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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.