Throughout history, human civilization has been cursed by tyranny. Time and again, power is concentrated in institutions that rule by coercion and force. Humans have suffered through totalitarianism, dictatorships, and fascism repeatedly. Untold suffering and death have occurred.
But such times have always been marked by resistance. Courageous individuals and movements have fought back with a variety of tactics from open revolt to furtive sabotage. The rate of success in overthrowing particular tyrannical institutions has been mixed (though none of them ever last forever anyway of course) but that is not the only way to weigh the value of freedom fighters. Is it not worthy, in and of itself, to strive on behalf of life?
Here in the USA, we are living through a time of increasing tyranny. Certainly, the entire experiment has been tyrannical from the start, given the genocide and slavery that founded the nation, and the brutal militarism that wrought its imperium; however, the last few decades have seen a ramping up of assaults against our individual rights and collective liberties that seriously contradict the idea of a “free country.” Under the auspices of fighting “terror,” the amendments in the Bill of Rights have been getting crossed out like items on a grocery list. Since the ascendancy of Trump to the White House, these trends have accelerated. What was once characterized as “creeping” fascism is now “leaping” and it’s a bipartisan affair. The attacks on leftist journalism since the 2016 election, for example, have been coordinated more by Democrats and their allies than by Republicans. (See my “Cowardly New World: Alternative Media Under Attack by Algorithms.”)
This is definitely a moment when we need resistance. And I mean real resistance, not the faux hashtag Resistance(TM) of Democratic partisans who, had Hillary been the winner, would “be at brunch now.”
What does “real” resistance look like?
Chelsea Manning just showed us.