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.

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History Teaches That We Have the Power to Transform the Nation, Here’s How.


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.

Bernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs

Bernie Sanders in front of image of Eugene Debs in 1990, Getty images

UNFORTUNATELY, TOO many self-professed socialists in the U.S. have abandoned the socialist principle of independent political action. They argue instead that whether or not to support a Democrat or an independent candidate is a question of tactics, not principle. That was not the case when the United States had a viable Socialist Party. The political independence of the Socialist Party is a major reason why it was viable, why it had power, why it elected many of its candidates, why it was central to the political dialogue of the country. After the demoralizing and self-defeating experience of fusion (cross-endorsing the more progressive Democratic and Republican candidates) that undermined and ultimately destroyed the Greenback Labor and People’s Parties of the recently past Populist era, the Socialist Party of America put into its constitution a ban against endorsing the candidates of the capitalist parties.

Nuclear Freeze Prevented Apocalypse, Climate Movement Can Too

Demonstrators march hand in hand toward Central Park under a large banner reading, 'Freeze The Arms Race,' during a massive Nuclear Disarmament Rally, where about 750,000 gathered to rally for a nuclear arms freeze, New York City, New York, June 12, 1982. (Photo by Lee Frey/Authenticated News/Getty Images)

2014 was the hottest year in recorded history. 2015 is on track to be even hotter — and yet, before the most important international climate talks of the decade, even the most ambitious promises of action will fall short of what science demands. At the same time, the movement to stop climate change is also making history — last year the United States saw the biggest climate march in history, as well as the growth of a fossil fuel divestment movement (the fastest growing divestment campaign ever), and a steady drumbeat of local victories against the fossil fuel industry. In short, the climate movement, and humanity, is up against an existential wall: Find ways to organize for decisive action, or face the end of life as we know it. This is scary stuff, but if you think no movement has ever faced apocalyptic challenges before, and won, then it’s time you learned about the Nuclear Freeze campaign.

Radical Dreams: The Democracy Movement, Plan For Revolution

Democracy

It is time to declare independence again, this time not from a king, but from ruling Forces of Greed (FOG). This column is a blueprint for a citizen revolution. We have more individual wealth than any other nation, with the most billionaires and the most millionaires. At the same time we have the most hunger and homelessness among major industrialized nations, the most without health care among industrialized nations, and the most people in prison by any measure. It takes a massive prison system to make American capitalism work as it does on behalf of the ruling FOG. And as the rich get richer, average wages have fallen, since 1973, for those who work for a living. Although our corrupt Congress keeps increasing its own pay to keep up with inflation, the working poor have lost about a third of their buying power since 1968 as the minimum wage has fallen far short of both inflation and a living wage.

A Winning Strategy For The Left

Protesters at a Fight for 15 action last September. Michael Courier

Finally, this movement strategy may be more conducive to the long-term goal of promoting systemic change, since it focuses our anger and analysis on the institutions at the heart of capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and war. Winning policy reforms, after all, is not enough: reforms are by definition tenuous since they leave intact the basic institutions and systems of society. As recent history makes painfully clear, labor protections and civil rights for black people have been subject to intense counter-attack by entrenched interests. Military withdrawals have not ended imperial violence. Ultimately, only by destroying the old institutions and building more civilized ones in their place can we hope to safeguard the reform victories we win. And directly confronting the oppressive institutions that shape policy seems to advance this goal better than focusing on politicians.

Three Freedom Fighters On Building A Mass Movement

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You will enjoy this discussion between Paul Jay of the Real News with three African American Freedom Fighters: Cornel West, Eddie Conway and Rev. Sekou as they discuss Building a Mass Movement. Jay pushes them on the issue of the role of elections in movements, why in his view it is important to seize the levers of power, i.e. government. He gets some pushback from the three and as a result the complexity of electoral politics and movement politics is clarified. The three basically say the elections too soon do not work as has been seen from the 1960s struggles when elected African Americans did not serve the community. The three put forward three stages: movement first, community second, electoral politics third. If we put our efforts into electoral politics before we have the independent mass movement and the self-sufficient community foundations to build from we get false prophet politicians — the Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Warren line — that will not be our saviors. They will still serve the power structure rather than the movement. We need to be our own saviors and when we get to the electoral phase, when we win office whether local, state or national, the movement continues.

Targets Matter — Why A Small Action Group Won Vs. Mighty Bank

(Facebook / EQAT)

After writing about Earth Quaker Action Team’s recent success in forcing PNC Bank to stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, I received a number of strong reactions. Mingled with the congratulations, based on my involvement in the campaign, was a tone of surprise: How can a small group take on the seventh-largest bank in the country and win? Underneath that, I sensed the despair that unconsciously dims people’s sense of power in the United States. Americans can express rage or righteousness by protesting, but most don’t really expect to change anything. The reactions made me realize I left out an important part of the story that proves the victory was no fluke and that U.S. activists can actually be producing far more victories in the current political landscape.

Top 10 Activist Errors

Protesters March Over Death Of Freddie Gray

The number one error, engaged in by the majority of people, is failing to be an activist. The world’s going to hell, countless situations can be easily improved, lives can be saved, and most people just sit there and do nothing. Others actively work to make matters worse. So, if you’re working for peace and justice, you’re among the tiny minority that’s pretty much got the big stuff right. If constructive criticism drives you into despair, please stop reading this article right now and just continue what you’re doing with your life. You have my gratitude. If you’re open to hearing some suggestions, for whatever they may be worth (and yes, of course, this list of errors will exclude those that I am myself guilty and unaware of), read on. . .

Labor Should Shift Its Focus To Organizing Black Workers

Labor leaders are urging a focus on black workers to rebuild the labor movement. (Discount Foundation)

In 1956, as Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin struggled to sustain the historic boycott of segregated public transit in Montgomery, Alabama, Rustin turned to the union leader A. Phillip Randolph for advice. The carpool for black workers was faltering. “Go up to Birmingham,” Randolph told them, “where the steel workers are making enough to afford two cars. Ask them to donate their second car.” According to historian Judith Stein, King reported the steel workers saved the boycott. At their height, American labor unions proved an invaluable resource to the civil rights movement—through both financial security, which helped enable private activism, and the institutional funding of organizations like SNCC and events like the 1964 March on Washington.

Reparations: A Blueprint To Address Systemic Police Violence

Police abuse protest in Portland Oregon on September 24, 2014. By  joyofresistance, Portland IndyMedia

The City of Chicago made history on Wednesday May 6 when it passed legislation providing reparations to survivors of racially motivated police torture committed between 1972 and 1991. Once implemented, it will offer a measure of hope to survivors, their family members and African American communities devastated by the legacy of torture committed by infamous former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command. It represents a bold break with the status quo, representing the first time that a municipality in the United States – – a nation with a long tradition of unanswered calls for redress for systemic race based violence, including slavery and lynchings – – will provide reparations to those harmed by law enforcement violence.

Climate Activism: Erasure Of Queer & Trans* People Of Color

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There is a dangerous silence around the impacts of climate change on our communities within academia, the climate movement, and even our own work to confront violence in our communities. In academia, there is scant research, literature, and scholarly discussion delving into how climate change will impact QT* communities, and in particular QT* communities of color. Yet across the board, the scarce literature that exists highlights how QT* communities are disproportionately impacted. Nonetheless, there is little to no acknowledgment of how climate change disparately impacts us or of our role in the climate movement. We are pushed to the back of marches and the visible narratives that arise linking queers and climate change erase our experiences and realities as QT*POCs.

How Black Women Can Rescue The Labor Movement

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The roles that African Americans play in their families and communities, on the job and in their unions are acts of resistance against the staggering inequality they face on a daily basis. The statistics regarding African-American wealth and wage inequality, unemployment, mass incarceration, police brutality and poverty are daunting. To cite just one, as of March 2015, the black unemployment rate (10.1 percent) was more than double the white unemployment rate (4.7 percent). Second, this report is our love letter to the labor movement—offering sometimes tough, but always unflappable, affection. We know what some may have forgotten: that if you are concerned about the economic advancement of black women, families and communities, you must think twice before you dismiss the value and importance of the labor movement.

Organized Labor Should Spend 2015 Training Workers To Fight

A "Strike School" curriculum shows how unions can help make their members ready to walk off the job. (Steve Rhodes / Flickr)

While the labor movement is in some of its more dire straits in over a century, 2015 is also shaping up to be a big year for unions. The “Fight for $15” strikes held in over 200 cities on April 15 indicate that a mass movement for worker justice may be on the verge of exploding, one that blends the best of organized labor, community organizing, Occupy Wall Street and #BlackLivesMatter. Oil workers, truck drivers, and dockworkers also went on widely publicized, confrontational strikes this year, and LA teachers at both public and charter schools are preparing to take action on the job, as aregraduate students at the University of Washington and several other campuses. Today, May 1, a Bay Area local of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union shut down its ports to protest the racism and police brutality against black and brown people, providing a classic example of what “social movement unionism” looks like in practice.

Make The Rich Panic

https://www.popularresistance.org/medics-legal-observers-arrested-at-baltimore-protest/

We have to organize around a series of non-negotiable demands. We have to dismantle the array of mechanisms the rich use to control power. We have to destroy the ideological and legal system cemented into place to justify corporate plunder. This is called revolution. It is about ripping power away from a cabal of corporate oligarchs and returning it to the citizenry. This will happen not by appealing to corporate power but by terrifying it. And power, as we saw in Baltimore, will be terrified only when we take to the streets. There is no other way. “The rich are only defeated when running for their lives,” the historian C.L.R. James noted. And until you see the rich fleeing in panic from the halls of Congress, the temples of finance, the universities, the media conglomerates, the war industry and their exclusive gated communities and private clubs, all politics in America will be farce.

Rising Up, In Baltimore & Beyond

The People's Climate March in New York City, September 21, 2015. (Photo via 350.org)

If we want climate justice — not just adaptation to or even mitigation of climate change — then it’s important to understand the structural drivers of the crisis. I’m thinking about those drivers today, and I’m thinking about Baltimore. The story of Baltimore doesn’t start with the wrongful death of Freddie Gray. It didn’t start with the wrongful deaths of Mike Brown or Eric Garner. The deep anger that the citizens of Baltimore are expressing in the streets is rooted in a long history of oppression. And it’s that same history of oppression that has landed us in this historical moment — with an overheating climate, a politics of cynicism, and unrest bubbling up across the globe.

In Baltimore We Need Protest In All Its Forms, Even Joyful Ones

rotesters dance on 28 April in Baltimore Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Spots of joy are necessary and needed in the seemingly endless fight for justice. In Baltimore on Tuesday night, as the city reeled from how the death of Freddie Gray exposed the violence of a decades-long police occupation of the black population, I didn’t experience many moments of sweetness. But one came in the form of a parade of young girls and sashaying boys shortly before nightfall, who made it their business to fill the intersection outside the now infamous burned CVS in West Baltimore with dancing. The dancers fearlessly responded to the acute violence of the previous night’s events by prancing and voguing. These flamboyant young men and women used energetic dance and music to turn the void of black death into a space filled with black life – their spines were straight in defiance of a broken spine the police had severed.