Nonviolence News – June 23rd, 2017


During this week’s episode of Nonviolence Radio, during the Nonviolence in the News Section, we run across no less than three (3) developments that, expanding their reach and taken together, have the potential to shift the paradigm definitively!  They are, 1) thanks to the vacuum (or worse) at the top, power seems to be devolving onto cities and communities – where it probably belonged in the first place.  Democracy by default!  2) religious organizations of a more progressive persuasion are starting to build an alternative to the right-wing religious groups and sects which have been dominating the moral high ground.  This in itself could make a huge difference in U.S. political discourse, giving legitimacy to what Rabbi Michael Lerner calls the “Left Hand of God,” which again, I think, is where it belongs.  And 3) An organization called Subvertisers is taking aim directly at the core of the old system (in my view): commercial advertising.  Read on!



 I’d like to share with you a reflection, that when I started trying to learn systematically about nonviolence back in the ‘60s and ‘70s (yes, back then) it was so hard to find resources like the richness available today.  It’s a great development.

Let me start with three books, and a fourth.

  • Palestinian Checklist by Stephen B. Brinkley. Free PDF download here. This offers a valuable checklist of what people can do, short of going to Israel-Palestine.
  • Terrence Rynne, Prof. at Marquette University, has written Gandhi and Jesus: the Saving Power of Nonviolence.  There will be a Q&A with Terrence on Thurs. June 29th 8/5pm, part of the Paceebene author series.
  • Markos Melitsos, of Daily Kos: The Resistance Handbook: 45 Ways to Fight TrumpUseful, but it brings up the interesting point raised by Naomi Klein in her recent talks and her new book, No is not enough: as we’ve always said at Metta, ‘Constructive Program,’ which we often neglect, is more important than protest and resistance. Don’t let the opposition set the agenda!


+ ICNC continues to amaze with its productivity.  They have started a new blog: Minds of the Movement, about the people and power of civil resistance.  Their description: “This multi-author blog aims to be a go-to source for all readers to find interesting ideas, analysis, commentary, research findings, and people who work in this (growing) field.”

Recently in their NONVIOLENCE news hub, pardon: “nonviolent conflict news site,” there was an important blog by Steve Chase countering a Ben Case article in ROAR, which was a classic ‘diversity of tactics’ argument, i.e. that “a little violence” might be necessary and helps movements.  Chase cites Omar Wasow, Do Protests Matter?

Evidence from the 1960s Black Insurgency February 2, 2017 publicly available here:

Remember the animal rights movement, and what philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer said about lab trashing?  He pointed out that when activists vandalize a lab, or other property, the violence becomes the issue. The animals and their rights are forgotten. Now hear Case: “Wasow discovered that proximity to disciplined mass nonviolent protests kept white people focused on the issue of “civil rights” while proximity to violent protests shifted their focus to “law and order.”

I think both authors miss the article by Schock & Chenoweth: © 2015 Mobilization: An International Quarterly 2(4: ): 427-451, which shows systematically that a “violent flank” hurts more than it could ever help.


+Starting on Oct.2 (Gandhi’s birthday of course) and running through January there will be a free course at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Free but you have to get yourself to North India.  This is their 7th year, and this year’s course is entitled “Gandhian Nonviolence; Theory and Application.”



+ In a potentially game-changing development we will be watching closely, the ‘religious left is rousing itself to break the monopoly of the dogmatic right, calling it a “battle for the soul of faith.”  We have no doubt that directly or indirectly Pope Francis (and the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative) have played a supportive role.  Of course, our own Rev. Wm. Barber of “Moral Mondays” in NC is a prominent force in this development.


+ Along that line, Campaign Nonviolence, a Franciscan-based organization, plans to ramp up after the September “Week of Actions” to climax the following year, just weeks before the midterm Congressional elections. Their goal: “This will not be a narrow electoral strategy focused on specific candidates but a coordinated action plan to frame the mid-term vote as a “Referendum on a Nonviolent Future.”


+ An update on the nuclear ban: The deadline for a completed treaty document is coming up soon: July 7. “The pace of disarmament was a critical point of contention at the May 2-12 meeting of preparatory committee for the 2020 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, where many states alleged that nuclear-weapons states have failed to fulfill their NPT Article VI obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith towards complete disarmament.

As Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish
Nuclear Weapons, said back in May, “Almost all the nuclear armed states put pressure on smaller countries to not participate, to not attend, and there will be even more pressure when the time for signing the treaty comes,” “It’s not going to get easier for us. But I don’t think it’s going to get easier for them to ignore the treaty either. It’s moving forward whether or not they like it.”

In support of the treaty, There was a “ban the bomb” rally here in San Francisco on Saturday,  June  17.


+Another hopeful development: the Sunrise Movement founded by 8 college students focusing on climate issues. “Sunrise is an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process”.

Remember the German Greens? Wir sind weder rechts noch links – wir sind da vorne. Sunrise says exactly the same thing now: “We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward.” They add, explaining their name, “Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.”

And note the importance of learning resources for actual movements:  They say, “We’re not leaving behind the legacy of nonviolent protest that has won so many things for working people in this country. Marches, demonstrations and sit-ins will be a part of the plan, but so will door-knocking and candidate recruitment.” Here they are influenced by Mark and Paul Englers’, This is an Uprising.  Needless to say, as young adults, they have a pretty logo and a nice website.


+ From a recent article by Ted Hamilton, environmental activist, in TruthOut: “This month a group of climate activists were convicted in district courts in Mount Vernon, Washington, and Wawayanda, New York, for committing acts of civil disobedience against fossil fuel infrastructure. Each defendant …attempted to present a “climate necessity defense.” Remember the 80s? “Necessary defense” was often offered by activists who damaged nose cones, etc., arguing that their nominally illegal actions were justified by the far greater damage that could be done by what they damaged.  It often worked.  However, today’s activists’ argument that the real crime is continuing to pollute the atmosphere, not interfering with corporate property. The courts weren’t having it: The activists were convicted on June 7 on charges of varying seriousness, although they anticipate appealing their rulings.

Nonetheless – this is the “collateral benefit” we so often see in nonviolence – the defence forces a reevaluation of what’s “legal” in the age of climate change, i.e., what is ‘natural law (dharma) and how should human law relate to it.

Interestingly, Chairman David Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux recently made the same statement: “Just because [the pipeline] is legally right, it’s morally and ethically wrong.”  And he added another key point about nonviolence that we’ve been calling work vs. “work” and I’m starting to call “immediate vs. deep effects.” What happened at Standing Rock is a movement, and you don’t see the benefits of a movement until way later.


+ Los Angeles took on the needs of the entire country during World War II by contributing massively to aircraft and ship manufacturing, they also volunteered to aid the Red Cross by the tens of thousands. Councilmember Paul Koretz said at a recent rally, “I’m calling on all Angelenos to mobilize once again.”

Since President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord earlier this month, cities and states across the country have vowed to take action and remain committed to the guidelines of the agreement.

California, the world’s sixth largest economy, has emerged as a leader of this coalition.

Gov. Brown, you may recall, has signed an agreement with China to “position his state not only as a leader on climate action, but as a quasi-nation-state looking to fill the void in reliable American leadership created by Trump.”

It seems that this move is at least partly based on Naomi Klein’s Leap (more or less her version of the ‘paradigm shift’ or New Story):

“This announcement today is a remarkable development,” Klein said. “If the city of Los Angeles listens to the voices of communities on the front lines, and centers racial and economic justice in the way it addresses climate change, this could be an historic leap, with ripples around the world.”

+ Remember Adbusters? Joined now by #SubvertTheCity, a campaign under Subvertisers that has replaced 500 corp. advertising panels last March, working in 40 cities worldwide




+ “On Sunday the Japanese Diet voted in a surveillance bill chillingly similar to what Japan enacted to suppress dissent leading up to WWII.  Thousands have been demonstrating daily.  From TruthOut last week: “In 1941, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō told ministers at the Imperial Conference: We have strengthened our control over those who are anti-war and anti-military, such as communists, rebellious Koreans and certain religious teachers … in some cases we might have to subject some of them to preventive arrest.” The law was only repealed at the end of the war. The fear is it will help Abe revise the constitution – he says, keeping article 9 while recognizing armed forces.

Two things to consider about that famous article forbidding Japan from conducting a foreign war: it was not drafted by the Japanese, but more or less forced on them by General Eisenhower and the American occupation; and it offers no alternative while taking away the warfighting capability.  I have often pointed this out to Japanese friends, and now of course we have unarmed peacekeeping organizations showing another way.


+ A fascinating, and hopeful experiment is going on in war-torn Syria: the Region of Rojava, long held down by colonial dynamics of the central govt., has organized into cooperatives, that are spreading to other regions.  “In summary, the revolution aims to supplant the capitalist economy through the communal economy, just as it seeks to make the state redundant by organising the community in communes and bringing everyone into positions of power.”  Once again a silver lining, or nonviolence making benefit from catastrophe.



OK, this is a bit in advance, but on August 4-6th the Consistent Life Network, which we haven’t reported on as yet, is holding its 30th anniversary celebration at Eastern University, near Philadelphia: “Creating a Holistic Culture of Life: Bridging the Life/Peace Divide.” We hope to tell you more about this interesting – and somewhat controversial – group.