Today’s article by Rebecca Solnit about Occupy Wall Street is fabulous, but she erred on an important fact. She ascribes the following quote abut the state of mind of anti-nuclear activists in the 1978 Clamshell Alliance to journalist Bill Moyers:
“That Friday night, I expected to meet a spirited, upbeat group that was proud of its accomplishments. I was shocked when the Clamshell activists arrived with heads bowed, dispirited, and depressed, saying their efforts had been in vain. The Clamshell experience of discouragement and collapse is far from unusual. Within a few years after achieving the goals of ‘take-off,’ every major social movement of the past 20 years has undergone a significant collapse, in which activists believed that their movements had failed, the powerful institutions were too powerful, and their own efforts were futile. This has happened even when movements were actually progressing reasonably well along the normal path taken by past successful movements!”
This quote is actually from the remarkable Movement Action Plan created by the late Movement for a New Society activist Bill Moyer, stimulated by that very meeting. (The mixup of the names Moyer and Moyers is understandable and frequent, but unfortunate.) Moyer’s MAP describes the stages through which a nonviolent movement progresses and the relative roles played by the various players. I interviewed him in Feb 1990 for the peace movement strategic newsletter “Thinkpeace” and made the chart he subsequently used to summarize his model (see below).
This is invaluable knowledge for all nonviolent activists, and a great companion piece to the breakthrough strategic nonviolence work of Gene Sharp, about which there is an excellent new movie “How to Start a Revolution”.