In a society where white supremacy, capitalism, militarism, patriarchy and consumerism assault our psyche daily, Interruption is essential. Interruption means combating and stopping the constant flow of demoralizing propaganda, and introducing people to positive propaganda – or, simply put, liberatory messaging. These Interruptions, driven by liberatory messages, are the lifeblood of resistance. They give birth to the breaks in “normalcy” needed to open up space for individuals to engage with new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing and new ways of doing. And, because Interruptions are so essential, it is important to understand the different forms they can take and how these different forms bring about specific types of breaks in normalcy.
There are basically two different classes – or types – of Interruption: Ruptures and Routine Interruption. The powerful, transformative events that periodically occur like the Black Lives Matter reaction sparked by the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Occupy Wall Street, or the 2011 protests at Wisconsin’s capitol building can be seen as Ruptures. While the events that can – and do – take place every day (conversations with strangers about this corrupt system, internet, television and radio broadcasts that challenge the dominant order, counter-propaganda posters & stencils put up around the city) can be seen as Routine Interruption.
When working toward the goal of systemic change, success depends on both types of Interruption. If the daily, Routine Interruptions don’t happen, when Ruptures occur their transformation into generalized systemic change will be more difficult because the hard work of forging a base with a critical awareness has not happened. Yet, if the daily Routine Interruptions occur without any Rupture, the awareness and discontent of the people won’t have a catalyzing event to spark the general systemic change that is so long overdue.
As important as it is for us to hope for and exploit the moments of Rupture in society, it is just as – if not more – important for us to actively engage in Routine Interruption. In 1962 the philosopher and former French resistance member Jacques Ellul published one of the first books studying propaganda from both a sociological and psychological approach. In it, he was very explicit about the danger and power of propaganda produced by the State. And he repeatedly explained that one of the sources of propaganda’s power is consistency. “[Propaganda] creates convictions and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition.” In other words, propaganda’s effectiveness comes from it repeatedly attacking our psyche.
With study we can see that consistency (pervasiveness) of propaganda was true in the past, and now this is even more the case. So, when one is opposed to the messages of State propaganda and their manipulation of the people the important questions to ask are ‘what happens when we actively disrupt the flow of State propaganda?’ and, ‘what happens when we replace State propaganda with liberatory messaging?’
I believe it is our duty to find out. So, in the spirit of Ellul, let us plaster the neighborhoods with the counter-propaganda of Liberatory Messaging. Let us host film screenings to broaden the reach of agitative cinema, and infiltrate the airwaves with critical radio broadcasts. And most importantly, let us flood literature and art with the messages of hope, rebellion, liberation, and a brighter future.
Below are some materials I’ve made for use in Routine Interruption:
Download the Originals, then print and post them up where you live: