Social Question

Nullo's avatar

Are hunger strikes really all that effective?

Asked by Nullo (21934points) February 13th, 2010

I was reading about the activist group called Code Pink, and how they have gone on hunger strikes to oppose the use of UAVs. Obviously the strikes were ineffective, but it makes one wonder: does anybody actually care if a bunch of discontented people threaten such a mild form of self-harm? Did Code Pink really expect success?

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13 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, hunger strikes are not a mild form of self harm. They can, and do. result in death.

That said, I don’t think it is the most effective of protests except in very narrow circumstances.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Well, self-immolation may be more effective. However, I don’t know how many people would be able to go through with it.

Axemusica's avatar

Code pink…... haha, really? Why didn’t they just call themselves team vagina or the Pu**y Brigade?

Bluefreedom's avatar

They’re not very healthy for the person on strike. What good is your protest going to do if you starve to death and can’t make a statement anymore?

tinyfaery's avatar

This is something I have never understood. I’ll be following to see if someone can come up with a good explanation.

Spinel's avatar

In theory, hunger strikes play on common human sympathy. Have you seen the pictures of starving African children in charity advertisements? It is the same principle. People see the suffering of others and are motivated to stop the starvation, somehow. Hunger strikes can also bring media attention to a cause, and media sympathy for the side performing the hunger strike.

But hunger strikes can kill – it’s kind of like voluntary suicide. In the long run, a group that performs hunger strikes is only doing the opposition a huge favor.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

For no particular reason, here is a list of what UAV can stand for:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Urban Assault Vehicle
Unmanned Aerospace Vehicle
“Universally Accepted Value”: self-explanatory.
Unstoppable Allied Vanguards
User Antenna View

And now that I’m done wasting everyone’s time, have a nice day. :-)

ragingloli's avatar

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that it would be more effective and efficient to infiltrate the military base and destroy the predator drones with carefully planted explosives.

Adagio's avatar

I don’t imagine choosing to go on a hunger strike is a decision made lightly; surely anyone desperate enough to go on a hunger strike feels they have exhausted every other avenue for change.

Jeruba's avatar

If you’re somebody like Gandhi, it can be very effective because a lot of people care whether you live or die, and a whole lot of other people care about the political consequences of upsetting that many people.

Nullo's avatar

@marinelife
I used the term ‘mild’ because – as far as self-harm goes – it’s not immediately dangerous. Unlike self-immolation, or hacking off bits of your arm.

@ragingloli
Code Pink is composed of middle-aged (and older) women with extensive training in being civilians. I daresay that infiltration is beyond their means.

spiritual's avatar

I heard a lot about hunger strikes when I was growing up.
I grew up in Northern Ireland, and a lot of Republican terroist prisoners used hunger strikes as a way of protest.
They used them to make the public aware of their political stance and to show how comittied they were to the cause.
A very famous one was Bobby Sands, an IRA prisoner, who died and is still up on murals on walls in Belfast, and a drama was made about it recently for tv.
People still remember that and talk about it, and that happened almost thirty years ago. That just shows that it did their cause some good.

mattbrowne's avatar

When people die as a result, there’s a lot of publicity.

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