January 9, 2024

On modern tactics of popular protest since the 1960s

 Andre 3000 had it right, "The game changes everyday so obsolete is the fist and marches. Speeches only reaches those who already know about it..."

Popular protest tactics in the US are still stuck in a 1960s hangover and suffering from a deficit of Alinsky-style strategic tactical thinking. Despite the diminishing returns of street actions in terms of real political gains, there is resistance to investigating the effectiveness of actions like blocking traffic, chanting slogans, pulling down statues, carrying signs, etc and instead pivoting to "well, at least we're doing something!" In part this is symptomatic of a broader multi-generational shift in the US, a wholesale erosion of civic institutions and the growth of hyper-individualism. There are fewer and fewer places where new tactics and strategies of civil disobedience might be born out of everyday community reflection. Instead protest has become something primarily confessional in nature, something one does to make oneself feel less complicit in injustice as an individual.
The question is what to do in this dismal interregnum and my answer would be to take the long view and try to preserve and renew existing bulwarks of community while building new spaces for people of different generations and backgrounds to come together in real life.


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