19 votes

Why we should all be activists

10 comments

  1. [2]
    Diet_Coke
    Link
    A+ message. Voting is held up as the pinnacle of democratic participation because it's the least effective way to create change. You do it once every one to four years tops, it doesn't take a lot...

    A+ message. Voting is held up as the pinnacle of democratic participation because it's the least effective way to create change. You do it once every one to four years tops, it doesn't take a lot of effort, and it's about as indirect as you can get. Every meaningful major change - labor rights, women's rights, gay rights, civil rights - were all won primarily by direct action in the streets.

    14 votes
    1. gergir
      Link Parent
      Well said. Also: limited choice, candidates' promises evaporate in compromise (or just evaporate); and as you said, things only really change when the spirit of the times allows.

      Well said. Also: limited choice, candidates' promises evaporate in compromise (or just evaporate); and as you said, things only really change when the spirit of the times allows.

      3 votes
  2. [6]
    skybrian
    Link
    It seems like this isn't either-or? During the civil rights movement, black people in the south were going to jail trying to register to vote. And civil rights movement's biggest victories were...

    It seems like this isn't either-or? During the civil rights movement, black people in the south were going to jail trying to register to vote. And civil rights movement's biggest victories were about getting new laws through Congress and getting the federal government to enforce them.

    Voting is usually insignificant for individuals but pretty darn effective in bulk. Just don't stop at one - you need to get others to vote. You only get one vote yourself, but how many other people you influence is unlimited.

    That said, I am interested in learning the mechanics of how and why protest is sometimes effective, so I'd like to hear any interesting examples you have of how direct action in the streets won people rights.

    3 votes
    1. [5]
      no_exit
      Link Parent
      The most recent issue of Commune had a good article about the 1970 seizure of a hospital section by the Black Panthers and Young Lords, part of an effort to fight NYC's heroin epidemic.

      That said, I am interested in learning the mechanics of how and why protest is sometimes effective, so I'd like to hear any interesting examples you have of how direct action in the streets won people rights.

      The most recent issue of Commune had a good article about the 1970 seizure of a hospital section by the Black Panthers and Young Lords, part of an effort to fight NYC's heroin epidemic.

      Mutulu Shakur, Vicente “Panama” Alba, Cleo Silvers, Dr. Richard Taft, and others who ran the program innovated the use of acupuncture as a drug treatment modality in the US, a practice that has since become institutionalized and widespread. They won city funding for the detox program in 1971. They continued to run it until the police raided the detox facility in 1978, expelling the revolutionary leadership.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Interesting, I recently saw a much more err, unusual description of what appears to be the same project? (I have no independent knowledge here.) (Article is long, but search for Lincoln Detox.)...

        Interesting, I recently saw a much more err, unusual description of what appears to be the same project? (I have no independent knowledge here.)

        (Article is long, but search for Lincoln Detox.)
        https://status451.com/2017/01/20/days-of-rage/

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          no_exit
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I am biased of course, but to pick some nits on this: There were already plans to allocate funds for a drug treatment center, but the situation was urgent and people had lost faith in the city...

          I am biased of course, but to pick some nits on this:

          The demand: Lincoln Hospital facilities are shitty. The gang demands a drug treatment center, and they demand to operate it. They got nearly a million bucks from the government to do it. That’s what the 1970s were like.

          There were already plans to allocate funds for a drug treatment center, but the situation was urgent and people had lost faith in the city government. Also, there were several demands not mentioned in this, here's a picture of them.

          in 1973, Lincoln Detox was treating half the patients its contract called for

          Forcing addicts into treatment is a recipe for disaster. Presumably the insinuation here is that they were just too wacky for people to want to detox there, but I would expect some source quotes describing that clearly if that was the case.

          He learns from a doctor working at Lincoln Detox, but his education is interrupted when the doctor dies of a heroin overdose.

          The coroner's office reported finding no needle marks and no heroin in his urine.

          The article doesn't dispute the legacy of the program. Aside from this section specifically, here are some other general points I think illustrate the author's perspective.

          Sustained political violence is dependent on the willing cooperation of admirers and accomplices. The Left has these. The Right does not.

          This is either a straight up lie or ignorance. Dozens of bombings of women's health clinics, 100+ murders by explicit fascists, armed occupation of federal property, and more over the past 30-40 years.

          Institutions are one of two major assets that the Left has and the Right lacks. The other is Shock Troops.

          Institutions are organizations the Left controls that operate for the benefit of the Left’s people. The Right doesn’t really have these. As an example, there are occasional hard right lawyers, but so far as I know there is no such thing as the Reactionary Lawyers’ Guild.

          The other thing that the Left has that the Right doesn’t are Shock Troops: unshameable actors.

          Once again, either a blatant lie or willful ignorance. Some of the later conclusions in this article look really fucking stupid given recent events.

          If Trump fans pulled a Portland, running through the streets, intimidating motorists, smashing windows, what would press reaction be?

          Organizing protests like Portland and the other cities takes experience, efficiency, and a lot of people you can call out. The Left can do that. The Right can’t.

          No, I don’t think the Trump administration is going to be putting people in camps

          ........

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Yeah, I'm wondering if the book being reviewed is any better?

            Yeah, I'm wondering if the book being reviewed is any better?

            1. no_exit
              Link Parent
              I'll have to check it out, the Puerto Rican radicals attacking Congress was something I only learned about a few months ago and want to read more about.

              I'll have to check it out, the Puerto Rican radicals attacking Congress was something I only learned about a few months ago and want to read more about.

              1 vote
  3. [2]
    vegai
    Link
    And what should we fight for? Every time a general "you should be fighting" message goes out there, part of the people say "yeah, I should march for the homeless", while others say "yeah, I should...

    And what should we fight for? Every time a general "you should be fighting" message goes out there, part of the people say "yeah, I should march for the homeless", while others say "yeah, I should go buy some tiki torches".

    Every mass action has considerable risks of breaking something in the current system that has been working for centuries for reasons we don't quite understand.

    1 vote
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      To me the diversity is fine, we don't all have to do the same thing. But I would like like to see more people talk about what specific organizations they support and why they do a good job at what...

      To me the diversity is fine, we don't all have to do the same thing. But I would like like to see more people talk about what specific organizations they support and why they do a good job at what they do. (GiveWell does an admirably thorough job on international charity, but that's just one area of interest.)

      It seems like this would be more useful and convincing than exhortations to do something, anything?

      4 votes