Newsletter – Now’s The Time! Next Phase For Popular Resistance
Today, we are excited to announce the next phase of Popular Resistance. We are starting with a new website that is easier for you to use and to share, and then we’ll bring you expanded media and the Popular Resistance School in the new year. Together, we are building the culture of resistance necessary at this point in human history.
The countdown this past ten days has been like a walk down Memory Lane for us and an opportunity for you to meet some of the people who work with Popular Resistance. Before we describe the next phase in more detail, we would like to tell you about Popular Resistance’s origins.
The History of Popular Resistance
When we started Popular Resistance over four years ago, it was after the Occupy encampment era. We helped to organize Occupy Washington, DC on Freedom Plaza in 2011. In the beginning, we called it October 2011 based on the revolutionary movements in Egypt and Spain, which used dates to describe their protests. The Occupy movement did not exist yet, but something was in the air. Many groups were discussing and planning types of sustained actions.
Occupy Washington, DC was planned to be a national action. There were more than 50 state coordinators in 36 states working to bring people to Freedom Plaza on October 6, 2011. We all hoped that the action would be successful, but never did we expect the fantastic take off of the Occupy movement. It changed the national conversation quickly by exposing the corruption of Wall Street and the obscene wealth divide. It built a space where people could see that they were not alone, that their circumstances were caused by a system, not by their actions, and where people could learn about how that system works and how it could be changed.
When the encampments wound down, many people formed groups to focus on specific root causes of the crises we face, such as debt and an unfair economy, or organized around specific issues such as housing, education and health care. The activity kept going, but many people were unaware of it because the corporate media didn’t cover it. We felt a strong need to keep informing people about the beautiful resistance actions and work being done to build alternative systems. As we organized campaigns of our own, we also kept posting about other activities on the Occupy Washington, DC website.
In the Fall of 2012, we took on a process of determining how our work could better serve what needed to be done to build a movement of movements to transform the country, and so we took a partial hiatus and focused on a series of strategy meetings. This culminated in a retreat in March, 2013, where we delved deeply into what the current environment was in the country, what were impediments to change and what we could do to augment the work that needed to be done. Out of that, we developed our priorities and Popular Resistance was launched in June, 2013.
One of our priorities is education. The government and corporate media try to mislead people on many issues, so an analysis that explains what is really happening is essential. In addition, we knew the corporate media would not report on the movement, so media for the movement is necessary. There is also a need for examination of the history of movements and understanding movement strategy and tactics. And, there is a need for people to see how the various issues are connected to each other in order to build a mass movement of movements. Understanding the root causes of injustice, how power operates and how it can be challenged is the foundation of every effort to organize people into an effective force.
An ongoing priority is building a culture of resistance. As we looked at efforts across the country, we could see that people in the US were rising up to challenge injustice in their communities, but this revolt wasn’t widely known. The corporate media works to divide and distract us and to convince us that we are powerless. Seeing people and groups taking action to confront injustice demonstrates that resistance is an acceptable and effective strategy and teaches us how to resist. We are inspired by the actions of others. And it is important to know that there are groups challenging the status quo and advocating for bold solutions. Some groups, members of the non-profit industrial complex and/or partisan groups, are limited in what they can do. The presence of a more radical element pulls those groups to be bolder.
One approach to this was for Popular Resistance to choose campaigns that unite movements, e.g. stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which impacts every issue we work on, and fighting for Internet freedom and net neutrality because everyone in the movement requires equal access to the Internet to reach people with their messages and to organize, as well as for day-to-day activities. Expanded and improved Medicare for all is another campaign because health care impacts everyone, and it helps people understand the overall philosophy of putting people and the planet ahead of profits in a very palpable way. Working to stop dependence on oil and gas and transitioning to a clean energy economy is another fundamental issue. Of course, challenging militarism abroad and at home is also a critical concern. Through the campaigns that Popular Resistance organizes and collaborates on, we work to improve activists’ skills and to provide tools for action. This is done through action camps, national calls and issue-specific websites.
Hand-in-hand with resistance actions, there must also be constructive programs – work to build alternative systems to replace the current dysfunctional ones. The “Create” section on Popular Resistance highlights those activities, as does our campaign to build a democratized economy that reduces the wealth divide, It’s Our Economy. We also see the essential need to highlight art in the movement and do so through Creative Resistance. The tagline for the October 2011 occupation was “Stop the machine, create a new world.”
The Next Phase of Popular Resistance
We have reached a very critical phase in the state of resistance in the United States, and we must be prepared to navigate it.
Although they were largely quiet about wars, militarism, economic injustice, destruction of the environment and racism during the Obama Presidency, many Democratic Party-aligned groups have risen up under President Trump and proclaimed themselves to be “the resistance.” They are resisting the Republicans and their theory of change involves electing more Democrats. The Democrats have tremendous resources for reaching and mobilizing people, which they are using to channel people into electoral work. This will escalate in the next three years, especially during election seasons.
But, the reality is the crises we face are bigger than Trump and the Republicans. If people who consider themselves to be progressive, many of whom are activated for the first time, lack an understanding of what is happening, why it is happening and what to do about it, they will be mislead down a false path. Our work must be to reach more people and to provide education and skills-building to help them to be effective change agents, and we must do this in an environment that is hostile to dissent and works to confuse and mislead people.
This means that our work must expand, and that is what this next phase is intended to accomplish.
The centerpiece of our next phase will be a significant upgrade of the Popular Resistance website. The site will continue to be a hub for coverage of the movement and issues, but it will also make it much easier for you to share media through social media. The attack on independent and people’s media is becoming more extreme so we must each increase our efforts to spread the news and share information. Sharing media is an act of resistance. You will also find it easier to access videos and our podcasts and to submit your events directly to the national calendar.
Popular Resistance is building its own audio and video studio. We have been producing a weekly podcast, Clearing the FOG, for the last six years. This will allow us not only to continue Clearing the FOG but also to produce more audio and video media. We will be able to respond to breaking news, interview key people, produce live streams and reach a wider audience.
Related to this, Popular Resistance is developing a school. This web-based school will cover strategy and tactics, detailed analysis of key issues and skills-building videos. Our first school, which will begin early next year, will focus on how movements grow and succeed and what strategies and tactics have been shown to be effective.
Popular Resistance will continue its current campaigns, but is also considering new campaigns in 2018. They are campaigns that unite different segments of the movement in order to demonstrate that we are a movement of movements. Our action camps will continue too. The next one will be part of the Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE) campaign to win National Improved Medicare for All. The HOPE action camp will take place April 7 to 10 in Washington, DC.
We have more plans we’d like to implement if we obtain the necessary resources. And this is where we appeal to you. We are aware that most of our readers, like the majority of people in the United States, are struggling to meet their basic needs. At the same time, we must build an effective resistance if we are to change the current situation, and this takes funds. Groups that challenge the status quo are less likely to receive grants. If you are able to donate, please consider supporting Popular Resistance with a tax-deductible end-of-the-year donation. Perhaps, you would consider becoming a monthly donor. A few dollars a month from many people is significant. Please click here to donate.
Preparing a Transformational Future
With the extremism that is currently being shown in government and the economy, it is hard for some to imagine a social movement making advancements, but we see the extremism as an opportunity, like a spring being pushed down before it releases.
Every society has a tipping point. A study published last month looked at wealth divide and tipping points throughout human history. Measuring inequality is done by the Gini coefficient, which gives perfect, egalitarian societies a score of 0 and high-inequality societies a score of 1. The United States has a score of .81, one of the highest in the world. Research shows that inequality leads to social instability. Tim Kohler, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, warned “we could be inviting revolution, or we could be inviting state collapse. There’s only a few things that are going to decrease our Ginis dramatically.”
Some people are predicting a boomerang in response to the proposed tax cuts, which are a grotesque money grab on behalf of the wealthiest people in the United States, and greater austerity. The money grab comes at a time when three people have the wealth of half the population and when corporate profits are soaring while workers struggle with survival. According to the Tax Policy Center, by 2027, the top one-fifth of earners would receive 90 percent of the tax bill’s benefits.
Sam Pizzigati, who studies and writes about inequality, describes the current situation as akin to 1932. He writes “Back in 1932, just as today, conservatives had a lockgrip on the White House and both houses of Congress. Then as now, America’s wealthy lusted for fundamental tax changes that would significantly reduce their already reduced tax burden.” He describes how the corporate media pushed legislation for the wealthy and both parties were guilty of serving big business. The government went too far, and in reaction “Americans would push back. They would mount the first national political surge against plutocracy…The surge broke out almost as a matter of spontaneous political combustion. From across the nation.” The political reaction to big business extremism and the depression resulted in more than doubling the top tax rate to 63% and a host of programs to lift people up economically and provide for basic necessities. Franklin Delano Roosevelt rose to power on this political movement calling for policies on behalf of the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”
The current political culture is more divided than it looks – not just between Republicans and Democrats, who are two wings of a Wall Street and war party – but also between the people and those in power. The issue of inequality is on the political table – forced there by Occupy, the Fight for $15 among others, racial inequality and police violence are part of the political dialogue because of Black Lives Matter, fair immigration is being fought for by multiple vibrant immigration groups, healthcare for all is being urged by a single payer movement, Freedom of Speech, Internet freedom and net neutrality are supported by tens of millions of people and climate justice movement against fracking, oil, gas and their infrastructure are being fought by a growing movement. The peace movement continues with a variety of new groups working to end war and challenging militarism. These are just a few of many vibrant fronts of struggle where people are educating and organizing.
Our job now is to build on these efforts to create a mass-based foundation for the boomerang against plutocratic extremism. The more we do now to educate, organize and activate, the stronger our opportunities will be in the future. Popular Resistance is entering this new phase to help build the movement so positive transformations can occur when opportunities arise.
As a member of the Popular Resistance community, you are part of this growing resistance that will transform our society and the world. We urge you to continue sharing what you are doing in your communities. Send us your press releases, articles and videos. Share the content that you find on Popular Resistance through social media. Join or support the campaigns that you learn about on Popular Resistance. We also urge to support Popular Resistance with your funds and make a donation today.
This is an exciting, though challenging time, and we are excited for the real possibilities that it provides. Together we will stop the machine and create a new world.