Jah Billah intro:
This text highlights tactics used by Babylon to regain social control over revolutionary social movements.
In escalating progression these appear as:
Evasion – ignoring
Counterpersuasion– ridicule and linguistic control
Coercion or Coercive persuasion – violence
Adjustment – co-opting the social movement
Capitulation – Babylon take over
Even if take just a quick look at first tactic “creating dead channels” we can witness how online media surrounds us with fake activist influencers who do the talk yet never remember to do the walk.
The Rhetoric of Social Control
Responding to the agitation of a social movement, ‘‘establishments’’ tend to Resort first to ‘‘evasion,’’ which involves, in effect, pretending that the social movement ‘‘does not exist or that it is too insignificant to recognize’’.
Establishments can postpone action, appear constrained to grant protest goals, control or change the social or political agenda , lie and control information, deny protestors the physical means of protest, deny protestors access to the media, and create ‘‘dead-‐end’’ channels of influence.
For example, during the 1960s, several poor, Black communities in Baltimore waged a war on poverty, challenging the dominant White majority who controlled the city’s political structure.
In order to thwart the demands of the protestors, Baltimore’s political establishment employed a standard evasion tactic, changing the political agenda. The protestors insisted that the city government must invest the necessary time and resources to address Baltimore’s impoverished areas. In response, Baltimore’s political establishment changed the political agenda to ‘‘improve the absolute well-‐being of the city’s entire population, not to effect a redistribution of values in favor of the poverty-‐stricken blacks’’.
The second strategy is called ‘‘counterpersuasion.’’
In counterpersuasion, governments and their surrogates seek to discredit movement leaders or to show their ideas are ‘‘ill-‐advised and lack merit’’.
Counterpersuasion may be part of a larger rhetorical matrix called ‘‘administrative rhetoric,’’ or the establishment’s attempt to undermine a social movement’s ideas and influence.
A number of counterpersuasion tactics have been identified, including ridicule, discrediting protest leaders and organizations, appealing to unity by ‘‘crying anarchy’’, and linguistic control.
In a study on the Equal Rights Association, Martha Solomon ( 1978) argued that the STOP-‐ERA political campaign employed the tactic of ridicule to paint ‘‘an unappealing picture of the feminists’ physical appearance and nature’’.
Portrayed in ‘‘devil’’ terms, ERA supporters were labeled ‘‘anti-‐male,’’ ‘‘arrogant,’’ and ‘‘abortive.’’ In contrast, ERA opponents were characterized within the ideological framework of the ‘‘Positive Woman’’—physically attractive, intelligent, and emotionally fulfilled.
When milder strategies prove unsuccessful in counteracting the agitation of a social movement, establishments typically resort to a strategy of ‘‘coercion.’’
This strategy may remain largely rhetorical, what Stewart, Smith, and Denton refer to as ‘‘coercive persuasion’’. Simons ( 1972, 1976) coined the term ‘‘coercive persuasion’’ because he believed ‘‘elements of persuasion and inducement or persuasion and constraint are generally manifested in the same act’’.
For example, police officers combine physical and verbal intimidation to control deviance before a social disturbance breaks out.
If ‘‘coercion persuasion’’ fails, the conflict can escalate to more physical tactics, such as restrictive legislation, physically attacking demonstrators, firebombing homes, imprisonment, or even assassination.
Oberschall ( 1973) observed that during this conflictual stage ‘‘the authorities seek to destroy the organization of the opposition, arrest their leaders, and even set up stooges that allegedly speak for the population from which the protestors are drawn’’. In a comprehensive study of how riot commissions interpret and investigate riots, Platt ( 1971) reported that an estimated 34 people died and over 4,000 were arrested during the 1965 Watts riots. According to Platt, a jury later discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department and the National Guard were responsible for 23 of the 26 ‘‘justified’’ murders.
When all strategies have failed, an establishment may employ the ‘‘adjustment’’ strategy, which ‘‘involves making some concessions to a social movement while not accepting the movement’s demands or goals’’ .
Adjustment tactics can encompass ‘‘symbolic’’ concessions, such as Manley’s public praise of the Rastafarian movement, or establishments might sacrifice some of their own personnel if a ‘‘social movement focuses its agitation and hatred upon a single individual or unit’’.
Elites can use economic rewards to satisfy and stratify a protest group or establish committees to investigate issues.
If a social movement’s agitation becomes especially intense, the establishment might even incorporate movement leaders and sympathizers into the establishment by appointing them to low-‐level decision-‐ making positions.
Or the establishment might incorporate parts of the dissent ideology into the mainstream, entering into a loose confederation with the social movement.
Yet, cooperation with a dissent group ‘‘may lead to outright co-‐optation of the cause’’ or a literal takeover of the movement by elements of the mainstream establishment. Gamson ( 1968) suggested that establishments use the co-‐optation strategy when prior control strategies were unsuccessful.
Social movements that are co-‐opted are often ‘‘subject to the rewards and punishments that the organization bestows’’. In fact, according to Gamson, ‘‘new rewards lie ahead if they show themselves to be amenable to some degree of control’’.
The final strategy, capitulation, occurs when the social movement’s ideas, policies, and personnel ‘‘replace those of the target institution’’.
In the case of the Rastafarian movement, the Jamaican government did not capitulate to the demands of the Rastafarian movement. Instead, the Jamaican government and its supporters co-‐opted the cultural symbols of Rastafari and reggae music as authentic reflections of Jamaican society.
The Co-optation of a ‘‘Revolution’’: Rastafari, Reggae, and the Rhetoric of Social Control
King, Stephen A. (1999).
Faculty Research and Creative Activity. 15.