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.

Beating The 1 Percent: Start By Learning Their Favorite Moves

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The current energy debate in Philadelphia is over whether to accept a new vision of the region as a fossil fuel “energy hub,” enlarging pipelines for Marcellus Shale natural gas and North Dakota fracked oil, gearing up Philadelphia’s refineries and tanker shipping, and stimulating petrochemical manufacturing. Here the framing is: Would you rather create new jobs and expand our tax base to support our schools through this exciting vision, or stick with the status quo left by past deindustrialization? At the moment, the Philadelphia climate justice campaign fights for traction because the choice appears to be between the lesser of two evils. There’s not a vivid climate-friendly vision for economic development with an abundance of green jobs.

Lessons And Tactics From Past Debt Resistance Movements

Student debt We are Students Not Customers

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.

Resurrection Unionism — 5 Ways Labor Can Rise Again

Chicago teachers strike in 2012. (Flickr on Shutter Stutter)

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.

Getting Better Organized: The Fight For $15 And A Union

Maria Ramon who works for Wendy's joins the hundreds gathered as fast food workers and supporters rally for a higher minimum wage near Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Wed. April 15, 2015. (Photo: SFGate)

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!”

Major Showdown For $15 Wage Against Big Corporations In Atlanta

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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.

Diversifying The Environmental Movement Isn't Enough

Jane Goodall delivers environmentalist talk to full audience at World Bank's Preston Auditorium, April 12, 2011. (Photo: World Bank Photo Collection)

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.

European Movements Share Strategies Ahead Of General Strike

Photo by CaptSpaulding

Shared problems need shared solutions. That’s why, last May, members of various European social movements met in Frankfurt to protest the European Central Bank in three days of action under the name “Blockupy.” There, they decided that they needed to do more to create joint strategies for fighting the excessive power of the financial sector and the resulting policies of austerity. Last weekend’s Agora 99 meeting in Madrid was an opportunity to start building this joint strategy. More than 200 European activists from dozens of movements participated in the meeting, with the objective of creating a working schedule for connecting their various tactics around issues of debt, democracy and rights, as well as building stronger networks and ties among the movements. For four days, those three issues were explored in more than 20 workshops.

Killer Cops Boost Body Count In War On Black America

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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.”

In Defense Of A New Kind Of Labor Movement

Workers of the world unite

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.

DeChristopher Wants Churches To Take Moral Leadership On Climate

Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards (at left) and NAACP national president Cornell Brooks (far right) listen to the North Carolina NAACP's Rev. William Barber speak at the Moral Mondays march in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday, February 14, 2015.  DAVID SWERDLICK/THE ROOT

Recently, there has been a growing discussion of climate change as a moral issue, both in academia and in religious communities. This past fall I spoke at three religion and climate change conferences in as many months, including a conference at Harvard Divinity School, “Spiritual and Sustainable: Religion Responds to Climate Change,” and in June 2015 I will join many global thinkers at a process theology conference on climate change in Claremont, California. The highly anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change will undoubtedly contribute and bring attention to this discourse. Frequently, however, the acknowledgment that climate change is a moral issue on which religious people should engage is the end of the conversation.

Boycott, Divest And Sanction Corporations That Feed On Prisons

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, one of the many corporations benefiting from prison labor. (AP / Ted S. Warren)

“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.

Imagine Coalition Of Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, Fight For 15

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Silos are dangerous. I’m not talking about the kind that house nuclear missiles, but rather the metaphorical kind, the kind that divide people who could and should be working together toward a shared goal. Too often, progressives have found themselves divided into these kinds of silos, for example, with women—themselves typically divided by race and ethnicity—fighting for gender equality, LGBT folks fighting for gay rights, unions and workers fighting for labor rights, and on and on. To some degree, these divisions are understandable. Part of the way a marginalized group empowers itself is by creating a movement in which its members play a predominant role.

Why Workers Won’t Unite

Picture by Owen Smith

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.

Vykom: Nonviolent Action Against Untouchability

(Image by Wikimedia Commons

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.

How The 1 Percent Stays On Top

Vintage illustration of 1930s bankers sitting in a men's club, discussing the latest stock market news (screen print), 1931. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

By the end of the 20th century, some imagined that the 1 percent had obtained all they could want — after all, their level of wealth and power was beyond fabulous. Now that their deindustrialization of the country had hollowed out the working class and many people had turned to elections and given up their most powerful weapon, nonviolent direct action, surely the 1 percent could relax. As we now know, however, the 1 percent did not ease up; they knew what Gandhi also believed: The best defense is an offense. The 1 percent took even more power and wealth while most progressive movements (except for LGBT activists) played defense and cried in their beer. The next national use of shock and awe might be a new Republican administration early in 2017. But there is time to get ready to turn their move to our advantage.