Should revolutionaries have a hand book? Today’s young revolutionary has one in the form of a website, howtooccupy.org. I’ve been flipping through the numerous sections. Included in the site are instructions on every applicable topic. From how tos on civil disobedience, to occupy style protest camps, and even a section on the Fully Informed Jury Association dedicated to helping jurists to better understand their rights and obligations. According to a similar website linked to from howtooccupy.org, occupytogether.wikispot.org, our generation of upstart revolutionaries even have their own unique set of hand gestures to use during their daily General Assemblies. Which brings me to a question not so distant from the one I first posed today. How revolutionary are you if you’re googling how to start a revolution?
What would it look like if someone had to start revolution on their own? Someone living under a not so democratic state of affairs. Someone with access to only parts of the internet. Perhaps with only a handful of friends, self educated, facing a post cold war sudo-communist regime, and blind as a bat. To specific? Well Chen Guangchengs fits that description to the letter. Google his name. The cliche that truth is stranger than fiction will be fulfilled in a instant.
Blind from an early age he was illiterate until age 23. After attending a High School for the blind in rural china he studied at the Nanjing School of Medicine and earned a degree in acupuncture and massage. After bearing witness to forced sterilizations and other discriminatory practices against women in china he became a self taught lawyer. His brothers read law books and journals to him and by age 40 he has won several major legal cases in china involving undue taxation of himself and other disabled individuals. After which he returned to Beijing to file lawsuits and expose the practice of forced sterilization in his home province of Shandong. Spoiler... he won.
Yes this blind self taught lawyer who took on the brutal and heavy handed regime of China won. Several officials were arrested and the practice of forced sterilization was exposed to the world in the pages of Time magazine. This did come at a cost. Chen was arrested on false charges by local officials. After multiple trials and false convictions Chen was released, but soon found himself under house arrest. Under brutal conditions of local officials, trapped in his home, his family beaten and tortured Chen continued to fight back. Pretending to be ill and bedridden for several days he convinced the local guards to let their guard down. Then he escaped his home, climbed several high walls, broke his ankle, walked several miles on a broken ankle, and survived a car chase in order to reach a US embassy in Beijing.
That is the broadest brush stroke one could paint of his story. And no I don’t believe Chan has submitted his screenplay to hollywood just yet( see csmonitor.com ). Instead he is now deftly navigating a international relations chess match between Washington and Beijing as he works towards finding a new home for himself and his family. In the meantime he continues to speak out against corruption in China ( see Chicago Tribune ). If you're looking for a few pointers on how to be revolutionary you might want to check out this guys life story, not those other self professed field manuals to revolution. Or better yet you could, I don’t know, read a couple law books yourself, maybe go back to school, or just show up and cast a ballot sometime. No we do not live in China, we do not live under some communist regime; no matter what your local tea party supporter has told you. (Although if you are that guy carrying on about ‘tax reform’ Chan’s story might help you realize what wrongful taxation really is.)
In the end China is not a very democratic place. Although Chan’s methods should not be mysterious to you or I. They do not involve hand gestures or the construction of complex protest camps. Chan resorted only to the law. Whether it was filing lawsuits, writing articles, speaking out publicly, or simply being willing to speak the truth when no one else had the courage. Chan showed up. When no one else did, Chan got involved. If you want to start revolution you should try Chan’s method. But you and I both know you won’t. It's easy to complain about the way the government works. To moan about your taxes. To point fingers at other people. It’s another thing to get involved in constructive way. Although who am I to tell you what you will or won’t do. I just write a blog. I’m just another under employed philosophy major trying to scratch out a little bit of truth. Although, maybe I will try that voting thing at least one more time, and until then maybe I’ll ask a few questions, and even try finding a few answers in between. So what are you going to do?