Fighting Fire with Fire

Progressive social movements, at their core, are funded by
ideals — nonviolence, equality, and respect. When activists take
to the streets, juxtaposing those ideals against a culture of war,
inequality, and exploitation, the targets tend to be government and
corporations. The movements demonize not only the entities
undermining peace but also the structural apparatuses those
entities employ — centralized command, strategic coordination, and
corporate governance. But these structures, Scott Ritter and Imani
Mance argue, are not corrupt in and of themselves, and it’s time to
take a look at how social movements can use them to their
advantage.

Mance, in a piece in
Emerging Minds Magazine — a publication dedicated to
bringing business culture to the black community — calls on
African-Americans to take control of their own future by getting
over their ‘taboos’ against words like ‘corporate.’ Mance deems it
self-defeating to automatically dismiss such terms, calling for a
sort of reality check in the community: ‘[M]oney can buy one thing
and the only thing that we need to positively impact the lives of
blacks across the Diaspora. That thing is power.’ It is critical to
be true to ideals if a social movement is to be coherent and
powerful, but, as Mance’s mother would say: ‘[C]onsciousness
doesn’t pay the bills.’

Neither does consciousness,
Scott Ritter
suggests in an article for AlterNet
, stop wars. Ritter
— an outspoken former UN weapons inspector in Iraq — laments that
the anti-war movement is ‘on the verge of complete collapse.’ More
an anarchic hodgepodge of do-gooders than an organized force for
change, the anti-war movement ‘lacks any notion of strategic
thinking, operational planning, or sense of sound tactics.’ Though
the notion of a centralized structure seems antithetical to the
anti-war movement’s overall project, Ritter argues that it is the
only way to avoid failure. It’s a tough pill to swallow, since
command-and-control organization immediately evokes militarism. But
Ritter thinks that peace activists must either overcome their gag
reflex or resign themselves to obsolete noisemaking that has
little, if any, ability to actively promote an anti-war agenda.

Ritter and Mance both recognize the importance of strongly held
beliefs, but adherence to those beliefs cannot stand in the way of
strategies that could inculcate them in the larger culture. As they
see it, like it or not, their movements are involved in a battle,
and a battle cannot be won unless it is fought. And the necessary
weapons may need to be borrowed.

Go there >>
The Art of
War for the Anti-War Movement

Go there too >>

Why Are All the Revolutionaries Broke

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