There are many, many
activists around the world, who are involved in difficult and oftentimes risky
initiatives. We all have information that we can share, so others can benefit
from our experiences. This includes not only examples of ideas that worked,
of descriptions of how someone finally cracked the nut and accomplished positive
change, but also of mistakes that were made, the consequences that resulted,
and what can be learned from it.
This part of Activism 101 is intended as a clearinghouse for the ideas of the activist community. We request that you send us your stories, and photos and even videos if you have them. We also encourage debate. If you see something in the clearinghouse with which you disagree, please let us know (including your reasons why).
What we are looking for is something along the lines of the letters to the editor section of the Earth First! Journal, in which numerous and vigorous debates have been conducted over the years. As submissions arrive we will develop categories or threads, e.g., on activist security issues, dealing with the media, etc.
Also, please understand that we are requesting ideas about anything, on tabling, or tripods, or underground security procedures that activists use when organizing in extremely repressive societies: anything that has proved important, or crucial, in an effort in which you have been involved.
(At the 2005 Earth First! North Cascades Spring Rendezvous, which we unfortunately could not attend, discussions and workshops included: freedom?; consensus decision making; security culture versus paranoia culture; racism and sexism within the movement; the future of environmentalism; and letting go of your activist ego. We would be pleased to host conversations on subjects such as these.)
Ideally, we would like to form a collective for A101 and then gather and make available resources on all forms of activism and activist tactics. At the launch and at the end of the homepage article we put out a call for interested individuals, but to date have received no inquiries. The problem with collectives is that they are typically local entities. The founder of Dictator Watch and its other contributors either move around a lot (we're modern nomads) or are widely dispersed. It's difficult to organize a collective in these circumstances. Still, we would like to repeat our call for interested individuals who would be willing to help develop Activism101.org.
To open the clearinghouse we have three comments, on less discussed issues that relate to activism:
- The ethics of activist behavior towards other activists.
- How efforts to reform institutions are doomed to failure, and how much effort and money is wasted because people do not understand this (or choose not to).
- The physical nature of brainwashing.
For the first, ethics are already discussed in the Activism 101 guide, but in this instance we are not referring to the ethics of particular activist tactics, of the approaches that we can justifiably use to achieve our various objectives. Rather, this pertains to how we treat each other; it is a simple set of principles to follow in your relationships with other activists.
Ethics towards other activists
The inevitable failure of institutional reform
False Positives. This article considers an essential element of legal philosophy, including the way in which the law is applied to activists, which is also a subject of numerous sections in the activism guide (notably the chapter Activism and the Law).
Convincing the United States Government. This describes our efforts to lobby the U.S. to actively support the fight for democracy in Burma, on the ground inside the country. The article provides an in-depth analysis of the use of lobbying as an activist tactic.
Guide to Underground Work. From the African National Congress, a guide for activists operating in extremely repressive environments. (This post does not mean that we support all of the actions of the ANC, many of which were terrorist. We do not. In any case, the ANC guide does not describe, or recommend, specific actions. It is a presentation of surveillance and communication procedures.)