Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Myth of Majority Rule: Part III

The Myth of Majority Rule: Part III  (or return to Part 1)

We've taken a two part detour into "propaganda" -- specifically, the kind of pro-enlightenment propaganda that helped to make most of us the people that we are. A system of relentlessly repeated messages that have helped our Enlightenment/modernist civilization to push upstream against the hard current of human nature -- an everpresent tide that keeps trying to drive us into the more typical social patterns that dominated nearly every other culture.

Especially rule by bullying, self-interested and coercive elites. And the incantatory lackeys - the wizards and priests and spin-doctors who used tools of romantic persuasion to rationalize aristo bullying as a good thing.

Which brings us back to today's politics. What I plan to do now is to intersperse recent comments with some material that I wrote about the issue of "minority veto"... back in different times. Specifically, I am disturbed by the recent spat over the US Senate filibuster rules. We have just seen one party - the party that used filibusters far more often, in the past, suddenly using their (highly debatable) recent razor-thin electoral victory as justification for promoting a new agenda, claiming that all they want is to simply allow "majority rule" to manifest in an efficient manner, giving the President's judicial nominees the "courtesy" of a simple up down vote. *

But can 50.1 percent legitimately over-rule the wishes of 49.9 percent who disagree? Pushing a radical agenda that at least 49% of the electorate actively despises?

Actually, majority rule has long been already tempered in much of American political life. Until recently, Congress seldom passed a law supported by just 51% of the people, while vigorously opposed by nearly half. We've already discussed how minority objections are traditionally palliated by negotiation, mollification, and tradeoffs. The power of opposing groups can be measured by multiplying their numbers by their fervor, so that small but intense lobbies may effectively veto measures desired only tepidly by much greater majorities.

(I wrote that paragraph, and the next one, before 2001. It now seems like another century. In any event, you can see how the filibuster was originally intended to fit this purpose... and how it would also have been abused, when the cloture rule was 66% instead of a mere 60%.)

This dance of factions can be frustrating, as when popular measures such as gun control are stymied by vigorous advocacy groups like the NRA. But on the whole, it is a better, more mature way of doing things than pure majority rule, or tyranny by 51%. Minority veto slows progress, but it also forces legislators to keep seeking that elusive, worthy goal -- consensus.

I could go on about how this applies to the whole notion of civil disobedience, which can be viewed as the legitimate resort of minorities whose passion matches their sense of disenfranchisement. Innovators like Thoreau, Ghandi and Martin Luther King emphasized that breaking the law should never be a first resort, and that the state has some right to imprison protestors who stage sit-down strikes or block traffic. Indeed, only half of the effectiveness of any act of civil disobedience arises from inconveniencing the obdurate majority. The other half comes from proudly and willingly accepting proportionate punishment, demonstrating sincerity, courage and commitment. Protestors who whine about serving a small amount of jail time, for protesting in some provocative manner, miss the whole point.

As do authorities who use disproportionate force. Very few cultures in history would have let Gandhi or King live long enough to try out their methodologies and begin the long process of rousing the conscience of a semi enlightened majority. Today, though, civilization appears to (at least for now) 'get it'. If you protest something with letters to the editor - or a posted irate blog - there are (supposed to be) no repercussions. If you picket, you get more attention, perhaps, but pay a deterrence penalty of lost time and possibly abuse from passersby. If you lie down in front of trucks, you may be fined. Even in the unenlightened fifties, when Rosa Parks sat in the wrong part of the bus, she went to jail, but wasn't shot. And like Rosa, if your protest succeeds, you may be rewarded later and lionized as a cultural hero for the second half of your life.

(As you can tell, I am cribbing a bit from a never-published essay that I wrote in more innocent times. For example, consider the next two paragraphs, that seemed applicable until just the last few years. On today's context, they illustrate just how badly things have become poisoned.)

Minority factions may not be able to get their assertive agenda passed. But almost any group can veto actions it dislikes, providing its size, multiplied by its vociferousness, reaches a certain level. Political rigor mortis is one possible result, which is fine for the sanctimonious on both sides, who don’t want action, only a continued state of warlike threat, in order to keep the adrenaline and endorphins flowing.

But this is adversarial gridlock is a serious problem for any group or ideology that’s serious about accomplishing action. It means that a 51% majority will do you no good at all if a strong 40% opposition is truly determined to block you. In order to succeed, proponents must divide the enemy by reaching some sort of compromise consensus with ‘moderates’ on the other side... something that is loathsome to the purist. More loathsome, perhaps, than inaction.

What has changed? One of our parties has become utterly radicalized. Under conditions like this, no amount of fervor or remonstration by 49% can avail if 51% have total control of all branches of governance. Individual mavericks like John McCain may speak up occasionally for compromise. But the proof is in the pudding. GOP party discipline is so perfect that, after four and half years, George W. Bush has yet to use a single veto.

We might as well have a European system of ideology-based parties. We are certainly moving away from the American principle of emphasizing the individual candidate/delegate over the party manifesto.


 ====     ====   =====

All right, what about the executive branch? If Congress used to be a nexus for negotiation, the US political process seems to have chosen an almost military command structure for our executive. When a European country's cabinet votes, the Prime Minister generally obeys. When a president's cabinet votes, he ponders their advice and does as he likes.

Often an ideologue, riding into the White House by a slim margin, acts as if he's been anointed the mantle of history. Even when just forty percent are left out, in a landslide, should tens of millions be lightly dismissed? Of course, things are even worse when the electoral margin was razor-thin. We'll talk more about this next time..

culturewarbattlegroundI get into many specifics about the most recent election at: http://www.davidbrin.com/realculturewar1.html

====  ====  =====

Summarizing this section. Those who push "majority rule" as something sacred are doing the same thing that prior generations of ideologues did, when promoting the divine right of kings - or minority rule by a privileged elite. They are pounding the pulpit for a pure platonic essence that also just happens to support the power needs of their aristocratic patrons.

Yes, majority rule was an improvement over earlier systems of governance. But western civilization has long-since become more sophisticated, developing methodologies of minority veto and negotiated consensus.

Those who would have us abandon all of the hard-won pragmatic progress and subtlety of modern democracy, in favor of a gross oversimplification, are not friends of democracy in any form.

Next: a modest suggestion for how to respect minority opinion in the presidency, during an era of increasing polarization...

==See also:

Part 1: Why Majority Rule is a Deadly Ruse
Part 2:  The Propaganda of Enlightenment
Part 3: The Myth of Majority Rule
Part 4: The L-R axis redux: More on the war of ideas

==And on another topic…

Finally, a few comments in the Star Wars thread. I agree SW has common elements with both Faust and classic Greek tragedy. Indeed. In Poetics Aristotle defines a tragedy as watching the inevitable suffering of a hero who is doomed by Fate, with no way out. This defines tragedy in the old style I've been calling nostalgist, fatalistic, or romantic...

...and because it's old, that does require us to approve. Yes, when I watch a good rendition of Oedipus, I cry in sympathy as he twists and turns, caught by the gods like a fish on a hook. But I ALSO want to leap on the stage with a pistol, put poor Oedie out of his misery, then use the rest of the bullets to hunt down the nasty "gods" who committed this crime against him .

That possibility - of average (or above average) folk holding capricious elites accountable - was inherent in the sappy-silly but wonderful "Xena" and "Hercules" series, a few years back. Though they were demigods, both characters chose to side with humanity. Average joes could matter. Both main characters dabbled with anger quite often, demonstrating mature choices, instead of automatically turning irreversibly evil.

And yes, you can have "tragedy" without assuming it's fated or ordained. There was never anything ordained about nuclear war. Hence, "On The Beach" and "Dr. Strangelove" were terrifyingly tragic tales precisely BECAUSE the destruction of all life was inherently avoidable. In modernist view, drama concerns the making of good-bad choices, not twisting in the wind because three old crones happened to spin your fate that way. (For more on these fabled creatures, see my short story, "The Loom of Thessaly"!)

Oh, one more thing: someone said "films don't deal with contrition". Really? Spielberg's magnificent "Schindler's List" teaches precisely the opposite moral lesson than SWIII ROTS. Think about it. Enough. Back to this culture of ours and trying to make it work. The gritty hard work of pragmatic modern problem solvers, negotiating in good faith to make things better.

49 comments:

Tony Fisk said...

'Very few cultures in history would have let Ghandi or King live long enough to try out their methodologies...'

I have been dipping into 'A Force More Powerful', which documents the history of non-violent struggle over the last century. One of the pieces concerns the Danish resistance under Nazi occupation; a group not noted for their tolerance of others.

It suggests that civil disobedience is less dependent on a tolerant authority than might be thought (although Tiannemen Square and Uzbekistan are more recent counter-examples, alas).

Following on from your comments about how Pax Americana is being viewed internally and externally, how much coverage did the US press give British MP George Galloway when he took the bull by the horns and testified to the US senate hearing on the 'oil for food' scandal? He made 'em squirm, from all accounts!

And, oh, what a can of worms he poured on the table!

David Brin said...

The Danes merit glory forever for how they behaved in WWII...

.... but let's be honest. They were archetypal aryans and the Germans were highly inclined to cut them some slack.

Frank said...

"The power of opposing groups can be measured by multiplying their numbers by their fervor"

P = n . F ? Is that game-theory or psychohistory ? Is P a vector ? :)

"We might as well have a European system of ideology-based parties. We are certainly moving away from the American principle of emphasizing the individual candidate/delegate over the party manifesto."

At least with political parties you know what they stand for. This may make them somewhat ideologically rigid but as long as
a government contains many political parties that shouldn't be a real problem.

"When a president's cabinet votes, he ponders their advice and does as he likes."

And people say the U.S of A doesn't have a king...

"Those who would have us abandon all of the hard-won pragmatic progress and subtlety of modern democracy, in favor of a gross
oversimplification, are not friends of democracy in any form."

Yes, but is filibustering really a necessary evil ? You have to admit it's a rather artificial and childish tactic. It doesn't have anything to do with actual argumentation.

Mabus said...

I've been trying to put together a series of articles for my own (currently inactive) blog regarding the decline of rational argument over the last couple of days...Unfortunately, I'm having trouble figuring out where to start.

Steve B said...

Frank said...
"At least with political parties you know what they stand for. This may make them somewhat ideologically rigid but as long as
a government contains many political parties that shouldn't be a real problem."

The problem with this is that right now, we only have two significant parties in this country (there are others, but they're effectively powerless...), and pinning down what they stand for is difficult. What the Republican party stands for *today* is very different than what it stood for 25 years ago, and even more different than what it stood for 50 or 100 years back. Likewise for the Democrats. In some areas, they've even swapped what they stand for over time.

Brother Doug said...

Excellent essay but I have one bone to pick with Brin:

'Very few cultures in history would have let Ghandi or King live long enough to try out their methodologies."

But what about Bolivia, Manigascar, Yugoslavia, Romania, and The Philippines. All these countries successfully threw off violent repressive regimes using nonviolence? If even Hitler had to refrain from killing Jewish and Arian germans who were "polluting the pure Arian race by miscegenation " as shown in the Rosenstrasse protest.
http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/timeline/rosenstr.htm
All of these examples show the effectiveness of nonviolence in the face of burutal reprssion. Even the Shaw of Iran was overthown with nonviolnce. Sadly as often happens the Iranians suport for nonviolnce was shortlived.

Also the death of a leader of nonviolnce is often the is often the catilist for change. Or as Ghandi said If you are afrid of dieing then nonviolnce is not the path for you.

Even Socrates said that the essence of good morals is to refrain from causing harm to others. Or as one his followers said "We've found that it is never right to harm anyone." to which Socraties agreed. Ben Franklin said at the end of the revolutionary war that he was more and more beginning to believe that there was "no such thing as a good war or a bad peace."

Rik said...

Didn't non-violent resistance start with Jesus? (atheist writing...) And no, the culture of his day didn't tolerate him either. I think you should read 'Critique of Cynical Reason', it clearly shows that ideology in power can never last - it will use anything it can get it's hands on to *stay* in power. Eventually, the people (whoever they are) see through...

ps. I zapping over your site, from 'real culture war' to 'Tolkien', and I came across diamond-shaped society. Then I found myself re-reading the book of the series Moyers did with Campbell. (I thought I could use it for my own book, but nah...) Anyway, I think that the SOA "just" grew.
It grew from Jesus himself, which morphed into the troubadours (who made a most lasting contribution), to which then the new European novels came (think Don Quichotte). The Enlightenment as a period ended with the French Revolution, but the diamondshaped society (divinely ordained) didn't just fall with it... it was I think the other way around. The king & queen were beheaded, because the old world (way of thinking) had already crumbled so much...

Tony Fisk said...

@Brother Doug: I think the emphasis in Brin's remark was on 'cultures in history'.

In recent times, better communications have held oppressive regimes a smidgen more accountable than perhaps in Roman times. Thus (going back to Denmark) the Nazis' behaviour was a little more on show than, say, the depths of Russia.

I do agree with Brin that the Nazis had a stake in presenting a case study in Aryan cooperation to the world. I would suggest, however, that it is the recognition of such stakes that gives a non-violent resistance a chance to succeed. I suggest also that such stakes could exist in any culture.

(BTW, what *is* a filibuster, anyway?)

W.B. Reeves said...

Not to go perilously off topic but I have to take exception to Dr. Brin's "Aryan cousins" argument vis-a-vis the Danish resistance. The counter example is the Nazi reaction to the Dutch resistance.

It isn't widely known here in the states but Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation was the site of the only general strike against anti-Semitism in a European nation. Following the first round-up of 700 Jewish men for deportation, the city's Tramline workers voted a strike in protest and issued a call for a general strike.

The call was taken up by the citizenry and for two days Amsterdam was shut down. At this point the German military intervened directly and violently suppressed the strike.

The brutality of the Nazis on this occasion proved a catalyst for the Dutch resistance, which grew to be the largest, best organized and most broadly based in western Europe. Of course, after the Amsterdam strike, the Dutch no longer hesitated to shoot back. Anyone visiting Amsterdam should take time to visit the Museum of the Resistance and learn more.

Nor should the decimation of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe be overlooked when we consider Nazi treatment of their erstwhile "Aryan" cousins.

I think the reasons behind the relatively lighter treatment of the Danes under German occupation are complex. I doubt that the rhetorical posturings of Nazi racial mania provide a sufficient explanation. These are the same people who declared the Japanese to be honorary Aryans when it suited their purpose.

Rik said...

About majority rule... I'm sorry, but isn't that inherent in American politics? Or to a step further: in all two party systems? Compare for example with, say, The Netherlands..., where there are anything but two parties, and it's relatively easy to start a new party and join in the elections. You may have heard of one Pim Fortuyn... All parties seek the middle and more or less start resembling one another, once they've been in power. It might also be inherent in ruling. After all, you can't let it start with a Democrat President who got away with Republican ideas.

Creeping polarization? I still like to read 'the culture of complaint' and it seems to me that polarization has been going on for some time. It might even have started with the Progressive movement. Things like SOA and so on are values and they are transmitted in a particular way. One could suggest, I think, that the erosion of the Enlightenment values started long before the Hollywood reinforcement took off.

How to return to democracy? Ha! Press harder the theme of 'values', but add more individualism... and allow and/and, instead of either/or (like: i'm for abortion, gay marriage, french cheese, small guvmint, homeschooling and family friendly policies.). That oughtta do...

Brother Doug said...

Rik said...
Didn't non-violent resistance start with Jesus? (atheist writing...)

Well some would argue that Bhudda beat him to it by a few hundred years, but Jesus inteded non-volence to be used by all his followers not just monks. Some would argue that Bhudda felt the same but never said so publicly. Jesus was lived in a much more represive envornment so its natural that he would have to take it farther.

The comment about Russia under Stalin getting away with much more repession that Hitler did has some value. With a closed society for while he did a much better job at supressing the truth of how bad it was. Ironic becouse the Russian Tolstoy was the one who inspired Ghandi to take up nonviolence with his book "the Kingdom of God is Within you." Sadly Russa did not give nonviolnce a try until the 1990's. But it sure worked well in Ukrane, Gerorga and Kahsickstan recently. Esepcaly compared to the tragidy in Chechzia.

Brin is right on target about a lot of things so it will be intresting to see his percription to solve them.

Anonymous said...

war and the violence of person against person is giving way to a null feeling of conformity and peaceful apathy. There is less of a will to go to total war in modern societies, and hence, the cooperation of group vs group is giving way to just a fragmented being that is increasinly controled by a networked world that is lead by nebulous majority that is balanced by a nebulous minority, with neither having any energy, or giest, to explode into any authentic human expression of conflict.

Both sides are mearly sides that have no real difference: there is no left or right, no real zeal for principle of revolution.

Frank said...

What exactly is the point these pro-nonviolence people are trying to make ? It's not an infallible method (not that any method is), and a lot of people got themselves killed anyway. What is the advantage ?

Also, Would it have worked for black slaves in the U.S. or the jews in german concentration camps ? No. They would have been
executed without delay. Each and every one of them. Resistance was futile.

Granted, it's more likely to work in modern times. Rulers are less likely to be ruthless with the world looking over their shoulders.

firefall said...

"When a European country's cabinet votes, the Prime Minister generally obeys. When a president's cabinet votes, he ponders their advice and does as he likes."

Err, not so much - in fact, I'd say all of the large European countries now have, de facto, a Presidential system with a subservient cabinet. Certainly this is absolutely true of Britain, Italy, France & Germany.


On nonviolence & it's success: this is one of the things that heartens me from looking at history, that you _can_ change human nature - a quick examination of, say, Imperial Roman culture vis-a-vis our own shows this, in how much more we value individual human lives.

BTW how the deuce did that nitwit romantic Thoreau wind up being mentioned in the same breath as heroes like Ghandi & King?

Ryan Somma said...

"Would (non-violence) have worked for black slaves in the U.S. or the jews in german concentration camps?" - Frank

I love tough questions like this, cause they make me think.

The Jews in Nazi Germany and the African Slaves in America engaged in no organized resistance violent or nonviolent. I'm not counting things like hiding Jews in closets or the Underground Railroad, because those were means of fleeing rather than engagement.

What would have happened if all the Jews, instead of allowing themselves to be herded into camps, had simply gone limp? What if they had staged peaceful protests? Chained themselves together in the streets?

Would they have still gone to the camps and died there? Possibly, but the world would have known what was going on, because the Nazis would have been forced to make a public display of their abuse. The Nazi intentions toward the Jews would have been brought out into the open, instead of the world uncovering those horrors after Nazisms fall.

The violence of the American Civil war only brought a brief respite to the suffering of African slaves. Most of their gains were gone in the early 1900s. It was only in the 1960s, with the Civil Rights movement, with its sit-ins and peaceful civil-disobedience, that African-Americans were set on a path towards permanent equality in America. They had to stand up and demand it themselves rather than wait for the American government to enforce it.

Violent resistance for either the Jews or the Africans was never an option. These minorities would have been killed all the quicker for it, and no one outside of their socieites would have joined their cause. Look at the Palestinians today, a horribly oppressed people, but because of their many incidents of violent resistance, it is too difficult for outsiders to support their cause.

Adam Balm said...

"The Jews in Nazi Germany and the African Slaves in America engaged in no organized resistance violent or nonviolent. I'm not counting things like hiding Jews in closets or the Underground Railroad, because those were means of fleeing rather than engagement."

I'm assuming you've never heard of the October 7, 1944 Sonderkommando organized uprising at Auschwitz?

Or how about the armed Jewish revolts all over Poland? If you wonder what would happen if the cowardly Jews fought back, wonder no further. Thousands, many who had nothing to do with the resistance, were killed in reprisal.

Frank said...

@firefal:
"BTW how the deuce did that nitwit romantic Thoreau wind up being mentioned in the same breath as heroes like Ghandi & King?"

Perhaps because Thoreau wrote an essay on civil disobedience ?

W.B. Reeves said...

Re: firefall,

"BTW how the deuce did that nitwit romantic Thoreau wind up being mentioned in the same breath as heroes like Ghandi & King?"

Probably because he wrote the seminal American essay on the subject, "On Civil Disobedience" and went to jail for refusing to pay taxes that supported the War on Mexico.

Re: Ryan Somma,

"I'm not counting things like hiding Jews in closets or the Underground Railroad, because those were means of fleeing rather than engagement."

In the first instance, as Adam pointed out, there were examples of Jewish resistance. He could have gone farther and specified the Jewish partisan detachments active in the Resistance or the rebellions at the extermination centers of Sobibor and Treblinka or the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

As for the American system of slavery, there were also instances of resistance. Nate Turner's rebellion and the case of Denmark Vesey come to mind.

Dismissing the Underground Railroad as an example of active resistance fails to appreciate the economic and political character of American Slavery. The defenders of the Slave power certainly saw such activities as both aggressive and destructive to the system.

Why? Because the existence of an organization actively liberating slaves (what pro-slavers called "slave stealing") was seen as encouraging resistance and rebellion among the larger slave population.

Moreover, since slavery was the basis of their economy, anything that weakened the absolute control of the master class over the
slaves was seen as a deadly threat to their social existence. Hence the demands, via the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision, that Federal power be placed squarely in support of slavery. This was the political crisis that underlay Lincoln's famous statement that a nation "...cannot endure half slave and half free."

Indeed, the Emancipation Proclamation was both a recognition and exploition of this economic vunerability of the slave states. From that point onward everywhere the Union Armies went slavery, as a labor force in support of the Confederate economy, evaporated. "Black Reconstruction" by W.E.B. Duboise goes into this aspect in detail.

The comparison between hiding Jews from the Holocaust and the Underground Railroad fails because the point of Nazi policy was extermination, whereas the purpose of slavery was the economic exploitation of labor.

There is a more apt comparison between the Underground Railroad and the resistance to the Nazis though. It lies, once again, with the Dutch Resistance who made it their business to aid downed allied bomber crews in escaping back to England.

More importantly, a major activity of the Dutch was frustrating the Nazi's recruitment of their citizens for forced labor in German war industries. Estimated numbers of workers denied to the Nazi war machine by the Dutch Resistance run as high as 250,000. This was a remarkable achievement. Especially when we consider that these people were not smuggled out of Nazi occupied territory but were hidden amongst the Dutch population until the liberation. No mean feat since food, clothing and housing were all rationed by the occupation authorities.

Brother Doug said...

Frank asked about non-volence in a death camp. It was nonviolent aid workers like the AFSC that where one of the few non Jewish oginisations that tried to warn the world about the extermination camps. Not only that but becouse of their aid work after World War one they even got the Nazis to agree to let all the Jews in Germany emigrate before WWII started. The problem was that western countrys would not take them. Its all documented in a book by the Quaker Corder Catchpool. I cant remember the title or find it on google.

Ghandi belived that nonviolence would work againced Hitler, but that it would be a great cost. He even got thousands of followers to agree to nonviolently resist the Japanese empire should they sucessed in invading India. But he was put in prison by the British before he could do anything. Some think that Ghandis oposition to the Japanese was what caused local Indian troops to refrain from defecting as they did all over the rest of southesast asia.

Here is a intesting tidbit that mentions Quakers in germany.
http://www.pendlehill.org/Lectures%20and%20Writings/bailey.html

AdamBalm said...

Ghandi belived that nonviolence would work againced Hitler, but that it would be a great cost. He even got thousands of followers to agree to nonviolently resist the Japanese empire should they sucessed in invading India.

This isn't entirely accurate. I'm not sure how Gandhi's opinion of Hitler shaped over time (Anyone who is more informed in this area, please speak up.) but it's recently been an area of controversy that Gandhi was oddly ignorant about Hitler, even going so far as to speake glowingly of Hitler's ability to achieve his goals without much violence. (I assume this changed during the war, although I don't know how much.)

Brother Doug said...

That's the first I have heard about Gandhi praising Hitler and I have read a lot about Gandhi. You could be right, but if so I think it was quoted out of context. I suspect he was commenting on how Hitler did manage to turn around the economy without a war, when the rest of the west was still mired in depression.
Hitler did successfully deceive a lot of intelligent and even some highly moral persons. Plus Gandhi was more involved in Indian and British politics and the local production of cloth and the boycott of British goods that was going on in Germany.

The Gandhi quote about stopping Hitler but a great cost is memorable to me because it was included in the Movie "Gandhi" While he was under arrest during WWII, I think it was also included in "My experiments with truth" by Gandhi and in a few other things I have read.

My impression was that he did not approve of any system of government that oppressed its people. Gandhi had some probing questions for FDR and America because of its Jim Crow laws and discrimination of people with darker complexion while at the same time professing to want freedom worldwide. Had he known that Hitler copied his racial laws from the United States I am sure he would have not done anything to support him.

tdr said...

It's becoming more evident every day that the Bush Administration truly is the greatest threat to democracy this country has seen. Not because of any danger Bush himself poses but because his success is causing Democrats and their fellow anti-Republicans to give up on democracy.

It started in 2000 when the prospect of Bush's victory led Al Gore to try and steal the Florida election by cherry picking votes and by trying to create them by manipulating the recounts. It happened again in Washington last year when the Democrats succeeded in stealing the election for governor. It manifested itself here in San Diego when supporters of Donna Frye for mayor, speaking in the name of democracy and counting every vote, tried to overturn the election and put their candidate into office by arguing that democracy demanded that the laws governing the election be ignored. It exists today in the US Senate where an ideologically extreme minority Democratic Party uses a filibuster to hamstring the president, whose election they still don't consider legitimate. That's what's really happening in this county.

To those who fear the exercise of majority rule in this country, remember there's that pesky little thing in this country known as regularly scheduled elections to keep the majority party from going too far out of the mainstream.

It's past time for anti-Republicans to get over it already.

-tdr

W.B. Reeves said...

TDR,

You've managed to be even more off topic than me.

It's interesting that you see the question of majority rule in partisan terms. Since the GOP represents less than a majority of the total population of the U.S.A., in terms of states carried, I think your position is a little confused.

chris stiles said...

It is true that Britain, Germany and Italy - to pick the three European examples used - have more of a presidential system as time goes on. However, in all these countries there are fairly strong pressures that mean that things aren't not necessarily what they would seem if you just follow the news at the surface and only see Schroder, Blair, Berlusconi etc.

In both Germany and Italy you have minority parties headed up by very popular figures with their own regional support. In fact the failure of both Schroder and Berlusconi to push their agenda for better or worse has reflected that.

Blair is an even more interesting comparison. From the coverage in the US press you'd almost think he was the only person in government in the UK. The fact is that his 'presidential style' has largely been an illusion - there are a number of questions in the UK on which there is consensus except at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, and by allying himself to these he has given the appearance of being more presidential than he actually is.

Ryan Somma said...

"I'm assuming you've never heard of the October 7, 1944 Sonderkommando organized uprising at Auschwitz?

Or how about the armed Jewish revolts all over Poland? If you wonder what would happen if the cowardly Jews fought back, wonder no further. Thousands, many who had nothing to do with the resistance, were killed in reprisal."


Firstly. I take issue with you characterizing my statements as an argument for Jewish cowardice. That's underhanded and unjustified. Try and exhibit a little more respect and maturity in the future.

Secondly. Your examples fail to address my argument, which was a speculation on nonviolent resistance by Jews and African Americans. You responded with those rare and brief examples of violent resistance, which were quickly extinquished with so much force as to frighten others away from attempting the same. As I argued, violent resistance does not bring outside allies to the cause. No one will come to the aide of an oppressed minority if they are seen in violent resistance.

So no, we don't know what would have happened if the Jews and Africans had organized passive resistance on the scale of the 1960s civil rights movement.

The reason these two groups did not resist was not because of cowardice, but because of how well organized their oppressive forces were. The Jews and Africans were segregated, divided, and conquered. They lacked the means for organization.

Re. The Underground Railroad:

You are correct. This was a very effective form of resistance. Just as the Jews sabotaging Nazi arms production was. These were economic resistances that were also non violent. I was thinking more of passive resistance, people in the streets getting fire-hosed and beaten with batons. Such public displays of civil disobediance being conrolled with excessive force instill a great sense of injustice and outrage in those outside the fray. It's a very powerful tactic.

Adam Balm said...

'Firstly. I take issue with you characterizing my statements as an argument for Jewish cowardice. That's underhanded and unjustified. Try and exhibit a little more respect and maturity in the future.'

In that case I apologize, but from where I was sitting the argument 'oh they just rolled over and died' (which did not happen as W.B. Reeves did a far better job of showing, than myself) is an argument for cowardice. If you say you didn't mean that, then I accept that. Nevertheless that's how it appeared at the time. Not trying to be underhanded or divisive.

But you are incorrect when you claim that you said "Your examples fail to address my argument, which was a speculation on nonviolent resistance by Jews and African Americans.". The only reason why I responded to your statement was because you wrote "The Jews in Nazi Germany and the African Slaves in America engaged in NO organized resistance VIOLENT or nonviolent.." You included violent resistance in there, and you claimed it never occured. That is factually and historically incorrect. I'm not trying to split hairs or pin you down to 'he said, she saids'. If you meant something other than what you said, then that's fine. In any event, I think I'll let W.B. Reeves respond to your arguments, since I'll probably end up repeating the same points he'll make.

Tony Fisk said...

A minor nitpick for Brother Doug...

" Sadly Russa did not give nonviolnce a try until the 1990's"

In fact, they did! In 1905! (Check the
Russian Revolution of 1905, and note it was triggered by the 'bloody Sunday' massacre.

It may not have been particularly successful, but the idea was there. ('A Force More Powerful' covers this incident in more detail).

W.B. Reeves said...

I don't think raising the spector of "Jewish cowardice" was intentional but given the history under discussion I think it entirely predictable that it would arise.

I got involved in this thread because the topic is engrossing and I have an affection for clarity in discussion. For me this means facts first.

My earlier comments were a reaction to what I perceived as overly broad generalizations based on limited or
partial data. For example: I think the assertion that there was no resistance on the part of Jews and
African-American slaves is factually incorrect.

My references to the example of the Dutch Resistance were an attempt to convey the complexity of resistance under a brutal, dehumanizing tyranny. I intended my comments on African American Slavery to serve that same purpose.

At this point I feel obliged to ante-up and kick in on the main issue; the value of non-violent resistance.

I think non-violence is a powerful force for social and political change as well as for personal transformation. Moral example can be an effective weapon.

That said, I also think that it is neither wise or ethical to treat non-violent resistance as though it exists in a social and political vacum. Non-violent resistance is both a tactic and a strategy for change. It is not an ideal, platonic or otherwise. The non-violence of Ghandi and King is not a delicate blossom cultivated in some philosophical hothouse. Rather, it is a tool forged in the heat of popular struggles, mass movements of dissent and resistance.

Talking about the Civil Rights movement solely in terms of non-violence misapprehends the realities of that time. It's certainly true that King's leadership was dominant but it was never unquestioned. There were always other, more militant voices, some of whom cooperated either openly or implicitly with King's leadership.Reading up on the role of Malcolm X or the history of the Deacons for Defense and that of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) could illuminate this point.

During the heyday of the Civil Rights struggle, American society was haunted by the spector of the alternative to non-violence. The effectiveness of the movement led by King was due in part to fear of that alternative.

Likewise in India, Ghandi presented the British empire with a stark choice: either there would be independence through non-violence or there would be extended and bloody resistance to the Empire.

We do ourselves no favors by ignoring the synergy between non-violence and the threat of violence in the process of social change. It is simply a fact.

Which brings me back to the specific question of whether non-violent resistance would have worked for the
Jews against the Nazis. My answer is no. For non-violence to succeed the oppressed group must have some kind of leverage, social, political or economic, with the oppressor. Under the Nazis the Jews had no such leverage. When the goal is extermination rather than exploitation no parley is possible.

That's not to say that violent resistance on a massive scale would have fared better. After Kristalnacht Nazi intentions and ruthlessness were all too apparent, as were the impotence and apathy of the "democracies" when faced by a modern pogrom. Here too the necessary leverage was lacking.

Given the circumstances I think it dubious to second guess what Jews could or ought to have done.

Back to the main point. Non-violence is a potent force but it is no panacea. It inspires great passion and devotion. Passionate devotion should not lead us to make demonstrably false statements such as "No one will come to the aide of an oppressed minority if they are seen in violent resistance." I seem to recall that the American Revolution was fought by a violent minority who attracted considerable outside support.

Ryan Somma said...

Great comments. I see that my post made too many over-generalizations and can see how I could have communicated my ideas more thoroughly.

As for the comment that inspired me to post in the first place:

"Would (non-violence) have worked for black slaves in the U.S. or the jews in german concentration camps?" - Frank

My answer is Yes, it certainly could have, if the resistance had been persistent and well-organized. : )

Frank said...

Ryan Somma said:
"My answer is Yes, it certainly could have, if the resistance had been persistent and well-organized"

That's a very big "if" considering the way society was structured in those days and the resistance to the resistance would probably have been as (if not more) persistent and well-organised. It would have been the powerless versus the powerful, the
disdained versus the disdainful, the hated versus the hateful.

So your comment was sarcasm ? :)

(nice argumentation by W.B. Reeves BTW)

Ryan Somma said...

It would have been the powerless versus the powerful, the disdained versus the disdainful, the hated versus the hateful.

So resistance is futile... Is your position that the Jews and Africans should not have resited at all? With cynicism that over the top, I thought you were the one being sarcastic. : )

Brother Doug said...

I have a fundamental disagreement with WB Reeves it seems to me he is saying that nonviolence needs the leverage of violence aginced the people in power to be effective. I think it is the exact opposite, as stated in a US army manual on nonviolence that was used by protesters in Yugoslavia. Not to say that itviolence did not have any effect but that it is not a effective catislist to starts the process. King had the most trouble because people were too willing to fall back on violence and had to spend a long time training marchers in nonviolence before he would even get started with his demonstrations. Gandhi’s power came from the very effective boycott of British imports, his opposition made occupation of India too expensive. There was no big threat of violence by India agianced Britain. And lest we think that the British were so enlightened as to let Gandhi operate, it was the British who invented the modern civilian concentration camp during the Boer War in the late 1890’s A model that Hitler took whole cloth to use againced the Jews. And the whole concept of the leverage of violence breaks down if you try to use it to explain why pacifist countries like Costa Rica are successful without an army or treaties or threat of violence.

Tony frisk is right about 1905 nonviolence in Russia I forgot about that.

W.B. Reeves said...

Re: Brother Doug

Actually no, I didn't specify the threat of violence as a form of leverage. I spoke of political, economic and social leverage.

To simplify the point; non-violent resistance only works as a practical tool if the group practicing it plays an essential role in the existing system. The systems of the British Empire and the Jim Crow south both relied upon the economic exploitation of oppressed populations. It was their raison detre. This being so they never had the option of simply exterminating troublesome minorities.

With the Nazi's things were different. They began their drive against the Jews of Germany by systematically removing them from the political, social and economic life of the nation. Long before their physical destruction, the Jews of Germany had seen their position in Germany society liquidated. The Nazis had decided they could do without the contributions of the Jewish community and proceeded accordingly.

It is difficult to see how a population that has been rendered superfluous could disrupt a society through non-violent resistance, particularly when the goal of the ruling elite is the elimination of said population from society.

My comment on the synergy of violence and non-violence was, I thought, pretty straightforeward. Non-violence has no meaning without referencing the potential for violence. Historically, the former has always been put forward as an alternative to the latter. If there is no threat of violence why would anyone bother to articulate a strategy of non-violence? Why would there be any need to do so?

I think Brother Doug is very much mistaken in his assertion that there was no danger of violent resistance in India. This was, after all, the site of the so-called "Sepoy Rebellion", one of the bloodiest episodes of resistance to British Imperialism. Reading up on groups such as the Samajvadi Prajatantra Sena(The Indian Socialist Republican Army) would reveal that the struggle for Indian independence was not solely the terrain of non-violence. As in most such struggles violent tactics were used, such as the assassination of officials and bombings, as in the attack on the Delhi Legislative Assembly in 1929.

In regard to the massacre of the peaceful Russian marchers led by the police agent Father Gapon in 1905, it should be noted that this event followed the terrorism campaign of the Narodnya Volnya who numbered Tsar Aleksandr II among their victims.

Facing facts is not advocacy, it is observation.

Frank said...

Ryan somma said:
"Is your position that the Jews and Africans should not have resited at all?"

I think they would have been slaughtered had they tried. But maybe your right about me being too cynical. What do you think would have happened (even assuming resistance was "persistent and well-organized") ?

Brother Doug said...

I think that given the vast cultural differences between Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists that made up India and subsequent partition I fail to see how any of the groups mentioned by W.B. Reeves could manage to unify militarily to defeat the British army. The British knew this and had successfully played them off againced each other for hundreds of years. Not to mention that before Gandhi there was a substantial number of persons who liked British rule and the economic benefits it brought.

As Gandhi tried to explain Non-violence is not the absence of violence but the presence of Love and truth. That’s why he used the term “Truth force” for his movement.

Now WB Reeves makes some good points many of which I agree with, but I am not convinced by the overall argument. I still do not see an explanation for the Rosenstasse incident. Still no explanation why costa rica still exists or why pacifism was so successful for the Quakers in Pennsylvania for over 70 years.

W.B. Reeves said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
W.B. Reeves said...

Re: Brother Doug

I'm not sure what argument Doug thinks I am making.

I note that he is no longer insisting that violent resistance was not a threat in India, just that it had no chance of succeeding due to cultural and religious divisions. Maybe yes, maybe no.

The same objection could have been raised to the possibility of Indian independence or to the viability of a democratic Indian state. The divisions Doug refers to endure and so does the state of India after more than half a century.

As for Doug's examples, I'm not sure why he thinks I need to refute them. I never argued that non-violence could not succeed. It obviously has on a number of occaisions. It has failed on occaision as well. In all instances its failure or success has been conditioned by the circumstances in which it was applied. Failing to accurately comprehend the nature of those circumstances is dangerous error to make.

In reference to Costa Rica and Pennsylvania, I don't know enough to have an intelligent opinion. I'll have a look into them.

Concerning the Rosenstrasse case, I'd point out that this was not a protest of Jews for Jews. Rather, it was a protest by German citizens against anti-Semitic policies that impacted themselves and their families. How the Nazis chose to respond to this challenge had direct, readily understood implications for every German citizen. However laudable and inspiring, in the end this resistance did nothing to alter the ultimate direction of Nazi policy.

In any event I don't think it contradicts anything I've said here.

Brother Doug said...

Ok is see we will never resolve this argument with India and leverage being nessisary so I will say my peace and move on. Helpful yes nessisary no, It is the MEME that you fighting, once the MEME is discredited its only a matter of time before the opressive government falls. Also I was already aware of the acts of violence such as the Sepoy rebelion before you mentioned them, they were not a major factor in Britan deciding to leave. So I am standing by my orginal statement.

Also in the Rosenstrasse insident the women becouse of there marage to jews and laws againced misegination had no rights as german citizens, and it being 1943 and wartime Hitler was using emergancy rule and so the womens situation was almost as bad as their inmprisioned Jewish husbands. There was nothing preventing the NAZI’s from machine gunning them and blaming it on western spys or a violenct revolt, yet they chose to let them all go including their Jewish husbands. So yes it is a example that the Jews could have successfully used.

Here is the passage that I strongly disagree with and that I felt implyed that violence would be nessisary:.

“Which brings me back to the specific question of whether non-violent resistance would have worked for the
Jews against the Nazis. My answer is no. For non-violence to succeed the oppressed group must have some kind of leverage, social, political or economic, with the oppressor. Under the Nazis the Jews had no such leverage. When the goal is extermination rather than exploitation no parley is possible.”

You say that leveragae is nessisary. For the sake of argument lets say that is true.. Suppose in 1934-1939 every german Jew commited himself to nonvolence. They tear off there yellow star of david and refuse to coperate with the german government. At the same time they conduct massave demonstartions where they say look we love Germany we are not its enemy. Of course the NAZI’s engae in butal reprssion. This would be reported in every paper worldwide and would though hollywood popaganda would hve turned the western nations againced Hitler. Hitler came to power becouse the west wanted him to fight communisum.The demands of the pepople would either force military intervention during the Sudatinland invasion, or force a cripling economic boycot. Either way Hitler never gets a chance to build up his army. Or the west is forced to accept millions of Jewish refugees, as I have already shown that Hitler was willing to let them go. Ether way a lot more of the six million jews that were killed would have lived.

Or take it one step futher in the consentration camps during the war if the Jews refuse to work and refuse to provoke the gurads it would force the western powers to bomb the gas chambers or air drop some Jewish vollenteer commandos to shut down the camps. So my answer is: yes non-violence could have worked.

Frank said...

Brother Doug said:
"It is the MEME that you fighting, once the MEME is discredited its only a matter of time before the opressive government falls."

Yeah, sure. All you have to do is brainwash the oppressor before he brainwashes you. This is so much easier said than done. No ruler is just going to stand by idly while you try to convince his minions to revolt against him. I'm not saying it can't be done but the circumstances have to be just right. There already has to be some aspect of the local culture that you can take advantage of or that will "automatically" work in your favor.(Ironicly Hitler used that same tactic to rise to power)

I think this was also true for the Rosenstrasse incident. I think the key aspects of that situation were that it was a matter of Germans versus Germans and that it took place in Berlin with its cosmopolitan culture. There was a serious possibility that openly shooting thousands(!) of German women would be cause for rebellion amongst many German citizens including many of the soldiers who would have had to perform such an horrific act. This could have led to a violent civil war, not something Hitler would have been looking forward.

The Jews in 1934-1939 Germany could have torn off their yellow stars and whatever would have happend next depends on how much
the Germans hated them and how much the western world cared about any Jewish suffering. Frankly, I don't think the western world would have given a damn at the time. Also, they may have felt that an intervention during the sudetenland invasion could turn into a full-blown war before they were ready for it. A cripling economic boycot could have destabilised the world-economy, something to avoid after the experience of black thursday.

The Jews in the deathcamps didn't need to refuse to work or provoke some guards to get themselves slaughtered. All they had to do was be Jewish.

W.B. Reeves said...

Brother Doug,

Well I now understand what it is you found so objectionable in my comments.

Putting aside for the moment whether it is credible that Nazi brutalilty would have produced the effective international response you envision (I find that doubtful since neither the Night of the Long Knives nor the Krystallnacht had the effect you posit), both of your scenarios require the threat of external force. In the latter example you talk of bombing raids and comando assaults. How does this square with the principles of non-violence? How could such an outcome be described as a victory for non-violence? What kind of non-violence is it that relies on violent intervention from outside?

Re: the Rosenstrasse case. What law are you refering to when you say that the non-Jewish spouses were deprived of their citizenship? I ask because I'm familiar with the Nuremberg laws and they do not, at least in the original edicts, contain any such provision concerning mixed unions made prior to the law's enactment. In fact, existing mixed marriages were not addressed by these laws at all as far as I can see.

The Nuremberg edicts declared mixed marriages made in defiance of the law void and prescribed penalties for violators. By definition marriages prior to this point could not be described as defying a law that was not yet in existence. Perhaps this partially explains why the Jewish spouses in such unions were exempted from deportation until 1943. It would also help explain why the non-Jewish spouses were still at liberty rather than in prison for violating these laws. Can you provide a citation to clear up this point?

Besides, aren't you overlooking the fact that the non-Jewish spouses had extended German families? Are we to assume that the potential reaction of these relations played no part in the calculations of Nazi policy makers? That doen't seem likely.

You're entitled to your opinion. However, from where I sit I don't see that the available evidence supports you.

Brother Doug said...

Ok I suggest reading the book “War againced the weak” http://www.waragainsttheweak.com/ it mainly deals with American racism but has some juicy bits about the Nazi’s. That showed how the laws preventing miscegenation deprived even non-Jews of their rights.

You want a example of complete nonviolence. Ok it can be done, not easily but it is possible. For example Hitler only got 33% of the vote. Had the catholic church though the Vatican not signed a treaty with Hitler he would not even gotten that much as before that treaty was in effect the Catholics where prohibited from voting for Nazis because of there support for euthanasia and abortion. See the book “Vatican Exposed” and the biography of Pope pious7 “Hitler’s pope.” The impact of millions of Jews following the example of Jesus would permanently explode the myth of “the protocols of the elders of Zion” that many people used as a support for anti-Semitism. Many germans were profoundly unhappy with the persecutions of Jews who has converted to Christianity, and with Hitler’s Eugenic campaign particularly those who had family members who were mentally ill.

In the camps the refusal of Jews to work would bring the camps to a close and the Nazis would be forced to shoot Jews in the street. A practice that so disturbed German solders that many of them committed suicide in much higher numbers. That was the primary reason for the gas chambers the other methods were repugnant to even SS solders that they became emotionally exhausted and depressed. This was mentioned in and in many other souces. The brutal practice would be obvious to all Germans who were sitting on the fence. We know sympathizers existed because of the numerous Germans and allied peoples who hid Jews, and the attempt to assonate Hitler shows that even some of Hitlers generals hated the Nazis. Detric Bonhofer, Righnhold Nuebur and Other German protestant pastors opposed Hitler and would have rallied support to remove Hitler. I could go on with other examples of opposition to Hitler if you like. As well as many recent examples of how people without significant leverage used nonviolence to overthrow governments.

Brother Doug said...

Forgot to paste this in: w.b. Reeves: even if you are right about that point [the Nuremburg laws] with his wartime emergency edicts and control of the press the Nazis had the legal right and political power to do whatever they wanted in the name of national security. With a war going on no judge would dare convict Nazi for killing protestors, and I doubt it would even get to trial. If it did they would just find a scapegoat to take the blame.

Brother Doug said...

Frank you are wrong about the Sudetenland, Hitler’s army was very weak at that point. Some have speculated that the Paris police force could have stopped that invasion. The French generals wanted to go to war but Lloyd George told them "But who stop the Communists if we remove Hitler?"

Regarding Memes, as I alluded to earlier I invite you to look at the examples of the Philippines and the quote "Marcos has the guns but Corry {Acino} has the Nuns.” Also the current example of Bolivia is instructive.

Frank said...

@Brother Doug:

Do you really believe that in october 1938 Hitlers army was 'very weak' and that only at the start of WW II in september 1939 (only 1 year later) Hitler thought he finally had an army large enough to conquer Europe ? Germany had been building up their
'Wehrmacht' during the 2 decades before those dates. So I do not think I am wrong about this.

Also, as W.B. Reeves alluded, how can you possibly see a military intervention (or a cripling economic boycot for that matter) as an act of nonviolence ?

On your other comment, your main argument seems to be that not enough people actively opposed Hitler at a time that this
could still have led to his downfall. But that's just the thing isn't it? Most people didn't want to oppose him because they
thought he was their savior who would lead them to greatness and protect them from evil.

brother doug said...

Frank take a look at the book the blitskreg mith, and why the allies won the war, They will make my point far better that I can. Not that I adovocate a miltiary solution. They are short term fixes for a long term problem.

Frank said...

@Brother Doug:

Well, of course the Germans would have lost a forementioned theoretical intervention war, they lost the actual war (great offence, crappy defence) after 6 long years of fighting. In *hindsight* any intervention would have been preferable over WW II, although I don't think a nonviolent one would have done the trick.

Brother Doug said...

Well Frank you make a good point. However the Germans did make successful defensive actions in Russia and Normandy where they held off much larger and better supplied forces. Hitler kept ordering offensives that weakened them to the point they could no longer hold. The book the Blitzkrieg myth talks a little about that.

I have given some totally nonviolent examples that I think might have worked had they been tried wholeheartedly. The biggest weakness in my augment is that the German Jews at that time were very conflicted on what they should do. Some wanted to leave some wanted to use violence some thought they could bribe there way out, some were putting there faith in a socialist revolution. They had no central rallying figure like Gandhi to unify their opposition. Now days there are lots of Jews such as the Jewish peace fellowship who believe in von-violence but back then they were very few. So I have tried to be non dogmatic and give some other examples that could have worked if my solution would have failed. But given the success of non-violence recently I see war as an addiction that we need to eliminate. I do believe it is inherently immoral, a belief that many generals such as Sherman and LaMay also shared. I am a pacifist for moral reasons but I can also see the practical benefits that it has proven.

I looked in the paper today about Bolivia and the successful non-violence that poor Indians have been using for 19months. Now that the Miners and unions have joined the movement and are threatening the use of violence and the military is threatening to use force to suppress the “chaos”. Gandhi had the same problem early in his movement when a nonviolent march was attacked by police and the marchers killed the police and burned down the local police station. That set the movement back at least 5-10 years and gave the British a excuse to suppress the movement.

Frank said...

"Gandhi had the same problem early in his movement when a nonviolent march"

It seems human instincts have a preference for violence, probably an evolutionary thing. Allowing yourself to be beaten to the ground as a form of protest takes an almost superhuman selfdiscipline. Selfdefence tends to be the stronger instinct and I suppose it also makes people feel less powerless. It's quite easy to feel powerful and intimidating with a club or a gun in your hand.

Who ever expects a dictator to feel pity for the people he victimizes or guilt for making them victims? It seems much more likely that fear will guide the despots thoughts in devising a policy of revolutional change for the good of his people. Obviously violence (or threatening with violence) is a proven way to scare the hell out of any ruler.

The idea that nonviolence worked for ghandi so therefor it can work for you has some merit. Good luck with it.

Brother Doug said...

Interesting thoughts everyone. Thanks for the good wishes Frank.

The situation in Bolivia resloved itself peacfuly and that fills me with a lot of hope because the Indians who started it don’t have a lot of training but some of them are Quakers and believed in non-violence. They were so poor that a friend of mine started a charity to help relive some of the suffering. http://www.qbl.org/ they build a greenhouses to alleviate some of the malnutrition that is chronic in the altiplano Bolivia.