The Problem Isn’t Civil Disobedience, It’s Civil Obedience

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CAITLIN JOHNSTONE
MAY 21

Our society does not have an antisemitism crisis. It doesn’t have a crisis of far left radicalism, Islamist extremism, support for terrorism, or fomenting of dissent by foreign powers.

Our society has a moral crisis. A cruelty crisis. An imperialism crisis. A militarism crisis. A propaganda crisis. An insincerity crisis. A stupidity crisis. An obedience crisis.

Empire managers and imperial spinmeisters try to pretend there’s some horrifying existential emergency involving hatred of Jews or love of Hamas or some other ridiculous nonsense in our society, because the empire too is in a state of crisis. People are waking up from its lullaby of propaganda and are rejecting its narrative manipulation like never before, which is why instead of relenting and accepting the empire’s destruction of Gaza, opposition to it is only growing stronger.

So the authorized custodians of imperial narratives flail around desperately trying to regain some control by spinning all the civil disobedience we are seeing in a way that makes it seem like some sort of problem which needs to be fixed. But as Howard Zinn said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.”

Our problem is not that more and more people are opposing Israel’s empire-backed atrocities in Gaza with more and more aggression, our problem is that people are not opposing it aggressively enough. Our problem is that too many people still have their minds jacked into the mainstream worldview and ignore the most urgent matter of our time, letting their thoughts be preoccupied with frivolous garbage and trusting that our leaders are doing what’s best for us.

Mainstream culture is so shallow, vapid and idiotic that when an artist rapped about this issue of unparalleled urgency, he included the line “I want a ceasefire, fuck a response from Drake” — and everyone knew what he meant. He meant mainstream culture is fixated on phony public spats between millionaire pop stars while the US empire funnels weapons of annihilation into Israel to be dropped on a giant concentration camp full of children. It says so much about this fraudulent dystopia we live in that such a thing would need to be said. But it did.

The problem isn’t that people are becoming too disobedient, the problem is that people remain too obedient. The problem isn’t that people are becoming too radicalized against their government, the problem is that people aren’t radicalized enough. The problem is that the freaks who rule over us are not sufficiently afraid of us. The problem is that we have not yet come to the collective realization that there are a whole lot more of us than there are of them, and that we don’t actually need to put up with them doing crazy and evil things right in front of our faces.

Instead people sit around drooling with their eyes fixed on screens full of endless diversion while children are ripped to shreds by western-supplied military explosives for no other reason than because they happen to belong to the wrong ethnic group. 

That is the real crisis of our society. Not an imaginary antisemitism epidemic. Not college kids disobeying authority figures. Not leftists. Not anarchists. Not Islam. Not Hamas.

The real crisis in our society is that too many people are still blindly obedient to a murderous and tyrannical empire which should be hacked to pieces and scattered to the winds.

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Featured image via Joe Piette (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED)