Tag Archives: rebellion

Beating the system

I’m watching the economic and social justice memes floating about on the social networking sites. The sheer joy of seeing the blindingly obvious being stated. You cannot run a system purely to serve those at the top, it will break and fall apart. Economics is more make believe than proper science. What we have doesn’t work. And that other one, the 100 richest people in the world could end extreme poverty four times over with what they raked in last year. I’m not going to say ‘earned’ because there is nothing that could merit that kind of wealth. People are recognising and saying that money earned does not equate to hard work, or effort, or value of what you do. It equates to the power you had in the first place. The Emperor has no clothes on.

The thought I keep coming back to, is that I do not want to contribute to the bank balances of the super rich. Watching the immoral, illogical behaviour of my own government, I’m not mad keen to give them cash either, they clearly cannot be relied upon to make good choices in how they use it. So what does that leave me? I can’t decline to pay taxes.

Or can I?

Small businesses and lone traders do not, if their turnover is very low, have to register to pay VAT. If I stay away from products with duty on them, that’s more money that isn’t going to the government. If I buy second hand, from charity shops, that’s all kinds of sticking a finger up at the system. If I buy from a creator then I know at least in the short term, my money goes to them. If I buy a small brand not a big name, use a local shop not a supermarket, and so on. Basically, if I can see the person who made the thing, or grew it, or undertook it, and I pay them, I have some idea where my money went.
If I make my own alcohol and give it away.

Giving things away is really powerful. No tax. No engagement with the money systems at all. I used to use freecycle, and when I’m not on the boat, I will again. I just gave away my poetry. I give away my time for good causes, and my ideas in the form of this blog. I can do more.
There is no way I can extricate myself entirely from a system that sends cash to people who have way too much of it already, but if all of us just made a few token gestures at non-cooperation we’d make some interesting progress.

Money appears to be what our government cares about. Protesting doesn’t bother them. Vote and you get different faces and the same shit. But hit them in the bank account, take away even a little bit of power from their economic systems, and they become vulnerable. They can’t legislate into making us give money to Rupert Murdock rather than going to a live gig. They can’t make us buy fuel rather than walking. You can’t lock people up for not buying lager, or for giving away clothes they don’t want any more, and yet the power to destabilize the whole system is there, in those small acts of rebellion.

Belling the cat

Belling the cat is a fabulous song by Talis Kimberly. On the surface there’s a story about brave mice putting a bell on the cat so that every mouse knows. Protecting the mice from predation. Of course this is a song about people. It’s about not turning away when you see something happening that should not be happening. It’s about taking risks to keep your fellow mice safe rather than just covering your own furry bottom. It’s not an easy thing to do.
There are lots of fear based reasons not to go belling the cat. The cats are invariably bigger and more powerful than you, it’s what enables them to be as they are. They have status, money, lawyers, or they are government bodies or official in some way. You know if you step forward holding the bell, you are going to be bitten. Probably.
Quite often you know you’re seeing a cat because you’ve just watched it chew some other mouse’s head off. If you start running now, you may be safe. Running towards the cat, bell in paw, is dangerous. Suicidal. It will bring cat-attention you might otherwise have avoided. You just have to hope that next time the cat comes round that you’ll spot it in time, or that some other mouse bells it to give you a chance.
What stops us belling the cats is the fear that we cannot do it, and that we will be punished more for taking them on than we would otherwise have been. Self preservation comes first. Many of us will only try to put bells on cats in the handful of seconds before our cat is pretty much bound to destroy us. Mind you, that has been known to work and it’s never too late to try.
They rig the games so that we mice cannot win. They control systems and make those systems serve them. They get elected into governing bodies and they seek high status jobs that give them extra cat powers. They see it as their divine right to destroy mice, and we are all mice. The truth is that the ‘cats’ in this story are not a separate species, they are mice too, wearing cat suits and bighting heads off anyway.
It may not be enough to bell the cat so that everyone else can hear it coming. You may need to get in there and tear the cat suit off, revealing the evil mouse underneath. It is a high risk activity, but the alternative is a world in which any mouse willing to dress up in a cat suit and bite heads off, rules. I for one, am not going there.
I’ve got my bells. I’m going to use them. I also have a growing obsession with sinister mice as protagonists in fiction, but that, as they say, is another story…