Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001
From: Starhawk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Okay, so now theyre actually shooting people with real bullets. In Sweden,
no less! I mean, we expect that kind of thing in the third world, but
Sweden is where you used to go when you couldnt stomach the Vietnam war any
more and deserted and they would take you in.
So what does this mean? Im reading emails about how we have to fundraise
for bulletproof vests for activists, or how noble it is to be willing to
die on the streets. Dying on the barricades is one of those things that
sounds a whole lot more romantic then it actually is in practice^if only
because you only get to do it once, whereas living as an activist for a
long, long time, learning from experience, growing, changing, and keeping at
it has the potential for causing the powers that be a whole lot more
The truth is, theres no vest, no armor, no plexiglass shield, thats going
to protect you if they start shooting live ammunition at a demonstration.
(On the other hand, your chances of dying are still higher in evening
But there is a way to protect yourself from receiving a bullet in the heart
at the next action^and it has nothing to do with what you wear on the
street. Its about mobilizing your political support before the action ever
happens^so that the political cost of such a response becomes unacceptable
to the authorities.
How do we do that in a world of corporate controlled media? Talk to people!
Talk to people who arent already in the movement! Find the ones who are
sympathetic, even vaguely, and ask them to support you.
Theres a theory of social movements that says that the first ones involved,
the ones who are out there on the barricades, tend to be risk takers and
more generally radical types. Were what we could call the first wave. But
to be successful, a movement needs a second wave, of people who are
sympathetic or inclined to be, but not actually active, who might be more
cautious or more limited in their involvement. The job of the first wave is
to mobilize the second wave. Then the second wave can mobilize the third
wave of general public opinion.
What that means is that you with the dreadlocks, piercings, tattoos, or
simply the mindset so radical you never make a right turn in traffic dont
have to go out and convince the Young Republicans of the rightness of our
cause, you simply have to convince those who dont really know about the IMF
but are wondering why with their B.A. and their $50,000 worth of college
debts the only job they can get is making lattes at Starbucks. Or the Union
worker who sees all the jobs going south, or the inner-city mother who can
no longer get welfare and cant find a decent school for her kids. Or the
old sixties radical who is now working eighty hour weeks trying to send
their kids through the same colleges they once tried to burn down. And you
dont have to convince them to die on the barricades (which frankly for most
people takes a lot of convincing!) You just have to convince them to do
something^write a letter of support, call or write their Congresspeople,
raise some money to support the action, somehow put themselves on record as
being in support of what we do. So that the authorities sense the pressure
of that incipient tsunami should they go too far in their repression.
Who do you ask? Your family, assuming youre on speaking terms. The people
you come into contact with at work or school. Your old friend youve know
since you were eleven. Your neighbor that had the Nader/LaDuke sign in her
window last November. You might even get real bold and go door to door in
the area where youre going to have the action. "Hello, Im your friendly
neighborhood anarchist, and I want to let you know why were going to be
protesting here next month."
Instead of fundraising for bullet proof vests, fundraise for beautiful flags
people can hang out their windows, so on the morning of the action the whole
city is full of colorful banners of support. Ask your supporters to write
letters to the editor, to your local officials, to police officials and
elected representatives before the action that affirm your right to protest
and express your position on the issue. Put together an email list of your
personal support team and send them your daily dispatches from the
action^and encourage them to forward them on to others. Have one key
supporter who will notify them should you be injured or arrested, and get
them calling, writing, emailing, faxing, and turning up at the jail with hot
soup for the vigil.
Yeah, this is less glamorous than dying in the streets. But its the
background work that makes the risks we take on the streets count. Without
it, even the ultimate martyrdom which some of us may be called to offer will
not be effective^and what could be sadder than that?
I have no doubt that every single one of us in this movement is more
valuable alive than dead. Ive put my body and my freedom on the line many,
many times and will continue to do so, no matter what the risks. But I
dont want to be a martyr, I want to win! And be alive to enjoy the
incredible world were going to create. To do that, we have to build the
broader movement. Its our best self defense, and our vital political
strategy. Our lives depend on it.
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