Shoulda Worked Within the System

Those who protest the system are often told they should work within it–after doing so for years and being ignored or suppressed.

21 Comments. Leave new

  • […] ‘Shoulda worked within the system.’ Hah! Bookmark It […]

  • very funny. This is a classic example of why speaking truth to power, while a pleasant meme, never works…..power has its truth, they’re truth, and they don’t care about yours. The only two options are 1) appeal to a higher power, as the civil rights movement did with appealing to the federal government to impose civil rights on the states, or 2) remove and replace those in power. The ‘system’ belongs to them, you cannot work within it. It is theirs and it exists to serve their interests. We can set up another system but in time it too will be gamed, if it isn’t simply gamed from the beginning.

    Again, Ted. From the forest itself comes the handle for the ax.

  • Ted, you’re on fire lately! Along with the recent Holocaust cartoon, this is one of your best.

    In the end what Occupy doesn’t realize is that this is matter of language. The elite not only know the language of violence, they absolutely believe in it. Just ask the unelectable foreign policy elite. Think they weep for the dead innocents at all those mid east wedding parties they target? Of course not. To them, violence is a language – nothing more. It’s time people realized that and speak up when talking back to the elite.

  • Excellent, Ted.

    The power elite who find themselves hanging from a tree have only themselves to blame for working outside of the system.

    The system as popularly understood (democracy, justice, and all that) is a fiction, but a fiction I none the less choose believe in, if only because the reality is too ugly and nihilistic.

    So if our beliefs in democracy and justice leave the unbelieving nihilistic scoundrels hanging from trees, we are only bringing justice into a system that doesn’t, by design, have it within it.

  • Working within the system always works. It just doesn’t work fast enough to suit you.

  • Once again Whimsical shows he simply does not get it. He doesn’t even understand this cartoon, which is not surprising. I will try to break it down for you Whimsical, in little pieces.

    Frame one shows people trying to work within the system.
    Frame two shows the unelectable elite refusing to work within the system.
    Frames three and four repeat this idea to reenforce it.
    Frame five shows what happens when democracy (the system) is deterred long enough.
    Frame six shows the victors saying they tried to work within in the system, but were forced to start anew.

    So your comment about “working within the system always works” is inane and pointless. I know you don’t get this. Most people who sail right down the middle of the stream never do. They don’t want to.

  • Whimsical, I reject the patience argument….in the long run, we’re all dead. So, “in the long run working within the system will work” is really douchy

  • “Working within the system always works.”


    “It just doesn’t work fast enough to suit you.”


  • “Working within the system always works. It just doesn’t work fast enough to suit you.”

    —Hosni Mubarak, Jan. 25th, 2011

  • I like that one of the victors in the final frame is wearing a white shirt. It cements that all that violence and death only got us a new set of white shirts to slave for.

    Or, putting it another way, unfortunately those who don’t mind using violence to overthrow the previous system have a lot of trouble putting aside that violence once they make it to the top.

  • It’s interesting that people believe that violence will lead to the change they want. I think that the view in Egypt and other so called revolution countries demonstrates that revolution only leads to different tyrants, and a less stable economic system.

  • I see Ghandi’s drones have made an appearance here. Would like to have seen him go up against the Wehrmacht. Stay tuned, because that’s where we’re headed in the US. They’re already getting a taste in Russia.

    Great toon, Ted. Way out in front, as usual.

  • I just started reading “The Gulag Archipelago.” I wish everyone at OWS would read it. Not even the whole thing, just the first couple of chapters would do.

  • The problem is that those who run the system control not only psychological instruments, like the corporate media, or economic ones, like the ability (in the United States), to fire people at will, but also the physical forces of repression – the police, uniformed and in mufti, and not least, a military armed with thermonuclear weapons. Those who believe that these latter would never be used on «our own people» may be in for a rude awakening – remember we are here talking about people to whom «no options are off the table» is a constantly used mantra….


  • Even though I suspect I am one of Macon C’s Gandhi drones, I don’t have to go all the way back to World War II to find a war worth fighting. But, at the risk of sounding cliche, the difference now is the Web and cell phones. Information flow is so much more possible now that it is much harder for (mis)leaders to dupe the people. Systems can be toppled from within the system much more easily than ever before.

    My challenge to you revolutionaries is to examine governments (and their stateless equivalents) in need of toppling since, say, 2000 — examine whether in each case violence is the best solution. Do a tally. In your eyes, does violence win? Are you all “bomb, bomb Iran” types?

  • Lee,

    I think the cell phones and e-mail and such are a two-edged weapon. Rather, it’s a weapon like armor is a weapon. It blocks arrows, it blunts sword-thrusts, rocks bounce off. And the opposition, knowing this, makes sure all the fights take place in a swimming pool.

    Cell phones can be confiscated. All the contact information copied. Databases can be made of all the interconnections (who knows who) in a fraction of the time it used to take. Why have men in overcoats stand around lamps at night watching your front door when a warrant to Verizon can let them access the information on your cell phone log, which can then be used to place you at such a place at such a time?

    And although information flow is far more fluid, it’s far more liable to disruption. I’ve lost track of the number of times sites like DailyKos put up a diary that has a headline like “Absolutely, this is the end of the Bush administration.” And then the diarist drops a steaming pile about yet another Bush offense and concludes with something like “We must arrest Bush today!!!!1!” My point is that content from multiple sources is not selectively discriminated. It’s just a bunch of people, all shouting that what they’re saying is the most important thing ever. Some of them DO, in fact, have important things to say, but they can be just shoved right off the page by entries on jam-making and jokes about pie.

    Foreign countries shut down cell phone service and web access during times of crisis. You cannot possibly think the U.S. won’t do the same when/if it needs to. And what happens when/if the U.S. takes the No-Fly List concept and applies it to Internet and cell phone access? “We’re sorry. This account has been blocked due to Sect. 12, Para. 114, Sub-sect. 99 of the Internet Security Act.” Will people protest? Not enough to matter because for 99% of people, it will not be a problem.

  • The Greeks have the right idea, it’s just a matter of whether or not they have the will to carry the current violence to it’s rightful conclusion. Else, it’s just a waste of time. An emotional outburst. The Greeks need to start taking it up a notch.

  • Ex, Ex, Ex-

    I understand what you think the cartoon means, I just have a slightly different interpretation.

    You do ok for the first four frames, but:

    Frame 5 shows the system becoming fascist and cracking down because the demonstrators were foolish enough to try violence.

    Frame 6 is clearly set 100 years and another revolution later.

    Violence generally makes it harder and take longer to achieve your goals.

    The system would’ve taken Mubarak out, eventually. We’ll never know if what’s been put in place from his takedown is better than what would’ve happened had the system been allowed to work at its own pace. Though frankly, I am unimpressed by the system they put in place. In general, working through the system almost always produces stronger results- and it always works, even if you personally don’t like the time table it works on. I stand by that.


    The truth is often douchy, friend. And you give voice to my biggest complaint with “liberals today”.

    My great-grandfather, and liberals of his time: “We will fight for a better world for our great great great grandchildren, even if we ourselves see none of the benefits.”

    My grandfather and liberals of his time: “We will fight for a better world for our great great great grandchildren, even if we ourselves see none of the benefits.”

    My father and liberals of his time: “We will fight for a better world for our great great great grandchildren, even if we ourselves see none of the benefits.”

    Me: “I will fight for a better world for our great great great grandchildren, even if I see none of the benefits.”

    Liberals of my time: ” _I’m_ not going to see any of the benefits? Fuck that! REVOLUTION!”

    When did patience stop being a virtue for liberals, to be replaced by selfishness?

  • @Ted

    Which does not make those interpretaions any less valid.

    As for being a paid blogger- if you have some way to get me on that list, I’m all ears. Until then, I’ll keep advocating for what I feel is necessary for the future of the planet because it’s the right thing to do. Like everyone else who posts here.

  • Yes, technology is a double edged sword. But folding that in, in which of these countries since 2000 is violence the right solution?: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Israel, Gaza, West Bank, North Korea, Myanmar, Syria, China, Russia, USA, etc. Sure, maybe violence / war could make sense in a few of these cases, but is the USA really on the short list? I find that hard to believe.

You must be logged in to post a comment.