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Political Stuff is More Interesting Than Medal Begging

I have no energy to devote to following the Korean medal-related whining going on. I’ve been only barely aware of the Olympics going on, with no TV and having been so busy the last week or so. But most of the Koreabloggers are on top of it: I think the collection of links is perhaps most extensive at Ruminations in Korea.

Me, I’m much more interested in the election campaign going on in America. Like how it’s well-known that Bush’s people are orchestrating a Swift Boat campaign that is based on outright lies. (See the NYT graphic for damning evidence of connections and self-contradictions.) Then again, as I peruse so much of the commentary on both Bush and Kerry, more and more I see that they’re both awful liars, both completely discredited, and both unfit. So are their parties. And those who fawn over one or the other as the great hope, increasingly, seem to be afflicted with a kind of tunnel vision born more out of rooting for one’s own side and hating the other as a result, than out of any real admiration.

Thoreau comes to mind, in his essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience:

Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year,Note that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, “But what shall I do?” my answer is, “If you really wish to do anything, resign your office.” When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished.

I can’t quite convince myself to get behind the proto-anarchy which is surprising and refreshing in Thoreau’s essay, but I do think he’s right that people fail democracy when they do not use their own powers as part of a democratic society to the full, at least when it matters. I am not sure I can get into the whole “alternasociety” thing that Naomi Klein writes about here, mind you; I get the weird feeling if the whole world got on board that, nobody’d have anything to eat. But then, in Thoreau’s day it was only a matter of finding some clear land to squat on, as he did.

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