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Author Topic: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution  (Read 4348 times)


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The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« on: May 05, 2008, 01:38 PM NHFT »

This is a long article, but so good I decided to post the whole thing.   :)

Introduction to Nonviolent Struggle
by Kevin S. Van Horn

(This is a reconstruction of the talk based on my notes, with some alterations and additions. Much of the content was taken from Gene Sharp's works, in particular, The Politics of Nonviolent Action and Waging Nonviolent Struggle.)

Why Nonviolent Action
In this talk I'm going to discuss the basics of nonviolent struggle. But the first question to address is this: why limit ourselves to nonviolent action? Some libertarians argue for the legitimacy and appropriateness of violent action on the grounds that the state initiate the use of force and threats thereof against us on a daily basis, and therefore we are entitled to defensive or retaliatory violence against them. Whatever degree of validity such an argument may (or may not) have in theory, I would argue that in practice there are some grave problems with attempting to win our freedom by violent means:

It would injure and kill innocents. Yes, in theory violent resistance to tyranny is defensive violence; but do you really think it would work out so cleanly and neatly? How many bullets would miss their mark and tear away some toddler's face? After a bomb destroys an ATF, IRS, or FBI headquarters, how many of the scattered body parts lying around would belong to innocents who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Some may try to dismiss such casualties as “collateral damage”, but that very concept is a collectivist one that discounts the worth of individuals. Furthermore, an honorable person will practice moral conservatism whenever possible: if it's not clear whether an action is moral, assume that it's not and don't do it.

It would be destructive of our goals. The libertarian ideal is to circumscribe the use of violence, or threats of its use, within much tighter bounds than currently operate: defensive use only, or possibly limited use in compelling aggressors to pay restitution. Yet in a violent struggle we would become accustomed to, and far too comfortable with, the use of violence. We would attract people who are attracted to violence. What happens after winning such a violent struggle? If the record of previous violent revolutions is any guide, we could easily end up with a new government worse than the old one.

It would be counterproductive. Violent action on our part would allow the government to portray us as terrorists, thus strengthening support for the government and weakening support for our cause. Many who are currently friendly to our cause would be frightened into the arms of our enemies. It would shift attention away from the issues we want to emphasize and onto the violence of the resistance. And it would weaken a central point of our message: that the state is nothing but institutionalized violence.

Sources of Political Power
The Nature of Political Power
Mao Zedong once said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” In this view, whoever has the most and biggest guns will control things. The state is regarded as a single, monolithic entity of tremendous power and vast resources... which leads to the conclusion that resistance is futile.

The preceding view is common, even among libertarians, but it is essentially collectivist in nature. The truth is that organizations, including the state, do not act; only individuals do. The key idea of nonviolent struggle is that governments are not abstract, monolithic entities; rather, they are groups of flesh-and-blood individual human beings, each making their own decisions, seeking their own goals, and following their own agendas. Furthermore, the power of any government depends intimately on cooperation from many other groups outside of the government itself, as well as on cooperation and obedience from the populace at large. Political power is therefore fragile, and can collapse with startling suddenness if the right conditions are created.

To quote Gene Sharp, a researcher who has for many decades studied and written about the technique of nonviolent struggle:

The rulers of governments and political systems are not omnipotent, nor do they possess self-generating power. All dominating elites and rulers depend for their sources of power upon the cooperation of the population and of the institutions of the society they would rule.

So we need not take over the State's decision-making process (elections); we need not physically destroy the State's coercive resources (violent resistance); instead we can win our freedom by striking at the heart of the State's power, disrupting the patterns of cooperation and obedience on which it depends.

The Six Sources
Gene Sharp lists the following six sources of power:

Authority, or perceived legitimacy.
This is the quality that leads people to voluntarily obey commands, accept decisions, accede to requests, or follow suggestions. It is the (perceived) right to command or direct, to be heard or obeyed by others.
These are the people who obey, cooperate with, or give assistance to the rulers. This includes people working within the government and allied institutions, as well as cooperating persons in the general population.
Skills and knowledge.
This is the availability of needed skills, knowledge, and abilities among those persons cooperating with the rulers.
Material resources.
This is the control of money, land, computers, communications, transportation, natural resources, etc., which the rulers can use for their own purposes.
Intangible factors.
These are psychological, cultural, and ideological factors that promote obedience to and cooperation with the rulers. They may include habits, traditions, religious beliefs, language conventions, fear of foreign threats, a sense of belonging, presence or absence of a common faith, ideology, or sense of mission, and so on.
This is punishment of those who disobey, typically by seizure of assets, imprisonment, or execution. This includes sanctions applied indirectly through third parties; for example, if your children don't receive all the vaccinations the state government demands, then even private schools won't allow them to attend.
Although I've described these sources from the viewpoint of the rulers’ power, they can also be sources of power for the resisters. For example:

Authority. This can arise from earned respect. Gandhi had little in the way of material resources, but he could call for a boycott and have millions of people willingly comply with his request.
Nonviolent sanctions. The resisters can apply their own, nonviolent, sanctions when their numbers are sufficient. These include picketing, nonviolent harrassment of officials, and social or economic ostracism.
Cooperation and obedience are central to all six sources of power: each of them either creates or depends on the cooperation and obedience of others:

Authority leads to willing, habitual obedience.
Personnel, as a source of power, is defined as the cooperation and obedience of others.
Skill and knowledge are available only from those persons willing to cooperate.
Material resources are available for use only if cooperating personnel are available; also, they are acquired through the obedience and cooperation of the subjects, who either willingly surrender the resources or choose obedience over the threat of punishment.
Intangible factors affect people's willingness to cooperate and obey.
Sanctions require the cooperation of at least some subjects in order to be carried out. For them to be effectively applied requires that disobedience be detected, and this generally requires the cooperation of additional persons beyond just those in government employ.
Therefore, a nonviolent resistance attacks the patterns of obedience and cooperation that support the enemy, rather than physical attacking their material resources and personnel.

The Importance of (Non-)Cooperation
This highlights yet another reason for rejecting violent action: it focuses on the wrong problem. Our problem is not, at its root, that the government have the firepower to compel our obedience. The real problem is the mental enslavement of America — the acceptance of the government's rule as legitimate, and our meek acquiescence to whatever demands the rulers may impose on us. The essential battleground where we must win lies in our own hearts and minds, and in those of our fellow Americans.

Four and a half centuries ago, Étienne de la Boétie wrote “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude”, addressing this very issue. He wrote that a refusal to cooperate is all that is needed to render a tyrant powerless:

Everyone knows that the fire from a little spark will increase and blaze ever higher as long as it finds wood to burn; yet without being quenched by water, but merely by finding no more fuel to feed on, it consumes itself, dies down, and is no longer a flame. Similarly, the more tyrants pillage, the more they crave, the more they ruin and destroy; the more one yields to them, and obeys them, by that much do they become mightier and more formidable, the readier to annihilate and destroy. But if not one thing is yielded to them, if, without any violence they are simply not obeyed, they become naked and undone and as nothing, just as, when the root receives no nourishment, the branch withers and dies.

Later in the same essay, de la Boétie tells the people of his day — and us also — that we are responsible for our own bondage:

Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is ... He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands ...; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? ... What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? ... Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed.

Pillars of Support
The state's power is heavily dependent on the cooperation of certain key institutions and organizations. These are called its pillars of support. Some common external pillars of support for governments include

the educational system,
organized religion,
the news media,
the banking system, and
big business.
Recognizing that governments are themselves composed of various sub-organizations, we may also identify pillars of support within a government, upholding executive power. These include

the police,
the military,
the courts,
the state educational system,
the bureaucracy, and
state governments (supporting the federal government).
Attacking the Pillars of Support
An essential part of any effective nonviolent struggle is to identify and attack the enemy's few crucial pillars of support. All of these organizations are made up of individuals who can be influenced. If the resisters can persuade these individuals to lessen or even withdraw their support for the enemy, the pillar is weakened, and the enemy's power is diminished. If these individuals are persuaded to actively support the resistance, the power of the resisters is likewise increased.

These efforts can take place at both an individual and an organizational level. An early attack might focus on “pulling out” one or a few influential individuals. The organization as a whole are still supportive of the enemy, but there is dissent within. As an example, the mass media in this country are on the whole heavily statist, but John Stossel is a highly visible journalist who bucks this pattern. The Republican Party as a whole is highly supportive of the Iraq War and the Bush administration's attack on civil liberties, but Ron Paul is an outspoken and increasingly visible dissenter.

A later stage of attack can focus on the organization itself, seeking to alter its internal culture and official policies. For example, a religious body previously supportive of the government might take an official stance against government policy; news stories may become increasingly hostile to the government and favorable to the resisters; important businesses may refuse to withhold taxes or report information to government agencies; the American Bar Association could issue an opinion that certain government actions were unconstitutional or illegal. If successful, such an attack may not only remove a pillar of support for the state, but convert it into a pillar of support for the resisters.

Finally, if a pillar of support cannot be influenced to withdraw its support for the enemy, it can be targeted for organizational destruction. This means disrupting its activities to the point that it can no longer provide effective support for the enemy. This may occur by encouraging silent internal dissent — employees who pretend to do their jobs but are deliberately ineffective. It may also occur via widespread noncooperation. For example, how effective could the IRS be in carrying out its mission if there were widespread refusal to provide it with the information it requires? Noncooperation also includes economic and social boycotts aimed at crippling the organization.

Internal Pillars of Support
Internal pillars of support are of special importance, as weakening these most directly weakens the state. In particular, weakening the support of the police and military, so that they are ineffective in carrying out the orders of the rulers, has been crucial in other successful nonviolent struggles. Here I will give two examples: the ousters of dictators Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia.

Marcos allowed a “snap” election to be held in 1986 after massive protests against his rule. He claimed a win, but it is widely believed that his opponent Corazon Aquino actually won the vote. Aquino refused to concede the election, and launched a nonviolent campaign against Marcos. Then a small group of Army officers became disaffected and planned a coup against Marcos. Their plans were discovered, and they and 300 troops took refuge in adjacent Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. Thousands of protesters surrounded the camps to protect the rebels. Loyalist troops were sent against the rebels, but they turned back rather than kill civilians. A second assault took over Camp Aguinaldo, but the commander then stalled and refused to fire on the rebels in Camp Crame because of the large number of civilians between the two camps and within Camp Crame itself. In the end, Marcos fled the country and Aquino was sworn in as the new president.

In Yugoslavia, OTPOR (the major organized resistance to Milosevic) made conscious efforts to neutralize the armed agents of the Milosevic regime. Milosevic's opposition had pressed for new elections. Well before the elections, OTPOR and others had deepened contacts with elements of both the police and army. OTPOR and its allies set up their own parallel system for collecting election results, and so were able to state with confidence that the results claimed by the Milosevice regime were fraudulent.

Workers at the Kolubara mines went on strike in protest against the election fraud. Thirty busloads of police arrived to break the strike; 15,000 to 20,000 demonstrators arrived to protect and support the strikers. The police stalled in dispersing the demonstrators, and did not act when a bulldozer slowly plowed through the police barricade, followed by thousands of demonstrators.

A mass demonstration in Belgrade was planned. Cacak mayor Velimir Ilic, a supporter of the resisters, coordinated plans with some police officers from Cacak, who also encouraged additional defections within their ranks. OTPOR sent polite letters to army commanders and police headquarters letting them know that “Serbia was coming to Belgrade.” OTPOR also held secret talks with army and police to ensure that, although they would not openly disobey, they would nevertheless fail to effectively execute their orders. Demonstrators came from all over the country, and occupied key government building in Belgrade. Police efforts to stop the demonstrators from arriving, and to disperse them once arrived, were hesitant and ineffective. Milosevic finally conceded defeat and stepped down.

The Methods of Nonviolent Action
In his research on nonviolent struggle, Gene Sharp counted 198 distinct methods of nonviolent action, in three groups:

Nonviolent protest and persuasion.
These are mainly symbolic acts of peaceful opposition or of attempted persuasion. These methods are more common in the early stages of a struggle, when the resisters are trying to build support.
This includes social noncoooperation, such as social boycotts and ostracism; economic noncooperation, such as economic boycotts and strikes; and political noncooperation, such as civil disobedience, rejection of authority, and boycott of governmental institutions.
Nonviolent intervention.
These methods seek to disrupt or change the situation in some basic way. They may involve psychological, physical, social, economic, and political interventions. These methods include various kinds of psychological pressure, nonviolent obstruction, and the creation of alternative social, economic, and legal institutions.
The Cranfills will give a more detailed overview of these methods in their talk later today.

Non-cooperation is the largest and most frequently used class of methods of nonviolent action — just as de la Boétie advised. Non-cooperation serves to undermine the habitual obedience on which the state depends. It may weaken or sever the sources of the state's power. Massive disobedience can overwhelm the state's enforcement mechanisms so that only a small fraction of those who disobey are ever punished — and a well-organized resistance can provide insurance to cover those few targeted for punishment.

Non-cooperation not only weakens the state, it strengthens the resisters themselves at a deep, personal level:

It leads to increased self-respect and self-confidence. The resisters are no longer on their knees, but on their feet. They find that they are capable of unsuspected depths of courage.
It reduces habits of submissiveness and fear of the state. Resisters find that disobedience does not lead automatically to punishment — and that they have the strength to endure when it does.
It leads the resisters to a greater awareness of their own power. Successful resistance of any sort leads to the realization that the state is not all-powerful, and that the resisters are capable of balking it.
The case of Corbett Bishop is a striking example of the power of non-cooperation. Bishop was a conscientious objector during World War II. He came to the conclusion that his religious beliefs required him to discontinue all cooperation with the war effort, even in the Civilian Public Service program.

Refusing to continue his CPS work, Bishop was arrested on Sept. 9, 1944. He announced that his spirit was free and that if the arresting officers wanted his body, they would have to take it without any help from him. In prison he refused to eat, stand up or dress himself. He was force-fed by tube. After 86 days he was brought to trial for walking out of CPS camp, but the judge released him until a decision could be made.

Bishop refused to return to court, and was rearrested on Feb. 20. He then went limp and remained limp during his later hearings. He told the U.S. Commissioner, “I am not going to cooperate in any way, shape or form. I was carried in here. If you hold me, you'll have to carry me out.” He was fined and sentenced to four years in prison. Bishop continued his complete personal noncooperation and, finally, after 144 days, he was paroled without signing any papers or making any promises.

Bishop was, however, expected to work on a cooperative farm in Georgia. When he refused to do so he was again arrested, on Sept. 1. Bishop again went limp, resumed his full noncooperation, and was returned to prison to finish his uncompleted sentence. After continued refusal by Bishop to do anything, and considerable newspaper publicity, the Dept. of Justice on Mar. 12 released him on parole, with no conditions and without his signing anything. This ended 193 days of continuous and total personal noncooperation.

It is a common misconception that nonviolent action is based on turning the other cheek and loving one's enemies. The reality, as we see from Bishop's example, is that the technique of nonviolent struggle is based on the human capacity for intransigent, unreasonable, perverse, unbearably aggravating and downright mulish stubbornness... which is yet another reason why this technique is so well-suited to libertarians. 

Character Traits Needed for Success
Our struggle for freedom is as much or more about changing what is within ourselves as it is about changing the world in which we live. Rammanohar Lohia, a follower of Gandhi, emphasized that Gandhian nonviolence was not so much about changing the heart of the oppressor as it was about changing the hearts of the oppressed. Gandhi sought to develop the following qualities in his fellow countrymen:

Self-respect. Those who have a healthy self-respect understand their own worth and are willing to fight for their rights.
Self-confidence. This is a prerequisite for human action, for as Mises explained, individuals act only when they expect that their actions can improve their conditions.
Self-reliance. A people cannot be free of the control of their oppressors if they depend on them for essential goods and services.
The power of decision-making. We always have choices. Too often we tell ourselves that we have no choice but to obey when the state make their demands, when the truth is that fear and inexperience cause us to shy away from choices that involve disobedience.
Gandhi spent the majority of his time and effort on this “constructive work” — much more than he spent on the more widely known campaigns of civil disobedience.

Perhaps the most important traits needed by nonviolent resisters are simple courage and determination. Consider one of the six sources of state power: sanctions, or the ability to impose punishments on those who disobey. Take note that the sanctions do not directly produce compliance; if you shoot a man for refusing to dig a ditch for you, the ditch remains undug. Sanctions are effective only if fear is stronger than the will to resist, so that the target chooses obedience over suffering punishment. When the will to resist is strong, sanctions become ineffective, as the Quakers of colonial Massachussetts demonstrated. The Puritan colonial government punished the Quakers severely for preaching their doctrine, with whippings, forced marches naked through the snow, and outright execution at times; yet the Quakers refused to give up their beliefs. This went on for year after year, and decade after decade, until the Quakers simply outlasted their enemies.

I would add a few additional character traits that I believe are important for our particular struggle. To highlight the evils of the state, we must exemplify the opposing virtues. The contrast between the state and us must be as night and day:

The state is institutionalized violence; therefore, we must be entirely nonviolent.
Lying is as natural as breathing to government officials; therefore, we must be scrupulously truthful.
Fraud and broken promises are the norm for the state; therefore, we must take pains to always keep our word and deal honestly with all.
Dealing with Repression
Elements for Success
We can be sure that in our struggle for freedom we will face repression. The physical danger may not be as great as it would be in a violent struggle, but it is present nonetheless. We can expect to face confiscation of property and data; economic sanctions such as fines, blacklisting, and dismissal from jobs; legal harrassment, including arrest and imprisonment; new repressive legislation; and direct physical violence.

Stubbornness and determination are essential elements for success in dealing with repression. Once we have chosen a course of action, we, like the Quakers of colonial New England, must simply refuse to give in. We must make it clear that the punishments meted out against us will not produce capitulation; for if repression is seen to weaken our movement, our opponents will conclude that they just need to apply more of it to make us submit.

Our resolve not to submit must be coupled with an equally firm resolve to maintain nonviolent discipline. We can be sure that the enemy will try to provoke us to violence, or falsely claim that we have engaged in violence, for that will give it free reign to engage in harsh and brutal measures against us without fear of the consequences.

Another essential element is social support. When acting alone, in isolation, our options for dealing with repression are limited. But when acting as part of a larger movement, not only can our actions be more effective, but the personal risk can be reduced and the impact of repressive measures can be blunted. For example, there are about 75 million households in America. Suppose that 10% of these households refuse to pay income taxes. This would come to 7.5 million cases of tax refusal, which would overwhelm enforcement; only a small fraction of these could actually be prosecuted.

Now suppose that we have achieved a high level of rapport and solidarity in our movement. We have close personal ties with each other, and we take care of our own. Those who suffer prosecution and imprisonment would then not suffer alone; they would have the moral support and encouragement of their friends. They could count on financial and/or material aid for their families. These things would make their suffering far more bearable than facing it alone.

A final element of success is to know our own strength at each stage of the struggle, and to choose our battles accordingly. Biting off more than we can chew — exposing ourselves to a greater level of repression than we are prepared to withstand — will only destroy morale. Likewise, being excessively timid will allow opportunities to slip away.

Political Ju-Jitsu
In the Japanese martial art of ju-jitsu, there is no attempt to block an attacker's thrust nor to match it with a counter-thrust. Instead the attacker is pulled forward in the same direction he is already moving, causing him to lose balance and fall.

Political ju-jitsu works on a similar principle: rather than meet the state's violence with counter-violence, their coercive violence is made to rebound against them. To use another analogy, think of a game of chess. One protects a piece, not by making it impossible for the opponent to capture the piece, but by ensuring that the opponent will suffer a greater loss than you should he take the piece.

To see how this works, consider the state's options in responding to an organized campaign of non-cooperation. They can overlook the disobedience, or they can punish the resisters. Either course of action can strengthen the resistance and weaken the state's power.

If the rulers choose to overlook the disobedience, this will embolden other to disobey and erode the state's authority. If they try to force compliance through violent action, this may create sympathy and support for the nonviolent resisters, thereby increasing their power, while creating revulsion towards the state and consequent loss of support, thereby decreasing state power.

There are no guarantees that these consequences will occur, of course. It is up to the resisters and their supporters to take active measures to publicize state violence and promote sympathy for the state's victims. The resisters must make the state pay dearly for every act of violence.

As an example of political ju-jitsu, let us consider the events of “Bloody Sunday” in St. Petersburg, Russia, in January 1905. A mass demonstration of over 100,000 people was organized to petition the Tsar for certain reforms. The demonstrators arrived from all over the city, converging on the Winter Palace. The Tsar's soldiers responded with great violence against the demonstrators, killing many of them. Up to this moment, opposition to the Tsar had come largely from intellectuals. Most Russians had viewed the Tsar as a benign father figure. Bloody Sunday destroyed that image. Opposition now arose from the general populace. By violently suppressing the demonstration, the Tsar cut off his own base of support. Twelve years later he lost his throne; shortly thereafter he lost his life.

Political ju-jitsu may provide a solution to a long-standing problem for the libertarian movement: how to popularize the Non-Aggression Principle. For most people it is easy to ignore dry, abstract arguments that coercive violence lies behind every statute passed by legislators — assuming they ever hear those arguments at all. But when the iron fist is seen to descend on honest, peaceful, sympathetic individuals who have clearly harmed no-one, the state's violent nature becomes undeniable.

A successful nonviolent struggle requires ongoing organizational efforts in the following areas:

The public:

Publicizing facts and grievances.
Promoting sympathy.

Training, incorporating into actions.
Promoting commitment.

Developing leadership skills among the members.
Preparing advance replacements for arrested leaders.
Movement in general:

Preparing training manuals.
Preparing participants to act without leaders when necessary.
Maintaining communications.
But what form should the organization itself take? The lesson from past nonviolent struggles is clear: don't have a centralized organization. A centralized organization makes it easy for the state to destroy their opposition by arresting the leadership. With a decentralized organization, there is no head to cut off. Milosevic faced this problem. OTPOR and its allies consciously avoided have a central leadership, instead having many local organizations that coordinated efforts; as a result, Milosevic didn't know whom to attack. And let's face it — we as libertarians are biased against hierarchy to begin with. We are fortunate that necessity for us is also a virtue.

To quote Terry Pratchett, “Chaos always wins out over order, because it is better organized.” Not more organized — just better organized.

Nonetheless, having a decentralized organization is not the same as having no organization at all. Although I envision many autonomous local organizations, in which the members know each other personally, still these will want to cooperate with each other and coordinate efforts. They will want to share ideas and training materials; coordinate actions and campaigns for greater effect; and discuss strategy and tactics with each other.

The Levels of Strategy
There are several levels of strategy to consider: grand strategy, strategy, tactics, and methods.

Grand strategy is the master concept of the struggle. It answers the question, “How are we going to win this struggle?” It gives guidance on how to divide the struggle into phases or campaigns, and which methods of nonviolent action are appropriate. Without a grand strategy, the movement may easily dissipate its energy and resources pursuing ineffective action.

Strategy is the planning for a single campaign for specific objectives; it fills in the details of the grand strategy for one phase. It keeps the movement focused on action that forwards the campaign objectives. Strategy includes

Allocation of tasks and resources.
Creating a favorable situation for the planned offensives.
When to kick off the campaign.
The general plan for use of tactics to achieve campaign objectives.
The first campaign must necessarily focus on building strength, which generally involves the methods of protest and persuasion. This strength is measured in the number of individuals involved in the movement; their degree of training in nonviolent struggle; and their ability to withstand repression. As previously mentioned, this strength-building (“constructive work”) was the focus of most of Gandhi's work in India.

Tactics are limited plans of action, focused on a specific encounter with the opponent, and aimed at achieving some limited objective in furtherance of the campaign strategy. Good tactical planning is especially important for acts of civil disobedience, to ensure the desired result: either the opponent backs down or his response provokes revulsion and weakens his support. Without such planning the participants in an act of civil disobedience may suffer needlessly and to no useful purpose. Tactical planning includes

the choice of nonviolent method(s) to use;
the time and place of action;
drumming up publicity;
encouraging participation; and
support for those who may suffer as a result of their participation.
Finally, the lowest level of strategy is methods: the individual forms of nonviolent action used.

The Strategic Estimate
The strategic estimate is a concept borrowed from military planning, and first applied to nonviolent struggle by retired U.S. Army colonel Robert Helvey (an associate of Gene Sharp). The purpose of the strategic estimate is to provide solid intelligence about both the opponent and the ‘battlefield’ on which the struggle is being carried out. In particular, we need to understand the specifics of the sources of power for the Federal, state, and local governments, so that we can work to weaken those sources. We need to assess potential sources of power for our own movement. We need to understand what are the most important pillars of support for the American state, and how to influence them, so that we can use our limited resources most effectively.

I have written previously about the strategic estimate, so I won't go into a lot of detail here, other than to give you pointers to where you can read more. The Free America website links to an article I wrote for Strike The Root on the strategic estimate; you can also find there an extensive list of questions to be answered in the strategic estimate, adapted from the list Helvey proposes. Finally, I have set up a wiki for collecting answers to these questions. Currently this contains some information on the IRS and an analysis of factors supporting the perceived legitimacy of governments in general, and the United States in particular.

One difficulty with the idea of the strategic estimate, at least at this stage of things, is that it is rather overwhelming. There are very many questions to answer, and getting those answers may require substantial thought and effort. We need to avoid analysis paralysis, spending all of our time and effort collecting and analyzing information, with little left over for action. I have some thoughts on how to deal with this problem.

First, we can structure the process of identifying and analyzing important pillars of support by considering our fundamental goal: to eliminate the state's ability to violate the NAP with impunity. We want to reduce or eliminate the state's ability to initiate violence against others, or at least against those of us who care to be free. So it makes sense to start with the state's organs of violence and work outward from there.

So we begin with those sub-organizations within the state that have the greatest number of armed agents. This would be the various branches of the military and so-called “law” enforcement. These are important internal pillars of support, and we need to understand their internal organizational structures, social dynamics, and operating procedures. As a starting point, we need a list of the various federal, state, and local agencies and how many armed agents they have. For the federal level, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has some useful information available on the Web:

Bureau of Justice Statistics home page.
Law Enforcement Statistics.
Federal Law Enforcement Statistics.
Identifying those supporting organizations and institutions, both within and without the government, on which these organs of violence depend gives us the next ring of pillars of support. For example, for enforcement agencies to be effective they need money, equipment, and information; who are the immediate suppliers of these? As another example, my impression is that federal “law” enforcement rely heavily on the support of state and local “law” enforcement.

We can repeat this process, identifying successive rings of support, and thereby build up a picture of the support structure on which the state depends in order to apply violence against us. This will then allow us to identify the key pillars of support and points of weakness where these may be attacked.

Second, we can avoid analysis paralysis by doing iterative analysis, similar to the method of iterative development in the field of software engineering. In iterative development you study and design a little, then write, test, and debug some code, then repeat the process, building on the code written and lessons learned in earlier cycles. Likewise, iterative analysis begins with local groups collecting information on their local and state governments, focusing on what they need to know to be effective in their current and near-future activities. This information and their experiences as activists leads to some refinement of strategy, which then guides the priorities for collection and analysis of strategic data in the next iteration.

My guess is that some mixture of these two approaches will prove to be the most useful. The first approach — working out from the organs of violence — is important for long-term planning. The second approach — focusing on that strategic data most immediately needed — keeps the strategic estimate relevant to the here and now.

For many years I participated very little in the freedom movement, for the simple reason that I couldn't see anything I could do that had a reasonable chance of making a worthwhile difference. Learning about the technique of nonviolent struggle changed that. Finally, here was the outline of what I had been seeking for over twenty years — a workable plan for achieving a free America.

There is no longer any excuse for inaction. It's time to win our freedom.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2008, 12:02 PM NHFT by David »


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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2008, 02:02 PM NHFT »

The adjectives "Fantastic", "good", and "long" are not going to get me to read this tome. 
Can you give a summary?
Or at least a better introduction?


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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2008, 02:22 PM NHFT »

Some of this stuff we have already been doing, withholding consent, trying to encourage disobediance within the police, although they take it to a different suggestion, to encourage ineffectiveness within the police.  That helps the police to not jeopardize themselves, while aiding the resistance. 
It is a long article, but it ties together much of what I have read about Dr. Kings resistance, as well as Gandi, and much of the nonviolent writings I and others have been preaching about for a long time. 


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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2008, 06:51 PM NHFT »

What part did you think was fantastic?

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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 07:48 AM NHFT »

You can even read entire books by Gene Sharp. He is part of an Einstein group or something in Mass. I don't agree with many of his ideas, since to him they are strategies to get somewhere not "mean=ends" thinking. But he has lists and lists of ideas that have been used.


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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 05:06 PM NHFT »

Rule-of-law Anarchism:
A Strategy for Destroying the State's Legitimacy
by Kevin S. Van Horn

(This is a reconstruction of the talk based on my notes, with a few alterations and additions.)

Authority: An Essential Source of Power
As you will recall from my talk on Saturday, the grand strategy of a nonviolent struggle is the master concept of the struggle, answering the question, “How are we going to win?” In this talk I would like to propose the outlines of a grand strategy for our struggle.

Our task is this: to weaken the power of the state, and to strengthen the power of the free society, until we have secured our freedom and are no longer subject to the state. You will recall that authority, or perceived legitimacy, is one of the six sources of power identified by Gene Sharp. Authority is arguably the most important source of state power. It produces widespread voluntary obedience, allowing the state to concentrate their coercive resources on the small minority that resist. Likewise, loss of authority is fatal to the state; it “sets in motion the disintegration of the rulers’ power” (Gene Sharp). OTPOR demonstrated this in their successful struggle against Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, which focused on attacking his authority.

I suggest, therefore, that our grand strategy should revolve around destroying the state's perceived legitimacy. Sociologists generally recognize three forms of political legitimacy, first enumerated by Max Weber:

Charismatic authority, based on the charisma of the leader. This is generally derived from some higher power, such as God, natural law, or human rights. This does not appear to be an important contributor to the authority of the United States and its local vassals. It is possible that our movement may acquire some degree of charismatic authority if care is taken to always adhere to high moral standards and always seek the moral high ground.
Traditional authority, based on long existence, long-established habits, and long-established social structures. This is undoubtedly an important component of the authority enjoyed by the United States. It poses a problem for any group seeking radical change, as we are. A solution is to root our message in values and principles that have a long and venerable tradition behind them in our culture, an idea I will return to later in this talk.
Rational-legal authority, based on the perception that the state's powers are derived from set principles, procedures, and laws. Social scientists consider this the dominant component of legitimacy for the United States, and it is here that we must focus our attack.
The State Is an Outlaw Organization
The state is widely (though incorrectly) viewed as the source of law, and we must counter this with an opposing message: the American state is an outlaw organization.

This lawlessness becomes easier to see in its particulars by the month, as officers of the state set themselves above the law, break even their own rules, and commit clearly criminal acts. We all know about Ruby Ridge and Waco. We've seen prosecutors withholding exculpatory evidence, as occurred in the Duke lacrosse players case. We've read of countless episodes of police causing injury and death to innocents. We've seen the Bush regime wage illegal wars, engage in illegal mass domestic surveillance, rewrite federal statue through signing statements, and arrogantly dismiss the ancient right of Habeas Corpus. None of the culprits in these crimes is held responsible for their actions.

Yet it is not enough to publicize and emphasize the lawlessness of the current government, as long as the public retain the hope that putting a different group of people into power will change things. The second part of this message then is that these cases of lawless behavior are no abberation, no accident, for the state is lawless in its very essence. Lawlessness is woven into the very fabric of its being, for the very concept of the sovereign state is incompatible with rule of law.

To see this, let us consider two slogans at the heart of American legal tradition that communicate principles essential to rule of law. The first is from the Declaration of Independence:

All men are created equal.

This is the principle of isonomy, or equality of all before the law. It means that both the content and procedures of law should apply equally to all. No person, group, or organization may hold any special, privileged legal position. No person, group, or organization may have any special immunity or exemption from the laws that apply to all others. Americans like to consider themselves egalitarian, and this slogan speaks to such sentiments.

The state operates in violation of this principle, for it is defined by its special privileges and immunities. The state claim for themselves the unique privilege of creating and operating courts; they claim the unique privilege of creating, out of thin air, arbitrary debts owed to them (taxes); they claim the unique privilege of using violence to force others to comply with their demands. They claim the unique privilege of rewriting the very law as they see fit. This alone qualifies as arbitrary rule, regardless of what procedures are used to select the rulers. Shorn to its essentials, the state is simply a privileged group of people set above the rest of us and exempted from the rules of civilized conduct.

The second slogan has been part of Anglo-American legal tradition from time immemorial:

No man ought to be the judge of his own case.

This is just plain common sense, an obvious requirement for any sort of justice. So when one person has a complaint against another, who is to judge? One solution is that some authority picks an indepent and unbiased judge. But what is to be done if that authority is itself a party to the case?

Consider what happens when the state's prosecutor charges someone with a crime. In this case the state are collectively the plaintiff, yet they also supply the judge. If Avis, having claimed that you damaged a rental car and owed them $5000, were to insist that their own legal department must try the case, all would see the illegitimacy of their demand. For the state to try the very cases they prosecute is equally illegitimate.

Likewise, consider what happens when one of us brings suit against the state, or criminal charges are brought against an officer of the state. In this case the defendent is the state, as an organization, or one of its members, yet again the state also supply the judge. Again consider the analogies involving other organizations. Suppose that you went into the hospital for a tonsillectomy and they removed your right leg instead. You sue for damages. Should the hospital's legal department decide the case? Or a mall security guard tells you to stop, but you ignore him and keep walking away, so he shoots you in the back. You sue for damages. Should the mall's legal department decide the case? The answer is obvious.

These arguments may be summed up in one phrase: rule-of-law anarchism. This is the idea that the state is illegitimate because it necessarily violates the principles of rule of law. Thus we see that we have anchored our position in long-established, traditional principles of Anglo-American law. We're not radicals at all; we're practically crusty old conservatives, harrumphing about people who have no respect for centuries-old legal traditions!

Now I would like to turn your attention to the flag I designed for this talk:


Every movement needs its symbols as a way of concisely expressing solidarity and the goals for which they are striving. I would like to propose this flag as a symbol for our movement. The colors red, white, and blue evoke a positive response in most Americans; they are tied to feelings of love of country and ideals of freedom in the minds of many people, and so I have used those colors here. The colors suggest America, but this is clearly not the blood-drenched flag of the United States. The scales of justice stand for the rule of law, and the white symbolizes the purity of our principles. The red and blue are side by side, neither above the other; this symbolizes the principle of isonomy, equality of all under the law.

An Alternative Authority
To successfully challenge an existing authority, it is almost always necessary to provide an alternative authority. People will cling to the familiar if they see no alternative. This alternative can be a higher authority, such as personal conscience, moral principle, religious principle, or other societal values. More concretely, it can be a set of alternative institutions. This latter possibility can be highly threatening to the state. As a historical example, between 1917 and 1921 Irish nationalist rebels against the British state employed the tactic of Sinn Fein, meaning “by ourselves” or “ourselves alone”. They acted as if the British state were not there at all, and organized the community under their own rules and institutions. Judging from the brutal response, the British rulers seem to have considered this tactic more threatening than even the military tactics of the Irish Republican Army.

Providing an alternative authority therefore furthers both of our major tasks: it both weakens the power of the state, and strengthens the power of our movement.

What should this alternative authority be? Natural law, in the abstract; but more concretely, a centerless system of law and courts, independent of the state.

Contrary to popular impression of law as emanating from the state, the historical fact is that law preceded the state. The state was Johnny-come-lately, taking over already existing legal systems and warping them to serve the rulers' ends. There are many historical and even modern examples of well-developed stateless legal systems:

The law of ancient Ireland.
The legal system of Medieval Iceland.
The law of Amerind tribes such as the Comanche and the Hopi.
The law of the ancient Germanic tribes.
The Xeer, the traditional law of the Somali nation.
Roman private law.
The original basis for English common law.
European merchant law in the middle ages.
Admiralty law.
The law of the Maghribi traders of the medieval Mediterranean.
Miner's courts in the American West in the 19th Century.
Sharia law, currently used to resolve disputes between British Muslims.
The People's Courts of modern India.
Private courts for settling disputes in America's underground economy.
Private arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution used to resolve most commercial disputes in America.
We see that private courts and stateless law are not radical ideas invented by wild-eyed libertarian ideologues. They are, in fact, as old as human civilization. So in a sense, we voluntaryists and market anarchists are really the most hidebound of traditionalists you could find. We're just saying that this new-fangled idea of centralized legal systems under monopoly control just isn't working out, and it's time to return to the traditional concept of law.

Concepts of Stateless Law
Michael van Notten, in The Law of the Somalis, lists four possible meanings of the word “law”:

Politician's law.
This is legislation, statutes, and other rules created by politicians.
People's law.
This is customary law that emerges spontaneously from individual court cases. It is a culture-specific approximation of natural law.
Contractual law.
This is created whenever two parties sign a contract, consisting of whatever agreements they have made.
Natural law.
This is the rules of conduct necessary for people to live and work in peace, based on human nature.
A central feature of customary or natural law is that law is not made, it is not legislated, it is not decreed; it is discovered. The development of customary law is an ongoing effort to discover what the natural law is. It always focuses on resolving the specific issues of the specific parties to a specific case, and thus is far less vulnerable to lobbying and politicking than the process of legislation.

The main elements of natural law as commonly understood are these: lawful behavior means to avoid physical damage to another's person or property; to honor one's contracts; and to compensate those whom one has harmed by infringing on their person or property. In other words, Ayn Rand didn't invent the Non-Aggression Principle; it is of ancient origin. The natural law has no notion of victimless crime; there is no case without a plaintiff to claim injury. Thus customary law tends to focus on compensation for injuries suffered, rather than on punishment. The purpose of law is to see that justice is done — that injured parties are made whole, to the extent possible — rather than to exact vengeance against evil-doers.

Without a central authority, there is the question of how a court is chosen to try a case. In customary legal systems the choice of judge(s) is typically made by some form of prior arrangement, or by negotation between representatives of the two parties. Another common arrangement is to have each side supply one judge, and the two form a court; if necessary these two judges select a third to act as a tie breaker. Customary law typically allows only limited appeals, so that cases do not drag out endlessly; one rule that has been used is to say that the decision of two out of three courts is final.

Under customary law, courts are responsible only for rendering decisions, but not for enforcing them. Enforcement is through a variety of mechanisms, none of them centralized. Economic and social ostracism have at times been effective, such as in enforcing the Law Merchant. Somali law requires both parties to agree in the presence of witnesses that they will abide by the verdict, before a case may be tried.

At least three customary legal systems I know of had a notion of outlawry. If a person refused to abide by a judgment against them, they could be declared an outlaw. An outlaw had no recourse to the legal system; if someone committed a crime against them, they were on their own. Simply put, if you turned your back on the legal system, it turned its back on you. Outlaws generally found life very dangerous and ended up leaving the country.

The ultimate enforcement mechanism is self-help: using force to extract a restitution payment ordered by a court. The reason this does not lead to endless cycles of violence is that social sanction is given for such use of force only after a court ruling, only against those who refuse to pay the required restitution, and only to the extent reasonably required to effect payment. Stepping beyond these bounds exposes one to criminal charges.

Most individuals will not have the resources to force compliance with a court order. A modern society could deal with this through insurance: if the criminal / debtor refuses to pay, the insurance company would pay you immediately and then hire a collections agency to collect the debt. Past and existing customary legal systems have evolved other approaches to this problem. In Iceland a judgment in your favor was a debt that you could sell to another person — presumably someone who had the ability to collect. Ireland had a system of sureties; a person would have prior arrangements with someone wealthier and more powerful to aid them in the collection of judgments when necessary, in return for reciprocal obligations. Somali law uses insurance on the other side: to have the protection of the law you must have insurance that guarantees that any judgment against you will be paid. A Somali's extended family provides this insurance; a foreigner must seek a host who will insure him as a guest.

A Prefigurative Movement
So how do we communicate this message of law without the state? Do we write articles, essays, and books, and give speeches? This is not enough; it is hard to convince people of the need for radical change by words alone. There is a slogan in the open-source software community that is relevant here: “show me the code.” This means that, rather than argue about the merits of different technical solutions, just go ahead and implement your proposal and let everyone see how well it works. We likewise need to show people working examples of our proposals.

We need to become a prefigurative movement. Rather than talking endlessly about what we want, or agitating for someone else to give us what we want, we can simply behave as if we were already living in the stateless society we desire. As Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world.

We must begin to create this stateless system of law now, rather than waiting for the state to disintegrate first. This requires a commitment to resolving all of our own disputes outside of the state's legal apparatus wherever possible, using mediation, existing arbitration services, or the freedom movement's own natural law courts. Over time we must free ourselves of dependence on the state's “justice” system, even in dealing with crime. We should promote the norm of mutual consent in choice of what court is to try a case, both by word and by our example as plaintiff or defendant.

There is a possible entrepreneurial opportunity here: low-cost adjudication of disputes. A judicial entrepreneur could seek out persons and problems ill-served by the state's legal system; for instance, in many cases people choose to shrug off an injury done them rather than deal with the high cost of taking the matter to court. The lack of licensing requirements for legal practicioners in natural law courts would lead to more competition lower prices for their services, increasing their popularity.

One way of encouraging the development of natural law courts would be to commission a modern-day version of Blackstone's work on the common law, modified as necessary to concord with libertarian principles, and written to be accessible to the intelligent layman. This would require selecting a suitable expert or experts interested in the project and raising the money to pay them. It might seem odd to think of getting a legal education entirely by self-study, but this was common in 19th Century America — it was called “reading the law”, and generally meant studying Blackstone's Commentary on the Laws of England.

For the natural law courts to be relevant there must be enforcement mechanisms. This includes both getting the defendant to agree to adjudication in the first, and then getting the defendant to pay any judgment against them. In other stateless legal systems both violent and nonviolent enforcement methods have been used. It is social sanction — the popular acceptance that certain forms of violence are legitimate once authorized by a court — that makes the use of violent force to enforce a court ruling practical. We don't have that social sanction, and we won't for some time.

We will therefore have to focus on nonviolent means of enforcement. This is not a bad thing; as they say in the software industry, it's a feature, not a bug. After all, we aim to reduce the scope of legitimized violence in our society. Developing skill in nonviolent law enforcement will reduce the perceived need for violent law enforcement. It will help promote the idea that violence is a last-ditch measure to be used only in extreme circumstances, not just because 51% of the populace want the other 49% to do as they say. This will promote social commitment to the Non-Aggression Principle.

I cannot say just what law enforcement mechanisms we will find most effective, but I know where to look for ideas. Further study of stateless legal systems, especially more modern ones (19th-century Miner's courts, the People's Courts of India, and the use of Sharia law between British Muslims) should prove useful. In addition, the methods of nonviolent intervention described in Gene Sharp's works on nonviolent struggle may provide inspiration.

The State Is Not Special
Our efforts to act is if we already lived in a stateless society should be reflected in our attitudes towards the United States, the State of Utah, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and similar groups. There is nothing special about these organizations; they are just a few of the millions (yes, millions) of clubs, companies, and associations within American society. Since none of us here are members of these particular organizations, we shouldn't be concerned with their internal politics, who they elect as officers, whether or not they spend their money wisely, etc.

This view should be reflected in our language. Why in the world would it ever occur to us to use the word “America” as a synonym for some particular one of the millions of associations organized within this country? We would never refer to AT&T's corporate bylaws as “the American Bylaws”; likewise, it makes no sense to refer to the charter of the United States as “the American Constitution”. Those of us not employed by Microsoft would never think to call Steve Ballmer “our president”; likewise, those of us not employed by the United States have no reason to call George Bush “our president”. The fact that Amway is a multi-level marketing organization would never lead us to make the absurd statement that America is a multi-level marketing organization; it is equally absurd to call America a constitutional republic just because the United States has that organizational form. Seeing the state as just one organization among many, we would never think of the U.S. as “us”; as none of us here are employees or officers of that organization, the U.S. is just another “them”.

We want to avoid according the state any sort of special status via our choice of words. Beyond the examples already given, we should avoid using the word “public” — which means “the people” — when we really mean “government”. For example, so-called public schools are actually government schools; public parks are actually government parks; and public libraries are actually government libraries. A good replacement for the word “private” would be useful, as it acknowledges a special position for the state by giving a name to everything that is not the state. This is like having a special word, nonibmeous, meaning those parts of society that are not part of IBM. I prefer the term “civil society” as a replacement for “the private sector”; it relegates the state to the dark corners of society occupied by muggers, the Mafia, and other violent elements. Finally, I would encourage you to avoid calling the demands of government officials “laws”; they are legislation, statutes, or rules, but by the standards of natural law very little of what emanates from Congress, the State Legislature, or City Hall can properly be called law.

Of course, others will insist that the state is special, and that its officers should receive special treatment. The proper response is for us to remain stubbornly and willfully incapable of comprehending why anyone would think so. Don't argue about it; just assume that the state isn't special, and let the state's supporters explain why its officers should be exempt from the rules of civilized conduct. We should be like the Somali immigrant who couldn't understand why the cops kept on pulling his car over and fining him; the idea that he had to get a government permission slip to drive was simply too bizarre to even occur to him.

This attitude of refusing to see anything special about the state should extend to cases of arrest and prosecution for acts that are not true crimes. (This might occur due to deliberate civil disobedience, or we might simply be supporting some victim of the state.) The first question we will want to repeatedly emphasize is, “Who's the victim?” This question not only focuses attention on whether any real crime prompted the arrest and prosecution, but it also suggests an answer: the person who was arrested is the real victim. This question is not aimed at the police, prosecutors, or courts, whom we do not expect to sway; it is aimed at the larger audience whom we wish to influence. The person arrested might say something along the lines of this: “I am truly sorry if I have infringed on the rights of another person, and I want to do whatever is necessary to undo any harm I may have caused. Could you tell me whom, specifically, I have harmed, and how?”

The next step is to publicly offer to submit the case for adjudication by an independent court. We would, of course, reject as absurd the idea that the same group of people bringing the complaint could also supply the location, judge, and procedures to be used in trying the case. No man ought to be the judge of his own case. We would insist on the usual procedure of mutual consent in selection of a court, on equal treatment for the two parties, with the same legal standards applied to both sides, recognizing no special privilege for the state. To all claims of such privilege, our response is the same: all men are created equal.

A similar procedure applies when government personnel are the defendants, having caused deliberate or accidental injury, perhaps in the course of violently enforcing some legislative decree. The first thing to do is to focus on the specific people most directly responsible, and publicize the charges against them. We then publicly deliver the demand for independent adjudication, again rejecting as absurd the idea that the defendant's employer should choose the location, judge, and legal procedures to be used in trying the case.

In the earlier stages of the struggle all this would serve only to publicize our message. But as the struggle progresses, there will come a first time when we will succeed in using the methods of nonviolent intervention to pressure some prosecutor to submit a case to third-party adjudication. This will be a definitive moment in our struggle, for it will signal the first crack in the edifice of state sovereignty.

Legitimacy of Our Movement
Our efforts to weaken the perceived legitimacy of the state should be accompanied by parallel efforts to promote the legitimacy of our movement and our system of law. We need to create a stark contrast: one the one hand there is the lawless, violent, brutal state; and on the other hand there are the nonviolent, law-respecting Free Americans. Of course, we will need to combat the perception that we are lawless because we do not respect the government's statutes. Thus we need to promote the idea of natural law, that an act is lawful or criminal on its own merits, and not because of the decree of some group of rulers. The idea of natural law is more important than the specifics of its content, because once this idea is accepted, the state and its statutes are no longer relevant when discussing the lawfulness of an act.

To be seen as law respecting, we have to be law respecting by the standards of natural law. Obviously, we must respect the persons and property of others, and keep contractual commitments. Beyond this, if someone claims that we have caused them injury or breached a contract, we cannot be judge of our own case; we must be willing to submit such disputes to independent judgment. Arbitration is a thriving industry in this country, so there should be no problem in setting up such independent adjudication. And once judgment is passed, we just be willing to accept the outcome, whether or not it is in our favor, or follow any accepted appeal procedures.

As a final comment, we need to combat any perception that we are freeloaders. When we resist paying taxes, the argument will be made that we receive certain benefits and services from the state, but we don't want to pay for them. It is true that we never contracted for any of these benefits, and are actively opposed to many of them (such as the “benefit” of endless war in the Mid-Eeast). Still, our position will have greater legitimacy in the public eye if we can say that we don't ask for anything from the state, we don't want anything from the state, and we don't need anything from the state. We want to be able to say, “We never signed up for your club and we have no desire to be part of it.” Furthermore, avoiding the use of government services strengthens us directly: dependence on the state is vulnerability to the state.

Let me summarize my main points:

To destroy the power of the state we must destroy its authority.
To destroy the state's authority, we must

make its lawless nature clear, and
provide an alternative source of law.
To make the state's lawless nature clear, we should emphasize these basic legal principles:

All mean are created equal. Both the content and procedures of law must apply equally to all. This allows no special role for the state.
No man should be judge of his own case. Therefore the state cannot be party to a case, whether as plaintiff or defendant, and also control the court that tries the case.
To provide an alternative source of law, we can do the following:

Promote the use of mediation, arbitration services, and natural-law courts.
Create our own nonviolent law enforcement mechanisms.
Victory is then measured by the degree to which the state can be compelled to submit to an independent court in prosecuting a case against a Free American or defending against a complaint brought by a Free American.


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Re: Fantastic-a blueprint for the nonviolent revolution
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 05:12 PM NHFT »

I think these are things i will focus on.   :)  Selected parts from previous entry. 

The State Is Not Special
Our efforts to act is if we already lived in a stateless society should be reflected in our attitudes towards the United States, the State of Utah, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and similar groups. There is nothing special about these organizations; they are just a few of the millions (yes, millions) of clubs, companies, and associations within American society. Since none of us here are members of these particular organizations, we shouldn't be concerned with their internal politics, who they elect as officers, whether or not they spend their money wisely, etc.

This view should be reflected in our language. Why in the world would it ever occur to us to use the word “America” as a synonym for some particular one of the millions of associations organized within this country? We would never refer to AT&T's corporate bylaws as “the American Bylaws”; likewise, it makes no sense to refer to the charter of the United States as “the American Constitution”. Those of us not employed by Microsoft would never think to call Steve Ballmer “our president”; likewise, those of us not employed by the United States have no reason to call George Bush “our president”. The fact that Amway is a multi-level marketing organization would never lead us to make the absurd statement that America is a multi-level marketing organization; it is equally absurd to call America a constitutional republic just because the United States has that organizational form. Seeing the state as just one organization among many, we would never think of the U.S. as “us”; as none of us here are employees or officers of that organization, the U.S. is just another “them”.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 05:14 PM NHFT by David »


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Re: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2008, 10:01 PM NHFT »

Wall of text crits you for 9999 damage.


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Re: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2008, 01:04 PM NHFT »

While I liked much of the article, I do not like the term "struggle".  Living free is not a struggle, but slavery is.  If we choose to remove our consent and join the voluntary society and the govt guys come after us, we will respond with more nonviolent cooperation.  Where is the struggle?

We have already won.  Again, what struggle is necessary?

I think many of us, myself included, have renounced politics because we understand now that pushing against something only empowers it. 

to contend with an adversary or opposing force.

Synonyms for "contend"
1. wrestle, grapple, battle, fight.

This is not the experience I want for my life.  I just want to be free.  Struggling is not freedom.


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Re: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2008, 01:23 PM NHFT »

For those with limited time, the 2nd article is shorter and better, IMO.

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Re: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2009, 08:55 PM NHFT »

I really appreciate this article. Blueprints help. Having this to read helps a visual learner like myself get more of a foundation or direction to understanding activism through civil disobedience. Maybe we can meet up at the Liberty Forum? Patty Lee


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Re: The Blueprint for the Nonviolent Revolution
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2016, 08:21 AM NHFT »

interesting indeed!
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