These criteria for target selection go both ways. Our own resistance movements are targets for those in power, and it’s important to understand our organizations as potential targets. Leaders have often been attacked because they were crucial to the organization. Underground leaders are less accessible, but potentially more vulnerable if they can be isolated from their base of support. And aboveground groups often have better recuperability, because they have a larger pool to draw from and fewer training requirements; recall the waves after waves of civil rights activists willing to be arrested in Birmingham, Alabama.
Anyone who casts their lot with a resistance movement must be prepared for reprisals. Those reprisals will come whether the actionists are aboveground or underground, choosing violence or nonviolence. Many activists, especially from privileged backgrounds, naïvely assume that fighting fair will somehow cause those in power to do the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The moment that any power structure feels threatened, it will retaliate. It will torture Buddhists and nuns, turn fire hoses on school children, and kill innocent civilians. A brief perusal of Amnesty International’s website will acquaint you with nonviolent protestors around the globe currently being detained and tortured or who have disappeared for simple actions like letter writing or peaceably demonstrating.
This is a reality that privileged people must come to terms with or else any movement risks a rupture when power comes down on actionists. Those retaliations are not anyone’s fault; they are to be expected. Any serious resistance movement should be intellectually and emotionally prepared for the power structure’s response. People are arrested, detained, and killed—often in large numbers—when power strikes back. Those who provide a challenge to power will be faced with consequences, some of them inhumanly cruel. The sooner everyone understands that, the better prepared we all will be to handle it.
Now, having discussed what makes good strategy, how resistance groups organize effectively, and what sort of culture resistance groups need to support them, it is time to take a deep breath. A real deep breath.
This culture is killing the planet. It systematically dispossesses sustainable indigenous cultures. Runaway global warming (and other toxic effects of this culture) could easily lead to billions of human deaths, and indeed the murder of the oceans, and even more, the effective destruction of this planet’s capacity to support life.
The question becomes: what is to be done?