The old get old/And the young get stronger
May take a week/And it may take longer
They got the guns/But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah/We're takin' over
In my youth, I took solace in the whole "we got the numbers" thing. The very idea filled with me hope...but little did I know, the ones with the guns have had it all figured out for a very, very long time. Philosopher David Hume-in 1758-explained it this way: "As force is always on side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion only that government is founded and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and most popular."
"The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world," says Gore Vidal. "No first World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent."
The massive global protests were barely noticed.
The shock-and-awe invasion went on as planned.
The repulsive occupation continues to this day.
Doesn't say a whole lot for "having the numbers," huh?
"We" also had the numbers this summer when it came to who did and didn't support Israel's recent assault on the Lebanese populace. Outside of a select few in Israel, Great Britain, and the United States, the vast majority of our planet's human population were vociferously against the actions of the Israeli government and its U.S.-funded armed forces. But once again, the numbers just didn't add up. As long as America's ruling elite avoided any mention of a ceasefire, Lebanon remained doomed to its fate-no matter how many of us didn't like it.
In these and countless other cases, "we" have had the numbers. "We" still have the numbers. Morrison's "they," however, give no indication they'll be surrendering their guns any time soon. As a result, dissent in America is pretty much limited to marches, protests, boycotts, petitions, Michael Moore documentaries, the occasional vote for a third party candidate, and articles like this one. All of these methods (at least in their safe-for-mass-consumption versions) are deemed "legal" by those with the guns and, in their own way, legitimize the power held by those with the guns. Thus, all such tactics are ultimately impotent in terms of provoking systemic, long term change. If you don't believe me, ask yourself why you haven't taken your rebellion beyond the methods listed above. Your answer is likely the same as mine: "We've got the numbers, but they've got the guns."
Maybe author Derrick Jensen had it right when he said: "We still think we have something to lose. That's what's stopping us. As soon as we realize we have nothing left to lose we'll be dangerous." After all, as Jim Morrison sang: "No one here gets out alive."
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently "50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know" (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.