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.
What are the lessons we can take from these movements that apply to today? With regards to Shays’ Rebellion, we can look at two things: • The protesters had a clear, coherent message and stuck with it • They escalated the situation over time. With regards to a clear message, the best thing student debt activists can do today is to get on the same page with one another so that there is one, coherent message that gets repeated again and again. This will help serve as a guiding point for the goal that is to be achieved. This means activists can up the ante and bring more attention to their cause by doing things like blocking roads and disrupting the status quo in a variety of peaceful, nonviolent ways.
Despite its flaws, organized labor is the most powerful democratic force in American history. Fewer labor unions means more income inequality, and everyday people and hardworking families are sitting ducks to the corporate agenda without the effective counter-weight of a strong labor movement. That’s why it is imperative that organized labor heed the lessons of Wisconsin, soberly analyze the outcome, and draw the right conclusions from the fight in order to inform the movement’s next steps. The most important lesson to be learned from Wisconsin is that labor’s traditional electoral program is no longer effective, if it ever was. Labor and other allied groups spent tens of millions of dollars in the 2012 recall election and again in 2014 in an attempt to oust Walker, but their spending was still dwarfed by big money corporate interest groups. Even worse was the missed opportunity cost: Labor wasted four years telling everyday Wisconsinites to elect moderate, pro-business Democrats instead of stoking the flames of a historic uprising and working to pull off a general strike.
The Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign came to San Francisco in the very early hours of April 15. Around 100 protestors assembled at 6am and then marched very orderly through the doors, packed the dining area and shut down for one hour the McDonalds in the heart of the city’s Latino Mission district, an area which itself is a focal point of the city’s gentrification and displacement of working class residents. Speakers spoke inside with bullhorns, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago when arrests would have been certain. The political climate has dramatically changed in a very short time. A majority of Americans support the message that was heard loud and clear today, “workers need a raise, a big raise!”
The South has long been one of the most hostile places for labor organizing. From using prison labor to break labor unions – which in Georgia was done almost entirely to African Americans, as a form of an extension of slavery-by-another-name – to intense hostility to even the concept of the minimum wage itself – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has called for abolishing it – Southern elites have long suppressed the rights and wages of workers. But big changes are afoot, as activists across the region have been successful in recruiting thousands of people from all walks of life to join a movement for economic and social justice that sprawls several states. On Wednesday, this movement took the form of the Fight For 15 Movement.
We have known for quite a while the environmental movement is stubbornly White. Most recently, Barbara Grady, of GreenBiz Group, noted that improvements are in the works, citing that the leaders of the EPA and NRDC were women of color. Unfortunately, this doesn’t address the elephant in the room. Environmentalists don’t have a diversity problem, they have an identity problem. And it’s rooted in a racist history and unchecked biases. The past is complex. Historians have noted that even in the early 19th century, long before the modern environmental movement began, racist rhetoric was used to push for clearing Native Americans from potential land preserves. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962, did little to help.
The United States produced a bumper crop of what Billie Holiday would call “Strange Fruit,” in March: at least 111 bodies, the majority of them unarmed men of color, shot down by police in the blood-fertilized streets of American cities. Yet, in the same month, President Obama declared Venezuela a threat to the national securityof the United States, based largely on the death of 14 “dissidents” during a period of anti-government disturbances back in 2014. Many of the dead were pro-government activists killed by “dissidents.” By contrast, Philadelphia police have been shooting an average of one person a week for the last eight years, the overwhelming majority of them Black and brown, according to a new U.S. Justice Department report. As Frederick Douglass said, “for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”
Geoghegan’s argument, based on his 2014 book Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement, is that a revived—but different—labor movement is the only way to stabilize the economy, solve the problems of hierarchy in the workplace and inequality in the larger society, and save the middle-class. In particular, he developed a compelling case against the idea, shared by mainstream economists and politicians alike, that all we need is more education. Without a stronger union movement, higher levels of education simply won’t solve those pressing economic and social problems.
“Organizing boycotts, work stoppages inside prisons and the refusal by prisoners and their families to pay into the accounts of phone companies and commissary companies is the only weapon we have left,” said Amos Caley, who runs the Interfaith Prison Coalition, a group formed by prisoners, the formerly incarcerated, their families and religious leaders. “Mass incarceration is the most important civil rights issue of our day. And it is time for communities of faith to stand with poor people, mostly of color, who are unfairly exploited and abused. We must halt human rights violations against the poor that grow more pronounced each year,” Caley said here. He and other prison reform leaders spoke Saturday at the Elmwood Presbyterian Church.
The Ludlow strikers, were they able to time-travel to Lower Manhattan in 2011, would have found much that seemed familiar, starting with the statistics about economic inequality: the richest 1 percent of the nation controls 40 percent of the wealth and earns 20 percent of the national income, proportions similar to those in the early 20th century (and up from about 25 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in the 1970s). The miners would have recognized, too, the anger about widespread unemployment, the spectacle of lavish upper-crust consumption, and the increasing influence of private money in politics. But they might well have wondered: Where are the unions? Even though it got some support from labor groups, Occupy Wall Street was more directly focused on unemployment, student-loan and consumer debt, and the generous terms of the 2008 bailout for the financial sector than on specific issues related to working conditions.
The Vykom struggle was designed by Gandhi to eliminate untouchability by ‘converting’ the high caste Hindus ‘by sheer force of character and suffering’. Within a decade of the Vykom campaign the narrative that emerged, and which has persisted to this day because of its unquestioned promulgation in several well-known books on nonviolence, is that this was achieved. However, after protracted research in sometimes obscure places, including the morgues of newspapers no longer published, the viewing of colonial and archival records, and interviews of a diverse and extensive range of scholars, Professor King presents new evidence that the suffering of activists – whether untouchable or caste Hindu – was ineffective in ‘converting’ orthodox upper-caste Hindus in Vykom.