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  • Email a Note about Inciting Democracy
    org IcD content IcDPrefaceEx html Author Biography http www vernalproject org about About html Randy Download Chapters http www vernalproject org IcD IcDDownload html Purchase a Copy http www vernalproject org IcD IcDOrdering html Published by SpringForward Press http www springforwardpress com September 2001 320 pages paperback 8 1 2 x 11 Randy Schutt s Inciting Democracy is an exciting page turning book describing a new attainable Eden Once I started reading it I couldn t stop I had to know how it was going to work I wish I were 40 years younger so I could see it all happen Doris GrannyD Haddock Randy Schutt has written the book that we in the progressive social change movement have been waiting for Inciting Democracy offers an inspiring vision and concrete action plan for pursuing effective progressive social change It also provides a constructive critique of where we have been and an easily accessible analytical framework for understanding what we face The book is destined to become a core and comprehensive guide for those seeking a better society and it will make an excellent main textbook for any course on citizen advocacy Thank you Randy for leading us to the next level of effectiveness and organizing Abigail Abrash Program Director New Hampshire Citizens Alliance Instructor Antioch New England Graduate School Randy Schutt s Inciting Democracy A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society addresses the urgent civic question of how to best go about developing and sustaining a powerful and effective grassroots based social change movement Schutt offers a compelling vision of what a good society might look like and how ordinary citizens can overcome five key obstacles to creating such a social order Very highly recommended and informative reading for social activists and political reformers the engaging and provocative text

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/IcD/publicity/IcDEmail.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Why Nonviolence?: Introduction to Nonviolence Theory and Strategy - Contents
    H Albert Revised December 1983 by Bob Irwin Scanned and adapted in 2001 by Peter Woodrow Prepared for and posted on the Web by Randy Schutt September 2002 Download PDF File 116 KB file introduction history methods and varieties of nonviolence nonviolence its theory dynamics and relevance today questions and answers concerning nonviolent action recommended reading 2001 Editorial Note This article was first written in 1978 and revised in 1983

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/understanding/WhyNV/WhyNonviolence1.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Nonviolent Action - A More Ethical and Effective Alternative to War
    nonviolent action has demonstrated that it is very effective in overthrowing horribly repressive regimes For example nonviolent action toppled the apartheid regime in South Africa deposed the dictatorships of Slobodan Milosevich in Yugoslavia Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Augusto Pinochet in Chile and brought down the former Soviet Union and its communist satellite states including Poland East Germany Czechoslovakia and Lithuania Overthrowing those regimes incurred relatively few casualties and wrought relatively little destruction The nonviolent overthrow of these vicious regimes has mostly left these countries stronger more civilized and much more free and democratic Nonviolent action relies on an empowered populace that refuses to carry out the desires of the ruling leaders Without the consent of the governed these leaders have little power If consent is completely withheld they have only their own personal individual power and can easily be ignored and removed from governance Nonviolent action involves ordinary people working together to overcome their oppression Like war nonviolent action inspires people to selfless service on behalf of others Unlike war which is usually monstrously destructive and leaves people horribly traumatized and resentful often leading directly to future wars the carrying out of nonviolent action actually builds community and understanding and empowers people to act more civilly In practicing nonviolent action people work together as a civic body learning to practice freedom democracy and justice Key Factor in 70 of Successful Regime Changes A 2005 study by Freedom House http www freedomhouse org uploads special report 29 pdf found that in the 67 cases since 1972 in which dictatorial systems fell or new states arose from the disintegration of multinational states civic resistance was a key factor in driving 50 of those transitions over 70 In 32 of the 67 countries nearly 48 strong broad based nonviolent civic coalitions

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/understanding/EffAltToWar.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Nonviolent Alternatives to War
    physically prevent combatants from attacking one another by positioning themselves between warring groups They also try to facilitate dialog between conflicting groups All of these groups work to resolve conflict peacefully through discussion negotiation and compassion and to focus critical outside attention on military threats warfare and oppression Below is a list of five organizations that develop or practice nonviolent action as an alternative to war Nonviolent Peaceforce They are trying to create a trained international civilian nonviolent peace force The Peaceforce will be sent to conflict areas to prevent death and destruction and protect human rights thus creating the space for local groups to struggle nonviolently enter into dialogue and seek peaceful resolution Our Goal is to build the organization needed to create and maintain a standing Nonviolent Peace Force beginning with a pilot project of 150 and building up to 2 000 active members 4 000 reserves and 5 000 supporters by 2010 Peace Brigades International They protect human rights and promote nonviolent transformation of conflicts When invited we send teams of volunteers into areas of repression and conflict The volunteers accompany human rights defenders their organizations and others threatened by political violence Perpetrators of human rights abuses usually do not want the world to witness their actions The presence of volunteers backed by a support network helps to deter violence In this way we create space for local activists to work for social justice and human rights PBI works to open a space for peace in which conflicts can be dealt with non violently PBI teams don t try to impose solutions from the outside Instead they provide moral support and a safer space for local activists PBI teams can pursue avenues not open to governments or partisan organizations Free of the strings attached to the U N and other governmental bodies our independent presence earns more trust from local grassroots activists helping them to endure despite severe repression PBI does not charge for its services and we do not fund individuals or groups we accompany While we may provide workshops and nonviolent training we do not take part in the work of those we accompany Our work takes three main forms Protective Accompaniment Peace Education training in nonviolence conflict transformation and human rights and Documenting Conflicts and Peace Initiatives and distributing this information world wide Christian Peacemaking Teams Based in four religious groups Mennonite Church Church of the Brethren General Conference Mennonite and Friends United Meeting they often place themselves in harms way to offer an organized nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter group conflict CPT provides organizational support to persons committed to faith based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy CPT seeks to enlist the response of the whole church in conscientious objection to war and the development of nonviolent institutions skills and training for intervention in conflict situations CPT projects connect intimately with the spiritual lives of its constituent

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/understanding/NonviolentAlternatives.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Effective Nonviolent Action
    it violates principles that most people embrace and then present an alternative and show why that alternative is superior Our actions and behavior should be such that most people feel comfortable with it and the means we use must be consistent with the end results we profess If our alternative is attractive then most people will want us to succeed Our actions should also seriously challenge the established order and force it to respond in some way It works best if we can arrange the action so that every response clearly shows the oppressive nature of the status quo For example by publicly contributing our tax dollars to a day care center instead of turning them over to the federal government to make weapons we set up a dilemma situation If the government takes our money away from the day care center or arrests us it looks bad like the government opposes support for day care centers No response leads to the accomplishment of our goal of redirecting our tax dollars to socially useful purposes and encourages others to redirect their taxes We must disseminate a great deal of information about what we are doing and why presented in a way that is impressive and understandable Before any action it is good to have already convinced or at least adequately informed large numbers of our friends and at least some of the news media so their interest and support will counter the condemnation we will likely get from the established order This can best be accomplished by discussing the issue with many people passing out leaflets and sending out press releases several days or weeks in advance The more visual simple and direct our action the more likely people will be able to understand it especially if it can all be summed up in one picture For example during the civil rights movement black people lined up outside the polls A single newspaper picture of this scene countered the myth that Blacks were too lazy or apathetic to want to vote and explained that Blacks did indeed want to vote but were prevented from doing so by the white establishment a societal secret As part of our work it is also useful to listen to everyone we meet both to show that we are open to other ideas and also to truly understand why people believe what they believe and fear what they fear If our actions or goals are not understandable and acceptable to at least a large number of people then we will probably not get very far This means we must always start with fairly moderate tactics and demands and as our perspective becomes more widely understood work up to the more dramatic and far reaching ones The more reasonable we are the more oppressive the established order appears and the greater the imperative for change A good rule of thumb is to make the most reasonable demand that will still undermine the status quo If we

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/strategy/EffectiveNV.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Well-Designed Strategic Nonviolent Actions
    and repress us New participants in our actions feel uneasy being associated with behavior they don t support and they leave the movement Potential new activists are wary of us and stay away or even become right wing activists such as David Horowitz did When I look at the history of the last 35 years I see us suffering from the unintended consequences of the poorly designed demonstrations of 1967 71 For 35 years we ve wasted a lot of time trying to get our real message out and to distance ourselves from the image of radicals in the 60s who hated America disagreed with the policies of the power elite and burned US flags hated our troops criticized or spit on soldiers or supported the enemy visited Hanoi chanted Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh rioted damaged property or were beaten up by the police or engaged in sabotage and terrorism like the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army I hope we don t have to spend the next 35 years trying to recover from poorly designed actions of today Components of Well Designed Strategic Nonviolent Actions To avoid these problems well designed strategic nonviolent actions include these components Clear admirable goals that are in alignment with a good society cogent strategies that can achieve those goals and tactics that enact those strategies Tactics that clearly illuminate and focus attention on our message and our goals They should fit the context and climate of the times They should also be creative and innovative so our actions are fascinating and strike a chord with the public A way to differentiate our goals and behaviors from those of the power elite in a way that makes us appear good and them appear bad actions that dispel the myths created by their propaganda and that reveal what they are really doing At all points we must do our best to appear and actually be reasonable and responsible This includes trying to negotiate in good faith with those with whom we disagree and proposing realistic alternatives to policies we oppose It also means clearly establishing that conventional avenues for change working within the system have been tried and exhausted before employing less conventional methods In an exceptionally good action we engage in positive behavior that is generally permissible and even desirable Since the action is illicit in this particular situation for no sensible reason it vividly illustrates the illegitimacy of the current state of affairs Public and honest statement of our goals strategies and tactics so that people trust us and embrace us and are not surprised or shocked by what we do Discussion with authorities and police so they are not alarmed by what we do Public and honest statement of who the participants in the action will be the name of our organization the name of a contact person how to contact us etc so we are known and not menacing Endorsement by respected organizations or people that the public generally

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/strategy/WellDesignedNV.html (2016-04-30)
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  • How to Talk to Middle America about Progressive Issues
    things that separate us We have many common concerns even though we express these concerns in different ways All of us want the best for our children and grandchildren and very few people define the best only in materialistic terms All of us want to build stronger communities where we and our children can be safe and secure All of us want to know that we and our families will have a safe home and enough to eat What we need to see is that everyone in the world wants many of the same things for themselves and their families If we can begin to explain the national and international issues that concern us in the specific and sometimes local terms of these common concerns almost everyone can begin to understand and agree with them Establish some sense of common values and mutual trust before you try to change anyone s opinion 2 When talking about international issues try to use specific local and personalized examples Whether we like it or not many potential allies have never been outside the U S and don t have a sense of international concern except when they see news footage of some natural disaster However anyone can understand local examples which compare the actions of nations to the actions of individuals Example During the first Arab Oil boycott of the early 1970 s Henry Kissinger was saying that if the U S needs that oil we have the right to go over there and take what we need by force if necessary When one very conservative retired businessman told me how strongly he agreed with this I asked When you were in the coal business if someone s family was cold did they have the right to come into your business and take it by force By comparing what is acceptable behavior for a nation to what is acceptable behavior for an individual I was able to change his support for the extreme position of Mr Kissinger 3 Most people think locally not globally Start with where they are and help them move into new ways of seeing the world If people are concerned about the hazardous waste dump proposed near their community they are in a teachable moment to begin to learn about environmental damage around the world and the great profits being made by the companies which collect and dump garbage and toxic waste If local farmers are losing money because of the contracts they are forced to accept from big processing companies they are ready to learn how the global control of our food system is being concentrated in fewer and fewer companies and how this results in increased hunger around the world Look for those moments when the world situation imposes itself in harmful ways upon your community These are the moments when people are ready to learn and do more They will try to act in what they perceive as their best self interest Your job is to help to enlighten and widen that sense of self interest Work from their experience in order to make your points 4 Sometimes it helps to reverse the situation If we can help people to see things from the point of view of the other side all situations will look different An attack on Afghanistan sounded like a great thing to many people after September 11 2001 However those who could also see that it means the destruction of villages and deaths of people who had nothing to do with Al Qaeda had a very different viewpoint If all you see are bombs dropping on someone else s town it looks much easier to accept than if you think about them dropping on your own town 5 It is usually best to avoid personal attacks In many small communities almost everyone is related to or at least a friend of everyone else Anything that is seen as a personal attack will offend not only the one person you are speaking about but many friends and relatives as well This is also true on a national scale I regularly participate in a Saturday morning peace vigil in the small town where I live Some of the participants have signs which call George Bush a warmonger and oil baron I happen to agree with this but I prefer to hold other signs Many of the people who see the vigil voted for George Bush and these signs put them in the position of a teenage girl whose parents dislike her boyfriend The more the parents complain the more the girl feels forced to defend him Likewise the more we attack George Bush personally the more those who voted for him will feel forced to defend their choice Don t put people in the position of feeling that they have to defend George W Bush 6 Be careful in your use of language There are jargon words that some groups use commonly which carry a very different connotation for people who are not in that group Many people including a few who define themselves as Christians do not believe in the traditional theistic concept of God However the use of the word atheist conjures up for many people images of Satanic cults or Communist cells neither of which are very popular in Middle America In recent years the word liberal has become burdened with very negative connotations Progressives often react the same way to words other groups use We may not understand it but many people who call themselves Conservative Christians are not part of the radical right and some people consider themselves to be followers of family values without being homophobic and opposed to all divorce It is important to use words that clearly express what we believe and work to understand others as individuals Liberal Atheist Leftists and Family Values Christians are never going to be able to talk to each other until they learn to get past the labels Some Examples

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/change/TalkingMiddleAmerica.html (2016-04-30)
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  • Consensus Is Not Unanimity: Making Decisions Cooperatively
    process will often bog down factionalize or slide into coercive manipulation Good consensus process avoids these problems by allowing the members of the group to explore in depth the complete range of options and concerns in a non adversarial cooperative atmosphere Discussions in small groups allow everyone even those who are not verbally adept to express their ideas concerns and opinions Members of the group get a chance to learn from each other s experience and thinking empathize with other s experiences and backgrounds and gracefully change their minds as they hear new ideas and arguments They can challenge dumb obsolete or immoral assumptions and solutions and they can explore unusual solutions radical transformations compromises bargains etc that are often overlooked when the discussion gets polarized or restrained by formal proposals Individuals can offer to give of their time or wealth or to suffer a loss for the good of the group And people can be persuaded inspired loved or counseled out of their prejudices biases and other rigidities or if this fails nonviolently prevented from acting immorally Of course a good process that ends with a vote can also have all these cooperative aspects In fact a good voting process may be indistinguishable from a good consensus process until the final step But non consensual processes usually rely on formal proposals debates and other parliamentary procedures that interfere with cooperation Knowing there will be an up down vote at the end often polarizes the discussion People may argue for an extreme position so they can compromise to their true goal Consensus is Not Conflict Free or Painless Good consensus process relies heavily on problem solving questioning empathy self sacrifice and nonviolent direct action In a good process conflict is not ignored or covered up but encouraged Issues and proposed solutions are thoroughly thrashed out until a good solution is found Like any good nonviolent action ideas are severely challenged but the people involved are listened to loved and supported When there are no easy solutions then individuals must be willing to sacrifice their preferences for the good of the group or the group must divide or disband When one person or a group a majority or minority refuses to or is unable to work cooperatively everyone else must boldly yet tenderly resist and challenge them or if necessary push them out of the group ideally offering support and guidance to their next endeavor Consensus Can Be Efficient Many groups feel that they must allow every person in the group to fully discuss every possible perspective on every issue When there is little trust in a group of people this may be justified But consensus does not require this In a cooperative trusting group it is possible to allow individuals or committees to make most decisions with little or no discussion in the larger group When the group is pressed for time quick though less ideal decisions can also be tolerated Consensus Requires Skill and a Desire to Cooperate In

    Original URL path: http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/process/ConsensusNotUnanimity.html (2016-04-30)
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