A number of political dissidents consider human action to be purposeful behavior, but is it purposeful to do the same thing over and over again, and yet expect a different result? Would it not make more sense to question, in good faith, the viability of certain methods? Perhaps it would behoove us to seriously reevaluate given assumptions about some techniques of political activism.
Having paid attention to media coverage of street demonstrations over the past decade, it would seem that there are fundamentally three different kinds, or goals, of street protesting. The first is little more than being a grandstanding media whore, whereby grabbing the attention of the mainstream media “spreads awareness” about a particular topic, and that by itself, it is somehow going to mystically solve the problem of whatever the protester is bellyaching over. A variation on this is the street demonstrator who deliberately commits an act of civil disobedience in a blatantly public fashion (this is done so as to increase the probability they will be arrested by the police); the goal here is to rely on jury nullification in order to either set or reverse a judicial precedent, which will mystically somehow redress some other unrelated grievances. Finally, demonstrations provide a unique opportunity for dissidents to engage in a morale-raising spectacle with others who think like they do, all the while accomplishing little else.
The problem with each of these kinds of street protesters is that each variation not only regularly fails in achieving its ostensible aims, but also the fact that there exist better ways to achieve whatever it is they want. There are several mechanisms accessible to us that can be used in lieu of these ineffective types of protesting, sans the cost of police brutality (including, but certainly not limited to, baton charges and kettling) while simultaneously performing at least as well, if not dramatically better than, even the very best that such street demonstrations could have accomplished idyllically.
For instance, creating alternative media and culture jamming the Establishment’s propaganda apparatus (through such methods such as subvertising, pranks, and especially meme hacks) appeals to both the mind and emotions of the public, instead of simply annoying the living fuck out of them. Ostracism of government informants, agent provocateurs, and deep-cover intelligence operatives is time well spent, instead of wasting it on constructing banners and flags that get rarely used on protest marches anyway. Discrete civil disobedience allows you to live free despite the arbitrary mala prohibita commanding dictates of the State. Informally small get-togethers at individual private homes is just as morale-raising as uselessly chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” or “This is what democracy looks like!” repeatedly in a public park like a bunch of mindless zombies. I would rather dissidents attend their local freedom festivals rather than waste their time, and risk what relatively little freedom they had left, by demonstrating in the street.
I still chuckle whenever one of my detractors claims that I’m acting inconsistent with my principles for publicly denouncing the viability of street demonstrations, as I’ve done in the past. The basic assertion is that I’m indescribably wicked or just simply mistaken for never even attending a protest. As I’ve said before, I have no intention of attending a protest of any kind, about anything, whatsoever. There is absolutely nothing about my political philosophy that requires me to act like a clueless hooligan. It would appear to be the case that the sycophantic followers of talk radio con-artists are pushing guilt trips if you don’t succumb to their emotional rhetoric about your “failure” to participate in useless demonstrations.
Some dissidents consider street protests as a way of “fighting the system.” This is fallacious, for they are not actually struggling, but whining about what ails the body politic. Simply complaining about Leviathan does not stop it; the withdrawal of consent (or as Ayn Rand put it, removing “the sanction of the victim”), coupled with defensive force, is what actually stops the march of statism. A sign waving coward is not a warrior for his people.
That’s probably the worst part of protesting, the fact that it’s nothing more than a proxy for real action. Instead of standing up and bravely disagreeing with the tyranny our people are suffering under, they elect to instead march through the streets as an amorphous mob, chanting manufactured slogans and waving cardboard protest signs. What cowardliness is this? They’re treating it as if it were a compromise between the need to do something authentic and the fear of taking meaningful action that could actually accomplish something
According to Robert-Arthur: Menard, protesting is a type of acceptance giving legal permission to the government to do whatever it was they wanted to do in the first place. He suggested, in good faith, that what demonstrators ostensible want to do is a public rejection of the regime’s policies. Menard is fundamentally correct in that there are better ways of achieving the goals of activists rather than through street actions, such as by writing letters to bureaucrats or filing legal documents in court; of course, I doubt Menard understands the motivation behind the Carnival of Distractions, but his overall point is well taken, despite the fact that genuine sincerity is the exception, not the rule, of contemporary political activism.
Speaking of the disingenuous Patriot Rockstars who guilt trip their listeners, that reminds me of this much touted concept of “peaceful protesting” they’ve been pushing that I’ve heard about ad nauseum. Where the hell did this come from? Did everyone just forget about the Vietnam War protesters back in the 1960s who trail-blazed the technique of street demonstrating itself? Peaceful protesting seems little different from the dog training that TSA performs at airports nation wide; both are inherently designed to acclimate you into being docile and submissive to agents of the State who are the complete enemies of your liberty. Consider that Vietnam War protesters (including many of whom were returning veterans) understood that should the stormtrooper riot cops get rowdy, they still retained their natural liberty to defend themselves from such coercive violence with physical force.
Such an attitude is currently frowned on by these Patriot Rockstars who are badly attempting to emulate the so-called “civil rights leaders” of the past half century. One phony rhetorical trick says that self-defense might encourage agent provocateurs; this is, of course, the call sign of cowards, whelps, and pacifists. So-called “peaceful protesting” is intrinsically hypocritical, and demonstrates (pun intended) no commitment whatsoever to whatever principles they claim to hold. If there were any primary differences between the demonstrators of the ’60s and those throughout the 2000s, it is that the latter don’t think! Be very wary of those who advocate for “peaceful protesting,” for they are the very same individuals who either do not have your best interest at heart, or are simply too naïve to understand what they are dealing with; either way, you are better off disregarding their useless advice.
A further distinction can be made about what the Vietnam War protesters did do. Demonstrations can work if they are performed for several years, by millions of people who are focused on a single objective (in this case, ending the Vietnam War), but activists now don’t do that anymore because it’s awfully passe to be actually focused on much of anything. It’s sexy to be distracted by a myriad of problems rather than be seriously dedicated to a systemically pivotal goal. Who would want to actually solve problems when you can use the black bloc technique to bash in a window and steal an iPhone instead? It would seem to be the case that protesting now suffers from the broken window fallacy in much the same way the military-industrial complex does, as is manifested by the warfare–welfare State.
Sometimes, protests can possess the characteristics of a riot; however, what is to be gained by trashing a Starbuck’s window? I am certainly no fan of corporatism, but acting out a temper tantrum like a spoiled brat is not going to bring the empty suit, fat cat CEOs to justice. Even worse, where is the justice in “keying” random cars, or throwing trash and scattering other undesirable debris around the place? Did none of these phony “anarchist” police snitches ever consider that just in terms of probability, they are much more likely to be damaging the property of some hapless nice folks rather than trashing the cars of the actual people responsible for what they claim to be upset about? Even if they are genuine non-propertarian anarchists, is it unreasonable for them to recognize that they are infringing upon the liberty of car owners by this form of intimidation? I have a sneaking suspicion that they just don’t think!
Street actions could also work effectively if they are done in the form of rigidly organized rallies. This is what Marcus Garvey was doing with the UNIA back in the early 1920s. You want men who can mark perfectly in step, and who are dressed uniformly. That brings fear to the enemy. The closest this has come to actually happening was the 2012 Veterans for Ron Paul march, except for the fact they were individually dressed (we wouldn’t want a repeat of Cpl. Jesse Thorton again, now would we?).
John Martinson has pointed out that there is such confusion about demonstrations being somehow revolutionary. As he has said:
“I suggest thinking of what it would be like to be the evil people in power. You look out your window and see a big sign. You chuckle inwardly, and then go back to plotting how you can profit from killing more people. Protests are not revolution. Holding signs and wearing T-shirts is not fighting. It’s masturbation, it’s whining, it’s cowardly; it doesn’t do anything.
“Signs are for armchair revolutionaries and weekend rebels. They can wave their sign, and although they know deep down that they haven’t done anything, at all, they can be high and mighty to their Yuppie friends and say, ‘I was there, man.’ During the week, they look down on their co-workers and think, ‘I’m actually trying to make a difference. I’m doing something, unlike the rest of you groveling wage-slaves.’
“Protests mattered when people were willing to pick up guns, or spears, or whatever the hell was close enough to them, to bludgeon the poor SOB who intended to take their life or liberty. Protests are also tactically inefficient, unless you intend to use mass chaos as a cover for another operation. A protest can be readily turned into a riot and the ease by which it can be has been proven by law enforcement agent provocateurs, time and time again. Then a ridiculous, futile, time-wasting crowd of thousands suddenly becomes their weapon; a tool for your oppression. They turn the protest into a riot, and that gives them more reason to clamp down; of course, the clamping down isn’t the problem, it’s the mindset. Authentic revolutionary action would mean a clamping down too, but in that case your men aren’t sign waving cowards and weekend revolutionaries. They know what’s coming, and they will respond with deadly force. So, there will be a clamping down on them, but they are prepared for that clamping down, because they are organized, because they’re disciplined, because they’re trained.
“When the mob transforms into a riot by the very people you intend to resist, they can only muster the courage to spray-paint buildings and throw bricks through windows. With the illusion of safety in numbers, they might even bruise a police officer, or take their aggression out on a fellow protester or passerby, as if that does anything.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
So, does protesting work? Not as it is practiced today, it doesn’t. It utterly fails to secure anyone’s Liberty. Worse yet, it is touted by the dissident opinion makers that if we don’t do it, then you and I are somehow “negligent” in resisting tyrants. What a crock of shit they are, attempting to make use feel guilty for disagreeing with their fake “irrational exuberance.” I say it’s about damn time we took back the moral high ground from these change agents in sheep’s clothing and demonstrate to them what true freedom really looks like by calling their bluff and offering alternatives to street protesting. Now might just be the time to spread the message of Liberty by teaching our own people what methodologically does not work by way of public ridicule, open scorn, and widespread contempt against those who seek to divert our energies from where they need to be allocated, if we are indeed going to be able to tackle the Establishment in any really effective way.