Local activists are eager to make a New Years revolution

By David Talbot : sfchronicle – excerpt

A great cloud of melancholy has settled over Facebook land, or at least over those regions I inhabit. The coming ascension of Donald Trump has deeply darkened the usual year-end winter blues. But you can also feel a kind of strange euphoria in progressive enclaves like the Bay Area — the growing fierceness of soldiers eager for battle.

Of course if this rising passion is to have any real political impact, it has to be directed and disciplined. So I’ve been eagerly reading two new books that are loaded with useful advice about how to build a mass movement and make major change. The first, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, is co-written by Becky Bond, an experienced 46-year-old San Francisco activist, who, with co-author Zack Exley, helped mobilize the sprawling volunteer army that came amazingly close to winning the Democratic nomination for a 75-year-old Jewish socialist from Vermont.

The first important lesson that Bond and Exley learned from the Bernie Sanders campaign: demand big changes. In recent years, note the authors, politics has become professionalized, with a “technocratic elite” focusing on small issues and running campaigns according to computer models. But Bernie thought big: He demanded a “revolution” to counter the “corporate oligarchy” that has taken over the country. And he wasn’t afraid to use the word “socialism.”…

Another key lesson from the Sanders campaign: “The revolution will not be staffed.” Because Bernie worried about being stuck with a big campaign debt, his relatively small staff was forced to rely on a growing multitude of volunteers, which proved to be one of the campaign’s great strengths. By leveraging teams of trained volunteers across the country, the Sanders campaign was able to tap into a torrent of human energy and ideas…

The year 2017 is off the election cycle so the political action is likely to move into the streets. That’s why, like Bond herself, I’m also reading “This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the 21st Century,” by writer Mark Engler and his activist brother Paul. The book is a deeply informative history of direct action, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s groundbreaking Birmingham, Ala., campaign in 1963 to Occupy, the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter…

Stephen Zunes, a University of San Francisco politics professor whose study of nonviolent resistance is cited by the Englers, believes that we’re about to see a tidal wave of such popular action. “I think there’s going to be more street protests and mass arrests than in the 1960s,” he says…

There’s a growing disconnect between the social crisis in San Francisco and the political machine’s inability to deal with it, says Bond. “Where’s Mayor Ed Lee? Where’s the bold vision?” This is the kind of failed leadership that sparks a revolution. “We will see more direct action, more antieviction protests, more occupations, more efforts to build homeless shelters. If the politicians don’t act, the people will.”…(more)

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email: dtalbot@sfchronicle.com

I think I shall call it “government letdown”. That is the way I feel. The government has let us down. If this is the best system, as they like to claim, we are in trouble. Me thinks there is not a best and if there is, it doesn’t last. Politics is fickle. Thanks to David for letting us know that there is a plan or plans are in the works. We have no where to go but up.

 

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