Posts Tagged ‘pacifism’


On nonviolent struggle (2)

December 19, 2013

Interviewing Howard Clark – video 2
by Mujer Palabra (June 2013)


Why did I become a pacifist? + On nonviolent struggle in the world (1)

December 19, 2013

Interviewing Howard Clark (Mujer Palabra June 2013)
Howard died last Dec 5, 2013


Nonviolent Resistance (edited on the next day – in italics)

January 16, 2013

(Written with a feminist intelligence, this is, not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have.)

In the Avanzado 2 textbook, unit 4 is devoted to Warfare. Being a pacifist feminist, I suppose I should try to balance things a bit, posting here about nonviolent resistance, because History books, until the 20th century, like Science, and so many other areas of knowledge, have always been populated by men and wars, and men’s wars against other men. To make matters worse, they have always silenced Man’s war against women, for instance, never including in the description of casualties in war the fact that women were always raped – trophies or rubber dolls for the men that prevailed.

Humankind has been much kinder, throughout its History, but not until the 20th century did we start trying to find out evidence of this. Universities started setting up Women Studies and Peace Studies, both doing research to restore what was obliterated by men in power – kings, people with tons of money or richess, warriors, the clergy or religious reps. And then, we got the Internet, where zillions of people are leaving track of their existence, which makes it harder for manipulators to keep tricking us all. Consumerism is the new war to divert our attention from real life and real people, but it is obvious we have options, we have innumerable sources of information. We, the Jane Doe’s and the John Doe’s in/on the planet, have access to information and means of communication that allow us to travel around the world.

Nonviolent resistance is a method of social change that employs strategies such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and civil disobedience. In unit 4 we find some info on famous movie scenes and Spartacus is mentioned. This is an example of one of the most empowering and powerful actions human beings can undertake together without replicating the violence that tries to annihilate them. In class, I mentioned a similar example, much closer to our times: nonviolent resistance against the nazi occupation in Western Europe. People are so beautiful and powerful when they use their imagination and kindness, which is to say their intelligence, to learn to solve conflicts without generating more violence and more injustice!

Women have used nonviolent resistance constantly. But women have always been invisible in patriarchy, so they have not been acknowledged as rolemodels (and certainly not as “people who struggle”). (I don’t believe women are “natural” pacifists. The fact that women cannot use violence is part of the patriarchal rationale. I believe that if we overcome the patriarchal gender role system, we’ll develop our intelligence more, in a good way, and any kind of person will then tend to use nonviolence.)

Fortunately, the time has come when we are finally realizing that any human being is capable of using their intelligence, and that any of them should be treated with respect. Human rights is as new a notion as 1945, so it’s taken us far too long to get to this good idea. But we made it. And if we uproot the patriarchal dogmas that we have been brought up in, if we overcome them, we’ll have a chance of developing more civilized societies.

Here’s a video, “Women, War and Peace,” linked to in this Peaceful Protest Lesson Proposal. It’s just an example of all the nonviolent struggle going on that is not considered “struggle”, because patriarchy has taught us that only violent struggle is struggle, and honorable. And this is false.

564393_289129831196530_26175878_n(1)With our social movement on the streets in Spain, which we call 15M (mostly, I suppose, because “indignados” yet again just made men visible and this was unfair and feminist women and also less machista men protested — not necessary feminist, but some starting to understand or develop a feminist intelligence), and which is called the Occupy movement in English speaking countries, we have a very clear example of how good it feels, how right it feels, how intelligent it is, to use nonviolent struggle. The means should be an example of what we strive for, of the ends. Nonviolent struggle is non-hierarchical, every one can take part, from kids to the elderly, men, women, intersex people, hets, homos, bis, trans, all kinds of people, believers and people who do not believe in any kind of god (it’s not only believers like Gandhi or Luther King the ones fighting for justice through nonviolence)… not only what happens in armies around the world, right? Haven’t you seen how many things are happening where people are helping each other to protest home evictions, and also using nonviolent direct action?, this is, occupying the house, to defend the people being evicted? Or the street markets set in many neighbourhoods, where people are going back / rescuing “trueque”, bartering!

There’s the Arab Spring, too — and I know women were raped in some demos in Egypt, for instance, and we have to denounce that, but women were there fighting, too, they were taking part in this revolution, called nowadays social change, or the social movement.

On TV, have you noticed that when the demonstrations are just by young men, they’re full of violence and that when there are women, and other kinds of men (not only the Brute Force type), and all kinds of ages, from kids to old people, demonstrations are very definitely nonviolent, in spite of provocation?

Do you think there has ever been a time before where so many millions of people are demanding a better world, with less violence and injustice, to “their leaders”?

And there are people in Africa devoting their lives to nonviolent struggle, in the midst of brutal poverty and terrifying violence. And we should all learn to appreciate that, the best options we have if we want to survive as a species.

There’s much to learn from nonviolent struggle and I encourage you all to look for information, to discuss it on/in the street, at home, in bars, anywhere you can! The Franquist dictatorship taught people that we should never talk about politics or religion, and that is still operating, in spite of the fact that it is a crazy idea for democracies. It’s in our cultural unconcious memory, and we have to fight it, because it is not right. Politics is about us people living together and that should be built in cooperation, and via nonviolent struggle.

More hints:

  • Lysistrata
  • The nonviolent theory was developed by Henry David Thoreau in his essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage (see also third wave feminism).
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, thousands of students doing Nonviolent Direct Action, NVDA).
  • Gandhi and the Salt March. (If you are interested in more ideas about nonviolent struggle and today, you might want to read Por qué no soy gandhiana (Why I’m not a Gandhian), written from an anarchist pacifist feminist approach.)
  • The movement of Insumisión (by MOC people, who openly rejected violent action because they were/are pacifists — thought they call themselves “antimilitarists” because the term “pacifist” is not cool.
  • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and other pacifist feminist groups or networks, like Women in Black.
  • Indians in America (which is a continent, and not a country) have also used nonviolent struggle, against acculturization, too. And Mayan people were incredibly creative since the European invasions.
  • People’s demonstrations all over the world against the Iraq war in 2003. People all over telling their leaders: we don’t want more wars; solve conflicts differently!

There’s so much, people! Just look around you and learn to see it as valuable, empowering, powerful, intelligent! Because we’re extremely lucky to live in this extraordinary time, when people traditionally pushed to slavery and harship, like most women and a lot of men, have finally the chance to lead their own lives.

Oh my! I can’t possibly keep writing this! There are so many experiences, books, handbooks (how to do this and that), people, peoples… and I really got to relax now a bit! So mull over it! And if you’re interested, some other day I can keep posting on this! 😀


When crowds become mobs – Tips for trying to prevent this…

November 30, 2012

Woops, sorry – I edited this after having sent it out

The other day in Avanzado 2 Monday the term “mobbing” came up (mobbing < mob) and I clarified its meaning and pronunciation, which is not /múvin/ but /móbin/! 😀 “Bullying” also came up as another borrowing from English related to naming a group of people who hurt / abuse one person in various ways, not necessarily physically. Typically, mobbing takes place in private enterprises, where adults might get to be far too competitive, and bullying has school toilets and playgrounds as its typical scenario.

This week (yesterday) we also started a consciousness-raising activity in our School, in order to make people reflect upon our role in emergency situations. We teachers are useful for all kinds of things. But we’d rather have professionals in this area doing this. Guess why we can’t have them. Anyway, possibly next week, we don’t know when, an alarm will ring, indicating we should evacuate the building. We have to pretend it’s true, i.e. there’s much to learn from it. (And then once the activity is over, we can celebrate!) All occasions in life when you have the chance to learn something as relevant as this should be taken seriously! 🙂 You might think it’s useless because we all know it’s not true. How can I explain it’s not useless, considering I’m not a fire fighter! Well, I’ll resort to my experience, as usual. At the end of the 1980s I attended a few trainings in Spain on nonviolent direct action, conducted by people in the pacifist movement – the MOC men and women, COs and total resisters. I did so because I was traveling to Central America to be a nonviolent escort and an international witness with an independent NGO called Peace Brigades International. Our mission was deterring violence against the people we “accompanied.” Guess what we, the team, did every week. We set up a role-play, un sociodrama, based on a violent situation we might confront, and then we analyzed our reactions. This was very useful to allow us be well-prepared (not only psychologically, I must say) to react in the best possible way when we were “accompanying” human rights activists, trade unionists, relatives of the disappeared people, peasants… people who could be murdered or kidnapped in front of our very eyes — of course, this doesn’t mean we would necessarily succeed, you never know if you’re going to be able to control your fear, but the more scenarios you have in mind, the more chances there are for you to react in some of the ways you imagined. This is obvious! I also used scenario-analysis to feel more confident when wandering on my own at night in the city, or when traveling on my own. I’ve always supported freedom of movement for women, too! 😀 — and the visualization of a horrible threat women have had. (Oh, just remembered: the other day I mentioned this in some group, can’t remember now which: the feminist movement Take back the night! might’ve inspired (too) today’s slogan Take back the streets, like the MOC movement here inspired the present Conscientious Objection (CO) by workers in the Healthcare system.)

Evacuation needs to be a community process, and this means, we have to learn to take care of ourselves while trying to help out in the process, at least trying not to make things worse. We need to learn to control our fear and allow the goodness people are capable of, because most human beings are capable of solidarity. So three important pieces of advice that help greatly are:

1. Try to be silent – when people shout we can’t hear instructions that people in charge or people who have decided to help others might be giving. Also, we wouldn’t be able to hear people who were shouting for help, if something had happened (e.g. someone locked in a toilet.) Uncontrolled screaming — out of fear, because of panicking – obviously, not because of pain — increases the chances the crowd becomes a mob, a destructive force, murderous as we witnessed recently.

2. Forget about material things, i.e. belongings. Your priority should be your life and avoiding harming other people. If you are lucky and get the chance to put into practice how to behave in an emergency evacuation, it is not a good idea to waste this opportunity.

3. Move swiftly but carefully towards the exit (and then away from the entrance!), with the group of people around you, caring for yourself and others while thinking that everybody in the building needs to get out as soon as possible, which means, for instance, that you should not block the exits – not inside the building, not outside the building.

The equation Ignorance + Fear = Violence, like what happens with Anger + Fear = Violence, should be avoided, we should try our best to avoid it. We should not forget about our ability to be kind, to exert civic behavior. Most of us have the potential to behave in two very different ways: destructively, or controlling our fear and in solidarity.

Btw, I forgot to talk about this to the 16.30 Avanzado 2 Tuesday group! It seems my mind was more into hearing you talk about love! Oh my! 😀 Well, I hope the practice is not next Tuesday!!

Well, aren’t I a chatter box!!! 😀

More ideas for you mull over!

What is “mob mentality”

Source: adapted from Wise Geek (a team of researchers, writers and editors dedicated to providing short, clear and concise answers to common questions).

The term “mob mentality” is used to refer to unique behavioral characteristics that emerge when people are in large groups. It is often used in a negative sense, because the term “mob” typically conjures image of an aggressive, chaotic group of people. Social psychologists who study group behavior also use terms such as “herd behavior,” “herd mentality” or “crowd hysteria” to describe similar behaviors. The study of mob mentality is used to analyze situations that range from problems during evacuations to public gatherings that turn violent.

Herd Behavior

Not until the early 20th century did we start applying scientific theories about crowd behavior to humans, and we did so in order to find ways to minimize or control it. One reason for herd behavior is that humans, like other species, tend to do what others around them are doing. This usually is because those who join the group in the behavior figure that if several others are doing something, it must be worthwhile, or they would not be doing it. For example, people figure that a crowded restaurant must be serving good food, or it would not be as busy. In most cases, this thought process comes subconsciously, which is one reason why all animals take part in herd behavior.

Herd Mentality

Herd mentality involves more conscious thought than herd behavior. This type of mentality can be influenced by things such as peer pressure, conformity, the need for acceptance and the desire for a sense of belonging. These things often cause people who are in groups to behave in ways that are similar to others in the group. For example, you might choose to listen to different music when in a group of friends than you would listen to when alone, because the others might make disparaging remarks if another type of music is chosen. People in crowded celebrations tend to drink alcohol because of peer pressure, men in football events tend to use aggressive language that often leads them to physical violence.

Mob Mentality

Other factors come into play when the term “mob mentality” is used to refer to something negative. Two of the main factors are the greater anonymity that exists within a group and the distribution of responsibility for the group’s actions. These factors sometimes make a person believe that they can act a certain way within a group and not have the same consequences that the same actions would have if he or she acted alone. For example, if someone is in a group that is vandalizing a building, he might believe that there is less of a chance of getting caught than if he was acting alone, because it might be difficult to identify every person who was involved. This person might also feel less guilt because other people also vandalized the property. Another factor in mob mentality is the sense of confusion or even panic that can exist in a large group. An example of this can be seen when people in crowds suddenly begin rushing in one direction. Although many people in the group might not know why this is happening, they see the urgency in the group and begin rushing in that direction, too. In extreme cases, the urgency and panic increases, creating a sort of crowd hysteria, and some people might even get trampled (crushed) as a great number of people try to move in the same direction as quickly as possible. Even for something as seemingly innocent as a department store sale, a mob mentality might be evident as dozens of shoppers rush toward the sale items, push each other out of the way and fight over the items.


Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns

June 12, 2010

The Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns Project involves (at least)…

  • Reading the book: you can order a copy for £5 (online shopping you can organize in class) or donwload it for free from the WRI website.
  • Interviewing Howard Clark, the Chairperson of War Resisters’ International  and editor of books like People Power. Unarmed Resistance & Global Solidarity (2009)
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