Will Occupy Wall Street Remain Non-Violent?

I hope so. To morph into a violent movement would be both ethically wrong and tactically stupid. But in the face of this:

(from here)

it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that, at some point, some of the OWS protestors are going to start fighting back. When faced with the prospect of torture–the use of pain to ensure compliance–people will do some pretty nutty things. It takes an incredible amount of courage to not resist beatings and torture, especially when you know it’s an absurd overreaction (like a bunch of UC Davis students were going to attack the police). After all, this isn’t the first time students have ever protested against tuition hikes.

What I fear is that, at some point, some activists will react violently, if justifiably so. Maybe a few people will decide to bring their own pepper spray and give the police a taste of their own medicine. Or maybe some students decide to burn the Chancellor out–let her know what they think of her. They will be frustrated that they did everything they were supposed to do–support the ‘right’ candidates, give Democrats working majorities, and so on–and nothing changed. When they engaged in one of the few avenues left, they received this:


And a fair number of progressives simultaneously accused them of not participating in a political system that has failed them–one which reflects the professional politicians’ and operatives’ interests and not theirs. That could very well lead to support for the strategy Ian Welsh describes:

Now, what can the people do when the elites won’t allow direct referendums, and when there are elections you can only vote for parties which are all in favor of austerity?

Make them fear you. Start as follows, which is what was done in Argentina: find their cars, those nice expensive cars, and trash them. Every time you see someone in a suit coming from the airport, surround the car and slash the tires.

And if you’re going to riot, don’t do it in your own neighbourhoods. Go to the parliament buildings, the bank HEADQUARTERS or to the neighbourhoods in which the rich live, and riot there.

If you insist on some form of pure nonviolence (which the European left and right don’t) then you must chain and twist tie yourselves around important areas. Go to the headquarters and shut them down by tying yourself up to all the entrances. Twist ties aren’t just the cop’s friends, they are yours. Love them and learn how to use them.

The elites will only respond when they feel your pain. And they will only feel it if you make them feel it.

This is exactly what the one percent want (it doesn’t seem to have worked in Greece, and hasn’t stopped fascists from joining the government). They want protestors to fit their interahamwe-esque narrative. Having said that, if you don’t understand why someone would want to react violently, why they might be angry or even hate, then you’re not getting it. These are reasonable and acceptable emotions in the face of a political system that is utterly unresponsive.

The sad thing is that, if the powers that be were just a little less greedy, a little more generous, this wouldn’t have even been a possibility.

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2 Responses to Will Occupy Wall Street Remain Non-Violent?

  1. Pingback: Violence for violence « Decrepit Old Fool

  2. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    I hope they can maintain the nonviolence. The public may sympathize with their victimhood; this is not the same as supporting their cause. Just look at the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict for a multitude of examples. One side victimizes the other; the victim receives sympathy. As soon as they exact revenge, they lose it.

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