"Nonviolent action is not simply any method of action which is not violent. Broadly speaking, it means taking action that goes beyond normal institutionalized political methods (voting, lobbying, letter writing, verbal expression) without injuring opponents"
- Bob Irwin and Gordon Faisal - Why Non-Violence? - Introduction to Theory and Strategy
Many of us have become increasingly frustrated and anguished about how our opposition to this administration's policies and concerns about the state of our nation has been blocked from public view and discussion. Despite well attended mass marches, our views in letters and articles in the media and on television have been under-reported or outright ignored and disparaged. Even the objections of our leaders have been drowned out or watered down. In denying coverage to our dissent and the reasons for it, the current establishment are in effect limiting the public's opportunity to know the scope, rationale and nature of our opposition and importantly, to be changed by it. It is clear that we must solve this problem if we are to reach the hearts and minds necessary to bring our country to a new direction. I do not see this as the task of our formally elected leaders or of just the Democrats per se. This must come from US, the people, from the grass-roots - the source of all real and legitimate power. I believe that the theory of non-violent citizen action can help us spark new ideas and approaches to increase the power and effectiveness of our opposition.
"The typical structural conditions leading to resort to nonviolent struggle are that more conventional political and legal channels appear blocked, yet people are unwilling to abandon their goals...It does not rely on the good will of the opponent but instead is designed to work in the face of determined opposition or violent repression." Ibid
According to Irwin and Faisal (see link above), who are the source for much of this diary, there are three main forms to non-violent action: 1) protest and persuasion, 2) non-cooperation and 3) intervention. For a complete discussion of all the forms, please read the provided link.
I am focusing on non-cooperation, which according to the authors, is used when in the face of institutional injustice, people "choose not to behave normally" or to "obey" by not buying, paying, withholding payment and other civil disobedience including draft resistance. In my opinion, economic non-cooperation provides intriguing possibilities to empower and energize our opposition if we can identify the right target consumer goods or services and if we can be flexible and creative in implementing this in combination with other forms of opposition.
Nonviolent economic non-cooperation has been successful in transforming society here in the US as well as across the rest of the world. Economic opposition to the Stamp Act in 1765 was followed by the Boston Tea Party and culminated in independence for the United States. The non-violent economic boycotts used by Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, Caesar Chavez' economic boycott of non-union grapes and economic boycott of South Africa spearheaded by Nelson Mandela were all successful non-violent economic non-cooperation. They not only improved the lives of all citizens but built their strength and social/political awareness.
It is my belief that economic non-cooperation can provide us with a strong lever to accomplish the impact that we seek. It seems particularly suited to the peculiarities of this period when our political, media and social institutions have become insensitive to other forms of opposition but are exquisitely influenced by financial and consumer behaviors that control their life's blood - money. The potential power of such an economic boycott was demonstrated recently in the successful action against Sinclair Broadcasting during the election. Our action cost Sinclair millions and resulted in desired change of behavior by the entity. Imagine the impact of several Sinclairs and the message that it would send.
I believe that we could and should use a variety of approaches targeting multiple products with overt links to our target issue/s. Our tactics could be highly decentralized, arising from local, grass roots pods using low tech methods including word of mouth. As supported by the response, actions could be expanded to include several regions at a time and ultimately across the nation, but a national level of organization would not be necessary to begin. This decentralized strategy would make it difficult to stop or to hold one leader responsible but would allow for energy and information to disseminate locally to capture more participants. As with all such actions, persistence and resilience would be necessary - this is not a quick fix in-and-out strategy but a sustained means to increase awareness of, cohesion within and social identity for our opposition.
I am very interested in hearing your reaction and getting your ideas on ways and means to do this and if you think that it can or should be done. Without a doubt, there is much that needs to be organized. This includes identifying the targets such as the war, social security or other high impact issues and the selection of the right target products and services. One slogan for the action occurs to me: DON"T BUY IT! (The products or the lies and corruption too)
There will also be downsides to this proposed action. An effective buyer's boycott will surely elicit aggressive attacks labeling our actions as "anti-American" and that we want to destroy the American economy. However, to mitigate the impact of the action, the opposition will have to pay or buy the targeted services or goods to negate our effect - so either way it costs the opposition, whether directly or indirectly. We must also remember, nonviolent economic action is like war - "a means of waging conflict. It requires a willingness to take risks and bear suffering without retaliation. On the most fundamental level, it is a means by which people discover their social power".
What do you think, fellow Kossites?