To Those Who Call for Calm in Ferguson

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Justice for Mike Brown, National Moment of Silence in Washington, DC on August 14, 2014. Photo by Elvert Barnes/flickr

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass, 1857

“The Significance of Emancipation in the West Indies.” Speech, Canandaigua, New York, August 3, 1857

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Cool Quote of the Day

Almost anything can be done if one proceeds slowly enough. Often we are discouraged by the enormity of a task or the length of a journey and become impatient with the difficulties we face. We lose faith in ourselves. Patience reminds us that what is in front of us is just this moment, just this step, just this breath.

~ Joseph Goldstein

Cool Quote of the Day

Without the recognition of non-violence on a national scale there is no such thing as a constitutional or democratic government.

-Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War

Cool Hero of the Day: Mahatma Gandhi

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One of the most significant facts about the life and vocation of Gandhi was his discovery of the East through the West. Like so many others of India, Gandhi received a completely Western education as a young man. He had to a great extent renounced the beliefs, the traditions, the habits of thought, of India. He spoke, thought, and acted like an Englishman, except of course that an Englishman was precisely what he could never, by any miracle, become. He was an alienated Asian whose sole function in life was to be perfectly English without being English at all: to prove the superiority of the West by betraying his own heritage and his own self, thinking as a white man without ceasing to be “a Nigger.” …

Gandhi was unusual in this. Instead of being fooled by the Western costume, and instead of being persuaded that he no longer really existed as an Asian, he recognized that the West had something good about it that was good not because it was Western but because it was also Eastern: that is to say, it was universal. So he turned his face and his heart once again to India, and saw what was really there. It was through his acquaintance with writers like Tolstoy and Thoreau, and then his reading of the New Testament, that Gandhi rediscovered his own tradition and his Hindu dharma (religion, duty). More than a tradition, more than a wisdom handed down in books or celebrated in temples, Gandhi discovered India in discovering himself. Hence it is very important indeed to understand Gandhi’s political life, and particularly his nonviolence, in the light of this radical discovery from which everything else received its meaning. Gandhi’s dedicated struggle for Indian freedom and his insistence on non-violent means in the struggle–both resulted from his new understanding of India and of himself after his contact with a universally valid spiritual tradition which he saw to be common to both East and West.

-Thomas Merton, Gandhi on Non-Violence

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 in New Delhi.

Cool Quote of the Day: “Tied in a single garment of destiny”

Occupy Caravan vigil at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cool Quote of the Day

General Assembly speakers, Occupy Toronto (Photo by ruffin_ready)

Living without permission…that’s the most difficult part, of course. But we’re not talking about just another social system here, we’re talking about a total transformation of human relations–for it will take nothing less to solve the problems our species faces today. Let’s not kid ourselves–until we can achieve this, the violence and strife inherent in conflict-based relations will continue to intensify, and no law or system will be able to protect us. In consensus-based structures, there are no fake solutions, no ways to suppress conflict without resolving it; those who participate in them must learn to coexist without coercion and submission.

The first precious grains of this new world can be found in your friendships and love affairs whenever they are free from power dynamics, whenever cooperation occurs naturally. Imagine those moments expanded to the scale of out entire society–that’s the life that waits beyond democracy.

It may feel like we are separated from that world from by an uncrossable chasm, but the wonderful thing about consensus and autonomy is that you don’t have to wait for the government to vote for them–you can practice them right now with the people around you.

CrimethInc., The Party’s Over: Beyond Politics, Beyond Democracy