Exclusive to STR
November 14, 2006
By January 1, 2025 , every American who is determined to live free shall do so. Those who are content with their chains are welcome to keep them, but we who must be free will have our own centerless legal system and free institutions that are not subject to the State.
Let's start talking in more detail about how to achieve this goal, using Nonviolent Struggle (see 'Creating a Free America '). Our task is to:
Mao Zedong said that power comes from the barrel of a gun, but the truth is somewhat more complicated. Gene Sharp identifies the following six major sources of political power:
Although I've described these sources from the viewpoint of the rulers' power, they are also the sources of power for the resistance. Authority ' not of the official sort, but earned respect ' can be a tremendous source of power for the leaders of a nonviolent struggle. Gandhi had little in the way of material resources, but he could call for a boycott and have millions of people willingly comply with his request. As its numbers increase, the resistance may also be able to apply (nonviolent) sanctions of its own; these include picketing, 'haunting' of officials, and social or economic ostracism.
To a large extent this political power is channeled through institutions and organizations, called Pillars of Support. Pillars of support for a government may include :
These are external pillars. Recognizing that governments are themselves composed of various sub-organizations, we may also identify pillars of support within a government, upholding the power of the executive:
All of these organizations are made up of individuals who can be influenced. If these individuals can be persuaded to lessen or withdraw their support for the State, the pillars are weakened, and the State's power is diminished. If they can be persuaded to support the resistance, its power is thereby increased.
To carry out a successful nonviolent struggle, we need to understand the specifics of the sources of power for the U.S. Federal government and state and local governments, so that we may work to erode these sources. We also need to assess potential sources of power for the resistance and for our alternative institutions, in each of the six categories. We need to understand which pillars of support are most important to maintaining State power in this country, and how they may be influenced, so that we may use our limited resources most effectively in undermining support for the State.
In military terms, we need solid intelligence about both the battlefield and our opponent, to guide our strategic planning. I'll be asking you to help with that in my next article, when I discuss the Strategic Assessment that will inform our strategic discussions at Beyond Ballots or Bullets .