Vanishing American has asked pertinent questions in his comment on my previous posting (see below). I was going to respond in the comment box, but decided the further discussion deserved a new posting of its own.
He wonders, "What was it, in your opinion, that made the 'Velvet Revolution' possible? From what I understand, the decaying system sort of fell of its own weight; nobody truly believed in it anymore, and the house of cards fell."
VA is correct. The system in Czechoslovakia was held together by the apparatus of a police state (until, I think, even that began to break down toward the end) and was so dysfunctional that nobody believed in it anymore or supported it except from self-interest. As my Czech ex-girlfriend -- a civil engineer -- told me, the common saying in her office and others was, "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work."
No such cynicism pervades the United States. Most people believe that our system works pretty well, whatever their particular complaints. And that has been true for most of our history as a nation. It's part of the problem today: we can't imagine that the good times could ever be over, that the national character that has enabled us to achieve so much and give so many people a shot at their own idea of a good life is being undermined.
It seems to me that it is; but most people aren't especially alarmed because it's being accomplished in discrete, cumulative steps that can be made to look like the kinds of adjustments we've often made in the past. (Thus, a huge migration of people who enter the country illegally to grab a piece of the action, and far from wanting to adopt American values, bring their own culture intact and maintain it in ethnic enclaves, is compared with immigrants who came to become Americans in a time when the nation had a third as many people.)
As I said in the earlier posting, it's not clear how many will just go with the flow and accept whatever changes come down because, like most people everywhere, they are too busy with their jobs and recreation and dealing with their own problems. But from my reading of the uncensored media -- i.e., mainly the Web -- there is no doubt that a certain percentage of the population isn't going to go quietly.
No one knows what the future holds, but I can imagine several factors that could expand that population manyfold. The first, which seems likely, is if Congress passes an amnesty-by-whatever-name (even more so, if there is a delay and "Sun King" Bush decides his mission can't wait any longer and asks his legal advisors how he can do it by putting pen to paper). The next precipitating events would be an obvious doubling or tripling of immigration, runaway population growth leading to further sprawl, rising crime rates. Another would be European-type legislation to suppress opposition as "hate speech." A collapse of the credit quicksand that upholds this economy would add yet another element to the mix.
A major terrorist attack would seriously tilt the board.
My interest in the concept of a "velvet revolution" has to do with how the opposition would behave under those circumstances. I think we've got to start talking and laying the foundations now, not in the heat of a later moment. We mustn't let the resistance be shaped by pure anger. It must not be channelled into violence, particularly random violence against migrants or foreigners, which the state would quite rightly suppress by force.
So what's my plan? I have to say again, it doesn't matter what my plan is. Or anybody's. The soft revolution needs to morph organically, naturally, through the initiative and trial-and-error of thousands of individuals, similarly to how the blogosphere has developed. We don't want a manifesto that becomes a movement that hardens into an ideology that winds up with factions cursing one another and expelling deviationists.
All those individuals will need to work together in many ways, but not on the orders of a charismatic leader. This has to be a bottom-up, not a top-down, revolution. The Establishment can stop a top-down revolution by taking the leaders off the field. It can't remove thousands or millions who just won't cooperate, who use the power of choice (whether it's what to buy or boycott, or whom to vote for) and the American system of multiple jurisdictions in which states and even towns -- e.g., Hazelton, Pennsylvania -- can exert their own power against the federal behemoth.
Let's keep it focused. No griping. No pointless demonstrations. No wasting time writing letters to the editors of hopelessly biased mainstream media. Let's use our minds and our imaginations and our heritage as free men and women of America. What more does a "velvet revolution" need?