Some Thoughts on Revolution

Before we begin and everyone freaks out, I’m not calling for one! Nor for anyone to take up arms and rebel! Rather, I wanted to come back to a tweet by Dave Weigel that Anne Laurie posted the other day:

I’ve spent a lot of time reading the scholarly literature on low intensity war, everything from revolution to terrorism since I began my career in the early 1990s. Since going to work for the Army in 2007, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the professional military’s and defense policy community’s literature on this topic as well – everything from manuals to analyses to assessments to articles in professional journals. And I’ve contributed to it as well. I think that Weigel, in these two tweets, has summed up something that is so much a part of the conventional wisdom of understanding low intensity war that it is just background noise that is normally never explicitly stated. Quite simply: it is very, very, very difficult to start a revolution or a rebellion because of the social and economic costs.

The social and economic costs of a revolution or a rebellion are just too great for almost anyone who is not an elite, or an exceedingly committed ideologue, to overcome. The vast majority of people are just trying to get through the day. To make it home to their families. To survive until they repeat it all again the next day, and the next, and the next. And that’s in the US where what Senator Sanders is asking for is simply political, social, and economic mobilization through constitutional and legal means to change the government at the ballot box, not to violently overthrow it.

Imagine how much harder and more difficult it is for people to revolt or rebel in places where they are facing hypertrophic internal surveillance states, secret police, and the entire power of the state utilized to ensure the survival of the regime, those in the regime, and those favored by the regime? If you ever wondered why oppressed people, whether in the Soviet Union when it still existed or in Russia and the former Soviet states today, in states and societies in the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, in Central and South America, in Cuba don’t revolt or rebel, it is because they just don’t have the energy to do so. All of their energy goes in to surviving. To being able to put enough food on the table, to ensuring one or one’s loved ones don’t get scarfed up by the security services, to just making it through to the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. Places where you’d expect revolutions and rebellions to occur don’t have them because them people that live in those states and societies can’t socially or economically afford to undertake a popular revolt or rebellion.

The American revolution against the British was conceived, promoted, and led by elites. The southern rebellion against the United States was conceived, promoted, and led by the southern elites of the emerging Confederacy. As was the post Great Rebellion, know doing business as the Civil War, insurgency against the United States known as the Lost Cause. This insurgency, still ongoing today in the former Confederate states, as well as places that it was exported under the guise of some forms of white evangelicalism, has always been both violent and non-violent at the same time, led by elites, and conducted to co-opt non-elite support. Neither the American revolution or the Confederacy’s counter-rebellion against the US and post war insurgency were popular uprisings of the masses. And this is because it is only elites with the time, money, other resources, and the liberty that time, money, and those other resources provide them, who are able to pay the social and economic costs of trying to start a revolution or a rebellion. Or to escape them.

What Senator Sanders and his supporters, just as Jill Stein and her supporters, and Ralph Nader and his supporters, and others who think heightening the contradictions will lead to a non-violent political, social, and economic revolution in the US don’t understand is that when the contradictions get heightened, very, very, very bad things happen to those who can least afford to endure them. And being subjected to these bad things does not incentivize those enduring them to revolt and rebel, even through legal and constitutional means like demonstrating, protesting, and voting. Rather, they are further incentivized to just try to survive. To make enough to put food on the table. To get through the day and get home to their loved ones. And to do whatever they can to ensure that they and/or their loved ones can survive to the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Open thread!

Floriduh! Man & Woman: Easily Triggered and Not Very Bright Edition

Oy vey…

From NBC News:

A Florida man called police to report a comedian of Middle Eastern descent who he believed had told a joke that showed support for terrorism.

Standup comic Ahmed Ahmed, who is of Egyptian descent, poked fun at negative stereotypes of Muslims during a set at Off The Hook Comedy Club in Naples, Florida, on Saturday night.

“Clap if you’re from the Middle East,” Ahmed said, according to a clip posted on the club’s Facebook page.

After a smattering of cheers, Ahmed slyly responded: “All right. We got a handful of us in in here, nice. But, hey, it only takes one of us … to tell a joke.”

At least one member of the audience didn’t get the punchline.

The man called the Collier County Sheriff’s Department and told a deputy that Ahmed was organizing people of Middle Eastern descent to possibly commit terrorism.

“He said, `That’s great.’ He said, `We can organize our own little terrorist organization,’ and I don’t think that was right. I mean it really bothered me,” the caller said, according to audio of the call released by the sheriff’s department. “And I yelled out, `And the paddy wagon is going to be outside to get all of you.’ “

The man added: “My wife and I looked at each other and we felt very uncomfortable.”

The caller told authorities he was only at the club because he was given free tickets.

Ahmed told NBC News on Wednesday that the “it only takes one of us” line is in his regular act and it’s never sparked any blowback.

“I’ve told that joke about 1,000 times around the world,” Ahmed said. “Whatever he heard and what I said are two different things.”

The comic said he stuck around after Saturday’s show to meet with any fans who wanted to speak with him or snap pictures.

“Terrorists don’t do meet-and-greets,” the comic said. “We don’t say, `Death to America!’ and then, `But wait, let’s do selfies first.’ “

Deputies showed up to the club Sunday before Ahmed’s set that night, briefly interviewed him and left without incident.

“They couldn’t have been nicer,” Ahmed said of the responding deputies. “One of them said, `Don’t change anything, keep doing what you’re doing.’ That was refreshing to hear.”

Club owner Brien Spina said he’s been booking Ahmed to his club for more than a decade, and won’t stop now.

“For me it was a great joke. I stand behind him,” said Spina, who booked Ahmed for another gig, on Wednesday of next week. “His show is great.”

The comic said he has no ill will toward the caller. If anything, he wants to shake his hand.

“I want to say, `Thank you,’ to him,” Ahmed said. “He got more publicity for me in that one phone call than ever. You want to talk about a blessing in disguise.”

Given that this took place in one of the more reactionary portions of the Gunshine State, Ahmed is lucky that this guy just called the cops.

You just gotta laugh. At the morons.

Open thread!

PopCult Open Thread: Endgame of Thrones

I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, mostly because as I got older I decided to give up on the concept of ‘keeping up’ with Intensely Popular Fantasy Sagas that didn’t pique my interests but would take great swaths of time & attention. (Haven’t read or watched the Harry Potter series, either.) But you can’t pay attention to social media — well, any media — and not pick out some of the general outlines. Couple concepts I thought were interesting:

Alyssa Rosenberg, in the Washington Post“What would a feminist ending for ‘Game of Thrones’ actually look like?”

[A]s the final two episodes of the long-running fantasy series approach, debates about the show’s gender politics and a host of assorted questions are heating up with all the force of dragonfire. What is the line between depicting sexism and endorsing it? Should the characters be judged by the norms of the fictional world in which they reside or our own? And perhaps most of all, what would a feminist ending for the series actually look like?…

And a long twitter thread on the difference between the written and filmed stories (click on any of the tweets below to read the whole thing)…

Bibi Gives Away the Game by Publicly Patting Himself on the Back: Israel is the Tail Wagging the American Dog

Looks like Bibi Netanyahu just proved Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib were correct. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Congressman Crenshaw or the arbiter of American anti-Semitism, Megan McCain, to acknowledge their errors and apologize for their incendiary remarks.

Here’s the translation courtesy of The Times of Israel (1. So no one can accuse me of doing a biased/slanted translation from the Hebrews. 2. Because I really don’t like having to translate it myself at this hour with my rusty, out of use Hebrew. 3. Emphasis mine.):

In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal

Public broadcaster airs clip of PM telling Likud activists US exit came after he stood up ‘against the whole world’ by opposing accord

Saturday Night Fun ‘n’ Games Open Thread



Off to dinner with the Spousal Unit. What’s everyone else up to?