“The MOON” Interviews Me about the One Man Revolution

I was interviewed for the latest issue of The MOON Magazine. Excerpts:

The MOON
Wouldn’t your revolution — or attempts to de-fund the government’s militarism — be more effective if more people knew about your efforts and joined them? In other words, if it wasn’t a one-man revolution?
Gross
A one-man revolution doesn’t have to be silent. I’m not making an effort to be secretive. One of my role models is Ammon Hennacy, and his one-man revolution wasn’t silent. He bragged about it all the time! Thoreau, too, certainly made a splash, eventually. It’s best to do the revolution part first and the shouting-about-it second, though. I’ve tried to do a little crowing myself, through my blogs and articles and books. The one-man revolution is about doing nonviolent direct action every day, not just waiting for some distant dramatic opportunity that may never arrive, or for the news media to show up with their cameras.
The MOON
Isn’t provoking the government — and risking jail — one of the most effective ways to gain the notoriety that results in policy, or even regime, change? MLK and Gandhi come to mind as examples…
Gross

I think nonviolent resistance tactics like those exercised by Gandhi and King have a lot of promise for provoking policy change or even regime change, and I encourage people to study and experiment with them.

However, I have a lot of impatience with the sort of sloppy “cargo cult” civil disobedience actions I see practiced a lot these days. Many seem to me poorly-thought-through and self-indulgent: sit-ins and blockades where the trespassing or failure-to-disperse (or whatever the protesters end up getting arrested for) doesn’t have any purpose except to provoke arrests. That’s just theater, not resistance, and the audience is mostly other protesters (who are also usually the only ones who are impressed).

The MOON
I have friends who’ve been arrested for protesting at military bases — Vandenberg Air Force Base, for example. They may be creating theater, but without that theater, most people — even most people who live nearby — would scarcely be aware of, and certainly not question, the missiles that are tested there.
Gross
Maybe I’m being too cynical, but a lot of these things strike me more as ceremonies designed for the sanctification and congratulation of the participants than for any effect they’re likely to have on public opinion, policy, or the functioning of the status quo. I’ve done this sort of protest and ceremony in the past and have come to distrust it.
The MOON
Are you able to tell what the results of your “one-man revolution” have been thus far? How long has it been ongoing?
Gross

Eighteen years ago I was a “woke” sort of fellow who nonetheless gave thousands of dollars to the Pentagon every year. Then I decided to throw a one-man revolution and to stop paying. So one way I can measure my activism is in dollars and cents. I think I would have paid the federal government something like half a million dollars between then and now if I’d just gone on living my life as before.

Along the way I’ve become less selfish and more community-minded and have developed a more sophisticated understanding of how to promote solidarity and reduce violence in ways that have little to do with yelling at, or pleading with, politicians.

I also have to say that I was coasting a bit in my former, tax-paying lifestyle. I believed that having the right opinions was enough; that they alone qualified me for a lot of indulgences. But when I turned my back on tax-paying, it spurred me to examine my life more closely and bring other areas into alignment with my values.

Overall, I feel that my own one-man revolution has resulted in my own evolution into a more engaged and ethical human being than the old one. I say: success!