Revolution and civil resistance

I want to tell the story behind two books on this page, and tell it in a way that communicates what these book are about. Generally it’s easier for me to tell a book’s story than it is to write a promotional description. I imagine that’s the case, anyway, since mostly I’ve tried to write descriptions. That’s what the experts call for: write something you could put on the flyleaf of a book jacket. I read those, but they’re often not so interesting. I want the author to tell me why he or she wrote the book, what personal influences came into play, what events or thoughts or motivations led them to devote a lot of energy to the project.

So let me write some thoughts here that I don’t believe I’ve expressed in a preface, or in a book description like the one for Revolution in the Air below. Let me recall why these two books on revolution exist, and how they developed.

Shortly after 9/11, the United States government – Leviathan for short – engaged in immoral and illegal behavior on a scale that exceeded previous assaults on the legal limits to its power. This behavior was most apparent in three areas:

  • Leviathan launched an aggressive war against a country that had not attacked it.
  • It tortured prisoners, or detainees as it called them.
  • It abrogated civil rights in order to protect citizens and “prevent another 9/11.”

Two books under Genesis of World War III address the first point about aggressive war. Two books in this section, Revolution and Civil Resistance, discuss moral and legal consequences of Leviathan’s behavior here in the United States, and in other countries. More specifically, if a government makes itself illegitimate because it violates key rules that sustain it, how should citizens respond?

I wrote Revolution in the Air first. It came out of the Tea Party movement that started in 2009, shortly after President Obama’s inauguration. It does not analyze the Tea Party movement extensively, but the title and cover capture the spirit of revolt the citizen army of tax resisters generated. This period of heightened anger coincided with more serious discussion of secession and other means of resistance, as resisters explored ways to oppose and escape Leviathan’s growing power and reach.

You could say Revolution in the Air was an opening statement or prologue for Revolution on the Ground. Revolution on the Ground develops ideas introduced in the first book. It organizes both the essays and the arguments rather less loosely. If you read only one of these books, read the second one. If you want to see ideas and arguments in process of formation, read both.

I intended to write about techniques, methods and strategies of civil resistance at some point, either in Revolution on the Ground, or in a third book titled Revolution Underground. That did not occur, for a number of reasons. I still think from time to time that a trilogy would complete these arguments about democratic, non-violent change, but the opportunity to compose a third essay may be past for good. Perhaps I needed to be a faster writer during Obama’s first term.

To conclude, let me refer to a few influential political thinkers. Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan that the only way to reform England’s commonwealth, during the civil conflict and religious wars of the Reformation, was to strengthen the state, in effect to enforce peaceful relations. Violent, unrestrained civil conflict would reestablish the jungle’s brutal kingdom, where, as Thucydides wrote, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The constant competition for dominance and prey in the jungle makes life there “nasty, brutish and short.” Some would say dictatorships merely represent a lawless state of nature where one group manages to retain power.

Gene Sharp writes in From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation that to escape Leviathan’s grasp, citizens in its grip must foreswear use of violence. Violent resistance lets the master call upon endless resources of intimidation and coercion. Sharp tells an ancient Chinese fable about the Monkey Master and his monkeys, who gather fruit for the master under threat of punishment. Then the monkeys realize the master’s authority is just something the master made up, and that he cannot punish them all. They go into the mountains to gather fruit for themselves, and leave the now powerless master to fend for himself.

My motive in writing Revolution in the Air and Revolution on the Ground is to consider how we ought to apply Sharp’s thinking to the dictatorship that grows year by year in the United States. We urgently need constructive plans, strategies, and methods of resistance to protect ourselves. These two books aim to open up those discussions.

I’m an author, not a book marketer. Moreover, I want as many people as possible to read what I write. Electronic distribution works most efficiently, and yields low cost of production as well. Therefore I offer free digital editions of these books here at The Jeffersonian, or will anyway when I get my stuff together. Meantime, you can download Revolution in the Air and Revolution on the Ground at Smashwords. If you download a free edition of a book here at The Jeffersonian, consider a small donation via PayPal at the bottom of the home page. The equivalent of the ebook cost at Smashwords or Amazon – 0.99 or 1.99 – helps keep this effort going!

Revolution in the Air

Revolution in the Air contains several essays about freedom, and difficulties of maintaining it under our Constitution. Chapters consider taxes and labor market freedom, health care, financial fraud, secrecy, torture, and citizens’ right of revolution. They also explore our obligation to replace illegitimate government, and how to advance liberty through civil disobedience, taking state secession as an illustrative extreme. The book begins with a review of JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass. Further essays include Lincoln’s Legacy and the Path Ahead, Revolution and the Second Amendment, Morally Hazardous Banks, Garden Variety Totalitarianism, Bring on the Rabble Rousers, Outside the Gates, and Freedom in Danger.


Download PDF (someday):

Revolution in the Air

Revolution on the Ground