"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Humor more effective than anger or rage - e.g. Russia

 Russian activists using humor to undermine the regime
Like audacity, satire and humor are also techniques of nonviolent direction action. Laughter and ridicule undermine authority and diminish its ability to compel obedience. You can weaken, unbalance, and ultimately overthrow the king quicker by laughing at him than by futilely screaming fury at him.
And as a matter of practical politics, humor of any kind — not just satire — is far more effective than rage:
  • Humor appeals to observers and potential supporters. Fury frightens and alienates them.
  • Humor disarms and confuses adversaries. Rage triggers engrained patterns of defense and counter-rage, stokes resistance, and mobilizes fiercer opposition.
  • Humor is more sustainable than fury. Anger is exhausting. Most people cannot sustain intense rage over long periods of time. But humor is energizing, both in the short-run of a single protest, and in the long-run of an extended campaign.
  • Humor and audacity work hand-in-hand, reinforcing each other. Humor reduces and difuses hostile reaction to broken taboos, and nothing spreads faster by word-of-mouth (or twitter tweets) than tales of audacious humor

NY Times June 12, 2012

Among those forced to skip the rally and instead face questioning by the authorities was the blogger and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. But far from being silenced, Mr. Navalny posted a series of messages on Twitter mocking his interrogators.
“I am still in questioning,” Mr. Navalny wrote at one point. “They are asking about the Anti-Corruption Fund, who works for it, what they do — surely they want to be employed by us.” 
At another point, he wrote: “They just asked, ‘How have you been employed since Jan. 1 2005?’ It seems I have been planning unrest for a long time.”  

Some in the crowd also mocked the authorities. “Do you want a ticket to the paddy wagon?” cried one young man, carrying a roll of fake bus tickets. “Step up for a ticket to the paddy wagon!” 

...Mr. Yashin, who went to the rally straight from being questioned, said he had thanked his interrogators for promoting the march.

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