On the Murder of Troy Davis

As you’ve probably heard, the institution of government claimed its umpteen-millionth-and-first victim on September 21, 2011. Thugs in Georgia took Troy Davis from the cage where they’d kept him for twenty years, strapped him to a chair and injected a lethal dose of animal tranquilizer into his blood. This, despite the fact that 7 of the 9 witnesses to the case, in which there was no material evidence at all, later recanted–one of the two that didn’t was also a suspect in the crime.

Though very tragic, this is hardly surprising “justice” in a system that is built on violence and with no mechanism for accountability.

The entire notion of human equality is a reaction to historical conditions under which one small group of people could torture, imprison, kill and expropriate anybody they wanted for any reason they wanted[1]. The reverse, of course, was not true; hence the inequality.

The myth is that by modifying the historical conditions–by replacing kings, dukes, and knights with presidents, senators, and police–the state of human inequality was magically rectified. Under casual scrutiny, this illusion vanishes. Luckily for the rulers, casual scrutiny is spared them by the sycophants who cling to one of two aspects of the ruling class; trumpeting their so-called accomplishments, and desperately trying to draw attention away from the piles of corpses and the rows of caged humans all around us.

The truth is, despite the braying of political hacks, no mandate for the brutal actions of government exist. In the case of Troy Davis and other death row murder victims as well as in the case of murder victims abroad–far more numerous and even less reported on–a large and growing number of people are refusing to support murder.

As noted above, this doesn’t mean that the killers will be brought to justice, at least not anytime soon. We live in a world, still, of unaccountable rulers. Nevertheless, the absurdity of the claim that we are being protected and/or served by the ruling class is becoming increasingly obvious.

It’s too late for Troy Davis and the countless victims of state violence whose number increases each day, and it is the nature of the ruling class to be armed against all combination of direct antagonists. The one thing it can’t survive is a loss of legitimacy. As a french fellow once wrote, near 500 years back:

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
Étienne de La Boétie[2]

The colossal error of institutionalized inequality cannot be stormed or blown to pieces, nor can it be voted away in a system premised on inequality. We are each required only to remove our support. The shouting carnival barkers tell us that the system is working, that it is necessary, that–if they’re feeling generous–the Troy Davises are victims of tiny misinterpreted subclauses of law that legal experts can modify if only, if only we all continue to support the system.

This is a lie. It is the Big Lie. The only way to end the violence is to withdraw your support from the system based on violence.

  1. [1] Speaking broadly, of course, there is always the ultimate check of revolution, which usually reorders the hierarchy to a (very) small degree.
  2. [2] from The Politics of Obedience: Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, pp. 50-53
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