The arrival of four thousand U.S. Veterans at Standing Rock
on the side of the Sioux and non-violent resistance
marks a high-water point in the revolution against
the Lords of the American Corporate Empire.
(Interpreted through the historical record.)
Some people will want to skip straight down to heading “CONVERSION“.
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Derek’s Comment on I wouldn’t like to wish you peace if there was no hope for it.) He writes:
How do we get all the separate “single issue” organizations, blogs, individuals all over the internet to combine and work together? We need a thousand arrows all pointing in the same direction!
Ghandi and Indian independence, Vietnam, de-segregation, were all single issues that infuriated millions.
We need one issue…maybe water…that every group can identify with and support.
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There has been a lot of research into the ingredients or characteristics – – what does it take to make a successful revolution? To me, that is essentially what your question asks.
You identify important elements (what causes people to point their “thousand arrows” in the same direction? People can be angry with the puppet masters; it doesn’t necessarily mean they will mobilize.)
I can capture some basics from the research. I hope others will add Comments below.
Under what conditions DO people mobilize successfully? A single compelling issue? Are we there yet? (you want the factors in place such that enough people see and know we can create a better potential future for our kids – – our current path is of an extremely large herd of lemmings running breathlessly to ensure we all go over the cliff togeeeether.)
I take a bit different tack than you.
How important to success is adoption of the right symbol? Could water be used? Gandhi used salt, and he used “the white shirt” (local homespun cotton) in India. (2002-11 Non-violent resistance versus killing war . . .)
Salt was a “single issue” that not only said way more than a whole chapter of a book could have said, but it empowered by exposing “the emperor has no clothes”. . . . What the blazes?! Of course we can evaporate sea water and collect the salt as we have done for a thousand years. We can and we WILL! They brought the empire down. A brilliant symbol, Salt, in that particular country at that particular time. And without any Communications Consultants scripting it.
I think it was less “single issue” than choice of the right symbol. . . . In “single issue” people often need to be able to articulate the complexities of the issue. Which may mean having the time to read “the book” on “the issue”.
How many people in the population are literate (the Gandhi example in India) AND have access to the book AND have time to organize their community?
Today, we pride ourselves on exchanging information faster than the speed of light. BUT you still need hours to actually read the material and more time to organize around the info.
We forget that people know things without reading about them. When the conditions for successful revolt have developed (because of the injustices) the emotional string can be plucked by use of the right symbol. The string will vibrate beautifully and clearly.
The people of East Germany adopted Gandhi’s “white shirt” symbol. South Africa – – He (Oliver Tambo) told me that the ANC would like to focus on Mandela as the symbol of the resistance. (http://www.anc.org.za/content/nelson-mandela-symbol-resistance)
What did the symbol “Mandela” represent? . . . in his own words in the lead-up to “Mandela Fever” spreading through Africa and then around the world:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
(Note that the Sioux at Standing Rock made it clear they were prepared to die for unpolluted water that is essential to the health of their children.)
Today, I think it’s a combination of symbols and MEMES – –
an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.
. . . As with any movement, a spark is needed to start word spreading. SocialFlow, a social media marketing company, did an analysis for Reuters of the history of the Occupy hashtag on Twitter and the ways it spread and took root.
. . . decentralized and leaderless, has mobilized thousands of people around the world . . .
. . . crowds have connected and gathered.
. . . The notion of Occupy Wall Street was out there but it was not gaining much attention — until, of course, it did, suddenly and with force.
. . . Social media experts trace the expansion to hyper-local tweeters, people who cover the pulse of communities at a level of detail not even local papers can match.
. . . a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge prompted hundreds of arrests and the spark was ignited.
. . . The Occupy Wall Street page on Facebook started on September 19 with a YouTube video of the early protests. By September 22, it reached critical mass.
. . . “No one owns a (Twitter) hashtag (#), it has no leadership, it has no organization, it has no creed but it’s quite appropriate to the architecture of the net. This is a distributed revolt,” said Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at City University of New York and author of the well-known blog BuzzMachine.
. . . As of Monday afternoon, Facebook listed no fewer than 125 Occupy-related pages, from New York to Tulsa and all points in between. Roughly 1 in every 500 hashtags used on Twitter on Monday, all around the world, was the movement’s own #OWS. (Occupy Wall Street)
. . . The websites keep proliferating — We Are the 99 Percent, Parents for Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together
. . . There were “we are watching” messages of support from cities across the United States
(Sandra speaking) Some successful MEMES, in the form of hashtags:
#occupywallstreet; #OWS (meaning the same thing)
#havenofear (to counter scare tactics in political campaign of Conservatives under Harper, 2015 Federal Election)
#NotNormal (fairly recent – challenging the normalization of surveillance, police-state tactics, fascist characteristics, etc.)
The people at Standing Rock in North Dakota focused on Water as the symbol for their revolt. Excellent choice, as you suggest, Derek. Some hashtags established by different people:
#RezpectOurWater (a play on “reservations”)
#NoDAPL; (No Dakota Access Pipe Line)
As I see it, a difficulty in trying to bring people under one umbrella, for example – – it was not “water” that triggered the spontaneous entry of Four Thousand Veterans into the snowstorm at Standing Rock.
They went with the idea of somehow effecting a military “win” on behalf of the Sioux, because of historical and continuing injustices suffered by those people. As it happened, they achieved something much greater, a transcendental ascent. (See the link below – – “Why I kneeled before Standing Rock Elders . . “)
Drawing from the research on successful revolutions, I think there is an absolutely critical component to be understood.
It goes like this:
I recall in an early report from Standing Rock: from the dark wall of military personnel with their weapons and shields, rubber bullets, tear gas, the eardrum-splitting sound weapons, armoured vehicles, overhead helicopters, the attack dogs of the pipeline people – – the assembled might of the USA confronting the unarmed people at Standing Rock – – ONE member of the military said that he did not support what he and his colleagues were doing there.
Later – unexpectedly and in short time after the call went out from U.S. Army Veteran Wesley Clark Jr – four THOUSAND Veterans came, prepared to fight and go to jail in defense of the Standing Rock Sioux (as mentioned above).
Wesley Clark had hoped: By around the middle of November I think we’d only raised $3,000 and had 50 people going. I thought maybe if we were lucky we might be able to get 500.
In the textbooks on revolt it’s called Conversion (
The significance of “conversion” in successful revolt emerges from the research by Chris Hedges, a long-time war correspondent turned author and activist. He comes back to the point time and again. From his latest book, “The Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt.” (2015) which addresses the root causes and the seeds of revolution and resistance.
(Brinton, a researcher) adds another important caveat:
No government has ever fallen before attackers until it has lost control over its armed forces or lost the ability to use them effectively . . .
While violence and terrorism are often part of revolutions, the fundamental tool of any successful revolt is the nonviolent conversion of the forces deployed to restore order to the side of the rebels (in this case the Standing Rock Sioux and all their supporters are “the rebels”). Most successful revolutions are, for this reason, fundamentally nonviolent.
In the video below, Mark Ruffalo in his “amazing uncut speech” is eloquent on this point.
Hedges provides three examples of CONVERSION:
The Russian Revolution was victorious once the Cossacks refused to fire on the protesters in Petrograd in 1917 and joined the crowds.
The clerics who overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979 won once the Shah’s military abandoned the collapsing regime,
And the harsh Communist regimes in Eastern Europe were doomed in 1989 when the security forces no longer defended them.
The superior force of despotic regimes is disarmed not through violence but through conversion.
January 15, 2016 UPDATE
After watching Episode 6 of Vaccinations Revealed, I believe there is more to the arrival of the Veterans at Standing Rock.
Episode 6 included the Worldwide Premier of the movie, VACCINE SYNDROME.
The Gulf War Syndrome was more accurately a Syndrome caused by the vaccine for Anthrax. A million military and other first responders were forced to receive a number of injections of the vaccine. With disastrous consequences for thousands and thousands of them (more at http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=18218).
When you know what happened, the deaths and the slow deaths – – lives, people and families totally ruined – – those people then ignored, discarded in the gutter – – you know that thousands upon thousands of people who would, under normal circumstances, be proud and patriotic supporters of their military buddies, were no longer.
They went to Standing Rock. The original intention was to take up arms on behalf of the Indians, against the very forces they were once part of. That is conversion, big time. (The Elders said no – – nonviolence is the best way.)
Getting back to your question, Derek (Any thoughts?): strategically, I have biases in favour of:
- “Both And” instead of “This OR that, which one?” (Water or . . .?)
- “Destributed revolt” which I interpret as empowerment at the community level, whether the community is a real or virtual one.
- Don’t waste too much time trying to contact and to obtain a buy-in from various people or groups (e.g. to organize under one theme, water).
For 15 years my thoughts on resistance have been shaped by the Museum of Non-Violent Resistance in Berlin (repeated for newcomers):
“… nonviolent resistance as a political force is still young, its possibilities not yet well enough known, and is thus seldom an incitement to the masses and is seldom encouraged by the media. For all that, those striving for human rights are dependent on our solidarity and the feeling is growing of an ever increasing threat through the power of dictatorships, the armaments race and the immobility of bureaucrats.
Gandhi presented the principles of nonviolent resistance to the world, but the methods – corresponding to the various hierarchies – have to be very different, should they lead to success. Through the multiplicity of nonviolent resistance, so rich in ideas, it can be demonstrated that the most powerful effective opposing forces can be mobilized against every form of violence …”
I first visited the Museum in 1999 at a time when NATO was bombing Kosovo.
Non-violent resistance has been on-going in North America for a very long time. Really, it is part of our heritage. Lots of examples we’ve talked about.
It seems to me that Hedges’ research makes explicit – – puts a name to a strategy we’ve used but had no name for: conversion. And he makes the importance of the strategy known.
In a later posting we can talk about conversion in another sphere, the intelligentsia. If you are in open, transparent society I think conversion, as a strategy, is as simple as having conversations with fellow citizens with the idea that the conversation (information) might bring some light to bear that will shift the views embraced by that person.
In a clandestine world, conversion would more likely be called “fifth column”. I have referred to it as “infiltration”.
The attempt to “convert” is not the exclusive tool of one side or another. The corporatocracy has the advantage of lots of money to create propaganda for converting us or maintaining us in a passive, as opposed to rebel role.
SO, HOW IS CONVERSION TO OUR SIDE ACCOMPLISHED?
Actions that you feel comfortable with (definitely not the same for everyone!).
Using the example of Standing Rock, links below: NO ONE, not even Wesley Clark Jr himself could have predicted the outcome of his spontaneous action. (Clark is a U.S. Veteran and son of a former Supreme Commander of NATO.)
Clark’s action ended up being a big one. Seemingly little actions are just as important – – talking about what he and the Veterans did magnifies the value.
People, their drives and emotions are very different. The opportunities for them to express their humanity open up as a consequence of life lived in the years that precede the Action.
Our lived experiences are very different. That thing that drove Wesley Clark Jr is HIS, it could not have been MINE. But I and perhaps millions of others can, through him, see a light that shines on Standing Rock.
Then, through the work of Chris Hedges, the arrival of 4000 Veterans at Standing Rock becomes not just another incident to be reported. (Or not reported.) It has great significance when understood through the lessons of history: No government has ever fallen before attackers until it has lost control over its armed forces or lost the ability to use them effectively . . . The superior force of despotic regimes is disarmed not through violence but through conversion.
We have been spreading news of conversions for a number of years now – – some of it gut-wrenching testimony, members of the military who defected against their Government leaders to the side of democracy. Prominent among the examples:
- the “Winter Soldiers”
- Chelsea (Bradley) Manning
- Edward Snowden
- Daniel Ellsburg
Two additions that preceded Standing Rock:
BUT important question addressed by the research into the Occupy hashtag – – HOW does the revolt SPREAD? (how does awareness, empowerment and ACTION come about?)
. . . hyper-local . . ., people who cover the pulse of communities at a level of detail not even local papers can match.
Means that WE are critical. Which you implicitly understand – – your desire to organize us such that our arrows are all pointing the same direction.
Feedback on progress tells us how close we are getting to the “successful revolution”. Social unrest (awareness of and anger over Governments that serve corporate and elite interests – – the 1%) is widespread.
The number of conversions in the U.S. is apparent. Talk, talk, talk . . . it works.
The U.S. Government has lost the confidence and trust of its citizens. And of many of its veterans, a critical part of the military.
There are more points to be made (hoping others will make theirs) and I still want to tell the little victory I think we achieved. But later.
TWO VIDEOS in closing: (had technical problems. Lost one. /S)