Here Thar Be Monsters!
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The Swartz Is With You
Early American culture glorified the independent individual who shunned the Triumvirate of Evil for a life of 'going it alone'. The pioneer man and woman were the ideal, forging a life in the wilderness based on good moral compasses and strong work ethic. Law enforcement was little more than hired guns with tin stars protecting small communities on the open range. Your neighbor backed you and you backed your neighbor, and that was all the social programs you needed.
American folklore includes such notable characters as Paul Bunyan, the Lone Ranger and other fictional sorts. But more importantly, it was populated by such actual figures as Judge Roy Bean, Jesse James, Pat Garrett, Bill Cody, and even gadflies like Will Rogers and Mark Twain.
What they all share is the status of 'lone force for good' and a deep mistrust of government and the established powers. In many cases, they actively worked to undermine the financial elite and the spread of centralized government. They had a sort of Robin Hood aura, so that even when they broke the law, they were doing it to protect the little guy and to prevent the gross accumulation of wealth in the hands of industrialists, financiers and government.
Will Rogers and Mark Twain openly ridiculed the Powers That Be. They belittled the establishment and were the founders of the America's tradition of stand-up philosophers, such as Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Bill Hicks.
Characters like Judge Bean and the Lone Ranger were men who followed personal moral and ethical codes and used fairness and justice as the sole measure of a good outcome. They represented the idea that the individual was more than capable of making sound moral decisions despite and in the face of establishment power.
America saw the resurgence of the anti-hero in the Depression. Characters such as Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, and many others were secretly admired and ensconced in the American folklore because they stood up to overreaching establishment power.
During the Depression, the American grassroots knew full well that the bankster/Wall Street classes were the cause of their misery, and so anti-heroes like Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde became legends because they attacked the heart of the offending order. These 'crooks' were idolized by regular folks because they were seen as having the guts to strike at the root of the problem. The people recognized a higher morality than following legal abstractions that favored white-collar criminals over the real people.
One would assume, given this background, that we would see a similar rise of anti-heroes in today's financial morass. Certainly, in light of America's past, we could assume a quiet popular support for folks who were able to strike at the root of society's ills. So can we identify modern equivalents of the Wild West Loner or the Depression Gangster?
I think so. Today, they are the cybernauts, the Aaron Swartzes the Kim Dotcoms, the and the Julian Assanges of the world. Notice I don't include Anonymous in this group because there is no identifiable anti-hero, leaving it open to speculation that it is a front organization for covert PTB operations.
The cyber cowboys of today are cut of the same cloth as the anti-heroes of yore. They are the new Robin Hoods, Lone Rangers, Judge Beans, and Bonnie and Clydes in the contemporary world. They have identified a great social injustice that may be 'legal', but is not Lawful, and there is a grave distinction between the two.
These folks are the ones striking at the root of society's ills at great personal cost to themselves because they believe, as do a great many real folks, that entrenched corruption at the core of many institutions is the cause of society's ills.
Granted, the playing field has changed. No longer is it the loner bringing justice to a wild land, or the robber taking from the rich in the name of the regular folks. Rather they are fighting in a world where information is the currency and virtual battlefields are the arena. Yet the modus operandi and the results are the same.
The response of the entrenched powers is the same, as well. They use questionable legal maneuvers and even outright killing to protect their ruling status, just as in the cases of Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde.
Whether these folks are successful is not as important as the fact that they exist. They become heroes and martyrs that remind the common people that there is a deep problem in our system. They show us where the battle fronts are and what the PTB are willing to do to protect their positions. They tease out the PTB's strategies and weaknesses, and display for all to see that the entrenched powers are not infallible.
Perhaps their most valuable contribution is to expose the existence of a problem. In the absence of such pioneers, the common folks can deny any wrongdoing on the part of the PTB, but when these legendary people step forward, the depth and depravity of the system is exposed and we must eventually choose which side of the argument we stand on.
In many ways, the anti-heroes perform a valuable service to both sides. For the entrenched powers, they become examples the keep the sheep in line. For the forces of liberty, they become trip wires exposing the boundaries of the enemy camp.
The anti-heroes may be flawed, but they always come down on the side of securing more freedom, not less. If they are criminals, it is only because the PTB have arbitrarily drawn a line in the legal code to protect themselves. Being legal does not make right or Lawful. In fact, freedom is the right to be imperfect, just like the anti-hero.
The root has been struck. Which side will you choose? Me? I've always liked underdogs and anti-heroes, and especially the right to make my own mistakes. I'll take Lawful over legal any day.