Sunday, 22 September 2013

Woody Allen (b.1/12/35) - A Brief, Yet Helpful, Guide to Civil Disobedience

Some much needed irony and humour.

'In perpetrating a revolution, there are two requirements:
someone or something to revolt against and someone to actually show up and do the revolting. Dress is usually casual and both parties may be flexible about time and place but if either faction fails to attend, the whole enterprise is likely to come off badly. In the Chinese Revolution of 1650 neither party showed up and the deposit on the hall was forfeited.
  The people or parties revolted against are called the "oppressors" and are easily recognised as they seem to be the ones having all the fun. The "oppressors" generally get to wear suits, own land, and play their radios late at night without being yelled at. Their job is to maintain the "status quo," a condition where everything remains the same although they may be willing to paint every two years.
 When the "oppressors" become too strict, we have what is known as a police state, wherein all dissent is forbidden, as is chuckling, showing up in a bow tie, or referring to the mayor as "Fats." Civil liberties are greatly curtailed in a police state, and freedom of speech is unheard of, although one is allowed to mime to a record. Opinions critical of the government are not tolerated, particularly about their dancing. Freedom of the press is also curtailed and the ruling party "manages" the news, permitting the citizens to bear only acceptable political ideas and ball scores that will not cause unrest.
  The groups who revolt are called the "oppressed" and can generally be seen milling about and grumbling or claiming to have headaches. (It should be noted that the oppressors never revolt and attempt to become the oppressed as that would entail a change of underwear.)
  Some famous examples of revolutions are:

The French Revolution,

in which the peasants seized power by force and quickly changed all locks on the palace doors so the nobles could not get back in. They had a large party and gorged themselves. When the nobles finally recaptured the palace they were forced to clean up and found many stains and cigarette burns.

The Russian Revolution,

which simmered for years, and suddenly erupted when the serfs finally realised that the Czar and the Tsar were the same person.
  It should be noted that after the revolution is over, the "oppressed" frequently take over and begin acting like the "oppressors." Of course by then it is very hard to get them on the phone and money lent for cigarettes and gum during the fighting may as well be forgotten about.

Methods of Civil Disobedience:

Hunger Strike.

Here the oppressed goes without food until his demands are met. Insiduous politicians will often leave biscuits within easy reach or perhaps some cheddar cheese, but they must be resisted. If the party in power can get the striker to eat, they usually have little trouble putting down the insurrection. If they can get him to eat and also lift the check, they have won for sure. In Pakistan, a hunger strike was broken when the government produced an exceptionally fine veal cordon bleu which the masses found was too appealing to turn down, but such gourmet dishes are rare.
The problem with the hunger strike is that after several days one can get quite hungry, particularly since sound trucks are paid to go through the street saying, "Um . . . what nice chicken - umm . . . some peas . . . umm. . . "
A modified form of the Hunger Strike for those whose political convictions are not quite so radical is giving up on chives. This small gesture, when used properly, can greatly influence a government, and it is well known that Mahatma Gandhi's insistence on eating his salads untossed shamed the British government into many concessions.
Other things  besides food one can give up are: whist, smiling, and standing on one foot and imitating a crane.

Sit-Down Strike.

Proceed to a designated spot and then sit down, but sit all the way down. Otherwise you are squatting, a position that makes no political point unless the government is also squatting. (This is rare, although a government will occasiobally crouch in cold weather.) The trick is to remain seated until concessions are made, but as in the Hunger Strike, the government will try subtle means of making the striker rise. They may say, "Okay, everybody up, we're closing." Or, "Can you get up for a minute, we'd just like to see how tall you are?"

Demonstrations and Marches.

The key point about a demonstration is that it must be seen. Hence the term "demonstration." If a person demonstrates privately in his own home, this is not technically a demonstration but merely "acting silly" or "behaving like an ass."
A fine example of a demonstration was the Boston Tea Party, where outraged Americans disguised as Indians dumped British tea into the harbour. Later, Indians disguised as outraged Americans dumped actual British into the harbor. Following that, the British disguised as tea, dumped each other into the harbor. Finally, German mercenaries clad only in costumes from The Trojan Woman leapt into the harbor for no apparent reason.
When demonstrating, it is good to carry a placard stating one's position. Some suggested positions are:
(1) Lower taxes
(2) Raise taxes
(3) Stop grinning at Persians.

Miscellaneous methods of Civil Disobedience:

Standing in front of City Hall and chanting the word "pudding" until one's demands are met.
Tying up traffic by leading a flock of sheep into the shopping area.
Phoning members of "the establishment" and singing "Bless, You Is My Woman Now" into the phone.
Dressing as a policeman and then skipping.
Pretending to be an artichoke but punching people as they pass.

Reprinted From:
Without Feathers - Woody Allen
Sphere Books, 1975

But in all seriousness,
resistance is not futile.

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