Beyond Violence And Nonviolence

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By Ben Case for Roar Magazine. The argument over violence and nonviolence — one of the oldest and most divisive on the left — is back. Broken windows, mass arrests and one well-timed punch marked Donald Trump’s inauguration alongside massive nonviolent marches. In the weeks since, demonstrators converged on international airports, adding weight to a heated judicial fight over a sweeping ban on refugees and immigrants from seven countries, and fiery protests outside a famed hate-monger’s talk at Berkeley cancelled the event and forced the speaker to flee under police escort. Against the backdrop of a renascent fascist menace, the mix of tactical approaches has brought renewed fervor to the violence-vs-nonviolence debate. The dispute has been calcified into fixed positions, where it becomes less about persuading others to a strategic position and more about winning a point for one’s team.

Authoritarianism Is Making A Comeback

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By Maria J. Stephan and Timothy Snyder for The Guardian. It is time for those who support democracy to remember what activists from around the world have paid a price to learn: how to win. Modern authoritarians rely on repression, intimidation, corruption and co-optation to consolidate their power. The dictator’s handbook mastered by Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, Maduro in Venezuela, Zuma in South Africa, Duterte in the Philippines and Trump here provides the traditional tactics: attack journalists, blame dissent on foreigners and “paid protestors,” scapegoat minorities and vulnerable groups, weaken checks on power, reward loyalists, use paramilitaries, and generally try to reduce politics to a question of friends and enemies, us and them.

Mobilizing For A Culture Of Nonviolence This Fall

April Showed Huge Increase In Nonviolent Protests Across the US

Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com

By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet – April showed a huge increase in nonviolent protest activity across the U.S. As co-director of the Crowd Counting Consortium, Erica Chenoweth has been collecting political crowd data since the Women’s March in January. She also produces a monthly breakdown for the Washington Post on political activism trends based on the numbers. Based on Chenoweth’s data for April, here are five signs indicating engagement in the resistance to Trump is on the rise. 1. The reported crowd size increased more than 60 percent. According to Chenoweth’s report, “April had a 62 percent increase over the number of reported crowds in March [as well as] a major increase in participation—between eight and 13 times greater than the estimated number who participated in March.” The largest event was the March for Science, in which approximately half a million Americans participated.

Can The “Spiritual Left” Make The Change They Wish To See?

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By Arielle Levites for Religion Dispatches – Over the last twenty-five years, as more and more Americans cease affiliating with any particular religion or church, they increasingly identify with an alternative religious sensibility: “spirituality.” Approximately one in five Americans consider themselves “spiritual-but-not-religious.” While the practice of American spirituality is diverse and decentralized, my research shows that there are many common features in its expression, from yoga studios to mindfulness seminars. It may not surprise you to learn that the spiritual-but-not-religious heavily favor the Democratic Party. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012 found that Americans who identify as spiritual-but-not-religious are twice as likely to lean Democratic as they are to lean Republican (62% to 31%). But what kind of political activism does spirituality promote? The culture of American spirituality tends to emphasize civic action through emotional self-development. Spiritual practitioners argue that we can best change the world through changing ourselves. If we properly govern our own emotional responses, lowering negative emotion while cultivating positive emotion we make our country a better place…

Night After Day In Afghanistan

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By Dr. Hakim for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Dr. Hakim runs the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Here is the most recent message that they sent about the important work they are doing to survive, heal and build community: I’m so often caught up in the daily concerns of work and the wars raging across Afghanistan and many parts of the world that I forget how remarkable it is that at the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre in Kabul, 19 small teams with more than 70 active Afghan Peace Volunteers are putting nonviolence into microscopic but concrete practice. There’s also the pulsating energy from 100 eager street kids ready to change themselves. All these ‘small people’ with ‘big souls’ touch me. They move my days and nights.

The Protesting Priest

Frank Cordaro, Catholic Workers, Iowa, the protesting priest. Photo by Hannah Little

By Angela Ufheil for Urban Plains. Each year, the Andrews Air Force Base hosts an open house. Thousands visit the Maryland base to see the latest in aircraft technology. Pilots perform aerial stunts. Soldiers give talks. And in 1998, five activists, known as the Gods of Metal Plowshares Five, attacked a military bomber. An interpretation of Roman Catholicism allows for the destruction of property in the name of pacifism. That’s where the Plowshares movement came from. The movement aligned with Frank’s goals perfectly. When the first Plowshares action took place in 1980 — a group of eight damaged a nuclear warhead and poured blood onto documents and files — Frank knew he’d one day participate. Most Plowshares protests involved active resistance to war. In this case, active resistance isn’t just writing letters and making a few calls. It means trespassing on military property. It means pouring blood. It means breaking things.

Standing Rock Lives On As A Model For Peaceful Resistance

Protesters watch as structures are burned around them at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp before a 2 pm deadline to vacate in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, February 22, 2017. (Photo: Nick Cote / The New York Times)

By Four Arrows for Truthout – Oppressive legislation is aimed at ending grassroots resistance, the bedrock requirement for sustaining democracy. In an op-ed in the Guardian, Douglas Williams writes that it is not just the media, judiciary or electoral systems that are being undermined: “What is ignored is the effect that the Trump administration will have on the social movements, which serve as pillars of the resistance. If these fall, our democracy will be irreparably harmed.” In response to the “water is life” spiritual movement in Standing Rock, lawmakers in 10 states have proposed oppressive legislation. In North Dakota, a bill was proposed to let someone get away with running over a protester, after a cop on a snowmobile ran over a Water Protector. Earlier this month, the North Dakota State Senate passed a bill 33-12, making it illegal for a protester to wear a mask, whether to protect the face from cold or pepper spray.

When You Brag That The Women’s Marches Were Nonviolent

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by an Alabama police officer after her arrest during the bus boycott (Wikimedia).

By Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment – When you brag that your protests had no arrests, I wonder what you think that says about you. “When someone asks me about violence… I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through — what black people have experienced in this country — since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.” — Angela Davis

America: It’s Going To Be A Wild Ride

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By Bruce Gagnon for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. I watched Donald Trump’s inaugural speech yesterday with three other housemates and none of us were impressed. He’s living in another age – I see Trump trying to hang on to the long passed time of American military supremacy and economic domination. One last gasp before the US empire crashes under the weight of its own hypocrisy and contradictions. He said a few things that were decent but one must question them as pure political rhetoric as just a quick review of his cabinet appointments (full of corporate operatives) strongly undercuts his claims that he will return the power to the people that the ‘elites in Washington’ have unfairly taken from them. Trump blames other nations (especially China) for ‘stealing our jobs’ but we all know that it was the absolute greed of the corporations that drove them to close production plants across America and move jobs to places overseas where labor was cheaper and environmental regulations were virtually non-existent.

Newsletter - The Consent Of The Governed

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Governments function because of the consent of the governed. When a government does not serve the needs or interests of the people, it loses its legitimacy and no longer deserves the consent of the people.Plutocracy defined We have argued for a long time that current governments at all levels – local, state and federal -function primarily to benefit the wealthy. Academics have proven that the United States is a plutocracy – rule of, by and for the wealthy. It is time for us to withdraw our consent. Let’s consider how to do that and what protections will be needed. When a government loses the consent of the people, all it has left to wield to keep its power is repression and force. Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organizing Movement, is calling for “a program of noncompliance and noncooperation on both the federal and state levels.” We have entered a new era, a presidency of protest and an increasing illegitimate government. We have the power to withdraw our consent from hate and exploitation and build love and prosperity.

Speak Out Against Trump

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By George Payne of Gandhi Earth Keepers International. Rochester, NY – Denouncing the President-elect is not an act of disunity. Where would the United States be without ordinary citizens speaking up and questioning the policies and decisions of their elected leaders? After-all, we are a nation born out of dissent rather than conformity. I am not willing to extend Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. He is not my President. He is not my representative. He is not my fellow American. Trump lost my confidence when he mocked the disabled and then lied about his intentions. He lost my allegiance when he threatened to put a political opponent in jail. He lost my trust when he bragged about sexual molestation of women.

Newsletter - Standing Rock And American Genocide

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As we write this newsletter, we are driving to North Dakota to volunteer at Standing Rock. We have been wanting to go for many months but could not because of our commitment to organizing to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and our political work outside of Popular Resistance. We were planning to join a team from Baltimore in late December, but recent events made us decide that it was more important to go ourselves now. For a while, a profound sense of the importance of this moment has been growing within us. There are and have been many fights against fossil fuel infrastructure, but this one is different. Given the history of the country, the crises we all face on many levels and the direction that we are going – growing revolt and an increasingly repressive government – the fight at Standing Rock feels like a major turning point.

Inspiration For Nonviolence: The Battle Of Seattle

By Steve Kaiser from Seattle, US - WTO protests 10, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4994979

By Rivera Sun for Campaign Nonviolence. On November 30th, 1999, the World Trade Organization was scheduled to conduct a summit in Seattle, WA. Due to the intervention of activists, the meetings took place amidst widespread resistance, protest, and disruption. Although the acts of property damage, violence, and the violent repression tactics of the police were widely publicized, a number of on-the-ground nonviolent activists urge us to question the narrative of violence, and dig deeper into the nonviolent side of the story. Organizer David Solnit wrote, “It was a moment when organized resistance became a genuine popular uprising, successfully shutting down the opening day of the WTO meeting, taking over the downtown core of a major American city, and contributing to the collapse of negotiations that would have increased poverty, destruction, and misery around the world.”

Seeking The True Path

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By Robert J. Burrowes. One of the more subtle manifestations of the intimate link between (unconscious) human emotions and behaviour is illustrated by the simple concept of choice and how this is so often reduced to a dichotomy between two bad options. In such circumstances, most people choose whatever they consider to be ‘the lesser evil’. But how often are there only two options, even if they appear ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Frankly, I cannot think of one circumstance in which my choices are limited to two, however good or bad they appear to be. Why does this belief in just two options arise? When we are born, our evolutionary inheritance includes a phenomenally powerful capacity to feel a complex range of emotions.