imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Time for Nonviolence Has Come

by C/O Diogenes Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:29 AM

As Robert Muller has said, there is not one superpower in the world today, but two: the militarized United States on the one hand, and the millions of ordinary people, including many Americans, who yearn to devote their energies to a humane future. Which will win?

The Time for Nonviolence Has Come

As Robert Muller has said, there is not one superpower in the world today, but two: the militarized United States on the one hand, and the millions of ordinary people, including many Americans, who yearn to devote their energies to a humane future. Which will win?

by Michael N. Nagler

07/13/03: Anyone who has seen Bowling for Columbine will recall the scene when Michael Moore is interviewing James Nichols, whose younger brother is in prison as an accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing. As Nichols raves on about the need to overthrow the government with force, Moore suddenly interjects, “What about Gandhi?”

Stunned to silence, Nichols hears Moore say, “He threw out the British without firing a shot.” After a long pause, Nichols quietly answers, “I’m not familiar with that.” When I saw Bowling for Columbine in Berkeley, the whole audience gasped.

 When I am asked, as I often am, “Can non-violence possibly work in times like these?” my answer is, “Can anything else?”

It is not that I am unaware of the problem. I know what right-wing radio talk-show hosts are doing to the minds of millions of people, how corporate forces are dehumanizing an entire civilization—and how this dehumanization is making itself felt in the streets of Baghdad and Gaza. Nor am I making a prediction; I have no idea how things will turn out. But I am optimistic about what could be, because I am aware of the yet-to-be-unleashed power in the human individual—the power of nonviolence—and because I am aware of how that power has been growing.

 Jonathan Schell recently wrote that, despite a lot of noise to the contrary, the latter half of the 20th century saw brute force become increasingly futile and the power of the human will correspondingly more significant. This seems to me entirely correct. Despite, or in part because of, the appalling rise of violence, we are now experiencing the third wave of global nonviolence to uplift the modern world.

The first wave consisted of the struggles of Mahatma Gandhi, whose movement brought down a corrupt and outmoded imperial system, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose struggle uprooted an equally outmoded ideology of racialism.

The second wave was a rash of insurrectionary movements around the world, among them the defeat of dictator Pinochet in Chile, the “People Power” revolution in the Philippines, and the first Palestinian ‘intifada’ (shaking-off),which, while the follow-up has been thwarted, did lead to the Oslo peace accords. Various other ‘intifadas’ shrugged the Soviet mantle off Eastern Europe. While not all of these uprisings were nonviolent, many were, including in Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, whose 1968 “Prague Spring” uprising thwarted a Warsaw Pact repression for eight glorious months; the country later freed itself in a “Velvet Revolution.”

There were similarly popular and nonviolent uprisings elsewhere, along with less ambitious movements: The peasant-led struggle around Larzac, France, in the 1970s, thwarted government plans to enlarge an army base at the expense of grazing and farmland; European anti-nuclearism made the Green Party a force to reckon with, at least in Germany; and the Landless Rural Worker’s Movement has provided over a million Brazilians with land and new forms of self-sustaining community.

 In all these varied movements, oppressed people discovered they could organize resistance against a seemingly invincible regime, delegitimate it in the eyes of the public, and precipitate its downfall. While some of these movements were violent—sometimes brutally so—as Schell said, the key to their victories against overwhelming military force was the commitment of a community’s will. A discovery had been made: physical force could be overpowered by will.

At the same time, will needs intelligence and strategy. Some of these movements began developing an art whose importance cannot be overstated: nonviolence training. As Gandhi said, the training for a satyagrahi, or nonviolent activist, has to be more rigorous than the training for a conventional soldier. Civil Rights activists in the 1960s used “hassle lines” and role playing to evoke and then control the anger and fear they would face on the marches, picket lines and sit-ins. Like soldiers learning to stay cool in combat by having guns trained on them, nonviolence trainees learn to stay cool while emotions are trained on them, and how to avoid triggering one’s opponents’ rage. Groups like Global Exchange and the Ruckus Society began to use this training in preparation for the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations in 1999, and harnessed the loose-knit, democratic “affinity group” structure, which first arose, appropriately, in the early struggles against fascism in Spain and was developed further in U.S. anti-nuclear campaigns.

We are now in the third wave of nonviolence, consisting of the world-wide movement against corporate globalization and, of course, the global anti-war movement that has sprung up with astonishing speed and effectiveness to meet the equally astonishing new arrogance of the U.S. government.

 What marks this third wave is that it is self-consciously global and, while the movement may not yet have fully articulated a positive vision, the millions who turned out to oppose war were aware that they possessed a differen kind of force from that of the world’s military powers. This dawning awareness that there is another kind of force strengthens the tendency to nonviolence. That will become clearer, I think, as both the militarism and the resistance wear on, confronting the world with a stark choice.

Violence undermines itself.  When necessary, this is just what nonviolence does: It forces violence into the open, causing violent regimes to undergo the “paradox of repression,” increasing the naked force they must exert to maintain control until it is unacceptable—to the oppressed, to the community that must maintain the force, and to the watching world. The crushing to death of Rachel Corrie by an American-made bulldozer in Gaza last March might be forgotten in the focus on Iraq, but now two others from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Brian Avery and Tom Hurndall, have been shot. The very violence of the militarism that caused these crimes, especially in a time of global communications, will prove its undoing.

The power of nonviolence is insistently surfacing now, even where resistance movements seem to have lost sight of it. An image comes to mind from recent protests in San Francisco: tension was building along a street where a sprinkling of “black bloc” demonstrators were taunting the police, much to the dismay of the majority of protesters. At first no one noticed a Buddhist monk standing at the back of the crowd, but he slowly made his way forward (despite his own considerable fear, I learned later) and stood, a dramatic figure in yellow robes and shaved head, before each policeman in turn, smiling at him or her and bowing with folded hands. Even before he reached the Asian officer who involuntarily greeted him in turn, the tension had melted.

 At the heart of nonviolent action is the power of the individual, a model for revolution expressed in Mother Teresa’s Bengali formula, ek ek ek (‘one by one by one’). Yet I have just been describing the growth of institutions of nonviolence. What has been discovered is that organizations can be designed to draw forth the energy and creativity of the individual, rather than suppress them as cogs in the corporate machine. This is democracy in thedeepest sense.

 Among the structures that are building on the power of each individual is the Nonviolent Peaceforce (which I reported on in YES! Fall 2002), which plans an international army of nonviolence.

 The ISM, too, even as some of its members have died, has been demonstrating the power of moral courage and clear vision. Jennifer Kuiper, who was in Palestine with the ISM when the recent killings of internationals occurred, said,  “We aren’t simply fighting against violence but for an alternative vision of the world. A world that rejects weapons in favor of intellect and heart. If we can’t imagine it, how can we create it? If we don’t create it, how will we transform our dreams into substance? If not us, then whom?”

In a Native American story that has become current of late, a grandfather tells his grandson that two wolves are battling inside him; one ferocious and destructive, the other gentle and powerful. When the child anxiously asks, “Grandfather, which of them will win?” he replies, “Whichever one I feed.”

 Gandhi and King’s movements roused the hidden power of the downtrodden, leading to a wave of insurrections against specific regimes. Over time, awareness of this power has percolated through the globe, spreading exponentially faster as communications grew, until now we have reached a global awareness of nonviolence and of the interconnectedness of global problems that I’m calling the third wave. It presents us with a hope and a challenge. If the first two waves showed that communities united in will could overcome brute force, the third wave shows a tantalizing vision of what the whole world community, united in will, could achieve.

 As Robert Muller has said, there is not one superpower in the world today, but two: the militarized United States on the one hand, and the millions of ordinary people, including many Americans, who yearn to devote their energies to a humane future. Which will win? Militarism, with its thinly disguised imperial agenda, or the awakening power of human will and consciousness? Fear or love? If we feed the new awareness of nonviolent action, with its spiritual dimension, its focus on empowering individuals, its grassroots forms of organizing, and the knowledge that each of us possesses what Gandhi called “the greatest force humankind has been endowed with,” there is no question that it will be love. 

 Michael Nagler is professor emeritus of classics and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-founder of its Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He is the author of Is There No Other Way? The Search for a Nonviolent Future, which won a 2002 American Book Award. 

 

©2001-2003 Positive Futures Network

 



Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 43 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
"...as for me... Diogenes Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:31 AM
Active resistance lumumba Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 5:59 AM
Nonviolent civil disobedience gets nothing done. Sansculotte Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 9:54 AM
Resistance IMHO Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 10:18 AM
revolution/evolution Smaug, eater of souls Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 11:53 AM
Please shut up, shill. Sansculotte Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:06 PM
Violence activist community Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:11 PM
^ George W. Bush Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:17 PM
^ George McGovern Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:19 PM
You sarcastic merry andrew... Sansculotte Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:21 PM
^ anti-moron Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:23 PM
Talk activist community Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:24 PM
^ Ignatius Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:27 PM
Yes and No George McGovern Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:30 PM
^ conservative Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:32 PM
^ anti-moron Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:35 PM
^ Ignatius Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:36 PM
ZZZ ZZZZZ Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:39 PM
Yes conservative Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:40 PM
^ liberal Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:52 PM
^ conservative Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:54 PM
^ Rush Limbaugh Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 1:56 PM
^ conservative Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 2:03 PM
attn: liberals Rush Limbaugh Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 2:06 PM
Rush anti-Rush Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 2:07 PM
can I add something? Amt Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 5:04 PM
Multi Dittos Rush Garaj Dohr Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 7:04 PM
Al Franken <> Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 7:20 PM
?????? Garaj Dohr Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 2:42 PM
Non-violence Sansculotte Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 2:52 PM
No panties Eddie Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 2:58 PM
^ Eddie Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 2:59 PM
Excerpt from The Mysterious Stranger Diogenes Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 3:09 PM
Truth is no mystery. Sansculotte Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 3:39 PM
Mark Twain anti-nut Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 3:49 PM
Notice the strident clamor... Diogenes Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 4:00 PM
Logical Fallacy debate coach Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003 at 4:30 PM
The time has come. Sansculotte Thursday, Jul. 17, 2003 at 10:06 AM
Sancloute eye Thursday, Jul. 17, 2003 at 11:30 AM
Ideas? Sansculotte Thursday, Jul. 17, 2003 at 11:45 AM
yes a cop or cop's boy eye Thursday, Jul. 17, 2003 at 11:55 AM
Cop's boy. What? You don't agree? Sansculotte Thursday, Jul. 17, 2003 at 12:20 PM

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy