I’ve been thinking about what to say. About what can be said. Where do we start with what just happened in this country? So I’ve been reading facebook and text messages like everyone else.
I liked Farhad’s I see you and I need to be seen. I feel very viscerally everyone who’s just devastated: crying, inconsolable, destroyed by this news. I feel to the shock and numbness so many people speak of. I just went and stood in my own garden, as I usually do when I need to find my center, and there’s something unrecognizable about the whole world. Like some piece of gravity or physics has changed and I can’t fathom up or down yet.
I don’t yet feel the anger, the determination, the drive to go organize and fight and win some speak of, but I understand it. I cringe at the finger-pointing, but I understand that too. This was a thing done to us, not a thing born of our inaction or complacency. We need to fight, I believe we will.
Far and away the hardest to read and respond to are the posts from my younger relatives – biological and otherwise. These young people who ask “why? What did we do wrong?” And I want to tell them they didn’t do anything wrong, or that we can fix it next time. But it’s not like that. This isn’t a rebuke of a thing they did, it’s a rebuke of who they are. How do you tell someone “I love you, but they just hate you more”?
I had a tremendously hard time hearing president Obama say (in effect) that this was just another election. That in politics sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and the important thing is to continue the civil debate.
I’ve lost elections before. As liberal Democrat, I’ve lost much more than I’ve won. But it’s never felt like this before. It’s not just the suddenness and surprise, it’s the utter slap in the face of it. This wasn’t about strategy and tactics. We didn’t miss a media opportunity or fail to deliver the right message at the right time. They hate everything about us, and there are more of them than us, and the next logical step is that they will begin to COME FOR some of us – that’s what it’s like.
So I don’t want to continue the civil debate. I think the debate is broken. I think the people on the other side are not trying to debate me so much as exterminate me. And that’s what I think a lot of us are feeling – and responding to by variously feeling frightened, sad, pugnacious or whatever.
Somebody smarter than me also talked about Gene Sharp and his body of works advising and documenting how one creates a peaceful resistance to a tyrannical and oppressive state. There’s no doubt that’s what we need now. And this website, this little organization is an idea of mine.
So let’s start here:
198 methods is a reference to one of Sharp’s earlier movement texts. The idea was to write down a list of all the different nonviolent tactics one could use – boycotts, sit-ins, marches etc – to challenge power. Its genius was that it was just a list. There’s no attempt to say what things work better in certain situations. Becuase the truth is, we can’t know in advance what works and what doesn’t, we have to be willing to try it all.
This project my riff on that idea. Sharp’s manual famously leaves out digital tools because he wrote it before their invention. So I wanted to update his list with 198 digital methods of nonviolent Direct action.
I also wanted to know, like sharp, what would happen if you put access to those tools into a LOT more revolutionary hands. The mix of digital and field is basically what made leading US progressive groups like MoveOn, 350.org, and DFA powerful. And we’ve seen examples like Keystone and #NoDAPL where that style of organizing is really effective at shutting down climate-killing projects and ideas.
But there are literally dozens of pipeline, power plant, oil train and other projects that don’t have celebrity endorsers or big green NGO backing. What if all of them had an email list of 100,000 people, a proportional social media reach, and the skills and experience to turn that list and audience into the power they need – from funding for their staff to people at their rallies and protests.
That’s the idea of 198-menthods.org, and our catch-phrase. There are lots of ways to save the planet. If all of them had a good digital organizing program behind them we could sow a lot more revolution a lot faster — and it’s as good an idea any for how to reap peace and
Not quite ready yet
I’ll be honest, I’m not quite ready to launch this thing yet. The website, as you can see, is still coming together. We’ve got no funding or community buy-in. There’s no board or stakeholders. For now, this is just me, feeling my way through the fallout and hoping that this is an idea folks can get behind.