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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Activism: Quality, Not Quantity

Activism: Quality, Not Quantity

By Mickey Z
Counterpunch.org
November 30, 2014

In the Vietnam War protest song “Five to One,” Jim Morrison
of The Doors sings:

The old get old/And the young get stronger
May take a week/And it may take longer
They got the guns/But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah/We’re takin’ over

In my youth, I took solace in the whole “we got the numbers” thing
but it eventually became crystal clear that the ones with the guns
have had it all figured out for a very, very long time.

Philosopher David Hume, in 1758, explained it this way:

“As force is always on side of the governed, the governors have
nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion
only that government is founded and this maxim extends to the
most despotic and most military governments as well as to the
most free and most popular.”

“The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the
wonders of the Western world,” added Gore Vidal.

“No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely
from its media all objectivity, much less dissent.”

This potent combination of muscle and misinformation manifested
itself in the events leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

On Feb. 15 of that year, tens of millions of earthlings marched and
carried signs to declare their unambiguous disapproval of America’s
plan to drastically ratchet up what had essentially been a 12-plus
year war against the people of Iraq.

But…

* The massive global protests were ignored by the elites.

* The shock-and-awe invasion went on as planned.

* The occupation, violence, and despair continue to this day.

Doesn’t say a whole lot for “having the numbers,” huh?

“We” have had the numbers time and time again since then.

Even at the overhyped climate parade in September 2014,
roughly 125,000 humans marched in NYC.

But, as long as America’s ruling elite has no intention of changing
the dominant paradigm, we remain on a runaway train to ecocide
— no matter how many of us show up.

In these and countless other cases, “we” have had the numbers.

“We” still have the numbers.

Morrison’s “they,” however, give no indication they’ll be
surrendering their guns any time soon.

As a result, dissent in America is pretty much limited to permitted
marches, protests, boycotts, petitions, candlelight vigils,
documentaries, free speech zones, the occasional vote for a third
party candidate, and articles like this one.

All of these methods (at least in their safe-for-mass-consumption
versions) are deemed “legal” by those with the guns and, in their
own way, legitimize the power held by those with the guns.

Thus, all such tactics are ultimately futile in terms of provoking
systemic, long term change.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why you haven’t taken your
rebellion beyond the methods listed above.

Your answer is likely the same as mine:

“We got the numbers, but they got the guns.”

Maybe author Derrick Jensen had it right when he said:

“We still think we have something to lose. That’s what’s
stopping us. As soon as we realize we have nothing left to
lose we’ll be dangerous.”

After all, in “Five to One,” Jim Morrison also sang:

“No one here gets out alive.”



Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this
Book: Mickey Z. on Activism.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/28/activism-quality-not-
quantity

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