Nonviolence in the News, August 4th.


Read more on this week’s highlights and links below.


Important article in Waging Nonviolence: “A Manual for a New Era of Direct Action,” by George Lakey July 28, 2017.  50 years on from his manual with Daniel Hunter!  We do have some continuity!  Why is this article so great? Every paragraph links to specific resources.  It may be indispensable for newer activists. Here are some of them:

  • Clarify with your co-initiators specifically why you’ve chosen to build a direct action campaign.
  • Assemble the core members of your campaigning group
  • Choose your issue.
  • Double-check to see if this issue is really viable.
  • Analyze the target carefully
  • Track your key allies, opponents and “neutrals.”
  • As your campaign implements its series of actions, make strategic choices that move you forward.
  • Training and leadership development can make your campaign more effective
  • YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE matters for your short-run success and for the movement’s wider goals.
  • THE BIG PICTURE will continue to influence your chances for success.


+  Right round here GREETINGS FROM THE OCCUPY SONOMA COUNTY EARTH ACTION CAMPAIGN: Earth Action Campaign Listserv. This list is used for sharing climate change, climate justice, GMOs, toxic chemicals, Earth-related news and Earth Action Campaign information.


+ Optimism Over Despair: Noam Chomsky On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change.

This anthology from Truthout and Haymarket Books collects wide-ranging interviews by C. J. Polychroniou with arguably the world’s most well-known critic of US policy.  (free with donation to Truthout)

EXCERPT now on Truthout.


+ ICNC’s “Minds of the Movement” blog is particularly rich this week, with articles on the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, an article on the importance of media coverage by Deborah Mattis, co-editor of Minnds, others from Papua New Guinea, India, and the U.S.  I would particularly draw your attention to Jack Duvall, “Why Violence Undermines Protest.”  Jack writes: “Every nonviolent movement is a commitment to living in freedom and justice, once power is shared fairly by everyone. Violent action sabotages that commitment, because turmoil in the streets will be quelled by repression.”  Well, more than that: it creates incoherence of means/ends.

And on Hong Kong’s “umbrella revolution,” Johnson Ching-Yin Yeung, an organizer (and fellowship recipient from ICNC) writes: “… in a fast-paced society, people get used to harvesting fruits from a one-off investment. When mobilizing people, organizers love to frame the mobilization as “This is our last stand!” or as an endgame. The framing raises both organizers’ and protesters’ expectations, and produces more desperation when they encounter setbacks. The reality is that one contention of nonviolent struggle doesn’t always yield an overall success; it often takes 10 times more escalations and contentions to achieve a goal.”  Yet another example of how modern culture weighs against nonviolence, in a way we often neglect: “undue haste” vs. sumud.


+ “Goodbye to the NFL and Cognitive Dissonance” by David Niose (legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, immediate past president of the American Humanist Association, and author of Fighting Back the Right. Follow him on Twitter:@ahadave.) When I talk about the violence in our culture, I always think of football, especially professional football, which is a form of symbolic violence that reminds me, the anthropologist in me, of ritual sacrifice – a rehearsal of human sacrifice and violence generally.  Not to mention, as Noise does not, that in a recent study the brains of 110 out of 111 football players showed severe damage!  These men are being used as modern gladiators.  Symbolic violence is always a short step away from real violence.



+ Two more arrests for drastic gate-blocking of the Richmond, CA plant of Kinder Morgan:  “Our First Nations relatives are not going to allow the Trans Mountain pipeline to go through their territories in Canada,” said Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay.  “Investing in any fossil fuel infrastructure is foolish. We all know that we must transition off of fossil fuels in order to prevent catastrophic climate change. Why waste so many resources on a losing proposition?”

The growing Bay Area resistance to this Kinder Morgan pipeline stands with over 140 tribes comprising The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion. The groundbreaking alliance of Indigenous nations formally opposes all tar sands pipelines crossing their traditional lands and waters. The recently elected government of British Columbia also opposes the project.

“This is clearly just the beginning,” said Patrick McCully of Rainforest Action Network. “This is the second week in a row that activists are blockading this facility — and you can expect protests up and down the West Coast as banks and oil companies continue to try and profit from climate chaos and human rights violations that will be caused by these disastrous tar sands pipelines. Companies like Kinder Morgan are on notice. Banks like JPMorgan Chase are on notice. Get out of tar sands. Get out of extreme oil. Get out of the climate change business and get on the right side of science and history.”

+“Municipalism” taking over. Cities in Spain are rising up to furnish alternatives to the corruption of the mainstream parties, starting in Barcelona, (Barcelona en Comú) and spreading to Madrid (home of the Cinco Regimiento), Valencia, Ibiza and across Europe!  And of course, smatterings in the USA.

And speaking of “municipalism,” it has been happening for a long time here and there in a rather extreme form in India, where the Government, for whatever reason, cannot deliver on almost any of the desperately needed services by the poor, the rural (indigenes), or the environment; often because they are in outright collusion with exploitive corporations.  We saw this at first hand in Kerala three years ago, with the incredibly strong women of Koodankulam who were resisting the building of a nuclear plant – a project of the Govt. of India and Russian firms – on the same coast where the tsunami had struck with such force!  That plant has now been built. 

Arundhati Roy, Walking With the Comrades, gives an in-depth, close-up view of this kind of struggle in N. India.  Much of the resistance is Vinoba Bhave’s legacy, e.g. the Tamil group Land for tillers’ Freedom (LAFTI), led by the incredible Krishnammal Jagannathan (whom we have interviewed). 

A recent success story from New Internationalist: 13 years ago Prafulla Samantara, an Odisha farmer from the Dongra Khond community – they are indigenes, adivasis – filed suit in India’s supreme court against a company ironically named Vedanta that was planning to turn vast areas into Bauxite mines.  Finally, in 2013, they got a judgment against the mines.  Investors like the Norwegian Pension Fund and the Church of England (!) started pulling funds from the project.  They are what George Lakey would call the “Puppeteers!,” where the legislators are their puppets.  The fight goes on, but “This was the first time that indigenous people had been given the right to decide on mining proposals in Odisha state” and it has inspired other such movements across India.  Samantara: “Indigenous people are not consulted.  They are marginalized, even though they are the owners and guardians of national resources.”  Remember the Chipko Movement?  The tree-huggers of the Garwahl Himalaya fended off logging operations that had already caused deadly floods and much devastation, with some success.  That movement was actually sparked by “Mirabehn,” the British admiral’s daughter who joined Gandhi.


+ “Coalition paves way for Palestinian homecoming after 20-year displacement”

Jim Haber July 21, 2017 (WNV).  A Palestinian-led steering committee — that includes partners like Committee for Jewish Nonviolence (CJNV), Holy Land TrustCombatants for Peace and others — was formed months in advance for Sumud and continues to map out a strategy going forward. International and Israeli Jews were asked to consciously apply the privilege granted to them by the oppressive state to get in its way.

“Your presence here has an effect on the occupation more than the effect of using weapons,” said Mahmoud, an elder from al-Mufaqarah, a Palestinian community near Sarura. “Any of you who carries a passport other than a Palestinian passport is an obstacle to the occupation, and I thank you for coming here. You represent the Palestinians in nonviolence and will go into the world and tell people that God willing, together we will end the occupation.” … “We encourage everyone to do nonviolent resistance. Historically, our prisoners have one of the best nonviolent movements ever in Palestine,” Amro said, speaking of the political prisoners who were on hunger strike at that time. “They motivate us to go on with our nonviolent resistance that will change the situation on the ground. We’re going to start work now. If the army comes, ignore them. It’s our land. You are in solidarity with the landowners. We are here, and we’re not leaving.”



Harry Belafonte has agreed to serve as Honorary Chair of the 5th Annual Week of Non-Violence, Justice and Opportunities, October 15-23, 2017. This annual event is organized by Black Women for Positive Change, (BW4PC) an inter-faith network of Women and Good Brothers, from diverse backgrounds, races and religions. …National Co-Chairs Virginia Delegate Daun S. Hester and Dr. Stephanie E. Myers. “Our theme is to ‘Change the Culture of Violence in America, and the World,” and we believe Mr. Belafonte’s stature as a world leader will encourage people to organize violence prevention events, in their own cities.”  Watch for a dramatic example of violence preention in a city in a moment.  This is also a good ex. of  ‘municipalism’.


+ Will you be in Ontario in September?  The Gandhi Peace Festival at McMaster University will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on 9/17.

+ Now here’s one heck of an event: On Aug. 12th a virulent white supremacy rally is planned for Charlottesville, VA, where confederate statues have recently been removed from public place, to much anger and direct threats of violence.  Faith communities are calling for 1,000 leaders to show up.  “As faith leaders in Charlottesville, we are committed to nonviolent direct action, standing in solidarity with community members and groups such as Black Lives Matter and Showing Up for Racial Justice. We do not want a repeat of July 8th – we want to grow forward in number and in narrative to visibly counteract this hate, proclaiming with our bodies and our sanctuaries that God rejects white supremacy, and that God is present with those hurt, angered, afraid and confused by this massive national event in our small town.  We call on 1,000 clergy and faith leaders to join us on August 12th.”

I understand their fear, but I wonder if this is the right approach.  I like to think of that stunning example in Montgomery, AL when, toward the end of the successful bus boycott, the Klan rode through a black neighborhood – and everyone ignored them!  Even invited them in for coffee.  They felt, and were, ridiculous, and after a few blocks of this they turned up a side street and disappeared into the night.  To overcome your fear – which Gandhi and Gene Sharp always say is the sine qua non to start resistance – is to disempower violence.  On the other hand, if we have to muster 1,000 demonstrators every time they call a rally, we’ll be rapidly exhausted.

Of course, I do like “and in narrative.”  We often neglect the power of story.