The Lighting of the Fuse

The Lighting of the Fuse by Jeff Thomas for International Man

In 1968, the Beatles released “Revolution,” in which John Lennon sang,

“You say you want a revolution… well, you know, you better free your mind instead.”

Certainly, he had it right. As much as the US needs a complete replacement of its political power structure, it’s unlikely that the current population of protesters have thought through how sloganeering and/or the destruction of private property will bring that about.

Rather than jump on board with provocative but irrational rhetoric and be conned into looting and burning, it might be better to “free your mind instead” – rise above the fray.

Ah, but the sixties were less-crazy times, when even pop stars might have been a bit more level-headed.

To be sure, at that time, there were those factions that promoted absurd, unworkable ideas. College students dominated their numbers, holding up placards that said, “Smash the State,” “Black Power,” and “Kill Whitey.”

At the time, those placards, seen nightly on the television news, were disturbing for those who were older and whose lives were invested in the continuation of a more-or-less stable system.

But then, that was the whole point. The protesters were mostly young college students, away from home for the first time, with the opportunity to rebel against their parents and establish their own identity. Seeing themselves on television provided them with that identity, as did being part of a group that their parents would never have approved of.

No surprise, then, that the slogans urged the destruction of the norm, in a startling manner. After all, no self-respecting college student would hold up a placard with a slogan that his parents might possibly endorse. The objective of the slogan is not that it be rational; the objective is that it have shock value. The more upsetting – the more attention-getting – the better.

And so it is today. Along with the placards that possess a sympathetic message to one cause or another, we should not be surprised to see messages such as, “De-fund the Police,” “White Silence Is Violence,” and “No Justice, No Peace.”

Of course, such slogans are extreme and are not backed with a plan that might lead to a better future. But they do their job: to be provocative and attract attention.

So, does this mean that such protests are not a matter of concern?

Well, no. Protests are a very useful early-warning system and should be acknowledged as such. It’s their cousin – riots – that should be eyed with suspicion.

Some riots are caused spontaneously. They tend to occur at random, a result of pent-up frustration and anger. Once that anger has been spent – in a week, or a month, or whatever is necessary – they tend to peter out and disappear, without any resolution.

But there’s another form of riot – one that’s organised and funded by those who seek to increase their control over a nation. Sometimes they’re backed by groups seeking power; sometimes they’re backed by those already in power, to create terror.

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