The Movement Action Plan: A Strategic Framework Describing The Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements
The Clamshell Alliance was considered a prototype of the new movement. Activists throughout the country idealized the accomplishments of the Clamshell activists. They had created a new nationwide uprising against nuclear energy, the powerful nuclear energy industry, and the national government’s goal (set by “Operation Independence”) of 1,000 nuclear power plants by the turn of the century. Until then nuclear power had the public’s approval and had not been a social issue. We wondered howon Earth they did it. I eagerly looked forward to attending the strategy conference in February, 1978, with 45 Clamshell organizers from around New England.
That Friday night, I expected to meet a spirited, upbeat group that was proud of its accomplishments. I was shocked when the Clamshell activists arrived with heads bowed, dispirited, and depressed, saying their efforts had been in vain. After two years of hard effort, the Seabrook nuclear power plant was still being constructed, and Operation Independence was still going forward. Some people reported massive burnout and dropout; others spoke of the need for increased militant action, even violent guerilla actions. None believed they could rally even a fraction of the thousands of people they thought would be necessary to stop nuclear energy through the upcoming civil disobedience blockade at Seabrook in the Spring.
I wondered how I could convince these activists, in my scheduled talk the next morning, that they were extremely successful and considered national heroes by many in the new movement. I stayed up most of that night creating a model framework (now called “MAP”) that describes stages that successful social movements go through. I presented the model the next morning, explaining how, led by Clamshell, a new movement was created; how in one year it had achieved most of the goals of stage four; and how it was about to move the next stage—majority opposition. The stages framework helped empower many of the Clamshell activists and helped them create a new strategy.
The Clamshell experience of discouragement and collapse is far from unusual. Within a few years after achieving the goals of “take-off”, every major social movement of the past twenty years has undergone a significant collapse, in which activists believed that their movements had failed, the power institutions were too powerful, and their own efforts were futile. This has happened even when movements were actually progressing reasonably well along the normal path taken by past successful movements!
The Movement Action Plan (MAP) was first published as the Fall 1986 edition of the Dandelion. Twelve-thousand copies were published and distributed. This is a revised edition of that article. People are invited to participate in the continuing development of MAP and help spread it to local groups.
Social movements are collective actions in which the populace is alerted, educated, and mobilized, over years and decades, to challenge the powerholders and the whole society to redress social problems or grievances and restore critical social values. By involving the populace directly in the political process, social movements also foster the concept of government of, by, and for the people. The power of movements is directly proportional to the forcefulness with which the grassroots exert their discontent and demand change. The central issue of social movements, therefore, is the struggle between the movement and the powerholders to win the hearts (sympathies), minds (public opinion), and active support of the great majority of the populace, which ultimately holds the power to either preserve the status quo or create change.
There needs to be a revival of democracy through “people power”.The increasingly centralized power of the state and other social institutions, combined with the new use of the mass media to carry out the political process, has all but eliminated effective citizen participation in the decision-making process. Centralized powerholders now make decisions in the interests of a small minority, while simultaneously undermining the common good and aggravating critical social problems.
But people are powerful. Power ultimately resides with the populace. History is full of examples of an inspired citizenry involved in social movements that achieve social and political changes—even topple tyrannical governments. Powerholders know this. They know that their power depends on the support or acquiescence of the mass population.
Nonviolent social movements are a powerful means for preserving democracy and making societies address critical social problems. They enable citizens to challenge the prevailing centers of power and become active in society’s decision-making process, especially at times when the normal channels for their political participation are ineffective. Social movements mobilize citizens and public opinion to challenge powerholders and the whole society to adhere to universal values and sensibilities and redress social problems. At their best, they create an empowered citizenry, shifting the locus of social and political power from central elites and institutions to new grassroots networks and groups. In recent years, social movements have helped establish many civil rights for Blacks and women, end the Vietnam War, curb U.S. military interventions, and topple dictators in Haiti and the Philippines. Presently, there are strong movements opposing nuclear weapons, nuclear power, South African apartheid, and U.S. intervention in Central America, among others.
THE NEED FOR A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
How-to-do-it models and manuals provide step-by-step guidelines for most human activity, from baking a cake and playing tennis to having a relationship and winning a war.While there have been some models available for organizing nonviolent actions, based on Gandhi and King, and organizing communities, based on Alinsky and Ross, there have been no such analytic tools for evaluating and organizing social movements.
The lack of a practical analytic model which describes the long process normally taken by successful social movements disempowers activists and limits the effectiveness of their movements. Without the guiding framework that explains the step-by-step process that social movements go through, many activists are unable to identify successes already achieved, set long and short term goals, confidently develop strategies, tactics, and programs, and avoid common pitfalls.
Many experienced activists are “take-off junkies”. They know how to create new social movements, but they do not know how to wage long-term movements that progress through a series of successive stages and win actual positive change. Within two years after “take-off”, most activists inevitably perceive that their movement is failing, and their own efforts are futile. This leads to burnout, dropout, and the dissipation of movements. Astoundingly, this happens even when social movements are progressing reasonably well along the road normally taken by successful social movements in the past! Consequently, many activists keep repeating the cycle of “take-off” to “despair and burnout” with each succeeding new movement. MAP can enable activists to be social-change agents who help their movements progress through all the stages of social movements.
There is another problem we hope MAP alleviates. Most social problems need to be resolved through changes in policies and structures at the national level. But the national power of social movements comes from the strength of its local groups; national social movements are only as powerful as their grassroots, yet grassroots groups often are unable to make a connection between their own efforts and what happens at the national and international level. It all seems too distant and unconnected. The Movement Action Plan, however, enables local activists to clearly see a direct connection between their own efforts and their impact at the national level.
THE MOVEMENT ACTION PLAN (MAP)
The Movement Action Plan provides activists with a practical, how-to-do-it analytic tool for evaluating and organizing social movements that are focused on national and international issues, such as nuclear energy and weapons, nonintervention in Central America, civil and human rights, AIDS, democracy and freedom, apartheid, or ecological responsibility.
MAP describes eight stages through which social movements normally progress over a period of years and decades. For each state, MAP describes the role of the public, powerholders, and the movement. It provides organizers with a map of the long road of successful movements, which helps them guide their movement along the way.
Most social movements are not just in one stage. Movements usually have many demands for policy changes, and their efforts for each demand are in a specific stage. The different demands of the Central America solidarity movement, for example, might be in the following stages:prevent U.S. military invasion of Nicaragua (middle of stage seven), stop aid to the contras (stage six), and a positive peace resolution in Central America (stage three).
For each of the movement’s major demands or goals, MAP enables activists to evaluate the movement and identify which stage it is in; identify successes already achieved; develop effective strategies, tactics, and programs; establish short and long-term goals; and avoid common pitfalls.
Social movements do not fit neatly into MAP’s eight stages or move through them in a linear way. Social movements are more dynamic. Movements have a number of different demands, and the effort for each demand is in a different MAP stage. When movements achieve one demand, they focus on achieving other demands that are at earlier stages. For example, in 1960, the civil rights movement’s restaurant sin-in campaign successfully went through all the stages. This was repeated over the next years with buses and public accommodations, and it was repeated again in the 1965 voting rights movement, whose take-off began in March with the Selma demonstrations and ended in August with a Voting Rights Act.
Finally, MAP is only a theoretical model, built from past experience. Real-life social movements will neither fit exactly nor move through the stages linearly, smoothly, or precisely in the manner outlined.
The purpose of MAP is to give activists hope and empowerment, increase the effectiveness of social movements, and reduce the discouragement that often contributes to individual burnout, dropout, and the winding down of social movements.
TWO VIEWS OF POWER
Many activists simultaneously hold two contrasting models of power—power elite and people power. Each of these views, however, leads to opposite movement strategies and target constituencies.
The Power Elite Model holds that society is organized in the form of a hierarchical pyramid, with powerful elites at the top and the relatively powerless mass populace at the bottom. The elites, through their dominant control of the state, institutions, laws, myths, traditions, and social norms, serve the interests of the elites, often to the disadvantage of the whole society. Power flows from the top to bottom.
Since people are powerless, social change can be achieved only by appealing to the elites at the top to change their policies through normal channels and institutions, such as the electoral process, lobbying Congress, and use of the courts. The target constituency is the powerholders, and the method is persuasion, either convincing existing powerholders to change their view or to elect new powerholders. The chief opposition organizations are professional opposition organizations (POOs), which have national offices and staff in Washington, D.C., with regional offices around the country.
The People Power Model holds that power ultimately resides in the mass populace. Even in societies with strong power elites, such as the United States or Marcos-led Philippines, the powerholders’ power is dependent on the cooperation, acquiescence, or support of the mass public. This model is represented by an inverse triangle, with the people at the top and the power elite at the bottom.
People power is the model used by social movements. The movement’s strategy is not only to use normal channels in an effort to persuade powerholders such as President Reagan to change their minds, but also to alert, educate, and mobilize a discontented, impassioned, and determined grassroots population using nonviolent means beyond the normal parliamentary methods institutions.
THE MOVEMENT’S SOURCE OF POWER
The source of power of social movements lies in two human qualities:
- A strong sense of right and wrong. People have deeply felt beliefs and values, and they react with extreme passion and determination when they realize that these values are violated.
- We understand the world and reality, in large part, through symbolism.
Social movements derive their power from an upset, impassioned, and motivated populace set into motion. This happens when people recognize that their strongly felt beliefs, values, and interests are unjustly violated, and the population is provided with hope that change can happen and a means for them to act. People are specially aroused to action when trusted public leaders, such as the President or Congresspeople, violate the public’s trust to carry out their duties of office in an honest and lawful manner.
The Irangate fiasco demonstrates this. Over a period of years, the administration carefully built up the danger of a new demon, Middle East terrorists, to scare the American people so they would support future U.S. military undertakings in the Middle East. Simultaneously, President Reagan was pictured as the nation’s protector against this new demon. His image was built up as a strong father—Rambo and John Wayne rolled into one. The people were led to believe he will use every means to challenge and defeat terrorism everywhere. No deals. No compromises.
Reagan’s popularity soared. This popularity took a nose dive, however, beginning in November, 1986, when Irangate expose’ revealed that Reagan violated the public’s trust and then lied to the public in an extensive cover-up. This follows the process of the demise of President Nixon during Watergate.
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS VS. POWERHOLDERS
The process of achieving social change through social movements is the struggle between the movement and powerholders of the hearts, minds, and support (or acquiescence) of the general public. The powerholders advocate policies that are to the advantage of society’s elites, but often to the disadvantage of the majority population and in violation of its strongly held values. Before movements begin, however, the populace is usually unaware of the problem and the violation of their values, but they would be very upset and easily spurred to action if they knew. This was the situation regarding nuclear energy before 1977, the nuclear arms race before 1980, U.S. intervention in Central America before 1983, and U.S. arms to Iran before the Fall of 1986.
THE POWERHOLDER STRATEGY
The powerholders maintain their power and the status quo by hiding the moral violations of social conditions and by their policies through the following strategies:
- The first line of defense is through a strategy of “bureaucratic management” to prevent the issue from becoming a public issue. This is achieved by (1) “internalized obedience,” keeping the problem out of the public’s view of the world and thereby out of people’s consciousness; (2) keeping issues out of the public spotlight and off the society’s agenda; and (3) keeping the issue off of society’s political agenda of hotly contested issues.
- Some of the means used by the powerholders to achieve this strategy are the following:(1) maintain hegemony of information available to the public through the media; (2) deny that the problem exists (e.g., “no arms have been sent to Iran”); (3) create “societal myths” which define the problem for the public exactly the opposite of reality, such as calling the contras “freedom fighters” or saying that the Marcos Duvallier governments were part of the “free world”; and (4) create the threat of demons, such as Communism and terrorism, to install fear in the general population so that they will unquestioningly support whatever policies the powerholders take.
- After a policy becomes a public issue, the powerholders are forced to switch to a “crisis management” strategy by doing the following:(1) vindicate unjust policies through “justification myths”, which explain that their policies are needed to overcome a bigger evil (e.g., “we need to support President Marcos, a minor dictator, to prevent the worse evil of the Communist takeover in the Philippines”); (2) re-emphasize old demons or create new ones; (3) create trigger events to justify a new policy and to get public consent, such as when the American Government got the support of the American people for escalating the Vietnam War by proclaiming that American ships were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin; (4) overcome public opposition by first ignoring then discrediting, destabilizing, and if necessary, repressing the movement; (5) appearing to be involved in a resolution process through promises, new rhetoric, appointing studies and commissions, and negotiations, as in the Geneva nuclear arms reduction meetings; (6) make minor changes through reforms, compromises, and cooptation of opponents; and (7) coopt the opposition.
- The chief means by which the powerholders maintain unjust policies and keep them hidden from the public is by having a two-track system of “official” vs. “operative” doctrines and policies. (These are Noam Chomsky’s terms.) Official policies are fictitious policies which are given to the general public. They are explained in high-sounding moral terms, such as democracy and freedom. Operative policies, on the other hand, are the government’s actual policies, which are kept hidden from the public because they violate widely held values and therefore would upset most citizens. For example, after the Boland amendment was passed in 1984 forbidding U.S. governmental aid to the Nicaraguan contras, the Reagan administration adopted an official policy of not providing governmental aid; yet, the Irangate revelations have exposed the Administration’s operative policy of providing massive covert government aid spearheaded by Ollie North and the National Security Council.
THE MOVEMENT’S STRATEGY
The movement’s aim is to educate and win over an increasingly larger majority of the public, and to mobilize the majority public into an effective force that brings about social change. To achieve this, movements need to be grounded in the strongly felt and widely held human and cultural values, symbols, sensibilities, and traditions of the general population, such as freedom, democracy, justice, and human rights (but not those cultural values with which we disagree, such as the Monroe Doctrine’s proclamation that the U.S. has the right to dominate Latin America). Only by showing the Public that the movement upholds these values, and that the powerholders violate them, can the population be won over and stirred to the level of passion required for them to act. In contrast, movement activities and attitudes that violate the society’s values and sensibilities, including acts of violence and rebellious machismo posturing, have the opposite effect; they turn both the public and many other activists against the movement.
The movement’s strategy, mirroring that of the powerholders, needs to accomplish the following:
- Publicly show that the social conditions and powerholder policies violate values, traditions, and self-interests of the general public. This includes publicly revealing the difference between official and operative policies and doctrines.
- Keep the issue and moral violations in the public spotlight and on society’ agenda of hotly contested issues.
- Keep the issue and powerholders’ policies on society’s political agenda, such as having aid to the contras voted on in Congress rather than carried out secretly by the CIA.
- Counter the powerholders’ social myths, justifications, anddenials that the problem exists.
- Counter the powerholders’ demonology. For example, the thousands of American “citizen diplomats” who visit Russia counter the Reagan demonology that the Soviets are monsters and an “evil empire” by revealing that the Russians are people like us.
- Involve increasingly larger portions of the public in programs that challenge the powerholders’ policies and promote alternative visions and programs.
- Don’t compromise too much too soon.
- After a large majority of public opinion is won, have an “endgame” strategy that mobilizes the populace and institutions to create change, despite the determined opposition of the central powerholders.
- Finally the movement’s organizations and leadership, especially at the national and regional levels, should serve, nurture, and empower the grassroots activists and promote participatory democracy within the movement.
STAGE ONE: NORMAL TIMES
In this first stage—normal times—there are many conditions that grossly violate widely held, cherished human values such as freedom, democracy, security, and justice, and the best interests of society as a whole. Moreover, these conditions are maintained by the policies of public and private powerholders, and a majority of public opinion. Yet, these violations of values, sensibilities, and self-interest of the general society are relatively unnoticed; they are neither in the public spotlight nor on society’s agenda of hotly contested issues. Normal times are politically quiet times. Some past normal times were the violations of Blacks’ civil rights before 1960; the Vietnam War before 1967; and U.S. intervention in Central America and support for Marcos, Duvalier, and apartheid before 1985.
The opposition of these conditions and policies is small and receives more public ridicule than support. Consequently, its efforts are relatively ineffective. There are three major kinds of opposition:professional opposition organizations (POOs), ideological or principled dissent groups, and grassroots groups that represent the victims.
The professional opposition organizations are centralized formal organizations, often with national offices in Washington, D.C., which try to win achievable reforms through mainstream political channels such as the electoral process, Congress, and the courts.They are hierarchical, with a board of directors, strong staff, and a mass membership that carries out nationally decided programs. These efforts have little success because they do not have sufficient public support to provide the political clout required to create change.
The principled dissent groups hold nonviolent demonstrations, rallies, pickets, and occasional civil disobedience actions.These groups are usually small, little noticed, and ineffective at achieving their demands. Through their symbolic actions, however, the principled dissent groups are a shining moral light in the darkness.
The grassroots groups are composed of local citizens who oppose present conditions and policies but do not yet have the support of the majority local population. They represent the victims’ perspective, provide direct services to victims, and also carry out programs similar to those of the other opposition groups.
The powerholders often promote policies that support the interests of society’s privileged and powerful, and which violate the interests and values of the society as a whole. The powerholders maintain these policies primarily by keeping them out of the public spotlight and off the society’s agenda of contested issues. They have to keep these policies hidden from the general public because they know that the populace would be upset and demand changes if they knew the truth. The powerholders are able to maintain these policies and keep them hidden from the public by successfully carrying out their two-tact strategy of highly proclaiming their official doctrine and policies, stated in terms of the society’s values and interests, while hiding from the public their actual or operative doctrines and policies.
A political and social consensus supports the powerholders’ official policies and status quo because the public does not know that the government is actually functioning according to the opposite operative doctrine policies. Consequently, the general populace is unaware that the social conditions and public policies violate their values and self interests; or, when they do know, they believe the justifications as to why they can’t be changed or are needed to protect a higher cause or value. As a result, the public is not aware that there is a serious problem. Possibly only 10 to 15 percent of the population disagrees with the powerholders’ policies.
The goals at this stage are:
- to document that a serious problem exists,
- to maintain an active opposition no matter how small, and
- to move to the next stages.
The main danger is to be stuck in normal times indefinitely because of political naivete, not knowing the realities of political and social life, and feeling powerless to create change.
Normal times are politically quiet times because the powerholders successfully promote their official doctrine and policies while hiding their actual operative doctrine and policies, thereby keeping the violations of conditions and their policies out of the public consciousness and off society’s agenda. The opposition feels hopeless because it seems that the situation will continue indefinitely, and they feel powerless to change it. Beneath the calm surface, however, the contradictions between society’s values and the powerholders’ actual, operative policies hold the seeds for popular discontent that can create dramatic changes.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage One – 1940s to 1960s
The American government launched the nuclear weapons era in the 1940s to fulfill its new role as the dominant world power. This was followed within a few years by the nuclear energy era.Although it was given lots of media hype as the “peaceful atom”, there was virtually no public discussion and debate regarding the merits of the new energy policy. The public heard only the official policy that nuclear energy was a modern miracle which would provide clean, safe, and unlimited electricity that was too cheap to meter.
The operative policy was that the full government apparatus had to provide massive financial, legal, and developmental support to make nuclear energy possible. At the same time, all the information that nuclear energy was actually dangerous, dirty, unbelievably expensive, unnecessary, and finite, was suppressed. The public was not told about the nuclear accident at Detroit’s Fermi reactor in 1966, which was similar to the later accident at Three Mile Island.
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was the official governmental watchdog agency assigned to look after the public’s welfare. Instead, it promoted nuclear energy at all costs, overriding laws, rules, costs, and safety while suppressing all opposition.Nevertheless, public opposition managed to stop some of the more outrageous plans, such as nuclear dumping in Cape Cod and a nuclear reactor in Queens. Moreover, a ballot referendum stopped a nuclear plant in Eugene, Oregon.
A national consensus supported the powerholders’ dreams of a glowing nuclear energy future. Nuclear energy was not a public issue on society’s agenda, for information supporting the official policies dominated information received by the public.
STAGE TWO: PROVE THE FAILURE OF INSTITUTIONS
The intensity of public feeling, opinion, and upset required for social movements to occur can happen only when the public realizes that the governmental policies violate widely held beliefs and values. The public’s upset becomes especially intensified when official authorities violate the public trust by using the power of office to deceive the public and govern unfairly and unlawfully. Hannah Arendt wrote that “people are more likely driven to action by the unveiling of hypocrisy than the prevailing conditions.”This was clearly shown by the dramatic turnaround of the American public’s opinion of President Reagan after Irangate exposed that instead of acting on his official policy of leading the world’s defiant fight against terrorists, his operative policy was actually cooperating, supporting, and making deals with terrorists.
The opposition must prove both that the problem exists and that the official powerholders and institutions perpetuate the problem. Therefore, the opposition must:
- Undertake research to prove that a problem exists which violates social values and sensibilities.
- Prove that the official doctrine and policies of governmental powerholders and institutions violate society’s values and the public trust. This must be not only from researching the facts but also from actually trying every avenue for official citizen participation in the democratic process for deciding on social policies and programs, and proving that they do not work.
- Testify, undertake challenges, and file complaints in every branch of the bureaucratic machinery at the local, state, and federal level of both public and private bodies that are supposed to be open for citizen participation and redress.
- Prove that they are “kangaroo courts”. Go to every decision-making body whether welcome or not.
- File suit in the courts.
- Take their concerns to city council, state assembly, and national Congress. These programs are usually primarily carried out through the auspices of professional opposition organizations.
Positive results are not expected now. The point is not to win the cases, but to prove that the powerholders are preventing the democratic system from working. Eventually, however, some of these cases might actually be won and have the powerful impact of creating a movement and social change. After twenty years in the courts, for example, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s case of Brown vs. U.S. was won in the Supreme Court in 1954. It established the principle that “separate but equal” was no longer the law of the land, which became a legal basis for the civil rights movement.
The powerholders fight the opposition through the normal channels, usually winning easily while continuing their operative policies and programs. The powerholders do not feel much threatened or concerned, and they handle the situation as a problem of bureaucratic management rather than a crisis of public confidence and power. Through the mass media, they easily promote their official policies while hiding their operative policies thus successfully keeping the whole potential problem out of peoples’ consciousness and the public spotlight, and off of society’s agenda.
Public opinion and social consensus continues to support the government’s official policies and status quo, as the consciousness of the general population remains unchanged. Yet, even the low level of evolving conditions and opposition causes public opinion against these policies to rise from about 10 to 20 percent. Except for the rare media coverage of opponents’ activities, the problem is still neither in the public spotlight nor on society’s agenda of contested issues.
- Document the problem, including the involvement of the powerholders.
- Document the citizens’ attempt to use the normal channels of citizen participation and prove that they did not work.
- Become experts.
- Build small opposition organizations.
- Holding the belief that social problems can be corrected by POOs using mainstream institutions and methods without building a new social consensus, mobilizing widespread grassroots opposition, and engaging in a long struggle, which uses extra-parliamentary nonviolent action that changes the present imbalance of power.
- Continuing to feel powerless and hopeless.
This stage can be particularly disheartening. The problem and the policies of powerholders continue unabated, there is little dissent or publicity, and the situation seems like it might continue indefinitely—as indeed it might. Yet the efforts of this stage can eventually be used to prove that the emperor has no clothes and is a prerequisite for any future social movement. Nevertheless, this stage is for the stout-hearted, determined, and persistent.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Two – 1970 to 1974
The nuclear energy era moved rapidly in the early 1970s. There were more than 25 new reactor orders each year. By the end of 1974, the number of operating reactors grew to 52, and the total number of reactors operating, ordered, and under construction leapt to 260.
It seemed that the nuclear era was well on its way to achieving the government’s goal of 1,000 operating plants by the year 2000. A total social and political consensus supported the nuclear era’s official policies and objectives, new reactor orders werepouring in, and the problems regarding nuclear energy were kept out of the public spotlight and society’s agenda hotly contested issues.
There was, however, a tremendous growth of citizen opposition, though still relatively small and unnoticed. Independent grassroots groups of local citizens sprang up around many of the new reactor sites. They challenged the building of the reactors in long and laborious AEC licensing hearings, which were held both locally and on Capitol Hill. While these efforts were essentially futile, they proved that the AEC hearings were a “kangaroo court”, they documented the overwhelming negative aspects of nuclear energy, and they made experts out of local citizens. The hearings began being held at local reactor sites; and statewide citizen initiatives were held. Although most of these initiatives lost by a two-to-one margin, they served to educate the public and build opposition.
The public still mainly supported nuclear power and was little aware of its problems. Yet, public opinion against nuclear energy grew 20 to 30 percent, as measured by the results of the referenda.
STAGE THREE: RIPENING CONDITIONS
The “take-off” of a new social movement requires preconditions that build up over many years. These conditions include broad historic developments, a growing discontented population of victims and allies, and a budding autonomous grassroots opposition, all of which encourage discontent with the present conditions, raise expectations that they can change, and provide the means to do it.
The historical forces are usually long-term, broad trends and events that worsen the problem, upset subpopulations, raise expectations, promote the means for new activism, and personify the problem. They are mostly outside the control of the opposition. For example, some of the historical forces that made the 1960s ripe for the Black civil rights movement included the emergence of independent Black African countries, the large Northern migration of Blacks who maintained their ties to the segregated South, the rising black college student population, and the 1954 Supreme Court’s Brown vs. U.S. decision that provided a legal basis for full civil rights.
A tremendous unheralded ripening process happens within the opposition:
- There needs to be a growing consciousness and discontent among subpopulations of victims and their allies, providing them with a new level of understanding about the seriousness of the problem, the values violations, how they are affected, and the illicit involvement of the powerholders and their institutions. The discontent can be caused by (1) either perceived or real worsening conditions, which creates many new victims, such as in the 1970s when hundreds of new atomic plant sites upset millions of Americans who lived nearby; (2) rising expectations, as when the new wave of Black college students felt themselves to be full citizens but were refused the simple civil rights of service at local lunch counters; or (3) personalization of the problem, in which the problem is revealed through the experience of real victims, as when four church women were killed in El Salvador in 1980.
- The growing numbers of discontented local people across the country quietly start new autonomous local groups, which as a whole form a “new wave” of grassroots opposition, which is independent from the established POOs. These groups soon become frustrated with the official institutions, channels, and powerholders, which they realize are totally biased in support of the status quo; and they become The Movement Action Plan 15 increasingly upset with some of the established POOs, whom they see as working in a dead-end process with the powerholders.
- Small local prototype demonstrations and nonviolent action campaigns begin to dramatize the problem, put a dim public spotlight on it, and set a precedent for future actions.
- A few key facilitator-visionaries provide the new-wave local opposition with information, ideology, training, networking, hope, and a vision of a rising opposition.
- Pre-existing networks and groups, which can provide support, solidarity, and participants for a new movement, need to become available to be used in the new movement. The nonintervention movement, for example, had available for its take-off church networks, which had lots of experience in Central America, and activists who had been in the nuclear weapons and energy movements, both of which had just got out of their own take-off stages.
Though irritated, the powerholders remain relatively unconcerned, believing that they can continue to contain the opposition through management of mainstream social, political, and communications institutions. The official policies remain publicly believed and unchallenged, and the operative policies continue to be hidden from the general populace.
A public consensus to support the powerholders’ policies, and the problem remains off society’s agenda. Yet, the growing public awareness of the problem, discontent, and new wave opposition, primarily at the local level, quietly raises the public opinion opposing current powerholder policies to 30 percent, even though the issue remains off society’s agenda.
The purpose of this stage is to help create the conditions for the take-off of a social movement. The goals are:
- Recognize historical conditions that help make a new movement possible.
- Create, inspire, and prepare the new wave groups, including the formation of new networks, leadership, and expertise that will spearhead the new movement.
- Prepare pre-existing networks to be concerned about the issue and involved in the upcoming movement.
- Personalize the problem.
- Begin a small prototype nonviolent action project.
Some of the key hazards of this stage include:
- Not recognizing the ripening conditions for a new social movements.
- Having the bureaucracy, legalism, and centralized power of the POOs squash the creativity, independence, nonviolent methods, and spontaneity of the new grassroots groups.
The stage is set for new social movement. There is a critical problem that appears to be worsening, proven violations by the powerholders, many victims, spreading discontent, historical conditions, available pre-existing networks, and an emerging new wave of grassroots opposition. Yet, no one—the public, powerholders, or even the new wave activists—is expecting the emergence of a new movement.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Three – 1975 to 1976
Conditions were ripening for the take-off of a new social movement. Tens of millions of citizens learned that they had become personally susceptible to the costs and dangers of nuclear energy because they lived within 50 miles of a new reactor. The grassroots local opposition groups quietly grew in size and number and became increasingly frustrated as the official government institution, the AEC, repeatedly violated its own rules and ignored reasonable citizen concerns in its support of nuclear energy. The increasing number of local groups grew into a substantial new wave of opposition.
The opposition organized statewide referenda in 1976, and although they lost in seven out of eight states, the process served to educate the public and to raise public debate. Moreover, the Missouri referenda won by a two-to-one margin. This was a severe blow to the nuclear industry because it ended the state CWIP law, which allowed utilities to collect the costs for building reactors from ratepayers in their monthly electric bills. The movement then began getting these laws changed in most states, thereby undercutting the major means by which utilities were going to pay to build the hundreds of new reactors.
Other ripening signs included:
- The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 made anti-war activists and networks available for a new movement.
- The temporary success of the occupation of the Whyl, Germany, nuclear plant site by 25,000 citizens provided an inspiring method of nonviolent resistance.
- In the Spring of 1976, the AEC local hearing decided to license the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear plant construction plans, ignoring the overwhelming legal arguments against it. A few weeks later, the Clamshell Alliance held the first civil disobedience occupation of a nuclear plant site. Inspired by the Whyl mass blockade, Clamshell announced it would organize a mass blockade the next Spring.
Little noticed by either the movement or the public; however, there were only six new orders and over 20 cancellations of reactors already on order, dropping the total number of plants operating and under construction from 260 to 237. The government reduced its planned number of operating reactors for the year 2000 to 500. Still, the nuclear opponents held little hope for stopping nuclear energy. The ripening conditions seemed far short of what would be necessary to stop the apparent expansion of the nuclear industry. The government and electric utility industry continued their operative policies of publicizing the glories of reactors, and in these two years 10 new operating reactors brought the total number of “deployed” reactors to 62. Although public opposition rose to about 30 percent, nuclear energy still was not on society’s agenda and was supported by the public consensus.
STAGE FOUR: SOCIAL MOVEMENT TAKE-OFF
New social movements surprise and shock everyone when they burst into the public spotlight on the evening TV news and in newspaper headlines. Overnight, a previously unrecognized social problem becomes a social issue that everyone is talking about. It starts with a highly publicized, shocking incident, a “trigger event”, followed by a nonviolent action campaign that includes large rallies and dramatic civil disobedience. Soon these are repeated in local communities around the country.
The trigger event is a shocking incident that dramatically reveals a critical social problem to the general public in a new and vivid way, such as the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery bus in 1955, NATO’s 1979 announcement to deploy American Cruise and Pershing 2 nuclear weapons in Europe, or the Marcos government’s shooting of Ninoy Aquino as he arrived at the Manila airport in 1983. Trigger events can be deliberate acts by individuals, governments, or the opponents, or they can be accidents.
By starkly revealing to the public that a social condition and powerholder policies blatantly violate widely held cherished social values, citizen self-interest, and the public trust, the trigger event instills a profound sense of moral outrage in the general populace. Consequently, the general population responds with great passion, demanding an explanation from the powerholders and ready to hear more information from the opposition. The trigger event is also a trumpet’s call to action for the new wave opposition groups around the country.
A new social movement is created only when the opposition organizes a dramatic nonviolent action campaign immediately following the trigger event and when the nonviolent action campaign is repeated in local areas across the country. The nonviolent action campaign keeps the public spotlight on the problem and builds social tension over time. This “politics as theater” process becomes a social crisis, which turns the problem into a public issue. The shooting of Aquino, for example, was followed the next week by a million people in a Marcos-banned funeral march down the streets of Manila, and the NATO Cruise and Pershing 2 decision was followed by gigantic protest demonstrations in the capitols of Europe.
The success of nonviolent action campaigns is based on sociodrama demonstrations. Sociodrama demonstrations are simple demonstrations that:
- are dramatic and exciting;
- enable demonstrators to put themselves into the key points where the powerholders carry out their policies;
- clearly reveal the values violations by the powerholders;
- show the movement supporting and representing the values, symbols, myths, and traditions of the society; and
- are repeatable in local communities across the country.
These are dilemma demonstrations in which the powerholders lose regardless of their reaction. If they ignore the demonstrators, the policies are prevented from being carried out. If, on the other hand, the demonstrators are harassed or arrested, it puts public sympathy on the side of the demonstrators and against the powerholders. For example, during the sit-ins when Blacks sat at the lunch counters to eat, if angry white crowds attacked them or the police arrested them, the public got upset and sided with the demonstrators; if the police did nothing, the Blacks would either have to be served or, just by sitting there, prevent business as usual.
The new movement takes off as the nonviolent action campaigns are their sociodrama actions are repeated in local communities throughout the country. The demonstrations in Manila, for example, were followed by demonstration throughout the Philippines. The 1977 Seabrook reactor occupation created immediate spontaneous support demonstrations across the country, and, within months, hundreds of new grassroots antinuclear energy groups started up, who soon began occupying their own local nuclear power plants.
Scores of new independent local action groups spring into being, forming a new wave decentralized grassroots autonomous opposition that is based on non violent resistance. Movement take-off is the result of thousands of people across the country taking spontaneous actions and forming new protest groups (or revitalizing old ones). These new groups usually adopt loose organizational structures that are based on direct participatory democracy, little formal structure, and loosely defined membership. Together these groups form a new wave of movement because they are a new force and are not connected to either the established POOs or principled dissent organizations. Why do social movements take off? Some of the reasons why movements take off are:
- The right conditions were created by the earlier stages. The Movement Action Plan 19
- The public, altered by the mass media because of the trigger event and nonviolent action campaigns, is outraged by the contradiction between its values and the social conditions and powerholders’ operative policies.
- The new movement groups join the powerholders as the keepers of society’s values and symbols.
- The new climate of social crisis gives hope and inspires action by many citizens.
- The repeatability of the nonviolent action campaign is local areas provides grassroots activists with an effective means for involvement, which they believe can be effective.
- Participation in the new movement gives meaning to many peoples’ lives because it gives them an opportunity to act out their beliefs, feelings, and spirituality.
The powerholders are shocked, upset, and angry. They realize that the genie is out of the bottle. They have lost on the first law of political control: keep issues out of people’s consciousness and the public spotlight, and off society’s agendas. They take a hard line in defending their policies and criticizing the new movement, calling it radical, irresponsible, and even communist-inspired. While some liberal politicians support the movement’s position, mainstream Republicans and Democrats alike continue to support existing government policies.
Within a year or two, public opinion opposing government operative policies rapidly grows from 30 percent of 50 percent, as for the first time the general populace sees the operative policies and hears views countering those of the powerholders. The public is upset and concerned by the stark contrast between what they see and hear in the news and what the government tells them. That is, they begin to see for the first time the difference between the official and operative policies revealed to them by the trigger event and the movement.
The overall goal of this stage is to get the whole society to begin seeing, thinking, and acting on the social problem. A movement take-off gets the whole society moving on the issue. The specific goals are:
- Create a new grassroots-based social movement.
- Put the powerholders’ policies in the public consciousness and spotlight and on society’s agenda of contentious public issues.
- Create a public platform for the movement to educate the populace.
- Create public dissonance on the issue. That is, force the general population to have to think about the issue by having two contradictory views of reality presented to them constantly.
- Win the sympathies and the opinions of the public.
- Become recognized as the legitimate opposition. Getting the powerholders to change their minds and policies is not a goal of this stage!
The main pitfalls of this stage are:
- political naivete;
- burnout from overwork, not seeing progress as success, and unrealistic expectations of immediate victory; and
- arrogant self-righteousness and radicalism.
The take-off stage is an exciting time of trigger event, dramatic actions, passion, a new social movement, public spotlight, crisis, high hopes and output of energy. Both a previously unrecognized social problem and official policies become a public issue, and within two years a majority public opinion is won.But take-off is the shortest stage. After relatively rapidly achieving the goals of this stage, the movement progresses to Stage Six. However, many activists don’t recognize this success. Instead, they believe that the movement has failed and their own efforts have been futile; consequently, they move to Stage Five.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Four:1977 – 1978
The nuclear power opposition turned into a social movement in the Spring of 1977. the arrest and jailing for two weeks of 1,414 Clamshell Alliance protesters who were blockading the Seabrook nuclear power construction site served as the trigger event, putting this issue in the worldwide media spotlight for weeks.Support demonstrations sprung up across the country while the protesters were still in jail. National media interviewed the jailed protesters daily, providing them with a platform for educating the public and becoming recognized as a legitimate opposition. Moreover, by the end of the year, the Seabrook action inspired the formation of a new local anti-nuclear groups and similar blockade actions across the country, launching a new anti-nuclear energy social movement led by the new wave of local independent groups.
By 1978, local and state referenda went against nuclear energy in a number of places. Kern County, California, reversed the two-to-one vote of 1976, rejecting the planned Wasco nuclear plant. New Hampshire voted against CWIP and voted out pro-nuclear, anti-Clamshell incumbent Governor Thompson. Public opinion rose to about 50 percent against nuclear energy.
The nuclear industry again appeared to be advancing nicely, as the number of operating plants rose to 71. But there were no new nuclear reactor orders, and 21 reactors already under construction were cancelled, drastically reducing the total number of reactors opeating under construction to 195. The powerholders took a hard line in support of nuclear, warned of future blackouts and a weakened America, and attacked the new movement as violent, naive, and anti-American.
The opposition successfully created a new social movement through nonviolent actions, became recognized as legitimate, educated the general public, and put nuclear energy in the public spotlight and on society’s agenda.
STAGE FIVE: IDENTITY CRISIS OF POWERLESSNESS
After a year or two, the high hopes of movement take-off seems inevitably to turn into despair. Most activists lose their faith that success is just around the corner and come to believe that it is never going to happen. They perceive that the powerholders are too strong, their movement has failed, and their own efforts have been futile. Most surprising is the fact that this identity crisis of powerlessness and failure happens when the movement is outrageously successful—when the movement has just achieved all of the goals of the take-off stage within two years. This stage of feelings of self-identity crisis and powerlessness occurs simultaneously with Stage Six because the movement as a whole has progressed to the majority stage.
Belief that the movement is failing
Many activists conclude that their movement is failing because they believe that:
- The movement has not achieved its goals. After two years of hard effort, which included big demonstrations, dramatic civil disobedience, arrests, court scenes and even time in jail, media attention, and even winning a majority of public opinion against the powerholders’ policies, the movement has not achieved any of its goals. The government is still waging the war in Vietnam, building five nuclear weapons a day, or sending aid to the contras. The problem, however, is not that the movement has failed to achieve its goals, but that expectations that its goal could possibly be achieved in such a short time were unrealistic. Achieving changes in public policies in the face of determined opposition of the powerholders takes time, often decades.
- Judging that the movement has failed because it has not achieved its goals after two years is analogous to parents criticizing their daughter for not graduating after completing two years in college with straight “A” grades.Parents don’t do this because they know that achieving a B.S. degree is a four-year process. The movement, therefore should be judged not by whether it has won yet, but by how well it is progressing along the road of success.
- The movement has not had any “real” victories. This view is unable to accept the progress that the movement has made along the road of success, such as creating a massive grassroots-based social movement, putting the issue on society’s agenda, or winning a majority of public opinion. Ironically, involvement in the movement tends to reduce activists’ ability to identify short-term successes. Through the movement, activists learn about the enormity of the problem, the agonizing suffering of the victims, and the complicity of powerholders. The intensity of this experience tends to increase despair and the unwillingness to accept any short-term success short of achieving ultimate goals. “What difference does it make that a majority of the American people and Congress oppose contra aid, when people are still being killed in Central America?” This is another version of judging the movement for not having achieved its ultimate goals rather than by whether it is making reasonable progress along the road.
- The power holders seem too powerful—they have not changed either their minds or their policies, but defiantly proclaim them louder than ever, totally ignoring the protests of the movement and the objections of half of the populace. The failure of the central powerholders to change either their minds or policies is a poor indicator of the movement’s progress. The central powerholders will be the last segment of society to change their minds and policies. The longer that the public sees that the powerholders are violating social values and ignoring the democratic majority opinion, the higher the political costs to the powerholders for continuing those policies. Continued used public exposure of the powerholders upholding these policies in the face of public opinion, therefore, can be an indicator that the powerholders’ original goal of keeping the issue out of public consciousness and off the society’s agenda is failing. For example, with increasing worldwide media coverage of President Botha’s proclamations of apartheid and the effects of this policy, the world’s resistance to apartheid increases.
- The movement is dead because it no longer looks like the take-off stage. The image that most people have of successful social movement is that of the take-off stage—giant demonstrations, civil disobedience, media hype, crisis, and constant political theater—but this is always short-lived. Movements that are successful in take-off soon progress to the much more powerful but more sedate-appearing majority stage, as described in the next section. Although movements in the majority stage appear to be smaller and less effective as they move from a national to local focus, and from mass actions to less visible grassroots organizing, they actually undergo enormous growth in size and power. The power of the invisible grassroots provide the power of national social movements.
- The powerholders and mass media report that the movement is dead, irrelevant, or non-existent. The powerholders and mass media not only report that the movement is failing, but they also refuse to acknowledge that a massive popular movement exists. Large demonstrations and majority public opposition are dismissed as “vaguely reminiscent of the Sixties”, rather than recognized as social movements at least as big and relevant as those 20 years ago. And when movements do succeed, they are not given credit. The demise of nuclear energy is said to be caused by cost overruns, high lending rates, lack of safety, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, rather than from the political and public opposition created by the people power.
By the end of take-off, many activists suffer from “battle fatigue”. After two years of virtual ’round-the-clock activity in a crisis atmosphere, at great personal sacrifice, many activists find themselves mentally and physically exhausted and don’t see anything to show for it. Out of quilt or an extreme sense of urgency, many are unable to pace themselves with adequate rest, fun, leisure, and attendance to personal business. Eventually, large numbers of activists who were part of movement take-off lose hope and a sense of purpose; they become depressed, burn out, and drop out.
Stuck in Protest
Another reason why many activists become depressed at this time is that they are unable to switch from protesting against authority in a crisis atmosphere to waging long-term struggle to achieve positive changes. Many activists are unable to switch their view of the process of success from one of mass demonstrations to that of winning the majority of public through long-term grassroots organizing. Consequently, being active in Stage Six feels like they are abandoning the movement. In addition, many principled dissenters believe that the majority stage movement is not pure enough. The new movement organizations are seen as a new oppressive authority. Many other activists originally joined the movement assuming it was a short-term time of crisis and are not prepared for long-term involvement. Finally, another reason why many activists are unable to switch to Stage Six is that they do not have the knowledge or skills required to understand or participate in the majority stage. For example, nonviolence trainers play a critical leadership and teaching role during the take-off stage, but virtually disappear in the majority stage because they lack the understanding and skills to train activists to participate in this stage.
Rebelliousness, machismo, and more “militant” action and violence are some of the negative effects of feelings of despair and powerlessness.
Some activists at this time adopt more militant, even violent, actions. They believe the nonviolent methods used to date have failed because they were too weak. New splinter groups are started to carry out the militant strategy, such as the Committee for Direct Action at Seabrook in 1979. These efforts are often rrckless and defiant acts of despair, frustration and rage, which stem from the collapse of unrealistic expectations that the movement should have achieved its goals within the first two years. Because they turn off both other activists and the general public, militant actions invariably do more harm than good. These methods are also advocated by outside groups who want to use the movements to pursue their own ends, or by agent provocateurs.
The movement needs to make deliberate effort to undercut this problem. First, it needs to reduce the feelings of despair and disempowerment by providing activists with a long term strategic framework, such as MAP, which helps them realize that they are powerful and winning, not losing. Also, it is important that the movement adopt clear guidelines of total nonviolence, which are widely publicized and agreed to by all groups and activists which officially participate in the movement. The nonviolent policy must be enforced by having nonviolent guidelines and training for all demonstration participants, and by having adequate “peacekeeping” at all demonstrations.
The feelings of failure and exhaustion, the organizational crisis, the calls for militant actions, confusion, hopelessness, and powerlessness all contribute to widespread burnout among activists.
The loose organizational model of the new wave local organizations begins to become a liability after six months. The loose structure promoted the flexibility, creativity, participatory democracy, independence, and solidarity needed for quick decisions and nonviolent actions during take-off. But after six months, the loose organizational structures tend to cause excessive inefficiency, participant burnout, and an informal hierarchy.
Movement activists need to realize what the powerholders already know—that power ultimately lies with the people, not the powerholders. They need to recognize the power and success of social movements—including their own. Some ways in which activists can overcome their identity crisis of disempowerment are the following:
- Use an analytic framework of successful social movements, such as MAP, to evaluate their movement, identify successes, and set strategy and tactics.
- Form personal/political support groups that enable activists to participate in movements as holistic human beings, take care of their personal needs, reduce guilt, have fun, and provide support (and challenge) in doing political analysis and work.
- Adopt a strict policy of nonviolence.
- Adopt “empowerment” models of organization and leadership at both the national and local levels. The empowerment model is a third way that tries to maximize the positive and minimize the negatives of both the hierarchical and the loose models, trying to blend participatory democracy, efficiency, personal support, and effectiveness. This model of leadership more resembles the nurturing mother than the strong patriarchal father. While the national organization leadership need to coordinate and represent the whole movement, their primary goal should be to nurture the empowerment of the grassroots and foster democracy and non-elitism within the whole movement.
- Help activists evolve from protestors to long-term social change agents. Provide social change agent training, which includes not only nonviolence but all the skills for understanding and organizing successful social change movements. Powerholders
- Continue a hardlinestrategy, including escalatingtheir policies to prove that they are in charge and that both the movement and public have no effect.
- Infiltrate the movement to get intelligence and to confuse, disrupt, and discredit the new activism. Agent provocateurs promote wild schemes, violence, structurelessness, disorganization, rebelliousness, machismo, and schemes to dominate organizations.
The general populace experiences dissonance, not knowing who or what to believe. While many agree with the movement’s challenges, they also fear siding with dissidents and losing the security of the powerholders and status quo. The alternatives are unclear to them. The general citizenry is about evenly divided, 50 percent to 50 percent, between the powerholders and the movement. Movement violence, rebelliousness, and seeming anti-Americanism turn people off and tend to frighten them into supporting the powerholders’ policies, police actions, and status quo.
The overall goal is to help activists become empowered and move on to Stage Six, to catch up with their movement. They need to learn what the long road of success looks like, and how far they have come along that road. Some specific goals are to help activists:
- become strategists by using a framework such as MAP,
- form political and personal support groups,
- adopt nonviolence,
- adopt empowerment models of organization and leadership, and
- move from protesters and long-life social change agents.
The chief pitfalls of this stage that must be overcome are:
- Disempowerment—feeling the movement is losing when it is succeeding
- The “tyranny of structurelessness” and anti-leadership
- Rebellion, machismo, and violence
- Despair, burnout, and dropout
The crisis of identity and powerless is a personal crisis for activists. After the experience of a movement in take-off stage, their view of the world and themselves is transformed. They come to realize that the problem is more serious than they had thought, the governmental institutions, powerbrokers, and democratic processes which they thought would help solve social problems were actually part of the problem, and that the problem can only be resolved if they are part of the solution. Rather than feeling depressed and powerless, activists now need to recognize the power and success of themselves and their movement. The need to realize that their movement has successfully progressed to Stage Six, to the majority opinion stage, and they need to catch up to it by finding a role for themselves and the group in waging Stage Six.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Five:1978 Plus
While anti-nuclear movement progressed to Stage Six in 1979, many of the new wave activists got stuck in Stage Five, beginning in 1978. They believed that their movement was ineffective and dying. Not one reactor was permanently stopped by nonviolent blockades, and attendance at demonstrations dropped rather than increasing exponentially as was believed to be necessary. They did not count as important their successes—that in two years they created a new nationwide grassroots-based social movement, a majority of the public questioned nuclear energy, the public was being educated, and nuclear energy was put in the public spotlight and on society’s agenda.
These activists chiefly saw that reactors continued to be built and started up. They discounted that there were no new reactor orders, dozens of plant cancellations, and rapidly dropping number of nuclear reactors being built and on order. They judged that their movement was losing because it had not yet won, not by how well it was progressing along the long road of success.Consequently, many activists, feeling powerless and despondent, burned out and dropped out. Others, still believing in the romantic myth that the nuclear energy era was to be stopped by forceful resistance, started “militant” groups such as the Coalition for Direct Actions. This strategy died, though, after several years.
Many of these activists joined demonstrations during re-trigger events, such as the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, and most soon joined the Nuclear Freeze or non-intervention movements when they achieved take-off stage in the early 1980s.
STAGE SIX: MAJORITY PUBLIC SUPPORT
The movement must consciouslyundergo a transformation from spontaneous protest, operating in a short-term crisis, to a long-term popular struggle to achieve positive social change. It needs to win over the neutrality, sympathies, opinions, and even support of an increasingly larger majority of the populace and involve many of them in the process of opposition and change. The central agency of opposition must slowly change from the new wave activists and groups to the great majority of nonpolitical populace, the PPOs, and the mainstream political forces as they are convinced to agree with the movement’s position. The majority stage is a long process of eroding the social, political, and economic supports that enable the powerholders to continue their policies. It is a slow process of social transformation that create a new social and political consensus, reversing those of normal times.
Although movements need to organize both nationally and locally, they are only as powerful as the power of their grassroots. All the national offices in Washington, D.C., The Movement Action Plan 27 can do is “cash in” on the social and political gains created at the community level all over the country. The movement’s chief goal, therefore, is to nurture, support, and empower grassroots activists and groups.Finally, activists also need to have a grand strategy for waging Stage Six majority movements to win positive social changes against the strong opposition of the powerholders.
The opposition needs to wage a Stage Six strategy. Too often strategy has meant a calendar of events, an assorted number of unconnected campaigns, and reactions to new governmental policies. A Stage Six strategy includes a set of strategic programs, new organizational and leadership models, and an overall grand strategy.
- Ongoing low-intensity local organizing. The key to Stage Six success ultimately is the ongoing, day-in and day-out basic efforts of grassroots local activists—public speaking, information tables at supermarkets, leafletting, yard sales, and so on—all involving face-to-face education of citizens by their peers and keeping the issue before the public.
- Massive public education and conversion. The basic purpose of the movement in this stage is to educate, convert, and involve all segments of the population. This is accomplished through a broad variety of means, including the mass media. Most important, however, are direct contacts through the low-intensity activities at the local level, through sidewalk tables, demonstrations, leaflets, petitions, housemeetings, literature, and bumper stickers. The issue needs to be re-defined to show how it directly affects everyone’s values and self-interests and what they can do about it.
- Build a broad-based pluralized movement. The movement needs to include all segments of the population through coalitions, networks, co-sponsorship of events and petitions, and directly involving all constituency groups, example, unemployed, Blacks, workers, teachers, Hispanics, religious, women, students, etc. This includes movement organizations within each constituency such as Women for Peace and Teachers for Social Responsibility. In addition, the movement needs groups in all three categories—professional opposition organizations, new wave grassroots, and principled dissent. The different movement organizations must be allies with each other, overcoming the tendency towards self-righteousness, anti-mosity, and divisiveness.
- Renewed use of mainstream political and social institutions. As the movement wins larger majorities of public opinion, mainstream channels (e.g., Congress, city councils, officials, election campaigns, candidates, courts, official commissions and hearings, and ballot referenda) are used with increasing effectiveness. While they serve to build the movement—keeping the issue in the public spotlight, educating the public, and so on—they also win actual victories on demands where there is big public support in places where the movement is strongest and the central powerholders weakest, often at the local and state levels. These successes serve to build the movement’s success from the ground up over the coming years. For example, the opposition to U.S. direct military invasion of Nicaragua has been (at least temporarily) successful at the Congressional level, but not at the central powerholder level of the Reagan administration. And nuclear energy plans have been halted at the local and state levels, while the central government and nuclear industry maintain their policies favoring increased use of nuclear power. Also, the opposition to nuclear weapons has been built into a national consensus, which is putting enormous pressure on the national government.Even President Reagan has tried to appear to be ending nuclear weapons, especially U.S. missiles in Europe, where there is overwhelming public opposition.
- Nonviolent rallies, demonstrations, and campaigns, especially at critical times and places. Although the movement now includes a wide range of programs, it must continue to have nonviolent actions, rallies, and campaigns, with occasional civil disobedience. While nonviolent actions should be held at traditional times and places, such as on Hiroshima and Nagasaki days, they should also occur at critical times and places, such as when Congress votes on aid to the contras, when dictators visit, and during re-trigger events, such as the Chernobyl accident. Because people are involved in so many different programs in this stage, and many no longer see the purpose of some nonviolent actions, the numbers participating in any specific national or local demonstration usually drop below those of the take-off stage (with the exception of some new crises). However, because there are nonviolent actions happening in hundreds of local communities around the country when movements are in the majority stage, the nationwide total number participating in demonstrations actually increases enormously in this stage.Although nonviolent actions sometimes do help win immediate successes, such as change a city council member’s or Congressperson’s vote, their chief purpose is to help achieve many of the goals of Stages Four to Six, such as keeping the issue in the public spotlight and providing a platform for the movement to educate the public.
- Citizen involvement programs. The movement needs to develop programs in which large numbers of common citizens can become actively involved in programs that challenge current traditions, policies, and laws, while simultaneously carrying out the society’s values and the movement’s alternatives. This empowers the movement and citizens because they can carry out their values and goals without waiting for the powerholders to make the decision for them. This is quite different form isolated alternative “demonstration” projects. Citizen involvement programs put large numbers of people directly in contradiction with official policies. Some excellent massive citizen involvement programs of today’s movements include the sanctuary movement, in which local churches and towns throughout the country provide official sanctuary for Central American political refugees; the thousands of “citizen diplomats” traveling to Russia and Nicaragua; sending tools and aid to Nicaragua in violation of U.S. sanctions; and nuclear free towns, counties, and even countries, such as New Zealand and Palau. These programs educate and convert the public, demonstrate the alternative values and policies sought, demonstrate the extent of popular opposition, undercut the authority of the powerholders to carry out their policy goals, and build change from the bottom up.
- Respond to new trigger events, such as the Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents, to again put the issue in the public spotlight, educate the public to new levels of awareness, build the movement organizations, and increase the pressure for change.
New empowerment organization and leadership model
Movement organizations must switch from the “loose” to the “empowerment” model. The loose organization model was highly appropriate at the beginning of the new movement. It allowed for creative, spontaneous activities, which included civil disobedience and quick, flexible, and direct decision-making by all involved. But after six months the loose structure rapidly becomes a liability. It becomes too inefficient, people burn out from long meetings, the most experienced and strongest activists become dominant leaders, new people have difficulty becoming full participants, and the whole organization evolves into a informal hierarchy. The empowerment organization model is the name given to a new structure that activists must construct themselves, in which they try to maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of the hierarchical and loose models. Its goal is to be participatory democratic, efficient, flexible, and capable of lasting over the long haul. This requires more structures, but structures that assure these principles.
This is a critical time for the offices and staff of national movement organizations. While they need to advocate practical policies of “real politics”, maintain the organization, and operate in bureaucracies (no matter how “collective”), they must prevent the organization from becoming a new POO, and the staff from becoming new movement elites. The primary goal is to serve, nurture, and empower the grassroots and to ensure that internal participatory democracy is carried out. The staff model must continue to be that of nurturing mothers, not dominant patriarchs. When the national staff behaves as if they are the movement, the grassroots dries up and the movement loses its power.
Activists need to develop a “grand strategy” for waging social movements in Stage Six. Lacking a viable strategy, most activists are unable to see a relationship between their day-to-day activities and the accomplishment of the movement’s goals. Some of the key elements are the following:
- Keep the issue in the public spotlight and on society’s agenda over time. Keep the policies and conditions which violate the values, interests, and beliefs of the majority of the populace in the public spotlight. Over time, this helps build the social and political conditions for change because it helps fulfill Robert Jay Lifton’s view that the way to get rid of a social delusion is to keep telling the truth. The present social movements against nuclear weapons and in opposition to U.S. intervention in Central America should recognize as tremendous success the fact that these issues have been kept in the public spotlight and on society’s social and political agendas for a number of years.
- Identify all of the movement’s key goals and identify which stage each is in and develop strategies to achieve them. Identify the movement’s full range of demands, from the very specific to the general, such as end all nuclear weapons, stop nuclear testing, stop Star Wars, and stop U.S. Euromissiles. Strategies, submovements, and campaigns need to be developed for each of these major demands. Activists should identify which MAP stage the movement is in for each of these demands and develop strategies, submovements, and campaigns to achieve each major demand. For example, stop U.S. direct invasion of Nicaragua might be in Stage Seven, official support for the contras in Stage Six, and a positive Contadora peace resolution for all of Central America is possibly just in Stage Three.
- Counter the powerholders’ strategy. The movement needs to identify the powerholders’ long-term goals, strategies, and programs and develop counterstrategies against each one. For example, the U.S. is considering invading Nicaragua, supporting the contra’s war against Nicaragua, preventing a meaningful peaceful Contadora resolution, etc. The movement needs to develop campaigns to prevent the government’s achieving each of these objectives.
- Beyond reforms:propose alternatives, larger demands, and a new paradigm. The movement now needs not only to protest present policies but also to propose specific alternatives.In the process of struggle, people act their way into thinking, and they learn that the problem is much bigger than they had thought. They come to realize that their original concerns were merely symptoms of much bigger and deeper problems; consequently, the movement needs to make larger demands. This ultimately includes the necessity for a whole new worldview or paradigm. The movement against Cruise and Pershing 2 missiles in Europe, for example, realized that they needed to remove all nuclear weapons from East and West Europe. This has led a new worldview of a nuclear free East and West Europe that will become increasingly neutral and independent of the Soviet-United States superpower bloc system.
- Guide the movement through the dynamics of conflict with the powerholders. Waging a social movement is similar to playing chess. The movement and powerholders constantly engage in moves and countermoves to win the public and build conditions to support their own position. The movement tries to build moral, political, and economic conditions that will erode the support that enables the powerholders to continue their policies. The powerholders keep changing their policies to keep their capacity to maintain the status quo. The movement’s goal is to keep weakening the powerholders’ position and raising the price that they must pay to continue their policies. The Reagan administration, for example, seemed about to invade Nicaragua in 1984, but the anti-intervention movement raised public opposition to a new level. The government then switched its chief focus to supporting the contras, but the movement made this illegal by helping pass the Boland amendment, thereby forcing the government to undertake the high-risk policies of illegal and unconstitutional covert aid through Ollie North. This has weakened President Reagan’s capacity to wage his policies in Central America as well as elsewhere.
The powerholders launch a hardline conflict management strategy to defend their policies, which included the following:
- Promote new rhetoric and myths and re-emphasize the threat of outside demons, such as terrorism and Communism, to try to rally an increasingly skeptical public.
- Increase their counter-movement strategy to gather intelligence; discredit the movement; cause internal disruption, control, and steer the movement; preempt it by claiming to do the movement’s program (e.g., “Star Wars will end nuclear weapons”); and try to co-opt the movement under mainstream political control (e.g., co-sponsor grossly watered down Congressional bills).
- Engage in the dynamics of conflict with the movement by switching strategies, stance, and policies as needed, for example, from invading Nicaragua with U.S. troops, to supporting the proxy contras and waging low-intensity warfare against Nicaragua.
- Publicly appear to be engaged in a meaningful “negotiation process”, while actually carrying out operative policies and doctrines without giving up any important advantages. Powerholders keep pronouncing that their policies are correct and winning. Finally, splits begin happening within the power structure, as over time pressure from the new social and political consensus force increasing portions of the mainstream political, economic and social elites to switch their position, even openly oppose the policies of the central powerholders in order to protect their own self-interests. The issue is now hotly contested within Congress, the Administration, and all other political levels.
Public opinion opposing the powerholders’ policies grows to as much as 65 percent within a few years, and then, over many years, slowly swells to a large majority of up to 85 percent. The populace, however, is evenly splitover wanting a change in the status quo. Half fear the alternatives more than they oppose the present conditions and policies. By the early 1970s, for example, 83 percent of Americans called for an end to the Vietnam war, and currently 65 percent oppose aid to the contras and U.S. military intervention in Central America.
- Keep the issue and the powerholders’ values violations in the public spotlight and on society’s agenda.
- Switch from only crisis protest to waging protracted social struggle to achieve positive social change.
- Gear efforts to the public to keep winning a bigger majority opinion.
- Involve large numbers of the populace in programs at the grassroots level.
- Propose alternatives, more demands, and a new paradigm.
- Have activists able to use a strategic framework such as MAP. 32 Bill Moyer
- Adopt empowerment organizational and leadership models.
- Activists become stuck in the protest stage.
- Movement violence, rebelliousness, and macho radicalism.
- Believing that the movement is losing and local efforts are futile.
- National organizations and leadership disenfranchise grassroots activists by dominating the movement.
- Cooptation by powerholders through collusion and compromise.
- Political sects dominate the movement organizations.
Over many years, perhaps decades, public opinion against the powerholders’ policies swells to an overwhelming majority of up to 85 percent, as was opposition to the Vietnam War. Almost every sector of society eventually wants to end the problem and current policies—most politicians, the Democratic Party, celebrities, professionals, students, Middle America, youth, the unemployed, local governments, and the general population. But strangely, nothing seems to change. The problem continues, Congress seems unable to make decisive votes, and the central powerholders continue their policies, although with cosmetic changes. Moreover the movement appears to be in a lull. There are demonstrations, meetings, and activists, but they seem small, routine, and mechanical, as the movement’s position has been adopted by the mainstream of society. Over the years, however, the weight of the massive public opposition, along with the defection of many elites, eventually takes its toll. The political price that the powerholders have to pay to maintain their policies grows to become an untenable liability.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Six:1979 to 1992
From 1979 to 1987, the anti-nuclear energy movement has been progressing in the majority opposition stage. Public opinion against nuclear energy keeps growing bigger. Seventy-eight percent of Americans now oppose building more reactors, and many local and state officials fight against starting up even completed local reactors and proposed waste sites. Similar majorities exist in Europe, where 50 percent of citizens favor shutting down operating plants.
The nuclear industry continued in sharp decline. Although the number of licensed reactors has increased to 98, the total number of reactors operating and under construction has dropped from 195 to 123. There have been no effective new orders for 14 years, and over 100 reactors orders have been cancelled—even ones that are 50 percent complete. The secrets of the powerholders’ operative nuclear energy policies are now known by many citizens. Nuclear energy is outrageously expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary;and it is tied to nuclear weapons, which manypeople oppose. Trigger events such as the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents have also spurred public opposition. If the present trend of no new orders and reactor cancellations continues, nuclear energy will die out early in the next century as existing reactors come to the end of their 25-year life expectancy.
The federal government, both political parties, and the nuclear industry still promote nuclear energy and want hundreds of operating reactors by the year 2000. The federal bureaucracy, for example, subsidized nuclear energy through tax breaks and outlays amounting to $56 billion in 1984 alone. Also, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is now trying to drop its rule requiring local government involvement in establishing emergency evacuation plans as a prerequisite for reactor licensing. The NRC is attempting this because the local and state governments are preventing the licensing of the completed Shoreham and Seabrook reactors by refusing to be part of the evacuation plans. The pro-nuclear strategy now is to streamline licensing nuclear into one easy step, develop new light-water reactors, respond positively to new accidents, develop a social and political consensus through propaganda, bail out threatened reactors, open waste sites, deregulate the utilities, develop space weapons that use lots of nuclear reactors, and regionalize electrical production to get around state controls. The anti-nuclear strategy is to educate the public, respond to new trigger events with demonstrations and education, and counter the pro-nuclear strategies of saving the nuclear industry by opposing rate hikes, bailouts, rule changes, and so on. For example, the movement is presently challenging the NRC’s proposed changes in its evacuation plan rules which would permit the Seabrook and Shoreham reactors to become fully licensed. In addition, the movement is advocating the new soft-energy path of conservation, cogeneration, and solar power to replace the hard-energy path. Much of the movement’s efforts are now being waged by POOs and local groups using the mainstream institutions and channels, such as the courts, state utilities, legislation, referenda, and electoral politics.
STAGE SEVEN: SUCCESS
Stage Seven begins when the long process of building opposition reaches a new plateau in which the new social consensus turns the tide of power against the powerholders and begins an endgame process leading to the movement’s success. The Stage Seven process can take three forms: dramatic showdown, quiet showdown, or attrition.
- Dramatic showdown resembles the take off stage. A sudden trigger event sparks a mobilization of broad popular opposition and a social crisis, but this time the overwhelming coercive force, in a relatively short time, changes policies or leadership. This was achieved in each issue of the early 1960s civil rights movement, such as when the Selma march started President Johnson and the Congress into motion that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 within a few months. Activists usually feel that they won and had played an important role in achieving success.
- Quiet showdown. Realizing that they can no longer continue their present policies, the powerholders launch a face-saving endgame process of “victorious retreat”. Rather than admit defeat, they proclaim victory and start a publicly recognized process of changing their policies and conditions to those demanded by the movement and social consensus. The powerholders try to take credit for this “victory”, even though they were forced to reverse their previously hardline policies, while activists often have difficulty seeing their role in this success. A current example is President Reagan’s efforts to reach an agreement with Gorbachev to end Euromissiles.
- Attrition is when success is quietly and seemingly invisibly achieved in a long process which could take decades, in which social and political machinery slowly evolves new policies and conditions, such as the present winding down of nuclear energy in the United States. During the attrition process, activists usually have even more difficulty recognizing the successful endgame process and the fact that they had a crucial role in causing it. In all three forms, once the endgame process starts, final success is not guaranteed. Until the change is finally actually accomplished, the situation can be reversed. Stage Seven involves a continual struggle, but one in which the opposition is on the offensive until the specific goal is won.
The chief engine for change switches from the “movement” to traditional progressives; the “nonpolitical” majority of the population; and mainstream political, social, and economic groups and institutions. The public becomes involved in a broad range of social actions which keep the spotlight on the issues, reveals the evils of the present policies , and creates real political and economic penalties. Most of the business and political powerholders are forced to defect from their ties to the status quo, because it is in their self-interest. The penalty for defending the status quo has become bigger than for accepting the alternative. The politicians will face hostile voters at their next election, and the business community can suffer loss of profits or business community can suffer loss of profits or business through boycotts, sanctions, and disruption of the marketplace. There sometimes is a general, worldwide insurrection which isolates the central powerholders and their dwindling support.
The opposition’s efforts and feelings vary according to the endgame form:
- In dramatic showdown, the movement more resembles the take-off stage, in which it plays a massive, publicly obviousrole involving mass-demonstrations in a time of crisis leading to success in a relatively short time, such as the toppling of Marcos, following the election process, or the achievement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, five months after the Selma campaign.
- In quiet showdown, the movement continues its strategy and of both take-off and Stage Six, and while still publicly active, activistsneed to work hard to recognize the victory and their own role.
- In attrition, the endgame process is often not recognized as success, the movement’s role is much less visible, and much of the opposition’s efforts are carried out through the work of elites and the POOs.
The viability of the central powerholders’ policies is eroded economically and politically. The majority of powerholders join the opposition view, while the central powerholders are isolated and eventually defeated. The central powerholders are:
- forced into making fatal mistakes, such as President Nixon’s ordered Watergate break-ins and other “dirty tricks” against the opposition, or when President Reagan felt forced to violate the Boland amendment through illegal covert aid to the contras;
- increasingly prevented from doing what is fully required to successfully carry out their policies, such as when the Pentagon was prevented from carrying out programs it felt were necessary to win the Vietnam War; and
- resort to extreme emergency acts of political and economic decrees and repression, which serve only to spur the opposition. The economic, social, and political penalties erode the base for support of the powerholders to either continue their policies or remain in office. The central powerholders have three different endgame strategies, according to the type of ending:
- Custer’s last stand (in dramatic showdown), in which they hold out until either their policies are defeated in the mainstream political process, such as in the courts, Congress, or referenda, or they lose their office or position through elections or mass social actions and pressures;
- Victorious retreat (in quiet showdown), in which the powerholders lose on the issue, but in reversing their policies declare victory for themselves; or of
- Persistent stubbornness (in attrition), in which they hold out in an increasingly losing cause over many years, until one of the above two endings occur.
The public demands change. The opposition to the powerholders is now so overwhelming that the whole issue is publicly recognized as the “good guys vs. bad guys”. One is either for decency or for President Marcos, apartheid, and the Vietnam War. While a majority opposition has existed for some years, up to now the mass population was not willing to act on their beliefs. They had not acted because they:
- felt powerless,
- did not know what to do,
- were not called to action by a trigger event and crisis, and
- feared the alternative (e.g., Communism, or the unknown) more than they desired change.
Citizens are so repulsed that their desire to end present policies and conditions overtakes their worry about the consequences of the alternative.
They are ready to vote, demonstrate, and even support the central powerholders in changing present policies. For example, people want an end to nuclear weapons more than they fear Soviet attack and takeover.
The movement’s goals for this stage include:
- Wage a successful “endgame” strategy to achieve one or more demands.
- Have activists recognize the success and their own role in it.
- Raise larger issues and propose alternative paradigms.
- Create new decentralized centers of power based on more participatory structures and an empowered public.
- Continue the movement.
The movement needs to avoid:
- compromising too many values and key demands;
- achieving minor reforms without building toward basic social change;
- having activists feel dismayed and powerless because they do not recognize success and the movement’s role in a successful endgame; and
- having apparent final victory end the movement.
The movement finally achieves one or more of its demands. It now needs to address some hard questions: What is success? What needs to be done next? The movement needs to recognize successes achieved, follow up on the demands won, raise larger issues, focus on other demands which are in various stages, and propose larger alternatives and a new paradigm.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT
Stage Seven:1993 Plus
The anti-nuclear energy movement can win either by attrition or dramatic showdown. If present trends continue, nuclear energy will end slowly by prolonged decline of attrition early in the next century as described in the previous stage. This will require continuous opposition by the movement to the public and private powerholders’ attempts to revive the industry through government institutions. The central powerholders will continue to promote nuclear energy until nuclear energy becomes completely untenable economically or political, or until they lose office.
On the other hand, nuclear energy could come to a dramatic showdown ending as the result of a major nuclear accident as in the following scenario: In the Summer of 1993, an accident (some think it was the first act of terrorism within the United States) at a nuclear plant located in a densely populated metropolitan area in Northeast causes devastation far greater than that of Chernobyl. All nuclear plants in the U.S. are ordered shut down pending an investigation. The fate of nuclear energy is at the top of the nation’s agenda for the next fifteen months. Eighty-five percent of Americans oppose the restart of the reactors. Finally, just before its end-of-the-year break, Congress votes to end nuclear energy.
Both of these success options require that the general populace understands and accepts an alternative means for meeting the nation’s electrical energy needs. By that time, the movement must have educated and convinced the populace that the nation can switch to the soft energy paradigm.
STAGE EIGHT: CONTINUING THE STRUGGLE
The success achieved in Stage Seven is not the end of the struggle but a basis for continuing that struggle and creating new beginnings.
The movement has to continue the struggle in five different ways:
- Celebrate success. The successes of Stage Seven and the movement’s role in achieving them should be clearly recognized by activists.
- Follow-up. There needs to be follow-up, mainly by the POOs, at the local and national level (1) to make sure that the new promises, laws, and policies are actually carried out (e.g., after the 1965 Voting Rights Act a major effort was required to assure that Blacks were actually allowed to vote); (2) to achieve additional successes, which are now possible under the new political conditions and legal mandate; and (3) to resist backlash which might reverse the new gains.
- Work on achieving other demands. The movement needs to focus on achieving other demands, which are probably in earlier MAP stages. After the civil rights movement desegregated restaurants in 1960, for example, the whole MAP stages process was repeated with successive movements to achieve integrated buses, equal public accommodations, voting rights, and work to end poverty.
- New social consciousness, issues, and movements. The modern student and women’s movements emerged out of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.
- Beyond reform to social change. Social movements need to go beyond immediate reforms to build toward fundamental structural changes by (1) creating empowered people who become life-long social change agents, and not just oneissue protesters; (2) creating ongoing grassroots political organizations and networks; (3) broadening the analysis, issues, and goals of movements; (4) propose new alternatives and worldviews or paradigms that put forward new political and social systems, not just oppose symptoms.
Governmental bureaucracies are supposed to carry out new laws and directives but could drag their feet and even fail to follow through. While most powerholders will be part of the new social and political consensus and try to carry out the new laws and policies, some may counterattack to reverse the new successes, as the Reagan administration did in ignoring the Boland amendment and continuing its support of the contras after 1984.
A new social consensus of about 80 percent of the populace supports the favorable resolution of the movement’s demand and the resulting new policies and conditions. The new demands on which the movement now begins focusing are supported by between 10 and 80 percent of the public and are different MAP stages.
The movement’s goals are to assure that the demands achieved are maintained and to circle back to focus the movement on other demands.
The chief hazards of Stage Eight are having the new successes either inadequately implemented or revoked from backlash.
There is no end. There is only the continuing struggle, acted out in cycles of social movements. The process of winning one set of demands creates new levels of citizen consciousness and empowerment, and generates new movements on new demands and issues.
Peoples’ movements move the world further along the path towards more fully meeting the spiritual, physical, social, and political needs of humanity. Moreover, the very process of being fully involved in the struggle of peoples’ movements contributes to peoples’ political and spiritual fulfillment. Activists are part of the emerging people-power movements around the world. People worldwide are struggling to transform themselves and the world from the present era of superpowers, materialism, environmental breakdown, disenfranchisement, abject poverty amidst opulence, and militarism, to a new, more human era of democracy, freedom, justice, self-determination, human rights, peaceful coexistence, preservation of the environment, and the meeting of basic human needs.
Consequently, the long-term impacts are more important than their immediate successes. The civil rights movement, for example, created a new positive image of Blacks among themselves and whites, established nonviolent action as a means to achieve people power, directly spun off the student and anti-Vietnam War movements, and inspired peoples’ movements got the American people, for the first time, to challenge and change American foreign policy and created the “Vietnam syndrome” in which the American people oppose the century old policy of U.S. military intervention in Latin America to achieve the interests of American powerholders. Social movements are also contagious: Philippines people’s movement spurred similar efforts in Haiti, Chile, and now South Korea.
CASE STUDY: THE AMERICAN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY MOVEMENT Stage Eight: Through 2025
If the nuclear energy endgame is that of attrition, the movement will have to continue its vigilance and opposition indefinitely into the future, opposing the barrage of central powerholder efforts to revive the nuclear energy era, until there is a total social and political consensus for cancelling nuclear energy and switching to a soft energy path. On the other hand, the dramatic showdown scenario could go as follows: The industrialized world is rocked again in 1995 by the report of an international commission that was set up following the 1993 accident to predict the world’s energy future into the next century. Its findings went far beyond the nuclear energy issue. The study included many of the coming crises that had been documented over the past 30 years. It showed that the current rates of fossil fuel (oil, wood, and coal) energy production would cause many catastrophes by the year 2025. The greenhouse effect would raise the Earth’s temperature reducing the agricultural production and creating the loss of many coastlines from the melting of glacial ice; the Earth’s ozone layer would be reduced, causing hundreds of millions of additional skin cancers; forests would be devastated by acid rain; the oceans would be threatened; and the world’s production of oil would peak and drop by 50 percent, as the available oil sources dry up, and oil production over the next five years would drop while prices skyrocketed.
Nations throughout the world hastily turn away from the hard energy policies based on high consumption of nuclear and fossil fuels and begin crash efforts to adopt soft energy strategies.
About This Issue
The Second edition of the Movement Action Plan is an expanded and updated version of the Fall 1986 Dandelion. It includes suggestions from readers of the first edition and attenders of the MAP workshops, and has grown from eight to sixteen pages in length. Please sent your feedback—affirmations, criticisms, Ideas, and references.
This edition was produced by Jeff Aiken, Sharon Kocher, Bill Moyer, and Sean Stryker. Editing and productions coordinated by Sean Stryker, Green Alternative Information for Action (GAIA).
About the Author
Bill Moyer has been an organizer, writer, trainer, and strategist with a wide range of social movements for over 25 years. His experience includes work with the civil rights, anti- Vietnam War, anti-nuclear energy and weapons, European nuclear disarmament, and non-intervention in Central America movements. He was staff with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor Peoples’ Campaign, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Chicago open housing program, national nonviolence trainer, and co-founder of the Movement For a New Society and its Philadelphia Life Center. Currently Bill is the National Project Coordinator of the Social Movement Empowerment Project.
The Social Movement Empowerment Project
The Social Movement Empowerment Project is a technical assistance program that is developing the Movement Action Plan and educating activists to use it. The goal is to have activists in a wide variety of movements apply MAP to their own organizing and strategizing. SMEP has a local Board of Directors, a National Advisory Group, a full-time Project Coordinator, and support volunteers across the country.
The Social Movement Empowerment Project is carrying out the following programs:
- Develop, publish, and distribute MAP publications. There were 12,000 copies of the Fall 1986 MAP Dandelion published and sold, and 12,000 additional copies of this second MAP tabloid edition have been published. Additional upcomingpublications include a MAP wall poster, a book (1988), and training materials.
- Train activists to understand and use MAP. The Project Coordinator is holding MAP trainings and presentations in five regions of the country.
- Train activist-trainers to teach others to understand and use MAP. Beginning in late 1987, several pilot training for trainers workshops will be held in several regions.Training for trainers will be held in five different regionsin 1988, and there will be a national MAP trainer gathering.
Please let the SMEP office know if you are interested in helping the program by distributing materials, setting up or attending trainings, giving a financial contribution, or assisting with fundraising.
The Social Movement Empowerment Project has received financial support from the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, New Society Education Foundation, Funding Exchange/National Community Funds, as well as a number of individuals.
The Movement for a New Society
The Dandelion is published four times a year by the Movement For A New Society. MNS is committed to feminist, nonviolent social change and has members and affiliates in 19 states and five other countries. MNS members work to build more effective social movements through organizing, networking, coalition building, training, and developing analysis, vision, and strategy for social movements. For more information, write to MNS, P.O. Box 1922, Cambridge, MA 02238.