Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Monks' Example

Right now, in Burma, Buddhist monks are demonstrating the most effective means of dealing with tyrants and oppression and government they despise:

Ignore it.

Disobey.

Refuse to cooperate.

Even the most heavily armed tyrant cannot fight this, not without killing everyone. Then, as Carl Watner shows, "the victor is defeated, cheated of his prize, since nobody can rule over dead people."

No need for armed revolution or civil war, for outright violence.

"When people refuse their cooperation, withhold their help, and persist in their disobedience and defiance, they are denying their opponent the basic human assistance which any government or hierarchical system requires. if they do this in sufficient numbers for long enough, that government or hierarchical system will no longer have power" - Gene Sharp.
This is the power of Civil Disobedience and can open up an avenue of change to everyone, not just professional agitators and revolutionaries. No need for arms, insurgency and guerrilla warfare. Just withhold your consent and refuse to cooperate.

"I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." - Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849.


Are you ready? If so, follow the example of the monks.

Disobey.


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8 Comments:

At 10:19 AM, Blogger KevinG said...

I hope it works out better for them than the last time they tried. It seems, in practical terms, you don't have to kill them all, just a bunch of them.

Since Canada is a place that almost anyone in the world might pick as a better place to live than the place they are, I'm not sure how many takers you'll have.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger Mike said...

keving,

Yeah, well I'm purposely being over the top a bit, but the basic tenet is true - no government, anywhere, no matter how nice or brutal, can get away with anything without cooperation of the people. Sometimes it takes a bit, but eventually they are powerless if you ignore them.

Ceaucescu was overthrown when the Romanians stopped listening. They did have to fight back when attacked by the secret police, but by that time it was too late - he was fleeing.

Merely pointing out that if you don't like tax laws, or Afghanistan or healthcare levies you can do something by just not cooperating with whatever level of government is doing it. It may take a while but at some point, you will prevail.

Make your interactions with government truly voluntary - do what you agree with and do not cooperate with those that you do not.

OT - why can't people comment at your place any more?

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

"This is the power of Civil Disobedience and can open up an avenue of change to everyone, not just professional agitators and revolutionaries. No need for arms, insurgency and guerrilla warfare. Just withhold your consent and refuse to cooperate."

To true, Ghandi proved it, MLK Jr. proved it. Hopefuly the people of Burma will prove it too.

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous BJ said...

It can work, though as noted above, if you're not too worried about the body count, you can force obedience from most people by killing a non-trivial fraction of them. Ghandi and MLK Jr. did it, but the UK and US aren't Myanmar. One other example is when Sistani called for a peace march to Najaf to pull al-Sadr's balls from the fire of an American seige. He could do it in 2004. I doubt a similar march would work today.

It takes a great deal more bravery to stand against a violent regime in peaceful protest than to fight against it, which is probably why it doesn't happen too often.

One other point. Where it has worked, it has done so because the leadership was able to organize their supporters to make the non-cooperation effective. Individual non-cooperation can be ignored or oppressed. It takes collective non-cooperation to work.

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger James Bow said...

Are you ready? If so, follow the example of the monks.

Disobey.

No.

:-)

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Mike said...

James,

Well, when you are you know where to find me...

:-)

 
At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one thing to ask people to resist a monster by disobeying, quite another to ask them to combat the creeping growth of the modern nanny state by jeopardizing a relatively soft, easy and comfortable lifestyle when they are not subject to any privation but the almost imperceptible withering of freedom. This is the ugly genius of statism in a "democracy". Materially prosperous people are generally docile people. Except in Lanark County, of course.

The Needle

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger Ron said...

anonymous/Needle: true 'nuff.

It's still fun asking. And worth it.

I cherish the small victories.

 

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