Occupy the 1%!

  8. Without some violence no change is possible

-- February 23 2012 --

Without some violence no change is possible 

Important changes in the past have been drenched in violence, most of it against the 99%.All activities for change have been two-fold, violent and non-violent. Non-violent leaders had more negotiating power because the ruling elite did not want to talk to violent leaders. But they often referred to the non-violent part of the struggle. Martin Luther King told Kennedy on a visit to the White House that the black masses were losing their patience with him - then the Civil Rights Acts went through. MLK, while following his own heartfelt path and despite his own strong philosophical differences with the violent part of the movement was never publicly critical of those within the Black Freedom Movement like Malcolm X who espoused the need for a more militant approach.

NV-people in Occupy are unrealistic. The two sides of the Movement attract different people, the non-violent part the middle-class that has more to lose, the others people who live in a more violent environment, closer to the periphery of society. It is an illusion to suppose that only non-violent actions can achieve important changes. The present mass-actions may put some pressure on political leaders, the 1% with the highest power are not pressured at all. They continue to live in their separated and privileged world and when the money is still streaming in they are not interested in what happens in the world of the 99% that is regulated by their stooges, the politicians.

The Occupy Movement is still young but it cannot sustain on mass-actions alone. It needs successes. The strength of the squatters movement were the daily successes that houses came available for people without houses. Squatted houses were often retained because of the militant and sometimes violent response of part of the Squatters Movement. When the houses that could be squatted became scarce the movement withered away though the need for houses was still great. In the whole process a certain amount of violence and militancy was essential for successes.

The peaceful marches of Occupy will attract some people but the militancy of e.g. the Oakland marches will have more impact on those parts of the 99% that are living in more violent environments. Ten thousand people walking peacefully in Washington make less impression than thousand people who resist the police or one rock thrown through the window of a 1%-er.  

Demonstrations are not sufficient. Actions are needed that force  members of the 1% to react on the pressure from below. The illusion that this will happen with friendly, decent and non-violent actions will soon have its influence on the continuing existence of the Movement. The efforts to oust militant protestors is killing. MLK never attacked openly other protesters. He understood the world better than people who say they are followers of his idea.   

Joost van Steenis (downwithelite@gmail.com)

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