For Part I see Effective Counter Attack; Consideration or Implosion?–NDD

     The women and men of Boomantribune are calling for an effective counter attack.  I know of no better method of developing an effective counter attack than a method that would use the principles and links discussed below the fold of this diary.

     I would ask that we try to have some CONSIDERATION for each other as we post comments to this diary as well as all others on BoomanTribune.

    It is imperative that we keep our focus on the task at hand;

     Either we frog march’m out, or we change their point of view.

     While I remain engaged in party politics locally, it seems doubtful that our near total reliance on party politics is going to be productive.

     I see no guarantee that the momentum of this current administration will be derailed by focusing on political activism alone, regardless of whether we have wins or losses in ’06, or ’08.  

     Every day more news arrives that tends to convince me that we’re several rungs up the ladder of fascism, rather than on the first couple of rungs.


       Never, have I seen such an intense level of disgust, both on blog and off, with our existing political leaders.

     So, “What in the hell else can we do?” you say.

     Well, we have yet to seriously consider coordinating a Martin Luther King/Gandhi/Lech Walensa type movement.

     And believe me, I’m certainly not so foolish as to imply that any particular tactic the aforementioned leaders used would necessarily be applicable to the difficulties we face today.

     But from a study of the material referenced below it seems fairly obvious that the weaknesses in governmental structure, which allowed their movements to succeed, are very similar today.

     And there’s no doubt Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Lech Walensa were just as innovative in their day, as we will need to be  now, under the current threat to democracy.

     In fact we have advantages now that they didn’t have, such as our ability to communicate and disseminate via internet, cell phones, podcasts, etc.  

     The movements of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Lech Walensa were able to encompass a wide variety of political persuasions.

     So there’s no reason why everyone, from left of Democrats, immigrants, Democrats, center Democrats, DINOs, Independents, Libertarians, and possibly even some moderate Republicans can’t participate in a plan to influencing the policies of this administration.

     We have much more power at our disposal than we are allowing ourselves to believe that we have. This past week’s absolutely huge demonstrations in opposition to repressive immigration legislation have encouraged us all in that respect.

     And it would seem prudent to examine how it is that the Hispanic DJs of LA have an abundance of expertise in implementing nonviolent action.

     Comment by Militarytracy: After reading and digesting Effective Counter Attack; Consideration or Implosion? (Part I)

        It occurs to me that this is why Crawford worked.  Say what you will but before Crawford nobody spoke out public and openly questioning the Iraq war…..after Crawford we are free to question it here, there and everywhere. That is one step closer to ending it!  Let’s face it too….the powers that be still do basically whatever they please right now……so why didn’t they just arrest Sheehan at Crawford as they had threatened?  Sheehan had paid the ultimate price and had worked hard to digest what had happened to her and find a solution that was going to REALLY WORK.  She had embodied the principles you have above and applied them to Casey being killed in an illegal war in Iraq.  It wasn’t that we needed a messiah in Crawford Texas…..but she had managed to get it together and she never raised her voice one single time.  The rest of the military families and soldiers were still so wounded that we stole and borrowed from her energy there………a deeper knowing within us knew that the only real solution was going to come through behaving and doing and carrying ourselves as Cindy did and that meant complete nonviolent public civil disobedience and gently speaking and being the truth that we were as human beings.

        Some people say we need a third party. I wish we had a second one. Jim Hightower

        by Militarytracy on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 10:17:45 AM CST

     Comment by NLinStPaul – in Effective Counter Attack; Consideration or Implosion? (Part I)

     NDD, I read this this morning and have had moments all day when it came back to me. I like the fact that so many people are thinking about this. It reminds me of the kind of preparation MLK did with people to get them ready. What we’re talking about is the same kind of movement – and we need to be ready.

The part of your diary I have been thinking about today is that our so-called leaders only have the power that the people permit. I really believe this. And have had two thoughts:

   1. The people we have GIVEN power to have convinced the American people that the only power we have in the political process is to vote. And now most of us are not even sure we have that. We have to challenge this!!

   2. This really explains why the “powers that be” had to stop Howard Dean. He really meant it when he said “You have the power” and it threatened the hell out of them. They knew it was true – and they didn’t want us to figure that out.

Thats where my thoughts are for now. I’m really looking forward to more about this. I think we’re on to something.


You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. John Lennon

by NLinStPaul on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 07:07:28 PM CST  

     Please give democracy a chance, continue below the fold;

                   Pillars of Support and the role of Obedience

     Obedience is at “the heart of political power.” A ruler cannot rule if the people do not obey. It is this insight upon which strategies for nonviolent struggle are based.

     If our purpose is to motivate the public to withdraw its consent to be ruled by dictators or other authoritarian regimes, we should first understand why people are obedient in the first place.

     — Robert L Helvey On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About the Fundamentals.

     [All text in boxes with blue background are from the above source. Robert L Helvey is a protégé of Gene Sharp]

     Note: I could not find Helvey’s book at Powell’s, so use link above if you’d like to order. The link is not the pdf download but the pdf is available there.

     Other than title headings, all text in bold is “emphasis mine,” — NDD

     The role of Obedience will be examined following the discussion of Pillars of Support.

Chapter Two


     […] Any regime will rely on some pillars of support more than others. At the same time, authoritarian regimes attempt to limit the expansion and strength of the opposition’s pillars of support.

     It should not be surprising that in a strategic nonviolent conflict, the operational focus for planners is primarily about the alignment and capabilities of pillars of support.

Identification of Pillars of Support

     The identification and analysis of pillars of support are fundamental when opponents of a regime begin to think about any nonviolent strategy.

     Until the primary pillars of the regime are undermined, neutralized or destroyed, there is little prospect of political reform or regime change.

     Those waging nonviolent struggle against an authoritarian regime, therefore, must give keen attention to key institutions and organizations.


     […] The motto “To protect and serve” is descriptive of the image most police departments worldwide seek to project to the public. However, the identity of who is being protected and served is not always the public.

     Instead, this most visible and omnipresent “face” of government sometimes gives priority to the task of protecting and serving a corrupt and repressive regime. […]

     For an example of a great nonviolent strategy, see how Boston Joe’s group developed a rapport with the local police prior to their protest in Lansing.

     The Accidental Activist: An Anti-War Diary (Part II) — Boston Joe — … From my own experience, that hostility between the police and the movement, if it ever existed in reality as some monolithic form, has largely died away.  There are still open expressions of righteous outrage at symbols of authority, to be sure.  But I believe that the level of understanding about non-violent change has risen.  There is an understanding that the police and the military are tools of authority, but an equal understanding that they are citizens.  They are a part of “the people” that will be the change.
We engaged them before these protests…  And it paid dividends all week long.


     The use of military force to stay in power is viewed as the “trump card” by authoritarian regimes. […]

     The time to develop plans to undermine the willingness of the Army to intervene against civilian protesters is well before a government’s decision to employ them is made. […]

     Maintaining as much rapport as is feasible with the military (or a national guard) before and during a nonviolent action contributes to the ultimate success of a democracy movement.

     I remember watching TV coverage of   Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” And I specifically remember that as Viktor Yushchenko walked through the great crowd of his supporters, his wife, Kateryna Yuschchenko would walk over to the barricades and chat amicably with the soldiers. I thought their actions on that day were a brilliant example of how to conduct a nonviolent struggle.

     The actions of military units in response to orders are influenced by the attitudes, values, and professionalism of its leadership. Officers generally view themselves as patriotic, loyal, and politically conservative. Their “professionalism” sometimes leads them to blindly support political leadership. […]

     The assimilation of democratic values into the military culture is a major factor in limiting the use of the military’s destructive power against the citizenry. Another factor is the perception of the military leaders that there will be an important role for them under a democratic government. […]

Civil Servants

    Civil servants are often maligned, criticized, ridiculed, and undervalued. […] Yet, political leaders… cannot survive without the obedient, skilled civil servants carrying out these seemingly innocuous activities.

   These are the people that translate orders into actions: they issue regulations, assess and collect taxes, prepare budgets, run schools, input information into thousands of databases, make purchases for the government, control the airways and harbors, staff embassies, maintain communication systems, and, in fact, perform all to the tasks that keeps regimes functional.

     No government can operate without them.

     Opposition groups who adopt strategic nonviolent conflict to seek regime change and democratic reform must understand the importance of winning the support of government employees.

     But it must also be understood that the very livelihoods of government employees depend on their obedience to their government employer, and, as such, few employees can openly oppose the government until there is clear evidence that the other pillars of support for the ruler have been seriously weakened.

     Nevertheless, commitment to an opposition movement by government employees, even if not openly expressed, can contribute to the advancement of the movement’s cause in ways limited only by the imagination.


     If a popular movement for democratic change is to be successful, it must have the means to communicate its messages to its target audiences. Authoritarian regimes know this and attempt to deny or limit such access… […]

     Control of the press and other internal forms of mass communication by an oppressive government can be easily accomplished. […] There is a strong incentive for self-censorship… […]

     To overcome these internal constraints, offshore productions are now rather common, whether it is a Burmese radio station broadcasting from Norway or an Iranian television station in California beaming interviews with opposition leaders to audiences in Tehran.

     The possibility of mass communication originating outside a country’s border is exemplified also by the Serbian pro-democracy movement. Over 60 tons of leaflets were shipped into the country and distributed within a few days prior to the election in 2000.

     As an example of how a democracy movement can communicate with its target audience see the Project for the OLD American Century which has pdf downloads that can be used to print leaflets.

     Almost everybody has access to computer and a printer, so why aren’t we making more use of this technology to spread our version of the news via leaflets.

Business Community

     Even under the most centralized, socialistic authoritarian regimes, business communities play important roles in the economy. They provide to the people goods and services that the government does not supply.

     […] …international firms may have no particular interest in whether or not a government is democratic or tyrannical. What matters to them is profit.

     The challenge for a democratic movement is to convince these companies that change is coming and that it may, in the future, be important for them to be perceived as having been at least neutral in the actions that they have taken.


     A primary concern of authoritarian regimes is to prevent young people from becoming politicized unless that politicization is in support and controlled by the government.

     As long as students and other youth are not permitted to become an organized challenge to the stability of the government, opposition groups are deprived of the traditional vanguard for accelerated political change. […]

     Some people have tried to explain why young people are often willing to accept the risks of being in the front lines of revolutionary movements by suggesting that young people have “nothing to lose”. […]

     Most importantly, however, it is not what might be lost, but rather what might be gained by living in a free and just society that provides impetus for youth involvement.

     Young people do not generally rationalize their bondage under tyranny. Nor do they generally accept, as given, the impossibility of change.

     Young people have an instinct, yet undiminished by experience, to know truth from falsehood and right from wrong without numerous gradations of a continuum. It is this intellectual clarity that motivates them.

     As an example of the anti-Vietnam war movement leaders activities on university campuses, I recall three Chicago Eight/Seven members made appearances in ND in 1970.

Abbie Hoffman appeared at NDSU.  And David Dellinger and Rennie Davis plus Phil Ochs showed up at UND for an anti-war, anti-ABM event (scroll down) was planned to coincide with Armed Forces Day, 16 May 1970.

    My point is not to dwell on nostalgia here, but to question which if any anti-war leaders are carrying the message to the nation’s campuses.

     A word of caution is necessary whenever consideration is given to enlisting students and other young people into a democratic movement. […] A “code of conduct” is important for everyone participating in a movement, but it is especially important for youth organizations, and imperative that the code of conduct be accompanied by training and strong leadership to reduce instances of damaging conduct.

     Here’s another example of a very smart thinking on the part of group members who were involved in nonviolent action. See Boston Joe’s account of their reaction to vandalism (not necessarily by a young person) during the protest.

     The Accidental Activist: An Anti-War Diary (Part II) — Boston Joe — …We quickly decided that we were going to attempt to clean off the graffiti.  And before one of our group attempted it, I insisted that we report the incident to Rogers’ people inside.  The act was right in front of the surveillance camera.  And I did not[want]one of our group getting charged with a crime for attempting to clean the sign….


     […] It can be difficult to organize workers, but, once organization is under way, unity can spread quickly. Recall that the democracy movement in Poland was catapulted to victory after the electricians began a strike at the shipyard at Gdansk.

     One sector of the workforce of particular interest to planners of strategic nonviolent struggle is transportation and related industries. Any disruption of the movement of goods, people, and services can have immediate economic and political costs to the regime.

     At the same time, strategic planners need to consider possible unintended consequences if food and other essential commodities are denied to the public.

Religious Organizations

     Historically, organized religion has played important roles in political struggles against tyranny–mostly on the side seeking change, but sometimes not.

     Often religious organizations have networks, both spiritual and financial, throughout the societies in which they operate, from the wealthy elites down to the grassroots of society.

     Too, because religious leaders are usually well educated in the ways of society as well as in religion, they are generally respected by both their followers and others who know of their works, and they can often influence the attitudes and behavior of other far beyond moral and religious teachings. They can also bring a spiritual aspect to an opposition movement and even become the most articulate speakers for the opposition itself.

     On the other hand, they can become just as influential and just as articulate for the much narrower special interests of a tyrannical regime. Accordingly, movement leaders must be attuned to the task of encouraging the support of religious leaders or undermining the pernicious influence that they might have.

      In light of the discussion above, let’s remember that not all people who are members of religious organizations are right wing fundamentalists. Those of us who are members of religious organizations should be talking with both our fellow members and religious leaders.

     While I see no problem with shunning fundamentalist members, I think we do unnecessary damage to our democracy movement by exhibiting obnoxious behavior towards family, friends, and neighbors who take their religion seriously.

    We cannot succeed without convincing some of them to come over to our side, (if they’re not there already.)

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

     Any group or organization that can function outside direct control and supervision of the government is a potential asset to a democracy movement.

     International NGOs can raise funds, communicate directly with many publics, obtain needed expertise from abroad, and provide insights obtained from experiences of other democratic movements. […]

    An important value of NGOs in a nonviolent conflict is that they provide services to the public and thus demonstrate that people need not be totally dependent upon government. NGO activities can weaken the coercive, but subtle, bond that authoritarian regimes require for public obedience. […]

     Democratic movements need to be reminded, however, that NGOs have their own agendas. It is important to understand what those agendas might be and to insure that compatibility exists with the goals and objectives of the democratic movement.

     Other sources of support are professional organizations, political parties, foreign businesses, and foreign governments. Not to be overlooked are small groups within a community, established for specific interests such as sewing circles, hunting and fishing clubs, book clubs, language study groups, motorcycle clubs, hiking and walking clubs, bird watching clubs, coin collecting clubs, garden clubs, and sports clubs.

     Strategic nonviolent struggle requires both the control over sources of power and the active participation of the population. Organizations contain the sources of power and provide the structures for collective actions.

     Next; Obedience of the citizens is critical to the survival of any regime.  

                                 Chapter Three


     Obedience is at “the heart of political power.” A ruler cannot rule if the people do not obey. It is this insight upon which strategies for nonviolent struggle are based.

     If our purpose is to motivate the public to withdraw its consent to be ruled by dictators or other authoritarian regimes, we should first understand why people are obedient in the first place.


     The reason most people obey is the habit of obedience. We are accustomed to obeying those in authority.

     […]Those of us who are addicted to tobacco know what a habit is like. We don’t know how many cigarettes we smoke, can’t recall when we smoked them, and don’t quit smoking when the price has risen to absurd levels.

     To break this or any habit, including obedience to authority, we must make a deliberate decision to quit, constantly reminding ourselves of that decision, and reiterating why it is important to break the habit.

Fear of Sanctions

      Fear of punishment for disobedience is another reason why people obey. When we violate the law, the power of the state can be brought against us. […]The purpose of sanctions is to punish the offender and/or deter others from disobeying the same or a similar law.

     A tyrant depends more upon fear of sanctions to insure obedience than do rulers who have the willing support of the public.

     I don’t see any point in linking to a particular diary on the sanctions issue, as there seems to have been a never ending string of diaries and newspaper articles on this subject.


     We should not condemn everyone who supports an unpopular government out of self-interest. Each person has his own reasons for doing so. Many believe there is no alternative. Our challenge is [to] demonstrate that it may be in their self-interest to disobey.

Moral Obligation

     A sense of moral obligation to obey is common in every society. […] Sometimes we may even feel that the common good is best served by obeying a hated ruler because we don’t believe an alternative would make life any better.

     Joseph Stalin was clearly a tyrant. Yet, millions of people obeyed him because obedience was considered to be in the common interest of society. […] We see peer pressure as a reflection of this moral obligation to obey.

     Keep this in mind–peer pressure works both ways and can be a useful tool in changing patterns of behavior.

Superhuman Factors

     Sometimes rulers are given a superman image or a god-like character. When a ruler is perceived as being all-powerful or is perceived as being the personification of a religion, it is almost inconceivable to think about disobeying that ruler. […]

      This deification of the leaders has had a long history. For centuries, people accepted the concept of “god-kings” and the “divine right of kings.”

     Another variant of this divine rule approach is the 20th century fusion of religion and the state in Iran. To counter this factor of obedience, we need to speak the truth–man is not all-powerful nor is the ruler an agent of God.

     Here’s one by sybil , Did God Tell Bush To Go To War?
     And of course, we’re all well aware of the fundamentalists desire to facilitate a  “20th century fusion of religion and the state.”

Psychological Identification with the Rulers

     Some people view their rulers as an extension of their own family. In somewhat the same way supporters of a soccer team experience joy when their team wins or sorrow when the team loses, a ruler becomes an extension of the individual.

     This is especially true if people and the ruler come through a difficult experience together […] If this familial extension is a factor in a person’s obedience, a convincing case must be made that such an identification with the ruler is no longer justified.

      Nine-eleven… need I say more?

Zone of Indifference

     Some people may profess an indifference to most, if not all, laws that can even remotely be expected to impinge upon their daily lives.

     They obey simply because not to do so seems more trouble than it is worth. For most, that may be a reasonable assumption regarding most laws.

     Problems can arise, however, when laws restricting basic rights and freedom intrude into this comfort zone of indifference.

     It is the task of the democratic opposition to alert the public that indifference to this intrusion is no longer appropriate since it contributes to the enslavement of society as individual freedoms are eroded by increasingly subtle restrictions that are imposed upon the public.

Absence of Self-Confidence

     For a variety of reasons, some people lack confidence in themselves, their judgment or even their ability to make themselves capable of resistance or disobedience. […]

     Perhaps some people think that their rulers are more qualified than they are to make decisions. Importantly for a resistance movement, they may feel they cannot successfully defy the government or participate in their own liberation.

     Restoring the public’s confidence in its ability to pass judgment on the actions of the rulers and then to act on those judgments is critical to the success of nonviolent struggle. Sometimes, what we think of as “indifference” may well be an absence of self-confidence.              


     We have just examined several reasons why people obey their rulers. They [these reasons] provide a rebuttal to the argument that it is “natural” to be obedient.

     Human beings are not genetically pre-disposed to be submissive. Obedience is primarily a combination of habits, fear and interests–and habits and interests can be changed and fear can be overcome.

     And I repeat once again for emphasis:

     Obedience is at “the heart of political power.” A ruler cannot rule if the people do not obey. It is this insight upon which strategies for nonviolent struggle are based.

     If our purpose is to motivate the public to withdraw its consent to be ruled by dictators or other authoritarian regimes, we should first understand why people are obedient in the first place.

     I sincerely believe the methods of  nonviolent struggle are our only real hope of changing government policies and ultimately changing the leadership of our government to one that truly represents “we the people”, and not only “we the people” of our country  but “we the people” globally.

     I hope we will invest our time wisely in pursuit of a true democracy for our country.  We can not wait until another Martin Luther King, a Gandhi, or Lech Walensa appears on the scene. It is up to us!!!

     I expect that Part III of this series of diaries will cover Mechanisms and Methods of Nonviolent Struggle.

     Stay “tuned” to BoomanTribune, and don’t forget to do your homework, the survival of our republic’s democracy depends on it.

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