“Protest doesn’t work” is the tiredest, wrongest cliché of leftist moaning sessions.
Pretty much every revolution or significant movement of 2011, including ones that literally toppled regimes and got people in The Center of World Capitalism to openly dislike capitalism, involved little more than huge mobs of people converging.
What did they do when they converged? Well, different things. A lot of political conversation. Some holding signs, some chanting. In some countries when the crowds were attacked, the very obvious option of fighting back became clear.
It’s true that ultimately we do need to dig deeper, to something that can physically stop the levers of production. I think that happens in the workplace.
It may seem utterly absurd that, people simply standing in one place is capable of dramatic historical changes. I’m not here to explain it. It’s like gravity. Who knows why gravity works? Just use it!
Right now I’m involved in a different sort of swarm tactic. It’s even less confrontational than a protest, if you can imagine that. But it’s still going to make a dent. It’s a campaign to influence the May 24th vote within Boy Scouts of America on ending the ban on gay scouts and adult helpers. The idea is that we have a national, mostly internet-based network, but with conference calls too. We are guaranteeing that no stone will go unturned, there is no unit of scouting where at least SOME scout or former scout hasn’t gone around and had one-on-one conversations with their friends and leaders, making a calm persuasive case for inclusion.
That simple action, when magnified from one person’s actions to a national campaign of saturation, is subtle but frightening. For the individuals involved on both sides, it feels like a possibly unpleasant but mostly friendly conversation.
For the organization that has every single one of its doorknobs jangled, it feels less like a friendly conversation, and more like a siege. We are outnumbered.
You may think that scouting is an inherently reactionary organization. Okay, that may be true, so why bother? Why, to SPREAD THE INFESTATION of course! Every cultural institution is a battleground, every social issue is one of the theaters of our low-intensity war, where you know that the left activists of today are the revolutionary army of tomorrow. Take every inch of ground we can, normalize what was once considered freakish, drive the fundamentalists back into their caves, get our previously dormant side together and energized and organized, force moderate conservatives into a psychological crisis as they attempt to internalize the new normal, put one more dent in society’s interconnected gridwork of oppressions and hierarchies. Social movements train people in coordination. Coordination, really, is the key. Give a bunch of people guns and that’s not an army. But if you’ve built a coordinated machine already, give it guns and it actually is an army of sorts.
Not that guns are remotely needed at this point. It seems that many elites simply cower when a lot of us show up and stand there.