Down through the centuries, and especially in the age of "managed democracy," a lot of hot air has been heard in sanctimonious quarters on the matter of when violence is "legitimate" as a solution to institutionalized abuses. Violence, it scarcely needs saying, is never thought a good solution to the ills caused by the elite passing judgment on others.
These days, our top opinion moulders -- from bought politicians to media critters -- can be depended on to applaud rebels in other nations where it is to the advantage of our elites to have a "regime change." Thus, it should come as no surprise that such sympathies in our ruling circles are often backed up by the full weight of our propaganda assets, diplomacy, and also muscle -- from military ops to intelligence dirty tricks.
The recent cases of Iraq and Libya readily come to mind, but our rulers were already doing the same hypocritical sleight of hand during the assisted implosion of the Eastern Bloc in the late 80s when Lech Walesa in Poland (and later others like Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia) were hailed as global heroes and exemplars of patriotism for supposedly standing up to the vicious communist tyrannies stifling the people's right to a full consumerist society.
Now, of course, as Syria and Iran remain the only independent standing pawns in the Middle East chess, the respected voices are again being heard urging support for the rebels (and outright revolution) in the name of everything that is decent and dear to humankind, beginning with democracy and freedom, the perennial pretext for our international meddling, plus -- how could we forget? -- national security, the card that trumps all cards. You can't get more sacred and irrefutable than that.
But history as usual is full of surprises, especially when read with an impartial and honest mind. As Winston Churchill, a man who knew a thing or two about hypocrisy and dirty tricks once said, "a man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist." Maybe he was thinking of the Irgun's attack on the King David Hotel, but that's another story.
It's hardly a terribly astute observation that, yes, subjectivism plays a huge role in human affairs, or, as some often claim, the devil is in the details. One man's "insufferable" is another man's "quite tolerable" or even "peachy" conditions. It's therefore logical to expect that the richest and most powerful members of society (who also happen to own the media, the military, the police, and most high public offices) will look upon pronouncements of "insufferable conditions" uttered by the poorest and most disenfranchised sectors of the nation as wild exaggerations. Fred Vanderbilt Field, a direct descendant of Commodore Vanderbilt of Robber baron fame, and a very decent man, recalls in his memoir From Right to Left that few in his parents' circles even acknowledged the existence of the Great Depression, continuing their merry living as usual, as the economic catastrophe barely touched their lives.
In any case, in practice, on the issue of perceived abuses, the "subjective" becomes the objective when a vast majority agree on the reality of their situation. Suffering can't be measured with the exactitude we gauge the boiling point of water, but when great numbers of people repeatedly come to the same conclusion, that a major change is in order, and a sufficient number think this realization is clear enough to propel their actions, no matter how risky, then a measure of the "objective" has been reached.
On the question of a people's right to revolt against oppression, we don't need to listen to Marx, Lenin or Che, admittedly authorities on the subject, to get our bearings, but simply lend an ear to that despicable commie rat, Thomas Jefferson and his notorious cabal. After all, it is they who penned this masterful example of sedition:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..." (1)
No wonder the American Declaration of Independence influenced so many in Europe itself, where its core ideas had germinated, and later served as a blueprint for the French Revolution and other revolutions in the centuries that followed. They say Ho Chi Minh was inspired (and moved) by the document, and I believe it. For truer words have rarely been said in a more beautiful or compelling manner.
(1) Excerpt from the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (aka The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America)