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August 22, 2021

Civil Disobedience [Diogenes]

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Since our so-called election, we have seen a lot of references here to Civil Disobedience (CD). I may have even made a few myself. So lets talk about it. Just what is it and how might it work?

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert. I’ve attended a few marches. Early in my Army career I was taught how to go into a protest and just walk around, observe, and see how it was being run. I quickly learned to pick out who was in charge, who was directing things, who was “security” and who was the media face. It was a fascinating experience and actually kinda fun…if you didn’t get caught.

Simply put, CD is the refusal to obey the demands or commands of a government, usually without resorting to violence or more active measures, and with the goal of illuminating a problem to affect change. Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience (1848) that CD espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. When a government is unjust, people should refuse to follow the law and distance themselves from the government in general. Way to go Hank!

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CD isn’t new. Sophocles talked about it in his play Antigone. Étienne de La Boétie was one of the first to propose the strategy of non-cooperation in 1552. More current examples are the Tea Party, Women’s Suffrage, Rosa Parks, Martin L. King, and East Berliners in 1989. No doubt you Hordemates can cite more.

So why resort to CD? Too often we say Oh well, there is nothing we can do. Yet we genuinely feel the moral outrage and the need to do something, anything, when the government does something that undermines the principles our Constitution. So what to do?

Think ahead. Get organized. Pick that onerous law/policy you want to change. This will be obvious but be clear at least in your own thinking.

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Pick the Act. What specifically do you want to do? Are you alone or in a small group? A larger group? This affects what you can and should do. Some actions seek to stop or interrupt daily events such as sit-ins and blocking freeways. But choose carefully. A pissed off public doesn’t help. These direct actions create a dilemma for authorities. Do they concede or risk looking heavy handed in their response?

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Is there a danger of arrest? Yup. Most governments understand protests, but do not allow CD as an excuse for breaking the law. If arrested, decide ahead of time if you cooperate with authorities or resist? Also consider how will you plead? Some CD advocates say to fight the charges and use the court as a platform to make your point. Others say just accept the consequences as many victimless crimes of protest result in a simple slap on the wrist.

So how to proceed? Tactics. If acting alone, I like the little post-it notes. Nothing more fun than slapping a few of them around town. “Love Inflation? Vote Democrat!” “Joe Must Go!” You get the idea. And yard signs. Put them up. Just a couple. See what happens.

Small groups can do these and more. A mini-sit-in. Wear the same shirt. Put flags on your trucks and do a convoy. Laugh at your targets. Humor is fun and infectious. It gets people on our side.

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Large groups have other considerations, but the key is organization. Large groups draw people. Take the time to think ahead about communications, security, command and control, and reactions if attacked. Liaise with the police. Stay connected to your people. Stay organized. Use radios, cell phones and social media. And…it’s probably not a good idea to be armed. Lastly seek legal advice, ahead of time for sure, but on site if possible.

Many of us are not happy with the way things are in America today. We know we have a voice but have no idea how to use it. Just a little leadership, a little organization, and the results can be astounding.

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posted by Open Blogger at 12:00 PM

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