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.
We earlier reported that Bill Gates and his sake in GEO coming under pressure from Latino activists. Today there is more news on the front regarding for profit prisons. In a groundbreaking move, three major corporations have announced the divestment of a combined total of nearly $60,000,000 from Corrections Corp Of America (NYSE:CXW) and The Geo Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO), confirmed after ColorOfChange.org urged company executives to reconsider the financial, moral, and political implications of private prisons and divest. In the past few months, ColorOfChange has reached out to more than 150 companies urging divestment, and remain in conversations with dozens of company executives about ending support for the industry. Investments in private prison companies are unacceptable “The leadership of these companies sets a much needed, powerful new industry standard: investments in private prison companies are unacceptable. What we see here is not just a fluctuating of stock, but a conscience decision on behalf of major companies to cut ties with private prisons. That’s huge.” explained Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org.
First, let me say what I don’t mean by “militancy.” I’m not using this word as a euphemism for violence. The whole theme of violence and nonviolence gets too much attention and distracts us from more basic and pressing questions. Instead, I define militancy as grievance-motivated collective action that is both adversarial and confrontational. Militancy is adversarial in the sense that, instead of seeking to find common ground with its targets, it identifies them as adversaries to be defeated or to be forced into retreat. For example, the companies that profit from the tar sands, and the politicians that serve these business interests, are not potential partners for a meeting of the minds. If they are to be stopped, it will have to be through determined struggle; relentless, escalating, and with a broadening base of participation. We have to identify these targets as adversaries, and work to build an alliance of people and organizations willing to fight them and defeat them. Militancy is confrontational in the sense that it actively encourages conflict, rather than seeking to resolve or limit the animosity and disorder that conflict generates. In Martin Luther King’s words, militancy seeks “to create a crisis” and “to foster tension.” Defeating a determined and hostile adversary — someone like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for example — requires a willingness to defy the authority of that adversary, and to disrupt the functioning of the systems of power from which that adversary draws strength.
An indigenous community in the United States has filed a petition against the federal government, alleging that officials have repeatedly broken treaties and that the court system has failed to offer remedy. The petition was filed by the Onondaga Nation, a Native American tribe and one of more than 650 sovereign peoples recognised by the U.S. government. Onondaga representatives are calling on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the pan-regional Organisation of American States (OAS), to intervene. “We understand that the U.S. does not adhere to the OAS, but I don’t know where we go. We’ve exhausted our avenues.” — Onondaga leader Sid Hill In 2005, the Onondaga Nation filed a case against New York State, stating the state government had repeatedly violated treaties signed with the Onondaga, resulting in lost land and severe environmental pollution. Yet advocates for the trips say antiquated legal precedents with racist roots have allowed the courts to consistently dismiss the Onondaga’s case.
In her new book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, out now from Metropolitan Books, Astra Taylor takes on both the techno-utopians and the techno-skeptics, reminding us that the Internet was created by the society we live in and thus is more likely to reflect its problems than transcend them. She delves into questions of labor, culture and, especially, money, reminding us who profits from our supposedly free products. She builds a strong case that in order to understand the problems and potentials of technology, we have to look critically at the market-based society that produced it. Old power dynamics don’t just fade away, she points out—they have to be destroyed. That will require political action, struggle, and a vision of how we want the Internet (and the rest of our society) to be. I spoke with Taylor about culture, creativity, the possibility of nationalizing Facebook and more.
When, on the night of July 3, the military ousted the Brotherhood from government, arresting Morsi and whisking him to a secret location, they did so in the name of the tens of millions of people who had taken to the streets after Tamarod circulated a petition across Egypt that drew up a number of complaints against the Muslim Brotherhood-held government. “How did we go from such a small thing, five guys trying to change Egypt, to the movement which brought tens of millions to the street to get rid of the Brotherhood? The answer is we didn’t. I understand now it wasn’t us, we were being used as the face of what something bigger than us wanted,” said Doss, who now has nothing to do with the Tamarod movement, or political life in Egypt. “We were naïve, and we were not responsible.”
Cross-posted at CreativeResistance.org. Against this calamitous backdrop, we are starting to see hope in the country’s next generation of campaigners, organisers and even artists. These new hybrid cultural activists have been dubbed “artivists” and are continuing the struggles of their predecessors with a new approach. The author MK Assante describes the artivist as someone who “uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression by any medium necessary”. For two weeks in February, I had the privilege of joining almost 200 activists, organisers and artivists in a Nairobi community centre (unnamed for security reasons) for an Artivism Lab.
Middle-class Americans take it for granted that whatever hardships we face in life, we can always count on food appearing on the table. Supermarkets feature well-stocked shelves, restaurants bustle with business, and the choice of cuisines available to us would even dazzle Old World aristocrats. But the great majority of the world’s peoples don’t enjoy such blessings. For them, the task of feeding their families is a challenge they face anew each day. Chronic hunger and malnutrition afflict close to 850 million people; another billion subsist on substandard diets; and billions more spend a huge portion of their income, even as much as half, on their humble meals of rice, wheat or corn. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the right to food as integral to a satisfactory standard of living, affirming “the right of every individual, alone or in community with others, to have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, adequate and culturally acceptable food that is produced and consumed sustainably, preserving access to food for future generations.”
Here’s the scenario: This year’s epic drought devastates agriculture in California. Water use is rationed, so the cost of grain goes up, and, because cattle eat grain, the cost of beef goes up too. To cut expenses, the owners of a fast food restaurant cut a worker’s wages and benefits by a couple bucks an hour. Next month he won’t be able to send money to his wife and kids back in Mexico, where the same drought is also decimating farms—and may be contributing to even more northward migration. What’s the origin of the restaurant worker’s predicament? Is it climate change, which makes droughts more severe and more likely to persist? Is it the labor policies that allowed the worker’s wages to be cut? Or is it that NAFTA has flooded the Mexican market with cheap, U.S.-grown corn since 1996, forcing him to leave his family’s farm and migrate to California in the first place? The likely answer is that it’s a little bit of everything.
Saturday’s protest in Rome was the latest in a series of actions around a common project. What can organizers elsewhere learn from Italy’s movements? “The Italian movements may provide us with at least one clue on where to start: by sitting down together and carefully spelling out a common project behind which disparate political groups, autonomous movements and isolated individuals can unite. What is needed is a single banner capable of sustaining a broad popular coalition behind a set of shared aims and principles.” Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Rome this Saturday to denounce the austerity measures and economic reforms of Matteo Renzi’s new government and to restate their call for income, housing and dignity for all.
“Nonviolent action” is one of the names people sometimes give to the conflict behavior reported in this database. Other names are “people power,” “civil resistance,” “satyagraha,” “nonviolent resistance,” “direct action,” “pacifica militancia,” “positive action,” and more. We mean a technique of struggle that goes beyond institutionalized conflict procedures like law courts and voting, procedures common in many countries. We study the methods of protest, noncooperation, and intervention that typically heighten a conflict – and the use of these methods without the threat or use of injurious force to others. Our definition is not located in the discourse of morality and ethics, although some people may choose to use nonviolent action for ethical reasons. Instead, we focus descriptively on what people do when they use this specific “technique of struggle.”
Developing useful theories for social change is very challenging. Two recent articles in Truthout show us that one major difficulty is to get theory to work from the bottom up. Once it wanders away from the reservation of experience, it’s on a wrong path. Let me use an analogy to explain my thinking here. It’s not meant to convince you, but to clarify what I want to say in this article. Think of society as a garden, full of a rich diversity of productive plants in beneficial relationships with each other. Think of culture as the soil they are embedded in, from which they draw essential nutrients, and to which they contribute their own stuff for its enrichment. Social change movements, at their best, want to fix a world dominated by exploitive relationships. Most social change theory, in my opinion, is aimed at fixing particular systems, practices, toolkits, etc. Theory that works from the ground up focuses on the soil itself, since this is what creates and sustains the dominant relationships.
On the left, it has long been argued whether electoral politics can have any lasting effect on positive societal change or whether activists should instead focus solely on building social movements. In the latter camp, commentators such as Patrick Barrett, writing in Truthout, argue that a run for president by Bernie Sanders, for example, would be a huge waste of time and resources, and some even call forboycotts of elections. Why? The “social-movement-only” proponents argue that electoral politics is counterproductive because it undercuts social movements by diverting too much energy to elections. The argument goes that even electoral movements independent of the two-party system, such as the Green Party, weaken popular movements by pacifying them and quickly devolve into duopoly politics as usual. The boycott argument goes that US elections are completely undemocratic, that voters are invited to choose between various representatives of the same corporatocracy.
Leaders from eight tribes in South Dakota and Minnesota pitched their flags. Participants erected nine tipis, a prayer lodge and a cook shack, surrounding their camp with a wall of 1,500-pound hay bales. Elders said they would camp out indefinitely. Speakers said they were willing to die for their cause. This spirit camp at the Sicangu Lakota Rosebud reservation was the most visible recent action in Indian Country over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. But it was hardly the first … or the last. On the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Debra White Plume, an activist and community organizer involved in Oglala Lakota cultural preservation for more than 40 years, has been leading marches, civil disobedience training camps and educational forums on the Keystone XL since the pipeline was proposed in 2008. White Plume is the founder of the activists groups Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), the International Justice Project and Moccasins on the Ground…
Late last month, over 100 teachers, students, and parents from across the country gathered in Denver for the United Opt Out National Spring Action, a conference aimed at growing the resistance to corporate education reform and high stakes standardized testing across the nation. While the opt out strategy remained central, the conference attendees participated in weekend-long discussion groups focused on devising even broader strategies to build a broad-based movement aimed not only at stopping the corporate education reform machine, but at transforming and democratizing public education as a whole. The groups focused on a number of areas from winning back local control of school boards to strengthening teacher unions to educating the broader public about the effects of corporate reform on their communities and their children’s futures. Their aim is nothing short of a revolution in the public education system. “This is the education revolution,” said high school senior and conference speaker Alex Kacsh. “We are creating a better tomorrow.” How is not taking or administering a school test part of the revolution? High stakes standardized testing is the cornerstone of the neoliberalism’s corporate education reform agenda – and also its Achilles heel.