Friends, I'll have a lot to share with you about the session on 8/27, as well as the one coming up tomorrow in Eugene... and even the Green Tortoise bus experience. --- Paul De Armond (below) makes lots of sense. An excerpt... Successful movements are not a contest of brute strength. This means persuasion and conversion; growing a movement, not fighting an establishment; understanding and seeking truth; staunchly holding a position that is transparently clear to those watching and wavering; and never surrendering to the easy, the cheap, or the sensational. It means taking casualties without flinching and standing fast (or sitting quietly) when attacked. It means courage and conviction. But most of all, it requires a realistic vision of a world transformed. bye for now, rkm ============================================================================ Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 10:37:39 -0700 To: •••@••.••• (undisclosed list) From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> Subject: Can WE co-creatively USE our insights? Dear friends, On the surface, the article below is about police; but that's not why I'm sending it to you. Far more importantly, it is about us -- about those of us who are trying to make the world a decent place -- and about how ill-prepared we are to respond, together and intelligently, to our changing circumstances. Paul de Armond wrote one of the most insightful reviews of the Seattle WTO protests, "Netwar in the Emerald City: WTO protest strategy and tactics", which is referenced below and linked on my site. Now he has written a broader critique of how the movement [defined in my Footnote 1 below] is missing the boat in its use of nonviolence and its relations with police. I find it one of the clearest, most useful commentaries yet on recent protest actions. But, to me, his most significant statement is this: "I found that the growing global justice movement paid little attention to what I've had to say, but law enforcement and security people gave it considerable attention." This is a powerful fact. Paul de Armond finds it odd and puzzling. I don't. On the one hand, I see the police with their strategic centers where they reflect on what's going on and figure out what to do next. On the other, I see no such centers in our movements; no coherent "we" that is capable of paying collective attention; precious little time given to learning from our collective experience; and little inclination to research better ways to reflect and strategize that fit the decentralized, self-organized character of our movements. In my view, the significant question is this: What structures/ media/ processes/ traditions/ understandings could be shared by those of us who are trying to make a better world, through which we could collectively, coherently reflect on what's happening (and what _we're_ doing), and together create intelligent, imaginative initiatives and responses that would make sense to the vast majority of those involved? This capacity is needed at all levels -- from the smallest groups to the largest coalitions and networks. We don't need centralized decision-making structures -- and wouldn't follow them if we had them! In lieu of such power centers (which the police DO have), we need the _capacity_ to think together consistently and coherently -- to talk, as Onandaga Iroquois Chief Oren Lyons says, "until there's nothing left but the obvious truth" -- truth so obvious that everyone involved can see it and act on it. I believe it is possible to build that capacity. I furthermore believe, with Richard K. Moore, that that capacity could grow, with the movement, to "become the democratic process of a newly empowered civil society." (For more on that capacity, see "Making a decision without making a decision" in http://www.co-intelligence.org/I-decisionmakingwithout.html or the next issue of COMMUNITIES magazine). If we had that capacity, the kind of good thinking and powerful information we find among us wouldn't just be living in individual minds, conversations and email in-boxes. It would be interacting to generate real wisdom, useful understandings, and a sense of what we could do together that would really make a difference. If any of you have good connections in progressive, environmental, social justice, holistic or transformational movements, and feel passionate about building this capacity into these movements, let me know. I think the time is ripe. Coheartedly, Tom Footnote 1 - When I talk about "the movement," I'm not just referring to activists and demonstrators and members of large nonprofits. To me, a social _movement_ is "a collective motion -- a societal coming-alive-ness" regarding some concern. Everyone on this list -- and everything we all do to make a difference -- is part of our society's collective motion towards greater social wellbeing. Demonstrations and activism are important parts of that motion (that social movement), but they are only parts. It is this larger, actively concerned "we" that I'm referring to, and that I'm inviting all of us to see ourselves as part of. It is this movement, this "we", whose effectiveness concerns me here. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 22:19:14 -0700 (PDT) To: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> From: Paul de Armond <•••@••.•••> Subject: Police and imagination Tom, some thoughts on the relationships between law enforcement and transforming civil society. As you know, I've written about the tactical aspects of the WTO protests. Oddly enough, I found that the growing global justice movement paid little attention to what I've had to say, but law enforcement and security people gave it considerable attention. I found this very puzzling, because the global justice movement has far more at stake than security forces. Read it at http://www.nwcitizen.com/publicgood/reports/wto One of my conclusions is the direct corelation between the level of violence deployed by police and the relations between the police and civilian authorities. In Seattle, there has been a long and very public problem with police corruption, racial profiling, use of force, etc. These are all related because they define the degree and extent of civilian control of the police. Seattle has a good police force, better than many larger cities. But it also has a long history of conflict over corruption. There are many cities of equal size where the corruption is worse, but few where there has been such a long and unsuccessful attempt to clean things up. It's not the corruption, per se, but rather the *unhappy* nature of the corruption. Where police are happily corrupt, there is little conflict with civilian control (which is also happily corrupted). Where relations are bad, police morale is bad, discipline is erratic, command control, communications and intelligence (C3I) are uncertain and chain of command is frequently unreliable. There is a breakdown between staff and line, so to speak. There is also the tendency for the chain of command to weaken to the extent that mutiny and insurrection become likely at the street level. In Seattle and Minneapolis, these breakdowns in command became the defining factor of the police response. In Boston, DC, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the police C3I retained its cohesion. The second point I would like to make is directly responsive to the initial question you posed about police attacking demonstrators rather than restraining them or dispersing them. The Rage Against the Machine concert incident in LA was a fairly crude example. The selective violence in DC was a more sophisticated example. In both incidents, the attacks were planned and carried out successfully. In Seattle, the Wednesday night police riot on Capital Hill looked like the same thing, but was actually quite different. Similar out-of-control attacks (but much more limited in scope) occurred in Minneapolis. To the targets of the police attacks, the incidents may seem the same. Cops surrounded crowds, cut off their line of retreat and basically beat the hell out of people. This is the armed conflict at the tactical level. The strategic level is very different. In DC, LA and Philadelphia the attacks were planned as offensive actions to cow the protesters and assert the crude moral authority which comes from the use of force. In Seattle and Minneapolis, the attacks were improvised defensive actions which rapidly got out of control. In the latter two incidents, the police were not in control and were very close to panic. In military conflicts, these are the sorts of situations where massacres happen. Victorious troops don't commit massacres, but frightened, losing ones do. It must be recognized that trapping and attacking crowds is a standard military tactic in supressing insurrections. It can be done on a small scale, as occurred in DC, when a squad of police target individuals and attack them to take them into custody. This is done to cow the rest of the crowd, increase their uncertainty and deter them from seizing the initiative. The Rage Against the Machine incident was similar in strategy, but larger in scope. The strategic purpose is maintain the initiative and break the will of the crowd to act in solidarity. Against all but seasoned and disciplined opponents, it is usually successful. In LA the choice of target was rather cold-blooded, as the crowd was not engaged in protest. The provocateurs (it hardly matters whether they were cops or not, though the evidence suggests that they were not) thus played into the hands of repression. Police tread a thin line between being law enforcement and military. Up to a thin and poorly discernable line, the police act as part of civil society -- officers of the court -- their duty being to uphold the law, apprehend suspects and bring them before the courts. If the degree of resistance against this authority exceeds an indistinct limit, the police cease to act as officers of the court and enter the territory of uncivil society. In so doing, they become a military force, acting by military rules. The old Roman saying, "inter armes silent leges" (when armies speak, the law is silent) captures the lawless and unrestrained aspect of military, as opposed to civilian, policing. The whole point of non-violent civil disobedience is to move a conflict into the territory where there is no justification for the police assuming their military role. The strategic and tactical failure of the protests since Seattle is centered on the inability of the protest movement to clearly perceive this boundary and act accordingly. When protests get steered into what Paul Schultes calls "remonstrative violence" (even if it only involves passive aggression) the movement loses. When pseudo-revolutionaries and other thugs engage in vandalism and the provocation of violence, the movement loses even worse. For the protests to succeed, there will have to be a broad and widely held understanding that civil disobedience requires asserting a right and defending it -- in a way that denies priviledge and protects the rights of opponents. When the protests can be portrayed as an assault on civil society, such as the clumsy failures to "shut down" this or that institution, the movement loses. It requires great courage and even greater understanding to assert and maintain a right without transgressing on the rights of others. It takes a clear moral vision and a hopeful view of the future to sustain injury, insult and the loss of liberty. The movement came out of Seattle without a clear understanding of what happened in the WTO protests and has mistakenly substituted skirmishing with police for persuasion by moral action. The movement will continue to flounder until participants gain a shared understanding of what the world will look like after they have changed it and what they must do to prevail. Social change occurs when minorities become pluralities or majorities by gaining the assent of civil society. Successful movements are not a contest of brute strength. This means persuasion and conversion; growing a movement, not fighting an establishment; understanding and seeking truth; staunchly holding a position that is transparently clear to those watching and wavering; and never surrendering to the easy, the cheap, or the sensational. It means taking casualties without flinching and standing fast (or sitting quietly) when attacked. It means courage and conviction. But most of all, it requires a realistic vision of a world transformed. Imagine the future correctly and it comes to pass. Paul de Armond Research Director, Public Good Project http://www.nwcitizen.com/publicgood _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * Eugene, OR http://www.co-intelligence.org http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_Index.html ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website & list archives: http://cyberjournal.org content-searchable archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ featured article: http://cyberjournal.org/cj/rkm/Whole_Earth_Review/Escaping_the_Matrix.shtml A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .