How blockades obstruct nonviolence and democratic revolutions
When civil disobedience spread across Europe and the United States, the biggest mistake was perhaps the fixation on blockades. In the rich part of the world, the blockade has been made the dominant method of civil disobedience. In this text, various reasons are analyzed as to why Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi did not use blockades.
Gandhi used proactive and performative resistance, and the goal became the means of the struggle, “means and ends are convertible terms”. (Mohandas Gandhi, 1939.) The desired solution to the problem was turned into the method of civil disobedience. When local salt extraction and cotton production were monopolized by the colonial power, Gandhi, together with others, mined salt and spun cotton, breaking the colonial monopoly. This is called performative in queer feminist theory and is similar to Gandhi’s concept of nonviolence, where means and ends are the same. A performative is an action that realizes its vision.
Later, Rosa Parks abolished apartheid in a bus seat reserved for white people until she was arrested and taken to the police station. The method spread, and instead of waiting on others to make changes, civil rights groups directly abolished apartheid in restaurants until they were arrested. Liberation became the means of liberation. Means and ends were the same, as Gandhi would say. Civil disobedience became a way to govern together with others, rather than to protest and influence those who dominate.
Since 1980, plowshare groups have used blacksmith hammers to start beating weapons into something useful. In court, they apply the law as if it is just and protects life from violence. If nevertheless, they are sentenced to prison, plowshare groups tear down the prison walls. The walls are reversed – they face outwards, using fear to make others obedient. However, plowshare groups