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originally on PropertyDamage

Any disruptive behavior that intentionally breaks social norms the person engaging in the behavior would usually respect, in order to make a point.

There are three necessary preconditions before most people will believe DirectAction is justified:

  1. A grave injustice is being perpetrated, or is about to be perpertrated.
  2. All other, less disruptive forms of challenging the perpetrators of this injustice have been exhausted, and the challengers were not given a FairProcess in any of them.
  3. The resource or process being disrupted is shared, and highly associated with and controlled by those perpetrating the injustice.

DirectAction is not an ActOfWar?. The purpose is not to maximize damage, it is to force the community to decide who is abusing shared resources worse: those who committed the original injustice, or those breaking the rules to protest the injustice. Therefore, in order to be successful, those who engage in direct action must convince the community that all three conditions were met. The better they convince the community, the more successful the act will be.


Nearly everyone agrees that slashdot's story selection process is not a FairProcess and there is no other alternate channel to get a story posted. There is occasional disagreement over whether slashdot truly is a community resource ("This is Rob and Jeff's board and you have no right to try and mess it up"). Usually, though, the comment becomes a referendum on whether or not the injustice was serious enough. If enough people believe the story should have been posted, the comment will be moderated up; otherwise, it will be moderated into oblivion.

Interestingly, no comment like that would occur or be tolerated on KuroShin; most of the kuro5hin community believes that story selection is a FairProcess, and even if it isn't, the diaries are a less disruptive alternate channel to stop the injustice. On a wiki, the concept of protesting the means of story selection is pretty much meaningless.
Nobody but a handful of economics professors argued that there was no injustice being committed by Harvard's low wages to its work, although this was largely due to the protesting students working very long and hard to demonstrate the injustice. There was moderate protest of the sit-in because people believed that the students had no right to occupy the building: it was not a shared resource, the students had no right to be there, and therefore this was an ActOfWar? and not Direct Action.
The real turning point that brought community support to the students, though, was when they documented in great detail all of the ways in which the less disruptive processes Harvard offered were unfair. After intense community pressure on Harvard, they agreed not to give in to the student's demands for a pay raise, but to institute a fair process by which the issue could be discussed. This was considered a victory for the students.
This is a highly abstract and long-term-oriented DirectAction. The perceived injustices are many and vary from person to person. The goal is extremely long-term: to get people to generally disapprove of the acronym group. People disapprove of these acts on all three points.
    1. Many people do not believe the collection of acronyms are bad. If that's the case, you certainly won't approve of people breaking windows to protest them. Alternately, many people want to decide for themselves whether they agree that a grave injustice is being committed, but get frustrated with the protestors' inability to articulate what the injustice is or what the goals of the act are. (From AlexSchroeder on PropertyDamage: "How should I revolt? What is the plan?")
    2. Many people feel the protestors have not tried hard enough to engage in other, less disruptive methods of addressing the injustice. (From SunirShah on RaisingSocialCosts: "I don't see many constructive attempts to engage [the members of the acronomy group] at a human level. I suspect they can be convinced of the reality of their actions if you could bring that reality to them.")
    3. Many people do not believe the store-front windows are adequately shared resources or adequately controlled by those perpetrating the injustice, and thus worry that the protestors might justify damaging any resource, shared or not. (From SunirShah on PropertyDamage: "The reason why there is legitimate fear by non-corporate entities when they witness political PropertyDamage is that inevitably there will be violence directed at them.")
To the extent that it has forced people to judge the acronym bunch, these acts have been succesful; to the extent that they have failed to communicate their reasoning (or had no reasoning) on all three points, they have failed.


From above:

"Any disruptive behavior that intentionally breaks social norms the person engaging in the behavior would usually respect, in order to make a point."
This is distinct and different from "[...] in order to gain attention", yes or no?

Yes and no. Yes, on a personal level, some people who engage in DirectAction enjoy the attention that people give them while they are evaulating whether or not to support (or at least accept) it. No, if that's the only reason they're doing it, it will not gain much support.

Also, MartinLutherKing? had a similar set of circumstances for when DirectAction was acceptable. Transcribed from a speech:

"The truly unsocial lawbreaker disregards law because he as an individual is seeking a personal advantage. Negroes have never forgotten, even under the crushing burdens of injustice, they are connected with the larger society, that the roads they obstruct and the public buildings they picket are used by all citizens.

For that reason, before a protest can be approved by responsible leadership, they must answer the following questions:

    1. Do we have a just grievance? Or is our purpose merely to create confusion for its own sake as a means of revenge?
    2. Have we first used every form of normal means to eliminate the problem by negotiation, petition, and appropriate appeals to authority?
    3. Having found these channels useless or forcibly closed to us, when we embark on any type of law-breaking, are we prepared to accept the consequences society will inflict and to maintain even under punishment a sense of brotherhood?
    4. Do we have a clear program to relieve injustice which does not inflict injustice upon others? Is that program reasonable and grounded in the ethics and best traditions of our society?

In establishing these prerequisite conditions before employing direct action, the civil rights movement meets its responsibility to society, and fulfills its obligation to democratic principles."

DirectAction is an effective way to bring an issue into FairProcess. It is in this way often an exercise in agenda setting and conciousness raising. It is often defensive in preventing others vandalising the disputed asset prior to it coming into FairProcess. DirectAction can be a way of focalising and increasing equity amongst supporters. It can be an economic intervention, affecting profit motives. This happens by disrupting freedom of movement, and encouraging the opponent to utilise HardSecurity. Forcing the use of HardSecurity can also act on the opponent's reputation. --RobGraves

DirectAction to me is not necessarily violent, and can be peaceful. Property damage is sometimes necessary, and isn't what I call "harmful". It is sometimes the only thing one can do, if all else fails. VioLence? should only be used if it is in reaction to a terrible injustice or oppression has been done and the only waay to fight so people will listen is violence. DirectAction such as in the WorldTradeOrder?/FTAA was necessary, and most of it was not violent. The big corporations were stealing democracy in the name of mass production and profit, so somebody had to stand up for their rights there. --JonasDaltonRand

CategoryConflict CategoryPoliticalAction


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