Anti-fracking march

Harnessing Grassroots Power

When people band together to engage in smart, strategic activism, they can sometimes compel their government to act in their best interest. That seems to be what happened recently when the Maryland state legislature passed a permanent statewide ban on fracking, against the wishes of a powerful oil and gas lobby. But it didn’t happen by chance, or because the politicians wanted to do the

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Lone protester

Start Small

Takeaways: To build a social movement, start small. Choose an initial campaign issue that is tangible, relatable and winnable. Address local, everyday problems that people really care about. A step-by-step approach can give people confidence and a feeling of accomplishment. Examples of the “start small” method come from Serbia, Egypt and South Africa. Thinking Big Let’s say you’re passionate about fighting climate change. You form

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PNVA book cover

Gene Sharp on Resistance by Government Workers

Below are six of Gene Sharp’s nonviolent noncooperation methods for government workers. ***** Governments, like all large bureaucracies, are run by people. People can be disobedient, uncooperative and stubborn. As a result, governments are vulnerable to noncooperation attacks from the civil servants who are tasked with carrying out their policies. In his famous list of 198 methods of nonviolent action, Gene Sharp includes resistance techniques

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OSS logo

Top 15 Disruption Techniques from the OSS

In 1944 the predecessor to the CIA, known as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), produced a little pamphlet called Simple Sabotage Field Manual. Apparently it was to be distributed to enemy occupied countries during World War II in an attempt to encourage disruption of their governments’ war effort. The manual is full of tips on how to disrupt the smooth operation of industry, government and

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Monkey wrench in capitol

Monkeywrenching Government

If you work for a government that is exhibiting authoritarian tendencies, there are many nonviolent methods you can use to obstruct and impede the implementation of its policies. Far from being rational, smooth-running machines, large bureaucracies bumble and stumble along, wallowing in inefficiency, waste and disastrous miscalculations. They are riddled with cracks, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and contradictions. That insight was tacitly recognized by the US Office

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Strategy diagram

Making Your Protest Count

Takeaways: To make your protest count, it should be part of a strategic plan. There can be up to four levels of strategic planning: grand strategy, strategy, tactics and methods. Separating strategic levels provides a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of your campaign. Confusing tactical and strategic events can lead to bad decisions. Protests Alone Achieve Little You organize a big local protest march. Hundreds

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Iraq War Demo

Thinking Strategically

Takeaways: Progressive activists need to think more strategically. Protests that are not part of a strategic plan do not threaten elite power. Isolated nonviolent actions have little value. Gene Sharp lays out steps for planing a resistance campaign. To win, good intentions are not enough. Good intentions are not enough A few years ago when the Iraq War was going on, I would sometimes attend

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