Resist

We face an emerging hyper-capitalist, far right, white supremacist kleptocracy that will dismantle and starve public systems. What’s more, this kleptocracy is much too closely tied to the established hyper-capitalist, far right, white supremacist kleptocracy in Russia. We must be wary. We must resist. Champion diversity and inclusion, and resist intensely ideological authoritarian parties.

Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda

The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen

Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda

The Indivisible Guide provides a one page summary of four top-level takeaways, which I’ll excerpt here.

How grassroots advocacy worked to stop President Obama

We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components:

  1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs).
  2. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.

How your MoC thinks — reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save democracy.

MoCs want their constituents to think well of them and they want good, local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.

Identify or organize your local group.

Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.

Four local advocacy tactics that actually work.

Most of you have three MoCs — two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voices in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are, in fact, speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. Always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:

  1. Town halls. MoCs regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
  2. Non-town hall events. MoCs love cutting ribbons and kissing babies back home. Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.
  3. District office sit-ins/meetings. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Go there. Demand a meeting with the MoC. Report to the world if they refuse to listen.
  4. Coordinated calls. Calls are a light lift but can have an impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs at an opportune moment about and on a specific issue.

Our family has used some of these approaches in the fight for transgender, neurodiversity, and disability inclusion in our school district.

I am autistic and uncomfortable talking. I do not like interacting with ableist, exclusionary systems that rely on synchronous meatspace conversation. But, sometimes we must show up to talk to representatives and their staff, face to face. Show up at town halls and other events and let them know your PoV exists. We need to be in the room with power. You must personally present your words, or at least work together with someone who will be in the room for you.

Congressman Steve Israel recommends showing up at an event your representative is at and asking them “Why did you vote a certain way?” and “What’s your position on a certain issue?”

The Indivisible Guide stresses two key strategic elements that made the Tea Party successful.

  1. They were locally focused. The Tea Party started as an organic movement built on small local groups of dedicated conservatives. Yes, they received some support/coordination from above, but fundamentally all the hubbub was caused by a relatively small number of conservatives working together.
  2. They were almost purely defensive. The Tea Party focused on saying NO to Members of Congress (MoCs) on their home turf. While the Tea Party activists were united by a core set of shared beliefs, they actively avoided developing their own policy agenda. Instead, they had an extraordinary clarity of purpose, united in opposition to President Obama. They didn’t accept concessions and treated weak Republicans as traitors.

Defend your neighbors. Defend your schools. Defend our institutions and ethics.

Call the Halls

I believe phone calls have a significant impact because of their immediate call to action. It requires an office to formulate a response right away and in our district office, we began tallying calls immediately when we received a large number on a specific topic. I also liked hearing the voices of constituents because they felt more personal than an email or letter. However, I also agree with the CMF’s assessment that large amounts of calls can be disruptive in a bad way and they should be used responsibly, so you don’t damage your message:

  1. Only call the representatives who represent you.
  2. Identify yourself as a constituent.
  3. Call the D.C. office as well as the state offices.
  4. Call once about an issue.
  5. Tell your story on the phone to the staffer.
  6. Ask for specific action.
  7. Be brief and respectful

Source: Call the Halls: Contacting Your Representative the Smart Way

Even if you don’t speak directly to the lawmaker, staff members often pass the message along in one form or another.

Emily Ellsworth, whose jobs have included answering phones in the district offices of two Republican representatives from Utah — Jason Chaffetz, from 2009 to 2012; and Chris Stewart from 2013 to 2014 — said the way your points reach a lawmaker depends on how many calls the office is getting at the time and how you present your story.

In some cases, it’s a simple process. When a caller offered an opinion, staff members would write the comments down in a spreadsheet, compile them each month and present reports to top officials, she said. If the lawmaker had already put out a statement on the issue, the staff member would read it to the caller, she said.

But a large volume of calls on an issue could bring an office to a halt, sometimes spurring the legislator to put out a statement on his or her position, Ms. Ellsworth said. She recommended the tactic in a series of tweets shared thousands of times.

“It brings a legislative issue right to the top of the mind of a member,” she said. “It makes it impossible to ignore for the whole staff. You don’t get a whole lot else done.”

Source: Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators – The New York Times

People need to have a relationship with their elected officials.

#CallTheHalls

Resistance Manual

Action begins with information.

There are more of us who believe in equity and justice than those who support Donald Trump’s ideology of fear and hate.

Together, we can harness the collective power of the people to resist the impact of a Trump presidency and to continue to make progress in our communities.

Get educated. Get organized. Take action.

Source: Resistance Manual

20 steps for resisting fascism

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend an institution.
  3. Recall professional ethics.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  6. Be kind to our language.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to.
  8. Believe in truth.
  9. Investigate.
  10. Practice corporeal politics.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  13. Hinder the one-party state.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
  15. Establish a private life.
  16. Learn from others in other countries.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  19. Be as courageous as you can.
  20. Be a patriot.

Source: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century on How to Survive in Trump’s America – In These Times

Sarah Kendzior and The View From Flyover Country

Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist, journalist, and expert on Central Asia and authoritarianism. Follow her on Twitter for insight into authoritarianism and kleptocracy and how to #Resist.

Her book The View From Flyover Country offers insight into the structural problems that got us here.

I’m calling it for Trump. I think he’s going all the way. I think people who dismiss this have no idea how poor off people are now and how badly they want a savior and scapegoats. This country has nothing left but pain and exploitation of pain for entertainment. Enter Trump. Deal is sealed.

Here is that pain.

This is the view from flyover country, where the rich are less rich and the poor are more poor and everyone has fewer things to lose.

At play, notes Byrne, was more than a rise in the cost of living. It was a shift in the perceived value of creativity, backed by an assumption that it must derive from and be tied to wealth. “A culture of arrogance, hubris and winner-take-all was established,” he recalls. “It wasn’t cool to be poor or struggling. The bully was celebrated and cheered.”

New York – and San Francisco, London, Paris and other cities where cost of living has skyrocketed – are no longer places where you go to be someone. They are places you live when you are born having arrived. They are, as journalist Simon Kuper puts it, “the vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself”.

This is the New York artist today: A literal servant to corporate elites, hired to impart “creativity” to children whose bank accounts outstrip their own.

Creativity – as an expression of originality, experimentation, innovation – is not a viable product. It has been priced out into irrelevance – both by the professionalization of the industries that claim it, and the soaring cost of entry to those professions.

The creative class plays by the rules of the rich, because those are the only rules left.

Today, creative industries are structured to minimize the diversity of their participants – economically, racially and ideologically. Credentialism, not creativity, is the passport to entry.

“What the artist was pretending he didn’t know is that money is the passport to success,” she writes. “We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have, are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures.”

Failure, in an economy of extreme inequalities, is a source of fear. To fail in an expensive city is not to fall but to plummet. In expensive cities, the career ladder comes with a drop-off to hell, where the fiscal punishment for risk gone wrong is more than the average person can endure. As a result, innovation is stifled, conformity encouraged. The creative class becomes the leisure class – or they work to serve their needs, or they abandon their fields entirely.

But creative people should not fear failure. Creative people should fear the prescribed path to success – its narrowness, its specificity, its reliance on wealth and elite approval. When success is a stranglehold, true freedom is failure. The freedom to fail is the freedom to innovate, to experiment, to challenge.

To “succeed” is to embody the definition of contemporary success: sanctioned, sanitized, solvent.

“People”, in Grosse and Thomas’s formulation, are not those who actually live in north Philadelphia and bear the brunt of its burdens. “People” are those who can afford to view poverty through the lens of aesthetics as they pass it by. Urban decay becomes a set piece to be remodeled or romanticized. This is hipster economics.

These dismissals, which focus on gentrification as culture, ignore that Lee’s was a critique of the racist allocation of resources. Black communities whose complaints about poor schools and city services go unheeded find these complaints are readily addressed when wealthier, whiter people move in. Meanwhile, long-time locals are treated as contagions on the landscape, targeted by police for annoying the new arrivals. Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.

Proponents of gentrification will vouch for its benevolence by noting it “cleaned up the neighborhood”. This is often code for a literal white-washing. The problems that existed in the neighborhood – poverty, lack of opportunity, struggling populations denied city services – did not go away. They were simply priced out to a new location.

In cities, gentrifiers have the political clout – and accompanying racial privilege – to reallocate resources and repair infrastructure. The neighborhood is “cleaned up” through the removal of its residents. Gentrifiers can then bask in “urban life” – the storied history, the selective nostalgia, the carefully sprinkled grit – while avoiding responsibility to those they displaced. Hipsters want rubble with guarantee of renewal. They want to move into a memory they have already made.

Rich cities such as New York and San Francisco have become what journalist Simon Kuper calls gated citadels: “Vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself.”

Struggling US cities of the rust belt and heartland lack the investment of coastal contemporaries, but have in turn been spared the rapid displacement of hipster economics. Buffered by their eternal uncoolness, these slow-changing cities have a chance to make better choices – choices that value the lives of people over the aesthetics of place.

“I’ve heard several young hipsters tell me they’re socially-liberal and economic-conservative, a popular trend in American politics,” he writes. “Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, but it’s economics and the role of the state that defines politics. If you’re an economic conservative, despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are, you, my friend, are a conservative …”

But while these were memories for some, for others they were merely rumors. A functional local economy was a story our parents told us.

Our rundown towns had little anyone wanted: empty lots, boarded windows, vacant stores. Decades passed, and no one rebuilt them. Now the malls follow, and no one will rebuild them either. My generation watches the malls fall like our parents watched the downtowns die. To our children, the mall will be a nostalgic abstraction, a 404 in concrete.

Materialism may remain rampant, but now its spaces are secret. Retail work has been replaced with jobs in online shopping warehouses where “pickers” labor unseen in brutal conditions.

Malls were once castigated for turning consumers into zombies. Now, the zombie is the ideal online retail employee, unthinking and robotic. Advice by algorithm, delivery by drone: This is what a dehumanized landscape looks like.

Our connections and commerce are dependent on our screens. Pay attention, pay attention, to the men behind the screens.

Do not rejoice at the fall of the mall. The setting may have been artificial, but the people in it were real.

The reality is that, in the “jobless recovery”, nearly every sector of the economy has been decimated. Companies have turned permanent jobs into contingency labor, and entry-level positions into unpaid internships. Changing your major will not change a broken economy.

It is not skills or majors that are being devalued. It is people.

To which the 30-something, having spent their adult life in an economy of stagnant wages and eroding opportunities, takes the 20-something aside, and explains that this is a maxim they, too, were told, but from which they never benefitted. They tell the 20-something what they already know: It is hard to plan for what is already gone. We live in the tunnel at the end of the light.

If you are 35 or younger – and quite often, older – the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a pay rise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration.

When survival is touted as an aspiration, sacrifice becomes a virtue. But a hero is not a person who suffers. A suffering person is a person who suffers. If you suffer in the proper way – silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions – then you are a hard worker “paying your dues”. If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer – and you are said to deserve your fate. But no worker deserves to suffer. To compound the suffering of material deprivation with rationalizations for its warrant is not only cruel to the individual, but gives exploiters moral license to prey.

In the post-employment economy, jobs are privileges, and the privileged have jobs.

Most human rights, policy and development organizations pay interns nothing, but will not hire someone for a job if they lack the kind of experience an internship provides. Privilege is recast as perseverance. The end result hurts individuals struggling in the labor market but also restructures the market itself.

Unpaid internships lock out millions of talented young people based on class alone. They send the message that work is not labor to be compensated with a living wage, but an act of charity to the powerful, who reward the unpaid worker with “exposure” and “experience”. The promotion of unpaid labor has already eroded opportunity – and quality – in fields like journalism and politics. A false meritocracy breeds mediocrity.

Post-recession America runs on a contingency economy based on prestige and privation. The great commonality is that few are paid enough to live instead of simply survive.

Mistaking wealth for virtue is a cruelty of our time. By treating poverty as inevitable for parts of the population, and giving impoverished workers no means to rise out of it, America deprives not only them but society as a whole. Talented and hard-working people are denied the ability to contribute, and society is denied the benefits of their gifts. Poverty is not a character flaw. Poverty is not emblematic of intelligence. Poverty is lost potential, unheard contributions, silenced voices.

In reality, profits are soaring and poorly compensated labor tends to lead to more poorly compensated labor. Zero opportunity employers are refusing to pay people because they can get away with it. The social contract does not apply to contract workers – and in 2013, that is increasingly what Americans are.

In America, there is little chance at a reversal of fortune for those less fortunate. Poverty is a sentence for the crime of existing. Poverty is a denial of rights sold as a character flaw.

American ideology has long tilted between individualism and Calvinism. What happened to you was either supposed to be in your control – the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach – or divinely arbitrated. You either jumped, or you were meant to fall. Claims you were pushed, or you were born so far down you could not climb up, were dismissed as excuses of the lazy. This is the way many saw their world before it collapsed.

Unemployment is not only the loss of a job. It is the loss of dignity. It is the loss of the present and, over time, the ability to imagine a future. It is hopelessness and shame, an open struggle everyone witnesses but pretends not to see. It is a social and political crisis we tell a man to solve, and blame him when he cannot. When you are unemployed, your past is dismissed as unworthy. Your future is denied. Self-immolation is making yourself, in the moment, matter.

They cut and blame us when we bleed.

In authoritarian states ruled by tyrants, in democracies allegedly ruled by law, we find the same result: hard-working people let down by the systems which are supposed to support them. When the most you can ask from your society is that it will spare you, you have no society of which to speak.

While the start and end dates of the millennial generation are up for debate – and the idea of inherent generational traits is dubious – people of this age group share an important quality. They have no adult experience in a functional economy.

A generation that can barely stand on its feet is in charge of another generation’s welfare.

Millennials are chastised for leaning on elders, but the new rules of the economy demand it. Unpaid internships are often prerequisites to full-time jobs, and the ability to take them is based on money, not merit. Young adults who live off wealthy parents are the lucky few. They can envision a future because they can envision its purchase. Almost everyone else is locked out of the game.

Dependence may be the primary trait of the millennial generation, but it is a structural dependence, caused not by “laziness” or “narcissism” but by a lack of options or social mobility. For millennials much more than for the generations which immediately preceded them, the future is determined by the past. The son is indebted to the debt of the father.

It is one thing to discover, as an adult, that the rules have been rewritten, that the job market will not recover, that you will scramble to survive. It is another to raise a child knowing that no matter how hard they work, how talented they are, how big they dream, they will not have opportunities – because in the new economy, opportunities are bought, not earned. You know this, but you cannot tell this to a child. The millennial parent is always Santa, always a little bit of a liar.

Americans should not fear riots. They should fear a society that ranks the death of children. They should fear a society that shrugs, carries on, and lets them go.

Source: The View From Flyover Country

Matthew Stoller’s work complements Kendzior’s narrative of a post-employment economy.

#Resist

These folks—from a variety of political and professional backgrounds—have been out front on Trump + Putin + Russia + kleptocracy + supremacy.

I have included tweets from these sources in the comments on this post. Scroll down.

Flocking

Collective action increases individual survival. Birds, fish, insects and herbivores have been doing it for a long time. It’s called flocking behaviour. In the presence of danger they run as one, turn as one. It makes it much harder for, say, a predator to single out an individual.

More than ten years of research (see, for example, Consensus Decision-Making in Crowds) shows that humans flock, too. It takes only 5% of a crowd to begin to move for the other 95% to follow; we do it subconsciously. Flocking is emergent behaviour: it happens when certain criteria are met without the participants making any conscious decisions. Imagine how powerful that strategy could be if we acted consciously.

Fairness and diversity cannot happen until allies speak out. So, to those with power, platform, and access: You probably don’t like the idea of going from predator to potential prey. Oh, well. But you must not duck for cover, you must not hide. You must speak out. Speak out in concert. Talk to your friends and colleagues. Figure it out. Pick a day; do something.

Source: How to defeat an autocrat: flocking behaviour | Nicola Griffith

Power Mapping

In order to effect social change, an advocate needs to be aware of the political and social power structures in play. A power map is a useful visual tool for figuring out who you need to influence, how to influence them, and who can do the influencing in order to reach a specific goal. This guide will help you create your own power map for your area.

Source: A Guide to Power Mapping | Move to Amend

Hat tip: Safety Pin Box

Youth Activist’s Toolkit

Organizing is the process of building power as a group and using this power to create positive change in our lives. Throughout history, organizers have played a key role in addressing injustice in our country. From the Civil Rights movement, to the feminist, LGBT and immigrant rights movements, organizers have come together, created strategies and built collective power to win lasting change.

Organizing has everything to do with power and shifting relationships of power. Power is the ability to control our circumstances and make things happen outside of ourselves. Everyone has power inside themselves—power to make decisions, to act, to think, to create. However, not everyone has equal power to make things happen outside of our own lives due to inequality of resources and authority. Nevertheless, we can build our own power and the power of our community through organizing. Collective power is the power that a group has by working together with a shared interest in achieving a goal.

Sometimes we think that if our cause is right, we will be able to win easily without building power. We might think that if decision makers just understood the problem then they would act. Unfortunately, in most cases, even if we are right, and those in power know about the issue, they still don’t act. This is because they are being pressured by others not to act, such as donors who want school funds to be allocated to sports programs instead of a student health center. Most campaigns will require you to be more than right. You will find that you must build power in order to put pressure on those who can make decisions. Organizing is about figuring out what resources you really need in order to win change. This could mean you need the votes of members of your student council; chatter on social media; the allegiance of a person with power; or it could mean building crowd support to disrupt business as usual with direct action (such as a protest). You must identify what you need and then figure out how you can make it happen.

This guide will serve as a tool you can use to think through how to make change in your community. It will walk you through the steps of developing a campaign strategy that includes setting goals and establishing demands, analyzing key players, building power, and using power to achieve your goals.

Source: Youth Activist’s Toolkit

Hat tip: Safety Pin Box

Direct Action

These movements include the civil rights movement, the student movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement. Each, to varying degrees, changed government policy and, perhaps more importantly, changed how almost every American lives today.

Supporters of these movements questioned traditional practices about how people were treated. Why did black and white children attend separate schools? Why were women prevented from holding certain jobs? Why could a person be drafted at 18 but not able to vote until 21? This questioning inspired people to begin organizing movements to fight against injustice and for equal rights for all people.

In addition, they did not use traditional methods of political activity. Instead of voting for a political candidate and then hoping that the elected official would make good policies, these protesters believed in a more direct democracy. They took direct action—public marches, picketing, sit-ins, rallies, petition drives, and teach-ins—to win converts to their causes and change public policies at the local, state, and federal levels. They contributed their time, energy, and passion with the hope of making a better, more just society for all.

Source: Protests in the 1960s

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

Source: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Action and Measurable Allyship

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