“This is a “let’s do it” guide to action, an accessible and well-illustrated collection of strategies ideal for artists (and non-artists alike) who are willing to put themselves out there for the common good.”Ken Krafchek, Graduate Director, MFA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art
To hold public space; to pressure a target; to reclaim or squat property; to defend against “development”; to assert Indigenous sovereignty.
Because tar sands oil emits four times the carbon dioxide as standard crude, renowned climate scientist James Hanson has declared that if the Canadian tar sands were fully developed, it would be “essentially game over for the climate.” Seeking to draw a line in the (tar) sands, activists successfully organized …Continue Reading
Needlessly endangering the safety of you or the people around you hurts the movement. Don’t sacrifice care of self or others for the sake of being “hardcore.”
Effective activism requires providing appropriate support to, and taking direction from, those who have the most at stake.
Movements seldom win by overpowering the opposition; they win by shifting the support out from under them. Determine the social blocs at play on a given issue, and work to shift them closer to your position.
Design your action so that your target is forced to make a decision, and all their available options play to your advantage.
Theory without action produces armchair revolutionaries. Action without reflection produces ineffective or counter-productive activism. That’s why we have praxis: a cycle of theory, action and reflection that helps us analyze our efforts in order to improve our ideas.
Concrete tactics have measurable goals and are designed to have a direct physical impact. Communicative ones can be more symbolic. Knowing the difference and planning accordingly is important.
Political action tends to be driven by one of two different motivations: expressing an identity, and winning concrete changes. It’s important to know the difference, and to strike a balance between the two.
To undermine your opposition’s narrative by hijacking their event; to draw attention to your side of the story; to capitalize on your target’s media presence; to reframe an issue; to be a jackass.
To shut things down; to open things up; to pressure a target; to re-imagine what’s possible; to intervene in a system; to empower people; to defend something good; to shine a spotlight on something bad.
Your actions should speak for themselves. They should make immediate, natural sense to onlookers. They should have an obvious logic to the outside eye.
Anger is potent. Use it wisely. If you have the moral higher ground, it is compelling and people will join you. If you don’t, you’ll look like a cranky wingnut.
To physically shut down something bad (a coal mine, the World Trade Organization), to protect something good (a forest, someone’s home), or to make a symbolic statement, such as encircling a target (the White House).