"The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds." ~ Isaiah Berlin
Lady Liberty Shot in the Foot...Again
Another defender of freedom has been silenced.
On 4 August 2003, 20-year old Sherman Austin, the founder of the Raise the Fist anarchist news/direct action/informational website was sentenced to one year in prison for providing links on the California-based website to pages that detail how to create explosives. The prosecutor in the case recommended four months in prison as an appropriate sentence, but the judge thought otherwise, and opted for the more severe punishment, and also a $2000 fine (despite there having been no monetary damage caused to anyone by Austin's actions). In addition, when Austin is released, he will be forbidden from using computers except upon the approval of the government.
This will likely mean the end of RaisetheFist.com, unless it changes hands. The goal of the U.S. 'Justice' system in this case is obviously not to protect the public from home-made explosives, as there is still an easily accessible wealth of information on how to make them on the internet, but to shut down Sherman Austin's website'for different reasons.
While the official charges against Austin relate to providing information detrimental to public safety, RaisetheFist.com's propagation of anarchism is undoubtedly the primary target of the government in persecuting him. An ideology that places the benefit of society and of each individual in it above the interests of the wealthy elite'in fact, which seeks to eliminate the latter so that the former may thrive'has no place in Amerika, the purported land of the free. A somewhat interactive informational outlet that not only promotes that ideology but provides information on the injustices of the current order'murder, theft, abuse, and a host of other crimes against the people'simply cannot be permitted to function.
After all, it is the wealthy elite who own the government, so we should always expect that those who point out the injustices of the few against the people, in addition to those who try to promulgate a way of life that would fix such problems and a multitude of others, will be put down like dogs as soon as their message becomes loud enough to attract attention. Furthermore, the entire idea of anarchism, each time such persecution is carried out, is defamed by the government and in the press, by proclaiming that that ideology is at the heart of the "crimes" of the people being persecuted.
Ask any average member of Amerikan society what he or she knows of anarchism, and the most common answer will have something to do with the Anarchist Cookbook, which is a bomb-making and subversive activities manual that has as much to do with the anarchist ideology as it does with cooking. At best, the Cookbook can be linked to anarchism by being described as a 'direct action preparation manual,' a label which would only apply to a select few sections of the book, and to a select few instances of direct action. Yet this is what the Amerikan public knows of anarchism.
They have no understanding of the humanitarian philosophy from which anarchism arises, of the benefits it places on the table from which all of mankind may partake. No, anarchism in the Amerikan mind, and in the minds of countless others who are oppressed by governmental rule, is at worst a reign of chaos, or at best (to those who briefly study the wealth-distribution end of it) a society in which the lazy thrive as much as the hard-working. It cannot be denied that the former may be true of the initial introduction of anarchism'the hyperactivity and excitedness of the slaves whose bonds have been suddenly broken'but it is by no stretch of the imagination its defining point, just as Amerikan politics are not defined by their origins of rebellion, violent and destructive direct action, and guerilla war.
And the notion that, under anarchism, the lazy would thrive on the backs of the hard-working is laughable. Such a condition already exists in Amerikan society (and in countless others), and is sanctioned and protected by the two-faced government, which has developed complicated pretenses that create the illusion of working toward the benefit of the people, while the wealth of those same people is carted off to the lavish mansions of the wealthy elite under the protection of the 'law.' These wealthy elite, who hardly can claim to have toiled more than a few hours here and there, are the people who walk away with the products of the people's labor. The pittance paid to the workers is but a sliver of the fruits of their labor, while slothful individuals at the top of the chain of command are able to, and often do, take the lion's share.
Of course, labor conditions and wages in Amerika have improved over the past several decades, but the situation is still very much in favor of the rich, and is conducive to a society in which the lazy not only live on the backs of the hard-working, but enslave them to do their bidding. Can any better be expected of a nation whose government is operated, for the most part, by millionaires and politicians with extensive relationships to industrial and commercial interests? Can any real justice be expected when the controllers of the electric chairs, the gas chambers, and the toxic needles are primarily acting to protect their own interests and the interests of the handful of people who own the vast majority of the nation's wealth? The answer to both is an obvious and resounding 'NO!'
Yet we continue to permit the existence of, and even support, the government which seeks to keep us in chains so that it may suck the very blood from our veins. We stand idly by while the wealthy elite exercise their power by launching excessively expensive artillery at the poor masses of other nations. We do nothing while the poor of our nation are sent to occupy the streets of other nations so that the wealthy vampires may extend their filthy, dripping fangs into the necks of those nations' poor. We excuse the overt lying of the self-proclaimed leader of our nation because he and his interests have such an iron grip on our sources of information that we cannot receive the whole story, and thus are unable, for the most part, to understand the reason for that dishonesty, and that it extends far beyond merely 16 words. We remain silent while that 'leader' belittles the deaths of our brothers and sisters through the hostility of his making, then openly challenges the occupied people to strike at them harder, and with more frequency, as if the cowardly little cowboy were going to don the soldier's equipment and head to battle himself.
Perhaps the want for such actions by the greed-enslaved politicians and businessmen cannot be helped except through their own will, but the people, the deprived masses, have no reason to stand for such behavior. While it is true that many of the people have been tricked by the war-makers and thieves into believing that their wars are just, there are still many of us who know the truth of the situation and should be willing to act on it. It is our responsibility to stand up for our brethren, at home and afar, against the brutal oppression and war of the greedy, violent, unabashed criminals who seek to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.
The persecution of Sherman Austin is a battle'and one at which the people are losing terribly'in the greater class war between the Many and the Few. Austin's sentencing appears to be a great loss, but we, the Many, still have the opportunity to use this loss to prepare and recruit for future battles. The libertarians, the constitutionalists, the socialists, and others who value the little liberty that we have left in this fading republic, will no doubt stand tall with us against such oppression. We may not be able to save Sherman Austin from a year's waste in prison, but we may be able to use his fate to prevent the condemnation of other innocents to the same, and to promote the values of anarchism against the abuse of government.
We have great resources available to us; we only need to discover their whereabouts and how to use them. Many well-funded organizations exist for the purposes of social and economic justice. Whether or not these groups are anarchist in nature does not matter; they are still our allies against the oppressive Few. The vast membership numbers of many of these organizations is testament to the fact that the people, despite their inaction, at least latently support real justice and equality.
It is our responsibility to stir the Many to action, to wake them from their complacence and enlighten them to the true nature of their oppression. The silencing of dissent, the wars against our brethren, the usurpation of the labor of the Many by the Few, all need to be ended, but from their ashes needs to grow a better and more prosperous society in which such injustices are made impossible rather than commonplace. We cannot be content to simply win these small battles; we must use both our wins and our losses to not only turn the tides of this war against the Few, but to eradicate the battlefield itself, so that the weeds of iniquity have no fertile soil in which to plant their roots.
Instead of using the unjust wars of conquest against the Few so that they may lose political power, we ought to expose the motives and means that are the cause of that conquest, so that the people may understand that these actions are based in the foundation of the inordinate wealth of the Few. Instead of fighting political persecution on technical legal grounds, we ought to take every opportunity to expose the system of 'law' for the fraud that it has become. Rather than point out the small wrongs done to the working classes on a daily basis, we ought to show the people that the system of wage-slavery as a whole is wrong, and that the small injustices that result from it are but minor symptoms of a devastating disease to which the Many hold the cure.
As if the oppression by the Few was not severe enough in earlier times, we are entering, in Amerika, an age which may parallel the days of Nazi Germany and imperialist Rome in its brutality, war, and oppression, both here and around the world. We may only have a short time left to act, especially if the crooked cowboy manages to subvert the will of the people once again in the upcoming election. Despite actions such as that against Sherman Austin, speech is still somewhat free in Amerika, at least to the point that those who are cautious enough not to inadvertently break oppressive laws can speak their minds and spread their ideas without the threat of governmental intervention. We must take advantage of the little freedom that the next 16 months can offer us, before even that small amount of liberty finds itself in chains.