The doctrine or policy of taking positive, direct action to achieve an end, especially a political or social end.

This is an extremely diverse list of people, groups, and movements. Some are peaceful, while some believe that force is necessary. Some are very small, grassroots groups, and some are global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that rival for-profit corporations. Many of their beliefs are very different. They all have one thing in common, though: that something, whatever that may be, is not 'right', and they are doing something about it. Some of these organizations are merely historic, and some are operating right now. But we must realize that justice and freedom can be taken back just as easily as they were won.

Methods

Movements

Organizations

People

Events

Alternative Media Sources

See also alternative news.

Books / Writings / Speeches / Films

The Opposition

These seem to be beyond the reach of most activists, hopefully they will not be forgotten:

  • Bilderbergers
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Trilateral Comission
  • The Carlyle Group
  • Kissinger Associates
  • The Scowcroft Group
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Committee of 300
  • Tips for Activism

    1. Know your enemy.
    2. Take the time to find out exactly whose responsibility it is to make or change the decisions you are protesting. If you suspect someone is passing the buck, ask them to explain how their organization's decision-making process works.
      For example:

      Several years ago I talked to someone at the Stop AIDS Project in San Francisco, which is focused on men with HIV and AIDS, and was told that trans guys were not welcome. I was on the Trannyfags listserv, many members of which lived in that city, and raised the question of whether it would be appropriate to organize a boycott or some other action to protest their policy.

      Someone else on the list happened to know that they were actually working on what their policy around this should be, and thinking about starting trans-specific workshops (which they have since done), so we all dropped the issue. Meanwhile, however, friends of mine who worked at Stop AIDS had heard that I was organizing some sort of big protest against them and were really pissed off at me for some time... all because I took the word of one person there and talked to my own community before asking them for a definitive answer.
      Sometimes, especially in corporations or other large groups, responsibility for everything is spread very thinly, making it difficult for you to point a finger or hold anyone accountable. In this case, it might help to travel up the ladder till you find someone who has enough power to make executive decisions.

      The first step is talking to them, explaining your view and what you want, and listening to what they think should be stopping them from giving it to you. Which brings us to the next point:

    3. Know that your enemy might be your friend.
    4. Don't assume that even apparently-evil politicians or corporations are your enemies. In many cases, the people with power don't have any damn idea what's going on around them. Sometimes Martha and Kathie honestly don't know about all the sweatshops and embezzlement going on in their names. Often change can be brought about just by opening the right people's eyes, and that doesn't always require crowds of protesters or lengthy boycotts.
      For example:

      Various queer and queer youth organizations in Northern California used to organize Youth Lobby Day once a year, inviting queer youth and allies to attend and even present workshops about current political issues and how to talk to their representatives, and then to go in groups to their representatives' offices and present the information of their choice. Several Youth Lobby Days were focused around the "Dignity for All Students Act" (later The California Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000), which prevented discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in schools. The largely straight and often conservative politicians were deluged with crowds of queer youth telling stories of how they had been beaten up, verbally harassed, or even raped in school for being queer.

      One after another, the senators and assemblymembers thanked the organizers and the young lobbyists for making this event possible. They told us how much they wanted to hear what their constituents wanted, and how they had to listen every day to powerful, pushy professional lobbyists from big corporations, and how much they wanted to see people like us show up in their offices to tell them what we wanted. In 1999, the bill passed and was signed into law.
      Remember that privilege isolates people. The CEO might never see their sweatshops, or the managers busting up unionizing workers, or might not know enough about labor conditions and unions themselves to see why they shouldn't lean on middle management to bust the unions. This is not an excuse, but a reason. This is where a lot of really creative activism comes in:

    5. Tailor your actions to the issue.
    6. Let the punishment fit the crime.
      For example:

      Michael Moore does this brilliantly. In his television shows (The Awful Truth, TV Nation) and movies (Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine), he uses direct action and culture jamming to raise awareness and effect change.

      An article on Salon.com described one episode of The Awful Truth in which "Moore took up the cause of Chris Donahue, a Florida man with complications from diabetes whose HMO, Humana, denied coverage for the pancreas transplant he needed to stay alive. The footage of Moore and Donahue staging a mock funeral (complete with bagpipes and mourners) in front of Humana headquarters, and running up against the brick wall of corporate indifference in the form of an unyielding public relations flack, deftly brought together guerrilla theater, muckraking journalism and political satire.... (For the record, Humana reversed its decision after Moore's visit and paid for Donahue's transplant.)"
    Starhawk recommends asking yourself the following questions when planning an action:
  • What are my/our reasons for this action? (In the context of anti-war organizing, she says, "WHY are we against the war?... There are strong moral, ethical, economic, and strategic reasons to oppose this war. Which are most important to you?")
  • Which groups am I/are we best able to communicate with? Where can they be reached, and with what message? (Undecided neighbors? Staunch supporters of the war? Local news media? Politicians? National or international news media? Consider the political positions of your potential audience, as well as their size and what reason they might have for listening to you.)
  • What actions am I/are we willing to take? Her list of possible actions includes:

  • What is our message? What symbols, images, slogans, colors, sound bites express our message?
  • Where can it best be expressed, and when?

    At best, badly chosen and organized activism just wastes your energy. At worst, it actually convinces people that you're wrong and persuades them to think that activism is a retro sixties fad that never worked anyway.

    Jafuser says in boycott that, "I know that boycotting has been effective in the past, but it works only if at least a significant double-digit percentage of the population will faithfully follow through. If you can't expect to get these kinds of numbers... you are much better off getting your message out by other (active) means." This illustrates one possible criterion for deciding on an action.

    How do you decide what to do?

    I am not the most experienced activist in the world, so all I can do is offer ideas, and hope that if we all share our ideas and experiences with each other we can come up with better answers. I do have a few suggestions so far:

    1. Brainstorm a list of different kinds of actions, whether you can think of fancy names for them or not - anything from protest marches to "living in a tree." Then take each one and brainstorm another list of different effects that it can have, like attracting the media to an issue or preventing loggers from moving through a forest. Try to include possible negatives, if you think of any.

    2. Brainstorm a list of different factors that can affect an action: location, the weather, number of people, and so on. Consider both the action itself and its intended result: the weather might affect an action, and the local news program might hijack and change the message that gets out about it. Try to be clear on which of these factors are within your control, which are things that you can try to change but don't totally control, and which are outside of your control.

    3. Remember that the tools at your disposal can be used together, and that coalition-building is the strongest form of activism. Educate yourself: do as much research as you can to find different activist or socially conscious groups in your area, and to find national or international groups working on whatever issue interests you. Each group will have different strengths and experience to bring to any problem, and the more different communities are involved, the bigger and stronger you will become together. The whole will be more than the sum of its parts.

    Resources and references:

  • The Salon.com story referenced above: http://www.salon.com/ent/col/mill/1999/04/19/moore/
  • How to write to, call, or visit your political representatives (focused on the United States): http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee.cgi?path=/take_action/contacting_congress
  • How to communicate with journalists: http://www.fair.org/activism/communicate.html
  • How to plan an action (Starhawk's page referenced above): http://www.starhawk.org/activism/activism-writings/plananaction.html
  • Changing the World
    Brought to you by Node Your Homework

    Accounts for the innumerable inhumanities which occur every day are often published in magazines and websites. Articles of this sort rarely gain widespread media attention, which is critical to incite nationwide awareness-- and without nationwide awareness, there is little hope for the people trying to make a change. Without media backing, there are two options for an independent party to try to publicise their views: it could try to manipulate their points in a way which will appeal to popular media outlets (television, news websites, radio shows), or it could choose to express itself through more 'independent' methods.

    The latter choice is most ideal, though extremely difficult to accomplish successfully. Manipulating ideas to appeal to major news networks risks losing important points; though to convince enough people to spread a message on a national level without the media's help is an extremely formidable task.

    One of the the easiest ways for small groups to convey messages to a substantial audience (i.e., ignorant America) is through culture jamming and other methods of guerilla-style advertising; a few examples of this are electronic hijacking, graffiti, mock protests, independent broadcasting, and public improvisation. The controversial statuses associated with such means of activism may gain popular media attention, resulting in widespread broadcasting which (with much luck) may portray the cause in a positive light.

    If activists themselves expressed themselves illegally more often, the media would eventually be obligated cover it. Such behaviour should be encouraged by a communities who hope for a better world, but have different ideas on how to achieve it. The emphasised goal should be awareness, understanding, and acceptance of others' suffering: widespread awareness often incites change by itself.

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