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
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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.
In the wake of the mid-term elections earlier this month, it might have seemed that there wasn’t much hope to hold onto for progressives, what with climate deniers and tea party fundamentalists rising to some of the highest offices in the land. What we’ve seen since, though, has been a string of executive decisions that might be cautiously described as hopeful. Responding to his new-found willingness to take on the GOP, pundits have commented that Obama is attempting to carve out a progressive legacy in the latter half of his second term. This may be true, but this week’s announcements are also evidence of the work grassroots organizers have been doing to put pressure on the White House since well before the 2008 election. In other words, like other presidents, any progressive legacy Obama manages to build between now and 2016 will be a product of the movements that challenged him most.
When Germany’s left-leaning Green party was born 30 years ago, former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt dismissed them outright. “They’re just environmental idiots who will have disappeared again soon,” he said. They didn’t. In fact, in a turn of events reverberating across the nation, the Greens on Sunday ended six decades of conservative rule in one of Germany’s wealthiest states, completing their transformation from a radical protest party to a mainstream force shaking the traditional political order. “To see the party go from that to this … is a sign that it has a strong chance in the federal elections,” says Miranda Schreurs, head of the European Environmental and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils, a Berlin-based network of advisers appointed by 16 European countries.
Not long ago, a prosecutor in Palermo heard something strange on a wiretap. A mobster was telling a henchman not to punish a store for failing to pay its pizzo, or protection money. Palermo, the largest city in Sicily, is at the heart of mafia country. In the past, trade association surveys have shown that about 80 percent of the town’s shops were paying pizzo. But now more than 900 Sicilian firms, a majority of them in Palermo, are publicly refusing to give money to the mob, thanks to one of the most remarkable social movements to emerge in the last decade. Addiopizzo—Italian for “Goodbye, protection money”—is resisting the racketeers with tactics you’re more likely to associate with Gandhi or the Arab Spring than a campaign against organized crime.
State and local officials on Friday announced that while they have not negotiated with a coalition of protest groups, they did agree on some of the 19 proposed “rules of engagement” in advance of the announcement of a grand jury decision in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown. A coalition of roughly 50 groups asked officials earlier this month to agree to 19 rules of engagement for the police response to protests. The first was that “The first priority shall be the preservation of human life.” The groups asked police to agree to a “de-militarized response” that would ban the use of armored vehicles, rubber bullets, rifles and tear gas.
Americans tend to only act upon their convictions when it gets to a point of extreme necessity. We tend to live in a culture that runs on the notion of “as long as it does not affect me or my friends/family, then it does not concern me”. Yet, when tragedy hits us, and our bubble is busted, we cry out in outrage. As long as we are “comfortable” and have a feeling that we are “secure”, we are willing to let others go on with what they are doing/saying even if it is unjust or immoral. This is why after 911 Americans were more than willing to let the Federal Government invade privacy and violate civil liberties. Most Americans felt uncomfortable due to the sense that they lost the false security that this culture thrived on. But there seems to be a shift in the wind….The cycle is beginning to break……
In a former union hall in downtown St. Louis, about 100 activists formed a rough circle and, at the instruction of organizer Michael McPhearson, crossed the room wading through a crowd of people going the opposite way. “How hard was that? How much harder will it be after the grand jury comes back?” McPhearson, executive director of activist group Veterans for Peace, asked the group, which ranged from young black college students to bearded white retirees. Police around the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, are preparing for large protests when a grand jury decides whether to indict the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teen in August, and so are activists. Several groups from across the United States, and even from abroad, are preparing to take to the streets in actions of nonviolent civil disobedience, particularly if the grand jury finds no criminal trial is warranted.
Camera-equipped drones are everywhere these days. You can see them on the weekends in San Francisco’s Dolores Park, buzzing high up above picnickers and Frisbee throwers. (You can even rent them by the day, from a company like Photojojo.) At my college reunion last summer, my classmates watched in awe as a $500 DJI Phantom drone zipped over the crowd, shooting still photos and video with the GoPro attached to its underside. Easy-to-fly photo drones are becoming cheaper every day. Parrot sells a line of sub-$500 mini-drones, and the auto-flight features on 3D Robotics’ $750 IRIS+ drone have made it a favorite of hobbyists. But despite the growing low-end drone market, there still isn’t a good mid-range option for those who want to use a drone for professional-quality TV and film production, but don’t have the budget for a $50,000 custom rig. That’s about to change.
Anonymous may strike a reader as unique, but its efforts represent just the latest in experimentation with anonymous speech as a conduit for political expression. Anonymous expression has been foundational to our political culture, characterizing monumental declarations like the Federalist Papers, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly granted anonymous speech First Amendment protection. The actions of this group are also important because anonymity remains important to us all. Universally enforcing disclosure of real identities online would limit the possibilities for whistle-blowing and voicing unpopular beliefs—processes essential to any vibrant democracy. And just as anonymity can engender disruptive and antisocial behavior such as trolling, it can provide a means of pushing back against increased surveillance.
With the Ferguson Police Department, Missouri State Police, Federal law enforcement and military planning a heavy-handed response to upcoming protests, we decided there was no better time to get in touch with the activists on the ground who are revolutionizing the way police are held accountable. We contacted Jacob from the Canfield Watchmen to ask about the camera training that his group is engaged in, which is changing the game in Ferguson and surrounding areas. With newly leaked information tipping off protesters to police plans to use third party hackers to block cell phone video live streaming, this camera training might prove more important than ever with the reading of the verdict in the Officer Darren Wilson case.
Cindy Wiesner: We see this as a growing movement around systems change – not climate change – and trying to build the political perspective of our alliances, our networks and our agenda. “Grassroots organizing has kept more industrial carbon out of the atmosphere than any state or federal policy to date in the United States.” We’re very clear about what we’re saying “no” to, but we’re also beginning to lift up what we’re saying “yes” to. What’s very exciting is these paradigm shifts are the actual examples of local living economies from our work here in the US around Just Transition, to what’s happening in the Andean region around Buen Vivir to what’s happening in Europe around the Great Transition and the Commons movement and deglobalization.
Remarkably, although the fall of the Berlin Wall was an iconic moment, it was just one of the highlights in a flurry of activity that was sweeping through the Soviet Bloc — a series of uprisings that would become known as the revolutions of 1989. Every so often, we witness a period of mass insurgency that seems to defy the accepted rules of politics: Protests seem to begin popping up everywhere. Organizers see their rallies packed with newcomers who come from far outside their regular network of supporters. Mainstream analysts, taken by surprise, struggle for words. And those in power scramble as the political landscape around them dramatically shifts — sometimes leaving once-entrenched leaders in perilous positions. If ever there was a time in modern history that exemplified such a moment of peak public activity, it was the second half of 1989.
Every now and then there is an action that hits all the right notes — the message is clear, the messengers are appropriate, the setting and tone are impeccable, and the ripples carry on far into the future. One such action took place earlier this month in the midst of protests in Ferguson, Mo., against the killing of teenager Michael Brown and police use of excessive force. Seemingly far from the streets of Ferguson at the Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, concert goers returned to their seats after intermission. One by one, a diverse group of protesters interspersed in the audience rose to solemnly sing out a tailored protest song: “Which side are you on friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”