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.
For me, creating a march for Campaign Nonviolence that encourages positive social change is like making a perfect loaf of banana bread. Like the perfect loaf, there is also a tried and true and unfailing recipe for doing the things necessary to bring equality, love, peace, and joy to our world. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., not to mention countless other inspirational leaders, have devoted their lives to perfecting the recipe for helping to create positive social change. Their recipe is called nonviolent action. It is strategic and loving, powerful, but never harming, and always accessible to anyone willing to use it. Most importantly, the result of nonviolence is that it always works. To be successful in creating positive change, all we have to do is follow the recipe of nonviolence that has been handed down from these amazing leaders. For me, the first part of organizing the nonviolent march recipe means contacting everyone I can to get buy in. I know intuitively that everyone wants a better world so I just have to let them know that we are doing something to work towards that end. Many people are willing to spend time helping to create a better world, but first I have to find them and then bring them all together.
Zinn was of Russian-Jewish heritage, an influential historian and, in 1960, a beloved professor at Spelman College, the historically black women’s institution in the then-segregated city of Atlanta. The attribution of “finishing school” in the title was well-earned: Spelman girls, whose acceptance letters included requests to bring white gloves and girdles with them to campus, were molded to honor the virtues of “true-womanhood”: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness. Nevertheless, by 1960, Zinn’s students had morphed from “nice, well-mannered and ladylike” paragons of politesse to determined demonstrators who picketed, organized sit-ins, and were sometimes arrested and jailed for their efforts. “Respectability is no longer respectable among young Negro women attending college today,” Zinn concluded.
In recent months, progressives have been voicing their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And they might try and make an example out of Sen. Ron Wyden over it, even though he’s been a reliable ally for years. The free trade agreement, which would involve 12 Asia-Pacific countries—including the U.S. along with countries like Mexico, Japan and Canada—could account for 40 percent of global GDP and one-third of all world trade. Progressive groups say that the deal is no good: it could ship more jobs overseas, undercut environmental and labor standards, and increase Internet censorship. The deal’s future may rest with Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, and his support for the partnership has some progressives thinking about going after one of their own in their fight against the deal.
Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it. It joins Michigan and Indiana, which both adopted right to work in 2012. Similar initiatives, or variants, are spreading to Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia—and the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council probably have a well-developed list of additional targets. Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. To defeat it, the first step is committing to fight back, rather than resigning ourselves to what some say is inevitable.
Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing. In recent years management has shuttered half the nation’s mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale. A third of all post offices, most of them in rural areas, have had their hours slashed. Hundreds of full time, highly experienced postmasters knowledgeable about the people and the communities they serve have been dumped unceremoniously, often replaced by part timers. Ever larger portions of traditional post office operations— trucking, mail processing and mail handling– have been privatized. Close to 200,000 middle class jobs have disappeared.
When liberals align with the power structure, as they did on healthcare we get an abomination — Obama’s ACA — that does not solve the healthcare crisis. The radicals need to show enough strength so the liberals realize winning is possible. We could not do that over healthcare (even though 80% of Dems were with us on single payer and 60% of the country agreed with us) so we got stuck with insurance an industry dominated market rather than healthcare for the public good. Obama played the Stratfor strategy well. He picked off the opportunists who could be bought with big donations or access to politicians. This led the realists to doubt the possibility of really putting in place an effective health policy, that and the same things the opportunists wanted brought them to the side of Obama and the insurance industry.
The survival of the labor movement as an effective social force is today in serious jeopardy and needs to be addressed without delay. We urge that union meetings at the local, state and regional levels be organized to take a hard look at where we’re at and what we need to do to counteract the corporate class’s offensive. To be sure, the best course would be for the major unions on the national level to join together to convene an emergency Congress of Labor to get the ball rolling on an alternative strategy and an alternative program, one that recognizes the enormous power the labor movement still has at its command — especially when allied with community partners with complementary interests — if only it would use that power to mobilize millions to defend our rights, wages, benefits and working conditions, and rescind the repressive measures that have so severely weakened our movement.
The legacy of the brutal Burmese regime that kept glamorous challenger Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest and its tightly controlled society closed off to outside influences had seemed poised for real change. Just a month ago, as the early sunlight spread across the Bagan plain lighting up hundreds of ancient pagodas and warming up a sizable gaggle of tourists (including myself) perched high on one of the structures to witness the sunrise, it seemed clear that a new day was dawning. As part of the inaugural Beautiful Rising workshop, we had gathered in Yangon the week before to hear stories of resistance and begin to tease out the shared lessons that these events held for frontline activists.
The theory and practice of nonviolent direct action, disrupting the system enough to risk arrest, to challenge war and warmaking, are a living, evolving issue. Some frequent arrest-riskers have experienced a growing frustration with the inaccuracy of the still widely used wording “civil disobedience”. “Disobedience” means breaking a specific law which is or embodies the problem, such as African Americans breaking racist Jim Crow municipal ordinances by sitting in at lunch counters legally prohibited from serving them, or Indians processing their own salt from sea water or spinning thread and weaving khadi cloth instead of buying them as legally required from the occupying British. Peace and anti-war activists contend that what governments and corporations do to prepare and perpetrate war is illegal, and they consider their own actions of civil resistance to the governments or corporations as obeying higher laws, be they international treaties and human rights agreements, or national constitutions, or religious tenets, or all of those. Civil resistance actionists uphold the Nuremberg principals that citizens have responsibilities to resist illegal government crimes of aggression, act out of the necessity to technically break a minor trespass or municipal order rule to prevent a much more serious tragedy or crime.
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against Duke Energy for violating the federal Clean Water Act at coal ash sites across North Carolina. The company announced today it has reached a proposed plea agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve the charges. According to a Duke Energy press release, the plea agreement includes $68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation. The charges include multiple misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with last year’s coal ash spill in the Dan River as well as unauthorized discharges at other Duke coal plants in North Carolina. The agreement is subject to review and approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Southern Oregon communities along a proposed natural gas pipeline route are looking for creative ways to stop the project. Douglas and Coos County residents hope a Community Bill of Rights will give them a legal avenue to assert local control. The pipeline for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would run through the property of Stacey McLaughlin. She doesn’t want it there. And speaking out before government officials has been less than satisfying. “It feels like a waste of my time,” she said. So McLaughlin is organizing her Douglas County neighbors to enact a community bill of rights. It would give cities and counties the legal grounds to say no to projects that violate local values.
Our challenge in Milwaukee was to transform a staff-dominated, business/service-style teachers’ union into something quite different. The local had focused narrowly on contract bargaining and enforcement, with the staff playing the role of insurance agents who would intervene on members’ behalf to solve their problems—instead of helping members organize to solve their own problems. It was a codependent relationship—members didn’t have to do much more than make a call to have their problems taken care of, and staff didn’t have to go out to do the hard work of organizing members, except for occasional mobilizations at contract time. The importance of parent/community alliances was downplayed, and the union took the attitude that it was not their responsibility—but rather the administration’s—to ensure quality education.