Saturday, March 5, 2011

Of Martial Traditions & The Art of Rebellion

By Seaweed

Sometimes I find writing this blog really strange. I mean, the concept of zines is so vague that I really can review anything I want as long as its printed on paper. (Or even if it's not!) Since I review everything that I've received this leads to me reviewing comics where Godzilla and other monsters review movies one day, and an anarchist treatise on the importance of learning martial skills the next.

The whole idea of using physical force to achieve your ideals is something I struggle with. I feel that the things happening in the Middle East are pretty important and exciting, but there are many different things you have to consider before you start a revolution in your own country. This zine actually takes a pretty pragmatic take on the whole thing, and there are two quotes I thought were important enough to write down.

The first is "all rebels who want to overthrow the present social order[...]need to ask themselves what success means for them" and the second is "[...]it makes absolutely no sense for a minority of revolutionaries in North America to contemplate attemtemping an outright military contest against the police and army. The states [sic] combat power is simply overwhelming.".

These two pieces of information answer some of the questions I had about the idea behind this zine. The author may want societal collapse and a new system in place, but they know that there is no way for that to happen now (and if the economy hasn't collapsed after everything that happened in the last few years I don't know if it ever will), and so they advise people to take the long view. That is you must stay in one place, gain local support, create communities, and eventually you may be able to create real change in the way that people live. It's kind of depressing, but it also makes a lot of sense.

However, there are lots of other ideas in here, and at times the author seems to be arguing themselves in circles. I mean, how do you create "an anti-authoritarian culture that values martial skills" yet doesn't have warrior aristocracies? The only way to prevent a warrior aristocracy seems to be to train everyone in the community in weapon skills, which leads to the fact that you are taking away the ability for people to _not_ do something if they don't want to.

One thing the author references are tactical works, such as The Art of War, and how it is important to know about these even if you don't plan on using them. Seaweed explains that this is because those you are confronting on issues will be aware of them (think about how many business people read those books).

There are definitely a lot of interesting ideas in here, and there are also a lot of things that I don't really agree with. I'm not really down with using physical violence to achieve my goals, but at which point does violence become justified? The zine asks these questions, though doesn't give me a satisfactory answer.

The zine is well written (unlike this review!) in a somewhat academic style, and if you are capable of dealing with that and are interested in the idea of rebellion and revolutionary change it's probably worth reading this and discussing it with others.

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