Tag Archives: nonviolent movement

An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement from the Alliance of Community Trainers

You may be interested in this open letter to the Occupy Movement from the Alliance of Community Trainers, which includes Starhawk. I think everyone is getting in on the action by trying to tell the Occupy Movement what it should or shouldn’t do, which I think when done well is part of the overall culture trying to critically analyse this new and energetic movement.

“The Occupy movement has had enormous successes in the short time since September when activists took over a square near Wall Street. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of active participants, spawned occupations in cities and towns all over North America, changed the national dialogue and garnered enormous public support. It’s even, on occasion, gotten good press!

Now we are wrestling with the question that arises again and again in movements for social justice—how to struggle. Do we embrace nonviolence, or a ‘diversity of tactics?’ If we are a nonviolent movement, how do we define nonviolence? Is breaking a window violent?

We write as a trainers’ collective with decades of experience, from the anti-Vietnam protests of the sixties through the strictly nonviolent antinuclear blockades of the seventies, in feminist, environmental and anti-intervention movements and the global justice mobilizations of the late ’90s and early ’00s. We embrace many labels, including feminist, anti-racist, eco-feminist and anarchist. We have many times stood shoulder to shoulder with black blocs in the face of the riot cops, and we’ve been tear-gassed, stun-gunned, pepper sprayed, clubbed, and arrested,

While we’ve participated in many actions organized with a diversity of tactics, we do not believe that framework is workable for the Occupy Movement. Setting aside questions of morality or definitions of ‘violence’ and ‘nonviolence’ – for no two people define ‘violence’ in the same way – we ask the question:

What framework can we organize in that will build on our strengths, allow us to grow, embrace a wide diversity of participants, and make a powerful impact on the world?” [via]

You may want to read the whole letter at An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement: Why We Need Agreements [also].

I’ve posted here about some of the connections between the Occupy Movement and materials at the Hermetic Library, and also a little bit about the way that the Occupy Movement touches on ideas of sacred space. That open letter is from a collective which includes one of the well-known founders of the Reclaiming Tradition, which tradition is quite explicit about being engaged in the real world struggle for justice:

“Our tradition honors the wild, and calls for service to the earth and the community. We value peace and practice non-violence, in keeping with the Rede, ‘Harm none, and do what you will.’ We work for all forms of justice: environmental, social, political, racial, gender and economic. Our feminism includes a radical analysis of power, seeing all systems of oppression as interrelated, rooted in structures of domination and control.” [via]

There’s going to be a lot of thought and work done to figure out what both the success and the struggles of the Occupy Movement mean; and, for those who support it, how to keep it alive; and, for those against it, how to confront it. There will also be a lot of thought and work on what the Occupy Movement is and isn’t. Hopefully, the Occupy Movement is agile and adaptable enough to survive, and maybe help from the experience and skill of a much larger community of those who have been seeking justice can increase that movement’s chances to survive and continue to grow.