Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Understand: Fossil Fuel’s Stranglehold is Fragile! We CAN Break it!

Like Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King, we are not trying to supplant our government.  The power Chavez and the United Farm Workers faced was a consortium of growers, the power King and the Civil Rights Movement faced was a system of unfair state laws and a culture of intimidation.   The power we face is the fossil fuel industry and their allies within our government and institutions.

Their control over our nation’s energy policy seems unbreakable.  They have so much money and many tailor-made laws that favor their position (remember, the oil corporations have been running the show since the Standard Oil Corporation of Ohio started throwing around it’s weight in the later 19th century).  We see global warming kicking in.  We know it will be catastrophic in our lifetimes and ruinous for future generations.  We want to stop it but feel powerless in the face of the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold.

In the first pages of Gene Sharp’s The Politics of Nonviolent Action – Part One: Power and Struggle, we learn that our impression of their power is wrong.  It is we who have the power.  Some highlights:

 “An erroneous or inadequate view of the nature of political power is unlikely to produce satisfactory and effective action for dealing with it.”

“One can see the people as dependent on the good will, the decisions, and the support of their government, or of any hierarchical systems to which they belong.  Or…one can see that government or system as dependent on the people’s good will, decisions and support…One can also see power as self-perpetuating, durable, not easily or quickly controlled or destroyed.  Or political power can be viewed as fragile, always dependent for it’s strength and existence upon a replenishment of its sources by the cooperation of a multitude of institutions and people – cooperation which may or may not continue.

“Nonviolent action is based on the second of these views: that governments depend on its people, that power is pluralistic, and that political power is fragile because it depends on many groups for reinforcement of its power sources.”

All power “can be weakened and shattered by the undermining of its sources of power”.

So the first step toward breaking Dirty Energy’s stranglehold is to understand that it can be broken.

I’m including little snippets, but if we’re going to break Dirty Energy’s stranglehold you need to read Gene Sharp’s stuff.  Please muster up the $34.85 (plus shipping) and purchase The Politics of Nonviolent Action.  You can order it HERE.

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