Dr. Mary King and Philippe Duhamel, civil resistance strategist and organizer from Quebec, explore how to sustain a movement despite both internal and external challenges. The session began with an exercise during which each participant was asked to identify a nonviolent method from a civil resistance repertoire of actions that appealed to them in some way.
Participants were then asked to find others who identified the same or a similar method. Finally, all were asked to line up in a certain logical sequence that stretched from the methods of a thorough analysis of the battlefield, communication, documentation of successes, and conducting training, to engagement in various forms of direct nonviolent actions.
Sustaining a movement turned out to be as much about planning as it was about executing specific actions. Most successful movements that sustained their engagement and transform societies against significant odds were the ones which successfully utilized lessons of their own failures. Civil resistance is built on many failures and its eventual success depends on how well activists plan for contingencies.
Philippe also offered his thoughts on the anti-fracking campaign in Canada. More detailed reflections on how to plan and organize a sustained anti-fracking campaign are included in his article.
Mary shared her thoughts on the work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where she was a staff member who played a significant role in the US civil rights campaign. She described the experience of organizing in SNCC, including mental, physical and strategic challenges that the group faced and managed to overcome in her book Freedom Song.
Check out the resources on movement sustainability and many other topics on civil resistance by visiting the ICNC webpage.