[A short version of Bill Moyer's 'Movement
here to view print version
No problem perceived even through there is one; 10% public
support; feeling that "we'll never win"; people's
moral values violated by powerholders but not a public issue,
indeed public believes the 'official' line. Opposition comes
from professional lobbyists and principled dissenters.
Public support rising slowly, now 20%; question is asked "What's
wrong with these protesters?"; opposition movement uses
mainstream channels and proves they don't work, show powerholders
violating values; opposition become experts, build their organisation.
Public now realising 'something is up'; 30% support. Public
getting higher expectations. There is isolated local, grass
roots opposition which brings in new people; the opposition
use available networks of churches, unions etc. Some prototype
demonstrations are held.
People now realising there's a problem, issue getting 40 -
50% support. There is loads of excitement, high hopes. It
has become a big public issue and it feels like a crisis (with
associated panic, excitement and energy). A trigger event
may set this stage off (e.g. European decision on Cruise missile
deployment set off 1980s wave of anti-nuclear action). Informal,
non-hierarchical organisation grows.
Discouragement that success hasn't arrived. 50% agreeing,
50% 'maybes' and 'no's'. Numbers at demonstrations fall; government
pays no attention; no real victories yet; strains of informal
administration/organisation. Dangers of drop out/burn out,
more militant and/or violent action, and internal movement
The movement may feel despondent but the public are moving;
60 - 80% support. Hard work needed at grassroots and national
levels to move from protest to win mass public support; needing
public education, nonviolent actions, involving citizens,
using official channels, grassroots organising, national publicity
Now 60 - 85% public support and a crisis atmosphere with massive
public discontent; the movement has become the 'good guys'
and many powerholders are won over. The public is less fearful
of alternatives and are involved in a big way through demonstrations
or boycotts etc. Powerholders realise they need to change
policy or lose office. Ending can come through dramatic or
quiet showdown or attrition.
Public sees issue as won, many people move one to other issues.
But may need to pick up aspects of the issue which haven't
been satisfactorily dealt with (and which are at earlier stages)
or spin offs (in Ireland many from the anti-nuclear power
movement of the end of the 'seventies moved on to the nuclear
[ for personal reflection or discussion]
- Think of some campaigns on different issues;
which stage would they be at?
- Do you think this 'road to success' applies
or exists in our context? If not, what stages would you
see existing, or how should the above model be modified
- What stage do you like best?
- In what stages would nonviolent direct action
be most appropriate?
- Where can your personal qualities and skills
Time needed: Preferably 2 - 21/2 hours, you could do a
certain amount in 1 - 11/4 hours.
Give people the handout of stages as they arrive
(as in 1-8 above)
1. Personal introductions,
if needed, and introduction to agenda.
Point out that this is not 'programmatic' in that movements
may go backwards, be in a couple of places at one time, or
not fit the model adequately. In this case, a new model that
fits better could be developed by people.
2. Work through the stages,
taking brief comments and questions.
3. One-to-one (getting people
to pair off with someone they know less well or not at all)
speaking-listening exercise; one person speaks for 3-4 minutes,
then reverse (listener can ask 'drawing-out' questions).
a) Where are you/have you been in campaigns
and issues you have been involved in?
b) Where can you realistically plan to be in 2 - 5 years time?
Standing up, get people to divide in a line from stages 1
a) Where do people see themselves in a particular
campaign? Ask why people have placed themselves in a particular
b) Where do people most enjoy being? Again ask why.
5. Caucus (small group focused
on one issue) or plenary to discuss the particular campaign
you are focused on.
If it is a sizeable enough group with different
interests, seek bids for different smaller groups to discuss
a particular campaign, and see what groups are viable. Or
if it is a sizeable enough group focused on the one issue
you can still divide into smaller groups of 6, 8, or 10.
a) Is the model useful to us?
b) Do we need to build our own model, and if so how can we
c) What tactics and strategies can be utilised if a campaign
gets to stage 6, say, but the government refuses to change
its policy (e.g. Irish government granting use of Shannon
airport to USA troops going to Iraq)?
6. Conclusions/Comments to close.
Can be done a round, asking people to share just a sentence
Here is a shortened version of what Moyer lists as
the tasks for the change movement at each stage -
1) Document that a serious problem exists; maintain
active opposition no matter how small.
2) Document problem including involvement of
powerholders; document citizens' attempts to use normal channels
and prove they don't work; become experts; build small opposition
3) Recognise historical conditions that help
make a new movement possible; create, inspire and prepare
new wave groups; prepare pre-existing groups; personalise
the problem; begin small prototype nonviolent action projects.
4) Create a new grassroots based social movement;
put powerholders' policies into public consciousness as contentious;
create public platform for the movement to educate people;
create public dissonance on the issue.
5) Become strategists; form political and personal
support groups; adopt nonviolence; adopt empowerment models
of organisation and leadership.
6) Keep the issue and powerholders' values and
violations on the agenda; switch from crisis protest to waging
protracted social struggle to achieve positive social change;
keep trying to get bigger majority opinion; involve large
numbers in grassroots programmes.
7) Wage a successful 'endgame' strategy to win
one or more demands; recognise/celebrate success; raise larger
issues and propose alternative paradigms; create new decentralised
centres of power; continue the movement.
8) Work to assure that demands achieved are
maintained and circle back to focus the movement on other
Further resources: Bill
Moyer, who died in 2002, was a US peace activist who developed
more comprehensive materials in relation to the above. Do
a web search for 'Bill Moyer Movement Action Plan' or contact
INNATE for details.
[This item first appeared with Nonviolent
News 124: November 2004]