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The end of demonstrations?
The 20th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker



Amsterdam, January 15 2002

Dear reader, 

The Pentagon has asked researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia to create an "odour bomb," a non-lethal weapon that would release a smell so awful that it would be universally offensive. The weapon could be used for crowd control.
In developing the odour bomb, about fifty Monell researchers focused on smells from rotting garbage, human faeces and burning hair. These kinds of emanations cause people to experience shortness of breath, a racing heart and nausea, not to mention the desire "to flee in disgust," in short the bomb incapacitate people while leaving them unhurt.

Are the employees of Monell researching smells because they are against demonstrations? No, only because they are paid money. I deplore that people only act because of money and not because of their own thoughts for example based on the idea they do not want to disturb human dignity. These people are not autonomous individuals, they are more mere objects that depend on others to exist. Money must not rule over human creativity.

But do I deplore that demonstrations will become obsolete when stench warfare is perfected?  Not really. Of course demonstrations can be inspiring to meet people with comparable ideas. A demonstration makes your views known to a broader public. But there is no pressure on leaders that took disputable decisions because the elite is only asked to behave in a more human way. Moreover the weapons of mass organisations as trade unions are mostly restricted to mass actions as demonstrations and strikes in which the individuality and autonomy of the activist is subjected to the ideas of leaders. A demonstrator loses her of his individuality in a big crowd. I prefer individual actions. This kind of actions will become the only possibility when mass demonstrations will become impossible because of new means of crowd control.

It is more effective and more human when individual citizens put direct pressure on individual leaders that take dubious decisions.
Practical examples as well as theoretical background of individualised actions can be found elsewhere on my site.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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21. Myths
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