Is There a Middle Ground Between Non-Violent Protest and Violent Protest? The Quick Answer is Yes!

Non-Violent Protesting is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods, without using violence. This type of action highlights the desires of an individual or group that feels that something needs to change to improve the current condition of the resisting person or group. The modern form of non-violent resistance was popularized and proven to be effective by the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi in his efforts to gain independence from the British Empire. Other major nonviolent resistance advocates include Henry David Thoreau, from whom Gandhi got his motivation, Gene Sharp, Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu Kākahi, Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe, Leo Tolstoy, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr, who was motivated by Gandhi, James Bevel, Václav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, and Lech Wałęsa. There are hundreds of books and papers on the subject.

From 1966 to 1999, nonviolent civic resistance played a critical role in fifty of sixty-seven transitions from authoritarianism. Recently, nonviolent resistance has led to the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Current nonviolent resistance movements include the Jeans Revolution, in Belarus, and the Jasmine Revolution, in Tunisia. Many movements which promote philosophies of nonviolence or pacifism have pragmatically adopted the methods of nonviolent action as an effective way to achieve social or political goals. They employ nonviolent resistance tactics such as, information warfare, tech warfare, picketing, marches, vigils, leafletting, samizdat, magnitizdat, satyagraha, protest art, protest music, and poetry, as well as, community education and consciousness raising, lobbying, tax resistance, civil disobedience, boycotts or sanctions, legal/diplomatic wrestling, underground railroads, principled refusal of awards/honors, and general strikes. Nonviolent action differs from pacifism by potentially being proactive and interventionist.

Violent Protesting normally takes the form of a Riot. This is a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property, or people. Riots typically involve vandalism and the destruction of property, public or private. The property targeted varies depending on the riot and the inclinations of those involved. Targets can include shops, cars, restaurants, state-owned institutions, and religious buildings. Riots often occur in reaction to a perceived grievance or out of dissent. Historically, riots have occurred due to poor working or living conditions, governmental oppression, taxation or conscription, conflicts between ethnic groups, or race riots, or for religious reasons, which include sectarian violence or pogroms. The riots usually break out over frustration with legal channels that have failed to address social ills through the normal channels.

Today, some rioters have an improved understanding of the tactics used by police in riot situations. Manuals for successful rioting are available on the internet, with tips such as encouraging rioters to get the press involved, as there is more safety and attention with the cameras rolling. Citizens with video cameras may also have an effect on both rioters and police. Dealing with riots is often a difficult task for police forces. They may use tear gas or CS gas to control rioters. Riot police may use less-than-lethal methods of control, such as shotguns that fire flexible baton rounds to injure or otherwise incapacitate rioters for easier arrest. The big difference between this form of protest on behalf of the protestors is that they are not afraid to engage state forces in violent confrontations. When engaged upon, they will return any violence that has been brought upon them; and in some cases, they may be the ones to instigate the violence.

Where is the Middle Ground? So, where is the middle ground? Imagine taking the two methods of protesting, aforementioned, and molding them together. From non-violent protest you will lose not doing damage to public or private property. From violent protest, you will lose causing harm to people. Non-violent tactics such as information warfare, tech warfare, picketing, marches, vigils, leafletting, samizdat, magnitizdat, satyagraha, protest art, protest music and poetry, as well as, community education and consciousness raising, lobbying, tax resistance, civil disobedience, boycotts or sanctions, legal/diplomatic wrestling, underground railroads, principled refusal of awards/honors, and general strikes, are all still very important.

Further, the violent protesting will need to take on a new form. Riots, which are most common, have a tendency to be sporadic and random. This has to change because the state response to such occurrences is far from random and sporadic. This form of protest must become targeted and strategic. It must do damage to those targets, public or private, that will cause the most frustration to the target of the protest. The violence committed cannot be random. Targets must be chosen strategically. The real key here, though, is that the violence committed must minimize, if not totally eliminate, any chance of collateral damage. This means that there can be no fatalities. Any target that is hit must be hit at that time of day, where it is common knowledge that no one is using or inhabiting the targeted building or other form of infrastructure or private property. AGAIN, THE PURPOSE IS ZERO FATALITIES. Collateral damage only gives the government ammo to demonize the movement.

The final issue at hand, of course, is when to deploy each of these tactics and how. There are moments when non-violence is the needed method of protest, and then there are moments where direct violence, with the possibility of fatalities, is also necessary. Then, of course, there come the periods where a combination of the two methods is required. These are decisions that must be made in advance of action, during action, and post action. The government and the private entities that support it plan every movement that they take against the people. It is time that the people beginning use the same techniques, i.e. planning, engagement preparations, and strategy. It is the only way that the people will ever have a chance of winning the day.

What do you think? Do you like what is being said here? To check out more of Kent Allen Halliburton’s work, visit his politics and history blog. You will find yourself entranced at www.refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com.


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1-21-17

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I am a Veteran. I am college educated. I am fighting for survival.