Posts tagged Direct action

Re: huffpost on the naacp’s report on the tea party

Crispy: “the very fact that a group would have ‘diffuse, locally based structures’ is extremely troubling to the naacp. i suppose now they will be attacking … the civil rights movement of the 1960s, for being too local and diffuse.”

Well, hell, why not? That basically was their criticism of the civil rights movement of the 1960s back during the 1960s — when the NAACP was constantly ragging on sit-in groups and then SNCC for not having “structure” (meaning unitary centralized chain of command) and for being too locally-driven, which supposedly led to adventurism and getting local movements into all kinds of messes that NAACP chapters and the Legal Defense Fund would then have to clean up after. (Hence, e.g., the recriminations over the fizzle-out in Albany, efforts to shut SNCC reps out of civil rights “unified leadership” summits and fundraising events, etc.) To abandon this proud tradition of pissing and moaning about diffuse, locally based movements, and those factions of the civil rights movement of the 1960s that actually got some shit done here and there, would mean abandoning all kinds of time-honored NAACP traditions. (Of course I refer here to the NAACP central command. NAACP local chapters did all kinds of courageous work alongside the direct-action movement, and generally didn’t waste time wagging fingers at SNCC’s lack of “structure.”)

Re: Rand Paul….won’t approve of lunch counters being desegregated. Here’s his appearance on Rachel Maddow, which includes his Lexington Courier interview where he says it

Rand Paul is a liar and a politician. (But I repeat myself.) However, in the interest of fairness, I watched that interview, and he didn’t say that he was against “lunch counters being desegregated.” What he said is that he’s against the use of federal antidiscrimination laws to desegregate lunch counters.

The second position implies the first only if there’s no other way to desegregate lunch counters except for getting a federal law so you can go hire a lawyer and file a Title II lawsuit against the department store in federal court. But of course there are other ways besides that kind of bureaucratic bullshit. Nothing that Rand Paul said about Title II or Title VII would rule out the use of grassroots organization and nonviolent direct action, of exactly the sort that was already being used effectively to dismantle Jim Crow in towns throughout the South, when the a bunch of grandstanding white Democrats decided to rush in and take all the credit.

Re: police brutality against women


I think the sad fact is that it’s never going to come up in the Presidential campaign, or in any other electoral campaign, because there’s no real disagreement within the ruling class over the issue of police brutality; both of them believe that the hirelings of the (white, male) State should be given every possible benefit of the doubt, and some impossible benefits of the doubt besides, in their use of violence to “control the situation” in dealing with people who are “suspect” in the eyes of the (white, male) State. Meanwhile their victims, especially people of color, “belligerent” women, etc., should be automatically presumed to be either liars or crazy if they complain about their treatment at the hands of police. Nearly all of the leadership in both of the major parties believe in this because it’s in their interest to believe it; they both want control of the State apparatus, and when they have that apparatus in their hands, they want it to be an effective weapon, which requires a brutal and unchecked police force. Besides which, anyone who exhibited enough humanity to see through the politics, and dared to suggest anything different would be promptly crucified by the Fraternal Order of Police and the howling sado-fascist bully brigade that gets their back in every major media outlet. The only real constituency for reform on this issue are a handful of radical political activists who have made this a pet issue, and a vast run of ordinary people who have been themselves threatened or hurt by police violence–and neither of these groups have or are likely to have any real power in partisan politicking anytime soon. And since there is no real difference within the ruling class on the issue, there’s no real wedge for driving it into the stage-managed political debate.

It’s for precisely this reason that I think any attempt at healing the survivors and defending ourselves from police violence has to come through fundamentally different means–means which disrupt, or simply bypass, that stage-managed political debate in favor of much more direct action. For example, supporting your neighborhood CopWatch.

Denying the undeniable

It is not as if this has never been tried before.

When the First Intifada broke out, the PLO was in exile in Tunis, and in the absence of their militaristic posturing, the small-scale, freestanding popular committees that coordinated most of the anti-Occupation activism spent the first few years of the Intifada focusing overwhelmingly on nonviolent forms of resistance, among them burning identification cards, opening schools in defiance of military curfews, boycotts, general strikes, and refusal to pay taxes. The response from the IDF was relentless and punitive, with many of the committee leaders thrown in prison on sentences of up to ten years, and their money, land, and property confiscated. (Not surprisingly, the attacks on tax resisters, such as the committees based out of Beit Sahour, were especially harsh.) And, at the end of it all, here we are.

I think that the virtues of nonviolent resistance are very often underestimated or flatly ignored, while the effectiveness of violent resistance is all too often overestimated, and its terrible costs either ignored or, worse, romanticized. I think that more focus on nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action would probably make a worthwhile contribution to the Palestinian freedom struggle. But we should certainly remember that these strategies have already been used in the past, on a mass scale, and they didn’t make victory actual, let alone undeniable, then. We should not not pretend that nonviolent strategies would make even moderate success undeniable now, either.