Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Nonviolent Resistance - A Grand Strategic Vision

I read today about the large number of protesters who rallied in many cities in the United States to show their opposition to Donald Trump. I am very glad to hear that the number of those participating in rallies and protests yesterday and today far exceeded the number of Trump fans who attended his inauguration.  But it is critical for those who oppose Trump to be able to formulate and present a vision of the future that stands as a viable alternative to the plans and policy of Mr. Trump.  Here I will propose such a vision.

The first element of such a vision is a realistic view of what is possible in the world that is now emerging.  That world is no longer a world in which one nation, or one segment of that nation, can command all the world's resources and rule all the other peoples of the world with an iron (or velvet) fist.

The second element of such a vision is a willingness on the part of the many to create a society that provides equal and effective access to life-sustaining resources for all its members, regardless of ethnicity, national origin or religion, by means of the following:
  • Effective education (teaching its members how to think, how to understand and navigate the world in which they live)
  • The best health care that its members can provide by pooling their resources for the common good
  • The most equitable livelihood that its members can provide by pooling their resources for the common good
  • The best use of housing and land that its members can provide by pooling their resources for the common good
  • An equal say for each of its members in determining the shape and course of such a society
  • The safety that arises from being insulated as much as possible from supremacist predators.
Such a society will necessarily be an alternative society, with parallel institutions, in that it is created by grassroots, bottom-up efforts which do not receive help from those now in power, and which thrive even when opposed by those in power.  The creation of such a society will manifest itself locally as a result of the efforts of the people who live in various localities.  The creation of such a society will also require hard work and serious study.  It will also take time.  Laziness, a hunger for quick fixes, or wishful thinking will not be helpful at all.  The organs of such a society must be open to everyone who wants to join in the effort to create such a society - even to those Trump supporters from among the poorer classes who become casualties and victims of a Trump presidency.  One thing is certain.  Trump will not create a healthy society for any except the wealthy and powerful.  His victims - even among those who supported him - will be many.

Those who are involved in creating alternatives to a Trump society must maintain nonviolent discipline in their struggle.  I am thinking of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Chenoweth and Stephan.  (I got my copy of that book on Thursday night, and have been reading it ever since.)  In the book, the authors document the negative effect that the presence of violence has on a civil resistance movement, and how violence by armed resistance wings or by government-sponsored agents provocateurs reduces the likelihood that the civil resistance movement will succeed.  It is thus regrettable that "anarchists" were able to infiltrate peaceful protests on the day of Trump's inauguration.  Those who organize protest marches should work as hard as possible to make sure that such people are excluded from future marches or rallies.  It is also necessary for the nonviolent struggle to combine tactics of concentration, such as rallies and protests, with tactics of dispersion, such as strikes, boycotts and stay-aways.  (On Friday I "stayed away" from work.  Instead, I spent the day reading and praying.  That was my form of protest.  And I did not watch the inauguration.)  Movements that rely on only one or a few tactics are easy to defeat.

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