[sixties-l] Starhawk on Self-Defense

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 13:12:00 EDT

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        Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001
        From: Starhawk <stella@mcn.org>
    Subject: Self-Defense

    Self Defense

    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
    trouble.

    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
    traffic.)

    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.

    Starhawk



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