Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Virtue Of Rebellion

"Perhaps in our lifetime we will not succeed. Perhaps things will only get worse. But this does not invalidate our efforts. Rebellion - which is different from revolution because it is perpetual alienation from power rather than the replacement of one power system with another - should be our natural state."

-Chris Hedges

There is something brave, honest and bracing about those words, and although I cannot call myself a rebel in any meaningful way, I envy and am attracted to the kind of intractable commitment that Chris Hedges has to fighting the shackles of corrupt economic, social and political systems that hold us all captive in one form or another. As the next part of this century unfolds, there will likely need to be much more of such spirit.

Although it may not exactly constitute rebellion, the students and faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York seem prepared for the worst from the incoming Trump administration and are making a commitment that may have no legal force, but whose moral dimensions are clear:
At Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., more than 2,000 students and professors signed a petition asking the university to join other institutions and declare itself a sanctuary, or safe haven, for undocumented students.

“I am frightened,” said one literature student, who asked not to be identified for fear she could be deported. “But I am also encouraged to see people mobilizing and organizing and preparing for Trump to carry out his threat to deport millions of illegals.”
Four years ago, Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provided temporary amnesty for over three-quarters of a million children and teenagers whose parents had entered the U.S. illegally.
Now these “DREAMers” — named after an earlier version of the act which was not passed — fear they, or their parents, will be targeted if they come out of the shadows.

“My parents brought me from Mexico to Los Angeles when I was 8. They worked hard and paid taxes and put me and my two siblings through college,” said the Cornell student, who attended a recent campus rally. “I registered in DACA, and gave authorities my fingerprints. The threat is serious now that I could be deported. It is stressful not knowing when this could happen.”
Their fears would seem justified:
Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, has said that during his first 100 days he plans to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.” The president-elect has not listed the specific actions he plans to cancel to back up his hyperbole, but his campaign website singled out the amnesty law, which was passed by executive action in 2012.
So is Cornell's moral and ethical choice an isolated phenomenon, or is it a signal that none of us should yet abandon all hope?


  1. There are times when we have to take a stand, Lorne. That doesn't mean that we have to scream and throw rocks. But it does mean we have to say,"No!"

    1. Each of us, in our own way, Owen, needs to stand for something meaningful. Otherwise, life has little meaning.

  2. Rebels Lorne, especially intellectual rebels, are the life blood of democracy.

    From the time we are born or at the very least from the time we start school, we eventually learn that conformity is much more valued than independence, particularly independent thinking.

    In almost every area of our society, education, work, relationships, sexual identity etc we are pressured to conform, to be like everyone else.It's like there is an underlying code that everyone absorbs that when translated means keep your mouth shut and your mind closed.

    Every great advancement and change in humankind has been instigated by a rebel. Men and woman who question the established concepts can mean speaking out against racism, Martin Luther King. Speaking out against the accepted norms of womens very identity, Betty Friedan. The earth does evolve around the sun, Galileo. The origin of the human species is evolutionary, Charles Darwin.Hiding jews from German Nazis, anyone with courage and integrity even at the risk of losing their own lives.

    Conformity breeds obedience. Once a person has abandoned critical thinking than all they have left is obedience. Conformity also creates a power dynamic.This dynamic consists of those who want to rule and those who want to be ruled.The independent person wants neither to rule nor be ruled.Ultimately they just want to live their life in freedom. They do not recognize anyone having authority over their life.

    Men and woman like Chris Hedges speak out against power and are an inspiration to all of those, especially the young, who are starting to question the accepted ideas of their day.

    The anti-intellectualism that so permeates American culture today has been evolving for over 50yrs. The US is in the final stages of that evolution, so much so that one no longer need ask why Johnny can't read, but rather more fundamentally why Johnny can't think.

    The intellectually bankrupt wasteland called American culture, has reached its pinnacle.The battle for ideas, such as freedom and democracy will be left for the rebels to fight, because with Donald Trump in the oval office, there will be no right for peaceful protest, no freedom of speech and there will be no due process. Trump will double down on dissent, permitting his military and police forces as much violence as needed to stop the American people from saying NO.Every dictator rules by force. Donald Trump is no different.

    1. Excellent commentary as usual, Pamela. A guest post featuring you in the next or two is in the offing. Thanks again for your ongoing contribution to this blog.

    2. Thx. Lorne. I really like yours and a few other blogs. In fact I have learned a great deal from these bloggers including yourself.

    3. Thank you, Pamela, and I feel the same way about your informed commentary.