Learning Change

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Archive for October 30th, 2011

Sobre el Conflicto Noviolento Estratégico – Entendiendo Sus Principios Básicos

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Habrá siempre ideales por los que vale la pena luchar y opresión que haya que superar. Algunas  cuestiones no se pueden resolver solo mediante negociaciones, pero la lucha armada puede no ser una opción viable para una sociedad oprimida, debido a que el estado tiene a menudo el monopolio sobre lo militar y otros instrumentos de coerción política. Esto no significa que los pueblos oprimidos deben elegir entre someterse y librar una lucha armada cuando la derrota es casi segura. Hay una tercera alternativa frente a los conflictos armados para lograr cambios políticos  –  la lucha  noviolenta estratégica.

En este libro, la lucha noviolenta estratégica significa: la lucha  noviolenta que se ha aplicado de acuerdo con un plan estratégico preparado sobre la base de un análisis de la situación de conflicto, las fortalezas y debilidades de los grupos enfrentados, la naturaleza, capacidades y requisitos de la técnica de la acción noviolenta, y en especial, los principios estratégicos de ese tipo de lucha.

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 Charles Wright Mills: power, craftsmainship, and private troubles and public issues

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Charles Wright Mills was one of the most influential radical social theorists and critics in twentieth century America. Here we focus on his connecting of private troubles and public issues; his exploration of power relationships; and his approach to ‘doing’ sociology.

John Elridge has concluded that C. Wright Mills made a significant contribution in three areas.

First, ‘his fusion of American pragmatism and European sociology did lead to innovative work in the sociology of knowledge’.

Second, he completed a substantial range of studies in what was a short working life. Each had its strengths and weaknesses but together they reflect a concern to ‘understand American society and its place in world affairs’.

Last, he provided a considerable and lasting intellectual stimulus to others. We can see his mark in Tom Bottomore’s (1966) exploration of elites and Steven Lukes (1973) seminal discussion of power, for example – and in the work of Alvin Gouldner.

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Written by learningchange

30/10/2011 at 23:00

Mahatma Gandhi on education

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“The real difficulty is that people have no idea of what education truly is. We assess the value of education in the same manner as we assess the value of land or of shares in the stock-exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. The girls, we say, do not have to earn; so why should they be educated? As long as such ideas persist there is no hope of our ever knowing the true value of education”. – M. K. Gandhi True Education.

In a piece published some years ago, Krishna Kumar, Professor of Education at Delhi University, wrote that ‘no one rejected colonial education as sharply and as completely as Gandhi did, nor did anyone else put forward an alternative as radical as the one he proposed’. Gandhi’s critique of Western, particularly English, education was part of his critique of Western civilization as a whole. There is a story that, on arriving in Britain after he had become famous, someone asked him the question: ‘Mr Gandhi, what do you think of civilization in England?’ to which he replied ‘I think that it would be something worth trying!’

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Written by learningchange

30/10/2011 at 22:49

Posted in Education

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Saul Alinsky, community organizing and rules for radicals

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Saul Alinsky‘s work is an important reference point for thinking about community organizing and community development. His books Reveille for Radicals (1946) and Rules for Radicals (1971) were both classic explorations of organizing and remain popular today. Mike Seal examines Alinsky’s continuing relevance to the activities of informal educators, community organizers and animateurs.

Saul Alinsky’s ideas could be seen as controversial, but he was effective and practical as a community activist, and his work and writing deserves to be more widely known among those involved in informal education, community development work and social pedagogy. Not that his principles and rules are unquestionable or right for every situation, but they are a practical toolkit to effect change though leverage in those with power, potentially of great worth to those engaged in community work and education. In addition, next time one hears someone make a moral judgment about another, or make a claim to be a radical, I would encourage the reader to think about Saul Alinsky’s ideas.

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Gandhi meets Monty Python: The comedic turn in nonviolent tactics

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On October 3rd, protesters at Occupy Wall Street failed to march. Instead they clumsily lurched. With white painted faces, glazed looks and dollar bills hanging out of some mouths, protesters chanted “I smell money, I smell money…” It was Corporate Zombie Day. Scenes like this and the sight of Guy Fawkes masks, clown suits, drumming circles and surrealistic posters all over the country have left many commentators scratching their heads. Is this protest or carnival? Maybe we should tell them. There’s been a sea change in the protest industry.

A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future,” proclaims Adbusters, the initiators of Occupy Wall Street. A key part of this re-channeling of tactics has been a move away from both angry protests or passive waiting-to-be-clubbed-by-police-batons to age old carnival-style antics. A festive atmosphere has reigned supreme in all of the successful pro-democracy uprisings of the past two decades. In Poland, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Tunisia and Egypt, music and humor were everywhere. Why?

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Revolution U

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But what worked so smoothly online proved much more difficult on the street. Police occupied the factory in Mahalla and headed off the strike. The demonstrations there turned violent: Protesters set fire to buildings, and police started shooting, killing at least two people. The solidarity protests around Egypt, meanwhile, fizzled out, in most places blocked by police. The Facebook organizers had never agreed on tactics, whether Egyptians should stay home or fill the streets in protest. People knew they wanted to do something. But no one had a clear idea of what that something was.

The botched April 6 protests, the leaders realized in their aftermath, had been an object lesson in the limits of social networking as a tool of democratic revolution. Facebook could bring together tens of thousands of sympathizers online, but it couldn’t organize them once they logged off. It was a useful communication tool to call people to — well, to what? The April 6 leaders did not know the answer to this question. So they decided to learn from others who did. In the summer of 2009, Mohamed Adel, a 20-year-old blogger and April 6 activist, went to Belgrade, Serbia.

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The Time of the Rebels: Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century Revolutions

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Collin combines history, political analysis and personal interviews to paint an intriguing picture of former Soviet bloc societies in transition—and the role of youth movements and peaceful resistance in dismantling undemocratic regimes. The narrative begins in Serbia, where the student group Otpor waged a dissident campaign against then president Slobodan Milosevic using traditional media-savvy tactics, successfully selling resistance like Coca-Cola, running the movement like a corporate brand. From the successful push to defeat Milosevic in the presidential elections of 2000, the book shifts focus to Ukraine’s much publicized Orange Revolution and a Georgian group, Kmara, appropriated Otpor’s tactics and iconography in its struggle against the ruling liberal autocracy of Eduard Shevardnadze. Collin’s extensive research and vivid style provides an almost sociological snapshot of a political dissident in 21st century post-Soviet society, and while his sympathies clearly lie with the dissidents, he acknowledges the movements’ seamier sides—the internal squabbling, murky funding sources and accusations that they are supported by the CIA. The result is a valuable overview of the political movements that sought to renew democracy in a region frequently overlooked by the Western press.

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198 Methods of Nonviolent Action

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Practitioners of nonviolent struggle have an entire arsenal of “nonviolent weapons” at their disposal. Listed below are 198 of them, classified into three broad categories: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention. A description and historical examples of each can be found in volume two of The Politics of Nonviolent Action by Gene Sharp.

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A carnival of revolution: Central Europe 1989

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This is the first history of the revolutions that toppled communism in Europe to look behind the scenes at the grassroots movements that made those revolutions happen. It looks for answers not in the salons of power brokers and famed intellectuals, not in decrepit economies–but in the whirlwind of activity that stirred so crucially, unstoppably, on the street. Melding his experience in Solidarity-era Poland with the sensibility of a historian, Padraic Kenney takes us into the hearts and minds of those revolutionaries across much of Central Europe who have since faded namelessly back into everyday life. This is a riveting story of musicians, artists, and guerrilla theater collectives subverting traditions and state power; a story of youthful social movements emerging in the 1980s in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and parts of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.Kenney argues that these movements were active well before glasnost. Some protested military or environmental policy. Others sought to revive national traditions or to help those at the margins of society. Many crossed forbidden borders to meet their counterparts in neighboring countries. They all conquered fear and apathy to bring people out into the streets. The result was a revolution unlike any other before: nonviolent, exuberant, even light-hearted, but also with a relentless political focus–a revolution that leapt from country to country in the exciting events of 1988 and 1989. A Carnival of Revolution resounds with the atmosphere of those turbulent years: the daring of new movements, the unpredictability of street demonstrations, and the hopes and regrets of the young participants. A vivid photo-essay complements engaging prose to fully capture the drama. Based on over two hundred interviews in twelve countries, and drawing on samizdat and other writings in six languages, this is among the most insightful and compelling accounts ever published of the historical milestone that ushered in our age.

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Written by learningchange

30/10/2011 at 21:52

A Force More Powerful

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A Force More Powerful explores how popular movements battled entrenched regimes and military forces with unconventional weapons like boycotts, strikes, and demonstrations. Acts of civil resistance helped subvert the operations of government, and direct intervention in the form of sit-ins, nonviolent sabotage, and blockades frustrated many rulers’ efforts to suppress people.

The historical results were massive: tyrants toppled, governments overthrown, occupying armies impeded, and political systems shattered. Entire societies were transformed, suddenly or gradually, as nonviolent resistance destroyed the repressor’s ability to control events.

The story begins in 1907 with a young Mohandas Gandhi, the most influential leader in the history of civil resistance, as he rouses fellow Indians in South Africa to a nonviolent struggle against racial oppression. The series recounts Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign against the British in India; the sit-ins and boycotts that desegregated downtown Nashville, Tennessee; the nonviolent campaign against apartheid in South Africa; Danish resistance to the Nazis in World War II; the rise of Solidarity in Poland; and the momentous victory for democracy in Chile. A Force More Powerful also introduces several extraordinary, but largely unknown, individuals who drove these great events forward.

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