Suffice it to say, we are in trouble. The most extreme among us have seized control of both ends of this tug-of-war rope, and are currently investing themselves energetically and in reality in the business of gearing up for all-out Civil War. They have once again chosen for their preferred playing field non-violent protest actions created by the other side; or failing that those created by their own; or failing that cultural events where the other side congregates; or failing that wherever they happen to be.
We have all witnessed the consequences over the last election cycle and in the fall-out since the inauguration of Trump. And while violent white supremacist Nazis are certainly vile; sneaky organization-infiltrating violent communists are equally vile. We really need no lesson on the villainy of Nazis, for we are not they. Rather, we have been subtly programmed to accept the methods of infiltration and subterfuge through the rebranding and appropriation of the term “social justice”.
To whit: the term “social justice warrior” now implies a willingness to exert social pressure on conservative and even liberal individuals up to and including character assassination, economic sabotage, isolation, use of state mechanisms and outright physical violence.
This is not good news, for this places the legacy of the genuine social justice movement in jeopardy. We stand to lose, as baby along with bathwater, all the gains we have made over the last hundred years of long, terrible struggle. Legitimate activism must follow certain parameters, lest it become other than what it is. We know these truths, but we seem to have forgotten. I'm not sure how, for they were certainly a part of my Women's Studies education less than a decade ago.
But here, as a reminder, is a summary:
The Issue must be clearly identifiable and falsifiable; and the needs and desires of the effected community as a whole must be ascertained. This is to ensure that the activism is needed (for efficiency); the issue is in fact real and not an illusory product of some other cause (proper targeting); and the recipient community as a whole agrees that the proposed action will not do them more harm than good.
The action must not infringe upon the human or civil rights of anyone effected. Should this condition be breached, the outcome in the perception of the movement by the populous will be negative, however just the cause.
Respect the sovereignty of other organizations. Do not co-opt the work of other activists to your own cause. Defend your own sovereignty jealously.
For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. Your opponents will be emboldened to use whatever degree of tactic you use. The State will do as the State does.
Speak only truth. If your opponents catch you in a lie, they will reveal it to the public in order to undermine the credibility of your movement.
All the propaganda is propaganda, including your propaganda. Consider well your hyperbole, for some will take it as writ. Do not forget that you are engaging in a mutually-created para-reality; and beware the echo chamber effect.
You will be judged by the company you keep. Do not accept as part of your ranks organizations or individuals who use tactics you yourself would not use.
You will be judged by the company you exclude. Do not turn away allies in agreement on a particular action simply because you are not in complete ideological agreement on all other points. Take every opportunity you get to make peace and facilitate the finding of common cause, for ultimately we must all rise together.
Change in another must emerge as a realization from within. Such an experience can in no wise be forced. Forced behavioral changes only breed hostility and further entrench the undesirable position. Attitudes are most readily changed through positive peer interaction.
Do not dehumanize the opponent, for if you do not understand him you will underestimate him. Assume the best of your opponent, for nearly everyone believes he is the good guy.
The ends never justify the means. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Be the change you want to see.
If all of us on all sides were to follow these simple guidelines, we would find very quickly that there was much we could work together on for change, beyond the borders of red vs. blue. We all want to end the Drug War. We all want to end the excessive military spending and bring just as many of our troops home as we possibly can. We all want to see our vets get properly taken care of out of respect for their service. We all want to see a draw-down on the militarization of our police forces at home. We all want to ensure net neutrality. We all want to see campaign finance reform.
As a matter of fact, I'm not sure exactly what it is we are fighting over anymore. The words “Nazi” and “Commie”? To what end?
If I knew who to call to arrange it; if we had any such leaders of national import; if there were anyone that everyone was listening to, I would call a meeting of them all forthwith, to negotiate a stay of hostilities until such a time as the real issues facing us as a nation could be handled. What could we not accomplish, if we weren't all too busy squabbling amongst ourselves in the sandbox?
Katessa S. Harkey
Storyteller, Spiral Cult Circus