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.
By Tactical Diversity – It’s gotten to be a pattern on the Left. When Black protest erupts into insurrection, as it did in Ferguson and Baltimore, most liberals and white radicals express empathy for the cathartic release of anger, but urge the oppressed that this is not the way. This is “not strategic,” says the leftist concern-troll. This is “what the police want.” Most of the time they manage to stop short of asking “why are they burning down their own neighborhood?” –if only to be mindful of clichés—but some can’t even help themselves there. In the aftermath, Amy Goodman(seemingly channeling Alex Jones) will spread conspiracy theories on how the government “orchestrated” the rioting.¹ The respectability politics of nonviolence will return. It’s hard to believe that anyone who has paid attention to Black Lives Matter takes these positions in good faith because, of course, the riots in Ferguson were objectively the best thing that happened to a movement that was already more than a year old.
By Stephanie Lerner and Jono Shaffer in Talk Poverty – On June 15, 1990, the Los Angeles Police Department viciously attacked immigrant janitors who were striking for the right to organize in Century City, Los Angeles. In a story that is now all too familiar, the police claimed they were defending themselves. Only later, when TV news footage exposed the police clubbing non-violent strikers, was the self-defense claim discredited. Two women miscarried, dozens were hospitalized, and 60 strikers and supporters were jailed. After the violence, the workers regrouped in a nearby park where one of the strikers said, “What they did to us today in front of the TV cameras, is the way the police treat us every day.” Another woman striker told a reporter, “I wasn’t robbing a bank or selling drugs, I’m simply asking for an increase in pay but the police beat us as if we were garbage.”
By Jay Elias in Daily Kos – What took a lot longer to reach the public eye, and did so after the cameras were largely off the Occupy movement, was the lengths, many of which were illegal, that the Federal and local governments went to spy on the Occupy movement, to use anti-terrorism powers against them, and to share information about their activities with those whom Occupy was protesting. In 2012, Rolling Stone reported on the Department of Homeland Security’s surveillance of the Occupy movement, which began no less than a month after the protests began in 2011. The DHS report stated that the NYPD was sharing information on the protesters and their plans with landlords and business owners, including according to the DHS memo “large banks”. Rolling Stone also reported that information about the locations and times of protests and gatherings nationwide was “borrowed, improbably enough, from the lefty blog Daily Kos.”
By Ben Reynolds for ROAR. How can we create the fundamental change we so desperately need? We need a superior strategy to the failed strategies of the past; we need a means to turn an uprising into a revolution. History offers a few successful examples of popular organizing we can draw from. During the French Revolution, the popular assemblies of the Paris sections formed a radical base that pushed the developing revolution forward. The Russian Revolution of 1917 saw deliberative popular bodies known as “soviets” overthrow the provisional government in the name of bread and peace. These kinds of systems — based upon deliberative councils and assemblies — frequently appear in any period of unrest or upheaval, and have recently emerged in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere. In the present, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and Syria employs a developed version of this system known as “democratic confederalism.” Face-to-face neighborhood assemblies form the base of political decision-making, while successive councils operate at the district, city and regional levels. The councils and assemblies deliberate upon all of the issues facing the community and attempt to organize the means to effect necessary changes.
By Policy Link – On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, was shot multiple times and killed by Darren Wilson, a White police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri. This tragic act provoked grief and outrage in Ferguson and across the country. We mourned the loss of an innocent young man, taken before his time, and recognized that his killing was the latest in a long and rapidly growing succession of cases involving police use of lethal force against unarmed people of color. The disproportionate, militarized police response to subsequent community protests in Ferguson — including the use of tear gas and snipers, curfews enforced by armored trucks and tactical units, and the unwarranted arrest of multiple journalists — further incensed the country and, in conjunction with Michael Brown’s killing, raised an urgent question: What must change so that not one more person of color is unjustifiably and indefensibly killed by the police?
Proponents make broad claims for consensus process. They argue that it is intrinsically more democratic than other methods, and that it fosters radical transformation, both within movements and in their relations with the wider world. As described in the action handbook of an Earth Day 1990 action to shut down Wall Street, which included a blockade of the entrances to the Stock Exchange and led to some 200 arrests, “Consensus at its best offers a cooperative model of reaching group unity, an essential step in creating a culture that values cooperation over competition.” Few, though, know the origins of the process, which shed an interesting and surprising light on its troubled real-world workings.
By Henry A. Giroux in Truthout – I then realized that I had to flip the script to survive and became acutely aware that the alleged strengths of ruling-class types, such as their, cold, hypermasculine modes of embodiment, along with their ruthless sense of competitiveness, their suffocating narcissism, their view of unbridled self-interest as the highest virtue, their ponderous and empty elaborated code, and their often savage and insensitive modes of interaction, were actually poisonous deficits. That was a turning point in my being able to narrate and free myself from one of the most sinister forms of ideological domination, “those unexamined prejudices that keep us from thinking.” For me, this involved a slow process of unlearning the poisonous, sedimented histories working-class youth often have to internalize and embody in order to survive.
By Harsha Walia in Ricochet.Media – The bold leadership of unions that revive principles of social unionism ensures that unions are not simply advocating mobility within capitalism and state structures, but are primary allies in the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. As Herman Rosenfeld, a former GM worker, writes, “Job security is key, but what kind of jobs? Is the job security strategy one that works against the interests of the rest of the working-class and First Nations peoples, or in partnership with them? Moving away from the narrow focus on the short-term sectoral interests of a relatively small group of workers, whose jobs are currently defined by their employers, is a critical way of building unions as fighters for the class as a whole, and for a different, sustainable, and hopefully anti-capitalist future.” Simply put, workers shouldn’t have to extract toxic sludge. Workers want and need clean air, clean water, and a more equitable future.
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.