As we see the launch of a new one, it is an oft-seen criticism of British political weblogs that they only ever complain. There is so much that is broken that needs to be fixed, and however good weblogs might be at pointing it out, they do very little to generate physical acts of change in the real world. So, what is the point of yet another weblog when there is so much to actually do? What is the value of just writing, or just presenting information instead of doing something?
My answer is that writing is doing – but there has to be an additional element. As a sort of grand illustration (but one that still offers valid comparisons) let’s examine the genesis of the American Declaration of Independence.
Even after the outbreak of war in 1775, most Americans wanted to remain under the Crown. However, having had no joy with a petition of peace to George III, the Continental Congressmen had to end their denial; the King was hostile to them, and they would have to renounce loyalty to Great Britain in order to obtain foreign help to prevent their being beaten into submission. It was the means by which they could escape the unjust rule of the tyrant. Independence was a necessity for survival, and they were entitled to it by their God-given rights. Like the Parliamentarians of 1642 before them, they were entitled to rise up against the King to preserve their own lives, and the common good of the people.
Having finally resigned themselves to what was needed to be done, they set about making the case for the cause through the instrument of the Declaration of Independence. Arguably, then, their most decisive act of rebellion was an act of writing; transcribing their ideas to a communicable form where they catalogued the wrongs against them, and justified their actions, and asserted their own authority and intent.
Their ideas didn’t just come out of the ether; they were based on long-developing notions of Liberty which had also been converted into the written form and had arrived through posterity to Thomas Jefferson (and others). Raymond Polin, Professor of Government and Politics (no less) describes what he believes is the extent of the derivation:
Jefferson’s role as the author of the Declaration seems securely established and likely to endure. However, there is little or nothing in the Declaration in concept or language that had not been previously written by Spanish and Italian Jesuits of the seventeenth century, John Morin Scott (1730-1784) of New York, James Otis (1725-1783) of Massachusetts, Filippo Mazzei (1730-1816) of Italy and Virginia, Richard Bland (1710-1776) of Virginia, Thomas Paine (1737-1809) of England and Pennsylvania, and George Mason (1725-1792) of Virginia.
Of course, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of Man penned by George Mason itself drew upon the English Bill of Rights. What I like especially about the Virginia Declaration is that (and there is some debate, but as far as I can gather) it was first printed in the Virginia Gazette (page 2) while under consideration by the committee responsible for its commission, and of course for anyone to look at. Remarkably, this edition of the Gazette opened with an apology to its readers for the physical size of the paper due to the scarcity of that material in the vicinity; a shipment, readers were promised, was due in anytime from New York or Philadelphia.
What the American Declaration of Independence enabled the American colonialists to do is now famous history. But before the time of writing, things were obviously not as clear-cut; its emergence was galvanising, and its genesis shows the great value of having ideas written down and collated, and published, in whatever provincial, irregular or rustic way is available, in order for general consumption.
In our age the internet is the irregular form of publication that reaches the masses and that has become a kind of immediate repository for a mash of ideas that can potentially at any time later be refined and presented as significant authoritative texts to be used to elucidate and motivate. These texts will not come from the established media, and writers of books will rarely be permitted to try and find audiences by publishers mostly interested in their commercial gain; besides which the mindset is nowadays rarely present in the establishment to produce them. All this is why “yet another blog” is not automatically a bad thing.
Now, this is not to give “citizen journalists” any special significance in the revolutionary movement that is required in this day and age – and one is indeed needed; we may not yet have German mercenaries burning our villages, but our liberty is definitely as much under attack from our government as was the Americans’ from theirs. Our circumstances differ from the Americans’ in that we haven’t had Parliamentarians or Congressmen who are interested in acting on our behalf to protect our lives and the common wealth against tyranny. As our politicians abdicated their responsibility in that regard, the burden fell upon every citizen. The process of uptake of duty has been gradually accelerating, and going forward many more will realise that they too are the founders of a new destiny should they choose to act. Some people have taken it upon themselves to form political parties in order to get elected to office; important because the pattern for a successful revolution seems to involve one portion of government wrestling to overturn another corrupt portion. Other people changed their voting habits in response to the new options, and others became activists in one way or another.
Though it is not yet Parliamentary, the revolutionaries do now possess some kind of viable power base. The next step is to end the denial that we are – in quite real terms – at war with a hostile power and identify the things that need to be done to ensure survival. There will be subsequent matters to attend to (all necessarily radical), but by far and away the most pressing need is to realise the sovereignty of the British people (if necessary as an entity without any reference to a Monarch) and rescue it from our own politicians. If this is to be done as a matter of urgency, it will entail support for and service in one party in particular – UKIP – which is best placed in our current system to do it peacefully (and with growth, the harder way too). If we continue to imagine that any other party is either capable or willing to obtain the ground that needs taking in the short time available to do it, then it will very likely never happen at all.
The citizen journalist’s part will be as both contributor to and the filterer of the literary mash so that writing becomes the same decisive act of rebellion as it was for the American revolutionaries. Writers need to set down the injustices, state the case for change, justify the means and ends, assert authority, and nourish enough popular appetite for a revolution.
As I mentioned at the top of this, plenty of internet writers already identify a lot of what is wrong and what needs to be done on a bit-by-bit basis, but invite criticism of impotence. The missing element is a subscription to a certain objective and a unity of method; the recognition that nothing less than the wholesale rejection of the current British establishment is required. In the delivery this manifests itself in using the very constructs by which the establishment elevates its ideas and its agenda as supreme. Many who think they offer an alternative only serve to reinforce the establishment.
Instead, we should set the agenda. Instead of worrying to what extent the establishment has worn us down or restricted us or thinking that we need to refer to the establishment for approval – which makes us limit the extent of our vision of what is possible – we should deliver this message: our will gives us limitless vision; anything is possible, and if you are a criminal in the cold light of natural law (which is inherently the case for members of the establishment), for you it is all bad.