lThe blog asks why #metoo, Black Lives Matter, Occupy, or even the Democratic Party have not called for a General Strike, another massive march, or some other form of civil disobedience. What could this look like? Who will lead? What could happen? Blog includes Erica Chenoweth TedTalk on the historic effectiveness of nonviolent direct action.
What Would It Take? What Would It Look Like? Could It Succeed?
In yesterday’s blog, I examined a Richard Wolff Truth-Out article, wondering what it will take to pivot from the assumption that different forms of capitalism represent the boundaries of our economic and political realities, or if some sudden breach might be possible. Wolff did not really provide a road map to that transition, but his thoughtful analysis did cause me to question: Why is the Democratic Party not doing more than talk? Where is their call for direct action? Resistance? Demonstration? And why is it that the Democratic Party is so reluctant to meet in the streets? The blog caused me to question why hundreds of thousands of Basques have hit the streets while the streets of America have remained empty after the Women’s March and the far more modest Earth Day protests. If you missed it, a review of yesterday’s blog might be a good idea before proceeding here. Click here to review that blog.
Over the past two months, I have been ruminating about what it would take to get us back into the streets. And I have found evidence of things brewing nationally and here in NM. Roxanne and I are involved in a Nonviolent Direct Action Study Group comprised of graduates of a two-day nonviolent direct actin training conducted by leaders of the Civil Rights movement. I am a statewide coordinator for the emerging Poor People’s Campaign which calls for 40 days of nonviolent civil disobedience beginning on May 13, and recently Retake connected with a national movement focused upon launching a coordinated taking to the streets should Mueller be fired. So things are percolating.
But as I watch the news in Spain where the Basques are in open insurrection, I wonder what it would take to push Americans from studying resistance to resisting, to actually risk our personal safety and privilege and shut it down. And what would shut it down mean? This blog begins an inquiry into these questions.
Erica Chenoweth’s compelling 12-minute Ted Talk, offered below, was given in 2013 before Trump and what we face now were even being contemplated broadly. So her talk then might have seemed far more theoretical. She begins by questioning which form of resistance is more effective in the face of an oppressive government: violent or nonviolent resistance. Her assumption initially had been that violence would be necessary to oppose a truly oppressive regime, but after two years of research, she found the reverse to be true. Based upon her examination of hundreds of cases of resistance worldwide between 1900-2006 involving more than 1000 people, she found that nonviolent resistance was twice as likely to achieve success than violent resistance.
What’s more, she found that from 1940 to 2006, nonviolent resistance was becoming increasingly effective in achieving sustained success and a transition to peaceful, more democratic resolutions that did not rely upon military force to sustain change. Finally, Chenoweth describes what research shows is required to create a meaningful pivot in policy or to reverse government oppression. She cites the oft quoted statistic that only 3.5% of the population committed to focused and sustained resistance is needed to topple a regime. In the US that amounts to 11.3 million people. But how do we achieve the critical mass, 11.3 million of us committed to sustained resistance?
Retake Leadership is exploring what is involved in organizing effective nonviolent resistance. Three of the leadership team is involved with a Nonviolent Direct Action Study & Action Group that is studying effective nonviolent movements across the world and discussing what we can learn and apply here in the US and in NM. We are beginning by reading and discussing Chenoweth’s exhaustive study of historic nonviolent movements, Why Civil Resistance Works, The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Resistance. At the same time, Roxanne and I are participating in the NM state leadership group coordinating the launch of Reverend Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign. A full day retreat is scheduled for January to begin recruitment and planning for the statewide Poor People’s Campaign that will launch May 13. If you want to find out more and be kept up to date on the New Mexico Poor People’s Campaign, click here to get to the Poor People’s CampaignNM Facebook page. Planning has begun for a direct action at the Roundhouse in February and details will be shared, as they become concretized. Click here to sign up for the national Poor People’s campaign. By signing up you will receive notifications of planning, training and action as it unfolds in NM.
Finally, a National Action If Mueller is Fired has been created. For this, we will need to be ready at a moment’s notice. RISE Stronger New Mexico has scheduled a rapid response #Resistance Action in Santa Fe if special prosecutor Robert Mueller is fired. Similar rapid response networks have been established in hundreds of cities across the US. The local event details will mirror the national plan which can be found here: https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response/search/?source=MFT/ The Santa Fe rally will begin hours after news breaks of a Mueller firing: If Mueller is fired BEFORE 2 P.M. local time —> events will begin @ 5 P.M. local time, If Mueller is fired AFTER 2 P.M. local time —> events will begin @ noon local time the following day. Our gathering place will be the bandstand on the Santa Fe Plaza. Click here to RSVP for this event. It is not a Facebook event, so anyone can sign up.
Taken together, it is clear that actions are being planned, thinking is occurring, and possibilities are being considered. This blog will keep you appraised as things materialize. The blog will also continue to offer alternatives to capitalism, colonialism, sexism and racism, the four-headed beast that has defined America as a historic power. The video below presents compelling evidence that nonviolent resistance is a viable strategy for opposing an oppressive regime. Our daily news presents continuing frightening evidence that we our government is becoming increasingly oppressive and with Fox News the dominant news source for tens of millions of Americans, openness to the narrowing of freedom appears almost inevitable. Readiness is all, my friends. Stay tuned.
Paul & Roxanne