By Mitch Green
The following letter reflects my view on the subject of civil disobedience and does not necessarily mirror the general opinion of New Economic Perspectives. I offer my opinion as an Army veteran, student of the economy, and critic of an ongoing effort to wage economic war on the vast majority the population. If these words move you, I urge you to consider honestly the consequences if you decide to act.
As the occupymovement continues to grow in defiance of the heavy-handed police actiondetermined to squelch it, a natural question emerges: What point will the militarybe summoned to contain the cascade of popular dissent? And if our nation’s finest are brought intothis struggle to stand between the vested authority of the state and the ranksof those who petition them for a redress of grievance, what may we expect theoutcome to be?
If history isour guide then we know that story all too well. Behind a thin veil of red, white and blue stands a nation that has usedits military might to respond forcefully to any public contempt for the veryinstitutions which bind us in exclusion from the liberty those colorsevoke. Just as a training collar keeps adog in check, a highly militarized police force responds mercilessly, sharply,and without hesitation with an array of chemical warfare and thuggish brutality. And where they fail, divisions of soldiers standready to deliver a serious and painful lesson to all who demonstrate theirunwillingness to wait for democracy.
This has beenthe history of democracy in America. Theink on the pages that chronicle the use of state violence towards an unrulycitizenry is dry. We cannot rewrite them. We read them in lament. But for each new day history waits; at thedawn of each morning we are presented with the gift of creation. The prevailing thought woven into the fabricof our society today, threaded through both patterns of conservative andliberal ideology, remains the recognition that something is very wrong with theworld. Naturally, we form thequestion: Can we do thingsdifferently? Once we animate thatthought and present it to society as a question demanding an answer, we begin tosketch out our draft of the world in the pages of history.
I call upon mybrothers and sisters in the armed forces to ink their pens and help us writethese next few, and most important pages in the history of our social life. Soon, it is quite likely that you will bemobilized to aid the police in their effort to contain or disperse what theirbosses see as an imminent threat to the sanctity of their authority. As that day draws near, I remind you of thesefamiliar words:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (oraffirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United Statesagainst all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith andallegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of theUnited States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according toregulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Those that take this oath seriously are facedwith a terrible conflict. You mustbattle internally between the affirmation that you will place your body betweenthe social contract embedded in the Constitution and those that seek itsdestruction, while maintaining your loyalty to the government you serve and theorders issued by its officers. Sadly,society has placed a twin tax upon you by asking that you sacrifice both yourbody and your morality. This tax hasbeen levied solely upon you overseas, and soon they’ll come to collectdomestically. Your government in itsexpression of corporate interests relies upon your tenacity to endure, and yourrelentless willingness to sacrifice. Andso you do.
Now, more than ever we need your sacrifice. But, I’m asking you to soldier in a differentway. If called upon to deny the peopleof their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition theirgovernment for a redress of grievance, disregard the order. Abstain from service. Or if you are so bold, join us. Make no mistake: The consequences for suchdecisions are severe. You will be prosecuted under the fullextent of the law. But sacrifice is yourwatch word.
Thomas Paine wrote in 1776:
These are the times that try men’s souls. Thesummer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from theservice of their country; but he that stands by it now, deservesthe love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered;yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the moreglorious the triumph.
Today we are faced with a new revolution. This time we are fighting to preserve ourdemocracy, rather than to establish a new one. And just as a grateful nation relied upon the Winter Soldier to deliverus from the colonial yoke of oppression, we ask that you aid us in our struggleto be free from the bonds of debt peonage and false representation. In return we will stand in your defense asthe elite, who have gained so much from your service, attempt to strip you ofyour hard won honor.