The Value of Subversion
When I was a kid growing up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s I had a sticker on the headboard of my bed that said “Beware of the Establishment”.
While my 12-year-old self didn’t really grok (‘60s-speak, from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, for ‘to fully understand and assimilate’) the deep meaning that catchphrase, it must have seeped into my brain as I slept, because not long after entering adolescence I became a total freak—a rebellious stage I never really outgrew.
It didn’t help that when I was 15 my family moved to Switzerland for a couple of years, which taught me to see the world (and America) from a perspective completely different than the rather narrow one that I had been steeped in as a kid in Kentucky.
Nor did it help that the more I learned the more obvious it became that most everything that most grown-ups said and did—from their material acquisitiveness and celebration of money and "disposable" plastic things that poison the earth, to their superstitious religious cults that belied the very teachings upon which they were founded—is total bullshit, with very little connection or relationship to reality.
So now when I watch the Occupy Wall Street protests and the expanding groundswell of youthful resistance that it has ignited, all I can say is: “Right ON!”
It’s about time.
I find it amusing that the Establishment and their media mouthpieces talk disparagingly of the Occupy protestors as “hippies”. As if being a hippie is a bad thing.
The intended implication is of course that hippies do not contribute anything of value to society—that they are “parasites” taking advantage of the hard work of straight-laced (i.e. uptight) Americans who made this country what it is.
What the Establishment folks fail to appreciate (understandably, given what they have at stake) is the value of subversion.
Recall that value essentially measures the need for something in proportion to its abundance. Something that is much needed but quite scarce is very valuable.
Right now what is needed more than anything else, in order to save (the soul of) humanity and grant people continued access to a good quality of life, is for us to fundamentally change the way we live and relate to the world. And that is damn near impossible as long as the modern socio-economic system—the global consumer economy and military-industrial-political complex based on corporate profiteering and violent exploitation of the living earth—remains viable.
So, what is needed is subversion of that system. We need (once again) to stick it to the man.
And that’s what hippies do. They are valuable precisely because they constitute a courageous minority who (like Jesus) stand up to the Establishment and say: “we don’t buy what you are selling”. They see it for what it is: the same old shit that got us into this wicked mess. They want no part of it.
What they want is (for you) to get real: to seek truth, work for justice, live in peace and love life – including non-human life. But unfortunately, all of those higher realities are being sacrificed on the alter of laissez faire capitalism, which celebrates selfishness and engenders greed, envy, fear, and disrespect for life. It is a soulless system, a vortex that sucks the soul from humanity.
So to you who speak disparagingly of hippies and want the protestors to keep quiet because you believe that this is a land of opportunity where anyone who is motivated to work hard can get filthy rich, and that being poor or out of work must mean that you are lazy, and that this is a Christian nation, and that life only gets better after you die and meet your maker, we say:
You are completely full of shit.
We know better. And we are going use whatever nonviolent means we have at our disposal to subvert the system, because the system is unjust. We choose nonviolence because violence comes from fear and not love, and does not and cannot create justice. Violence is the way of the Establishment.
No doubt there are many among you who own guns and will be happy to use them to prop up the system in the name of god and country. You will seek to use violence to silence our nonviolent subversion, in order to get what you need and take what you want in a world of increasing scarcity. So be it—we don’t expect to change you. But we can deal, and will ultimately prevail, because karma is real.
In the end the Occupation simply asks: what kind of world do you want for your children? If you want a world that is better than the one we have now, you need to work to change it for the better. Doing nothing is not an option, because that only allows the system to grind on, to continue degrading the quality of life on earth, creating what is fast becoming a living hell.
The fact of the matter is that right now the only way to make the world a better place is to work against the system. That is the value of subversion.
So here’s to the Occupiers: may you succeed in your noble effort, for the sake of humanity.
Viva la resistance!