Liberation From Fear in The Age of Trump 6: Everyday Forms of Resistance

1. Non-Violent, Active, Public Resistance vs. Everyday Forms of Resistance

As I pointed out in the five earlier essays in this series, on poverty and economic oppression, on the job dilemma between either unemployment or shit jobs, on healthcare hell in the USA, on cultural conflict and open borders, and on gun violence in the USA, 8 November 2016, the fateful day on which Donald Trump was elected President of the USA, was the dawning of The Age of Trump-POTUS.

The Age of Trump is going to last at least 4 years, and perhaps 8 years.

This means that for the next 4 or 8 years, things are going to be really, really bad for everyone except Trump, his rich governing elite, the Republican Party, and the alt-right zealots.

By oppression, I mean social or political actions or institutions that violate respect for human dignity by means of coercion, especially violent coercion.

For example, poverty in modern (neo)liberal capitalist democracies like the USA is an oppression, precisely because our collective respect for human dignity

· morally requires that everyone have enough income, and also free access to adequate healthcare, so that they can freely live creative, meaningful, productive, useful lives,

· yet if people living in poverty or on the verge of poverty try to claim the basic income that is owed them simply by virtue of their human dignity, e.g., by stealing it or by engaging in the gangster-economy or underworld-economy of drugs, etc., then not only are they branded as criminals and thieves, and violently coerced by the police, they also fully expose themselves to gun violence.

So how can we resist the coming oppressions of The Age of Trump?

Now resistance to oppression is either violent or non-violent.

Famous examples of violent resistance to oppression include the French Revolution starting in 1789, the European revolutions of 1848, the Mexican Revolution starting in 1910, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Chinese Revolution of 1949, and hundreds of other revolutionary or at least violently resistant insurgencies in the 20th and 21st century.

Starting with the French Revolution, it is self-evident that violent resistance inevitably turns into counter-oppression and into some or another version of The Terror.

Therefore, only non-violent resistance is morally acceptable.

Obviously, in the USA at least, the classic protest strategies of non-violent, active, public resistance that were deployed during the 1930s IWW (aka “wobblies”) era, the late 1940s/early 50s Hollywood Ten era, the 1960s civil rights/Martin Luther King era, the 1970s Vietnam protest era, the 2010s Occupy Wall Street era, and, most recently, at Standing Rock, are still available to us:

· e.g., unions and strikes, Committees for the First Amendment, boycotts, demonstrations, occupations, sit-ins, walkouts, etc., etc.

But these classic protest strategies, for all their fanfare, noisiness, and media-driven fame or notoriety, are, sadly, usually very fleeting and without any long-term, significant impact — an almost literally Warholian 10 minutes of fame in the newspapers, TV news, online news, or your favorite social media.

Much more seriously, by engaging in classic protests against the coercive, authoritarian powers-that-be — aka sticking it to The Man — you yourself might very well end up being expelled from your high school, college, or university, fired from your job, overtly or subtly blacklisted, imprisoned, or even — as in the IWW strikes, civil rights protests, Kent State, and at Standing Rock — seriously injured, tortured, or dead.

Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968 is a worldwide emblem of martyrdom resulting from the coercive, authoritarian repression of those who pursue classic protest strategies of non-violent, active, public resistance to oppression.

So if that kind of repression happens to you, as it almost always does to at least some of the resisters, then in the end what almost always happens is this:

· you’re expelled, fired, blacklisted, imprisoned, seriously injured, tortured, or dead, yet everyone else eventually goes back to business-as-usual, oppressing-as-usual, and being-oppressed-as-usual, and nothing really changes.

So it’s not at all unreasonable for you to fear the possibly dire consequences of participating in classic protests whereby you (try to) stick it to The Man — in this case, Trump.

For these reasons, I think it’s high time that we radically re-think our strategies of non-violent resistance, and seriously consider what the Yale political anthropologist James C. Scott, in his brilliant book from the mid-80s, Weapons of the Weak, calls everyday forms of resistance.

In the context of that book, Scott was talking specifically about Malay agrarian peasants in the 1960s and 70s.

But the social and political phenomenon that Scott was studying generalizes to any modern state, especially including contemporary neo-liberal democratic states like the USA, and above all, to The Age of Trump, in which President-Elect Trump, his rich governing elite, the Republican Party, and the alt-right zealots

· will not only be callously indifferent to, but also cynically exploit and directly benefit from, both individually and as a ruling class, widespread human oppression in the USA.

Now, according to Scott, everyday forms of resistance arise from:

the prosaic but constant struggle between [oppressed people] and those who seek to extract labor, food, taxes, rents, and interest from them. Most of the forms this struggle takes stop well short of collective outright defiance. Here I have in mind the ordinary weapons of relatively powerless groups: foot dragging, dissimulation, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance slander, arson, sabotage, and so forth. These Brechtian forms of class struggle have certain features in common. They require little or no coordination or planning; they often represent a form of individual self-help; and they typically avoid any direct symbolic confrontation with authority or with elite norms…. Everyday forms of resistance make no headlines. Just as millions of anthozoan polyps create, willy-nilly, a coral reef, so thousands of individual acts of insubordination and evasion create a political or economic barrier reef of their own. There is rarely any dramatic confrontation, any moment that is particularly newsworthy. And whenever, to pursue the simile, the ship of state runs aground on such a reef, attention is typically directed to the shipwreck itself and not to the vast aggregation of petty acts that made it possible.

(Source: Weapons of the Weak, pp. 29 and 36, italics added)

Mr Nemo, formerly Captain Nemo the renegade submariner, really, really likes marine and naval analogies, metaphors, and similes, but especially this one.

Using everyday forms of resistance, YOU can be a small but very real part of the giant coral reef on which Trump’s coercive, authoritarian, repressive, oppressive ship of state runs aground.

2. Your Weapons of the Weak

How can you engage in everyday forms of resistance in The Age of Trump?

In the text I quoted above, Scott lists “the ordinary weapons of relatively powerless groups: foot dragging, dissimulation, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance slander, arson, sabotage, and so forth.”

And a few paragraphs earlier, he also mentions “passive noncompliance, subtle sabotage, evasion, and deception”(Weapons of the Weak, p, 31).

OK. That provides us with some good input.

So, updating “the ordinary weapons of relatively powerless groups” to The Age of Trump, here’s what I’m proposing.

· If you’re in poverty or otherwise economically oppressed, then never envy billionaires or other rich people, and never uncritically believe what they say:

9 times out of ten it’s bullshit, and they’re just trying to screw you.

· If you have a shit job, then do it as badly as you possibly can without being specially noticed or reprimanded by your boss(es) or being fired.

· If you have a shit job, then in your time off, never think about your job but instead always think about the people you love and like, and about the creative, meaningful, productive, useful activities you really care about and enjoy doing, or in any case you would be doing if you could afford to quit your shit job.

· Make edgy, profane fun of Trump at every possible opportunity in anonymous, pseudonymous, or in any case private, unmonitored, electronic-surveillance-protected (e.g., encrypted) blogging, e-mail, texting, online comments, or social media, because

· if anything really funny ever goes viral, then, given Trump’s titanically inflated ego and narcissism, it will at the very least seriously distract him and perhaps even literally drive him to the point of doing something overtly crazy and unconstitutional for which he can actually be impeached.

· Sign every single petition on Change.org that is directly or indirectly contrary to the moral and social attitudes, moral and social beliefs, political doctrines, and political policies held by Trump, his rich governing, the Republican Party, or the alt-right zealots, because

· this is just like voting against them roughly 300 times a year.

· And more generally, vote against Trump, his rich governing elite, the Republican Party, and the alt-right zealots in every single ballot initiative and election.

· Think lots and lots of angry, radical thoughts against Trump, his rich governing elite, the Republican Party, and the alt-right zealots, and for all the parts of The WTFU Party’s platform.

· Whenever you’re having coffee, drinks, or meals with your good friends or family members, talk lots about all of the parts of The WTFU Party’s platform.

· Vote for all of the parts of The WTFU Party’s platform in every single ballot initiative and election.

3. The WTFU Party’s Seven-Part Platform: Universal Respect for Human Dignity, Universal Basic Income, Fifteen-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs, Eco-Jobs, Higher Education Without Credentialing, Universal Free Healthcare, Two-Phase Universal Open Borders, and Universal No-Guns

Here is the seven-part platform of The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party —

1. Universal Respect for Human Dignity (URHD):

· Human dignity is the absolute non-denumerable moral value of every member of humanity, and everyone ought to try wholeheartedly to treat everyone else in a way that is sufficient to meet the demands of respect for human dignity, especially including (i) alleviating or ending human oppression, and (ii) actively engaging in mutual aid and mutual kindness.

2. Universal Basic Income (UBI):

· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.

3. A 15-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs):

· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.

Thus anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.

The rationale behind the three-year gap between (i) being offered an eco-job at 18 and (ii) beginning to receive their UBI at 21, is that every young adult who has finished high school will have the option of pursuing three years of part-time or full-time free higher education without credentialing, i.e., for its own sake, after high school, before making longer-term decisions about what I call job-work and life-work.

***

Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.

(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.

(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.

(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.

(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.

(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.

***

4. Universal Free Higher Education Without Credentialing (HEWC):

· Everyone would be offered, beyond their high-school education, a free, three-year minimum, optional (but also open-ended beyond those three years, as a further option), part-time or full-time universal public education program in the so-called “liberal arts,” and also in some of the so-called “STEM” fields, including the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences.

· For many or even most people, their HEWC would fall between (i) the end of their high school education at age 18 and the corresponding availability of eco-jobs, and (ii) the beginning of their UBI at age 21.

· But HEWC would be open to anyone with a high school degree, no matter how old they are, provided they are mentally and physically capable of doing the program.

5. Universal Free Healthcare (UFH):

· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.

6. 2-Phase Universal Open Borders (2P-UOB):

· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.

7. Universal No-Guns (UNG):

· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.

· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.

I’m also assuming that Universal Public Education (UPE) — universal free access for all human persons of any age to good public education up to the end of high school — already exists in most countries, and needs no further justification.

Where UPE does not already exist, it would automatically become a necessary part of the seven-part WTFU Party package, thereby making it a eight-part package.

Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 13 December 2016

The WTFU Party is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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