This essay was originally published on opensourcesociety dot org, which is non-functional at present. ©CopyLeft 2009 Josh Benson
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been the lucky recipient of a good deal of encouraging news without even realizing it. Since I was laid off in February, when not looking for work I’ve had a great deal of time to read up on socioeconomic movements that are gathering steam. The cumulative effect caught up with me today and slapped me in the face with a big dose of enthusiasm.
I’ve heard many different opinions and theories on “revolution” over the years, and everyone has their own ideas on what is or isn’t a revolution, and how we ought to go about having one. When I was thirteen, I fantasized about millions of workers hitting the streets with their rifles and pitchforks in a popular uprising; exactly how I envisioned the Russian Revolution of 1917. I couldn’t see any other way to change things than loading up my AK and taking out the bosses in cold blood. Looking back, I chalk a lot of that up to raging teenage hormones and unresolved anger issues. As most beliefs do, mine evolved over time and lost their bloody zeal in exchange for a more practical approach.
A couple years back, I started reading up on American history to try and gain an understanding of how and why we got as screwed up as we are. Through all the accounts I read of our own revolution, there was a recurring theme staring me right in the face: the Colonists were able to slough off British rule because they became self-sufficient. The American Revolution was won before a single shot was ever fired. The military campaigns which are unfortunately quite often mistaken for the actual revolution, were in reality an attempt by the British to retake what had already been lost. This is contrary to our popular myth of the Minuteman fighting to claim what is rightfully his from the British, rather than defending what he had already taken without violence. The difference is subtle but significant, both in terms of understanding the process of revolution, and understanding the impact our myths have had on our collective conscience.
The American Revolution occurred the moment the Colonists decided to create their own organizations of production and government. They set up their own congresses, and imbued them with the authority of popular consent, rather than divine right. They began to manufacture their own goods, and do without any goods they couldn’t make themselves. They utilized their own natural resources at home, rather than selling them off to England where they were turned into finished goods and then sold back to the Colonies at inflated prices. Each of these actions were undertaken independently, without any overall detailed plan involved, but they added up over time to create a strong community that didn’t need an outside government to rule it. The British Government quite simply became obsolete and superfluous.
That, my friends, is how successful revolutions are won. By creating our own community congresses with authority born of popular consent, rather than falsified histories, we gain greater control and influence of our living conditions and environment. By rejecting globalized manufacture, and using sustainable, community-based manufacture, we insulate ourselves from global economic fluctuations, and empower ourselves to lead more fulfilling and happy lives. We don’t need to march in the streets with bombs and guns and flags; doing this will only result in starting a vicious cycle of violence and fear. We simply need to make our existing system of politics and economics obsolete with good old-fashioned home-grown American industry and ingenuity. These are the very things that from the hour of our nation’s birth made it such a great country to live in.
Now that you understand where I’m coming from, it will be clear to you why I’m overjoyed to see a growing number of small, grassroots movements pushing sustainability and community-based economics. I’m not referring to the recent trend of big businesses adopting the term “green” to make everything they do seem warm and eco-friendly (*cough* BULLSHIT *cough*). I mean the large number of small, non-profit organizations who make it their goal to discover and teach ways to live in harmony with nature and each other. The momentum is building greatly, and these groups are popping up all over the world.
So what? Well think about the implications of these movements, in light of what we know about the first American Revolution, and you’ll see that we’re already well on the path to making the current system of human interaction irrelevant. It’s a soft, fuzzy, cuddly-looking backlash, but it’s a backlash nonetheless, and whether its participants will admit it or not the movement represents a complete rejection of “business as usual” in favor of a humanist approach to life, work, and community. So my friends, the second American Revolution, and indeed a global revolution, has already begun. This revolution will resemble a dance of joy, rather than a war, and will be fought with shovels, picks, and axes, not guns, bombs, or cannons. And in the end, I think we can’t help but end up with a better society that values happiness and wealth of spirit above all else.