“Gonzo Notes” is Kit’s newsletter of political analysis and direct action tips.
It’s okay to admit you won (this round).
During the first meeting of Occupy Austin, the general assembly agreed that the movement would “celebrate every victory.”
It’s an idea that I’ve often returned to in the years since OWS ended, and I was thinking about it when the water protectors of Standing Rock won an unexpected but hard-fought victory last weekend.
On Sunday, the Army Corps Of Engineers refused to grant a permit for the pipeline to continue under a river that passes through sacred lands in Sioux territory, temporarily preventing completion.
As thousands of veterans streamed into Standing Rock, promising to put their bodies in between cops and Native Americans, “the power structure itself blinked in the face of our unity,” Kelly Hayes wrote, eloquently, on Monday.
Almost everyone, most of all the Native people who have spent hundreds of years being deceived by the U.S. government, knew that that the pipeline wasn’t dead, just hurting. Still, activists on the ground called the Army’s decision a win that provides time to regroup and offers new financial and legal leverage over the pipeline.
To my surprise, my social media timelines filled with naysayers and people bent on denying the water protectors their victory. In a year with as many tragedies and setbacks as 2016, isn’t it especially important we honor our rare successes? Why were so many people so quick to dismiss this and even criticize people for celebrating?
“Why are they dancing in the streets when capitalism has not been overthrown and Wall Street still controls our government?” people asked back in 2011 during Occupy Austin.
The reason we were out in the streets is because if you don’t let yourself have hope, if we don’t celebrate our freedom while it exists, we’ll never find the strength to keep struggling against the powerful.
The government profits when the populace believes itself to be powerless. There’s a pernicious narrative which suggests that protest and direct action are ineffective and unnecessary, when nothing could be further from the truth. Time and time again, justice comes when people rise up to demand it.
To counteract this narrative of popular impotence, let’s start taking pride in our small victories.
Let’s let the whole world know that when enough of us come together, even the most powerful sometimes back down, if only for a moment.
A victory doesn’t mean that everything is now going to be nice forever and we can therefore all go lounge around until the end of time. Some activists are afraid that if we acknowledge victory, people will give up the struggle. I’ve long been more afraid that people will give up and go home or never get started in the first place if they think no victory is possible or fail to recognize the victories already achieved. –REBECCA SOLNIT, “HOPE IN THE DARK“
Gonzo action tips
A small group of comrades recently formed the Oh Shit! What Now? Collective. Our plan is to curate classes for our community in vital topics like security culture, filming the police, and even self-defense.
At our first class on personal internet security, we shared ways that activists can be less vulnerable to surveillance and police interference. We plan to repeat the class soon, and turn it into a free zine.
In the spirit of making my readers safer, here are the Oh Shit! What Now? Collective’s top four simple tips for making your shit more secure:
- Secure your phone & laptop. Never let your devices out of your sight, unless you leave them at home for improved security during sensitive direct actions.
- Lock your phone and laptop with a passcode (not a fingerprint lock or pattern). It should be hard to guess and at least 6 characters long.
- Encrypt your phone and laptop.
- Use Signal for secure phone calls and texts.
Check out the “70 Day Action Plan” from Candace Williams for more security tips, laid out in easy to follow steps.
Gonzo Notes 02: Celebrate Every Victory by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/2016/12/08/gonzo-notes-02-celebrate-every-victory.