Posts tagged ‘protest’

2 October, 2011

198 Methods of Nonviolent Action from Gene Sharp

protestors outside a KFC restaurant in Royal O...

Image via Wikipedia

This list was taken from Sharp’s work The Methods of Nonviolent Action, and describes instances where each of these methods achieved the goals that protesters set out to achieve.

This list was originally written in 1973, and could not have forseen the advances in technology that led to Facebook-revolutions and Twitter-revolutions, television, mobile phones with cameras and internet, and satellites.

The fact this list is almost 40 years old does not invalid it, History is greatest teacher, and if something has worked in the past, it could work again.

Protesters should always use as many methods and tactics as needed to accomplish their goals, not just stop at one.

If you believe in something, it is worth fighting for.

Get creative, when one thing doesn’t work, use another, and another.

Sharp’s 198 Methods are a starting point, not a complete list.

Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak… Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.
César Chávez

(from Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Boston 1973)
via Peace Magazine

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION

FORMAL STATEMENTS

1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public declarations
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions

COMMUNICATIONS WITH A WIDER AUDIENCE

7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

GROUP REPRESENTATIONS

13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections

SYMBOLIC PUBLIC ACTS

18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures

PRESSURES ON INDIVIDUALS

31. “Haunting” officials
32. Taunting officials
33. Fraternization
34. Vigils

Nonviolence is fine as long as it works.
Malcolm X

DRAMA AND MUSIC

35. Humourous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
37. Singing

PROCESSIONS

38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades

HONOURING THE DEAD

43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places

Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
Mohandas Gandhi

PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES

47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
50. Teach-ins

WITHDRAWAL AND RENUNCIATION

51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honours
54. Turning one’s back

THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION
OSTRACISM OF PERSONS

55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
58. Excommunication
59. Interdict

NONCOOPERATION WITH SOCIAL EVENTS, CUSTOMS, AND INSTITUTIONS

60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions

WITHDRAWAL FROM THE SOCIAL SYSTEM

65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. “Flight” of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

That’s all nonviolence is – organized love.
Joan Baez

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS
ACTION BY CONSUMERS

71. Consumers’ boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers’ boycott
77. International consumers’ boycott

ACTION BY WORKERS AND PRODUCERS

78. Workers’ boycott
79. Producers’ boycott

ACTION BY MIDDLEMEN

80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott

ACTION BY OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

81. Traders’ boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants’ “general strike”

ACTION BY HOLDERS OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES

86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government’s money

ACTION BY GOVERNMENTS

92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers’ embargo
95. International buyers’ embargo
96. International trade embargo

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOOPERATION: THE STRIKE h4. SYMBOLIC STRIKES

97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

AGRICULTURAL STRIKES

99. Peasant strike
100. Farm workers’ strike

STRIKES BY SPECIAL GROUPS

101. Refusal of impressed labour
102. Prisoners’ strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike

ORDINARY INDUSTRIAL STRIKES

105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathy strike

RESTRICTED STRIKES

108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike

MULTI-INDUSTRY STRIKES

116. Generalised strike
117. General strike

COMBINATION OF STRIKES AND ECONOMIC CLOSURES

118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown

THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION
REJECTION OF AUTHORITY

120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

CITIZENS’ NONCOOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT

123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from governmental educational institutions
128. Boycott of government-supported institutions
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

CITIZENS’ ALTERNATIVES TO OBEDIENCE

133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
138. Sitdown
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws

ACTION BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL

142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny

DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTAL ACTION

149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL ACTION

151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organisations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organisations

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION

PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTION

158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
– 1. Fast of moral pressure
– 2. Hunger strike
– 3. Satyagrahic fast
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment

PHYSICAL INTERVENTION

162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation

SOCIAL INTERVENTION

174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in
178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system

ECONOMIC INTERVENTION

181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions

POLITICAL INTERVENTION

193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

27 September, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: a vegan perspective

To those who are fighting for justice, for anyone or any living being – I’ll stand with you.

And to those who think that I, have no right to comment on their fight and that vegans are irrelevant….

“Capitalism? Slavery? Genocide? Sitcoms? Guns? War? Pollution? Addiction? NAFTA? Thigh-Master? This is your fucking white-history, my “friend.”
So why don’t we start making a history worth being proud of and start fighting the real fucking enemy: the white male capitalist supremacist.”
–Propagandhi–

Once upon a time, in an anti-capitalist forum, far far away….
There was a recent discussion on an anti-capitalist forum, sparked by a digitally-altered picture of a burning Wall Street©$ office building with posters giving their opinions.

Some said burning the rich was the ultimate expression of anti-capitalism.

A couple of anti-capitalist vegans commented but these vegans were quickly, shunted off to one side, mocked as a niche issue, for the dilettantes and PeTA-wannabes and eating-disorder girls, meanwhile leave the heavy political issues to hard-core men-folk, Praise Marx and all that.

Capitalism:

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim:

The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”
Bertrand Russell
(philosopher)

A lot of insults and name-calling ensued. Until…. gradually the vegans began making their opinions known on the subject.

The opinion of these vegans was this:

Not only is Veganism as expression of anti-capitalist ideas, it is perhaps the most effective of all anti-capitalist direct actions.

It is a complete rejection of the exploitation and ownership of all living beings, not just the human ones.
So, why hold Capitalism responsible?
The capitalist business ethic is based on one of exploitation – the earth, animals and humans. How much you can dig up, chop down, saturate with poison, slaughter – it’s all good, as long as you are making a profit.

How much pollution you create is irrelevant, fill those oceans and lakes with plastic, chemicals, oil, toxin – but make a profit.

Chop down all the trees and plow the fields – but make a profit.

Want to frack prime food-producing land and contaminate the drinking water of communities? sure go ahead – but make a profit.

Blow the tops of mountains, and dig huge strip mines? why not – but make a profit.

Want to build a private toll-road where a childrens playground / rainforest / Indigenous community is – sure, says governments – not only will we give you the land, but will you pay you taxpayers money if you don’t make enough profit!

Your life has NO VALUE other than that of a consumer – don’t believe me? Ask Ford

In 1977 the Ford car, the PINTO, had a design flaw which meant gas/petrol tanks were more likely to explode if hit in collisions. The cost of repairing this flaw was $11. Ford made the decision that it would be cheaper to let people die and fight off any lawsuits than correct the problem.

Capitalism does not care about feeding the starving, healing the sick, educating the children, providing care to the elderly, ensuring a safe working environment for the working classes, providing a safe, clean, non-deadly environment for communities – NO, the only goal of capitalism is to make money.

And if I was an owner, banker, investor, shareholder, I would be annoyed if the company did anything other make money, by any means necessary, regardless of social cost.

Capitalism has made all living things on the planet, and the planet itself fair game. Animals are property, the air is property, the water that falls from the sky is property (Bolivia has privatised the rain, the water that falls on your own property does not belong to you).

Monsanto is gaining an increasing share in the seed market. You don’t own the food you grow on your property. Want to save some seeds to plant future gardens? Nope, that is a crime.

Capitalism even own the genes in your body – Myriad Genetics owns your genes and mine.

(Who did they buy my genes from? How did anyone think they had the rights to sell your genes? What are they doing with the ownership of our genes?)

Think that is absurd, that a private company that you’ve probably never heard of owns your body parts?

Just ask a cow or a chicken.

Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Ok, capitalism is evil, but that’s got nothing to do with VEGANS, has it?
Once you start talking about crashing the system, bringing down the banksters and gangsters of Wall Street, breaking the chains slave-wages or no wages while mega-corporations take their tax payer bail outs and take their factories offshore, the anti-capitalists are all for it.

They may even shout slogans like tax the rich, burn the rich or f-ck the system.

Yah, I’m down for that (say the VEGANS)
– how about we end the enslavement of 10s of millions of living beings who are sold like cattle, made to work non-stop producing more and more, without decent working conditions, for no pay, and when they are no longer useful, murdered.

Hell Yes! (say the rebels)

Then let’s all GO VEGAN!

. . .

Say what?

And, it is at this point that the Leninist-Trotsky-Marxists chime in – Now, you’re taking it too far, don’t you care about the exploitation of people? go hug a tree and weave some baskets in your hemp clothing, while us real anti-capitalists overthrow the system

Audi automobile with the license plate

Image via Wikipedia

Then they consume animal products…… contributing $Money to the exact same system they claim to want to over throw.

The vegans get side-lined, their issues are deemed irrelevant, when really, vegans should be seen as an ally of those fighting for justice, fairness and equal rights.

As can often happen, when fighting to achieve social change, those who fight off the dominate group, then turn around and apply that dominance against others – feminists who ignored issues of race (see the writings of Audre Lorde or bell hooks – Feminist Class Struggle, or anti-war movements resulted in men doing the thinking and women making the coffee and cakes (see the writings of Robin Morgan), or marriage equality activists who are dreadful racists (a certain Australian celebrity supports gays marriage but also supports racism).

Examples of this can be seen among anti-capitalist, who themselves enslave animals or pay others do so on their behalf. Hopefully this attitude is dying out.

To me, begin vegan is about ending the commodification of animals. It is about the end of a process which has seen the reproductive systems of cows and chickens morphed into a factory farm, where the more cruel you are the higher your profits.  It is about ending the enslavement, ownership, and exploitation of those who are just a little bit different from us.

This extract from a Mother Jones article shows how the business model of factory farming impacts on more than just the lives and deaths of animals.

How the Meat Industry Turned Abuse into a Business Model

Abuse of animals is routine. Entire ecosystems get trashed, as is the case of the Chesapeake Bay—once one of the globe’s most productive fisheries, brought to near-ruin by runoff from a stunning concentration of factory chicken farms. Family farmers are literally turned into serfs as they scale up to meet the industry’s demands. And we all face the menace of the antibiotic-resistant pathogens now brewing up on animal factory farms, which now consume 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States (both to make livestock grow faster and keep them alive in cramped, filthy conditions).

Meanwhile, the industry can be expected to vigorously fight any attempt to curtail its abusive practices. Market power extends to the political sphere—the meat lobby is one of those powerful D.C. players that—like oil and banking—has the cash to maintain friendships on both sides of the political aisle.

And to think, some people say vegans don’t care about people!

If you consume any animal products, you have in effect, paid someone to kill on your behalf.

An animal is not a thing to be owned, murdered, enslaved, and yet, every day, millions and millions of animals are murdered and enslaved….. also by those who claim to be anti-capitalist.

They want to tear down the corporations that enslave people, yet own other beings, and at no point see a disconnect between the two. In fact, when this disconnect is pointed out to them, they deny it even more emphatically.

Some people speak lovely, angry words of revolution, of overthrowing the system, ending capitalism, no more ownership, but shove animal products into that same mouth, without a pause to consider their inconsistency, between what they say and what they do.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How non-conformists are these anti-globalism activists, as they blog using their Apple ipads™®©$, drinking Starbucks™®©$ Mocha Frappuccino™®©$, wearing their Nike™®©$ and Adidas™®©$, and eating their McDonalds BigMac™®©$

If you think that you’re an anti-capitalist rebel, but eat animal products, you are enslaving animals. Yeh, way to be a rebel.

You think you are rejecting over-consumption while you consume the carcasses of a once-living, breathing animal whose entire life has been abject slavery and misery.

To those occupying Wall Street, I support you.

The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor.
John Kenneth Galbraith 

So what does the Occupation of Wall Street hope to achieve

Although the website https://occupywallst.org has issued a list of demands – a constitution  if you will, many of these demands are state issues or federal issues that probably won’t be achieved by the occupation.

However, if it provides an outlet for the anger people are feeling about the inequities in a society where 1% of the population own more wealth than the other 99%. Then who does it hurt.

The fact that this occupation has received very little coverage from mainstream media, is an example of what these protesters are up against. The media themselves being a corporation who benefit from an apathetic population whose only function is consumption.

And who knows, this might be an outlet needed to avoid London style riots.

Or, it might just raise awareness that people are not alone, they do have the power, and it might be start of a larger movement.

If you have something you would like to add, or if you disagree, leave a comment or find me on twitter @redglitterx

21 November, 2010

Injustice is always injustice

Today, I am going to take a little detour from Animal Rights Activism, and talk about Westboro Baptist Church, and the creative use of non-violent civil disobedience used by some to protect the rights of those targeted by WBC.

Oppression of others is what injustice looks like.

And it does not matter whether it is specism, sexism, agism, classism, racism, these are based on someone making judgments based on what group someone belongs to and deciding their membership of that group makes them “less than”.

Once a group has been decided they are “less than” everyone else, it is easy to remove their rights, because somehow they deserve them.

Injustice is always injustice.

Westboro Baptist Church display no christian values that Jesus would recognise. They spread hate, pure and simple hate.

For a great background on Westboro : this post Luna Coyote87 Presents: “Reason You Suck Post”: Westboro Baptist Church, describes some of the hatred they disseminate.

They picket and protest against the funerals of a whole range of people, that is hard to keep track of just who it is they hate every day.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Elie Wiesel

But the fight-back has begun. Oklahoma vs. Westboro Baptist Church
Recently in Oklahoma, the Westboro minivan arrived to picket the funeral of f Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey, the people of McAlester, OK decided they had had enough.

The Westboro protestors they faced off with a massive crowd of jeering and taunting counter-protesters, estimated by the police chief, to be about 1000 people, who only drowned out the Westboro Travelling Road Show of Hatred with jeers and tauts, but also with raucous chants of “USA, USA” (Westboro protesters come up flat)

When they returned to their van, they found there tyres had been slashed – and no one in town would repair them.

Bravo, McAlester.

While, USAmericans will say, they are entitled to their rights of free speech and protest. The families of these deceased military men and women, who die protecting that right, are entitled to bury their loved one in peace.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Bishop Desmond Tutu

When members of the Gary Francione’s flock talk about “direct action” the example they use 99 times out of 100 is burning down a building. They say that civil disobedience is neither vegan or animal rights.

However, as these examples from Oklahoma show, civil action can be creative and doesn’t always involve arson.

None are free, until all are free.




(I would imagine living with that kind of hatred against almost everyone day-in and day-out must have some kind of physical effect on the health of these people, carrying around that much anger against the world I would think is really unhealthy.)

from the Liberation archives

1 October, 2010

31 days of Animal Rights Activism

You are either an activist or an inactivist.
~ The Cove (2009) Documentary about Japan’s secret slaughter of dolphins

In solidarity with Russian protesters and in honour of Strategy 31 activists, I will be participating in the local version – Activism 31.

This just means, every day for the month of October, I will joining others in my area participating in actions that supports their causes. Not every action will be my causes, but I will join with others to support them, for social justice and human rights, not just animal rights, and in return they have committed to support me.

By supporting each other, we can be stronger, grow our network, weave the web of activism amongst local communities, we can all get stronger.

Strategy 31 is a growing movement in Russia, and now spreading to other world cities – London, New York, Toronto and Tel Aviv. It is a series of protests to support the Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly.

The protesters have attracted many Russians who have never before dared speak out against their government, showing a bravery of defiance of their government that some activists in western countries are yet to emulate.

One act of civil disobedience among protesters is to write “31” on the palm of their hand while attending protests, in defiance of the government crackdown on support of Strategy 31.

Beginning on 31 July 2009, and held on the 31st of every month with 31 days, protesters have gather in Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow and is supported by a number of human rights organisations.

Every one of the Stategy-31 actions since it commenced has been refused permission by the authorities on the grounds that other activities were planned to take place… These “counter-actions” included the “Choose Health, Be Like Us!” festival (July 31, 2009), a youth sports festival (August 31, 2009), the “Division” military-sports festivity (October 31, 2009), an action of the pro-Kremlin “Young Russia” movement (December 31, 2009), and the “Winter Amusements” festivity (January 31, 2010). Each of the Strategy-31 actions was dispersed by regular and riot police and accompanied by large-scale detentions of participants and passers-by.
… The strategy 31 action on 31 May 2010… was dispersed with “exceptional cruelty”, with over 100 arrests.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy-31

This “exceptional cruelty” included hitting an 82 year old woman, Lyudmila Alexeeva on the head shouting “Still alive, you old bitch?” at the 31 March protests.

So, If anyone has any actions they want participants for, if its local I will hold a sign and hand out leaflets, if it on the other side of the world, I will sign your petition and email politicians.


For more about Strategy 31: What is Strategy 31? by Maryana Torocheshnikova

17 September, 2010

Vegan question of the day….

The question: “why do online vegans spend so much time attacking each other?”

Quite often, I see other vegans saying things like “if someone supports meatless monday, they are suggesting it is ok to eat meat other days”… or “you say don’t eat meat, but what about dairy and eggs?” or something I see a lot more of lately …

“Why is Lady Gaga in her meat dress the centre of outrage, but Cher in her leather gets barely a mention?”

this leads to people blogging at each other, “why do people protest against fur, but when was the last time you saw a protest against leather or wool?”

My response to that is, someone is out there, organising the protests, arranging police permits, dealing with government officials, doing the publicity.

If people don’t like the fur protests, then organise your own leather protest or wool protest.

The have appointed themselves the Judge, Jury and Execution in deciding what is appropriate for other vegans to do. As long as someone is vegan, what business is it of anyone else how they fight for a vegan world.

It is one thing to criticise others, it is another to get out there and do something. And, when there are these people who say ridiculous things to each other like:

The “professional” animal activists are too afraid to say the word vegan.

When there is hyper-surveillance of what other vegans and animal rights activists are doing, they aren’t paying attention to what the animal abusers and exploiters are doing.

People are too scared to say or do anything, because they know the Vegan Big Brother is watching

And Vegan Big Brother is waiting for them to say something they don’t agree with, and then they will correct them.

This Civil War within the online vegan community is become more intense and more vicious by the day.

But, I will keep my head down in the online vegan community, not say anything to attract attention, and just keep doing my thing to talk about veganism, that is all I can do.


This post is not aimed at any particular person or organisation.—————————————————————————————————————

Articles copyright 2010 ‘Vegan Animal Liberation Alliance’. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Written by RedGlitter of VALA https://redglitterx.wordpress.com/


Feedback welcome.

13 September, 2010

Liberation, Peace and Justice


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Liberation, Peace, and Social Justice

This is a video clip I made (not just uploaded), against a background of John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance”, with quotes, clips, images from the past century. Ranging from women fighting for the vote, to the Gaza freedom flotilla of 2010. Focusing on civil rights and liberation movements, including John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Gloria Steinem, Pearl Bailey and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Social justice is something people must stand up for. The lessons through history are that people who stand up for their rights and the rights of others get them.

Northern Ireland, feminism, Palestine, Black Panthers, Nelson Mandela, Tienanmen Square, Suffragettes, Australian Aboriginal sovereignty, socialism, peace, justice, fighting hunger, Cesar Chavez, a montage of images and quotes to inspire Liberation of people and animals…

25 August, 2010

Online Activism for Social Change

Barbara Mikkelson “the desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair.”

While we are currently running real world campaigns to spread the vegan message, but also see the importance of being online. This piece is taking a look at the opinions regarding online activism, and does it help or hold back activism.

Online activism, Facebook activism, fakebook activism, faketivism, slacktivism, passivism, copy&paste activism, social media activism. People are still trying to settle on a name for it, however, regardless of the name, it is all variations on the same thing – Using online social networks and websites as a form of activism and organisation.

Does this work?

For some, this activism, involves nothing more active than “clicking” share or ‘like’ on social networks. If might make people feel good, and generate a lot of sharing, although whether this translates into making a difference is yet to be seen.

One of the earliest descriptors of this concept is from early 2001

e-mail a petition [with] the words, “Forward this to everyone you know.” …They call it “slacker activism,” or “slacktivism” (the term preferred by slacker typists). It’s not that these e-mails don’t intend to do good, the experts say. It’s that they go about it in a way that can too easily become utterly meaningless.
—Month Phan, “On the Net, “slacktivism’,” Newsday, February 27, 2001

People end up signing so many petitions or signing up to websites or joining facebook groups that important causes get lost in the clutter.

When it comes to animal abuse, or environmental disaster, you might feel good, or less guilty, by clicking and sharing, although do you achieve anything.

Facebook is the largest social network in the world, if it was a country, it would be the worlds fourth largest in terms of population, is one of the main tools activists can use. This can in some instances be toxic for activism. When people care more about collecting friends and joining groups than activism. Facebook has a limit of 5000 friends, with groups included in that count. Some people meet that target, then set up Twin accounts and set out to collect another 5000.

Can anyone really have 5000 friends? Are these friends, really? or just groupies or strangers you allow into your life. Or does these ease with which people can do the point-and-click thing hide people’s true commitment to a cause or issue. Joining a facebook group is not activism. It is simply joining a facebook group, you must do something when you are there – interact, share ideas, meet others, learn about campaigns, encourage others to take action.

This is demonstrated when you hold an event, a real world event in one part of the world, and you see people who live on the opposite side of the world clicking attend, and you know they cannot possibly be attending. What does it benefit event organisers to see hundreds of people say they will attend, but when it comes to walking out the front door, attendees are in single figures. These false numbers artificially inflate the numbers of people interested in a cause. This actually can do activism a disservice.

Rather than focusing on people who want to make a difference and can make a difference, activists are chasing numbers; members in the groups, numbers of clicks on a link, number of retweets, with no real way to measure how this translates into deep interest and commitment or people who are just clicking on and clicking through.

In an age when everything can be counted, from site visits and followers, do we end up chasing these numbers rather instead of fighting for our causes.

When we sign online petitions, what does it show of our commitment level when it only takes a couple of seconds to sign and share. Would that really influence decision makers to change their minds?

However, Online activism is Only about numbers. Effective campaigns are designed to match this criteria, designed to harness the power of number, sheer overwhelming the target of activism with people power and volume.

Campaigns that don’t engage with the public fail to get shared. With so many new camaigns and issues every day, only the successful survive. This is the benefit of having a good network in place. And networking with activists worldwide (or at least those parts of the world online) is one of the benefits of organising online rather than the real world. Or parallel with the real world.

If someone can’t make an impact online, when they are asking so little from activists, then how will they make an impact in the real world. It can be good indicator of how well the ideas are translating to the wider community, and if more work is required.

If all someone can do is sign a couple of online petitions or email their local parliamentary person, then giving that person a space is a good outcome. Thousands of people around the world, all doing small things will add up. Particularly (and this is a reason, I have yet to see mentioned in articles of the benefits of online activism), if the activists are busy people with crowded lives who are active online, quite often so are the targets!

When people arrange their lives online – get their news online, shop online, catch up with friends online, online can have an influence. If someone reads an email about reasons to boycott a company for abusive practices then clicks for their daily dose of retail therapy, they may be influenced by the email they have just read when it comes down to buying product A or product B.

Other benefits include the “text ACTIVISM to 54321” emails and tweets which go around the world, passed on from user to user, following disasters such as floods and earthquakes. Linked to long established charities with good reputations, people know their money can go directly to those working to make a difference. Responses are immediate, and people receiving aid, probably don’t care if someone phoned it in or went to the bank and got cash and donated that way.

As Use your Cellphone to Help Pakistan Flood Relief shows, you can still be an activist, from your office cubicle, or bedroom, or train. Or Stephen Colbert’s “Retweet Colbert for the Gulf!” (middle of page), Comedy Central the network that hosts Colbert’s show, would donate $1 per retweet of a specific tweet (up to a certain amount).

The online game, Free Rice, allows users to click on multiple choice answers to word definitions, identify famous art, chemistry symbols, identify countries on a map or capitals, maths or learn a language quiz. Sponsors will donate rice for correct answers. And users can improve their vocabulary, maths, chemistry or other skills.

Any real world changes this style of online activism has, is due to the organisers making it easier for people to click-for-a-difference. They design the websites, find the sponsors, do the research, write the well worded petitions. They do the work so that it is easy for others to participate.

As online political groups such as GetUp! and MoveOn show, online campaigns can be used to get people interested in a cause, to act as a gateway into finding out more about the issue, and moving to real world activism.

However, in all of this, one thing online activists should not forget, online social networks are a tool. They are not the battle, if your goal is to get a staggeringly large number of followers or friends, how does that translate into activism. It is just one tool of many, another weapon in the arsenal of fighting for social change.

Online activism can promote, disseminate, propagate, simulate, imitate or distract, but not always replace real world activism.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” ~ Muhammad Ali


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