One of the distinctive features of left activists is their willingness to go to the streets to win people to their causes and create the political pressures necessary for the social changes they advocate. Studies in social psychology and sociology support this strategy by showing there has to be a non-routine dimension to any effort toward change. It doesn’t make any sense to people to say that things are terrible, but they just should vote and write letters to their elected representatives. If things are going to change, then people have to get out of their routines one way or another. There has to be social disruption. There has to be a “getting in the way of power” as one author-activist puts it. There has to be a social movement that has a shared political identity.
Studies of social movements in the United States also show that the necessary social disruption has to be created through the principled use of strategic nonviolence. Any form of violence, whether property damage or physical battles with opponents and police, will turn off the great majority of Americans and bring down overwhelming police and military repression.