The Rhetoric of Agitation & Control: Chapter 2
Strategies of Agitation (8)
King's 6 insights into aspects of nonviolent philosophy
Flag Issues/Flag Individuals
- Strategies: general choices available to dissenters & to the establishment - Tactics: More specific choices governed by those strategies o Rhetoric used: written, oral, nonverbal, or mass media. Depends on individuals or groups producing the messages. Discourse may be charming, insulting, inviting, etc.
- Agitators can use normal discursive means of persuasion
- Tactics: selection of appeals, target audiences, types and sources of evidence, appropriate tone of message, style of language
- If establishment can show dissenters didn’t attempt petition they can label them as “irresponsible individuals who reject normal decision-making process who favor disturbance & disruption.” Don't forget about the age old question of Who is the vice president under lincoln for about a month?
o No petition stage = establishment can effectively discredit agitators to the point where they diminish or die
- Agitators publicly state goals and employ tactics to GATHER PUBLIC SUPPORT and RECRUIT members
o Tactics: mass media (most efficient to gather members), technology, Internet, posters, bumper stickers, handbills, leaflets, mass protest meetings Don't forget about the age old question of What is the difference between society and culture?
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- Inform the public of agitators’ positions to win public acceptance of ideology, value system, beliefs, and policies.
- News media don’t consider ideologies newsworthy, only violence & conflict. Also don’t see fair treatment of agitators profitable. If you want to learn more check out What are the principles of family systems theory?
o Ideology explanations don’t fit in sound bites
o Media may have biases will affect how story is reported
o Location of protest may affect media’s willingness to cover events o Leaders consider media coverage success
o Major media events like Olympics can be exploited to get dissenters’ messages to public
- 2 ways to exploit mass media
o Seek Legitimizers: individuals w/in the establishment who endorse some parts of the agitators’ ideology
o Stage Newsworthy Events: use unusual tactics or involve conflict. - Agitators can appear before congress & use their testimony to secure coverage of beliefs & ideology
- Agitators must learn to adapt their messages to attract the attention of the media.
- Ultimately, activists must work to keep attention of media & public by inventing new ways to build & hold interests.
- Create a sense of community that may be vital to the success of the movement
- Produces or reinforces the cohesiveness of its members, increasing responsiveness to group beliefs, values, & ideologies. We also discuss several other topics like What does it mean to appeal to a higher court?
o Difficult b/c dissenters are energized but difficult to control
- Tactics: (mainly reinforcing) plays, funerals & rituals, songs, art & poetry, slogans, clothing, etc.
- Revolutionary theatre is an effective b/c it entertains & raises consciousness o Motivate into action, organize people into efficient unity, points out societal problems & possible solutions
o Designed to appeal to those who already accept agitator ideology or those open to persuasion if given an effective appeal We also discuss several other topics like What impacts/determines elasticity?
- Martyrs become powerful figures for solidification w/in an organization - Movement songs make people unified and more powerful
o Songs give courage & vigor to carry on and establish, define & affirm selfhood in social movements.
- Themes of protest music:
1. Innocent Victim vs. Wicked Victimizer
2. Powerful & Brave vs. Weak & Cowardly
3. United & Together
4. Important & Valuable
5. Righteous & Moral
- 3 Rhetorical Characteristics of Songs:
1. Reactive Dimensions
2. Simplistic Dimensions
3. Expressive Dimension
- Slogans: pointed term, phrase, or expression. Create definite impressions & elicit emotional reactions
o Simplify ideology so it can be understood
o Emphasize point, issue, or message
o Create attention, interest, & raise consciousness
o Convert people
o Inspire people
o Rationalize actions, attitudes, & beliefs
o Discredit establishment & opponents of movement
o Polarize positions between establishment and movement
o Redefine, counter, play down opponent
- Agitators often create symbols to accompany songs, plays, & slogans - Creation of positive terms is another means building solidarity - Group often chooses a word with negative connation & promotes its use as a positive attribute. (Ex. Black, gay)
o By taking derogative term from society and making it a badge of honor the agitators assert power.
- Consciousness-raising (C-R) groups are for discovering shared problems and ways to improve self-image so the group can move to action. (Ex. Teach-ins, sit-ins, die-ins)
- In-group newspapers & publications also solidify, promulgate, & polarize. Polarization
- Polarization assumes that any individual who has not committed to the agitation supports the establishment
- Painting issues for & against defines this stage
- Designed to move individual into the agitation ranks
o “Part of the problem or part of the solution.”
o Choose between agitators or establishment.
- Flag issues & Flag individuals: attacking these issues or individuals attracts media attention
- Flag Individual often is president of university of government figure o Purpose of targeting is to polarize uncommitted individuals
- Action is criteria for membership in agitating group
- Invention of Derogatory Jargon for establishment groups is another way to polarize
- Use physical presence of agitators to produce “creative tension” - Use physical/economic absence to create tension for negotiation and adjustment
- Nonviolence: agitators violate laws or customs they consider unjust and destructive of human dignity
- Strategy is “creative disorder”: sit-ins, boycotts, strikes, fasts, etc. - Establishment agreeing to demands = disorder ends
- Main recourse of establishment is to physically remove agitators o Most times police act violently and this gets to press, garnering support & sympathy for movement
o Agitators shouldn’t react with violence becomes the community would pressure establishment for legal remedies to end protests.
- Nonviolent resister focuses on flag issues, not flag individuals - Civil disobedience: when agitator breaks a law considered to be unjust on purpose
- Nonviolence is instrumental rather than consummatory, it is also symbolic. - Persistence is required. Presence is a nuisance.
Aspects of nonviolence: (pg. 44)
- All energy of nonviolent resister is to policy he or she is violating - Nonviolence doesn’t seek humiliation of opponents but their friendship and understanding
- The attack is directed at forces of evil, not the people who commit evil. - Impersonal nature
- Internal state of resister
- Optimistic conviction about the nature of life
- When establishment becomes apprehensive it over-prepares for agitation and will look foolish and have its flaws shown.
- 1st Tactic:
Contrast: objective is to lead establishment to expect the participation of large numbers of agitators.
Uses rumor & underground press to hint establishment that worse possible outcome can happen
- 2nd Tactic:
Threatened Disruption: rumors & underground press to increase establishment tension with attitudes & objectives of agitators - 3rd Tactic:
Nonnegotiable Demands: allows no room for establishment to maneuver
- Once agitation begins agitators can be nonverbally offensive using posters/signs
- Can also use (non)verbal obscenity to be psychologically confrontational - Token Violence: attacks on establishment representatives. If establishment overreacts it will lose credibility.
Gandhi & Guerilla
- Confront establishment with agitators committed to nonviolence and one violence committed.
- Guerilla is only attacks on an unpopular establishment