|Arthur Silber suggests an idea|
worthy of consideration.
Arthur Silber at Once Upon A Time blog had the idea, where, playing off widespread and deepening domestic fury, of doing a massive civil protest where people would descend upon Washington and other big cities on April 15, 2014, and in addition to bringing those places to a halt, the assembled millions would refuse to send their tax returns to the IRS en masse.
The idea is certainly worth fleshing out.
Before getting into it, though, I thought it would be worthwhile to make note of the distinction between someone like Silber and that nincompoop Patrick Cockburn whom we discussed in our previous post. The distinction is this: where Cockburn appears content to stay on the sidelines and pontificate, Silber takes the next -- and courageous -- step: he suggests doing something.
This particular idea isn't a new one for Silber; it's a reincarnation of an idea he put forward to protest the attack against Iraq -- one wherein, he notes in his present missive, he encouraged writers with a greater readership than his own to adopt and disseminate. He notes that no such such prominent writer took up the baton.
We should make a note about that. There's a very good reason that no writers or otherwise prominent people took up the challenge: they know that doing so would be very damaging -- if not fatal -- to their very prominence.
Age is teaching me that there are very few accidents when it comes to the bigger things in one's life, such as, if one chooses, to cultivate one's career. People don't get where they want to go without sacrifice and without making the compromises necessary to achieve their goals. (I'll add, parenthetically, that this is precisely the reason why I've adopted 'sitting quietly with my hands folded' as my personal career aspiration.) People don't get to the big time without making big time compromises.
The categorical imperative among those career-oriented compromises is never to rock the boat so much that it tips over.
Is it any accident that no Oscar-winning actress ever says, in giving her acceptance speech, that the whole Academy Award selection process is rotten and corrupt -- although everyone knows it anyway? Is it any accident that Glenn Greenwald, the intrepid left-wing vindicator of 'progressive' democratic values, lately castigated Obama and the DOJ for obtaining the phone records of the Associated Press while making no mention that the Associated Press has regularly served as a primary conduit for the most reprehensible government propaganda legitimizing similar invasions of others' privacy in the name of the government's Thousand Years' War Against Terrorism?
These are no surprises, and it's likewise no surprise that nobody of prominence took up on Silber's idea.
One technical point that should be made is that widespread refusal to file tax returns would be much more of a symbolic gesture than one of substance. Most people file tax returns to get a refund of a few dollars of the much larger sum the government already confiscated from them.
No doubt that the clowns in the government would take notice, and would probably regard it as something of a threat in that it would be an indication that there remain residual manifestations of a population able to think for itself. But it wouldn't substantially compromise the government's ability to conduct its nefarious business.
That notwithstanding, let's assume that Silber's idea did work, and "government leaders" found themselves in a position where making substantive compromises to a seething population was among the policy options needing to be considered.
My instinct is that the authoritarians among those "leaders" (most of them being authoritarians to begin with) would hold sway, and the policy option actually "implemented" would be a crackdown with martial law, although it would need to be called something different. More cynical observers might posit that the Boston "lockdown," to use the prison nomenclature, was a dry run for such political developments.
They'll need to find a better term than "lockdown," however, due to its negative connotations. I might suggest something along the lines of, for example, "Operation Preserve Democracy." Calling it something like "Operation Restore Democracy" would be be a less desirable option because it contains a tacit admission that democracy doesn't presently exist. "Preserving" democracy sends a far more legitimizing message.
If and when such a crackdown happens we can rest assured that there will be no shortage of prominent people encouraging the public to "remain calm" amid such a "challenging time for our 'Homeland.'"
Hey, it happened in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Poland, and a whole pile of other places. It'll happen here too, given the right circumstances. Those circumstances are, unfortunately, entirely foreseeable at present.
Does this mean that Silber had a bad idea? Hardly. His idea is a step in the right direction and one to be built upon.
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