By Geo Ong
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
The motivations fueling Thoreau’s essay provide unfortunately haunting parallels: slavery and America’s involvement in the Mexican-American War. Today’s culture invests on the exploitation of workers and practises discrimination against racial and sexual minorities. Not to mention our troops, who are still dying for other people’s reasons. Thoreau’s essay, originally titled Resistance to Civil Government, has influenced a countless amount of important people, among them Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again.’
Before Communism was a bad word, before it was used incorrectly in every context by the professionals at Fox News, before McCarthy struck more fear in your hearts than perhaps Communism ever could, before it was misconstrued and applied militantly and violently by Stalin, Pol Pot, and Castro, Communism was an ideal. The Communism that Marx and Engels formulated in theory differs greatly from what some of us think Communism is today. (Some people have no clue, and yet they still use the word. Why would you do that?) There are many books of the evolution of Communism, and some are worth reading (notably The Idea of Communism by Tariq Ali), but the original Manifesto holds the true idea.
What makes Imperial revolutionary? Because it was written by someone with a view from the ground – not someone with a view from above, who thinks he knows what is best for those down below (which Marx termed ‘false consciousness’), who’s only read about poverty in the papers.