Noam Chomsky – Tactics, Boycott, and Non-violence

… just forget about principle for a moment, just think about tactics. You want to pick tactics that are likely to achieve something. Otherwise it is just posturing. Well, if you look for tactics that might achieve something. You don’t accept the battleground that your opponent prefers. Now the state power prefers violence. Do they have a monopoly of violence? You know, no matter how much violence protestors have used, they will use more. That’s why I say from the 1960s when I was talking to students about activism I advised them not to wear helmets in demonstrations. Yes. The police are violent. But if you wear helmet, they’ll get more violent and if you come along with a rifle, they will come along with tank. You come with a tank, they’ll come with a B-52. You know, that’s a battle you’re gonna lose and their strength is violence. The strength of the opposition is popular mobilization and non-violence. Actually, that’s what happen in Iraq. Strikingly, of course, in Iraq of course it’s never discussed that way. The government, media, and intellectuals don’t want you to know the power of popular power and what can be achieved by non-violence.

But if you think about in Iraq that’s pretty much what happened there was violent resistance the US easily crushed it. You know they can kill insurgent. They can level Fullajah they can destroy towns and villages no matter what it is. They have much more violence at their command. What they could not do was to deal with non-violent demonstrations. When Ayatollah Sistani called for people to come out the streets and demand elections which the US was trying to prevent. All the way through they tried to prevent elections to impose their own clients and so on. They just couldn’t respond. They couldn’t do anything with hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. So they permitted elections. Then they tried to control and manipulate the elections. Well, they ran into the force of Iraqi nationalism. Finally, at the end, It’s what I said by January 2008, they were insisting US that they have to have permanent military bases, permanent right to carry out military actions, and control Iraq’s oil resources. They had to back down in the face of mass popular non-violent resistance. Well, those are the tools of the weak. That’s what make you strong.

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