It Is Worth Fighting … Even When There Is No Hope of Winning

George Washington's picture

Preface:  The only people who should read this are folks who want a better world.  Everyone else - please ignore it ... it will be a TOTAL waste of time ...

Our Actions Are More Powerful Than We Realize

David Swanson writes today:

Almost every [history of past activism] includes belated discoveries of the extent to which government officials were influenced by activist groups even while pretending to ignore popular pressure.


These revelations can be found in the memoirs of the government officials as well, such as in George W. Bush’s recollection of how seriously the Republican Senate Majority Leader was taking public pressure against the war on Iraq in 2006.


Of course, activism that appears ineffectual at the time can succeed in a great many ways, including by influencing others, even young children, who go on to become effective activists — or by influencing firm opponents who begin to change their minds and eventually switch sides.


The beautiful thing about nonviolent activism is that, while risking no harm, it has the potential to do good in ways small and large that ripple out from it in directions we cannot track or measure.


Wittner participated in his first political demonstration in 1961. The USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing. A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit:

“Picking up what I considered a very clever sign (‘Kennedy, Don’t Mimic the Russians!’), I joined the others (supplemented by a second busload of students from a Quaker college in the Midwest) circling around a couple of trees outside the White House. Mike and I — as new and zealous recruits — circled all day without taking a lunch or a dinner break.


“For decades I looked back on this venture as a trifle ridiculous. After all, we and other small bands of protesters couldn’t have had any impact on U.S. policy, could we? Then in the mid-1990s, while doing research at the Kennedy Library on the history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, I stumbled onto an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was explaining why Kennedy delayed resuming atmospheric nuclear tests until April 1962. Kennedy personally wanted to resume such tests, Fisher recalled, ‘but he also recognized that there were a lot of people that were going to be deeply offended by the United States resuming atmospheric testing. We had people picketing the White House, and there was a lot of excitement about it — just because the Russians do it, why do we have to do it?’”

Yes, Kennedy delayed a horrible action. He didn’t, at that time, block it permanently. But if the picketers in 1961 had had the slightest notion that Kennedy was being influenced by them, their numbers would have multiplied 10-fold, as would the delay have correspondingly lengthened.


Yes, our government was more responsive to public opinion in the 1960s than now, but part of the reason is that more people were active then. And another reason is that government officials are doing a better job now of hiding any responsiveness to public sentiment, which helps convince the public it has no impact, which reduces activism further. We also focus far too much on the most difficult individuals to move, such as presidents.


In 1973-1974, Wittner visited GI coffee houses in Japan including in Yokusaka, where the Midway aircraft carrier was in port. The Japanese were protesting the ship’s carrying of nuclear weapons, which was illegal in Japan, and which the U.S. military, of course, lied about. But U.S. soldiers with whom Wittner and other activists had talked, brought them onto the ship and showed them the nukes. The following summer, when Wittner read in a newspaper that,

“a substantial number of American GIs had refused to board the Midway for a mission to South Korea, then swept by popular protest against the U.S.-backed dictatorship, it occurred to me that I might have played some small role in inspiring their mutiny.”

Soldiers can still be reached much more easily than presidents, more easily in many cases in fact than the average citizen. War lies are harder to sell to the people who have been fighting the wars.

In the late 1990s, Wittner was researching the anti-nuclear movement of decades past. He interviewed Robert “Bud” McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan’s former national security advisor:

“Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement. But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze — one that he had directed. . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration’s response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official’s face, and I knew that I had caught him. ‘If Bud says that,’ he remarked tactfully, ‘it must be true.’”

When someone tells you to stop imagining that you’re having an impact, ask them to please redirect their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done. If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying. If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years.

Mr. Swanson is right. I noted in 2009:

As MSNBC news correspondent Jonathan Capehart tells Dylan Ratigan, the main problem is that people aren’t making enough noise. Capehart says that the people not only have to “burn up the phone lines to Congress”, but also to hit the streets and protest in D.C.


Even though most politicians are totally corrupt, if many millions of Americans poured into the streets of D.C., a critical mass would be reached, and the politicians would start changing things in a hurry.


As [liberal] PhD economist Dean Baker points out:

The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the townhall meetings, dominated by people opposed to health care reform, have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform….


A big turnout … can make a real difference.

Baker is right about Vietnam.


Specifically – according to Daniel Ellsberg and many others – Richard Nixon actually planned on dropping a nuclear bomb on Vietnam Nixon also said he didn’t care what the American people thought. He said that — no matter what the public did or said — he was going to escalate the war in Vietnam.


However, a well-known biographer says that Nixon backed off when hundreds of thousands of people turned out in Washington, D.C. to protest an escalation of the war.

And Pulitzer prize winning reporter Chris Hedges pointed out recently:

I was in Leipzig on November 9, 1989 with leaders of East German opposition and they told me that – perhaps within a year – there would be free passes back and forth across the Berlin wall.


Within a few hours, the Berlin Wall, at least as far as an impediment to human traffic, did not exist.


Week after week, month after month, these clergy in Leipzig held these candlelit vigils. And it was slow at first … people forget. Just like the Egyptian revolution has been percolating for many many months, and even years.


And suddenly, it began to grow.


And Honecker – who had been in ruling East Germany since the time of the dinosaurs – sent down a paratroop division to Leipzig .. . and they won’t attack the demonstrators.

Part of the reason that our actions are more powerful than we thinks is that courage is contagious. So is the ability to think.

As we’ve previously noted:

[Studies show ] that even one dissenting voice can give people permission to think for themselves. Specifically:

Solomon Asch, with experiments originally carried out in the 1950s and well-replicated since, highlighted a phenomenon now known as “conformity”. In the classic experiment, a subject sees a puzzle like the one in the nearby diagram: Which of the lines A, B, and C is the same size as the line X? Take a moment to determine your own answer…The gotcha is that the subject is seated alongside a number of other people looking at the diagram – seemingly other subjects, actually confederates of the experimenter. The other “subjects” in the experiment, one after the other, say that line C seems to be the same size as X. The real subject is seated next-to-last. How many people, placed in this situation, would say “C” – giving an obviously incorrect answer that agrees with the unanimous answer of the other subjects? What do you think the percentage would be?


Three-quarters of the subjects in Asch’s experiment gave a “conforming” answer at least once. A third of the subjects conformed more than half the time.

Get it so far? People tend to defer to what the herd thinks.

But here’s the good news:

Adding a single dissenter – just one other person who gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that’s different from the group’s incorrect answer – reduces conformity very sharply, down to 5-10%.

Why is this important? Well, it means that one person who publicly speaks the truth can sway a group of people away from group-think.


If a group of people is leaning towards believing the government’s version of events, a single person who speaks the truth can help snap the group out of its trance.


There is an important point here regarding the web, as well. The above-cited article states that:

when subjects can respond in a way that will not be seen by the group, conformity also drops.What does that mean? Well, on the web, many people post anonymously. The anonymity gives people permission to “respond in a way that will not be seen by the group”. But most Americans still don’t get their news from the web, or only go to mainstream corporate news sites.


Away from the keyboard, we are not very anonymous. So that is where the conformity dynamic — and the need for courageous dissent — is vital. It is doubly important that we apply the same hard-hitting truthtelling we do on the Internet in our face-to-face interactions; because it is there that dissent is urgently needed.


Bottom line: Each person‘s voice has the power to snap entire groups out of their coma of irrational group-think. So go forth and be a light of rationality and truth among the sleeping masses.

And a recent study shows that when only 10% of a population have strongly-held beliefs, their belief will often be adopted by the majority of the society.

True, governments worldwide are cracking down on liberty with the iron fist of repression.

But some argue that this is actually a sign that we are winning.

As Truthout’s Matt Renner writes:

Recently I sat down with two of the young adults who organized and led the Egyptian resistance movement that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. The media narrative said it took 18 days, when in fact, they had been organizing for over five years.


According to these young men, the moment they knew they had won was the day Mubarak’s government shut off the Internet and blocked cellphone communications. When people could no longer get updates about what was happening in Tahrir Square, they had to come out of their homes and see for themselves, tripling the size of the protests in one fell swoop.


The global plutocracy is terrified of dissent. In some places, the war on dissent is being fought with bullets. In others, the war on dissent targets social media and mobile communications, while repressing and deceiving communities of struggle. It’s already happening.

Indeed, the use of heavy-handed tactics – taking the velvet glove off of the iron fist – could backfire, as it will show the “emperor’s ruthlessness” for all to see.

The powers-that-be are terrified of political awakening and dissent. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski – National Security Adviser to President Carter, creator of America’s strategy to lure Russia into Afghanistan, creator of America’s plans for Eurasia in general, and Obama’s former foreign affairs adviser – said:

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity left in the remotest corners of the world that are not politically alert and engaged with the political turmoil and stirrings that are so widespread today around the world.


America needs to face squarely a centrally important new global reality: that the world’s population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power.



[T]he central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.

It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity.




These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.



The misdiagnosis [of foreign policy] pertains to a relatively vague, excessively abstract, highly emotional, semi-theological definition of the chief menace that we face today in the world, and the consequent slighting of what I view as the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind. We live in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.


That turmoil is the product of the political awakening, the fact that today vast masses of the world are not politically neutered, as they have been throughout history. They have political consciousness.




The other major change in international affairs is that for the first time, in all of human history, mankind has been politically awakened. That is a total new reality – total new reality. It has not been so for most of human history until the last one hundred years. And in the course of the last one hundred years, the whole world has become politically awakened. And no matter where you go, politics is a matter of social engagement, and most people know what is generally going on –generally going on – in the world, and are consciously aware of global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation. Mankind is now politically awakened and stirring.

And a reader notes:

We do not understand our own power. Look around you. Almost everything you see was not only made, but created by people like yourselves. Most of the horrors existing on earth were engendered by the elites, WITH OUR CO-OPERATION. Without our consent, most of the terrifying situations existing in our world will cease to exist. Resist. It certainly may be difficult initially, but it grows easier moment by moment.

Some historical quotes may be helpful in illustrating the importance of struggling to make things better …

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
- Robert F . Kennedy

We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before; and it changed for the better; so I trust it will again. If difficulties arise; we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times.
- George Washington

We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.
-Sonia Johnson

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

At certain points in history, the energy level of people, the indignation level of people rises. And at that point it becomes possible for people to organize and to agitate and to educate one another, and to create an atmosphere in which the government must do something.
- Howard Zinn, historian

There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.
- Howard Zinn

Even If We Will Not Ultimately Win … We Must Do It Anyway

Czech leader Vaclav Havel said:

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.

Chris Hedges – the Pulitizer-prize winning reporter who challenged the indefinite detention law and amazingly succeeded in having a judge strike down that law – writes:

In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case and went to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on basic civil liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we would win. But every once in a while the gods smile on the damned.


U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory.




Maybe the ruling won’t last. Maybe it will be overturned. But we and other Americans are freer today than we were a week ago. And there is something in this.


The government lawyers, despite being asked five times by the judge to guarantee that we plaintiffs would not be charged under the law for our activities, refused to give any assurances. They did not provide assurances because under the law there were none. We could, even they tacitly admitted, be subject to these coercive measures. We too could be swept away into a black hole. And this, I think, decided the case.




We pushed forward because all effort to impede the corporate state, however quixotic, is essential. Even if we ultimately fail we will be able to say we tried.


This law was, after all, not about foreign terrorism. It was about domestic dissent. If the state could link Occupy and other legitimate protest movements with terrorist groups (US Day of Rage suffered such an attempt), then the provisions in the NDAA could, in a period of instability, be used to “disappear” U.S. citizens into military gulags, including the government’s offshore

penal colonies.




The battles that must be fought may never be won in our lifetime. And there will always be new battles to define our struggle. Resistance to tyranny and evil is never ending. It is a way, rather, of defining our brief sojourn on the planet. Revolt, as Albert Camus reminded us, is the only acceptable definition of the moral life. Revolt, he wrote, is “a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. … It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it.”


“A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object,” Camus warned. “But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.”




Victory or defeat was not part of the equation. Not to challenge this law would have meant being complicit in its implementation. And once resistance defines a life it becomes reflexive.




Rebellion is an act that assures us of remaining free and independent human beings. Rebellion is not waged because it will work; indeed in its noblest form it is waged when we know it will fail. Our existence, as Camus wrote, must itself be “an act of rebellion.” Not to rebel, not to protect and nurture life even in the face of death, is spiritual and moral suicide. The Nazi concentration camp guards sought to break prisoners first and then kill them. They understood that even the power to choose the timing and circumstances of one’s death was an affirmation of personal freedom and dangerous to the status quo. So although the guards killed at random they went to great lengths to prevent people in the camps from committing suicide. Totalitarian systems, to perpetuate themselves, always seek to break autonomy and self-determination. This makes all acts of resistance a threat, even those acts that will not succeed. And this is why in all states that rule by force any act of rebellion, even one that is insignificant, must be ruthlessly crushed. The goal of the corporate state, like that of any totalitarian entity, is to create a society where no one has the capacity to resist.




We have to stop asking what is reasonable or practical, what the Democratic Party or the government can do for us, what will work or not work. We must refuse now to make any concessions, large or small. We must remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil. We must no longer let illusions pacify us. Hell is truth seen too late. In large and small ways we are called to resist, resist, resist ….

The great psychologist James Hillman agreed, writing that we should seek to help others and act with dignity even in impossible situations.

In other words, it is in the best interests of our dignity, our moral life, our sanity, and our spiritual well-being to struggle … even if the odds seem impossible.

But How Do We Know If Our Actions Will Be Successful … Or Will Only Help Us In a Spiritual Sense?

But how do we know if what we’re doing will really have an effect or not? How do we know if we are being called upon to struggle in order to succeed in changing things for the better … or for the heck of it?

As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.

Hellen Keller pointed out:

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

We are called upon as part of our core purpose to struggle to try to make the world a better place. But we are not privy to fruits of our actions. We are not granted a view of the future … we will never know how many people we will help, and how we will change the course of history.

We are called upon to struggle, but we can never know the end result of our efforts … that is not for us mere mortals to know.

But we are only fully human, fully alive, reaching our potential, and most in tune with the universe if we try.


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Zero Govt's picture

GW, are you clueless?

Your long-winded speech asks us to protest outside the White House and, "it may take a lifetime".. is that your best shot mate?!!

I have a far simpler absolutey effective protest to stop this socialist-fascist Govt oppression, to hit them where it hurts immediately and with peaceful force that'll stop oppression in its tracks:

Stop Paying Your Taxes

Cut the suckers/fuckers off.. easy enough for you to rally around GW and not wait an f'ing lifetime for results?

Ranger4564's picture

The path is clear... Occupy... while you still can... no one else has offered an alternative, so make this your alternative.  But hurry the fuck up.

Zero Govt's picture

the path is not clear nor does Occupy promise results ...see their protests to date, useless. See Greece where protests are every day and the Greek Govt ignore them completely

there is only one protest that'll work and that is Stop Paying Your Taxes

Cut the Govt suckers off and by default the elite parasites

Ranger4564's picture

Your impatience doesn't mean Occupy hasn't achieved anything.  But in fact, Occupy is us, and if we don't do anything, nothing will happen.  No one is going to save YOUR ass... you'll have to do that.  It took many years for the US to try to free itself from England. If it succeeded, it was at least 15 years, maybe 150 years... original colonies to independence.  So to say Occupy failed is not only laughable, so are you.

etresoi's picture

I agree with most of what you say but having worked both sides (first as a US intelligence agent and then in opposition to same) I have some caveats to US activists...

American opposition movements have always focused on the notion of organization. It has always been their goal to organize the people. Their hope has been to wield the collective power of the disaffected, downtrodden, and exploited as a single unit against the concentrated power of the ruling class. While their hope has been noble, their methods have been foolish. Organized resistance has many drawbacks. These drawbacks have seldom been discussed by the opposition. I believe that the only effective resistance is a completely disorganized, decentralized, and leaderless opposition.

While, on the face of it, this claim may impress you as absurd. Of course it seems absurd! It is counterintuitive. Never the less, it is the ONLY method of resistance that will work within American society. I will explain why organized resistance has never worked in the United States. In addition, I will promulgate a new formula for effective resistance.

Why has organized resistance failed in the USA?

There are many reasons for the failure of organized resistance. The two primary causes of failure are intimately connected to the culture of the United States and the political system laid down by our nation's founding fathers.

The Cultural Cause

Americans, culturally, are anarchists. Few Americans realize this. Most Americans have a false understanding of the term "anarchism." However, upon examining the beliefs of your average American, you will find that most Americans:

  • do not trust leaders
  • do not trust government
  • wish to be left alone
  • value their privacy
  • think of themselves as independent from society
  • do not believe that there is a systemic solution to their problems
  • believe that others should be free to do what they choose, provided they do so in private and do not harm others

While it is undeniable that political culture in the United States often speaks to the opposite of the above list, it is also undeniable that most Americans register as neither Democrat or Republican and most Americans do not vote. Thus, despite the political culture, most Americans choose not to participate in it. This is not only due to their belief that the American political system is hopeless, but also is due to the cultural clash between the wider culture and the political culture.

Any attempt to organize large numbers of Americans into a single political movement will fail. Any attempt to create an organization led by a strong group of leaders will fail. Americans reject submersion into the collective. In a sense, Americans are anti-collectivists.

The Political Cause

American political culture is not ideological. Politicians attempt to draw ideological distinctions between the two major parties, but these distinctions are a matter of splitting hairs. The only significant difference between the two political parties is the degree of compassion represented by the rhetoric of the two parties. Compassion is not a political concept. Compassion is an attitude. Thus, the two parties differ, primarily, in attitude and not ideology.

Despite this, there remain two political parties. One is prompted to ask "why?" If each party is basically the same, with respect to ideology, why do they not merge into one party? The answer to this question is best found in viewing each political party according to its true nature. American political parties are, for all intents and purposes, organized crime units. American political parties have more in common with the Mafia than they have with their counterparts in more democratic societies. Like Mafia, each political party competes for control of territory in order to maximize the benefit to their business constituency. Like Mafia, the political parties attempt to mold the system to maintain their positions and access to resources. Like Mafia, the political parties force the average citizen to pay "protection" under the threat of violence (taxes). Like Mafia each political party uses the "protection" money collected for its own advantage.

By defining our political system in terms of the "majority" and the "opposition," our Constitution enshrines this two mafia system into law. Each Mafia passes laws to exclude new comers from the game while focusing the rest of its energy in destroying the other Mafia.

Thus, any resistance movement that chooses to become an organization is in competition with these Mafiosi. The deck is stacked and the power of the state, wielded by these organized crime units known as the Democratic and Republican parties, will waste the time and resources of any newcomer. A newcomer can only succeed by rejecting the political system, draining its resources, and undermining the rule of the state.

How is disorganized resistance superior?

In some societies, dissidents become heroes. In American society dissidents are systematically slandered, libeled, harassed, and villainized. If they become successful, they are murdered (e.g. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X). In the American experience, movements that look to leaders are decapitated. Leaders are a liability, not an asset.

Organizations can be (and are) infiltrated. Organizations can be taxed. Organizations have legal responsibility. Organizations have membership lists and lists are wonderful tools for the oppressor. Organizations take on a life of their own. They struggle to exist and their continued existence takes priority over their mission. Organizations attract opportunists, power mongers, and attention seekers. Organizations tend to exploit their rank and file for the benefit of their inner circle. Disorganizations share none of these defects.

Bureaucracy cannot comprehend disorganization. Disorganization is invisible. The asymmetry of the relationship between organization and disorganization favors disorganization. Organization depends upon planning. Planning requires predictability. Disorganization cannot be predicted. This leaves organization at a disadvantage.

Organization requires a supply chain. Supply chains can be disrupted. Disorganization depends only upon the resources of its members. Supply chains that do not exist cannot be eliminated.

Disorganized movements rely upon swarming. Swarms are difficult to defend against. If you cut a swarm in half, you have two swarms. If you eliminate one of the resulting swarms, you still have a swarm. Disorganization breeds. Organization grows. The many and dispersed are a more difficult target than the large and concentrated.

Organizations takes their steps by design. If the design is flawed, the organization fails. Disorganization relies not upon design but upon evolution. The motivating notions of disorganization are memes. Memes evolve and memes compete. This process improves the motivating notions of disorganization. This process produces multiple courses of action. While some may fail, others are likely to succeed. Taken as a whole, disorganization is more likely to succeed.

The important thing to remember is that it is easier to destroy than to create that which is designed. Thus, the cost to those who lose the manifestation of their design outweighs by leaps and bounds the cost it takes to destroy it. That which evolves is cheap and when an effort is created to destroy the evolved entity, it merely mutates and evolves again, adjusting to the new conditions. As a process that fosters evolution, a movement based on disorganization will continue to survive, evolve, and expand without cost. The resource constraints placed upon the designed (e.g. government and corporate) and those absent from the evolved (a decentralized and disorganized opposition movement), favor the later.

The limits of disorganization

I do not propose a complete absence of organization. Instead I propose a disorganization of units. Units can be as small as a single individual, or as complex as cell of individuals working together. Cells may be internally organized, but they should not be statically organized cell to cell. The movement should have no commander. It should have no central committee or governing body. No global plans should be made. The modus operandi of each unit should be to think globally and act locally. Ideas, strategies, and tactics should float freely and compete as memes within the medium of the collective conscious.


We need to construct a disorganized movement. You need not apply to join. In fact, it might be better if you did not contact me, or anyone except those with whom you wish to form a unit. Your ideas, strategies, tactics, and lessons learned should be spread anonymously or by word of mouth. When you act, should you decide to act in resistance, attribute your actions to "the Resistance." The growing din of disorganized disruption will be felt as an earthquake. There will be trembles. There will be pre-shocks. The tension will mount and, in time, there will be an earthquake. When that earthquake strikes, the organized edifice of the oppressor will fall like a house of cards.

honestann's picture

You make some good points, but I bed to differ on your conclusion that americans are anti-collectivist.  To be sure, americans used to be more individualist than people in other countries, but today they are not, except, perhaps to a marginal and decreasing degree (notwithstanding RonPaul fans).

One other thing to support your general theory.  Tiny "disorganized" groups tend to spend their time taking actions!  Planning has no benefit whatsoever, except to make actions more efficient.  But only actions have consequences, so any form of organization or disorganization that increases the amount of time invested in actions versus planning is beneficial.

Ranger4564's picture

occupy is mostly leaderless and it's certainly disorganized.

etresoi's picture

Perhaps they receive experienced advice

printmoremoney's picture

Universal Law: What you Resist, Persists.

Connect to the part of you that is beyond your Mind and Thoughts.

Surrender Resistance.

The Matrix does not exist when you stop giving it your Life Force.

We are Powerful, Creative Beings.

Create not in reactivity to the Matrix. Instead, Choose to Create Peace.

Peace Is Now.

Be Still And Know Your Power

lakecity55's picture
To The People of Texas and
All Americans In The World --
February 24, 1836


Fellow citizens & compatriots --

I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna -- I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country --


William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.




Remember the Alamo.


BeetleBailey's picture

Kudos GW.

Excellent Post

I personally believe this is why TPTB will not shut off the internet (or do an EMP) to disrupt it.

It would bring the masses out en mass - which is the very thing they dread. Better to have them hiding and mollified, than out in the open.

I would venture a good wager that US troops would also stand down in the face of their own countrymen.

Zero Govt's picture

Nope., defund it... Stop Paying Your Taxes

It doesn't get any easier than this folks, a simple and wholly effective solution. Game Over parasites

Transformer's picture

Ron Paul is making an incredible journey, winning state after state.  His momentum seems to be growing.  The most important thing you can do now is to support him.  He will go to the Republican convention with enough delegates to matter.  The Republican Party will do everything it can to stop him.  BUT, He will have an affect.

When the convention is done there will be a mass request for him to carry on in a 3rd party bid.   His numbers of follower just grow and grow, and he could go on to win.  No 3rd party candidate has ever won in America, but that does not mean there cannot be a first time.  As more and more people awaken, it seems obvious that Ron Paul could win.  He appeals not just  to Republicans but to democrats, progressives, independents, conservatives, pretty much everyone across the board.  As the wake up process continues, Ron Paul could snow ball and win in November.  Join this bandwagon when you get the chance.

ebworthen's picture

Good work George, and I agree.

Fight the good fight.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Jim_Rockford's picture

Recently I sat down with two of the young adults who organized and led the Egyptian resistance movement that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. The media narrative said it took 18 days, when in fact, they had been organizing for over five years.

Which one is it?  George Washington told us that the people of Egypt accomplished the overthrow in 2 weeks as I recall.  Now he cuts/pastes that it took 5 years?  It must be one or the other, but it can't be both.

New_Meat's picture

MBz been working on it for decades.  Well before Sadat's assasination. - Ned

besnook's picture

the matrix wins until they kill themselves. activism serves to push them over the edge when their manic defense of the status quo becomes a series of stupid, self destructive decisions. i think we are nearing that point.

honestann's picture

Make no mistake about the current situation.  The predators-that-be and predator-class understand the history of enslavement and abuse vastly better than everyone else.  Furthermore, they now have vastly superior military, police-state and brainwashing technology than ever before.  Previously, for example, their propaganda was clumsy and minimal in comparison to the mainstream media of today, which is 99.99% propaganda (of various different sorts).  Finally, the governments are now 100% dominated by self-conscious power-lusting predators, and 99.99% composed of power-lusting predators.  They will never give up power willingly.  Like all predators, the only way to eliminate them is to physically eliminate them via cages, spears or bullets.  We all wish that was not the case - that some less violent way would work - but predators cannot be bargained-with, negotiated-with, or persuaded.  That's the mistake people are making, assuming human-predators are operationally different than other animal predators.  They are not.  They have no ethics, no scruples, no honor, only aggression and hopefully someday fear.  Today, only producers have something to fear - the predators are in total control.

PS:  Here is something few people recognize.  Historically, the dynamic hasn't been so much "producers overcome predators" as it has been "producers abandon predators".  In other words, "frontiers" have been escape valves where producers can more-or-less escape the clutches of "predators DBA governments".  Make no mistake, moving into relative no-mans-land (like the americas in the 1500s ~ 1800s) left producers facing plenty of non-human predators (and sometimes less-sophisticated human predators), producers were more willing and able to deal with these natural predators than the "predators DBA government" they escaped.

What we need today... to humorously hijack a TV phrase... is "the final frontier" (outer space), or at least some intermediary frontier like floating towns, or floating collections of individual vessels (in international waters), or underwater dwellings, or underseabed dwellings, or... some frontier where honest productive people can go and focus on their productive activities.  Today, productive people are either "swallowed up" by the predators (because they focus exclusively on their productive endeavors), or they simply "give up" because they cannot overcome the various forms of limitations and/or drag the predators impose upon their endeavors.

That the frontier solution is the better solution is arguable.  But at least it is non-violent, which too many [naive] people insist upon anyway.

malek's picture

 And Honecker – who had been in ruling East Germany since the time of the dinosaurs – sent down a paratroop division to Leipzig .. . and they won’t attack the demonstrators.

We should not kid ourselves here:
Only because the lies were wearing thin after many decades, the vast majority of East Germans -including police, army, and Stasi- at least subconsciously realized them, and that's why there was no violent attempt to retain the communist regime.
In most other cases the overthrow attempt happens earlier when a large enough group of people still wants to preserve the status quo. With predictable effects.

Now everybody can reflect on where we are today, in the unmasking of certain structures overwhelmingly based on lies.

GMadScientist's picture

To resist is to piss in the wind
Anyone who does will end up smelling

Knowing this, why do I defy?
Because my inner voice is yelling

There is a fist pressing against
Anyone who thinks something compelling

Our intuit we're taught to deny
And our soul we're told is for selling

Get out from under them
Resist and multiply
Get out from under precipice
And see the sky

Cursive's picture



"One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed in order to persevere."

- William the Silent, on defending Holland against the Spanish

I do not hope.  Hope is false strength.  I do things because they are right, not because I will win.  Will my call to my senator be heeded?  It matters not.  I will be heard, regardless.  I am hard headed, and my soul is not troubled with doubt or regrets.  We would have a better society if more people understood that a civilization is only as vibrant and free as it's particpants are willing to make it, regardless of the amount of time or effort "wasted" in "lost" causes.

dolph9's picture

If you were on the Titanic and realized it was sinking, would you stay on board and organize and yell and protest that you need a new captain, or debate what plan will work to save the ship?

Fuck that, I'm headed for the lifeboats.

GMadScientist's picture

Get there first...and be the one underneath everyone else piling into the lifeboat.


QuantumCat's picture

Awesome, GW. Quite a few quotes that I haven't seen before that demonstrate our condition is nothing new to human society, only to us as individuals. Despite the ignorance of our collective action that brought us here to exchange individual liberty for the illusion of security, a few courageous souls are helping to change the course of our lives... and that can only be a good thing, even if it means a painful and challenging way forward.  Our posterity will be better served, and hopefully, a little more enlightened... for a few generations anway. 

engineertheeconomy's picture

 Buy Precious Metals. Take all your cash out of the Bank. Pay for your meal with paper dollars but always tip with Silver Dimes or Quarters. Rototill your lawn and plant a garden. Turn off your TV. Stock up on canned goods. Read the Declaration of Independance, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Build a chicken coop in your backyard. Have a 12 volt backup solar electric system. Barter when you can. There must be a thousand more ways to fight the good fight. The most important is to carry pre-1964 Silver coins in your pocket and spend them instead of dollars when you can. Once the people revert to metal money, the Bankers days are numbered. 

srelf's picture

Congrats GWash! An awesome article. And thanks Tyler for continuing to carry such articles!

Pejorative Requiem's picture

The one mainstay of activism, available to us in the US, not expressed in the post? Vote. All the pretexts in the post apply to this practice of activism....... you don't think one vote counts, etc. But those who believe in peacefull resistance will vote. Those who plot and plan for anarchy.......... not so much.

blindman's picture

" hope of winning."
that is ridiculous. the victory
is certain, hope is not needed, so in that
sense the phrase is accurate.

blindman's picture

... on Money
"...So, we see that in the dawn of humanity and the beginning, "money" was personal integrity - but which today has become something else. Today, it is a document of exchange which has little integrity nor substance due to the manipulations by the authority that issues such certificates, by order of seniority, that is, the Bankers, Central Bankers and the Government's agents, in that order.

Money once was integrity; personal integrity and as the "word" should be (... in the beginning there was the word and ... the word was God) good naturally - it was capacity and coherence of the self-volume ("I"), the composition of the "I", it was the direct relationship between right action after right word...of self - clearly and obviously today money represents the integrity of the issuer (please consider this relationship carefully) - which notably is no longer a Nation State but always the Banker - so Eureka, money today represents the integrity of the Bankers which subordinates the political and bureaucratic as well as the Corporate." pjb
Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance - Debris/oh la la

New_Meat's picture

GW: You start with:

"Preface:  The only people who should read this are folks who want a better world.  Everyone else - please ignore it ... it will be a TOTAL waste of time ..."

Wow, who doesn't want a better world?  oooohhhh.  Then you have your position, no justification nor data.

War? I offer you Mill, "...but not the worst of things".

no need to cite the reference, you have dismissed it before.

And, your pandering to the Paul-istaz is quite interesting.  You should expand on why RP should be in charge and shit.  Knock your lights out.

- Ned

steelhead23's picture

Dear General Washington, I understand that you are wintering in Valley Forge, and your men are cold, hungry, and dispirited.  Let us end this foolishness.  Bring your men and meet me in Princeton.  We have tons of meat and lots of blankets, and yes, mead.  Meet us, lay down your arms and let us all sing the praises of our King.  Sincerely Charles Cornwallis

brettd's picture


Your men are drunk and asleep and speak only German.



carlsbadip's picture

Quoting Howard Zinn's and ignoring the Tea Party makes the diatribe suspect to say the least. All of the examples were those mostly embraced by the MSM.

Confusing storyline in that toppling Saddam that resulted in Iraqis running Iraq was bad, but the Arab Spring with extremists seizing control in Libya is great. The Egyptian elections potentially putting the country on the edge of Military Junta is also great. The theme is one from the left that has been the same since the French Revolution. It is always okay to slaughter people because a few Eggs have to broken to make an omelet.

Unfortunately, US Soldiers did cause the fall the South Korean Dictatorship, the Taiwanese Dictatorship or the Phillipines Dictatorship, it was the people in those countries and the withdrawal of support of the Reagan Administration for each one of the dictatorship that were all celebrated by real politik of Brzezinski.

The fantasy that Brzezinski caused the Russians to go into Afghanistan is pure fantasy. Carter's stunned reaction to the invasion is all one needs to remember.

The story of Vietnam always forgets that JFK started that mess and history is rewritten to blame LBJ and Nixon and create a fantasy that JFK had decided to reduce the war, but he was killed. Vietnam was JFK's stand to show Kruschev that he was tough after Kruschev made him wet his pants in Vienna. The Bay of Pigs disaster that followed the fantasy of small Special Forces taking over an island nation that is 900 miles long is also always blamed others.

What is always ignored is that Ike and McArthur told JFK to stay out of Vietnam because it would take over 3 million troops and the American people would not accep that commitment and it was of questionable strategic importantance. On the JFK assassination, his killing by the Diem family members in the South and North is as plausible, and maybe more so than any other. Diem and his brother in law were secretly negotiating a secret peace deal with the North that JFK saw as ruining his stand as a strong man in Vietnam, so the CIA had Diem and his Brother in Law killed in a military coup. If you want to believe the fantasy of Lodge acting alone without JFK, read Habelstam et al in the newspapers and magazine printed then.

We are plagued with poor decisions. Reagan decision to let terrorism run the US out of Lebanon after the barracks attack sent a clear message how to deal with US because it is a paper tiger.

JFK in Vietnam is a great example. To correct a huge error about nukes in Vietnam, Nixon wanted to nuke the North Vietnamese in 1954 during the battle Dien Bien Phu and Ike said no way. Nixon's secret plan once he took office in Vietnam was escalation, negotiations with the Russians and going the Cina to leverage the Russians. Nixon could not get out Vietnam without the Russians and Nukes would have killed that.

The US failed to live by its peace treaty obligation of 1973 and we got the boat people, the killing fields and re-education camps.

Clinton bombed Serbia only because of Blair's insistence after Clinton refused to put boots on the ground to end the slaughter. Unfortunately, the bombing that killed 15,000 Serbians did not force Molosevic to step down, it was the freezing of his money and he had nowhere to go. Rwanda was another example of poor decision making as people were exterminated.

Bush I invaded Kuwait and Iraq as the largest mercenary force in the history of the world paid for by the Saudis and the Japanese because the US Senate refused to follow the UN mandate. Bush stopped and left Saddam in power because that was the deal that was cut with the funders and the other countries in the coalition. Poor decision making by the Senate in not following and funding the UN mandate caused a slaughter of the Kurds by Saddam.

Bush II had three different strategies operating prior to invading Iraq, but no agreement for the aftermath. Rumsfeld wanted to leave after Saddam was overthrown and captured. The State Department wanted to nation build. Treasury wanted Iraq to pay the US some of the costs of the war. The blood for oil storyline died when the US oil Companies were shut out of the Iraqi market and the US received no price preference for Iraqi oil. My view has always been that 20% of Iraqi oil revenue should have been dedicated to paying 50% of the War costs and then used for infrastructure. Did not happen and we are fools as a result.

Obama's abandoning of Iraq gives up all influence to Iran. Obama ignored the opportunity of the Iranian demonstration (interesting how our author forgot that one) because he supported stability in Iran but not in Egypt?

The result in Libya means one should never give up their WMDs, even just some because you loose your leverage and the extremists take over as they are supported by those countries that Gaddafi cut his deal with. It is why Iran will develop or buy nuclear weapons because it changes the dynamic. Want to avoid real sanctions, just develop nukes in complete secrecy as Pakistan did.

The good war in Afghanistan was never the good war candidate Obama and the Dems made it out to be. The commitment was minimized under Bush II because NATO did not want to commit and really fight and Afghanistan is only a Nation State in a few cities, the rest of the country is in the 8th Century. Iraq was a nation state for many years.

Poor decisions under every President, but there was good results, despite the hysteria of the Howard Zinns of the world.

The Berlin Wall came down and Eastern Europe is free.
Kuwait was liberated.
Molosevic surrendered.
Saddam was over thrown and convicted by Iraqis.
Bin Laden was killed.

Unfortunately, the Obama damage has really just begun on the poor decisions.

In history, street violence leads to totalitarian regimes. The difference in Taiwan, South Korea and the Phillipines was that the US had unbelievable leverage to tell the dictators it was time to go and strongly support a transition to Democrarcy. In each country, the large military presence or over dependence on US protection made all the difference.

That does no exist in Egypt and Libya. In fact, the inability for Gaddafi to be overthrown without US Airpower really questions the mantra of our old ally France making a difference in Iraq. Germany has refused to fight in Aghanistan, despite it's NATO obligation and supposed willingness to support action in Afghanistan. That left the French and Poland and the US as the key fighting forces in Afghanistan during the last ten years, and France's lack of military size precluded it from being involved in Iraq.

There is no NATO besides the US, Eastern Europe and the Turks because of the cut to defense spending in Western Europe. The UK was a key player until it began to decommission its military during the financial crisis.

The story of uprisings sounds good, but street violence leads to extremism and that has taken over Libya and is poised to capture Egypt. The failure to recognize the impact of decisions and all the unintended consequences leaves the world far more unstable than ever before. Obama has US troops in 75 Countries, a doubling Bush II's commitment with no Congressional authorization.

The failure to obtain declarations of war to go to war makes going to war far too easy. The Gun- Ho Congress of 2003, went sour when the war went bad and everyone wanted to hide from their votes. The Fedralist Papers and other writings of the supporters of the US Constitution passage demanded such a declaration because how Kings had bankrupted nations and sacrificed it's people because their was no separation of power between declaring war and waging war. We have ignored the Constitution to get to the place our Revolutionary Founders wanted to prevent.

If it is worth bombing, using troops on the ground, or naval action, then it should require a declaration of War prior to or soon after action is taken. Furthermore, supporting the overthrow of a government is an act of war and sould also be voted by Congress.

George Washington's picture

You're trying to make this a partisan issue, but ZH readers are

Democrats are just as bad as Republicans on launching imperial wars ... Democrats phrase it as "humanitarian intervention", which is a farce.


tony bonn's picture

thank you george....evil prospers when good men sit and do nothing...follow telemachus....

chebetts's picture

GW, I believe there are many things on the rise as well as political awareness......I received the article with an open heart, thank you, I like the substance of these stories and points of view rather know.....that other part of awareness.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

The "indignation level" is palpably rising; a plurality of the public may finally be awakening from its long slumber.

deerhunter's picture

Having lost a 20 year job recently via a 2 minute interstate phone call,  the world indeed looks different.  Time to hang out my own shingle.  Still smile when you meet someone, know your neighbors, and GGGG.  God, guns, guts and a garden.  One day, one moment at a time.  The world has never and will never owe me a thing.  That seems somehow lost on a few of the recent generations. 

ShakaZulu's picture

Lindsey Williams said, "in a short while 80% of the country will work for the Federal Government."  He didn't say we'd get paid.  But when the government tells us to join the work gangs to eat, what will we all do?

Rearranging Deckchairs's picture

GW thanks for posting. We all need some optimism around here along with all the doom and gloom. Thanks for the reminder to keep excercising our declining first amendment rights. Frankly all these anti- freedom measures by the government have been making me nervous. They definitively have chilling effects, as is the intent. I just wish I could wake more people up. It is summer time so television should have less of the limited american attention span.



dolly madison's picture

The protesting is good.  It wakes up the sheep.

Doubleguns's picture

GW this is a great article but there are a few things that peeved me so much so I could not sit quietly by and say nothing. My previous comment and now this Sonia getting credit but not... shall we say citing her source or inspiration.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in peoples minds.   Samuel Adams 1722-1803

We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.  Sonia Johnson 1936-living

Just wanted to make sure Samuel got his due since Sonia's quote was obviously inspired...... by someone born 200 years prior.


George Washington's picture

Thanks, DG, for reminding us.

Sam was The Man ...

marketcycles79's picture

Great article as usaual from someone who gets it.

Muppet Pimp's picture

maybe one of the hackers amongs us can shed more light but that link appears unfriendly

Bringin It's picture

In search of entertainment, I checked out the yahoo message FB message board for a laugh.  It was overwhelmed with robo-generated neg. comments that linked to a page fishing for email @s.

Is this what cyber war looks like?