The One Where I Ask a Bunch of Questions I Can’t Answer

I’ve been reading The Rebel by Albert Camus this week.  It is an interesting coincidence that Ferguson, MO blew up at the same time.  It has been an interesting juxtaposition to read Camus’ ideas about rebellion as a populace battles its own police department in the streets they share.  Camus’ book was meant to be a critique of fascism and communism particularly communism.  It is also a tour through many of the rebellions and revolutions of humanity starting with Cain and Abel. 

I am thoroughly enjoying it. 

With the book and what is happening in Ferguson, the concepts of power, freedom, and community have been in mind constantly.  How does the power dynamic work?  How should freedom be expressed?  What makes a community/society?

It was Tommy Tomlinson on Twitter last week who said something like, America isn’t revealed in its most famous places, it comes out in the small places no one has ever heard of like Ferguson. 

In a city like Ferguson that is two-thirds black, yet has only 5 black officers on the police force, and all the governing structure is white, except for the aldermen from “the black part of town” who has the power?  Those who govern only have power by the consent of those whom they govern.  In theory the people are ultimate holders of power.  What happens when the people withdraw that consent?  Does the group in charge have the right to use its power, i.e. guns, to keep control? Is an insurrection by the people acceptable? 

Does freedom give the people the right to an insurrection if they feel the government is not responding to their needs and wants?  Is there a way to use freedom to protest a government without one side or the other escalating the situation into violence?  Can one group’s quest for freedom impinge on the right of another group to be safe?  Ultimately, what happens when freedom and power crash into each other?

Most importantly, what makes a community?  What makes a society?  Are societies simply groups of people held together by laws alone? If a society is held together solely by laws, isn’t that like building a brick wall with nothing by the bricks?  What is the mortar that holds a society and a country together?  The Soviet Union and many of its satellite countries were made up of disparate groups that were only held together by the laws governing those countries. As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed all these countries flew apart.  There was no there, there.  They had few commonalities outside of the power of the state holding them together and as soon as they went away, so did the country.  What is it that holds our 50 states together? 

I’m full of questions, but not many answers.  I just think what is happening in Ferguson is something that could happen across America.  From the feelings of not being heard or respected by the residents, to the over militarization of a police force, to tone deaf reactions to the situation by the power structure, this could happen in almost any city in America.  I guess I’m asking why it doesn’t.


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