Types of Repression: Cooptation

The last form of repression we will talk about is cooptation. This is the least understood and least recognized form of repression. Cooptation is when the state attempts to bring part of the movement like specific leaders or groups into the state apparatus. 

This can happen in several ways. Elected and government officials attempt to meet with or meet with certain movement leaders and organizations to negotiate the future of the protests including ending them. Grants and leadership opportunities for certain groups or certain people to work more closely with the state (city, state or federal government). Elected officials or non profit organizations and leaders push for movement leaders and organizations to move actions and energy away from more radical and system changing goals and towards goals that are managed more easily by the state or have less systemic impact.  Sometimes this looks like calls for more realistic or pragmatic ideas and goals or calling for patience by the movement for things to change gradually.

All of these different faces have the same purpose: to stop systemic change from happening and maintain some version of the status quo and the current power dynamics that exist. If someone or a group in the movement is calling for actions that fit into one of these scenarios, encourage an open debate about the action and look deeply at the long term impacts of the action and if it will move things more towards the movement’s goals or rather sidetrack it.