The March on Freedom
“What is the current price of an honest man and patriot today? They are ambiguous and saddened, and they sometimes make appeals, but they do nothing decisive and effective. They are expecting, well-intentioned, that someone else will correct the evil so that there is no longer any sorrow for them. At best, they sacrifice only a cheap vote, and a tiny support and hope for good success, for the right as they see it. “
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau in his essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” was adamant about refusing to submit to an oppressive government. Thoreau’s ideas were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi as well as Minister Martin Luther King Jr. who advocated for disobedience and protests in a nonviolent fashion. Strikes, symbolic protests, the boycott of goods and refusing payment (see taxes, tolls, etc.) are peaceful strategies of resistance and civil protest. Usually the peaceful struggle takes place independent of the current political system and requires mass mobilization.
As per research the major peace campaigns had more success compared to violent resistance campaigns.
Massive mobilization also was achieved from the Minister Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963 in the March on Washington in which 250,000 protesters took part. Gandhi had succeeded in mobilizing his followers because he developed the vision of independence of people of the Indians against the British colonialists. That vision has also been carried out through Gandhi’s constant teachings, has succeeded in achieving social solidarity among the Indian people, and in reducing the gap between classes in India.
In March of that year, he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Martin Luther King was arrested and wrote in prison the well-known “Letter from Birmingham” in which he called for civil disobedience against oppressive laws. The Kennedy government was aware of the tense situation that had developed, and in 1964 it passed the Human Rights Law passed.
It is important to note that, as per analysts this issue was not caused by those who were opposed to the rights of black people rather by moderates demanding restraint, leading to the rise of the violence of the blacks i.e. Black Panthers.
This is in keeping with the words of Thoreau wrote: “Those who, while condemning the character and measures of a government, give it their submission and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and thus they are often the most serious obstacles to the reform “.
The success of resistance campaigns is when they are massive, receive the support of security personnel and civil servants, and when possible, get the support of foreign governments but also from respected organizations which will not affect the credibility of the campaign.
Mass media support is also crucial and was when it came to Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s March on Washington that was widely covered through the mass media. If the media do not help with the supply of independent news and right technology then the “weight” falls into the independent voices i.e. on the Internet blogs, portals, blogs alternatives YouTube channels as well as social media. Peace activists also emphasize the importance of providing informational materials (books DVDs, brochures, books, etc.) that will inform the audience about the outcome of peaceful campaigns in the past. The activists say the importance of this for mobilization purposes, in particular education and information (Gandhi’s example of ongoing teaching proves this).
Today, we live in an age of economics where democracy is fading to benefit the financial sector worldwide. Autocratic regimes will try to limit peaceful responses through Internet monitoring, as in other ways, such as the oppression of people through laws that are prohibitive and perhaps even intimidating people.
Can the modern day citizen tolerate it or is s/he so at a loss that they don’t want to resist any longer? Why can’t there be the kind of leadership that has vision and is able to mobilize the people? Is it maybe because leadership is also alienated? Is it vain to hope for leadership when the social movements across the globe are vast and not led by a single person?
The concerns arising out of the absence of peaceful mobilization and civil disobedience have many and it would be interesting to investigate them further to find an answer.