Tag Archives: nonviolent action

Step 13: Deputations / protests, sex strikes

In less than 24 hours after the midterm elections:

  • Trump fired Jeff Sessions and replaced him with a man who wrote a 2017 op-ed that said Mueller’s investigation was “going too far.”
  • Trump revoked CNN Reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass for questioning the president’s characterization of a migrant caravan of roughly 4,000 Central American immigrants who are walking through Mexico to claim asylum in the U.S.
  • 13 people are dead after a mass shooting at a bar in California.

I went to bed worried and woke up crying. Today, this feels insurmountable, but we cannot give up. Trump’s actions yesterday were a diversion from the positive gains made during the midterms, and I won’t give him airtime because I want to focus on what we can do to address gun violence in America. This may be the most important post I’ve written about nonviolent action, and I hope you’ll take the time to read it and share it with people who might work with us to make change.

Step 13: Deputations

Method 13 in the Methods of Nonviolent Action is called “Deputations,” a critical step to making widespread change. Similar to a delegation, a deputation is a group of people organized around a social concern who engage in specific actions to make change.

A brilliant example of this comes from the year 2000, when a group of Christian and Muslim Liberian women joined together to protest against the outbreak of Liberia’s second civil war. In reaction to the conflict, social worker Leymah Gbowee brought the women from her church together to protest the war. Within the first week, 2,500 women staged protests on the lawn of the local fish market. Every day, President Charles Taylor’s motorcade passed the women as they joined hands, sang and danced for peace.

Like the Greek play Lysistrata, the women decided to hold a sex strike, denying their partners intimacy until the war had ended.


Seeing that men were the perpetrators of the violence, the Liberian women felt that if they were to withhold sex, their partners would also pray for peace and support an end to the war.

The women named themselves the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace and issued a position statement on the crisis. The women stayed outside the political realm for fear of persecution, stating that their goal was simply that of peace. (Read a brief case study here.)

Over the next two years, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace group worked with the government to bring about democratic elections. They registered voters and set up polling stations, and on November 23, 2005, the Liberian people elected their country’s first female president, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Immediate Action

It is estimated that between 3,300,000 – 4,600,000 of us participated in the Women’s March, and up to 5 million worldwide.

Imagine what could happen if 1.1 million of us3.5% of the U.S. population – worked together until the gun laws are changed to protect our children and friends from being killed in schools, in places of worship, in places of celebration? What would it take?

There are delegations working to enforce stricter gun control in every state. Support them in whatever way you can. Share, donate, join.

Don’t give up the fight.

 


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photo credit: Greg MacVean 

 

Step 6: We will not yield

It’s the eve of the vote that may confirm Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice, and if the collective wave of rage and grief is about to pull you under, I’m here to ask you to hang in there. Not because I want to try to convince you that what seems inevitable won’t happen – but because our voices deserve to be heard.

In the words of Senator Maxine Waters, “I will not yield.”

Thirty years from now, I want to look be able to look back on this night and remember that I didn’t stay silent. Here are the calls I’m making, and if you want to join me, stop by and tell me what happened when you called.

Call these Senators tonight

Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665

to urge her to stay the course / VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Susan Collins: 202-224-2523

to tell her she has just betrayed every survivor, and she can still VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Jeff Flake: 202-224-4521

to remember the women in the elevator, and he can still VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Joe Manchin: (202) 224-3954

to remind him that he can change his mind VOTE NO on Kavanaugh

Lindsey Graham: (202) 224-5972

to remind him that John McCain is watching

Joe Donnelly: (202) 224-4814

to ask him to VOTE NO on Kavanaugh (and grow a pair while he’s at it)

Then I’ll call my own senators, one Democrat (“thank you”) and one Republican (“Pennsylvania will vote you out”) and call it a night.

No, I will not yield.

 

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Why do I keep posting these steps? Because research shows that no government can survive if just 3.5% of the population maintains:

active

sustained

non-violent

participation.

 

There’s a playbook, and I’ve got a copy. Societies have passed it around the globe, and it works. Every time.

Call your Senators, then pour yourself a drink or order a pizza and come tell me about it.

We are here for each other.

 

 

Step 4: Signed Public Statements

To offset Trump Suck, I promised myself to keep looking for examples of the progress we’re making. By now, you’ve heard of Stacey Abrams, who won the Democratic primary for the Governor of Georgia in May. This video made me stand up and cheer:

Read TIME Magazine’s profile of Stacey Abrams here.

Step 4: Signed Public Statements

Step 4 of Gene Sharp’s blueprint for removing a dictator is listed as one of six formal actions that can be taken to oust a corrupt leader. In June, the CEOs of major companies like Google, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Chobani, and Cisco released a statement speaking out against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which separates immigrant children from parents at the border. In addition, more than 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter pleading with the company to end its contract with ICE:

“We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits,” stated the letter. “We request that Microsoft cancel its contracts with ICE, and with other clients who directly enable ICE. As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit.” [read more]

History has shown that when institutions and organizations with power and agency make formal statements against a leader’s policies (among other nonviolent actions), this resulted in the overthrow of a government. And as consumers, we have the power to put pressure on companies to use their influence to keep the pressure on.

No matter what we’re led to believe by the Tweeter in Chief, we have the power.

If this message speaks to you, share it on Instagram or Facebook.

Step 3: Declarations by Organizations and Institutions

A few days ago, Martipants asked this question about my recent post: 

“Why can we not share our fury and still protest non-violently?”

Martipants, I’m glad you asked – I’ve been wanting to dig into this.

We CAN and SHOULD be outraged, but as I keep reminding myself, it’s what we do with it. (To cut to the chase,* see below the handmaids photo.) For the past 2 years, I’m the person who shows up to a party and rants, which usually produces this kind of response. I’m a total buzz kill. However, when I ask friends if they’re willing to help get out the vote for midterms, the response is basically: “where and when?”

Here’s a phenomenal example on what to do with fury. Last week, when VP Mike Pence visited Philadelphia for a fundraising dinner, activist Samantha Goldman of RefuseFascism.org put the word out that they were recruiting 100 handmaids to organize attend a protest. As Sam wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

One of the “handmaids,” Michele, said to me, “I protest for any person that feels that this administration is gunning to strip them of their rights and who live in fear as to what’s going to happen next … I will not just calm down. I will not avoid what’s going on just because it hasn’t impacted my privileges …. yet.”

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When applied quickly and consistently, this is the kind of nonviolent action that takes down regimes, and history is on our side. The point * is that whenever possible, our outrage needs to be fueled, because over time, it has the psychological effect of weakening our resolve – and that’s when the members of a regime often choose to act. As UC Berkley Professor Robert Reich reminds us,

“Keep your message positive. They want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies grow. No more helpless or hopeless talk.”

 

Step 3: Declarations by Organizations and Institutions

Step 3 of Gene Sharp’s blueprint for removing a dictator is listed as one of six formal actions. The American Psychological Association (APA) and American Psychiatric Organizations have been leading examples of how to use your organizational power for good. The APAs have released statements on everything from Post-Election Stress Disorder to the GOP Administration’s position on Standing Rock or the attempt to enact a transgender military ban to the separation of immigrant families at the border to gun violence:

The president of the American Psychological Association, Antonio E. Puente, PhD, issued a statement decrying President Trump for ref

erring to attacks such as the massacre at a Texas church on Sunday a mental health problem, opining, “Calling this shooting a ‘mental health problem’ distracts our nation’s leaders from developing policies and legislation that would focus on preventing gun violence through a scientific, public health approach.”

Today’s Action

SHORT GAME: Set aside 10 minutes to research some of the organizations you’re invested in, and learn more about their positions on current GOP Administration policies. Focus on the causes that matter most to you. (You might remember when a “rogue” National Park Service employee had something to say about climate change.)

LONG GAME: If you think your favorite organization could be stronger on specific policies, send a letter and let them know. If it applies, remind them that you’re a longtime supporter/donor and how these policies impact your life. If you’re up to it, you can even stop by their local offices and ask to speak to someone directly. This is the kind of nonviolent action that really makes an impact.

If you think your favorite organization is doing a great job, tweet it out, write them a letter, or send a donation with a thank you letter.

If this message speaks to you, share this post on Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

 

Step 2: Letters of Opposition or Support

Before I tell you what I was up to today and move on to Step 2 of the blueprint, here’s  a question from one of my subscribers:

“There are countries where people have experienced genocide and other hardships way worse than what we’re going through. Are you sure we should call this a dictatorship?”

No, I’m not sure. On a technicality, this could <just> be fascism, “a government that exalts nation and often race above the individual” headed by a dictatorial individual who forcibly suppresses opposition.

UC Berkley Professor Robert Reich offers suggestions for how to manage talking about this, including the recommendation to replace T’s surname with “The GOP Administration” every time you mention him. Historically speaking, the GOP is behaving like a regime. It’s more effective to put the pressure on them. Either way, we’re witnessing the precursors to and/or direct dictatorial and fascist behaviors on a daily basis.

If you’re like me, you’re part of the 3.5%, so we’re not sitting on our hands while we wait to see what happens next. (For more reasons about why I’m using the d-word, see Jim Powell’s How Dictators Come To Power In A Democracy from Forbes magazine way back in 2013.)

Step 2: Letters of Opposition or Support

Last week, I introduced Gene Sharp’s blueprint for removing a dictator with a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action and persuasion. Step 2 is listed as one of the “formal” actions.

Wait – number 2? Does letter-writing actually work?

If it’s part of a wider strategy, YES.

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Since June, my local coffee shop has been hosting a weekly letter-writing campaign, so today I stopped by to help. When I walked in, every table was filled. As I was looking for a seat, a woman who stopped by during her lunch break offered me her seat, along with a pen, a stack of postcards, and a suggested script.

Today’s focus was on getting out the vote for the midterms by sending hand-written postcards from community members to neighbors. The event was organized by a local organization connected to the state-wide coalition Turn PA Blue.

Here’s a bit of the buzz:

Today’s Action

If your community hosts letter-writing events, go whenever you can – and keep showing up. I found mine on Facebook, so check around to see if your state has something similar. It felt good to have an outlet for my outrage, and it was inspiring to be around people who felt the same.

Until today, all of my letter-writing has been a solo act, so if you can’t find anything local just yet, here are the ACLU’s tips on writing to your representatives. 

  1. Keep it brief: Letters should never be longer than one page, and should be limited to one issue. Legislative aides read many letters on many issues in a day, so your letter should be as concise as possible.
  2. State Who You Are and What You Want Up Front: In the first paragraph, tell your legislators that you are a constituent and identify the issue about which you are writing. If your letters pertains to a specific piece of legislation, it helps to identify it by its bill number (e.g. H.R. ____ or S. _____).
  3. Hit your three most important points: Choose the three strongest points that will be most effective in persuading legislators to support your position and flesh them out.
  4. Personalize your letter: Tell your elected official why this legislation matters in his community or state. If you have one, include a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and your family. A constituent’s personal stories can be the very persuasive as your legislator shapes his or her position.
  5. Personalize your relationship: Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to his or her campaign? Are you familiar with her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell your elected official or his staff person. The closer your legislator feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be.
  6. You are the Expert: Remember that your legislator’s job is to represent you. You should be courteous and to the point, but don’t be afraid to take a firm position. Remember that often your elected official may know no more about a given issue than you do.You can get the contact information for your Members of Congress at Congress.org.

 

If you need more fuel for your fire, read this.

Your voice matters. Every word counts.

 

RobertReich.org

 

Step 1: Public speeches

On Tuesday I promised you a blueprint, and today, I’m passing it around. It’s called From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, by Professor Gene Sharp. Sharp was the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action. This 1994 essay is a critical analysis of how to destroy a dictatorship and to prevent the rise of a new one. It includes a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action and persuasion, found on page 79.

You’ve probably heard the expression “If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying attention.” If you’re a 3.5%er, you’ve been outraged since the summer of 2016. Dictators know that daily outrage leads to feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. When we share our fury, while it feels good to know we’re not alone, it also means we’re doing the dictator’s job for him. This is what dictators do – whether you’re for or against them, they mobilize people around a collective energy of hatred. When we unite in a common mission for equality and peace and sustain that wave of hope, the collective energy increases our number.

Step 1: Public speeches

Every time I share a step from this blueprint, it will come with a suggested Call to Action, something immediately doable and sustainable – with the understanding that “I’m part of the 3.5%” means that when one of us gets tired, someone standing next to us will be there to pick up the torch.

Today’s Action

Michelle Obama_Nelson MandelaSHORT GAME: Watch and/or share any one of the speeches below, or find another one you love. (Barack Obama’s 2004 speech is one of my all-time favorites.) The power of speeches is in their ability to mobilize large groups of people, so when you share the voices from the past with your children and friends, you are reminding them that true power unites us. 

Nelson Mandela said that “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” When you talk with friends are share on social media, experiment with what happens when you shift your words to messages of empowerment.

Fill the 3.5 percenters with the inspiration needed to cancel out the noise.

LONG GAME: Be on the lookout for opportunities to attend public speeches in your community and invite your friends and family to attend. Make it a social event. Bring drinks and snacks and folding chairs. Show up in numbers. Make your presence seen and heard.

Gandhi challenged his country: “No clapping is possible without two hands to do it.” In other words: “There IS no government if the people refuse to be ruled by it.” Today, anyone with a social media account has a platform, so if your hands refuse to clap, make them click and tweet and love or like, but let all your words confirm our power.

We are building our base.

The podium is yours.

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.” – Barack Obama, 2004






July 17, 2018


– resources: From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, by Gene Sharp, Appendix One, “The Methods of Nonviolent Action”

“No clapping is possible without two hands to do it,” from On Nonviolent Resistance by Mohandas K. Gandhi

Nonviolent does not mean passive.  twitter-bird

Did I miss one of your favorite speeches? Feel free to post the link in the comments.

I’m part of the 3.5%

“I’d like to ask you to imagine that you live in a very repressive country. There are elections, but they are fake. The leader wins 100% of the vote each time. Security forces beat up opposition leaders with impunity, and they harass everyone else.” – Dr. Erica Chenoweth, September 21, 2013

 

Imagine that you live in a very repressive country.

There are elections,

but they are fake.

 

Imagine.

 

In 2011, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan published a groundbreaking study about the impact of civil resistance in the 21st Century. Chenoweth admits that she began the research as a bit of a skeptic, she felt that nonviolent action education “well-intentioned, but dangerously naive.”

Over two years, Chenoweth and Stephan examined 323 nonviolent and violent campaigns throughout the world, all of which took place between 1900 – 2006. They focused on actions that involved at least 1,000 participants and resulted in the overthrow of a government or a territorial liberation of some kind.

What their research concluded that the nonviolent opposition campaigns were actually more than twice as successful in achieving their political objectives.

 

nonviolentcampaign

from Why Civil Resistance Works The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erica Chenoweth, Maria J Stephan

 

Nonviolent opposition

is more than

twice

as successful.

 

The research also showed that this trend has been increasing over time, even in those extremely brutal authoritarian conditions where the researchers expected non-violent resistance to fail.

In her 2013 TED Talk, Chenoweth said:

“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the

active

sustained

participation of just

3.5 percent of the population.

 

In the US today, that’s about 11 million people.

On average, non-violent campaigns were

four times larger

than the average violent campaign and they were often

much more inclusive and representative

in terms of

gender,

age,

race,

political party,

class and

urban-rural distinction.

Civil resistance allows people of all different levels of physical ability to participate.

This can include

the elderly

people with disabilities

women

children and

anyone who else wants to.

 

If you think about it, everyone is born with a natural physical ability to resist non-violently.  Anyone who has kids knows how hard it is to pick up a child who doesn’t want to move or to feed a child who doesn’t want to eat.”

 

Imagine that you live in a very repressive country.

There are elections,

but they are fake.

 

Imagine.

 

Now let’s say you’ve had enough.

That’s where I am tonight.

 

It turns out that there are blueprints for making this kind of thing happen. And if you’re ready to act, I’ve got a map and a flashlight.

Tonight’s action:

If you’re part of the 3.5% of the population who are willing to engage in active sustained nonviolent participation, tag 3 people on social media you know you can count on to join us. Feel free to tag this post or a link the video below with the words:

I’m part of the 3.5%.twitter-bird

Invite your friends to watch the video below, and ask them to tag 3 people they know who can be counted on to join us.

I’ll be back soon.