Skip to main content

By now more and more people are realizing that in the face of government paralysis and dysfunction as the result of influence peddling corruption by an increasingly ruthless corporatist elite, there is a need for direct action by the populace.

However, I argue that many old-time activists are still relying on direct action tactics that have outlived their usefulness.  I'm specifically concerned about the overreliance on civil disobedience tactics that lead to arrests.  The fact that much of the intellectual body of work related to civil disobedience was based on Henry David Thoreau's classic essay Civil Disobedience, ought to tell you something; it was written 1866!

And of course, when it comes to peaceful resistance, including civil disobedience tactics, we look up to intellectual and moral giants like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those were different times.  We need to continue evolving when it comes to direct action against the increasingly criminal and brutal Corporatist Oligarchy now entrenched in the United States.



My first question when it comes to direct peaceful actions that lead to arrest is: What are you trying to accomplish?  In fact, that should always be the central question when it comes to direct action.

Back in 2011, when the police departments, acting as corporatist goons, were brutalizing Occupy Wall Street activists, I wrote this diary: "Take your hands off me."  It was pretty well received when I wrote it.  From what I wrote, here's what I think is the most important quote:

We should all, collectively, [must] conceptualize the notion that there is no graver offense when it comes to human interaction, than the act of putting your hands on another human being, in aggression.
From that perspective, and again, my question is: Once you engage in civil disobedience with the intention of getting arrested, what is it that you are trying to achieve?

So you engage in the action, then the police puts their hands on you, lift you up, restrains you, drags you away (while you let your body get limped), handcuffs you, puts you inside a patty wagon, and takes you to jail... You may even get pepper-sprayed or  People take photos and videos of it, and post them all over the place.  

Okay, so now what?  What are your expectations?  Do you expect that when the videos of you getting arrested, or getting pepper sprayed in the face, or getting tased go viral on YouTube that somehow that's going to enraged people witnessing the abuse and prompt them to join the movement?

I argue that on the Left there is too much focus on projecting victimhood.  It's almost a fetish.  We put tape over our mouths; we lay down in the middle of a plaza or intersection, or in front of this or that government building, and play dead, symbolizing victims to this or that atrocity.  We show(ed) YouTube videos of young ladies being pepper sprayed in the face, and of bloody faces of college students after being beaten by police baton, and of people being sucker punched by white-shirt NYPD police thugs.

Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.

- Chris Hedges

What are we trying to achieve by projecting weakness and victimization?  Do you think somebody is going to come to your (our) aid?  Do you think that apathetic citizens can be motivated to take action by showing weakness and victimization?

So on the Left, we reject and abhor anything that shows any hint of cohesiveness, organization, and strategy, while at the same time going out of our way to project weakness, and victimization.

I argue that that's a recipe for derision, for ridicule, for being marginalized.

Contrast that with the high level of organization by the fascistic right wing.  Heck, the teabaggers usually show up at rallies carrying guns!  Imagine that.  No matter how ridiculous we think that is, in their own (sometimes inarticulate) way they're saying, "Don't mess with me or I'm going to fuck you up, and if you don't like this gun, go ahead and try to take it from me!"

It's a simple message; it's visceral; and it project the most primal instinct of violence.

And say what you may about the crazy teabaggers, at least they have been able to accomplish many of their goals (well, the goals of the billionaires who are manipulating them): stop the government from functioning.

Now, and just to be clear... I'm not arguing that we need to act like these knuckle-dragging neanderthals, and strap guns around our waists when we rally in protests or demonstrations.

I'm arguing that it is time we start thinking very carefully about what is it that we are trying to achieve when we engage in direct action.  As a propagandist (for the truth, for justice and equality), I pay attention to optics, to messaging, to perception, to process, to goals, strategies, to short-, mid-, and long-term objectives.

In my mind, I see, I try to visualize, 50,000 people standing strong with their heads high up, full of confidence, at rallies all over this country exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, while cops-cum-corporate goons have to think twice, or three or four times before even contemplating putting their hands on one single citizen.


When I think about this, I'm trying to come up with ideas about how to achieve this.  How do we get to a point where we can develop unity of purpose, become highly cohesive, organized and strategic, and give zero, and I mean zero excuse to any cop-cum-corporate goon to put a single hand on any of us.

How do we get to the point of being able to project the awesome power of a people united?

Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.

- Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell

And I think about these things because of the understanding that nothing short of overwhelming (and I mean, truly overwhelming) power will be able to force the tiny group of sociopathic oligarchs to release the choke-hold of their parasitic and creepy hands from our collective necks.

And this won't happen until they fear us...

Finally, if for some reason there are readers who don't know what I'm talking about, and don't understand the urgency, I'd ask them (politely) to first turn off the TV, and second, read this article by Chris Hedges: "Rise Up or Die"

“When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”

― Thomas Jefferson

Information resources:

Each blue dot on the map below represents a member of a growing nation-wide network of social justice and anti-corruption activists committed to finding the best way forward, peacefully and within the confines of the law  Join us in the effort!


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ray Pensador | Email List | Twitter | Facebook


EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting diary, thanks. (4+ / 0-)

    This passage snagged me and made me think:

    I argue that on the Left there is too much focus on projecting victimhood.  It's almost a fetish.  We put tape over our mouths; we lay down in the middle of a plaza or intersection, or in front of this or that government building, and play dead, symbolizing victims to this or that atrocity.
    I wonder what self-confident progressive citizen activism would look like?

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:55:25 AM PDT

    •  Here's what it would look like: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Nowhere Man

      First of all, we'll all have to be on the same page, when it comes to the understanding of the situation.  All of us, 100 percent of us, would have to agree with this statement:

      Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.

      - Chris Hedges

      That's just a truism...

      Then, once that's understood, we would have to focus our attention (target) on exactly how this is happening: corporations and billionaires bribing politicians, using the mainstream media as a propaganda tool, and manipulating a large segment of the population.

      Then, once we understand exactly how that works, we deconstructed, piece by piece, and then we act in concert, against it.

      You set up highly-cohesive and strategic groups of activists nationwide, and they gather information, and they share that information with the national network, until strategies are identified and can be coordinated and acted upon by the entire network/movement.

      •  Perhaps the problem is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, native

        that we have mistaken indirect action for direct action.

        (If you never heard of this distinction, it's probably because I just made it up.)

        In this view, Direct action is action with an outcome that directly moves the world slightly closer towards the world that we want to be. Action that violates a blatantly immoral law -- freeing slaves, sitting-in at a segregated lunch counter -- is direct action. Other examples would include registering people to vote, organizing labor unions and carpools, and so on.

        Indirect action is action that doesn't intrinsically leave the world a better place. Many, if not most, protest marches fall into this category. Blocking traffic or staging a disruptive protest at a politician's office are more extreme examples of indirect action. In my humble opinion -- and to overgeneralize a bit -- these more extreme actions tend to leave people pissed off without significantly advancing the cause that they were ostensibly intended to advance.

        And of course, actions that are intended to make victims of the protesters, without much else being achieved, are indirect actions.

        There's not a clear, bright line between direct and indirect action. The civil rights protests of the 50s and 60s were (IMHO) much more direct than indirect, because they demonstrated that black people could, would, and should assert themselves as full citizens. Occupy was at least somewhat direct in its action -- Occupy encampments were experiments in new forms of community, something this world desperately needs.

        So what kinds of direct action can be taken against an enemy whose most powerful tool is propaganda, and whose strongest ally is fear? They must be actions that dispel fear rather than reinforce it, and that project calm strength rather than anger. The best advice I can offer is to work at winning hearts and minds one at a time, patiently. But my imagination is limited; there may be better ideas than that.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:26:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Direct action vs Symbolic action (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nowhere Man, Ray Pensador

          And you are spot on with your analysis. To many on the left have started calling everything direct action or civil disobedience just because someone gets arrested. Direct action means exactly what you say, actions that directly move us toward a world we want to see.

          Here's a diary I wrote on the subject.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:37:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry I missed that diary when it came out. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Ray Pensador

            It deserved more attention.

            Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

            by Nowhere Man on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:58:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It was before people really (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nowhere Man, Ray Pensador

              got interested in protests as being effective, i.e. before occupy, so it didn't get much attention. It was also rather short and not as well laid out as it could have been.

              Your breakdown of the issue is dead on though. Indirect action as you describe it is the same as symbolic action as generally conceived.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:12:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Spot-on analysis. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, Ray Pensador, native, FG

    You are correct that power, not weakness, changes minds and forces action.  I never took the Occupy movement seriously because it basically had members sit there, not asking for anything specific or concrete.  Members just became targets.

    Ghandi and King, two leaders of non-violent opposition and civil disobedience, had very specific goals in mind: Get the British out of India, Civil Rights for African-Americans.

    Organization definitely is the key, at the local, state, and Federal levels.  Progressives have an inherent dislike of following authority; this acts to disorganize and weaken them.  Pointing to specific goals helps overcome this.

    (PS - RP, I've clicked on your map a nubmer of times, and it seems to provide only place names, not organization names - am I missing something?)

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:58:44 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for that thoughtful reply. Regarding (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheOrchid

      the map, I need to take some time to add more information to that page.  I'm basically using it as a "propagandist" tool to motivate people into thinking that we can indeed form a cohesive nationwide network of activists capable of acting in concert.

      When people sign up to my email list I take their geolocation information (only city, state, and zip code) and add it to the map.

      My goal is to eventually, when clusters of activists start forming in different cities, to encourage them to meet on a regular basis and to have those groups interacts with the rest in a nationwide network...

      I'm specifically interested in encouraging people to focus on the root causes of the corruption, on how ALEC is operating nationwide, on how the politicians are being bribed, on identifying patterns, etc., and then on using that information to come up with counter-strategies, with direct peaceful action, etc.

      Hopefully that helps a little with explaining the map...

      Today I have to add many more... I think I'm up to almost 400 people so far.

  •  Thanks Ray (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, AoT

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed May 22, 2013 at 12:08:00 PM PDT

    •  You're always so kind... Regarding your sigline (0+ / 0-)

      I told my wife about it today, "nosotros no somos estúpidos," and we couldn't stop laughing.  It's just so perfect given the situation we are facing as country.  "They" to think we are, but hopefully that won't last long.

  •  Two great videos about breaking the law: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, AoT, Nowhere Man

    In the first video, the actions were nonviolent but unlawful. In the second, the actions involve property destruction.

    1. In 2008, Tim DeChristopher disrupted a government auction of oil and gas leases in Utah, by winning bids and having no intention of paying. (The auction was later ruled illegal). For this action to halt climate change and the destruction of beautiful public lands, Tim served 2 years in federal prison. He was released last month, and plans to attend Harvard Divinity School in the fall.

    There's a 72-minute video about these events, called "Bidder 70". It's $28.50 including shipping.  You can get more info at
    http://www.bidder70.org
    or you can order the DVD from
    http://www.bidder70film.com

    2. In the early 2000s, the Earth Liberation Front committed a number of arsons. "If a Tree Falls" is a profile of the ELF, and specifically Daniel McGowan, who participated in two arsons, and will be released soon. The DVD  interviews him extensively during the time he's preparing to go to prison. It raises the question, when peaceful methods fail to bring about change, what options remain?

    This video is 85 minutes and has commentaries, extra interviews, etc. I got my copy from the PBS on-line store for $25 plus shipping.

    •  Engaging in arson seems very different from (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345, AoT

      engaging in forceful yet peaceful protest.  

      •  Depends. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob B

        Property crime is different than human-injury crime. Peaceful might be associated only with interactions between humans. And in that light, burning a bulldozer in the middle of the night doesn't have that "attempt to spill the blood of another" feeling.

        I didn't read anything about mcgowan, don't know what his particular action was.

        If we allow "violent" to be a label that can be applied to interactions that only involve property, then suddenly the illegal foreclosures can be labeled "violent" actions perpetrated by the 'person' of the banks, as a form of 'violent' illegal taking.

        It doesn't really make sense to call an illegal foreclosure a violent crime, so we have to draw the line somewhere, right? Well, I think it makes gut sense to draw the line between violent and peaceful along the category of property-crime and human-physical-victim.

        •  DailyKos should stay far away from (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          advocating for arson as a legitimate means of social change.  That's all I'm saying.

          •  I didn't advocate anything. Just watch the video (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            if you're interested.  I found it quite interesting and thought-provoking.

            Besides, it was already on PBS.

            •  Typical reaction on DK. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              andalusi

              It's a manifestation of the mandate to assume victimhood.

              If someone mentions anything about resisting through methods stronger than going limp than someone will be along very shortly to imply that they are advocating violence and may well be shunned/banned/dangerous to the site.

              The place has gone way downhill in the last few years. The hillary/obama fights had more intellectual capacity than the contemporary diaries about stiffening the spine.

      •  It is very different (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, Bob B

        than protest.

        But direct action isn't protest and if we're going to talk about direct action then we should talk about the various forms. Not that we should be advocating for arson here, just that we should talk about the various forms of direct action.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:01:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent essay (5+ / 0-)

    I agree. We need to come together and present a unified front to the rulers and their paid collaborators in media and "law" (order) enforcement, but it is extremely difficult.

    People who think for themselves have a variety of opinions as opposed to automatons who follow orders from the corporate predators. This presents difficulties in organizing and presenting a show of solidarity - though it's not impossible.

    A major obstacle in attaining wider support is the fact that there is a wide discrepency between how people from each side of the ideological divide are treated by corporate behavior control soldiers. I spent six weeks in Zuccotti park in Fall 2011 and NYPD resorted to violence without provocation. I saw it with my own eyes numerous times. Once, I was grabbed from behind by a cop while filming police brutality against an occupier who had the audacity to verbally defend a young woman who was being roughed up by NYPD officers. Then, he was charged with "terroristic activities" and was (originally) facing 40 years in prison because he was protesting in an area in the vicinity of "ground zero". (But, Teabaggers proudly wear guns and announce they'll use them against any who dare try and take them away).

    So, sensationalist-style tactics did increase exposure and added short-term support around the country for OWS. I agee, however, that new tactics were then needed to continue to the next level. The reason those old-style tactics were needed at all is that corporate media won't cover a true grassroots movement dedicated to taking elections and legislation out of the bloody hands of the financial terrorists otherwise.

    Next, we had people's debts being purchased by Strike Debt and eliminated. Occupy Sandy was the most effective relief "agency" in getting supplies to those in need during Hurricane Sandy. Why didn't support increase for OWS? Why aren't there cries of support for a movement dedicated to helping the oppressed majority against a small group of sociopaths bent on continuing a violent system that creates death, sickness and misery?

    We need to educate on the dangers of a corporate hold on our information while virtually all media is corporate-owned.  Tricky.

    We need to get more people to vote to get actual representation in Congress to get our elections back so our votes will count. Very tricky.

    And, those who ridicule the weak are sick and twisted. Could their support ever be gained? I doubt it.

    Basically, we need a new type of thinking leading to new tactics. I agree that we need to instill fear in the predatory class. We need to end the dependency on them for distributing water, food, energy, information and everything else we need to survive. The only way to get to them is by threatening their income. It's all they seem to care about.

    Thanks for a great essay. Brilliant, as usual.

    Doing my part to break the Capitalist Indoctrination Process. Here's where I rant: www.ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com

    by ashiftinconsciousness on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:04:10 PM PDT

    •  Thank you so much, and thank you for being (2+ / 0-)

      a foot soldier in the fight against these sociopaths.

      What you wrote is very profound.  It is really useful to me as I keep thinking about this topic.

      •  You're welcome (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, AoT

        As I actually care about someone other than myself, I could do no less than to refuse to obey sociopathic predators merely because they declare themselves rulers through purchasing our government. Though it can seem impossible to accomplish what we MUST accomplish, we need to take inspiration when and where we can get it.

        For example: I received some one night while sitting on a granite bench by myself in Zuccotti Park in 18 degree weather and, despite the cold, I felt at peace. Meanwhile, I noticed that about 8 members of NYPD were sitting in cars with the engines running and the heat on looking very uncomfortable and throwing me occasional dirty looks. They were getting paid - including overtime by Wall St. bankers - and still wanted to be somewhere else. I knew then that, eventually, we'd win.

        Doing my part to break the Capitalist Indoctrination Process. Here's where I rant: www.ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com

        by ashiftinconsciousness on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:23:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As you know, Thoreau wrote about civil (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oaktown Girl, dream weaver, AoT

    disobedience founded on high ideals and principles, morality, and purity of intent. Now we have dissenters who said they were planning to enter the nation's capital with loaded rifles strapped to their backs on July 4 "to put the government on notice."  The group uses the language of civil disobedience.  Open carry of loaded firearms is against the law in DC and there may be arrests. In fact, the DC police chief already stated that there will be.  

    Does the carrying of loaded firearms move the protest demonstration outside the boundaries of civil disobedience?  To me it seems like a dare that makes a mockery of civil disobedience but I also disagree with their purpose so I may be biased.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:28:23 PM PDT

  •  Well, pretty sure if you get 50,000 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, dream weaver, native

    people together, they'll figure out a way to arrest some of them. They are going to continue to write and enforce the laws to constrict the bounds of dissent, and when there aren't laws, they will do what they feel necessary at the time to prevent voices from being heard. They will insert agent provocateurs if necessary. They will do anything to de-legitimize and criminalize anyone who poses any kind of threat. I mean, there's no place on lower Manhattan you can 50,000 people legally, is there?

    The event the other day was a perfect example.

    I believe the teabaggers got respect because they were establishment bought and paid. They were given the astroturf carpet treatment. If twelve of them showed up, they got national coverage. A few hundred, all day news spectacle. We've had hundreds of thousands, even a million and never gotten anything like that coverage, because we aren't backed by the establishment. And since ours is a voice of dissent from the establishment, we won't get it. Very few of our representatives would claim us the way the Republicans do their teabaggers, no matter how we approach it, IMHO. They are siding with their big donors, who have more in common with the Kochs than they do us.

    Although history has vindicated resistance groups such as the White Rose and plotters such as von dem Bussche, they were desperately alone, reviled by the wider public and forced to defy the law, their oaths of national allegiance, and public opinion. The resisters, once exposed, were condemned in vitriolic terms by most of the German public, and their lopsided trials were state-choreographed lynchings. Von dem Bussche said that even after the war he was spat upon as he walked down a city street. He and those like him who made a moral choice to physically defy evil teach us something extremely important about rebellion. It is, when it begins, not safe, comfortable or popular. Those rare individuals who have the moral and physical courage to resist must accept that they will be pariahs. They must live outside the law. And they must be prepared to be condemned.
    I believe there are dozens of example out there like this from Hedges. I'm not saying you shouldn't quote Hedges, but I know he feels differently about protest and civil disobedience simply because of the history between power and dissent. Even peaceful dissent. It's not going to go down like a wrestling match, with rules and referees. They will only go down with a war. And the only way that war will avoid violence, IMO, is if it goes down with an peaceful yet conversely asymmetrical counter-presence.

    IMO, the only way this will actually happen will be if two or three million, maybe more, essentially squat in D.C., preferably not in camps. Preferably overnight they have accommodations. But during the day they are everywhere. They don't need to do anything. But the city will come to a halt. If people start getting arrested, then the whole mass can gather in one big group around the Capitol building. Let them try to incarcerate 2-3 million people. Let the world see that spectacle.

    I get what you're saying and I don't disagree, but I will be standing with the folks of Summer Heat, members of whom I know will be getting arrested, because frankly these are the only people with the commitment and integrity and balls to stand up to the injustice of this pipeline. Folks like Occupy and Code Pink are THE voice of dissent today. The ONLY real public voice. NOBODY else has projected a public voice.

    The corporatist Democrats are aligned with the enemy, and everyone else, including folks like most kossacks who don't belong to either group, who maybe help follow, expose and communicate what's going on and participate in electoral politics, which, like electoral politics itself, is essential but not hardly enough.

    As I've said many times already, I'd be happy to participate in something else if it is vigorous and unapologetic, including many forms of direct action to expose and/or weaken specific establishment institutions perpetrating crimes against the people, which I believe is incredibly important and effective.

    I also believe in creating an alternative, parallel culture. But I have no illusions that if it gains traction they will try to discredit, criminalize and shut it down.  

    In the meantime, I won't hold back my support from, allegiance or respect for those engaging in civil disobedience and any other form of non-violent public resistance until the movement in general starts getting some real traction, which at the moment is so distant it's not even worth talking about.

    Re: "...will the American people notice, or are they dumb as sticks to quote the social historian Morris Berman who blames the culture for our problems." - don midwest. don, I'd like you to meet Woody and Twiggy. ☮ ♥ ☺

    by Words In Action on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:50:35 PM PDT

    •  I have a lot of respect for you. Let me clarify (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, ashiftinconsciousness

      that at this point, anybody that's willing to take direct (peaceful) action in protest and in activism against this increasingly brutal and oppressive system is a hero in my book.

      I'm aware that right now there are lots of groups around the country gearing up for direct action; summer 2013 is going to be pretty busy when it comes to social justice activism.

      Also, let me just say that the number one reason I advocate peaceful resistance is because I consider it a good asymmetrical approach against the system, as it is right now.

      Sometimes, the issue of violence is pretty simple: when somebody assaults you unprovoked, the best course of action may be a straight punch in the face, with all your might.  I know.

      Putting that aside for now, let me get back to what I meant by having a clear objective once one engages in direct action, in protest...

      What do you think it is?  I would argue that at some level it has to do with something about stopping the machine; with slowing it down; with letting the powers that be know that we can't continue with business as usual, in the face of the brutality they are imposing on the citizenry.

      I've written about this many times, but I think this occasion warrants that I do so again...

      What I mean when I say that we need to keep thinking about new ways of engaging in direct action is that we must look at the conditions today, at the advances in technology, at the culture, at the interconnectedness of the economy.

      Here's a concrete example: First, let's say that the objective of direct action is to shut down a city (to protest the building of the Keystone pipeline, for example).

      In the typical approach (the old way), there are rallies, speeches, and civil disobedience actions.  In the meantime, the local media (TV, newspapers) are already busy tryting to discredit the action and the ridicule the participants.

      So the event takes place, scores of people get arrested, and the next day, nothing happens.  Everybody goes home.

      Now, think of this... You get the commitment of 2,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 people, first.

      Here's the plan: three groups of a few thousand people show up at a major nerve center of the city, all at once.

      While they are there, everything stop... The police shows up, and when they ask people to comply with any order (get off the street, move along, dissipate, whatever), people immediately comply.

      [Forget the infiltrators, the anarchists, etc., for this mental exercise]

      So everybody dissipates, as instructed by the police.  Then an hour later, they swarm another location, by the thousands... Everything stops.  The police shows up, asks people to move, get off the street, etc., and people comply, immediately.

      On and on and on, nonstop... In the meantime, behind the scene, there is a big-time use of technology, Twitter, Facebook, emails, text messages... People doing impromptu coordinating, strategizing.

      And this could continue, as some people go home, and the the "next" shift shows up, all kinds of people, the young, students, older people, professionals, etc.

      As this happens, because people by and large are protecting themselves from getting arrested, then confidence builds up, and this may attract more and more and more people, until the city is shut down... And then this replicates to another city, and another, and confidence builds up, and it gets so big and organized, and synchronized...

      And that's when the powers that be will be in fear... And then you start with your demands, starting with: Prosecute the goddamned criminal banksters.

      Anyways, in your honor, I'm going to write, right now, a diary titled: "How To Shut Down a City Without Going to Jail"

      •  FYI what you described (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ashiftinconsciousness

        was what happened in 2003 in SF. We had a horizontal organization structure similar to Occupy.

        So everybody dissipates, as instructed by the police.  Then an hour later, they swarm another location, by the thousands... Everything stops.  The police shows up, asks people to move, get off the street, etc., and people comply, immediately.
        And then they start arresting you for no reason. There will be arrests.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:24:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador, AoT

          Occupiers were arrested for no reason other than not obeying every whim of Wall St bankers and corporate-owned cops. An angry cop once grabbed me and basically threatened to throw me off a ten foot high marble statue base (of George Washington) near Wall St.

          When NYPD forcibly evacuated Zuccotti Park in November  '11, they looked like SS stormtroopers as they beat anyone in their way with violent enthusiasm - including petite young women who never raised a hand (they even killed two puppies that were born at the park). They were brutal without provocation. Shit, look at what they've done to black and Latino men for...ever.

          What's needed is for everyone to SEE the truth unfiltered by corporate manipulation and be inspired by brilliant essays such as The Careerists by Chris Hedges.

          Doing my part to break the Capitalist Indoctrination Process. Here's where I rant: www.ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com

          by ashiftinconsciousness on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:47:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Awesome (0+ / 0-)

        Doing my part to break the Capitalist Indoctrination Process. Here's where I rant: www.ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com

        by ashiftinconsciousness on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:33:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  now you are thinking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        yes that sort of approach  may just work.  you basically needle create non stop disruptions.  that needs to be coupled with a media campaign to explain the reasons for these disruptions.

        of course, the longer you can keep this going the more effective it is.

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:40:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's important that you are *not* saying (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, AoT

    direct action is useless and should not be done, because it absolutely should be and is a critical element toward our success. And I strongly agree - it does need to be more strategic. Just like a most elements in our struggle need to be more strategic than they have been, so I'm glad you are so dedicated to addressing this.

    I was not home most of yesterday, but should have a chance to check out your organizing website later today.

    “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

    by Oaktown Girl on Wed May 22, 2013 at 01:51:18 PM PDT

  •  So, if you want an example of direct action (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native

    that worked, and that we could recreate if we wanted to, then you should look at shut down of San Francisco when the war in Iraq started. That was about 40k people and we managed to shut the city down completely for a day, and had it mostly shut down for the next day.

    Direct action is not getting arrested for publicity and doing that is not useful. The press doesn't pay attention. It's a symbolic action and calling it direct action is just wrong.

    So on the Left, we reject and abhor anything that shows any hint of cohesiveness, organization, and strategy, while at the same time going out of our way to project weakness, and victimization.
    Equating loose organization and victimhood is just wrong. In our action shutting down the city we were not cohesively organized and we were incredibly powerful. What you're talking about is a revival of the authoritarian left, a top down model that has failed again and again.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Wed May 22, 2013 at 03:22:50 PM PDT

  •  Nonviolent civil disobedience is not outdated. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dream weaver, Ray Pensador

    (That does seem to be the implication of the opening of the diary.)

    CD just hasn't been used recently in numbers sufficient to break through the corporate media, imo.  We are still a nation of bystanders.  This could end this summer.

    More than 60,000 (with a goal of 100,000) have already pledged to do CD and be arrested if Keystone is approved.  

    That's an entirely different animal than the usual small protest with some arrests.  It could activate the country and radicalize a generation.  

  •  You lost me here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, AoT
    And this won't happen until they fear us...
    Fear is counterproductive to rational thought.

    Nonviolent coercion I get.

    But fear...real fear...prevents your opponent from exercising rational thought once you have exercised your power and demonstrated to them that you have won and they have lost.

    Fear is a recipe for mass annihilation.

    When your opponent has lost is precisely the moment when they most need to have the ability to think calmly and rationally in evaluating their own self interest.

    The challenge in exercising nonviolence is twofold.

    First, to make it in your opponent's own rational self interest to capitulate.

    Second, to insure that your opponent has the ability to calmly and rationally recognize his own self interest.

  •  you must have a plan (0+ / 0-)

    read gene sharp.  no revolution succeeds if it flies by the seat of its pants.  there has to be a plan.  there has to be leaders who implement the plan ... whatever it is.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:25:31 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site