Sage Against The Machine

How effective are protests?

I just came across this quote:

The problem I experience is that individual people are good but organizations become soulless. Almost the instant they are created they come alive as a unfeeling, compassionless robot. “I. Must. Do. What’s. Best. For. The. Organization.”

I see this so clearly in churches and nonprofits. The organization is more important than doing what’s right for the people the organization was sworn to protect.

And that goes right up the ladder until we get to the granddaddy of them all, the organization called The United States of America.

The people disappear.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died this year from coronavirus. And we are still throwing temper tantrums about wearing masks.

Let me ask you this: imagine you are going to the hospital to see your 90 year old dying grammy. She has Covid. Before you go in the nurse tells you that you have to put on special clothes, a mask, a face shield, gloves and coverings for your shoes. Would you have any problem doing it?

Now, a doctor is asking you to put on a mask when you walk into a grocery store to protect someone else’s grammy. Would you have any problem doing it?

I don’t need to run a giant study to tell you that WAY more people have a problem with the second scenario than the first.

Our individual morality is wildly different than our collective morality.

In my life I have seen countless school shootings, I have experienced a 100 year pandemic and I watch police just continue to kill people in the most cowardly ways.

Nothing changes.

All of this is to say: I don’t think protests are working.

I also don’t believe violence is effective.

My theory is that you have to target one person. One person of power. I think that might scare the powerful. I’m not talking violent targeting. That isn’t necessary. All you have to do is ruin them. Strip them of their power. Ruin their reputation. For many of these people that’s a fate worse than death.

But there is a second part of this process that is critical. You MUST have a very clearly defined request.

“I will stop if you give me X.”

And then you must stop.

I believe you can come up with another target and another demand later. But you must be true to your word. Otherwise working with you is pointless.

At any rate, that’s my working theory of nonviolent direct action.

If you have ideas I’d love to know what you think.