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How to smash the system while not totally smashing the system

This is an edited version of Bill Moyer's Movement Action Plan.

Laura Farley

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of How to smash the system while not totally smashing the system

NORMAL TIMES Normal times are politically quiet times because the powerholders successfully promote their official doctrine and policies while hiding their actual operative doctrine and policies. Injustice is neither in the public spotlight nor on society's agenda of hotly contested issues.

Some past normal times were the violations of Blacks' civil rights before 1960; we are currently NOT in stage 1

to document that a serious problem exists,
to maintain an active opposition no matter how small, and
to move to the next stages

The main danger is to be stuck in normal times indefinitely because of political naivete, not knowing the realities of political and social life, and feeling powerless to create change. stage two
PROVE THE FAILURE OF INSTITUTIONS The public realizes that the governmental policies violate widely held beliefs and values. The problem and the policies of powerholders continue unchanged, there is little dissent or publicity, and the situation seems like it might continue indefinitely—as indeed it might. Nevertheless, this stage is for the stout-hearted, determined, and persistent.

Document the problem, especially the involvement of the powerholders.
Document the citizens' attempt to use the normal channels of citizen participation and prove that they did not work.
Become experts.
Build small opposition organizations.

Holding the belief that social problems can be corrected without building a new social consensus, mobilizing widespread grassroots opposition, and engaging in a long struggle, that changes the present imbalance of power.
Continuing to feel powerless and hopeless. stage three
RIPENING CONDITIONS There is a critical problem that appears to be worsening, proven violations by the powerholders, many victims, spreading discontent, available pre-existing networks, and an emerging new wave of grassroots opposition. Yet, no one—the public, powerholders, or even the new wave activists—is expecting the emergence of a new movement.

Create, inspire, and prepare the new wave groups, including the formation of new networks, leadership, and expertise that will spearhead the new movement.
Prepare pre-existing networks to be involved in the upcoming movement.
Personalize the problem.
Begin a small prototype nonviolent action project.

Not recognizing the ripening conditions for a new social movements.
Having the bureaucracy, legalism squash the creativity, independence, nonviolent methods, and spontaneity of the new grassroots groups. stage four
"The TAKE OFF" stage five
IDENTITY CRISIS The Two Views of Power The Movements Source of Power Social Movements VS Powerholders The Movement's Strategy The take-off stage is an exciting time of trigger event, dramatic actions, passion, a new social movement, public spotlight, crisis, high hopes and output of energy. Both a previously unrecognized social problem and official policies become a public issue.

Create a public platform for the movement to educate the populace.
Force the general population to have to think about the issue by having two contradictory views of reality presented to them constantly.
Win the sympathies and the opinions of the public.
Become recognized as the legitimate opposition.
Getting the powerholders to change their minds and policies is not a goal of this stage!

political naivete;
burnout from overwork, not seeing progress as success, and unrealistic expectations of immediate victory; and
arrogant self-righteousness and radicalism. Most activists perceive that the powerholders are too strong, their movement has failed, and their own efforts have been futile. Most surprising is the fact that this identity crisis of powerlessness and failure happens when the movement is outrageously successful.

adopt empowerment models of organization and leadership, and
move from protesters and long-life social change agents.

feeling the movement is losing when it is succeeding
The "tyranny of structurelessness" and anti-leadership
Rebellion, machismo, and violence
Despair, burnout, and dropout stage six
MAJORITY PUBLIC SUPPORT The movement must shift from spontaneous protest, operating in a short-term crisis, to a long-term popular struggle to achieve positive social change. The majority stage is a long process of eroding the social, political, and economic supports that enable the powerholders to continue their policies. The political price that the powerholders have to pay to maintain their policies grows to become an untenable liability.

Keep the issue in the public spotlight and on society's agenda.
Switch from only crisis protest to waging sustainable social struggle for change
Involve large numbers of the populace in programs at the grassroots level.
Propose alternatives, more demands, and a new paradigm.
adopt empowerment organizational and leadership models

Cooptation by powerholders through collusion and compromise.
Political sects dominate the movement organizations.
Believing that the movement is losing and local efforts are futile. stage seven
SUCCESS Power turns against the powerholders and begins an endgame process leading to the movement's success. The Stage Seven process can take three forms: dramatic showdown, quiet showdown, or attrition.

Have activists recognize the success and their own role in it.
Raise larger issues and propose alternative paradigms.
Create new decentralized centers of power based on more participatory structures and an empowered public.
Continue the movement.

compromising too many values and key demands;
having activists feel dismayed and powerless because they do not recognize the movement's role in a successful endgame
having apparent final victory end the movement. stage eight
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