During Occupy, we experienced it: things started to look better on social networks than in real life. Then people started to focus on social media and to feel more comfortable posting on Twitter and Facebook than going to an Occupy event. This to me is the biggest risk: to become spectators of our own protests.
F: What do you think of the Black Lives Matter protests that are happening in the United States since last year, the result of racial tension in the country?
MW: Of course I fully support this movement. I am black, I have experienced the discrimination that they are protesting. But thinking strategically, I believe it is very important never to protest directly against the police. Because the police are actually made to absorb protest--the objective of the police is to dissipate your energy in protesting them so you'll let alone the most sensitive parts of the repressive regime in which we live: politicians and big corporations. We must protest more deeply.
F: What do you think of the use of violence in protests?
MW: Studies suggest that protesters who use violence are more effective than those that do not. I think violence is effective, but only in the short term, because you end up developing a kind of organized structure that is easy for police to infiltrate. In the long run, it is much better to develop nonviolent tactics that allow you to create a stable and lasting social movement.
MW: Yes. People become alienated and become frightened when they see the black bloc tactic because they do not understand and can not imagine doing it. And, on the contrary, movements work when they inspire people, when they are positive, affirmative and make people lose their fear.
It's a difficult balance, because you also do not want to be on the other side and only support forms of activism that are tepid and tedious--you have to find a middle ground that excites people and also leaves them with a little fear. No one really has a remedy to resolve the issue.
I think the future of revolution starts with people promising themselves that they will never protest the same way twice. This is very difficult for activists because they like to follow patterns. But when we are committed to innovation, we will invent totally new forms of protest spontaneously. People did not expect to see something like Occupy Wall Street when it emerged. And now we do not expect the next big movement... but it will come.
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