Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr
We are the 99 percent

Social movements will put an end to war as we know it

Posted 1 year ago on Dec. 30, 2015, 10:28 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: social movement warfare

Could social movements replace conventional warfare?

The idea might sound far-fetched. But President Obama’s steadfast refusal to send occupation forces to fight the Islamic State in Syria may be evidence that the old methods of regime change—boots on the ground—are being rendered obsolete.

Going forward, governments will increasingly rely on catalyzing contagious social protests to topple terrorist states and influence autocratic regimes. Russian military theorists were the first to openly discuss this shift in the art of war—and to accuse America of pioneering techniques of fomenting viral protests abroad. Whether or not their accusations hold water, social movement warfare may well be the wave of the future.

Last year, defense ministers and high-ranking military personnel from several less-than-democratic societies, including Belarus, Iran, Egypt, Myanmar, Vietnam, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and China, gathered in an opulent Stalinist-era hotel in Moscow to discuss a grave threat to their governments. The occasion was the third annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS), an event hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Unlike previous years, not a single military officer or official representative from a NATO member country participated in the two-day event.

The reason for the conspicuous absence of NATO representatives became apparent during the opening speech by Russia’s minister of defense, army general S. K. Shoygu. He announced that the focus of the gathering would be “on the problems of how so-called ‘color revolutions’ … affect global security.”

Pointing to the social protests that rocked the world from 2011 to 2014, beginning with the Arab Spring and continuing through Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution and Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, Shoygu argued that Western powers are deploying social movements as a technique devised “according to the rules of the art of war” for overthrowing unfriendly governments.

Shoygu’s allegations are a prescient vision of the future. Similar accusations of engineering protests have been made in the past against, and variously denied by, non-governmental organizations such as George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institute and the Serbia-based Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). What is different today is the implication that state militaries could shift toward creating, training and deploying civilian activists in a bid to create disruptive movements.

A turn toward social movement warfare could be a strategic response to the impracticality of direct confrontation, or conventional war, against great militaries and nuclear-armed states. As one scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies explains, the Russian military now considers social movements to be “a new US and European approach to warfare that focuses on creating destabilizing revolutions in other states as a means of serving their security interests at low cost and with minimal casualties.”

The idea that seemingly disparate social movements involving millions of people around the world could be manufactured—or “staged and managed,” as one Russian general puts it—to influence geopolitics will probably dismay many movement participants. Most protestors experience uprisings as organic phenomena. However, rather than rush to ignore or refute the accusations levied by Russia’s Ministry of Defense, activists would be wise to understand the implications of casting social movements as a new form of warfare, and the impact this shift will have on the next generation of protests.

At the very least, we might assume that, as philosopher Jacques Ellul once proposed, “The accusation … clearly reveals the intention of the accuser.” In other words, Russia’s accusation might reveal its own intention to manufacture social movements in America and beyond.

If true, this would explain the hyperbolic coverage that Russia Today, a government-funded station, lavished on Occupy Wall Street. It went so far as to fly prominent Occupiers from New York City to London for a televised interview with Julian Assange.

So is this good or bad for social justice? Placing social movements within the context of military science contains two dangers—and an opportunity—for activists worldwide.

The first danger is that authoritarian societies will use the excuse that protests are a form of war to justify cracking down on domestic dissent with military force.

However, democratic and repressive regimes alike are already responding to protests as if they are a form of social movement warfare. Witness, for example, the conspicuous deployment of a Long Range Acoustic Device, the notorious sound cannon often used in war zones, during the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park in 2011 and during the protests in Ferguson in 2014. Activists who understand, rather than deny, this change in how their protests are being interpreted by authorities will be better equipped to develop effective counterstrategies.

The second danger is that repressive societies may try to create social movements in a bid to negatively influence democratic societies.

Every new protest invention is ultimately a double-edged sword. Jihadists use hashtags to spread extremism. Anti-immigrant movements in Germany co-opt the “We are the people” slogan that toppled the Berlin Wall to push a negative agenda. The leaderless organizing style of Black Lives Matter might one day too be appropriated by reactionary forces.

It is worrisome to consider how repressive authorities could use nonviolent popular protest tactics. But even this is preferable to destructive conventional warfare that relies on brute force.

Fortunately, social movement warfare also offers reason for genuine optimism. Any government that tries to spark social movements abroad while suppressing protests at home is in for a nasty surprise. In our hyper-connected world, revolutionary events are akin to a tsunami that crashes against every shore. Movements have a tendency to spiral outside the control of their creators, spreading across all borders and swerving in democratic directions where participants dictate the outcome.

Ultimately, the ascendancy of social movements, and their coming adoption by militaries as a method of social change, gives me hope that this is the end of war as we know it. And it could be the beginning of a planetary uprising for democracy that the people have been dreaming of. A revolution anywhere brings us one step closer to a revolution everywhere. So any repressive governments that choose to create social movements abroad are digging their own graves.

—Micah White is the author of THE END OF PROTEST and the co-creator of Occupy Wall Street. This article originally appeared on Quartz

9 Comments

9 Comments


Read the Rules
[-] 3 points by Revolutionary (311) 1 year ago

Common people must take the responsibility to ensure the safe future of the humanity and that is very much possible if we understand where actually the problem lies(the misunderstanding) and where the solution(the understanding).What I had misunderstood was that Mr. Bill Gates will be happy to see the same people around him as he does these days as after the American Society is Rehabilitated! Mr. Bill Gates does not actually treat them as his friends even if he smiles at them laughs with them and dines with them! And that is where peoples power lies once they understand that their Boss does not really consider them his/her friends! Any body can see that Mr. Bill gates just wants the control(of the tools of control and of the people) and nothing less. 99% can and shall defeat the evil which wants to control the humanity.

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 year ago

''Rosa Luxemburg Explains Capitalism Using Spoons'', by Kate Evans ...

''Jane Mayer Reveals History of Koch Family and the Nazis'', by Lisa Graves, ...

''The Rise of Shadow Banks and the Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act'', by Deena Zaidi, ...

Join The Dots from the past to the present and then extrapolate to the future and don't stay in the dark!!!

respice, adspice, prospice et fiat lux ...

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 year ago

''What If Jesus Had Been Born 2,000 Years Later in the American Police State?'' by John W. Whitehead:

''The US in 2016: No Money For Social Programs, Cash To Burn For The Military'' by Andre Damon:

''The US government has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into into military programs like the F-35 fighter, while slashing assistance for the poor, homeless, and hungry.'' &

''Twenty-three states are expected this year to lift a moratorium on one of the harshest austerity measures imposed by the Clinton administration’s 1996 “welfare reform” program, which caps the amount of time many people are eligible for food stamps at three months. The time limits were halted during the recession, but under the pretense that there is “no money,” to pay for food stamps, states all over the country are re-imposing the time limits.''

sic transit gloria mundi ...

[-] 2 points by Shule (2635) 1 year ago

These "color revloutions", "arab spring", "social movements" that we have been seeing over the past few years have for the large part been foreign backed mercenary operations set to overthrow soverien socialist governments that are largely backed the majority of their citizens.

As such they are no real social movements at all. They are no true revolutions. They are rather thinly veiled foreign invasions into what were once peaceful countries. The tactic is older than Machevelli himself.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33043) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

AHhhhhhhhhhh . . . . you endeavor to clue us ALL into the modus operandi of the world wide PTB - the wealthy few who do all to feed their blind grasping greed..

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33043) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Social movements will put an end to war as we know it

On that note:

one of t largest nonviolent civil disobedience actions in a generation: http://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/rsvp-democracy-spring-awakening/?source=e160401_1659-fin-3mo&t=7&akid=32301.1568713.UYRtfI

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 year ago

Re. Bernie Sanders, I find myself curious as to: a) Your views about him; b) How he fits in (or otherwise) with your wider thesis;+ c) Whether you have any plans on restoring this still extant and useful forum to something like its former original state and order .. given what an important time this may be for The US 99% & Original OWS Demands? Thanx in anticipation of your- time, effort and patience in replying here.

pax et lux ...

[-] 1 points by grapes (4835) 1 year ago

"Russia, Belarus, Iran, Egypt, Myanmar, Vietnam, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and China"

It seems to be a rather good list of unsavory countries. If people can vote with their feet, these countries will lose population.

Historically, new means of social change tended to augment, not replace, old means. For example, twittering did not replace handing out flyers, nor did that replace using macrophones addressing the crowds. Hence, social movements will not replace conventional warfare.

Global thermonuclear war will likely put an end to war as we know it because Einstein said that we would be fighting the next war after that with sticks. There was hope that dynamite would put an end to war due to its terrible destructive power but wars did not end. The atomic scientists harbored hope that the nuclear bomb would end wars due to its terrible destructive power but wars did not end. What actually worked was near-total reduction of cities to rubbles followed by reconstructions.

The only two realistic ways to end wars are widespread satisfaction of human needs and wants or total destruction.

[Removed]

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 year ago

I find I can agree that - ''Any government that tries to spark social movements abroad while suppressing protests at home is in for a nasty surprise. In our hyper-connected world, revolutionary events are akin to a tsunami that crashes against every shore. Movements have a tendency to spiral outside the control of their creators, spreading across all borders and swerving in democratic directions where participants dictate the outcome.'' & ...

Re. .. ''Ultimately, the ascendancy of social movements, and their coming adoption by militaries as a method of social change, gives me hope that this is the end of war as we know it. And it could be the beginning of a planetary uprising for democracy that the people have been dreaming of. A revolution anywhere brings us one step closer to a revolution everywhere. So any repressive governments that choose to create social movements abroad are digging their own graves.'' .. With my emphasis & I can't help but feel very uncomfortable with ANY military involvement .. tho' clearly Psy-Ops go on all the time! Re.the last line & ''any repressive governments'', well why not call a spade a spade & actually say explicitly the USG too?!! Btw, Pro-99% ''Political Revolutions'' can come from above, below AND within..

Let's face it - tho' Bernie would be a middle of the road Social-Democrat in Europe - he'd actually really be a HUGE ''Political Revolution'' in The U$A - where a thousand Left/Progressive flowers'd then bloom! Finally I wish all who read, post & visit here a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful & Revolutionary New Year ~*~

''For man does not live by bread alone'' & ''no is man an island'' as ''the personal is political'' perhaps!

per aspera ad astra ...