Oh, John Lennon. It was so easy back then.
(a video of the Beatles’ REVOLUTION. I do not have anybody’s right to share this, so I expect I’ll have to take it down soon, hopefully without Vevo taking legal action).
I had written an absurd post a couple months ago about impeaching Mike Pence before anyone goes after Trump. It was tongue-in-cheek, a reference to the drop-off of support for impeaching Trump. I began this year with relatively high hopes. People (primarily the people who’d adamantly supported Clinton, but also a lot of people who’d supported Sanders) were earnestly announcing formation of groups to work to remove Trump from office. I was getting notes from everyone I knew on FB along the lines of ‘Join UP!’
And then nothing.
What People quickly understood after the Women’s Marches in January was that there was no Constitutional mechanism for a do-over. The Founders didn’t think it was necessary to back-stop the Impeachment process with a way of dumping a whole government or all the legislators from a political party. Or if they did, it wasn’t expressed in the Constitution. I guess them old white guy slave-owner plutocrats figured if things were in the toilet that badly, we the people would figure out the need for revolt all on our lonesome. Like this:
A radical reading of the contemporary political histories of 1968 shows just how close to a real revolution the US was. John Lennon had confessed in an interview shortly before his death that people had approached him for money and support for a revolution in the US. The Beatles released ‘Revolution’ in August of 1968 in the heady days just after the Tet Offensive collapsed all hopes of ‘rescuing’ Vietnam from the Communists, and just before the ‘Police riot’ at the DNC convention in Chicago. RFK and MLK had both been assassinated earlier that year, and this was proof to conspiracy minded Americans that the fix was in. Lennon was approached by leaders of the American Left (he never said who) who wanted to use youth anger and frustration and coalesce it into insurrection. Lennon gave it a good deal of thought but decided he couldn’t back a revolution that would turn violent. He said something to the effect of ‘if you want me at your revolution, I’ll be at the barricades handing out flowers, not bombs’.
There was another source of the ‘planning a revolution’ story. Father Daniel Berrigan, whose life (and the life of his brother Phil) was a paradigm of how to mount non violent resistance, wrote that he was also approached at about the same time for the same cause. The revolutionaries had sources of funding (They certainly weren’t asking Phil and Dan, two priests who’d taken vows of poverty, for money). But it must have been a serious possibility. Dan Berrigan wrote that he passed on the revolution–he would not back a revolution that did not embrace nonviolence and reconciliation.
We didn’t have a revolution in the US because of the issue of violence vs nonviolence. Our lesson on nonviolence was saved for the nonviolent people who tipped over the USSR a generation later. The world got through the end of the Soviet empire without a single nuclear weapon going off. Whatever faults you can ascribe to the Soviet system, you need to recognize that the Soviet leadership realized that bloodshed would not roll back revolution, and the weapons of the USSR weren’t used in the days when the Berlin Wall collapsed. One wonders whether Donald Trump and the people who surround him would follow that example.
And now the present.
I’ve written here and elsewhere about the fact that the Anti-Trump opposition hit a brick wall once they realized that there was no constitutional way to overthrow the GOP lock on all the handles of government. The GOP has also locked down state and local government, controlling the majority of state houses and governorships. Thanks to the gaming of the voting population through mechanisms such as Crosscheck, it’s not clear that the current widespread disgust with the Trump administration will add up to electorally flipping the House and Senate come 2018 (never mind 2020). And thanks to the Citizens United decision, we’ve become a nation where billionaires can buy elections (the Citizens United decision itself being a by-product of the stacking of the SCOTUS by the GOP over the years–like Bush V Gore, a decision driven by a GOP judicial majority). The legal means of reversing this government is not available.
Which brings me back to my
favorite subject least favorite obsession, extinction by climate warming. In my play PLANET HOSPICE, I allude to the problem of disrupting the status quo. A crash of the electrical grid, whether caused by a general economic collapse or through a solar flare or other storm event on the sun, would surely doom us to death from ionizing radiation as the uncooled nuclear fuel melts down and catches fire that firefighters approach knowing their life will be measurable in minutes once they’re exposed to the flames. Someone on the FB group Near Term Human Extinction pointed this out today, and it’s pertinent to our current situation. There’s also the fact that revolutions get out of hand. As I wrote about during the unfolding civil war in Ukraine, there’s nothing to say that Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are off-limits in a war: Here in the US, an errant artillery round or two landing near one of America’s 100+ nuclear power plants would be sufficient to trigger all sorts of mayhem.
- There’s no Constitutional way to rid ourselves of the current US government in the near term (next 12 months), a government which seems to be Hell-bent on doing serious damage (including fomenting wars with opponents with nuclear weapons) over the next four years.
- If you believe there’s any chance at all of heading off human extinction in the next decade, that only becomes possible if the AGW denialists are out of power in the US, replaced by a group of people who understand that you can’t count your money while holding your breath;
- The American people are not ready to get into the streets in a chain of massive nonviolent civil disobedience necessary to nonviolently disrupt the current government and effect a peaceful transition;
- The path to nonviolence is complicated by the fact that though the citizenry of the US appears to find Trump’s actions (and the actions of the GOP in support of him) unacceptable, a significant portion of the populace supports him and appears ready to take up arms to defend the government. This makes the possibility of non-violent change extremely difficult;
- A violent revolution to topple the US government carries the threat of setting off a series of events that locks in our extinction in the near term.
Maybe that’s why people who should be politically engaged are sitting home posting FB memes about kitties and dogs. I include myself in this group.