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“A typical liberal may recognize contributor names on the cover like the Yes Men and Billionaires for Bush, but the guts of the book also nod to IWW, Earth First! and Otpor.”

Cole Wardell

Use the Jedi mind trick

Contributed by

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

Henry Ford
In Sum

The Jedi mind trick worked for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it can work for you, too. You just have to believe in yourself, and others will, too.

Aside from being able to move objects with your mind and having a retractable sword made out of freaking light (how cool is that??), the best thing about being a Jedi has got to be the mind trick. The ability to persuade with a calm voice and a finger wave, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” could prove indispensable in any number of beautiful trouble-making situations.

Good news: this hypnotic power of persuasion is actually within your reach. It springs from an innate authority, an irrational confidence that mystically bends the world to your will. Though this may not work on your bill collector (“I’m not the deadbeat you’re looking for”), it may work in convincing the mainstream media to cover your event or the police to leave you alone. You might even pass unchallenged through the front gate of a nuclear power plant, or take charge of a closed-door meeting to which you weren’t invited. With the right attitude, much more becomes possible than you might have thought.

With nothing more than confidence, an activist adept at the Jedi mind trick can make a security guard look the other way, or convince thousands of people, including a BBC news anchor, that he is a Dow Chemical Company spokesperson, or that it’s perfectly normal to wear a climbing helmet in the middle of a convention center and start climbing the scaffolding.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you prepare to break out the Jedi mind trick on an unsuspecting low-level functionary:

Know the rules, suspend the rules. The ability to transgress, trespass, or otherwise do what you shouldn’t with complete self-assurance, especially if challenged, carries its own power.

Act like you belong (a.k.a. fake it ‘till you get kicked out). Authority is more performed than innate. We constantly interact with, and respond to, coded indicators of status and authority, making assumptions based on attitude, manner, dress, accent, friendliness, sexiness, and other cues. By understanding and playing on these indicators we can also co-opt the authority attached to them.

Potential Pitfalls

Beware the backlash. The Jedi mind trick wears off quickly, and tends to leave the unsuspecting dupe it was used on angry and embarrassed. No one likes to feel like they got tricked. Use this tactic only with people you’re unlikely to see again. To avoid unnecessary backlash, tell the truth as much as possible and let other people fill in their own assumptions.

Samantha Corbin is actions director for The Other 98% and national coordinator of the US Uncut network, as well as a non-violent direct action trainer with The Ruckus Society and a founding member of the New York Action Network. She has coordinated scores of affinity group actions including banner hangs, blockades, and street theater actions; led several large-scale actions including the 5,000-strong Powershift 2011; and developed and delivered countless trainings in creative non-violent direct action, affinity group organizing, strategic planning, scouting, and high tech action. Throughout the fall of 2011, she was organizing and training with Occupy Wall Street. Sam is based in New York City.

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