Power, Protest, and Political Uprising
There is never a point in time when protest is unimportant, or when various methods of resistance can afford to go unexplored and unevaluated. Social movements are always crucial in improving quality of life. This current political and cultural climate in particular is spurring much discussion about the necessity and nature of social movements and resistance, and about how they should and should not be done. But much of this discussion is incomplete. We fail to recognize the ever-present hegemony within the discourse of resistance, deployed to limit the options and efficacy of those fighting for better lives. It is necessary to speak plainly about this hegemony, about the nature of power and the state, and how they impact resistance methods and undermine social movements.
As a starting point, we must recognize the state and those hoarding power and resources will always attempt to dictate the terms of acceptable resistance to those opposing them. These terms will always be those that pose little threat of redistributing their power and resources equitably to people in need. And tellingly, the method of resistance those in power must suppress and eliminate before all others is violence.
Violence, as well as property destruction, poses a significant threat to those in power, so it is quashed at all costs, often preemptively, with the state’s own direct violence in the form of security, police, military, and incarceration. But more insidiously, cultural norms perpetuated through media and policy discredit and suppress violence and property destruction as viable resistance tactics. Often violent protests are obscured even as legible political statements. If violence occurs, media and government refuse to accurately identify and contextualize the movement, its motivation, and its goals. We ourselves succumb to this hegemony and default to viewing such methods as illegitimate, as disqualifying the validity of liberation that’s being fought for. This is exactly the attitude the state wants us to have about violence and property destruction. It is this lesson the state explicitly teaches and conditions into us so it can minimize the threat and protect its power. And whether confronting the state, forces of fascism, neo-liberalism, or the barbaric wealth consolidation of late capitalism, methods of popular resistance cannot be left to erode, be it from direct physical threat or this placating cultural indoctrination.