Nonviolent Strategic Planning

Dear Clams and friends,

Respecting and honoring your commitments and very busy schedules is important.

Also urgently important is to increase the effectiveness of our nonviolent work, and to maximize available resources and actions. Powerful new nonviolent tools now exist, guiding multiple nonviolent revolutions blazing around the world.

Nonviolent strategic planning, adapted from military strategic planning by Col. Robert Helvey and Gene Sharp, is key to this new power potential and reality in strategic nonviolent resistance. Few if any of us Clams have been forced to study and apply this new strategic knowledge because our lives literally depended upon skillfully maximizing our finite resources in a vast power differential.

May I humbly suggest that despite extensive experience and passionately devoting our lives to SOME aspects of nonviolent resistance, that in other areas of nv struggle we still have much to learn. I include myself–a mere babe in the woods on these strategic analytical skills.

Attached are strategic planning tools, including the strategic estimate, that did not exist years ago. These are only as valuable as the work we invest—hard questions to guide our own development of grand strategy, strategies, campaigns, and tactics. There are no quick or easy answers.

Below are opening paragraphs of a short chapter on strategic estimate, also an introduction to strategic planning. These attached chapters are exerpted from, “Self Liberation: A Guide to Overcoming Dictatorships and Other Forms of Oppression,” (free download, (Also on the website for free download but not attached is Chapter 6 on preparing a strategic estimate from Col. Robert Helvey’s book, “On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About the Fundamentals”).

Exerpting out of context strategic planning only from the full 900 page reading list is problematic; we must beware widely disparate understandings/knowledge that will arise in discussions of nonviolent theory and practice. For example, this shorter planning excerpted readings do not cover the fundamental nv power analysis by Gene Sharp. As humans we make assumptions based on our experience, often remaining unaware of our blind spots. Regional study groups committed to reading the full 900 page “Self Liberation” reading list are possible fall-winter projects?

Conscientiously, out of respect for our busy committed lives, I encourage you to find the time to begin studying these five chapters on nonviolent strategic planning ahead of our annual July 20-22 gathering. We are devoting a weekend to begin planning; my sincere belief is that these are valuable tools to escalate our skillful use of strategic nonviolent resistance. This is substantive work requiring sustained sharp, focused rigorous thinking and energy over time. These analytical hard questions, if we apply ourselves, guide us to deeper thinking, expanding our strategic options and maximizing our resources. I challenge you to begin study of these new skills as if your life literally depends upon skillful integration of these new techniques. With humility I invite you to join me in seeking out honestly our own nonviolent blind spots—we all have them. Short brainstorms, followed by prioritizing, while useful in other contexts, is NOT “strategy.” This should never ethically be allowed to pass as the sum total of “strategy” when contrasted with these new analytical strategic planning resources I humbly submit.

The prize-winning documentary about Gene Sharp’s strategic nv resistance, “How To Start A Revolution” will be shown during our Occupy Entergy weekend. The cost is $20 if you wish to purchase your own (non institutional) copy.

Your candid feedback is earnestly requested. Thank you for your persistence in reading this far. These resources are offered with the intent to raise our level of discussion, to escalate our impact–Occupy Entergy!

No nukes!

Nelia Sargent
603 542 6600

Summary of Appendix A – Preparing a Strategic Estimate

Appendix A – Preparing a Strategic Estimate

Summary of Part IV: Introduction to Part 4: Shaping the Future

Introduction to Part 4: Shaping the Future

Chapter 35: Making Nonviolent Struggle More Effective

Chapter 36: First Steps in Strategic Planning

Chapter 37: Some Strategic Guidelines

Chapter 38: Conducting the Struggle