Sanders isn’t Holding the Democratic Party Hostage. I AM.

Writing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-d-rosenstein/bernie-sanders-should-not_b_13913148.html

Here’s how delusional the Establishment is, they think that they don’t have to examine their behavior after suffering the most devastating and humiliating loss in modern history to a racist man who joked about sexual assault on film. And apparently it’s mean to even suggest otherwise. They also think it is mean to even suggest that they lost and have to give up some power to the people in the party who suggested that their tactics weren’t going to work. They think it is being HELD HOSTAGE when their working class says, “hey, you have to represent us.” WHICH IS SANDERS’ JOB. This is just his job, it is the job of representatives to say, “you have to represent the people, and I’m going to push you to.” This whole article is a transparent attempt on the part of party elites to tell the working class members of the party that they aren’t allowed to talk. These are classic silencing tactics and there is no reason why we should listen to them. They think their platform was “the most progressive in history” and never ask who it was the most progressive for? I don’t remember there being a whole lot in there for the poor, even though we tried to push that in there, and I seem to remember several people telling me I had to accept this to “Stop Trump” or else. Well, they failed to stop Trump, so I’m not sure what excuse they have to keep me quiet now. And they think that all the Sanderistas are independents who aren’t actual members of the party. Despite the fact that this has been proven to be false several times.

So, allow me to pop some bubbles and bring them up to speed on the actual hostage situation they are now in.

1) You lost. You lost big and because you lost, the elements of the party, which are the Sanders folks, now get to take the party over because that’s how the game is played. You can whine about it. You can fight it. But this is inevitable. And it ain’t a hostage situation. This is a hostile takeover and the name of your enemy isn’t Bernie Sanders. The name is Heather Raffin and if you were real feminists you’d give a bitch credit. There are a bunch of me around the country who are sick of you failing to represent us. Who are sick of being treated poorly and who are sick of people bullying us into supporting a party that not only doesn’t represent us in any tangible, meaningful way, but is also actively oppressing us while expecting pats on the back in the process. We DON’T HAVE TO DO anything for you. You need to explain us why we should help you.

2) I’ve been a card carrying Democrat since I was 18. I’ve registered voters. Caucused for you. Increased turnout. I come with a veritable army of working class people that will follow my votes with me and if I leave the party, they will decide what to do themselves like adults, but I promise you that they trust me a lot more than they trust you. TEST ME and see what happens.

3) Your platform was not the “most progressive” in history. It was progressive FOR RICH PEOPLE. It had no tangible benefits for the poor. For that, you have to go back to FDR and LBJ, but you don’t remember that because y’all don’t remember your roots. Well, your working class hasn’t forgotten. We remember and we pass that shit around through oral history. And we are taking the party back for their rightful owners whether you like it or not. You can get out of the way or you can fall. The choice is yours, but don’t blame it on Sanders. You brought this on yourselves.

4) You fucks have been running around laughing about how funny it is that white trash like me will die under Trump. You’ve been doing nothing while my friends have to worry about their baby dying. You have sat back and passed symbolic legislation that puts the poor in more danger while exploiting our labor and expecting pats on the back. This makes you my enemy, not my ally. According to the laws of MY PEOPLE, I have everything I need to justify using everything in my arsenal to take you out. And yet, here I am kindly giving you a warning about what is coming for you if you don’t change your tune. That’s because, unlike you, I have a sense of honor and dignity. That’s me being nice. You should be grateful we are being so kind. You are lucky you are getting this much warning after how you treated us. If I were you, I wouldn’t complain about it.

5) The Republicans are offering to talk about class and to deal with the issues the working class face, you are not. They’ve mentioned this to several Sanderistas in public while you’ve been publishing this bullshit. GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T TAKE THEM UP ON IT?

That’s right folks. If you don’t change your tune, we have an alternative. In exactly a month, if the following conditions aren’t met, I will LEAVE the Democrat party and encourage the rest to come with me. I will re-register as a independent and support candidates regardless of their party affiliations who back the needs of the working class exclusively. I will continue to organize the working classes, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to take down what remains of the rich among the left who can’t pull their heads out of their asses and do what is right for the poor. From here on out, I am making it my personal mission to COME FOR EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU RICH FUCKS THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE POOR. I CONSIDER YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY.

If the following conditions are met within the next month, I will remain within the party and continue to try to work within it. NOW YOU ARE IN A HOSTAGE SITUATION. I hope now you’ve learned an important lesson about checking your fucking rhetoric.

1) You don’t have to make Keith Ellison the head of the party, but I want a Sanderista, and I consider the placement of Rahm Emmanuel as the head of the party a Declaration of War.

2) I want a party platform that includes the input of actual working class people with progressive economic policies that include things that benefit working families and large swathes of the population. I want this process to include actual consultation with the working classes and I want it working class led.

3) I want a microphone and exposure given to working class people similar to what was given to Diamond and Silk. http://www.diamondandsilkinc.com/

4) I want the rich members of the party to stop engaging in bigoted rhetoric towards members of the poor, including poor whites. I want them to accept a backseat role in activism. I want them to give up leadership positions to working class and grassroots activists and I want the focus of the left to change to problems of the poor.

5) I want the party to deal with voter suppression and to admit that there were problems during the primaries. I want the party to advocate for a national holiday for voters so that everyone has the opportunity to vote and I want the left to organize voter ID drives like they used to do.

6) I want the adults on the left to actually get the bullies under control. No more ruining the lives of innocent people. This means no more going after people’s jobs for tweets. This means no more purging of dissenters. This means that the college students are exposed for the brats they are. This also means that the left disavows and repudiates any tactics that puts innocents and the working classes at greater risk under a Trump administration.

THIS IS A START TO FIXING THE PROBLEMS YOU NOW FACE. You guys can fall in line on this or you can fall. I don’t care. We got three years before 2020 and I have the more compelling narrative on my side and the facts. You wanna underestimate us, go ahead. Every time you do, you make this much easier for me. You wanna try to purge me? Go ahead. You make this easier for me. Ignore me? Go ahead? You are proving my point. I suggest you take the deal I am offering you now and save the position you presently hold because we don’t even have to let you have that.

Trump got elected on your watch. So we don’t owe you shit.

This isn’t a hostage situation. YOUR ASS IS BEING RIGHTEOUSLY DETHRONED AND MY NEW NAME IS KHALESSI.

Sanders was as nice as y’all were going to do. You should have gone with him. Attack him again and see what happens.

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Some Things You Can’t See or Hear When You are Yelling

Writing

I’ve be re-learning how to cry. Or rather, I’ve been crying uncontrollably in public while I walk down the streets of Los Angeles because apparently when you repress everything for 28 years to survive, eventually your body rebels and betrays you.

 

So as I was sobbing uncontrollably after an acupuncture appointment in the middle of day, in yoga pants and wearing the kind of sunglasses that make New Yorkers long for their dungeons, I thought a lot about how this probably looked.

 

What did she have to cry about?

 

This little white girl in her yoga pants.

 

It’s only been ten months since I left my PhD program and started getting called a trophy wife. I think about this as I lie in bed sobbing because its been days since I’ve been able to move. And worse still, days since I’ve been able to read and write.

 

But if you looked at me on the street you wouldn’t know this. And if you saw me crying, you wouldn’t know that its because for the last few months, as I’ve been working my way up Maslow’s hierarchy, I’ve finally had to face the painful realities of my life. Twenty-seven painful, brutal years, that I can never get back.

 

How bad could my problems have been?

 

Well I was born the bastard of a meth addicted teenage mother with a  sadistic streak. And she married a man that held a gun to my head when I was an infant and she threatened to leave. And he kicked her down a flight of stairs while I was still in her arms because I was the constant reminder of his failure.  And this only half the times I know for a fact that an adult tried to kill me. She left him for beating her , only to move on to a pedophile that the D.A told us was a “2 percenter” in the seriousness of his crimes and pyschopathy. She didn’t leave him until I made it about my sister, she had long known and was complicit in what he’d done to me. I put him away when I was 13 after 10 years of sexual, physical and verbal violence. Which makes it sound nicer than it is, because its better described as torture. And when he left, my big sister took over the physical abuse and the rest of my family? They kept up the verbal abuse. The systematic hate they heaped on me because I was the constant reminder of what we were. They kept it going even while I was in college at Stanford (ever got called a whore by your grandfather before trying to deliver the eulogy of your prematurely dead grandmother during midterm season? I have).

 

All this time I was living the most ridiculous stereotypes you have of the poor. If the poor person were in a third world country. Like the fact that I now have permanent nutritional deficiencies because of what I didn’t eat in my youth. Or the fact that I almost died from a disease we eradicated in the 1960s. Or the fact that I went to a high school with no textbooks, where violence was the norm and where my counselor told me “people like [me]” didn’t need to go to college. I know the exact procedure for a drive by and how to make a prison shank.  You wouldn’t know this by looking at me, and if I tried to explain, you’d say, “but she’s white.”

 

But don’t worry. It’s happened hundreds of times. I get that it’s not what I look like.

 

I should, statistically have been a crack whore, and I’m not.

 

No, I’m a Stanford grad. Twice.

 

And you wouldn’t know that by looking at me either. You wouldn’t know about how alone and alienated I felt. About the work I did to make sure no one who was poor like me would ever have to suffer like I did. You didn’t watch me dedicate my few healthy days to research and to advocating for the poor. You didn’t see me dragged in on administrative meetings designed to silence me. And you didn’t watch me fight behind the scenes all those years to be included in discussions about oppression. Or to be called what I was, because the administration tells you they expect you to be ashamed of what you are.  Not first gen. Not even low income, as if you can sanitize reality to make it go away. “I’m poor white trash.” I tell the admin this before they introduce me at a Stanford staff training.

 

I do it because the look of horror has begun to amuse me. I do it because I know how lies lead to oppression. I do it because of the words, “what happens in this house stays in this house.” Words I heard after a beating because Child Protective Services is investigating. You wouldn’t know about the nights I woke up crying in my sleep in my dorm room, unable to speak because I knew if my classmates knew the real reason, it’d only”make them uncomfortable.” I start to enjoy their discomfort. I get very good at never telling anyone what is actually going on because I’m so afraid they can’t handle it. I try to find positive pathways to manage the two pieces of me, I go into education. Eventually I’m ripped into more than two pieces.

 

I made sure no one was around when I worked at the high school and they expelled a boy who was “living under a bridge doing meth” because “he’s an adult now.” He was sixteen. He loved Black Flag. He still had his baby fat and fear in his eyes. He reminds me of my brother. You didn’t see me as I privately went to go cry when there was nothing left I could do. And when I get into grad school that year my boss  will question my right to a fellowship for the poor who want to be teachers focused on saving those kids.

 

“But she’s white.”

 

I finally enter the classroom and no one sees me throw up in-between classes. Because I’m good, I’m so good at covering up what I’m feeling because my mom laughed at me when I cried. And if it isn’t safe to cry in front of your mom, its not safe to cry in front of anyone. And because you don’t know this, you don’t know how much I’m struggling in graduate school. How many times I’ve been dragged into meetings because my classmates don’t like that I make them feel inferior. They didn’t know that I had spent my whole life feeling inferior. And when they look for an excuse to kick me they’ll use my health even though they admit I’m excelling academically.

 

“We don’t see how you could be doing so well if you are that sick.”

 

“I can perform under just about any conditions, I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

 

I’m a walking and talking cause of cognitive dissonance. I learn how to identify when it is happening and to push through. It’s my secret weapon in the classroom.

 

You can’t tell from looking at me, how bad my health is. You can’t tell that I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 25 because my family told me I was making it up and because my doctors don’t believe uneducated trailer trash women. When I’m finally diagnosed, it’s a genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia adds to my fun. When I’m finally diagnosed, my doctor is angry because the damage and conditions are so obvious. Just like that time my mom almost let me die from pneumonia because I was being dramatic when I told her I couldn’t breathe. I was prepared to “fake” my way right to my death, but then it becomes visible. And before long, I am in a wheelchair, braced up, and told it’s game over. This is my new normal. This is my new normal because no one believed me because of what I looked like. I learn that my class matters when my aunt dies the summer before Stanford. She was 50. They caught her cancer too late to stop it because they didn’t believe in her pain. I learn that too, when my cousin kills himself that summer and I go to grief counseling only to be told it was “expected for someone from his background.” It’s not until I can wear my Stanford shirt to the doctors that I can finally start self advocating because they finally start listening.

 

And when I stay in the classroom after the repression and years of neglect to my health takes it toll, you didn’t see me struggle to stand while I taught my students complex historical thought. When I finally have no choice but to leave, I spend three years in recovery. Not working was never an option for me, despite what my advisors and more privileged friends seemed to believe. Because you see, to heal in a safe space, I would have needed a safe family and that was never an option. So instead of healing, I bounce from one explotiative relationship to another. First my parents torment me and under feed me until I get a concussion, then my fiance crosses the line into what my friends called rape, and then a former teacher exploits my labor. By the end of my “year off” I’m still profoundly sick. I’m off to a PhD program in battered conditions.

 

I leave because I can’t imagine it’ll ever be any different.

 

I leave because I don’t know how I’ll be safe if I don’t find somewhere to hide.

 

I leave because god damnit, I miss an intellectual life.

 

They apparently couldn’t tell from my application that I had applied in a post-concussive state with spotty internet and money I raised from friends from undergrad. They didn’t see it in my application, when my mother mocked me and my step-dad told me to give up. They didn’t see me write my personal statement about school segregation while unable to walk and they didn’t see the experiences I had drawn from, the ones so familiar to me that to talk about them sounded like a fish talking about water.

 

And so I move away to grad school and not long after I drop out. And lots of friends have lots of opinions about it. But they didn’t see how sick I was. That my hair was falling out. They didn’t see how bored and tokenized I felt. They didn’t see the professor who was inappropriate, again. They didn’t see me get excluded from the very thing I was there to study because I was white. And when they called me white, they didn’t see a bastard from a multi-ethnic family, or the Indian blood that flows through my veins as a result of interracial marriage. They saw a white girl in a PhD program who went to Stanford. And so they were wrong about half of me.

 

And you wouldn’t know it from looking at my husband, but it’s him that’ll finally save me. You wouldn’t think he sees beauty from pain, just from looking at him but he falls in love with my pain all the same. If you just looked at our demographics, you might be confused as to how we got together, even though we are both certain it was fated to be. Neither one of us believes in fate. We’re both atheists. You wouldn’t know that by looking at us either.

 

You didn’t watch us plan a wedding around a strong desire to avoid my family. We elope instead because I’m too scared to be in public with any of them. And some folks judged me when I got married and moved to Los Angeles and cut off my whole family. Because they didn’t see the continuing abuse and boundary violations. And they didn’t watch my husband find me a new number and address. And its because you don’t know how badly I wanted to escape my name and my past, you judged me when I took his name. They didn’t have to walk me through repressed memories as I began to deal with my life, they didn’t see how expertly he did it.

 

And if you saw me on the street today, you’d have all kinds of cute labels. None of which would tell you how I continued my activism even when I was homeless. They won’t show you the hours I continued to mentor former students while I was incredibly sick. Lots of people assume I’m stupid because of what I look like, because boobs and intelligence are somehow mutually exclusive.

 

I tell you all of this, so that no one will have to go through what I went through. But also because I am afraid. I am afraid that we live in a world that no longer sees the virtues of breaking down the walls that divide and hide us. I am afraid that we are hurting everyone who doesn’t look like our statistics by demanding that they justify their existence, as I often have to do. “Where the fuck are you from” and “What are you” because my origins don’t fit into the preconceived narratives we’ve allowed to define us. But I’m also sad, because I want all of you to actually see how beautiful life is outside the bounds of these walls. The places of complexity and nuance. The places and people that cause cognitive dissonance, that make our civilization more complex and real by showing the absurdity of our systems. Because humans aren’t statistics and because demographic data doesn’t define reality And I’m afraid we’ve bowed to absurdity because we can’t stop yelling and hating and excluding. I learned one thing from being in a house where everyone yells at you, no one can hear you when they are yelling.

 

Every time someone points out that the walls are ultimately constructed, we are forced to remember that they can be torn down.
And if the only good that comes out of my experiences is that I’m part of the wrecking crew, it will have been worth it.

Inauguration Protest Safety Tips

Writing

Note: I am NOT attending the protests but it appears that no one is circulating basic safety tips and that many of you are vastly under-prepared for the possibilities you face this weekend. As such, I am providing what I consider basic information. A shortened version of this was posted on another site, the editors were uncomfortable with my argument about the general stepping down as well as several other points. They also used my position to promote the marches in a way that was not my original intent, which has been made quite obvious to everyone familiar with my work. My feeling is that you are all smart enough to read my reasoning and decide for yourselves if it is plausible, so I have provided all of the original information. I apologize for not sharing this sooner, I had waited to post this while waiting for other editors to get back to me, when I saw the final product, which I think is quite obviously not my work though it uses my research heavily, I realized that I had to post this somewhere. Maybe I’m wrong about these things but you are grown ups and you can decide for yourselves. This is a perfect demonstration of why I had to start my own blog instead of trying to get published among existing publications, they always do this to my work.

This is a set of last minute safety tips for activists attending the inauguration protests against Donald Trump. Leftist activists should expect and plan for a probable escalation  in state violence for several reasons. The first reason is that Trump’s personality, administration and political ideology all suggest and lend themselves to the interpretation that violent suppression of protests is a legitimate action for the state to take, especially if those protests turn violent. The American public has limited appetite for violence against protestors when those protestors remain nonviolent, but the minute the protests become violent much of the country believes that the state has the right to use force to suppress them. Anyone who lived through any of the inner city riots prior to Obama, which includes those of us who lived in places like Los Angeles and Oakland during Rodney King, will remember that under most circumstances little patience is given for riots or forms of violent protest. The government can and will send in the national guard to violently suppress if they feel it is needed to restore order. They can and will do this under both Democrats and Republicans. They did it under both Kennedy and Nixon and they will do it under Trump.  Since several official groups have said that they are showing up to the protests with the intent to “disrupt” and commit damage to infrastructure (which is what the state would call terrorism), Trump’s administration has already had a month of pre-planning which has assumed violence would erupt at these protests. Therefore, people should assume in THEIR plans that Trump’s plans are based around that assumed violence, in which case, he believes violent suppression is one of his options. So does the rest of the administration, the military and a large percentage of the citizens of the country.

 

Last week the head of the National Guard in Washington D.C. was forced to resign at the last minute. Actually, he is being forced to resign mid-mission while 5,000 troops are deployed in the Nation’s capitol. This is highly unusual and he himself was not able to provide an explanation. He called the timing unusual and said he would never choose to abandon his men like this. No explanation was given, and his resignation will come AFTER Trump is sworn in, which means that it will come after Trump receives total command over the troops. It is important that you understand that generals do not resign for whimsical reasons, outside of some sort of gross dereliction of duty, like when MacArthur was asked to step down for threatening to nuke China, the only reason a career military man publicly goes through the effort of defying a commander in chief like this is if they don’t like the orders they’ve been given. Although there is no modern example of this happening in at a swearing in ceremony, generals resigned under Hitler (Rommel), under Pinochet (a handful early on who were killed), and under colonial governments in India for refusing to take their commander’s abhorrent orders against the people. During wartime, American generals and commanders have resigned over actions in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. There have also been instances during different revolutions in the 1980s and 1990s against the repressive Soviet state where the state security apparatus resigned in mass, rather than turn on their protestors.  In some cases, specific leaders have stepped down or spoken out against the dictator in question rather than kill their own people. It is important that you understand that doing do means an end to their career, and in many cases in the past, to their lives. What is unusual about this situation is that they planned for it in advance and that it is happening at the Inauguration. This likely means that the general in question stepped down because he refused to accept the plans given to him by the administration. In this case, those plans could only have been about what to do about the protestors.

 

 

Trump has had government agencies claim this is “no big deal” and issue fake news reports while the respected general himself claims he would never do this without being forced. Since there is no good reason to do this unless they were planning on doing some real brutal carnage, and since it is fairly common for fascists to replace leadership like this once they take power, we can expect that the moves of the last few days add up the conclusion that they plan to escalate state violence at the protests. Switching out the head of a national security event while thousands of your troops are deployed in your nation’s capitol and the general in question says “the timing is unusual”, means that something very bad is about to happen. Additionally, when I started speaking out about it, I was immediately attacked by propaganda and a fake conservative news profile, which means they are already trying to cover it up and discredit the general and any activist that suggests otherwise. The media has already begun to spin stories that justify any violent repression that results from the disorder this weekend. Breitbart’s only counter to this whole story was that the general asked to resign, not that Trump had asked him to, which hardly changes the circumstances and doesn’t answer any of the questions that surround this. If Trump asked him to resign, it is because he refused his orders. If the general resigned on his own, it is because he found the orders abhorrent and didn’t want to carry them out. Breitbart went out of their way to attack this story as fake news but could not deny that any of these had happened, they just quibbled over some of the possible details. They also called the general a coward in the piece they posted on my wall, which besides being an extremely offensive smear campaign of a career military hero, is a deeply disturbing narrative in context.

It is my recommendation that ALL parents and those with minors skip these protests. Whatever your anger is at Trump is, there are other ways to express it that don’t put children at risk, and these protests aren’t going to accomplish enough to make it worth the risk. Any activist that tells you otherwise is being both delusional and irresponsible in my opinion. I can’t tell adults without dependents what to do, but I suggest that everyone take precautions and record everything.

It also seems clear from the narrative that has been woven over the last few days that they intend to push us towards infighting while issuing a final killing blow to the left. Which groups they’ll divide is still up in the air, but the most important thing is that left understands that this administration is a threat to all marginalized people and that we have to stick together. We are only safe as a coalition. We must do everything we can through our own narrative and film recordings to fight any attempts during and after the fact to paint our movements as in opposition to each other. Here are some basic safety tips we are recommending that everyone take in advance of the weekend.

  1. Even state police have access to Stingray’s, machines that mimic cell towers in order to suck up the information from every phone in the area. If you have your phone on you, expect your name to be on a list of “people who protested Trump’s inauguration.”
  2. A common tactic is jamming all cell signals in the area to make it harder to coordinate. Shortwave radios solve this problem. Note that this also means cell phones can’t stream video. This can be solved by finding people or places in DC where video footage can be taken and uploaded without depending on wifi or cell service. Remember that people protested before cell phones too, there are ways word of mouth coordination can spread just as quickly with good organization and coordination. Plan for this possibility and if it doesn’t happen the worst-case scenario is that you were overprepared.
  3. In 1999, police were able to arrest 500 people at the WTO protests. Given 17 years of new technology, it’s hard to predict what capacity of arrests the police can handle. But it’s large. Mass arrests are common without a changing of the guard, but may be a feature of this years’ protests. Be prepared for that, but also don’t give them an excuse.
  4. Cameras must always be on. They must be filming both the authorities (to show time-stamped evidence of any wrongdoing) as well as the protestors (to show time-stamped evidence that there was no provocation). Film what the authorities do. Film what protestors are doing. Film solidarity. Film love. Film actors of violence too. Remember that they will discredit us in the media afterwards and remember that because there were claims of fake hate crimes that the only thing people believe now are what happens on film.
  5. Look out for agent provacateurs. If the person next to you starts breaking windows or throwing rocks, they may be purposefully trying to justify repression by the authorities. It does not matter what is filmed if an agent provocateur can act freely among marchers. It does not matter if the agent provacateur can later be identified, he or she must immediately be stopped. DO NOT GIVE THEM AN EXCUSE. Anything they can use to blame the violence on us will be used to later frame a narrative that provides the American public with a justification for the death and destruction that follows. It will also be used to kill or maim innocent people. Whatever the left believes, the rest of the country only believes in the right to peaceable assembly, if people start getting violent and the authorities respond with violence, the rest of the country does not feel bad when we die. I promise you that.
  6. At the moment of the inauguration, the head of the national guard will step down and be replaced by one of Trump’s men. The most likely time for repression will be between the moment Trump is inaugurated to the official changing of the guard. Even if they aren’t, assume guns are pointed at your face. Don’t make sudden movements, don’t yell or run at the police, don’t start violent chants. Do not back down, but do not give them an excuse to kill you.

7) Watch locals and watch the media. Have situational awareness. Pay attention to the crowd and the mood and try to get out before things get real. Your nurses, union workers and grass roots activists, as well as journalists tend to have a sense for these sorts of things, not because they are wizards, but because they’ve been doing this for a long time. You should look to them to guide you as to when mood changes happen.

8) They’ve planned this LONG before you’ve even gotten there. The goal should be for us to be so impressive with our message that if they chose to get violent that they look shameful. We may not be able to avoid violence at this point, but we can do our best to protect as many people as we can and to turn around their bullshit on them. This is a bold move out the gate, and they are making it because they think they can. Don’t make them right about that.

9) Touching a cop, yelling at a cop, resisting arrest, yelling for help when you are already in a cop’s possession, and defying a lawful order are all punishable as assault and illegal. If the cops arrest you, follow their orders and be polite. They will not hesitate to use the excuse to beat you or bring you in on assault charges.

10) Avoid wearing anything terribly obvious, any jewelry or anything you wouldn’t want confiscated. There is a strong possibility these will be destroyed or taken from you, but in a violent struggle jewelry is also a liability.

11) NEVER TRAVEL ALONE.

12) Carry government issued ID everywhere. The cops have the right to demand your identification, and they also have the right to carry you in if you refuse to give it to them. Anyone who doesn’t have this identification shouldn’t be at these protests this weekend.

13) Remember that Trump is popular with a large percentage of the country and that there WILL be counter demonstrators. They have also been planning. They also have beliefs. They are also angry. They are also going to follow orders. Be prepared for the probability that clashes with the state aren’t the only group you have to look out for. People of color, Queer individuals (especially visibly gender fluid and trans), and women should all take extra precaution. Do not travel alone or at night. Travel with a group, and ideally with escorts. STAY AWAY FROM TRUMP’S SUPPORTERS. They are probably armed, but there are also groups like Bikers for Trump who are out for blood. The only thing standing in their way is the state. You do not have the means to take them on in this situation and I promise you they WILL be armed to the teeth.

I Hate Most of You, But I Still Wouldn’t Let Trump Kill You

Writing

Let me explain something to you, to all of you on the left. I hate the vast majority of you. I think your ideologies are stupid and that half the time you are acting as the oppressor. Every single leftist connected group and organization has does something actively horrible and oppressive, personally, to me over the last 28 years. But if Trump tries to oppress you, I still consider it my responsibility to try to stop it the best I can, because that’s what a real leader does.

I ain’t Mexican but if Trump comes for Mexican people I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him come for the Mexican people I love, and if you don’t have anyone who fits that demographic that you love, maybe you are the problem.

I ain’t queer but if Trump comes for queer people, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him come for the queer people that I love and if  you don’t feel that way about people you claim to love, maybe you are part of the problem.

I ain’t black but if Trump comes for black people, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him do that shit on my watch without any opposition. You don’t come for people I love without my fighting like hell for you.

I have people I love in every marginalized group in the leftist coalition and I have since I was a kid and we fucking look out for each other. He comes for one of us, he comes for all of us.

But even if I didn’t have people that I loved in these categories, even if I hadn’t experienced poverty and gender violence and oppression firsthand, I would still fight anyone who would seek to hurt other human beings because that is the right thing to do. It is just the right thing to do. Everything I have ever done in social justice has been for someone else. I did not benefit in any tangible way from starting FLIP. I alienated myself socially, professionally, and personally defending the marginalized. I have a list of actual physical beatings I have taken for other people and injuries I’ve endured defending the defenseless. I did this stuff while I was homeless, while I was sick, while I was myself being tortured and abused. I don’t do any of this shit for me or what I can get out of it and I sure as fuck don’t do it for my mental health. This is service, if you aren’t willing to do it, that’s fine. This isn’t for everyone and I respect that, but if you call yourself a leader then the first thing you need to learn is that it isn’t about you. If your work costs you nothing, I doubt it is as subversive as you think it is.

 

I don’t stand in solidarity with specific groups or ideologies. I don’t have particularly strong affinities for any of your parties or for the work that most of the left does. I’ve never had a home on the left, and the left has done almost as much to oppress me as the conservatives. I do my work in solidarity with the people and the children. If you can’t handle doing that, it’s not something I would brag about and it certainly isn’t a legitimate policy position for a movement to have.

 

And before you lecture me about self care, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been going through a hell that none of you can even imagine over the last month and I have still managed to be strategic and thoughtful in my organizing. Let me tell you about some memories that I’ve been battling over the last month and half since Trump has been elected and you guys have been whining about the mourning you still have to while giving a fascist advanced warning of terrorist acts that you half-assedly planned. I’ll name just three, but there are more. 1) It turns out that my family has tried to kill me on four separate occasions all occurring before the age of 13, two of which happened when I was an infant. 2) When I was 9, I was so violently raped by my father as punishment for resisting his advances that I needed 6 stitches in my vagina. My own mother helped him cover it up. 3) I was trafficked as a child more than once , at least as early as 8.

I’ve been spending the last month and half processing all of that while listening you guys whine and complain and give privilege lectures, and you guys can’t even be bothered to properly plan things so that you don’t screw over the working class with your bullshit. So look, if you don’t want to stand in solidarity with all childhood trafficking victims, and everyone who has gone hungry and anyone who might be the target of state repression, then fine. Now you are corroborating with the oppression of others. And if you are doing that, frankly, I’m not terribly interested in your help or your opinion about anything.

Don’t you think it works to Trump’s interest if we are constantly doing this to each other? They are planning for us to do this and you are playing right into their hands. Divide and conquer is a very old strategy indeed. But you guys aren’t actually interested in doing anything to stop him are you? Because you live in a magical land where the consequences never affect you and where the working class will take all of the bullets for you anyway. You’ve lived there for so long that you can’t even properly plan basic safety tips for a protest during a Republican administration. We don’t need more “leaders” who put their own needs first. We don’t need more “leaders” who expect other people to act as their cannon fodder or pawns. That is not good leadership, that is childish. This is service. You are here to serve. If you are not here to serve then WE DON’T NEED YOU. You are no good to us until you get the ability to make decisions that will put other people’s needs first. Social justice is not a brand. It is not a t-shirt you put on or something you wear when it is convenient. Social justice is about liberating the actual people who aren’t free yet, and if you have the luxury to say, “I won’t be disciplined and thoughtful enough to do what is needed to free the most people that I can” or “I won’t be adult enough to put aside my own feelings for the good of others in the name of liberation” then I don’t know what form of imprisonment you’ve experienced but it was very different from the one I experienced.

When you are hungry, there is no room for error.

When they can and do torture you, there is no room for error.

When the consequence is death, there is no room for error.

When rape is a form of punishment, there is no room for error.

You sure as fuck don’t make mistakes because you are too lazy to plan if it means someone is going to kill you, what is even more monstrous is to make these mistakes on someone else’s behalf when the consequences don’t affect you. Do you know what it is like to be threatened with someone else’s pain and to offer to take the beating instead? I do.

My bottom line is this:  all this theoretical bullshit was fine when it was on your college campuses and no one was getting hurt. But if you become a reason that people might get hurt, even if it’s because you are incompetent instead of just straight evil, then you are right that we aren’t in solidarity with each other. Because I consider you part of the problem and you can either get your shit together or else you can find out just how fiercely I fight on behalf of the oppressed.

Here’s something I know about all of you, you hit like a bitch.

 

Using Political Jiu-Jitsu To Disintegrate Hostile Regimes

Writing

In the past decade alone, the deaths of Egyptian Khaled Saeed, Iranian Neda Agha Soltan, and other fatalities caused by repressive governments ignited nation-wide revolutions which were recognized and lauded internationally. A youtube mashup by Andreina Nash of violence against student protests in Venezuela brought international attention and pressure on their government. The massacre of dozens of civilians in Sharpetown by South Africa’s apartheid government crushed their reputation internationally. Same goes for Gandi and the British empire. And today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. who brought “Bloody Sunday” to the nation’s television sets.

These are all considered examples of “political jiu-jitsu,” when activists use a regime’s repressive actions to damage the regime’s own pillars of support. It is arguably the most powerful weapon available to activists in a nonviolent struggle.

Yet when nearly two million Indonesians were slaughtered within a period of months in 1965, the international community shrugged, domestic reaction was muted, and the authoritarian Muhammad Suharto rose to power and reigned for the next thirty years. Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt best summed up the western world’s reaction to this genocide in commenting that he was pleased since “‘with 500,000 to 1,000,000 [of them] knocked off… it is safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.”

The difference in results lies in whether the activists or the opponent are better able to manage the outrage or backfire resulting from repression. While the majority of readers may find the above quote by the then-Prime Minister abhorrent in its current form, more than a few would be pacified if the brackets were replaced with “terrorist sympathizers.” The Prime Minister was talking about “communist sympathizers.”

Political jiu-jitsu can nonviolently coerce opponents or even ignite the disintegration of the opponent’s regime. When properly crafted, even if the regime chooses not to repress activists, activists will still be able to claim a victory. On the other hand, if the regime successfully defends against political jiu-jitsu, they can violently repress dissidents without fear of consequence. To understand how regimes fight political jiu-jitsu, the core assumptions behind nonviolent struggle must be examined.

WHY DOES POLITICAL JIU-JITSU WORK?

Perhaps the biggest difference between modern pragmatic theories of nonviolence and Gandi’s beliefs involved explaining the success of this jiu-jitsu. Gandi believed that forcing police to violently repress peaceful civilians would throw off the policeman’s “moral balance” (what Richard Gregg called “moral jiu-jitsu”). This process would be mainly psychological. However, later studies of the Dharasana salt raids found that if the policemens’ moral balance was thrown off, their behavior was certainly not effected. Observers noted that many police became angry at the lack of resistance and even more enraged. Professor Gene Sharp (whose book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” was a guide for several 21st century successful nonviolent revolutions)  , proposed that the effectiveness of Gandi’s acts were due to political, not psychological, processes. Namely, the backlash from Webb Miller’s graphic reporting on the British government’s political, social, and economic pillars of support.

Political jiu-jitsu aims to make repression “backfire” in that it creates more support for activists. This is best done by leveraging the pre-existing beliefs of a regime’s supporters against the regime itself. For instance, the Ukranian student resistance group “Otpor” crafted dilemma demonstrations by identifying regime policies that conflict with widely held beliefs and then forcing the government to choose between doing nothing or applying sanctions that violate those beliefs. If the action goes forward without repression, it accomplishes something worthwhile related to the issue. If the regime represses these actions in a way supporters find intolerable, the regimes pillars of support are eroded and the activists gain even more attention.

If, instead, the action can be ignored or tolerated (such as an antiwar rally on Hiroshima day in Japan) or if the repression does not generate popular concern (such as arresting a protester who punches a policeman), there is no dilemma for the regime. In these cases, the regime will always have the option of avoiding political jiu-jitsu.

HOW REGIMES MANAGE OUTRAGE

Violent suppression does not guarantee political jiu-jitsu will occur. This will only happen if two conditions are met. First, individuals with influence over the regime’s pillars of support must believe the repression is unjust, unfair, wrong, or inappropriate (a receptive audience). Secondly, information about repression must be accurately conveyed to those individuals (a secure communication channel). An empirical study of violent repression against nonviolent protests from 1989-2012 found that regardless of severity of repression, the biggest predictor for the success of political jiu-jitsu was pre-existing campaign or communication infrastructure. For instance, what if Gandi had failed make sure reporters like Miller would cover the march? What if Miller’s newspaper was only read by a handful of British citizens, none of whom could include the relevant pillars of support? This was not the first time police had beaten innocent civilians. It was the first time that these acts were conveyed through a secure communication channel to a receptive audience.

Regimes can prevent backfire by ensuring one of the two above conditions are violated. Brian Martin outlined five such methods: cover ups, devaluing the target, reinterpreting what happened, using official channels to give the appearance of justice, and intimidating or rewarding people involved. Cover-ups involve restricting media access, censoring the media, and discrediting any sources. Devaluing innocent Indonesian women and children as “communist sympathizers” allowed the Australian Prime Minister to condone Indonesian atrocities without so much as an angry letter to the editor. Americans in Guantanamo Bay tortured “terrorists” and “criminals” not “men and women imprisoned without due process.” The fairness of repression can be reinterpreted by lying, minimizing, reframing, and blaming. When first asked about the Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor, the Indonesian government claimed that the protesters were carrying weapons (they weren’t), that only 19 people died (271 people were murdered), and that the protesters instigated violence (they didn’t). The American government claimed it did not engage in torture since waterboarding and stress positions leave no lasting (observable) injury. And even if the American government tortures a few arabs, it is just because the alternative is letting a “ticking bomb” detonate on American soil.

One of the more insidious means for regimes to manage outrage is the use of official channels to give an appearance of justice. Ombudsmen, courts, commissions of inquiry, panels of experts, grievance procedures, and any other formal process for dealing with problems can be exploited to reduce public outrage by creating the perception that the problem is being dealt with. Due to the slow and technical nature of these channels, people’s outrage dies down as time passes. Reports are issued, low level lackeys are sacrificed, charges are dropped as public attention dwindles. When questioned about massacres, the Indonesian government claimed they were investigating the issue of “rogue soldiers” killing civilians. Many committee hearings and investigations occurred into Abu Ghraib, but only a few privates were convicted while the preponderance of evidence showed the abuses were systemic.

Notice how each of these five techniques effect either the secureness/accuracy of a communication channel or the receptivity of the audience. Cover ups prevent either condition from being fulfilled. Devaluing targets lowers the receptivity of the audience by lowering the resulting disgust or outrage. What is unjust about mistreating an inhuman target? Believing the victims were violent or aggressive makes violent repression appear to be a more reasonable (less unfair) reaction. It can even be considered “just” to kill peaceful protesters as long as the audience believes these protesters were a serious threat. Similarly, a sense of unfairness about the repression can be dampened with the appearance of sanction through official channels.

If activists have no control over communication channels, the regime can flood the audience with propaganda aimed at lowering their receptivity or discrediting the very existence of the repression. While the internet has provided an invaluable opening for communication, regimes have equal if not superior access to that channel. If every major newspaper and blogger claims violent repression did not happen, even photographic evidence of the act may not convince the relevant audience. In the future, however, the greatest challenges to the truth will not come from an unified “cover story” but from multiple disinformation narratives that create debates over what should be basic factual information. The recent controversy over “fake news” is a good example of this. What if an activist’s website gets labeled “fake news?” What if a trusted source is secretly turned by the regime and comes out against the activists? What if everyone has a different explanation for what happened because the opponent has purposefully created multiple, contradicting narratives?

COUNTERING REGIME “OUTRAGE MANAGEMENT”

Each regime outrage management technique can be countered. Most immediately, the regime’s cover up will fail if activists can expose the actions with video, photographs, eyewitness accounts, and other forms of evidence. In 1991, Indonesia endured yet another massacre, this time two hundred and fifty civilians. The government informed the international community that it was a “misunderstanding” due to protester-instigated violence. Same as they had for decades.

However, these civilians were part of a funeral procession covered by journalists like Amy Goodman and videographers like Max Stahl. The footage was broadcast across television networks inciting international outrage that lead the US Congress to cut off Indonesia’s military aid. However, had this occurred a decade earlier, Suharto’s iron control over media access would have prevented the story from coming out. The cover up would be complete.

Once repression is exposed, activists must be sure to validate the victim. The regime depends on dehumanization to lower the outrage of the public at a perceived injustice. As noted above, simply referring to civilians as “communist sympathizers” allowed the leader of a western nation to condone borderline genocide without raising an eyebrow. However, what if activists had been able to put names and faces on these “communist sympathizers?” At the very least, the Prime Minister’s reaction to the massacres would not have been so flippant.

If the repression cannot be covered up and the victim’s humanity has been acknowledged, the regime must invalidate the injustice itself. The perception of injustice depends on the perception of the government having a disproportionate reaction to the activists. So, the opponent and activist’s struggle is over how the audience perceives the event. The regime’s lying, minimizing, reframing, and blaming must be actively countered. This is why pre-existing procedures and institutions for communicating activist viewpoints was the best predictor for success in political jiu-jitsu.

Only a deep knowledge of the relevant political institutions will protect activists from being entangled in meaningless official channels to give the appearance of justice. The difference between “congressional hearing” and “independent inquiry” could be the difference between a scapegoated bureaucrat and an overthrown dictator. In many cases, no good official channel exists and nonviolent struggle is the only option. Psychological preparations must be made for resisting regime intimidation or bribes.

Successful political jiu-jitsu is not a simple matter of activists encountering repression. Even genocide, carefully reframed, can be stomached by the masses. Every photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. marching depicts the tip of an iceberg: below it are months of planning and the careful crafting of dilemna demonstrations. This means forcing the government to choose between allowing activists to accomplish a protest-related goal or increasing activist support through repression.

If the regime completely dominates the receptive audience’s information channels (ex. news media, AM radio, internet, etc), it can cover-up violent repression, devalue the victims, reinterpret events as not being an injustice, dampening outrage with the appearance of justice, and even bribe or threaten witnesses and sources into recanting. In response, activists must collect the evidence needed to counter official regime statements that the mainstream news media may parrot as truth. They must actively humanize victims that the regime seeks to dehumanize as unworthy of outrage. Careful analysis by relevant experts must be undertaken before allowing regimes to resort to official channels. The longer the regime can drag out an event, the more activists must fight to mobilize people to maintain outrage. Political jiu-jitsu is not a result; it is a process. And when successful, it can crush the world’s most dangerous and most powerful tyrants.

You can Sit-in or Sit out: Nonviolence in the age of Trump

Writing

Editorial Addendum 9/8/2017: When I first asked my husband to write this post, he thought he didn’t think it would be necessary. Since this post was written, the need for it has only grown. 

guest post by Ross Raffin

In order to lead a successful movement, it is not sufficient to simply state “I don’t believe in violence.” Activists must be able to explain to their most extreme colleagues why nonviolence will succeed where violence will fail. And make no mistake, violence will fail.

But will nonviolence succeed?

SUCCESSES IN NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE

In just the past twenty years, repressive, violent dictatorships were overthrown by nonviolent conflict in the Philippines (1986), Czechoslovakia (1989), Bulgaria (1989), Mongolia (1990), Latvia (1991), Thailand (1992), East Germany (1993), Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Lebanon (2005), Nepal (2006), Tunisia (2010), Egypt (2011), and Ukraine again (2013). The Global Nonviolent Action Database has recorded nearly 70 successful, nonviolent regime changes in the past 100 years. The same techniques used by Martin Luther King Jr., Gandi, and Harvey Milk lead to the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic (killed major political opponents), Victor Yanukovych (imprisoned one opposition candidate and poisoned another), and Ben Ali (top world contender for freedom of press violations in 2000).

As is evident from above, sympathetic state leaders are not necessary for success. Initial approval from the masses is not necessary either. Under Milosevic, many citizens feared that protests would lead to worse conditions. Because they did not believe they were capable of resisting the state, they tried to stop a nascent group of young Serbians called “Otpor.”

This is a commonly ignored part of nonviolent struggle: empowering the masses to resist on their own terms. Otpor’s strategic use of nonviolence chipped away at the myth of Milosevic’s omnipotence and showed the people how they could resist tyranny. By the time they launched the final round of protests, hundreds of thousands of Serbians participated. However, had they acted violently they would never have attained participation from the masses. This makes more sense when considering the motivation behind violence by the state against activists.

VIOLENT REVOLUTION IS INHERENTLY FLAWED

The goal of government repression is to silence and discredit current and potential activists in order to maintain their power. This means state violence not only aims to inhibit activists, it also aims to PROVOKE activists into behaviors which can be used to inhibit their recruitment of potential activists. This is the entire reason for “agent provocateurs.” It is ironic that some activists, then, are preaching the violent doctrine that the repressive state most desires.

Those who see benefits in revolutionary violence do not understand its natural consequences. Violent revolutions depend on secrecy and concentration of power within a core of people with access to weapons and the perceived authority to direct violence. After this new government of killers takes control, the people will remain unempowered against this violent core unless they wish to engage in their own counter-violent revolution.

On its most basic level, violence simply isn’t as effective. A study of conflicts between states and non-state actors found that between 1990 and 2006 violent revolution succeeded only 26% of the time. Nonviolent resistance succeeded 53% of the time. Controlling for level of repression does not change the trend.

The proponents of violent activism also tend to have a tenuous grasp of history. For instance, the American revolution would have been crushed by England’s naval superiority and economic blockades without France’s navy on their side. During the Chinese Revolution, the Nationalists were fighting an invasion by Japan while looting and raping the countryside. Even then, the result was a concentration of power at the expense of the masses. This out-of-touch clique was single-handedly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of the very people they claimed to represent. The French revolution resulted in the Reign of Terror and Napoleon. The Haitian Revolution was against a distant colonial government; they fought mostly well-armed slave owners who were outnumbered 10:1. France eventually sent in an extra 6,000 soldiers, but Spain invaded mid-way through the revolution and fought alongside Toussaint Louverture. At both stages of the revolution, the rebels firepower matched their opponents.

Considering the on-the-ground experience of most activists, it is entirely understandable that they have bought into the myth of violent revolution. The difference between their experiences and the above campaigns, however, are rooted in differences in how they view a dictator’s power in relation to his subjects.

GOALS OF NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE

A campaign of nonviolent struggle aims to produce certain behaviors from opponents (for instance, congress passing a Civil Rights bill or a dictator fleeing the country). These behaviors come about from one of four end results:

1. Conversion – The opponent accepts the views of activists due to rational argumentation or emotional appeals. For a variety of reasons, this is unlikely to work, namely that conversion of the opponent doesn’t happen without changing their worldview and core beliefs. Among hundreds of recorded cases of nonviolent struggle, only a handful of conversions of opponents have ever achieved anything of value.

2. Accommodation – Opponents do not change their beliefs but give in to activist’s demands because it is calculated to be in the opponent’s best interest. Continual nonviolent conflict creates a spectrum of problems for opponents (internal dissent, hurt profits, hurt reputation, etc) which may not be worth the trouble of fighting.

3. Nonviolent coercion – Widespread noncooperation and other methods paralyzes the opponents ability to stop activists from achieving their goals. A dictator faced with a civilian protest may call for his army to open fire, only to find that they refuse to shoot their own people. A trucking company with unethical practices might find itself economically crippled by mass strikes and cross-industry union support.

4. Disintegration – The destruction of the opponent’s entire system to the point where no organization remains even to accept defeat. While this may make sense when dealing with dictatorships and even managed democracies, there has yet to be a good case for disintegrating a constitutional democracy. Any constitutional amendment imaginable can result from conversion, accommodation, and nonviolent coercion.

These four goals can each be achieved through the same set of nonviolent methods. But to understand why these methods lead to the above goals, it is necessary to talk about the relationship between a dictator and his subjects.

WHY NONVIOLENCE WORKS

A dictator’s ability to suppress dissent depends on maintaining the following myth: “Rulers hold and exercise power, using it to coerce others. The dictator will suppress any who challenge him, and his overwhelming firepower guarantee victory. “

The truth is that no leader, including the most brutal dictator, can rule without the consent of their subjects. That obedience is what gives the dictator power, so power is sapped from a dictator by convincing people to withdraw that consent. The dictator can respond by calling for the army to gun down these activists… except the army happens to be full of “people” as well. The dictator can buy mercenaries… except no tax revenue is coming in because the people refuse to pay, workers are on strike, and bureaucrats refuse to help process existing returns.

Nonviolent struggle, then, aims to sap or sever the sources of the dictator’s power as well as increase the power of the grievance group (those directly effected by the dictator’s oppression) until one of the above four goals is achieved.

THE ORIGIN OF POLITICAL POWER

Power comes from six main sources. Authority or perceived legitimacy leads people to accept the right of a person or group to lead and be obeyed voluntarily. Even with authority, the ruler cannot turn his desires into a reality without human resources (specialists, labor force, bureaucrats), some of whom must possess the necessary skills and knowledge to keep the country’s infrastructure, equipment, and economy running smoothly. Psychological and ideological factors like habit, feelings of moral obligation, self-interest, cultural attitudes towards obedience and submission, presence of a common faith ideology, and other intangible measures contribute to a ruler’s power. The degree to which the ruler controls a country’s material resources (property, natural resources, financial resources, communication and transportation, etc.) also impacts his power. Perhaps the most important resource available to a dictator is is sanctions, the enforcement of obedience. Sanctions can be violent (stopping a protest with deadly force) or nonviolent (seizure of property for those who do not obey).

In order to increase these sources of power, the dictator must rely on a set of institutions and people such as the army, police, business community, religious leaders, working class laborers, and other pillars of support. If the opponent is a business, pillars of support might be their consumers, their suppliers, regulatory agencies, and legislators. Withdrawal of support from enough pillars will diminish the opponent’s power until they must accept the activist’s demands or risk disintegration.

The purpose of nonviolent methods is to withdraw the consent of an opponent’s pillars of support, weakening the opponent’s relative power until they agree to the activist’s terms. This is not done by alienating or trying to destroy pillars of support. Instead, this is done by eroding the loyalty of those institutions until they withdraw their support from the opponent. This is how Slobodan Milosevic, a genocidal maniac who killed anyone who challenged him, was overthrown nonviolently by a student group call “Otpor.”

HOW TO ERODE A DICTATOR’S POWER

When activists are properly disciplined and trained, then any ensuing state repression will drastically erode a dictator’s pillars of support. While Gene Sharp listed nearly 200 different nonviolent methods to erode the opponent’s pillars of support and increase relative power, he grouped these into three overarching categories.

1. Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion – This is what most people think of when they hear “nonviolent activism:” Public speeches, rallies, marches, petitions, symbolic displays, street theater, walk outs, and teach-ins. These are intended to send messages to the opponent as well as shape the perceptions of people the opponent depends on. In democracies, this usually means shaping the perceptions of the voting public.

At the same time, this method aims to empower the grievance group (those most directly oppressed the opponent) to join activists in their efforts. Unfortunately, modern activists have focused almost exclusively on this category. As Gandi learned when fighting for human rights in Africa, the opponent group (oppressors and their core supporters) rarely undergoes conversion. However, if the opponent has vulnerable pillars of support (in the case of the British government, their businesses and the popular support), then protest and persuasion can decrease the opponent’s relative power by eroding the loyalty of those pillars.

2. Noncooperation – This involves people withdrawing consent by choosing not to participate in certain public actions. The most common manifestations are strikes, boycotts, withdrawal of bank deposits, refusal to acknowledge government institutions, nonobedience in absence of supervision, even simple bureacratic footdragging. This is a safer option when struggling against the most repressive dictatorships. Eroding one pillar of support can indirectly erode others. If noncooperation erodes a dictator’s ability to gain tax revenue, he cannot pay his military. The military pillar of support then depends entirely on loyalty to the dictator which depends on the pillar related to perceived legitimacy.

3. Nonviolent Intervention – these methods actively disrupt the normal operations of policies or systems psychologically, physically, socially, economically, or politically. This involves sit-ins, fasts, nonviolent obstruction, guerilla theater, alternative social institutions, overloading facilities and administrative systems, among other active measures. However, they are also the riskiest for whoever is participating.

EVALUATING RISK

The risk involved for any given nonviolent method depends on the country’s responses to actions outside their particular range of normal political action. In a constitutional democracy writing letters to politicians, voting, and public campaigning constitute normal political action and will not be repressed. As long as it is not considered a serious “public disturbance” or sense of challenge to authority, many democracies will even permit nonviolent methods technically deemed illegal (majority of 2003 Iraq war protests without permits or in violation of municipal laws.) Those same actions in a ruthless dictatorship could lead to extra-judicial executions.

While no one should seek out high risk situations, violent repression can drastically increase the ACTIVIST’S power. But this only happens if they can manage how they are perceived by constituents of the relevant pillars of support. A single rock thrown through a window can turn a perceived “peaceful march” into an “anarchic riot.” Opponents, especially those with influence over the media, will use any excuse possible to prove that the activists are so dangerous that violent repression is justified. Appealing to the public’s perception is especially important in democracies where the politicians must justify their repression to potential voters. The same applies if a business’ consumers are the average citizen as well as if the business’ suppliers primarily depend on average citizens as a consumer base. For more repressive regimes, perception by the entire country’s populace may less important than the perception of those in charge of economic and military pillars of support. If activists can maintain nonviolence, they have access to one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal: political jui-jitsu (covered in the next article).

Whether by conversion, accommodation, nonviolent coercion, or disintegration, nonviolent struggle has accomplished incredible things over the centuries. But this will be impossible if all activists not only practice nonviolence but understand why nonviolence is superior. It isn’t a matter of morality of religion; it’s a matter of history, strategy, and power.

Next week, we’ll look at the most powerful weapon in an activist’s arsenal: political jiu-jitsu.

You Gon Learn Ep. 1: Wake Up Call for Leaders on the Left

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There are a lot of skill gaps among folks on the left that need to be addressed if we are going to deal with the problems we now face as a result of the fact that the Democratic party can’t get its shit together. Therefore, I am reluctantly coming out of retirement to start addressing those issues since no one else has stepped up to do it and everyone is running around still acting like delusional morons and pretending we didn’t just get our asses handed to us electorally. Instead of spending the last month and a half grieving this loss and coping with the fact that my holiday season involved the unlocking of memories that included my family trying to kill me, I’ve been busy trying to organize and think through the best way to do this. I kept coming back to the fact that we’ve failed to communicate to people in a language they understand. Since text, and especially academic text, is accessible to only a small portion of the population we are now adding a video series on organizing in the age of Trump. Fans of my actual writing will still see long form essays. We are also looking to expand voices that aren’t normally heard by the left. I’m especially interested in giving space to working class writers who can’t get published elsewhere. If that sounds like you, please email Mrs.Raffin at protonmail.com.

Wake up and get to work.

For more videos check out the You Gon Learn channel.