Learned Helplessness is the Despot’s Biggest Pal

Whenever I say that despots and everyone who’s committed crimes against humanity should be put before tribunals and must answer to their victims directly, I hear the same responses.

“It’ll never happen.”

“Let’s just move on.”

“Good luck with that.”

These excuses demonstrate the degree to which people have accepted the terms of those who exercise unspeakable cruelty. It also explains how the monsters who run concentration camps and commit other abominations get away with it.

We let them.

This is defeatism. Worse than that, it’s a lie. This attitude denies the proven and demonstrated power of ordinary people to bring down despots. We are told that change comes from elections — even though we all know that our elections and political system are overrun by lobbyist dollars, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other forms of open corruption.

We know that our government does not represent us.

So, the people who produce all the wealth and do all the work — the American people — passively submit to a greedy self-serving minority of undeserving louts and play by their rules. We must make change through the system, they believe.

But the system is design specifically to resist change. If you actually want change, you must try something different.

That is, IF you want to stop the destruction of the Earth and the doom of your own grandchildren by plutocrats committed to climate destruction for personal profit. Or IF you don’t like American concentration camps any more than Nazi ones. (And yeah, that’s what they are including the child abuse and forced sterilization of women.) Or IF you don’t like your tax dollars stolen for the personal benefit of plutocrats. Or IF you don’t like your tax dollars used to kill people instead of helping people.

When you accept defeat in advance and endorse the system designed specifically to minimize your influence, then you are endorsing planetary genocide, massive theft, and other forms of brutality. And this is because you’ve falsely concluded doing something else 1) change only comes through elections and 2) we must go by (their) rules.

But here’s some countries that deposed despots in recent decades. It’s true that these revolutions didn’t all turn out well — sometimes the dictator was succeeded by someone just as bad — but this nonetheless shows that ordinary people can and do overthrow despots.

Egyptians overthrew Mubarak (2011)
Libyans overthrew Gaddafi (2011)
Tunisians overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (2011)
Yemenis overthrew Ali Abdullah Saleh (2011)
The Poles overthrew Wojciech Jaruzelski (1990)
East Germans overthrew Erich Honecker and his successors (1990)
Czechs overthrew Miloš Jakeš (1989)
Russians overthrew the communist regime (1991)
Romanians overthrew Nicolae Ceauşescu (1989)
Bulgarians overthrew Todor Zhivkov and his successor (1989)
Ukrainians overthrew Viktor Yanukovych (2014)
The people of Kyrgyzstan overthrew Askar Akayev (2005)

These are just a few examples. The fact is, ordinary citizens overthrow despots all the time.

Let me repeat that:

ORDINARY CITIZENS OVERTHROW DESPOTS ALL THE TIME.

So, enough with the excuses. Speak up and speak out. Control the conversation. Put a spotlight on the concentration camps, the plutocracy, the climate destruction, the corruption throughout the system. Make signs. Take photos and post them everywhere. Videos. Everything at your disposal. Work with others or work alone.

We don’t know what the best tactic is. We know that violence is wrong, that violence should never be used and also that the dictator always has the advantage in a violent confrontation. So violence is out, but we need to try a variety of tactics. Use your imagination!

Just do the work. Whether or not we succeed, if you chose not to do your part, you have failed.

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