The Hidden Potential Of The Greens

| Educate!

Above: Jill Stein was arrested August 1, 2013 in Philadelphia and charged with trespassing during a protest against Fannie Mae against housing foreclosures. AP.

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” -Mahatma Gandhi

While interviewing Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate in 2012, for the weekly Occupy Radio show that I co-host (listen here), it seems that she, like many of us, is frustrated by traditional politics. Our conversation revolved not around upcoming election or pieces of legislation, but around building a long overdue mass movement for Peace, People, and Planet over Profit – as the slogan for the upcoming Global Climate Convergence goes. This series of marches, demonstrations, civil disobedience and direct actions being planned for Earth Day to May Day 2014 is intended to set the ground for a global strike in 2015. The time has come to move out of traditional politicking and into the arena of concentrated, coordinated, effective nonviolent struggle.

With climate change knocking on our doors, an escalation of nonviolent action is required to match the rapid demise of civil liberties and the disturbing rise of authoritarian, corporate-political collusion that seeks profit over peace, people, and the planet. The countdown for change has begun. If we are to survive on Earth, we, the people, need to become skilled in wielding what Gandhi referred to as “the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.”

Nonviolent struggle taps into a source of social and political power that often lies unutilized by the citizens. It is our ability, inherent right, and freedom to give or withhold support; to offer or withdraw our willing cooperation; and to obey or disobey orders, commands, and unjust laws. When the populace of a nation effectively refuses to provide assistance to a corrupt regime, the regime collapses. When the people are able to disrupt the normal operations of a society over a sustained period of time, they are then able to leverage their collective power to make demands and back them up with tangible sanctions that impact the empowered class’ ability to rule.

The citizens of the United States remain fairly ignorant of these dynamics. The basis of social and political power is not (as we are taught in school) voting, petitioning, sitting on juries, or demonstrating. Rather, effective power lies in our collective ability to wage organized civil resistance in the forms of boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, shut-downs, etc., and also in acts of non-cooperation aimed at impeding the operations of the corrupt regime.

Rarely do empowered political parties (in our case, the Democratic and Republican Parties) advocate the use of nonviolent struggle. To them, educating the people in such knowledge opens a dangerous Pandora’s box of powerful, organized citizenry. Once opened, the empowered parties will never be able to fully close it or control it. Thus, we see that the empowered parties rely on the sanction of State repression, imprisonment and violence to enforce their rule, not on the strength of the citizens.

Truly democratic, people-based movements have nothing to fear from an empowered citizenry; in fact, educating the populace strengthens both the movement for social change and the society that endures in the wake of a massive struggle.

The Green Party – with its broad, encompassing, and well-articulated platform of economic, social, and environmental justice, stand perfectly poised to tap the tremendous resource of nonviolent action.

Around the world, marginalized democratic political parties have mobilized the populace by empowering them with the methods of nonviolent struggle. In some cases, the party has co-opted a growing movement, but in others, the party played an instrumental role in educating and organizing the people. Either way, the coopting or fomenting party is generally a political organization that is unable to effect change through state-controlled avenues of politics.

Effective organizing for nonviolent struggle takes perseverance and courage, however, and change is not easily accomplished without mass participation by the populace. In our interview with Jill Stein, she said that the Green Party is a “survivor”, and, as I watch her and other Greens organize for the Global Climate Convergence, I see them adapting to an untenable political, social, and environmental situation in a viable manner that reflects the evolutionary adaptability being demonstrated by plants and animals all around our endangered Earth.

The Greens have enormous hidden potential at this moment in history. Unhampered by the constraints of party politicking, free from pandering to corporations for donations, sufficiently marginalized to be fearless around embracing radical concepts, the Green Party has also managed to collect principled, passionate individuals who dare to stand up for our future.

It is likely that by taking strong forward action on economic justice and climate change while the Democrats and Republicans delay (trying to find a way to capitalize a crisis to their advantage), the Greens will be able to tap the boiling frustration of the populace and turn it into an effective movement for social change. If the Greens fully embrace nonviolent struggle, I suspect they will win support from the fed-up, despairing citizens and restore our faith in real democracy, of the people, by the people, and for the people.

To accomplish this, the Greens must be courageous enough to foment the struggle, not simply co-opt it. The American populace is disgusted with politics – and rightly so, given the shameful trajectory we’ve been on. The tragedy of the corporate-political coup that we live under is that people have lost faith in democracy. Ironically, while the citizens think democracy doesn’t work, the truth is that they have never, ever experienced true democracy. It was simply not written into our Constitution. Just as the struggles for civil rights, suffrage, and equality were making progress, wealthy and corporate interests invaded and made all citizens subordinate to their money, influence, and power.

To restore Americans belief in democracy, the Greens must proactively put power into the people’s hands. They must be seen on the frontlines of the struggle. They must do the hard, tedious work of organizing. They must do the dangerous work of agitating, and strategizing. They must take the hits, publically, and still rise, indomitable. They must embody, to a single person, the evolutionary “survivor” – not the old notion of “survival of the fittest”, but the modern concept of interconnected systems, in which humanity and the Earth must forge a compatible future, together.

As I say in my novel on coal and climate change: “We must survive with the Earth, or else we will vanish from its face.” – Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars

The Greens, the people, democracy, the nation, the planet – all fates are entwined.  It is by picking up the mantle of the massive struggle for Life on Earth that the hidden potential of the Green Party – and the people – will be found.

Listen to Occupy Radio’s interview w/ Jill Stein, Green Shadow Cabinet President and 2012 Green Party Presidential Candidate,

Author/Actress Rivera Sun is a co-founder of the Love-In-Action Network, a co-host on Occupy Radio, and, in addition to her new novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, (

she is also the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength.

Global Climate Convergence:

Green Shadow Cabinet:

The Green Party:


  • Keith Rose

    Non-violent protest is met by violent response by the status
    quo protecting its interest.

  • cruisersailor

    Here’s hoping the GOP fades away to be replaced by a strong Green Party.

  • blm1242

    “Systems do collapse, and are replaced by others, The state is only here because people choose to believe in it—because they trust its systems…. This, then, is the threat of crime to modern society: not that it will overcome civilization with violence, but that it will undermine trust in, and thus the viability of, the system. Carolyn Nordstrom, GLOBAL OUTLAWS

    Rivera Sun’s article exemplifies this point by Ms. Nordstom. We have trusted the system but as facts about governments and economic systems become better understood by the public and we see the effects of the actions of those systems exploit, subvert and create one injustice after another, we the citizens, realize that we can do much better than what we have done. We have lost trust and faith in the viability of, the system. A change in the system must start in some way and it must start as a movement of the citizens. The Green party is a voice that must be heard for folks to realize that there is a choice. We, the people, are no longer content with the lesser of two evils. We want “the good”, a preservation of this beautiful blue-green planet, a simple and peace way of life and the reflection of these goals in government. This system is collapsing and will be replaced. It is up to each one of us to decide, replaced with what?

  • Anton de Bergerac

    Martin Luther King did not engage in small scale protest nor did he avoid those who were not in 100% agreement. Jill Stein might be as leader in small scale disobedience but she is a waste as a candidate.
    Fannie Mae and Bank domination of our economy is an issue that was calling out for mass demonstrations in 2008/2009.Fracking is a national issue but the Green Party does not engage in outreach. I will take the Green Party seriously when they get serious. Until then lets play drums and smoke grass.

  • kevinzeese

    What nonsense. There were many times when King got arrested in civil disobedience alone. Rosa Parks acted alone sitting on a bus. The point is that we have to build campaigns out of small actions. Out of Rosa Parks lone action came the year long campaign — the Montgomery Bus Boycott. But, like everything it started small. No doubt outreach is necessary, but you do not know what Jill Stein does if you do not realize she engages in outreach. You sound like someone speaking from prejudice against the Greens rather than knowledge about what people who are Greens do, and without knowledge of the challenges of getting people to work together.

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  • Anton de Bergerac

    The point is Jill Stein is a lousy canidate who would rather spend three hours a day in her garden than devote the time and energy required to be relevant. The Green Party will have to do better if they want to have any impact.

  • kevinzeese

    Again you are showing your ignorance and bias. Ignorant in that you blame Jill for having to operate in corrupt elections. The US is a mirage democracy with managed elections. People outside the two parties, as well as insurgents inside them, are shut out by systemic corruption in the system (e.g. ballot access, closed debates), media bias and money dominated elections. Americans always get to choose between two lousy corporate candidates because the system is rigged to ensure it.

    When Jill was campaigning she was not spending three hours in her garden. You have no idea about what you’re talking about regarding her campaign schedule.

    The Green Party will definitely have to do better but the reality is that is not possible in the current electoral system. Third party candidates can help build movements, raise issues ignored by the two parties and highlight the corruption of elections but they are not allowed to compete.

  • There are 11 candidates for governor of Pennsylvania. Just one, the Green Party candidate, has declared an intent to ban fracking:

  • kevinzeese

    And you can be sure the media will make sure the voters don’t hear about it!

  • Rivera Sun

    One of the commonly misunderstood aspects of nonviolent struggle is the notion that “because we are nonviolent, we will not be responded to with violence”. This is untrue. Violent repression (by the State or other opposition group) is nearly inevitable at this point in humanity’s development. However, the use of nonviolent struggle has not only been on the rise in the past 50-100yrs, it has also been proving itself to be more effective that violent means. Part of this is political jui-jitsu effect. When nonviolent action is met by violent repression, and the protestors show resilience, maintain discipline and show persistent courage, the greater populace often becomes sympathetic towards and involved with the protestors. Additionally, the persistence, discipline, and courage of the protestors sometimes causes a fissure in the repression group. Some member feel that the violence a) isn’t working, b) is unjustified, or c) is unbecoming to their own group. These divides sometimes end up splitting the group, which works to the protestors advantage. So, not only can we expect and anticipate violent repression, but we can also, ultimately, use it to our advantage.

  • Rivera Sun

    Wow. If I lived in the very much fracked Pennsylvania . . . I know who I would be voting for!

  • Rivera Sun

    As your recent article that mentioned the mainstream media blackout on the TPP pointed out, if independent, alternative, and social medias work together, we can make our message heard and organize effectively despite the silence of mass media.

  • Keith Rose

    True indeed. The status quo will fight tooth and nail to remain so.

  • rgaura

    Just a few words in defense of spending hours in the garden; growing food is a meditative act, which nourishes the soul. When gardening, we are reminded of the abundance, interconnectedness, and sweet creativity of nature. We are taught about renewal and redemption when we work with the seasons.

    It has become apparent that as the dollar is in process of being unhinged from its position as the currency in which petrochemicals are traded with, the globalists are moving to food as the new basis for a new global currency. Food sovereignty is an issue for all humans going into the currency reset.

  • Southernfink

    I am all for a strong Green party and believe that Stein makes an excellent choice, however unrelated this appears, I am rather confused about the Australian Greens, in the past they threw their support behind Labor and even though Labor actually received the highest number of votes in the last election they were outnumbered by the coalition formed by the LNP, the Australian Greens threw their support behind Clive Palmer, a mining magnate (and now an MP) which consequently allowed the far right (LNP) to win the election.

    Still confused ?… fear not, I do hope Jill Stein will become the first female President in the US, but will she too, be sabotaged due to the fine print in existing trade deals ?

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