Social unrest in Ukraine and Venezuela leave us with important lessons

As many of you probably know, certain parts of the world have been experiencing some shake-ups as of late. After three months of protest the revolutionaries in Ukraine succeeded in ousting the thuggish president, but only after a week in which over 100 people lost their lives battling against the oppressive forces of the state. In Venezuela people all over the country have been protesting the oppressive socialist government which, over the past decade, has succeeded in destroying the economy and currency. While information is harder to come by as to what exactly is going on in Venezuela compared to Ukraine due to the government media blackout which has also shut down Twitter and the entire internet in some parts of the country, it is clear that the Venezuelan government has responded to the peaceful protests with overwhelming brutal force.

There are several important takeaways from both of these revolutions. The first thing that needs to be recognized is that what the governments of Ukraine and Venezuela did and are still doing are nothing out of the ordinary. You would be kidding yourself if you believed that the United States government would not be bashing people’s skulls in if thousands upon thousands of people seized government buildings and fortified themselves in downtown D.C. vowing not to leave until the corrupt ruling class stepped down from power. All governments view the people who inhabit their geographic monopoly on terror as branded cattle in a pasture. The only difference is that unlike Ukraine and Venezuela the U.S. government is much savvier about persuading the cattle to stay in the pasture and therefore does not need to beat them as much.

The second important take away is that the under class is powerful. It is quite clear that the expulsion of Yanakovich from office is not the work of the parliamentary opposition leaders, who floundered and flopped along trying to gain control over the revolutionaries for the past three months. If the parliamentary opposition leaders had their way, Yanakovich would still be in office until early elections at the end of the year. That was the deal the parliamentary opposition leaders signed the day before Yanakovich was removed. However, the revolutionaries who completely lacked any central leadership or control would not have it and vowed to storm the government quarter unless Yanakovich resigned by 10 am the next day. The police abandoned their posts and that was the end of Yanakovich who was removed by parliament later in the day.

Yet this simple and thankfully peaceful conclusion to this chapter of the struggle in Ukraine hides the courage of the revolutionaries. If one searches on YouTube one can find very graphic footage of the urban combat that happened in downtown Kiev throughout last week as the government forces gunned people down. When the revolutionaries vowed to storm the government quarter they knew full well what to expect would happen when thousands of people armed with makeshift wooden shields and metal pipes faced off against the governments Ak-47 armed soldiers. Yet they planned to do it anyway in order to bring about a better and brighter future for themselves and their children. What was going through the minds of the police and government thugs the night before they abandoned their posts? They had already beaten people’s heads in, abducted and tortured activists in the hospital, showered freezing water on them in sub-zero temperatures and finally just gunned them down in the streets and yet the people still planned to storm into their blazing gunfire. It is likely that the police realized that they were not as strong as they thought they were when faced by a populace who no longer cowers before state authority.

This leads to the most important point, and that is that a government is not necessary. The people of Ukraine and Venezuela who are risking their lives fighting against their oppressive governments are doing so to bring about a better future. A better future does not lie with a new government. Having toppled one regime of the ruling elite, it is inevitable that it shall simply be replaced by another if you choose to remain under the governments yoke.

I quote the words of the great 19th century abolitionist and legal theorist Lysander Spooner as he addresses the oppressed people of the British Empire: “Do not imagine that the Parliaments and Courts of oppressors will ever right the wrongs of the oppressed. They exist for no such purpose. Such a thing has never happened, and never will. Take the redress of your own wrongs into your own hands, as you are abundantly able to do, if you are only united, determined, and have clear ideas of your rights, and of what is needful to secure them. Your numbers are so great, in comparison with those of your oppressors, as to put their lives and their property wholly in your power, if you so will it. They have no thought of doing you justice… Wipe out, then, these feudal robbers – the whole race of kings, and queens, and nobles, and all their accomplices in every grade of life, and take possession of all the spoils which they and their predecessors have wrung from you and your ancestors. Put an end to their Parliaments and Courts. Blot out forever their statute books. They contain little or nothing else than the records of their villanies.”

Spooner’s words ring true for all of the people of the globe but especially true for the people of Ukraine and Venezuela who now have ample opportunity to depose of their criminal overlords. The people of Ukraine have already demonstrated they are stronger than the government and are capable of existing without it. Oppressed people of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!