Possible Readings for

T. Theories and Strategies

Systems Strategy

“Places to Intervene in a System,” Whole Earth, Winter 1997, 22 sp.

From numbers and physical stock to feedback loop rules, goals, and paradigms, where can you get the most leverage for change? Challenging strategy reflections from a systems theory expert.

“Twelve leverage points (by Donella H. Meadows),” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed April 7, 2006, 8 sp.

Schematic overview of “Places to Intervene in a System.”

Change Strategy

“What is Strategy?” by Michael Albert, Radical Theory Instructional, 3 p.

Strategy is like a bridge: you are on one side, you want to go to the other side, and your strategy is the way for you to get there.

“What Social Science Can Tell Us About Social Change,” by G. William Domhoff, Sociology Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, March 2005, 2 p.

A brief summary of five useful things social scientists have learned about social change with links to more ideas. Patt: A 1-page summary of social science issues on social change, with a large number of other links. The article is certainly academic, but not overly technical or abstract.

“Two Interpretations of Contemporary Social Change,” a chapter by Alain Touraine from Social Change and Modernity, edited by Hans Haferkamp and Neil J. Smelser, University of California Press, 1992, 41 p.

Patt: Alain Touraine was born in 1925 in Hermanville-sur-Mer (France) and received his History “agrĂ©gation” from the Ecole Normale Supèrieure of Paris in 1950. The body of Alain Touraine’s work constitutes a “sociology of action" — as the title of one of his books, published in 1965, puts it. The third and present period is mainly concerned with development as the fundamental agent of social movements, an area in which Touraine intends to continue working in the coming years.

Some Change Goals/Strategies

“The beloved community of Martin Luther King,” by Grace Lee Boggs, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2004, 7 p.

Might events have taken a different path if we had found a way to infuse the struggle for Black Power with King’s philosophy of nonviolence?

Electoral Strategy

“Race, the Democratic Party, and Electoral Strategy,” speech by Bill Fletcher, Jr., Columbia University, October 10, 2006, 19 p.

One-sentence description.

Violent Action

“How to Topple Saddam with Weapons of Will,” by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, Sojourners, September-October 2002, 8 p.

Anyone who opposes U.S. military action to dethrone Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, has a responsibility to suggest how he might otherwise be ushered out the backdoor of Baghdad. Fortunately there is an answer: civilian-based, nonviolent resistance by the Iraqi people, developed and applied in accordance with a strategy to undermine Saddam's basis of power.

Violent Action

“Fighting To Win: An Interview with Craig Rosebraugh by Darby Dargymm”, The ‘A’ Word Issue #4, 2003?, 13 p.

Rosebraugh argues reform in the United States has proven itself to be a fruitless venture, a political and social revolution is necessary in the United States, and a revolution in the United States must be comprised of a variety of strategies — but it cannot be successful without the implementation of political violence.

Using Violence

“Non-Violence and it’s Violent Consequences,” by Bill Meyers, 26 p.

Nonviolence encourages violence by the state and corporations. The ideology of nonviolence creates effects opposite to what it promises. To minimize violence we must adopt a pragmatic, reality-based method of operation.

Nonviolence in Action

“Nonviolence Playlets,” collected by Walter Wink, 48 p.

29 short plays that dramatically reconstruct actual experiences in which nonviolent direct action has been used, successfully, to overcome violence.

Pacifist Perspectives

“September 11: A Pacifist Response,” by Stanley Hauerwas, Hospitality, October 2002.

One-sentence description.

“The Failure of War,” by Wendell Berry, Yes! Magazine, Winter 2001/2002

One-sentence description.

A Variety of Perspectives on NV Action

“Arresting Disobedience,” by Jessica Azulay, ZNet Daily Commentaries, January 22, 2003, 7 p.

We need to be able to show elites that the number of people willing to engage in more cost-exacting tactics is growing and will continue to grow exponentially if they continue on their present course towards war. This means we have to design tactics that not only make our dissent blatant, but that also appeal to other antiwar sympathizers to get involved in big demonstrations and civil disobedience so that our movement can expand. The best way to do this is to choose activities that are bold, creative, defiant, and empowering.

“True Resistance/What Nonviolence Is,” by Gordon Clark, ZNet Daily Commentaries, February 6, 2003, 7 p.

Nonviolence is a force and a method based on love and compassion — a love so great that it asks us to love even our enemies, and a compassion so deep that it compels us to accept personal risk, and to endure personal suffering before we would allow suffering to come to our fellow beings.

“The Parameters of Nonviolent Action: What Makes An Action Nonviolent?” Nonviolent Activist, War Resisters League, July-August 2001, 21 p.

Nine perspectives on nonviolent action.

On Diversity of Tactics

“What is ‘A Diversity of Tactics’?”, 12 p.

One-sentence description.

“Getting Our Tactics Right: Lessons from the Calgary G8 Mobilization,” by Starhawk, July 2002, 7 p.

Confrontation and disruption are essential aspects of effective nonviolent direct action. Yet often, now, I hear people in the movement echo the media’s assumption that an action that leads to arrest must have been violent. As a result, people who want to act nonviolently end up in safe, nonconfrontational actions that lack the power to truly confront or delegitimize the power structure.

More on Diversity of Tactics

“Turning Point,” by L.A. Kauffman, May 2001, 7 p.

Quebec City felt like a turning point. Two of the main groups calling for the protest announced from the start that they would organize on the basis of “respect for a diversity of tactics.” Specifically, they committed not to renounce “violence” (always a slippery term) or to denounce any demonstrators’ methods of dissent.

“A Diversity of Tactics?” by Abby Scher, In These Times, May 28, 2001, 5 p.

Before Quebec, the debate about violent-versus-nonviolent tactics was pretty low-key After Quebec, there will be no way to avoid taking a stand, one way or another.

Thoughts of Michael Albert

“Looking Back, Moving Forward: Sonia Shah of South End Press Interviews Michael Albert,” September 1998, 24 p.

One-sentence description.

“Discussion on Radical Strategy, Sabotage, and the Weathermen,” by Michael Albert

One-sentence description.

Steady Plodding

“The Nonviolent Army Revisited,” by Ted Glick, Future Hope column, September 10, 2003, 4 p.

There are three major, complementary approaches to movement-building that are needed to achieve fundamental, systemic changes: consciousness raising about the possibility of systemic change, an independent electoral vehicle that runs candidates at all levels of the political system, and an activist, in-the-streets, mass movement.

“A Post Mortem On The Peace Movement?” by Cynthia Peters, ZNet Activism Watch, December 27, 2001, 7 p.

The situation is desperately urgent, but the only possible response is the painstaking work of educating people, changing people’s minds, and creating channels for social change.


“Another World is Happening,” by Dan Merkle, March 3, 2003

About the Third Annual World Social Forum in January 2003.

“Anarcho-syndicalism,” by Tom Wetzel, October 21, 2002

One-sentence description.


“Turn Your Back On Bush: Experiments in Direct Action at the Point of Assumption,” by Doyle Canning, ZNet, March 12, 2005, 8 p.

Explains how the campaign used memes to challenge assumptions about power and also describes how through direct action, activists can build solidarity through sharing their stories and strategies.

“De-Colonizing the Revolutionary Imagination,” by Patrick Reinsborough, smartMeme, May 2003, 35 pages.

This ten part essay explores a wide range of innovative social change strategies and ideas including post-issue activism, direct action at the point of assumption, and the politics of reality.

Movement Funding

“Robin Hood Was Right,” by Cynthia Peters, ZNet Daily Commentaries, May 28 2000

One-sentence description.


“Most Soldiers are Non-Killers in Battle: The Aftermath of State Sanctioned Violence and Who It Targets,” opinion column by Heather Gray, CommonDreams.org, December 10, 2003, 7 p.

In his fascinating book On Killing, psychologist Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman reports that throughout history, in any war, only 15% to 20% of the soldiers are willing to kill. The fact that we don’t want to kill is a thankful affirmation of our humanity. Do we really want to behaviorally modify our young men and women into professional, skilled killers?

“For 40 years, wars of the world have been lost to insurgencies,” opinion column by Eric Black, Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 18, 2007, 2 p.

In only about 35 percent of wars over the past 40 years has the side with more military might won... Before World War II, the stronger side won 75 to 80 percent of wars.

Spectrum of Opinion and Political Typologies

“America’s Current Political Spectrum,” by Tony Brasunas, Garlic and Grass, Issue 5, 2003, 8 p.


Public awareness, managed by the media, covers only a small slice of political thought.

“World’s Smallest Political Quiz.”

The old one-dimensional categories of “right” and “left,” established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political arrangement. Frustrated libertarians developed a more inclusive two-dimensional chart.

“The Political Compass,” December 12, 2006.

Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors to properly address the political landscape.

“The New Political Compass: The New Progressives are In-Front, Deep Green, Against Big Business and Globalization, and Beyond Left vs. Right,” by Paul H. Ray, Version 7.3, April, 2002.

A new political constituency is emerging — the New Progressives — and the easiest way to describe them is that they are at right angles to Liberal left and Social Conservative right, and they are directly opposed to Big Business Conservatism.

“Moral Politics,” Moral Politics, Inc., 2004.

Using a two-dimensional map of political beliefs based on George Lakoff’s analysis of moral politics, it is easier to understand how political ideologies and systems relate to one another.

“Moral Politics Map of Ideology,” Moral Politics, Inc., 2004.

23 political ideologies mapped on the Moral Matrix.

“Profiles of the Typology Groups,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, May 10, 2005, 12 p.

The 2005 Political Typology is the fourth of its kind, following on previous studies in 1987, 1994 and 1999. It classifies people into 9 groups on the basis of a broad range of value orientations rather than simply on the basis of party identification or self-reported ideology.

Critique of Conservatism

“Conservatism Itself,” by Robert Borosage, The American Prospect, July/August 2007, 6 p.

Each of the signature Bush follies — Iraq, Katrina, Enron, privatization of Social Security, the Terri Schiavo case, trickle-down economics that didn’t trickle — can be traced directly to conservative ideas and the conservative think tanks and ideologues that championed them. In every case, conservatism failed, not simply because of corruption or incompetence, but because of original conception. Actual existing conservatism fails because it gets the world wrong.