Book Club – Chapter 4 Wages of Rebellion summary

By 1JustCity
March 21, 2016
Book Club is going strong!
Our next book club meeting is this upcoming Thursday, March 24th at  McNally from 7-9pm.

Chapter 4 – Conversion

“Empathy is the most important asset (pg. 90/91).”

“Albert Camus said that no rebellion can take place without his “strange form of love” (pg. 91).”

“Kasrils, a stocky bull of a man, argued that all rebels are driven by an instinctive compassion, concern for others, and a tendency toward “standing up for the underdog.” These impulses are often present in social control, including the family and school. Kasrils, although an atheist, said he saw the rebel in Jesus Christ, as well as in the thunderous denunciations of evil and oppression by the Hebrew prophets of the rise up to resist as better described as revolutionaries. The rebel, he said, is one who often enjoys certain “liberties,” but who is prepared to give up his class or her class, or tribe.” Rebels, he said, turn their back on their own (pg. 92).”

“I have to speak up,” Kasrils said. It’s deep within me (pg. 93).”

“But the ANC’s capitulation to global pressure to adopt a free market economy has proved to be a disaster. South Africa continues to be one of the most unequal societies on the planet. Whites, although they number less than 10 percent of the nation’s population, earn 7.7 times more on average than their black counterparts. Only a few thousand of the country’s 431 million blacks earn more than $5,000 a year. It is apartheid by another name. “[A] true rebel would not have accepted that,” Kasrils said (pg. 93).”

“All we have, as Vaclav Havel wrote, is our powerlessness is our strength. The ability of the movement to overthrow the corporate state depends on embracing this powerlessness. It depends on two of our most important assets – utter and complete transparency, and a rigid adherence to nonviolence, including respect for private property. These assets permit us, as Havel puts it in his classic 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” to live in truth. And by living in truth, we expose a corrupt corporate state that perpetuates lies and functions be deceit (pg. 95).”

“This attempt to “live within the truth” brings with it ostracism and retribution. Punishment, Havel points out, is imposed in bankrupt systems because of the necessity for compliance, not out of any genuine conviction. And the real crime committed is not the crime of speaking out or defying the rules, but the crime of exposing the charade. By creaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the fame as such, he has exposed it as a mere game,” Havel says of his greengrocer (pg. 95/96).”

“He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted façade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power (pg. 96).”

“power elites who stubbornly refuse to heed popular will and resort to harsher and harsher forms of state control provoke counter violence (pg. 97).”

“’Diversity of tactics,’ becomes an easy way to avoid wrestling with questions of strategy and accountability. It lets us off the hook from doing hard work of debating our positions and coming to agreements about how we want to act together. It becomes a code for ‘anything goes,’ and makes it impossible for our movements to hold anyone accountable for their actions (pg. 98).”

“Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent,” the authors write. “Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honourable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people (pg. 98).”

“Mandela was open about the inner moral struggle that accompanied his foray into violence and then his retreat from violence (pg. 99).”

“In real life we deal, not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves” men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous, people in whose bloodstream and muckworm battles daily with potent pesticides (pg. 99).”

“Traditional concepts of right and wrong, Edelman pointed out, collapse in moments of extremity. Edelman spoke to Krall about a doctor in the ghetto hospital who poisoned the sick children on her ward as the Germans entered the building. She saved children from the gas chamber. She become, to those who remained in the ghetto, “a hero.” “ So what, then, in that world turned upside down, was heroism? Or honor? Or dignity? And where was God?”(pg. 104)”

“There will be no moral hierarchy to resistance. We will be pulled one way or another by fate and love. And these different routes of resistance will all be legitimate as long as we do not, as Edelman said, attempt “to survive at the expense of somebody else.” Many of those in the developing world, as climate change makes human habitation where they live difficult and then impossible, will be faced with the terrible moral quandary endured by Edelman. They will de denied the luxury of nonviolence. But if the ecosystem continues to disintegrate, we will all have to grapple with forms of resistance that, in the end, will permit us only to protect our dignity until the inevitable comes (pg. 105).”

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