Includes Occupy, Black Lives Matter, peace and anti-war actions, climate justice, immigrant rights, and more.
History of Nonviolent Direct Action in the US: https://youtu.be/s6XTNv2Caus
A brief excursion through 200 years of US activism, with a focus on post-1980 nonviolent activism.
I originally made this video in connection with my book “Direct Action,” and updated it following the Fall 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
It offers one version of the nonviolent activist lineage that helped shape today’s protest movements.
– George Franklin aka Luke Hauser aka…
DARC (Decolonizing Actions in Reclaiming Communities), a group of Black, Indigenous, and Mixed Race people from around Reclaiming, has created a booklet detailing a participatory workshop for communities, camps, and congregations, including readings, videos, and discussion questions.
This is an open-hearted invitation to communities, covens, camps, and other groups to tackle the big issues of race, racism, anti-racism, and decolonization.
This resource outlines a participatory workshop, with readings, videos, and discussion questions throughout. If you are facilitating this workshop, please read through the entire document first, then feel free to pick and choose which items your group will focus on, based on the group’s composition, interests, level of understanding, and time. Hopefully all groups – from the 101 level on up – will find something valuable to spark discussion here.
Depending on the nature of the group, you might wish to create sacred space or use other techniques such as icebreakers, rounds, or small-group activities to build relationships and trust between community members and thus create a reflective space for listening within and without, a safe(r) space for speaking truth, a brave space for taking risks and daring to make mistakes.
Doing anti-racist work can be tricky and may require strong facilitation skills. Facilitators might want to work in pairs or teams or rotate leadership. We are hoping that people will find ways to support each other in this work.
Adding their voices to the Wall of Moms (“Moms are here! Feds stay clear!”) and the Wall of Dads who have stood up to Trumpian repression in Portland comes the Wall of Vets.
Dozens of veterans joined the thousands of citizens protesting the federal agents’ presence in Portland. Support protests have broken out in other cities including Oakland, Seattle, and more.
Amidst a rowdy and potentially violent situation, these groups are pioneering new tactics in nonviolent resistance.
Over a thousand people rallied and marched in Oakland this eve (July 25 2020) in support of Portland Black Lives Matter protesters who have been targeted by Trumpian federal thugs. I took the shots below before dusk.
The march then headed for Oakland police headquarters – here is ABC’s report on that part of the protest.
The stated goal of the march was to express solidarity with besieged Portland BLM activists.
For many people, the aim was to create another flashpoint in the latest round of street agitation. When the government (at least the Trumpian wing) tries to crack down, our best response is to create multiple flashpoints, any of which could flare up at any moment. Keep them guessing.
I’ll be watching for news from Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta – and of course Portland.
– Photos and report by Luke Hauser
July 21, 2020 – Hundreds of mothers stood last night as a human barricade between protesters and federal officers as the illegal federal attack on Portland continues.
Unless other sectors of federal, state, and local governments intervene immediately to stop this insanity, expect it to spread quickly to other cities.
People will die. Certain factions will try to harvest political hay.
Thanks to the Wall of Moms for showing us a way forward.
Photos from a 2004 vigil outside the SF Metreon called Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement – a forerunner of Black Lives Matter.
Stolen Lives was organized by community activists from Hunters Point neighborhoods.
Reclaiming folks including Kevyn, Bill, Starhawk, and others brought potted plants to create a living altar. You can see the Pagan Cluster circled up on the widest shot below, and creating altars in others.
Photos by George Franklin/Reclaiming Quarterly
Rachel Munchkins’ guidelines for the Reclaiming pagan community have lessons for all of us.
Rallies, festivals, and marches across the U.S. commemorate Juneteenth each year.
2020 saw particular focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. Hundreds of people – almost all wearing masks and maintaining some social distance – marched up Market Street in downtown San Francisco.
Photo by George Franklin/GroundWork.
Photo – Jim Urquhart/NPR
Seattle activists have seized control of a neighborhood and declared an autonomous zone.
This is a novel development, perhaps not attempted since the 1960s. It’s hard not to feel some excitement.
Still, Seattleans, I had to wonder:
Are you trying to spark revolution across the continent and around the world?
Or is this one of those “society of the spectacle” things where you never expect to succeed – you’re trying to dramatize resistance without too much concern for how it might play out in the end?
If it’s the latter, best wishes. Hope you have good lawyers or fast feet when the time comes.
But if you think this is “the revolutionary moment,” and that your seizure of power is going to spark an uprising, well, I think you’ve jumped several steps ahead of concrete possibilities.
From a materialist perspective, that’s never a good idea.
Emergencies In Utopia
My gripe isn’t with vision or tactics – it’s with timing.
Before I tear down capitalist institutions serving primary needs, I’d like to see viable alternatives functioning on a scale bigger than a farmers’ market or a free clinic.
As practical strategy, it makes little sense to seize an autonomous zone when you have no way to feed or give medical care to any sizable number of people for any length of time.
Suppose capitalism takes you seriously and folds up shop. You get to sack the store one time – then no more groceries.
You can seize the hospital – but the technicians don’t come with it. Good luck running an emergency room.
Even in utopia, people have medical emergencies.
Minimal Requirements for Revolution
Here’s three minimal requirements I would like to see before we attempt a revolutionary seizure of power:
- creating open and democratic decision-making structures. If those exist among the radical left, someone forgot to mail me my ballot. Presently-existing processes are not open – we are presented with a fait accompli and expected to play along (or go home).
- creating broad progressive coalitions capable of organizing vital services such as health care and education, not simply for a short-lived spectacle, but for the open-ended future. This means organizing labor, not relying on volunteers, however talented and compassionate.
- creating food and supply networks capable of feeding and caring for thousands of people. This is currently a pipe dream on any scale larger than a farmers’ market.
All Love to Seattle
I love the spirit of Seattle activism, from the 1990s to this day. No compromise – justice now.
On the down side, last time I checked, Seattle is not exactly a demographic cross-section of America. And revolutionary communes don’t do so well when have to go it alone. They need allies.
Still, my bigger concern is for lack of viable alternative institutions.
I doubt that Seattle activists, for all their undeniable brilliance and dedication, have built post-capitalist alternatives on a scale to serve even a neighborhood, let alone a city or state. If they have, it’s a well-kept secret.
If not, is there an openly-agreed-upon plan for how and when to end this spectacle? Or do we leave that up to the police?
Don’t Mimic the Paris Commune
Back during Occupy Oakland days, a certain faction liked to refer to us as the “Oakland Commune,” a reference to the revolutionary seizure of Paris in 1871.
Like today’s communards, the Paris claque jumped far ahead of their material foundations, believing that good will and dedication would carry the day.
Never mind feeding thousands of people – the farmers will flock to our banner! Never mind that the military has cannon – we have heart!
It didn’t work. As the military recaptured the city, 20,000 people were slaughtered. Not a great inspirational model, in my book.
My fear is that instigators and many participants know this experiment will fail. It is intended as spectacle, not revolution.
A certain number are confident that their families will hire lawyers, or that pro bono attorneys will come to their rescue.
For the rest, don’t sleep too soundly. Don’t get trapped in a debacle unless getting beaten and going to prison is your chosen way of resisting.
Because for all the dedication, for all the courage and heart, there is no way that the foundations have been laid for this quixotic effort to succeed.
Blessings to all.
June 23 update – city govt has ordered people to leave the zone. So – you can stay and wage a hopeless fight – or you can do what the Zapatistas did in this situation. Ordered to disperse, they melted away overnight – to reappear when conditions were right.
July 21 update – and so the bullet was dodged, so to speak. Your allies breathe a bit easier. Congratulations to level heads who managed to defuse the situation without too much lasting damage to people’s lives.
After all, if people’s lives are negatively impacted, we know what color heads that comes down on first. And black lives matter. Even in Seattle.