Sunday, November 19, 2006

Protest strategy.

Just 3 points on protest strategy

Who chooses the location?

One of the keys to winning your battle/protest is who gets to choose where the battle is fought, derrick jenson covers this well in endgame but i will attempt to summarise. If the state gets to choose the location eg around a conference and gets to put barriers, police etc around the location where conflict is to take place then we are immediatly at a huge disadvantage. If we turn up to this location and attempt to fight them here then we are playing into their hands and will have to have local superiority or better tactics to beat them. An example of this is gleneagles G8 summit, a location surrounded by hills, rivers and open country was chosen far from areas of dense concentration. Fences and high troop concentrations prevented activists from getting near the summit and helicopters could easily move troops to areas where their were breaches in the perimeter. Their were also seveveral thousand marines, police, riot police etc protecting the summit.

Activists can also shape territory to their own advantage, blockades, concentrations of activists and choosing where and when to have actions all shift the advantage to our side.

Local superiority

Having more or better trained units at a protest gives the balance of power to the activist, an example of this is the seattle G8 riots in 2001 here activists willing to use force blended with non violent activists and then "swarmed" on key locations via cell phone coordination. The actvists fought for a while and then dispersed back into the crowd before state forces could move to the area. Most of the time the state has local superiority this is aided by the fact we often tell them where we will be, this places control of the situation directly into the states hands.

Who chooses the tactics?

In the protest movement our tactics are shaped far more by public opinion than their actual effectiveness, this is another way the state gains an advantage over us. Violence from the state aimed at protesters is accepted and often condoned by the protest movement and blame is often shifted to those activists who feel this violence. Violence aimed at the state on the other hand is almost universally opposed by activists. This results in a situation where the police are willing and looking for an excuse to use violence and activists are unwilling or unable to fight back. Through strict nonviolence on our part we reinforce the states monopoly on violence and allow them to choose what tactics are used.


These three factors location, number of forces and tactics often result in a situation where we are fighting on their ground against more or better trained forces using tactics which put them at an advantage. If activists are serious about winning we must start thinking outside the box and start planning for success.

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