and again and I know that it it is not always well received by my readers. I apologize to those who see it as simply politics but it is not – at least politics is NOT the primary motivation. Protest is the primary motivation. I feel the need to speak my truth to power. I call it ethical dissent.
I am a stated GREENIE but, honestly, I am mostly and largely non-partisan. I don’t like career politicians, political parties, the party system, the structure of government and, of course, the inevitable corruption of all of those so I am not a fan of any of them, really. I am a GREEN for obvious reasons but one of them is that a vote for the GREENs is a legitimate protest vote. They won’t likely ever win. Not in my lifetime, anyway. And so, for me, a vote for the GREENs is a middle finger gesture to the others.
I mention all this because a middle finger salute is not enough. I know that. You know that. The system is broken and not voting or protest-voting is simply not changing things at all. In fact, it is all getting worse despite what I/we do.
I suppose ‘contradictory-voting’ is the next thing. Some are advocating for it. If you normally vote Liberal, then try the NDP. If you normally vote Conservative, then try the Greens. Basically, those people are not voting for the ‘opposite’ party so much as voting for changing their own party. A prominent Liberal party member in Langley, BC, (the mayor) has recently come out with that. He said, “Well, I guess Hell has frozen over because I am going to vote for the NDP this May!”
I applaud that. He shows an honesty, a truth-telling, an open-mind. He does not like the NDP but now he thinks HIS party has gone rotten and needs a major cleansing. Change gotta happen! And he’s right. 100% right!
But, even that is still not enough.
What we, the voters, are trying to do is not just change the corrupt system but also to reject the overt and subtle tyranny that such corruption masks. Corrupt politics not only cheats the public, it lies to them, manipulates them, manages them and controls them. In the extreme, they will harass, restrict, persecute, incarcerate and execute the public if they get in the way. We can all see it when it is extreme AND in another country (see: the USA today vs thirty years ago. See Russia and China anytime. See Mexico – if it isn’t the government there, it is the resulting corrupt drug cartels doing it).
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The point is: anything short of pure, good government verges on some degree of tyranny inflicted on the people. Usually someone is getting royally screwed all the time by powerful government and more and more and now, most of us, are being overly screwed these days. (see: Canadian millennials, the poor, indigenous, immigrants, rural-folks).
So, what is the solution? Timothy Snyder’s book, ON TYRANNY, suggests 20 ways to ethically dissent. 1. Do not obey in advance. In other words, we tend to go along to get along and, in so doing, do NOT protest when we should. Do not walk willingly to the orders of the powers-that-be. Resistance is a virtue. It’s also easier to do in the beginning.
2. Defend Institutions. As flawed as they are, they are the first line of defense. Obey the law, queue for buses, pay your bills, say, ‘have a nice day’. The reason: the institution’s stated values are good ones and they need our support.
3.Beware the one-party state (and, by inference, the two-party state is only somewhat better).
4. Take responsibility for the face of the world. DO NOT accept swastikas and ugly graffiti as the new norm. Clean up your yard. Looking ugly and being ugly are kissing cousins. Beautify your neighbourhood. Look after things. Beauty is as beauty does.
5. Remember your professional and personal ethics. Live up to the values you respect and hold dear. Manifest them daily.
6. Beware paramilitaries and, by extension, paramilitary behaviours. Ditch the camo.
7. If you are in the paramilitaries (police, security, etc.) be reflective. Be kind. Be aware that you are in a position of power and exercise it extremely consciously and cautiously.
8. Stand up. Get counted. Speak your mind. Let them know how you feel. Write to the editor. Tweet. Talk to people. Gossip and yak….it’s all glue for the society.
9. Be kind to your language. Speak your own phrases. Do not use jargon, cliche and vulgarities. Think before you speak and then speak articulately what you think. Like, duh!
10. Believe (and exercise) the truth. Work for it. Say it. Check it. Review it. Truth is real power. We all want it. Tell the truth.
There are 10 more suggested ‘actions’ from Snyder. I will do the others later. My readers don’t read more than 750 words at a time willingly and much more than 1000 is simply ‘not on.’
But, in summary, I am, personally, supportive of his suggestions on the whole but I do NOT see them as ‘the wisdom of the ages’. Still, he is ethically dissenting and putting words to it. THAT is good. He is making positive suggestions for ‘doing more’ than just voting contra or not voting at all. Or worse, like me, complaining all the live long day in a blog. He is advocating for constructive but corrective behaviours that WILL make a difference. And I applaud that.
I try to do some of that already and will seriously consider his other suggestions. But the point is: he is making suggestions as to how to ethically dissent and how to stand up to the beginnings of tyranny.
I am pretty sure it is much, much harder to stand up to well-entrenched tyranny. Ask a Mainland Chinese or a Russian….
In fact, by the time tyranny has risen to even just Trumpian levels, it may be too late. We’ll see. Harper’s Canada never got anywhere near as bad as even Bush’s America but it was bad enough for us to balk. Canada stood up. Harper gone. But the US now has Trump. It may already be too late to stand up but many there are trying.
It’s ironic and tragic that those who voted for Trump were, in fact, trying to stand up to ‘established power’ and thought they were voting for an ethical dissenter. Sad.
Maybe Americans just need to be pushed a little further. We’ll see. Tomahawking Syria got their attention. Maybe Trump nuking North Korea will make them stand up. I wish them luck in that. We all need it.