Exposing The State- How Do We Create Change?
Over the last few weeks, we had two articles explaining how we triumph over the government and its willingness to use violence and brutality to terrorize people into obedience. In those articles we explored the tools of nonviolence specifically as ways to confront the police on the streets, to gain mass support from the populace, and to win concessions from those in power. Today we move beyond the limited view of simply winning the moment. Unlike the endless, meaningless, purposeless mass ritual of voting - which does nothing but manufacture the consent of the masses and ensure their submission to the ruling political elites who profit from the ignorance of the masses - we want to act in ways that will help us to actually win the day and create a better tomorrow.
The goal is not simply to replace one set of rulers for another. Our goal is far more radical, meaningful, and possible than endlessly repeating the insanity of the statist (“state-ist”) system under the utopian delusion that the right amount of violence in the right hands of a mythical set of ideal people will produce anything other than the rape, pillage, and murder – the blood and horror – that we see today. In this conflict for tomorrow, as in all others, the multitudinous tools of noncompliance, civil disobedience, and nonviolence are far more powerful tools than bullets, bombs, and mass slaughter to win not just the day, but to revolutionize society. In this series of articles, we will talk about three specific tools – Exposing the State, Overwhelming the State, and Dissolving the State. These tools will help us build a better society for all on the foundations of peace, liberty, justice, and prosperity by eliminating the most violent, oppressive, and warmongering institution in society, that Mother of All Monsters- the State itself.
Expose The State
If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (Matthew 5:40)
Jesus taught his followers that when they were stripped of their possession by corrupt laws that allowed the powerful to rob the poor, that they should strip naked in court and throw at their accuser their very last possessions, the cloak that acted as their underwear, and stand naked in front of everyone. By doing so they exposed those around them to the very real but hidden corruption and evil of their actions, ruining the masquerade of the law with a stark revelation of the truth. As Dr. Walter Wink explained:
“The powers that be literally stand on their dignity. Nothing deflates them more effectively than death lampooning. By refusing to be awed by their power, the powerless are emboldened to seek the initiative. Even when structural change is not immediately possible. This message, far from counseling an unattainable otherworldly perfection is a practical strategic measure for empowering the oppressed.”
The magisterial dignity that those in power use as a foundation for their authority isn’t merely lampooned by the act of stripping naked, the whole system is exposed as nothing but smoke and mirrors altogether. It shows that for all their pretentions of dignitas, politicians really are nothing more than jumped up highwaymen, robbers and bandits.
At the same time through this act of “guerrilla theater,” the disadvantaged and politically powerless were able to seize the moment and communicate with clarity and sharpness the true nature of the “law” as an instrument of oppression. We can do this today and make of ourselves open object lessons of the corruption and evil of the system in a number of ways.
By refusing to be violent, by refusing to return blow for blow, shot for shot, curse for curse, hate for hate; by refusing to do that which the entire system uses to justify itself, we expose the State for the machinery of brutality that it is at heart. It always justifies its violence, its extortion, its theft, its rape and sexual assault, as being for the “common good” and because it accords with “the law” it is supposedly different than the looter robbing a Target or a rioter burning down a 7-11. When you become the victim of brutality even though you have never offered any physical threat or harm, you rip this mask off the State and show the government for what it really is -not a Bride waiting upon the Bridegroom but a Whore riding upon a Beast. Once this is known, once people have seen it so often, they can no longer deny the evidence of their eyes and the fears of their hearts, then the hearts and minds of the people will turn against it and the whole house of cards begins to crumble.
Outside of nonviolent action there are a lot of different forms of direct action that can take place. For example, if at a protest you should make yourself as harmless as possible. No protective gear. No masks. No shields. No clubs. If it is warm, no jackets. Expose yourself completely so that when the cops show up in their full riot gear, armed to the teeth, ready to kill, instead of looking tough and powerful, they look ridiculously over prepared and stupid. The fact that they are nothing but a domestic military becomes obvious. And, if they hurt you, they are revealed as for all the world to see as the oppressive arm of the state that they are. It may seem paradoxical to some, but the truth is that when you are at your most physically harmless, you are at your most powerful and therefore most dangerous to the State itself, which means you are not harmless at all.
There are numerous ways to expose the State for what it is and what it truly does, more than we can cover here and now. In any case, the opportunities are situational. In some settings, merely voicing opposition to some function of the system, if not the system itself, will be subversive to those you are around. In other situations, you may be able to take even more drastic actions of resistance. But the goal remains the same, to tell the truth and reveal the truth as powerfully possible, in a way that people cannot ignore.
You do always have the option of going naked as well. Strip before the State and its enforcers to reveal how naked we all are before their cruelty. This may sound humorous and it isn’t without its dangers. But America is a contradictory society when it comes to sex -at once being drawn to anything remotely seeming overtly sexual while reviling against those who actually are overtly sexual- and as an act of “guerrilla theater” it doesn’t just capture the attention of those around you, it provokes media attention to pay attention to you. That creates the moment where your message about the evils of the State can be laid bare for the shameful truths they are. You will have weaponized your nakedness to strip the State down to its naked truths. And if anyone hassles you over it, remind them you’re just following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“It is the spirit of retaliation, revenge, litigation, military honor, pride, ambition,' that destroy the peace of society, and fill the nation with direful calamity. This is the spirit that is fed and fostered, and made fat by human governments. Whether a wicked world can be peaceable, or even tolerable, without human government, is not the question. At any rate, nation after nation, and century after century, have demonstrated the fact, that there cannot be peace with human governments.” – John Smith (From 19th Century “Non-Resistant” Newspaper)