No 382 Posted by fw, December 28, 2011
This series is based on Tim Gee’s Counterpower: Making Change Happen. Gee conceives of Counterpower as the ability of the powerless to remove or neutralize the power of the powerful. He posits three types of Counterpower – Idea Counterpower, Economic Counterpower and Physical Counterpower.
This post, Part 4, again excerpted from Chapter 1, How Counterpower helps movements win, offers a selection of examples from the past to illustrate how determined citizen activists can win campaigns by effectively deploying Physical Counterpower.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” —John F Kennedy
Gee writes: “The ‘right of revolution‘, is part of the philosophical foundations of the modern state,” It’s reflected in the Declaration of Independence, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ‘social contract.’ Typically, revolution involves physical violence.
“There are, however, alternative forms of Physical Counterpower that are nonviolent.” One kind of nonviolent Counterpower consists of refusing to cooperate, such as, for example: civil disobedience; constructing barricades; declaring specified geographical areas to be autonomous and independent of the state; and refusing to be subject to coercive government power.
Coincidentally, Gee asserts that passively waiting for the next chance to vote “is as ineffective as wishing for justice.”
Another kind of Physical Counterpower encompasses being obstructionist, actively getting in the way, most commonly known as nonviolent direct action.
New methods of nonviolent action emerged in the 1990s —