The section provides information on strategic nonviolence and links to organizations that provide training in nonviolent resistance, effective strategy and creative actions. For more information on a common vision and strategy that unites people into an effective national movement please see our page, about PopularResistance.org
Featured Video: The video to the right is an hour-long presentation on grand strategy given to the Fellowship Of Reconciliation in Olympia, WA. It is a reflection on how organizers can grow social movements to be impactful enough that they can effect social change, and it highlights principles and a theoretical framework that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of actions and tactics.
Organizations and Websites
Recent Articles in Strategy!
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, www.truth-out.org
June 13th, 2013
The fact is, United States and world histories show that an organized and mobilized populace is what has always caused transformational change. This history is not taught in our education system or emphasized in the heroes we idolize in our culture, but it is so significant that it cannot be hidden from view. The country could not operate if the people refused to participate in its corrupt systems. The ultimate power is with us, if we let go of fear and embrace it. Now that there is a history of more than 100 years of modern resistance movements, there is data to show what works and what doesn’t. As a result, we can develop a vision, a strategic plan and tactics that make success more likely than ever before.
This new movement is being led by mostly young black women who won’t allow us to forget that black women’s lives matter, too (Columbia University Law professor Kimberle Crenshaw was present with a large banner that featured the pictues and names of black women and girls also killed by police). It is drawing in diverse crowds, including white allies who are not calling for gradual change, but a total end to white supremacy. The people in the street have neck tattoos, are dressed in sagging skinny jeans, and curse loudly (among the more popular chants: “BACK UP, BACK UP, WE WANT FREEDOM, FREEDOM, ALL THESE RACIST ASS COPS, WE DON’T NEED ‘EM, NEED ‘EM!” and “WHO SHUT SHIT DOWN? WE SHUT SHIT DOWN!”). The movement doesn’t look or sound like anything our elders remember (or were taught) about the civil rights era. And that’s OK. We have a new fight. We have to create a new model of resistance.
I went to their courtroom as an American Indian, not a citizen of kkkanada and/or a subject or the “Crown”, giving them authority over me. I am not be a ‘full blood’ Indian, but I am in part Migmaq and Penobscot. I don’t need an “Indian Status” from the status quo, determining who I am by quantum blood levels. This is their justification of the decision process of who is and who isn’t an First Nation, Native, etc.. And this is, according to the Crown, the enemy. I’m an American Indian, none of the preceeding descriptions. This right to choose where my or your allegiance is, is up to me or you. I don’t need anyone else’s given permission but from the Ancestors. They have given me the right to be a channel to what happened in that court room as an Indian living by Tribal Law and respecting International Law.
Bill McKibben suggested that the massive People’s Climate March in September had helped cause theUS-China climate announcement of a few weeks ago. He tweeted, “First reaction to US China climate news: We should do more of these big protest-type things, they seem useful.” But did the People’s Climate March actually cause these policy outcomes? Maybe. The truth is that it’s really difficult to assess the causal impact of protests. Many of the same things that drive people out to the streets also influence politicians to take actions in support of the movement’s cause. When the tide of public opinion shifts to support a movement, for example, we can expect to see both more protest and more favorable policy outcomes.
Berkman says social revolutions do not happen by accident, but the same can be said of empires. They are forged out of the deliberate use of greed, theft, deceit, imperialism, and ruthless terror. The American Empire is no different. Yet the vast majority of Americans prefer to ignore it; foreign affairs are not something most people pay attention to. However, if you pay attention to the weapons and tactics being used by the American Empire for social control at home, you are seeing exactly what it does abroad, as well. This is a sign that our empire is imploding. We do not know for sure if the death of Michael Brown is the event that will ignited a social revolution, but we do know it started a considerable amount of unrest and dissent. I believe many people wonder how one event could do such a thing because they are not fully aware or sensitive to the amount of oppression black people experience. We should not be surprised when victims of The New Jim Crow spill into the streets full of anger. And if proper channels for peaceful change do not exist, we should not be surprise if that anger becomes violent. When inequality, unjust laws, mass incarceration, racism and police brutality among other things, are not addressed then the result is insurrection. Some may see rioting in Ferguson as just that, rioting. I see an empire in decline, seeds of revolution, and a struggle to preserve democracy.
Everyone knows the First Amendment guarantees free speech and freedom of assembly—the right to protest. But as demonstrations build across the country over institutional racism and excessive force in policing, there are other things protesters need to know, from legal limits on protests to what to do if arrested. In some cities, there’s no guarantee that police will behave, balancing the rights of protesters with what they will say are the rights of everyone else. What follows are summaries and links to five guidelines and legal analyses for protesters from civil rights’ lawyers. They say what you can and cannot do, tell protesters to be prepared for possible arrest, what to do if arrested and more.
Back in August, some observers drew comparisons between the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. If parallels to civil rights movement history are helpful now, then let yesterday’s announcement that a Staten Island grand jury won’t indict the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death be a sign that we’re somewhere closer to 1963—when a series of devastating setbacks and subsequent widespread outrage transformed the civil rights struggle—than we are to Till’s lynching, that earlier consciousness-raising moment. There was a perfect storm this week: the continuing fallout of the failed indictment of Wilson; the news of the outcome in the Garner case; a Cleveland newspaper’s efforts to discredit and sling mud on the parents of a 12-year-old boy killed by police. This moment has the potential to catapult change
They were not the words of a local student or activist, but of a visitor from Shanghai. As we talked by my tent in the encampment, we reflected that Hong Kong activists were fighting to exercise the simple right that Americans across the Pacific would be using at the ballot box the very next day, in national elections on Nov. 4. More than 60 people now sit in prison in China for expressing various degrees of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Yet, more come here every day for a taste of what one man from Beijing described to me as “the first ever genuine movement for freedom on Chinese soil.” Although this could not have been said as easily across the border, it’s an increasingly common sentiment these days in Hong Kong, where local, mainland and even Taiwanese activists continue forging new connections around the makeshift supply stations and study centers of the occupation.
Fast forward to 2014, the crisis surrounding the fossil fuel industry’s exploitation and destruction of the earth has only worsened. According to climate scientists, April, 2014 became the first month that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million further pushing us towards a climate catastrophe that includes floods, droughts, mega-storms and greater social and economic inequity. Another recent report states that the earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past forty years due to unsustainable killing for food practices and habitat destruction. Studies have also found that people living near mountaintop removal mine sites are twice more than likely to suffer from cancer than people from other parts of Appalachia. Furthermore, mountaintop removal has been linked to high rates of birth defects.
“This is what democracy looks like!” has become, since Seattle, more than a momentary expression of an alternative world that is possible. Instead, it has grown into an ongoing direct challenge to corporate capitalism and elite government. To be clear, the cost of that challenge has already proven high. And the past fifteen years have brought not only increased popular resistance but also greater social control in the form of police militarization and violence, security state expansion, unending war, and the legalization of corporate rule. Yet the fact remains that we have witnessed the birth of a global democracy movement that is constitutionally subversive and antagonistic to the institutions, laws, acts, and culture it seeks to transform.
As a personal experience, enduring what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, “the ordeals of jail” deepens one’s commitment to our campaign, fosters patience and bravery, and reveals a side of American life—the world of incarceration—that is otherwise hidden from view. Most of all: there is great satisfaction in aligning one’s actions with one’s values. Those of us who have chosen jail sentences—by refusing to pay the county a fine for the privilege of arresting us—have discovered joy behind our bars and a sense of being at peace with oneself. And, finally, because jail is one of the few places in the world without to-do lists, email, text messages, Internet access—or even clocks—the incarcerated civil disobedient is given a gift of time: time to read, write, sketch, meditate, reflect, and otherwise draw on one’s own inner resources.
If you want a nonviolent action to be maximally effective, there are two preliminary points to consider. First, spend time developing a carefully elaborated nonviolent strategythat will guide each and every aspect of your campaign. And second, make sure that each nonviolent action that your group undertakes is governed by its strategic goal, not its political objective. If your nonviolent tactic (demonstration, strike, blockade…) is the strategically chosen and focused tactic for this stage of your campaign, and you undertake it with the strategic goal (not political objective) clearly in mind, then, irrespective of the immediate police response (including if it is illegal, violent and/or makes use of provocateurs), your strategic goal will be achieved, your campaign will be advanced and any violent response by police or the military will be either politically irrelevant or strategically advantageous to your campaign.