"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

social movements and elections

From Katrina Vanden Heuvel's Washington Post opinion piece:
As professor and activist Frances Fox Piven has argued, this is a false dichotomy. “Electoral politics creates the environment in which movements arise,” while movements can force politicians to do the hard work they were elected to do. Electoral politics and movement politics operate on parallel, often converging tracks. It was the energy of the Occupy movement that compelled Obama to make the alarming growth in income inequality a central issue. And activists fighting for fairer immigration laws undoubtedly helped generate the conditions that led to last week’s executive order.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

For now, the real work of occupy - rebuilding community

The Southern Freedom movement was built on community (interconnected personal relationships)  (see movie, Once Upon a Time when we were colored)

the tactics of the Southern Freedom movement didn't translate very well to the urban setting because it was based on community.

This makes me believe that social movements are built on the foundation of community.

So what is community?

This video does a nice job in explaining how the city and capitalism undermine community and that the nature of the seizure (reclaiming) of public space by occupy was intuitively brilliant.

Monday, June 18, 2012

your opponents will always hand you an issue around which to organize: e.g. "vagina"

 a brilliant, artistic and strategic response!

from Daily Kos:
When state House Republicans -- a largely male group -- indefinitely banned two Democratic women in the House from speaking in the chamber, it set the stage for an unlikely theatrical performance on the Capitol steps in Lansing.
At least nine female legislators will join actresses from around Michigan on Monday evening to read the 1996 play "The Vagina Monologues."  [...]
The playwright Eve Ensler is flying in for the event from California, "and we have more and more actresses calling to fill out the cast," Milarch said Friday night. Staging the play seemed like the perfect response to conservative men silencing women for speaking in direct terms about body parts -- specifically for saying the word vagina, she said.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Silent March

Sunday’s march will be entirely silent, Mr. Gresham said, an idea that originated with Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., who invoked a 1917 demonstration.
      -- NY TIMES  Protesting Police Tactic, in Silence   By JIM DWYER June 12, 2012

The Silent Protest of 1917
On July 1, 1917, two white policemen were killed in East St. Louis, Illinois, in an  altercation caused when marauders attacked black homes. The incident sparked a race riot on July 2, which ended with forty-eight killed, hundreds injured, and thousands of blacks fleeing the city when their homes were burned. The police and state militia did little to prevent the carnage. On July 28, the NAACP protested with a silent march of 10,000 black men, women, and children down New York’s Fifth Avenue. The participants marched behind a row of drummers carrying banners calling for justice and equal rights. The only sound was the beat of muffled drums.

 The Most Effective USE of the silent March - Nashville 1960: as part of a larger strategy!!!! 


Humor more effective than anger or rage - e.g. Russia

 Russian activists using humor to undermine the regime
Like audacity, satire and humor are also techniques of nonviolent direction action. Laughter and ridicule undermine authority and diminish its ability to compel obedience. You can weaken, unbalance, and ultimately overthrow the king quicker by laughing at him than by futilely screaming fury at him.
And as a matter of practical politics, humor of any kind — not just satire — is far more effective than rage:
  • Humor appeals to observers and potential supporters. Fury frightens and alienates them.
  • Humor disarms and confuses adversaries. Rage triggers engrained patterns of defense and counter-rage, stokes resistance, and mobilizes fiercer opposition.
  • Humor is more sustainable than fury. Anger is exhausting. Most people cannot sustain intense rage over long periods of time. But humor is energizing, both in the short-run of a single protest, and in the long-run of an extended campaign.
  • Humor and audacity work hand-in-hand, reinforcing each other. Humor reduces and difuses hostile reaction to broken taboos, and nothing spreads faster by word-of-mouth (or twitter tweets) than tales of audacious humor

NY Times June 12, 2012

Among those forced to skip the rally and instead face questioning by the authorities was the blogger and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. But far from being silenced, Mr. Navalny posted a series of messages on Twitter mocking his interrogators.
“I am still in questioning,” Mr. Navalny wrote at one point. “They are asking about the Anti-Corruption Fund, who works for it, what they do — surely they want to be employed by us.” 
At another point, he wrote: “They just asked, ‘How have you been employed since Jan. 1 2005?’ It seems I have been planning unrest for a long time.”  

Some in the crowd also mocked the authorities. “Do you want a ticket to the paddy wagon?” cried one young man, carrying a roll of fake bus tickets. “Step up for a ticket to the paddy wagon!” 

...Mr. Yashin, who went to the rally straight from being questioned, said he had thanked his interrogators for promoting the march.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stewart, Colbert and the Wisconsin recall election

I was very disappointed in the Daily Show's take on the defeat of the Recall Election in Wisconsin.  Colbert's response really crystallized why I like Colbert so much better than Stewart.

Stewart/Cynac argue that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans -- they are both stupid.  This only supports the cynicism of the young people who are refusing to vote, making my job at SFSU even more difficult

Colbert, on the other hand, was able to demonstrate the importance of the issue at stake in a remarkably humorous way. 
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Wisconsin's Recall Results & National Impact
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Quebec student protests and Nuns on a Bus!

Two exciting developments written up in the New York Times.

1. Quebec: Chude Allen, civil rights veteran,  argued one day in my class: "we had to be nonviolent in order to show who the real savages are." It seems that the Quebec students have successfully provoked the system to reveal its true colors, thereby generating the sympathy and participation of a wider audience.  It remains to be seen, however, if the students can offer a variety of means for this larger group to participate.  If they do, then they will truly have created movement.  No social movement can be sustained without movement, eh?

2. Nuns on a Bus: So reminiscent of the 1961-63 Freedom Rides.  In 1961, CORE organized the Freedom Rides to provoke a crisis to force federal intervention in the South (to enforce the Supreme Court Rulings of Morgan v Virginia, 1947 and Boyton v. Virginia, 1961).  The Rides were dramatically successful in dramatizing the flagrant violation of black civil rights to the world stage, embarrassing the Kennedys into intervening on the side of civil rights.  Hopefully, the Nuns will continue to expose the hypocrisy of the Vatican and the Republican-Ryan budget on the national, if not world stage.  The Nuns have certainly provoked the Vatican to expose its hypocrisy.

Emergency Law Broadens Canada’s Sympathy for Quebec Protests
Until recently, the daily student protests that have clogged the streets of Montreal since late February did little to win public support for their cause. But when the provincial government of Quebec tried to end the demonstrations by arresting more than 2,500 people and passing an emergency law that some Canadian lawyers consider heavy-handed and perhaps unconstitutional, it helped turn what had been a narrowly focused student strike against increases in college and university costs into a battle over a broader set of grievances that has introduced some of the greatest political turmoil Canada has seen in decades. 

The collapse of negotiations between the provincial government and the protesters late last week has led to fears that further turmoil could scare visitors away from Montreal, and Quebec in general, just as a series of summer festivals and events are about to get under way. 

Anger over its provisions swiftly added a new group of demonstrators of all ages to the marches. The protesters, called themselves “casseroles,” adopting a technique pioneered in Chile in banging spoons on pots and pans as they marched through Montreal’s streets. 

Ms. Des Rosiers said that the general desire for order has contributed to what she considered an erosion of free speech. But the atmosphere in Quebec, she said, may be about to change. “For the most part you had an apathetic population,” she said. “Now you have a social movement.”

Nuns, Rebuked by Rome, Plan Road Trip to Spotlight Social Issues
The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican’s doctrinal office. . . . The sisters plan to use the tour also to protest cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives and proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who cited his Catholic faith to justify the cuts.
“We’re doing this because these are life issues,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a liberal social justice lobby in Washington. “And by lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.”
The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the “Fortnight for Freedom,” events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration’s violations of religious freedom. The bishops object in particular to a mandate in the health care overhaul to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to offer their employees coverage for birth control in their insurance plans.