Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything

Piven, Frances Fox

Publisher:  The Nation
Date Written:  18/01/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20406

A call for strategic and effective organizing against the Trump presidency, drawing on historical precedent of antiwar and other movements in the US.




Chanting crowds are the familiar insignia of movements. And I think movement politics may even make resistance to a Trump regime possible. But while the great movements of American history were the crucial determinant of our most important democratic reforms - from the basic electoral elements of representative democracy, to Emancipation, to labor rights, to women's and LGBTQ rights - none of these movements achieved their successes simply through the gathering of people to show their commitment. People gathered, of course, but what makes movements a force - when they are a force - is the deployment of a distinctive power that arises from the ability of angry and indignant people to at times defy the rules that usually ensure their cooperation and quiescence.


Resistance movements are hard: They must mobilize defiant collective action against what seem formidable odds, and they risk triggering tough reprisals. Moreover, they often operate in the dark, not knowing the weak points of the regime they confront or the strains among its allies. This describes our own situation: We don't really know much about the potential fissures among the parade of groups and individuals that Trump is inviting into the national government.

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