Dissent in the Face of Tyranny
when society is itself the tyrant… its means of tyrannising are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
Dissent must, necessarily, arise in response to the exercise of power by those in the majority — numerically, socially, economically — over those in the minority.
Two assessment tasks in for students in ‘DIGC210: Digital Dissent’ require engagement with this concept of dissent and some form of planning to enact it. There is no requirement to actually put those plans into action, but the tasks ask students to think about some aspect of the status quo that should change, and work out how to dissent about it.
This task requires students to plan for a campaign or activism project. In choosing those projects, I asked one group of students the simple question:
What do you hate? How would you fix it?
(Their answer was animal cruelty.)
The campaign must be planned in detail. Questions to consider include:
- Why is this dissent? What thing are you targeting?
- Who is the target audience? How will you reach them?
- What outcome do you want to see?
It may also be appropriate to think about:
- What is the budget for this activity?
- Are we working with or against other organised actions?
- What are the communications plans?
The task itself asks students to present an interactive or activity-based ‘class simulation’ that engages other students. The simplest way to think about this is that if the rest of the class is the target audience:
- How do you reach them?
- What do you say or do to get them motivated to participate?
Having considered the points above, task 2 is much more simple. It requires a proposal for task 3. That is, you will need to:
- Research details of your topic. Eg, What campaigns already occur? Who runs them? Are they successful? Why is this topic important?
- Decide how you will address this in task 3.
In response to task 2, myself and the rest of the class will review your proposal and suggest improvements or ideas we think will help. You should take this feedback seriously in planning task 3, but don’t let it derail your original contributions.