We Need a Dionysian Revolution

Let me be clear. There can be no “business as usual” until justice is restored.

Those who rule this land–the few, the obscenely wealthy, the kingmakers whose cash buys elections and appointments–have made clear that they value money and property more than either the quality or the preservation of human lives. Indeed, they are more than willing to use fear and force to make some people hurt and kill other people, in order to prevent windows from being broken.

Windows will be broken. Cars will be burned. Stores will be looted.

These things will happen because the ones who stole justice from us care more about things than about people. They have made the possession and distribution of things the foundation of their house, and so if their house is to fall, it is things that must be attacked.

Dionysos sent the women of Thebes mad because the King repressed the god’s revolution. He broke open a prison by visiting an earthquake on the city. I have no doubt he would smash windows, inspire unrest, and otherwise disrupt “business as usual” to redress injustice and bring liberation.

Whatever revolution there may be cannot succeed by attacking people, it must attack the base of their power. They don’t care about people. People are cheap; they can always buy more. Besides, every time one of the people who serve them is harmed, they turn that person into a martyr for their cause, a distraction from targets they really value.

This is, in fact, why they encourage their people incite violence. It’s why they glorify violence with the media they own. They take advantage of fear of the Other, the one who is different, the one who is not-white, not-straight, not-mainstream in order to keep us fighting each other instead of fighting them. It’s why “anarchist,” “socialist,” and “feminist” are made into insults and defined in ways that have nothing to do with their actual meaning.

We don’t need a Dionysian revolution to get high and get laid; we had that one, it served its purpose.

We need a Dionysian revolution in what we value, what we desire, in what matters to us. We need a Dionysian revolution to burn away the preoccupations with race and class and “acceptable” behavior that they use to keep us too separate to unite against them. We need a Dionysian revolution to bring us to value people more than things, experiences more than commodities, authenticity more than status.

We need a Dionysian revolution to allow us to feel the pain of living under the dominion of those who value property over life, to give us the courage to feel that pain rather than numb it with consumption and petty hatreds. We need a revolution to free in us the joy in living, in being, in doing. A revolution to teach us that breaking windows is better than breaking heads. That losing privilege is better than keeping racism, sexism, and the structures that hold some of us as worth more than others.

We need a Dionysian revolution to undo the habits learned by being forced to grow up living by their rules. Because if we don’t have that revolution, then any other will just replace the names at the top of the list, and change nothing.

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About Lon Sarver

Lon Sarver is a polytheist priest of Dionysos, living in the San Francisco Bay Area and contemplating (with a healthy amount of dread) making a second attempt at a career in Marriage and Family Therapy. View all posts by Lon Sarver

6 responses to “We Need a Dionysian Revolution

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