Here in the United States of America many of us are caught up in the Shakespearean drama (or perhaps tragedy) that is the 2020 Presidential election. I am one of those souls caught in the maelstrom. Every day Monday-Friday from 9 am-10 am Eastern I cohost the Daily Atheist Morning Show. In the past weeks we seem to be talking more about politics than godlessness. Recent topics we discussed include Qanon, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the movie Cuties.
Of course here in the States, it’s difficult to disentangle faith and politics because faith has made politics its business. The toxic axis of Oligarchy-Faith makes it difficult to talk about one without the other. And while many things can be said to be innate characteristics of the Oligarchal-Faith Frankenstein, one trait of the beast stands above all others — the Monster is here to make most of our lives miserable.
Misery is the coin of the would-be post-industrialized theocrats of the USA. Misery makes the electorate less likely to think clearly and understand what’s in their own interests. Peer-reviewed studies show the positive correlation between how the more miserable citizens are in a society, the more likely they are to be religious. Our elites have an incentive to turn the nation into a third world country because it’s that much easier to control the population and rob us all blind.
Environmental disaster plays a role in this dysfunctional play. Wildfires out of control create chaos. Hurricanes ravage the Gulf. The crisis created by big business benefits big business and the politicians they buy. Weaken the state enough and the only thing we’ll have left will be Red Neck Jesus and oligarchs running the show.
If you’ve been following what I do on YouTube and on my last podcast The Naked Diner, you will know I’ve been trying to answer What is to be done? (points for knowing that reference). My current best guess at answering that question has led me to Extinction Rebellion.
Simply stated, Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots environmental movement dedicated to direct action. And direct action means public protests, theatrical displays (the Boston group placed a large sign on one of the city’s most hallowed landmarks — the Citgo sign by Fenway Park), and community organizing.
It’s natural to say We should focus on the current political crisis and work on the environment later. That’s a false choice, and a strong case can be made if we energize everyday people into protesting anti-environmental policies they will get used to protesting in general. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.
Extinction Rebellion has a nonviolent strategy worth exploring. Based partly on research by Harvard University professor Erica Chenoweth, the organization is developing a myriad of tactics I find interesting.
BBC Future did a piece titled The ‘3.5% rule’: How a small minority can change the world:
There are, of course, many ethical reasons to use nonviolent strategies. But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics — by a long way.
Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
I’m getting involved with my local chapter. Seeing there is a pandemic, a lot of the onboarding process takes place online. In the next few days, I will be taking Introduction to XR’s Strategic Theories class and attending the online Boston Chapter’s Community Meeting. On Friday I’ll be at a Climate Day of Action event in Arlington, MA.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making a few videos on the Laughing in Disbelief YouTube channel and writing more blog posts about my experiences.