Thursday, January 18, 2007

Interesting post on protest strategy.

Anarchafairy has a really interesting post titled Happy Valley and a Divergence in Strategy it is a well argued critique of relying on lobbying the public and those in power.
Our main argument was that political lobbying had to be stopped, and that a
strategy of direct action was the only tactic left. We argued this from both
very pragmatic and long-term angles. Pragmatic in the sense that every
possible legal and political barrier had been cleared by state-owned mining
company Solid Energy:

While I agree with the main thrust of the post that political lobbying and high energy publicity stunts should not be relied upon to bring about change I do not think that publicity stunts should be stopped altogether. Direct action like the post seems to be advocating would bring about a swift and sharp state response and those involved would quickly find themselves unable to carry out actions in future. With the current state of activism in New Zealand it it highly unlikely that direct action could ever seriously hope to stop something like a coal mine. Because of this I think direct action - even highly serious direct action should be part of a well planned media campaign.

Using the media to spread images of serious direct action and tying publicity stunts in with a strong campaign on the ground is vital in gaining public support and gaining sympathy for activists when they are inevitably caught.

I particularly like this bit.

This is why I was rather stunned to see, once again, a mere media stunt that
risked arrests and required significant energy proposed at the end of December.
And it turns out that even in this respect it predictably failed: banner drops
are old news and it received little to no mainstream coverage in the press.

With Climaction preparing to spend hundreds of hours building a giant trojan cow I am left to wonder who these actions are for and why they take place. Banner drops can be a good way to get press and require few people but spending a large amount of time generating elaborate props just for a few minutes on the news seems to be a poor use of time and money.

In summary I largely agree with Anarcha fairys post and think it is required reading but think that direct action should always be paprt of a media campaign to get the most psychological and physical impact from any action.

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