Re: [sixties-l] Starhawk on Self-Defense

Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 15:14:46 EDT

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    As a first-and-second wave-member of the Thirties and Sixties and today,
    I want to endorse Starhawk's post whole-heartedly.
                                                    Bill Mandel

    radman wrote:
    > Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001
    > From: Starhawk <>
    > 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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