Civil disobedience has been a popular method of promoting limited or no government in New Hampshire, as well as other parts of the U.S., for years. I have been struggling with this concept for some time. All of a sudden, in a paranoid and hungover blast of clarity, I think I get it.
The goal of civil disobedience is communication.
Allow me to continue to milk the Matrix-is-a-metaphor-for-the-21st-century cow. We are born slaves. Within moments of birth, we are taken away from our mother's (hopefully) loving arms and isolated in a glass box, tended (hopefully) by frazzled, overworked strangers. If we're male, the end of our penis might be cut off... for our own "health", or because that's what God wants. Within weeks, we're probably carried by our parents to a temple of some sort where we are lifted into the air in front of family and friends and a public apology is made for our very existence. Our innate evilness and unworthiness is proclaimed. Some sort of voodoo priest in ceremonial garb then sprinkles magic water on us, says an incantation, and suddenly we're not evil anymore.
At this point, if we had the mental maturity to comprehend what was going on around us, we might very well be considering the possibility that the events of our first few weeks of life don't bode particularly well for the years ahead... which are all about control.
First, you must learn to control your body. You may only release waste in authorized areas. You may only cry and scream in designated areas. You must lie down and try to sleep at specified times.
Next, you learn to not notice that your mind is being controlled. You must report to location X at exactly clock-time Y. You must think about the multiplication table. Or George Washington. Or sharing your toy. You may only speak to your friends at designated times. You may not laugh, cry, shout, or go to sleep, outside of designated places and times. You must use your "indoor voice". You must learn to walk single-file. You must follow instructions, whatever they may be. If you don't, you will be beaten and/or drugged.
Childhood prepares you for adulthood, at which point you are expected to become a productive slave. (In true Orwellian fashion, the State will refer to you as a "consumer" rather than a "producer".) Find a niche within the global industrial complex, perform some sort of service which may or may not meet any actual human need, and give over half of your pay to the State. Have children, and plug them promptly into the Matrix... or they will be removed from your care. When they reach physical maturity, the State may request that one or more of them travel to a distant area and engage in mortal combat with some people, for some reason. You are to consider this a mark of great pride. Comply, always using your "indoor voice" and walking in single file, or be imprisoned.
As in the Matrix, the State has Agents. Treat them very gingerly. So much as present the appearance of a physical threat to one of them, and you will be swiftly tasered or shot.
If, for whatever reason, a red pill has made its way down your throat, you may choose to chip away at various facets of the Matrix by, for example, not putting your children in public school; not drugging your children... or yourself; not buying into the Judgmental-Old-Guy-in-the-Sky form of control. I don't mean to denigrate any of these activities; I applaud them. But all of these things don't change the fundamental fact that you're a SLAVE.
You may choose to engage in electoral politics, running for office or helping others to do so. Writing bills, or fighting bills. The State loves this strategy. You expend your limited time, income and energy in an utterly futile attempt to replace a few low-level bureaucrats with slightly less restrictive individuals. Ultimately, this changes nothing. You, and everyone you know, remain a SLAVE. (And please don't forget to use your "indoor voice" in the Legislative Office Building.)
There is only one way to kill the Matrix: unplug enough of the people who feed it. Enable them to see the world for what it is, rather than for what they have been led to believe it is. Ironically, no one can be forced to unplug. All sorts of evidence may be laid in front of someone's eyes, but if they choose not to see it or to grasp its implications, there's nothing you can do about it. (Exhibit A: Zeitgeist, the Movie ) All you can do is get your pirate signal out there, over and over, and hope that enough people will hear it, and will listen.
Which brings me back (finally!) to civil disobedience. I've written before that it doesn't seem like a good time to me to hang out in jail; sitting in court, paying fines, and dealing with paperwork doesn't sound all that great, either. I've been baffled by those of my friends who intentionally tweak the noses of Agents in various ways to willfully get themselves arrested. Civil disobedience is self-destructive, sacrificing a bit of your own precious life for the benefit of others. That's a charitable interpretation; a less charitable one is that some people derive adolescent pleasure out of sticking it to "the Man", getting a friend to film it, and hoping they look cool when it's posted on YouTube. And some people simply let their authority issues overwhelm their good sense, needlessly getting themselves into trouble. (My mother used to refer to this as "cutting off your nose to spite your face".) The monk who set himself on fire to protest the Vietnamese government's treatment of Buddhists is one of the world's most famous civil disobeyers; his image has become iconic. A guy who took a picture of the incident won a Pulitzer. But the monk himself is, you know... dead now.
So why do it? A well-executed act of civil disobedience is a pirate broadcast. It sends a message out into the Matrix, which some will notice, and a smaller number will hear. It shines a light on the Matrix itself, enabling those ensnared within it to observe its clinging invisible mesh. It reminds the viewer, if only for a moment, that something as trivial as failing to use your "indoor voice" can result in ludicrously excessive punishment. Ideally, it makes the viewer wonder what life might be like outside of the Matrix.
So where does all this leave me, your faithful first-person-narrative confessional-tone writer? I swallowed the Red Pill several years ago, and have spent the time since shell-shocked and sulking in a corner of the Nebuchadnezzar, eating slop that may or may not taste like Cream of Wheat, glaring at those still trapped in the Matrix and blaming them for their own predicament. Productive... not!
I'm not about to rush out and battle an Agent; I am no Trinity. Call me craven, but I fully intend to run (pay, bow, kneel, whatever it takes) to avoid getting tased or caged. But I also intend to find a way to boost the pirate signal, to make myself useful and, hopefully, free the minds of at least a few more people.
To learn more about political activists in New Hampshire using civil disobedience as a form of communication and social change, visit Shire Liberty News.
Sandy Pierre is the editor of Shire Liberty News, which reports on liberty activism throughout the state of New Hampshire.