Sedition, Subversion, Sabotage

By William T. Hathaway

To lay the groundwork for fundamental change, we need to be clear on where we stand in history, to know what is possible in our times and what isnít. I hate to say it, but I doubt that any of us will get to be members of a society in which weíd actually want to live. It seems probable that even the youngest among us will have to live under an increasingly unpleasant form of capitalism. This system is too strong, too adaptable, and has too many supporters in all classes for it to be overthrown any time soon. The bitter likelihood is weíre not going to be the ones to build a new society.

The Left wastes tremendous amounts of energy planning that better world and quarreling over ideologies. This strikes me as an anodyne, an escape into abstraction away from our painful historical reality. Itís useless and presumptuous of us to try to do a job that belongs to future generations. It just diverts us from our real task and thus prolongs the system we oppose.

What prolongs it even more effectively is the hope that liberal reforms will lead to basic changes. An honest look at our situation today shows this is a hoax. The purpose of liberalism is to defuse discontent with promises of the future and thus prevent mass opposition from coalescing. It diverts idealism into trivial dead ends.

Capitalism, although resilient, is willing to change only in ways that shore it up, so before anything truly different can be built, we have to bring it down.

How? I think our job is to impair this system, impede its functioning, break it in a few places, open up points of vulnerability for coming generations to exploit. These actions donít require finely nuanced theory or agreement on ideology, just a recognition of the overriding necessity of weakening this monster, of reducing its economic and military power. This is a goal around which we can form a new united front.

Most of us avoid these actions because they're so negative. Weíre basically positive people and donít like to think of ourselves as destructive. But we canít destroy Moloch, all we can do is undermine it a bit. And thatís a great contribution. Itís not glorious but itís necessary. If we do it well enough, our great-great grandchildren can lead a revolution and design a new society. If we donít do it, our descendants will be the globalized serfs of Bushís great-great grandchildren.

As I see it, our generational assignment -- "should we decide to accept it" -- is sedition, subversion, and sabotage. We can identify those institutions and modes of functioning that support the system and then attack them.

For sedition, some of our writing here in THE ETHICAL SPECTACLE is exemplary.

For subversion we could, for example, focus on institutions that instill patriotism in young people. Scouts, competitive team sports, school spirit, pledge of allegiance ceremonies -- all create in children an affective bond to larger social units of school, city, and nation.

Kids are indoctrinated to feel these are extensions of their family and to respect and fear the authorities as they would their parents, more specifically their fathers, because this is a patriarchal chain being forged. It causes us even as adults to react to criticism of the country as an attack on our family. This hurts our feelings on a deep level, so we reject it, convinced it canít be true. Itís too threatening to us.

This linkage is also the basis of the all-American trick of substituting personal emotion for political thought.

Breaking this emotional identification is crucial to reducing the widespread support this system still enjoys. Whatever we can do to show how ridiculous these rituals are will help undermine them.

For instance, teachers could refuse to lead the pledge of allegiance, or they could follow it with historical facts that would cause the students to question their indoctrination. If a teacher got fired, the resulting legal battle could taint the whole sacrosanct ritual and challenge the way history is taught in the schools.

Subversive parenting means raising children who wonít go along with the dominant culture and have the skills to live outside it as much as possible.

Much radical feminist activism is profoundly subversive. That's why it's opposed so vehemently by many women and men.

Spiritually, whatever undercuts the concept of God as daddy in the sky will help break down patriarchal conditioning and free us for new visions of the Divine.

Sabotage is more problematic. It calls to mind bombings and mayhem, which I donít think will achieve anything worthwhile. But sabotage doesnít need to harm living creatures. Systems can be obstructed in many ways, which I can't discuss more specifically because of the police state under which we currently live.

Most of these things can be done individually, relying on the principles of leaderless resistance. They donít depend on organizations, which can be infiltrated and destroyed.

All these actions together can slow down this behemoth, make it a less effective murderer, increase its vulnerability to outside attack. What we do could save the life of a little girl playing right now in the streets of Mosul. If we keep at it, this juggernaut will eventually grind down, falter, and fall. Then the people of that generation can decide what to build in its place.

### William T. Hathawayís latest book, SUMMER SNOW, is a peace novel set amidst the war on terrorism as a US warrior falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. The first chapter is on the "Our Books" section of the publisher's website,