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View Diary: Direct Action: On Civil Disobedience And The Projection of Power (49 comments)

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  •  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

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        •  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

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          •  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

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            •  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 ]

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