Tag Archives: nonviolent struggle

The Occupy Movement Needs a Grand Strategy

As the Occupy movement matures, it will need to clarify its overall objectives and develop a grand strategy for achieving them. It will perhaps find guidance in the work of Dr. Gene Sharp.

Gene Sharp is widely regard as “the world’s foremost expert on non-violent revolution,” but few people have ever heard of him. His book, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (1993), has reportedly been translated into more than 30 languages, and can be freely downloaded from the web. He has recently been written up by Thom Hartman (Gene Sharp’s Peaceful Revolution Techniques) and the BBC (Gene Sharp: Author of the nonviolent revolution rulebook).

Sharp’s book provides a large arsenal of “non-violent weapons.” Here is some of his advice:

  • Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
  • Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
  • Use colours and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance
  • Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
  • Use non-violent “weapons”
  • Identify the dictatorship’s pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each
  • Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
  • Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence

 

The 100% solution: non-violent organizing for the common good

What is it that enables less than 1 percent of the population to control, dominate, and exploit the rest of us? Some will say it’s ignorance and fear, other will say it’s laziness and irresponsibility. There is probably just enough truth in all of that to enable the 1 percent to justify their actions.   The fundamental question remains: Are the people capable of self-government?

I think we are, so now it comes down to deciding the best strategies for enabling the necessary massive power shift.

A recent article by George Lakey provides some food for thought. It tells the inspiring story about  How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’

Here’s the bottom line:

Although Norwegians may not tell you about this the first time you meet them, the fact remains that their society’s high level of freedom and broadly-shared prosperity began when workers and farmers, along with middle class allies, waged a nonviolent struggle that empowered the people to govern for the common good.

Now read the rest of the story: How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’.

It may not be desirable or even possible for us to apply the precise tactics of 20th century Scandinavia, but the basic approach remains valid: non-violence, social solidarity, and organization in pursuit of the common good.