Defiance: A Lost Virtue?
June 5, 2012 by Brandon Smith
It was Aug. 19, 1920. A military detachment of Red Army soldiers led by Bolshevik authorities steamrolled into the Russian town of Khitrovo to implement a policy known as “Prodrazvyorstka”; resource allocation in the name of national security which led to the confiscation of vital grain supplies and the starvation of millions of peasants.
To be sure, multiple excuses were used to rationalize the program, all in the name of the “greater good.” But in reality, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks saw the farming culture of Russia not as human beings, but as mechanisms for feeding city residents and the army; the power centers of the newly formed Communist government.
This attitude of collectivism (and elitism at the highest levels) and the treatment of the food producing subsection of the populace as slaves to the machine predictably generated the desire for civil unrest and even rebellion. By the time the Red Army had entered Khitrovo, the region was already a tinderbox. After they had taken everything of value and began to beat elderly men in public view as an example to the rest of the town, a war had ignited.
At the height of what was later called “The Tambov Rebellion,” between 50,000 and 70,000 Russian citizens took up arms against their oppressive government. These included Red Army soldiers who left their posts to join the cause.
Vastly outnumbered, and technologically outclassed in every way, the guerilla fighters managed to infiltrate multiple levels of Bolshevik society and government and strike debilitating hits against Russian infrastructure. So great was the threat that Lenin, along with Red Army leadership, ordered chemical warfare to be used in the forests where guerrillas were thought to be dug in, as well as summary executions of civilians, many of whom were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Concentration camps were built; mostly to house women, children and elderly people thought to be related to insurgents and to be used as bargaining chips. Eventually, the rebellion diminished, but not before Lenin was forced to end the policy of Prodrazvyorstka along with many other directives that had angered the Russian public.
The Soviets later attempted to erase all memory of the event, destroying records and removing public figures who might recount what had happened. However, the fight against collectivist control and state power continued through numerous movements until the break-up of the empire decades later.
Now, many historians and cynics would label the Tambov Rebellion an overall failure. They did not succeed in removing Lenin and the Bolsheviks. They did not defeat the Red Army. They did not directly put an end to Prodrazvyorstka, though they did trigger a chain of dominos which forced Lenin’s hand. There was no glowing victory as there was during the American Revolution centuries before.
The freedom fighters were mostly forgotten until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of documentation that had survived the purge. However, what these men and women did accomplish was to set an example; to remind us of the ongoing and inevitable battle between oppressive establishments and the people they seek to dominate.
Even in the nightmare world of communist Russia, from the conquests of Lenin, to the terrors of Stalin, even in the face of organized and energized tyranny, people decided to fight rather than quietly live in servitude. The lesson we are taught by the Tambov Rebels is that there is no such thing as unassailable empire, that free thinking people will ALWAYS exist, that the drive for independence is inborn and inherent, and that no oligarchy will stand unopposed for very long.
Another lesson we learn is that defiance is a virtue unto itself. It is its own means and its own end. Wherever people seek truth and honor, no consequence is foreboding enough to stop them. Defiance takes no notice of the threat of death.
Some may question the example of the Tambov Rebellion and its relevance to our times. “Surely,” they will say, “the days of concentration camps, martial law, food confiscation and general war against the people by most governments are long gone. We are living in more ‘civilized times,’ where technology and reason prevail.”
The gullibility of this worldview is hard to ignore. In fact, Americans today may very well bear witness to similar or far worse tragedies in the coming years, if current Presidential directives and Congressional legislation are any indication. It has become obvious that the USA Patriot Acts which many in the public rolled over for (under some protest) was a mere warm-up to policies like the following:
- FISA: An overarching domestic surveillance bill which joins the cooperative efforts of corporations and government agencies.
- The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act: A Bush-supported action allowing the President to unilaterally declare a “public or national emergency” for any reason he wishes without Congressional consent and institute martial law policies aimed at suppression of the populace (the President is required by the act to “inform” Congress of his intentions after 14 days, but does not give Congress the power of oversight). It also solidifies the erasure of Posse Comitatus.
- Presidential Directive 51: Signed in private by George W. Bush. Allocates further power to the President to declare a national emergency for any reason he sees fit and to institute Continuity of Government Policies (martial law, among other things). This directive was only partially released to the public, but the entire document remains classified, even to members of Congress!
- National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012): Incorporates policies outlined in Senator John McCain’s and Senator Joseph Lieberman’s thoroughly rejected “Enemy Beligerents Act.” Allows the President along with the Department of Homeland Security to label anyone, even an American citizen, an “enemy combatant” under the laws of war. It opens the door to the complete dismantling of Habeas Corpus, giving military authorities the ability to arrest U.S. citizens without warrant, without due process, without trial by civilian jury, to be held indefinitely: in other words, rendition and black-bagging of U.S. citizens regardless of civil liberties or the Constitution.
- Assassination Programs: President Barack Obama has not only claimed the right to assassinate American citizens, he has executed such orders. This policy works as an extension of the NDAA, meaning anyone can be labeled an enemy combatant without trial and can be detained or killed as such. These actions have been opposed by civil liberties unions and politicians alike, but because they have so far only been used against U.S. citizens working with al-Qaida, the general public remains on the fence or oblivious to the dangerous precedent. The Constitution specifically outlines what is to be done with Americans who aid the enemy in times of war in the Treason Clause. The Treason Clause allows NO assassination or detainment without trial. In fact, it REQUIRES a trial by jury along with two witnesses testifying to the overt criminal act. The Treason Clause has been utterly ignored by the Obama Administration thus far.
- National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order: Obama recently signed this executive order which allows the President and the DHS to commandeer or confiscate public and private resources (any resources) in the name of national security and even allows for what essentially amounts to forced labor of U.S. citizens in the name of the “national good.” This is an almost exact replication of the powers claimed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks that triggered the Tambov uprising.
- Internment And Resettlement Operations: A secret Department of Defense document recently leaked to the public outlines extensive planning on the part of the government to use DHS and FEMA to “relocate” U.S. citizens and detainees to internment camps for processing. Triggers for such a policy could include natural disasters, man-made disasters and terrorist attacks, among many others. The document specifically requires “special exceptions” to Posse Comitatus, allowing for military operation of the camps in question.
The response to many of the disturbing provisions listed above has so far remained in the legal and political realm. A considerable portion of those aware of the dangerous path our government has taken just over the past decade is to approach the problem from the top down. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to realize or understand the greater crisis at work.
Politically, there is very little recourse outside of full State nullification under the 10th Amendment. At the pace these executive orders and draconian bills are being churned out and slapped with a stamp of approval, the American people would have to unseat the President and almost every sitting Senator and Representative, replacing them with true Constitutional statesmen and revamping Washington D.C. in the span of a few years in order to prevent the inevitable totalitarian abuse of the legal powers that now exist. This is not going to happen. Given that almost every President and Presidential candidate for the last few decades has supported identical policies as far as expanding government power, voting in one party or the other (at least at the national level) does not appear to make much difference anymore.
Legally, every avenue is being explored, but with little progress. The recent block on the NDAA by 4th District Court Judge Katherine Forrest was a moment of hope among anti-NDAA proponents, but the end result was obvious to some of us in the Liberty Movement. So far, the Obama Administration has stated that her ruling is basically of no consequence to them and that they will continue to implement the NDAA as they see fit.
Apparently, the Judicial Branch now only has a say in matters of government when it agrees with the position of the President or DHS. This shows conclusively that the government intends to ignore court-based decisions that are contrary to desired policy and that while the legal fight should be pursued, we should not expect much in the results department.
So, where does this leave us? If we cannot redress our grievances through elections, or through the courts, what is there for a freedom loving American to do? Though the thought causes some to shudder, it is not only logical but imperative that we look at the existing alternatives seriously. Invariably, if a government was to enforce any or all of the policies listed above, the result would be citizen dissent, peaceful or militant.
When a social system becomes so corrupted that its only prerogative is its own survival and self perpetuation, even at the cost of the life and liberty of the people it was originally tasked to defend, the populace has no choice but to question whether that system should continue to exist any longer. Conflict, is unavoidable.
As clear as this fact is to anyone with any sense, though, I find that many seem to treat the idea of physical action as astonishing, or shocking. Some even laugh as if the concept is outdated and absurd. Yet, they never seem to have an answer to the primary underlying question: What else is there? If working within the system only results in wasted effort and wasted time, what do the naysayers plan to do? Curl up in a ball and die? Or perhaps join the venomous establishment they could not subdue?
As discussed earlier, the Tambov Rebellion and examples like it impress upon the narrow-minded visions of failure. To them, defiance, real defiance, leads only to death and disaster. The key to their extraordinary mistake is that they assume that defiance is about the “assurance” of victory. There are never any assurances. There were no assurances of victory for the Founding Fathers, there were no assurances for the Tambov Rebels, and there are no assurances for us if we one day have to draw a line in the sand against the very system we were born into.
At bottom, the debate over solutions within the system versus solutions from without is irrelevant. On our current course, there is no other choice for the average American but to say no, regardless of the law or the threat of its violent enforcement.
Rebellion, in all its forms, is as natural as the cycles of the Earth. It reoccurs time and again, sometimes suppressed, but not for long. The horrors of governments gone rogue are no secret. We have so many examples in history to draw from it is difficult to imagine any crime that despots have NOT visited upon innocents. Frankly, if control-thirsty elites can refine tyranny down to a science by examining the mistakes of the past, there is nothing stopping us from refining defiance down to an art form as well. Again, what other choice do we have, but to take heart in the knowledge that though there is no assurance of victory, there is also no assurance of defeat.