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How ‘Strategy for a Living Revolution’ came to life

Waging Nonviolence -

by George Lakey

In Prague during the height of the Cold War, I met an African freedom fighter who changed my life. He and I were there as resource people for a 1967 international youth conference on revolution.

The participants from both sides of the Iron Curtain came to the conference already allies of anti-imperialist struggles. Looking for a lively issue to stimulate the gathering, I raised a tough question: Shouldn’t we take a leaf from Gandhi’s book and choose nonviolent means? The African freedom fighter — Nathan Shamuyarira, who represented an armed struggle going on at that moment — and I served as opposite poles in the discussion that followed.

Before parting, Nathan and I took time for a friendly one-on-one. “George,” he said, “you know that many of us were initially inspired by Gandhi and did begin with nonviolent protests. I was raised up a pacifist and hoped we could succeed that way, but the British suppressed us ruthlessly. Now we have no choice. In my country, we who give leadership have no space to look for nonviolent alternatives. Your situation is different. You’re in grad school, with intellectual resources and time. Do the work that we cannot do: Explore the possibilities we can’t see, and write out a pragmatic, strategic path for a nonviolent revolution.”

With some trepidation, I accepted the challenge. I read many works on strategy, including Frantz Fanon and Murray Bookchin, Che Guevara and Gramsci and Rosa Luxemburg. In grad school I turned every possible course into an exercise to further my mission, and became so over-specialized that I failed my Ph.D. oral examination. I did, though, succeed in publishing the book I was calling “Strategy for a Living Revolution” in 1973.

Nathan Shamuyarira and I never crossed paths again. He eventually became Zimbabwe’s foreign minister and an apologist for dictator Robert Mugabe. He died two years ago, but the book he challenged me to write lives on. In fact, its third North American edition, entitled “Toward a Living Revolution” was just published in March. To commemorate the occasion, here is the rest of the story of the people and events that shaped the book.

A radicalizing journey

When I started researching the book, I was enamored by regime change. Like some optimists who a few years ago expected a bright future for the Arab Awakening, I believed that throwing the rascals out, nonviolently, would bring about a just society. After meeting Nathan, I spent the summer buried in the Harvard Library and found a major flaw in my reasoning. I found three cases from Latin America where the people overthrew their dictators nonviolently – two in 1944 and one in 1931 – but then found their achievements erased by oligarchical push-back. Clearly, more is needed for a living revolution: a deeper power shift, more of an emerging democratic infrastructure and the means to defend the new society. All that went into the book.

At an international below-the-radar gathering in Clarens, Switzerland, I found myself in a room late at night with Bernard Lafayette from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, and a leader of an armed movement struggling for justice. In explaining his view of power, Bernard used a metaphor I heard for the first time: A society is like a house and the regime is the roof, dependent on the support of the pillars that stand on the foundation. The foundation is the willingness of the people to cooperate. It doesn’t matter, Bernard said, how dazzling the roof is — how many bombs and bullets it has — if the foundation goes, the roof will collapse.

Bernard’s pillars metaphor pushed me to see more clearly the necessity of prefigurative institutions having enough heft to hold society together during the crash. Bernard also supported me to listen well to the feedback I got the next day, when I shared with 40 participants my progress on the book. The most critical feedback was from a scholar who asked: “What’s the value of a strategy without a vision? If a movement only knows what it doesn’t like, and hasn’t even a sketch of what should replace today’s unjust institutions, how can it evaluate alternative strategies, or ask for, and deserve, the broad support it needs?”

I realized he was right, although working it out would delay completion of the book. Nathan had asked for a general theory for nonviolent revolution that people could adapt for their own situation. That was fine; I was excused from offering a vision for any specific country. Still I needed to figure out the role of vision and how to embed its underlying values while letting democratic discussion in the struggle refine the vision.

At the time I knew of no movement that achieved a nonviolent social revolution resulting in sustainable democracy. We would need to learn what we could from partial successes. The most successful movements seemed to grow through a series of stages, analogous to a human being’s growth from stage to stage. Vision, then, might be something like DNA, embedded and influential but not controlling, offering abilities and internal resource, as well as limitations that to some degree might be overcome. Revolutionists could put vision in the first stage and let it be the DNA.

Since writing the book I found a nonviolent revolution in which vision did work in just that way. The workers’ and farmers’ revolutionary movement in Norway was hugely influenced by its Marxist vision, but not limited by it. As the people struggled, they learned and paid attention to the changing world around them. As it turned out, the Norwegians moved successfully through the first four stages in the Living Revolution framework, with results that 80 years later still startle Americans with their degree of equality and individual freedom.

Feminists challenge the stages

The Living Revolution’s five-stage framework was far enough along so that it could be adopted in the early 1970s by the Movement for a New Society, or MNS. The model was incorporated in the War Resisters International’s “Manifesto for a Nonviolent Revolution” and published in many languages.

The timing coincided with the second wave of feminism, a struggle strongly waged within the fledgling MNS. Along with other men in MNS, I resisted change; it would be a few years before I was ready to help found Men Against Patriarchy. In the course of our MNS struggle, some feminist women found the Living Revolution model fitting all-too-neatly into a patriarchal thought pattern. They pointed to how linear the stages are: first do cultural preparation (including analysis and vision), second build organization, third confront the oppressor with propaganda of the deed, fourth escalate to mass noncooperation, and fifth fill the resulting power vacuum with the parallel institutions planted in stage two by organizing cooperative alternatives that meet people’s needs.

I acknowledged that it was linear, but said that’s the nature of developmental schemes: infant/child/adolescent/adult. “Precisely,” they said. “Reality is more complex than linear stages. An adult finds further growth by embracing the inner child, not by marginalizing childhood and becoming an adult control freak.”

I continued to object: Activist movement-builders often have difficulty thinking sequentially, yet when I ask them in a workshop to write on pieces of paper their favorite tactics, then ask them to place the tactics on the floor in a sequence that makes sense to them in reaching the goal, they are able to do it. Moreover, their usual outcome as a group is actually the five-stage model! The stages tap a common sense that is otherwise hard to access. The model states a natural development and, once stated, it can support unity and application.

The feminists continued the argument. “The linearity of the model doesn’t fit a complex society: In one social location people are just now raising their consciousness about an injustice, while in another spot there is a group already building alternatives, and in a third spot — at the same time — there are people getting arrested in the confrontation stage. The linearity pretends to a coherence that doesn’t represent the scatter of diversity!”

Our long and often-emotional dialogue resulted in yet another win for conflict among comrades. We came to realize that the framework works better when we expect iteration of the stages. Early in the historical process organizers might find the sequence only goes from stage one to two and then repeats. Then it may reach stage three and repeat several times until stage four (mass noncooperation) occurs. That sequence may repeat several times until, finally, in enough social/economic locations with growing coordination, broad unity makes it possible to do the whole five-stage sequence. The movement can add far more people with stage one work, bring them into organizations, support them through the fierce stage three, which in turn flows into mass noncooperation and finally parallel institutions.

One of the critics showed graphically that such a modification of the framework would be cyclical — a break-away from patriarchal rigidity — and would resemble the structure of a sea animal, the chambered nautilus.

Flexing the framework this way also made it more useful for campaigns operating in a liberal democracy that is not facing a revolutionary situation. A campaign might aim for what the French labor strategist André Gorz called a “revolutionary reform.” Campaigns can be won by projecting only the first four stages, sometimes just by waging the first three.

I like the humility of this approach. At the present moment we can’t predict how soon the 1 percent’s resistance to change will combine with the climate crisis to create a revolutionary situation. Polarization in the United States continues to accelerate. We might embark on a campaign expecting it will run for only three or four stages to gain a particular victory, yet not be surprised if the legitimacy of liberal “democracy” rapidly goes down the toilet, and we can deepen our mass noncooperation and go to the stage of parallel institutions.

That kind of preparation is what the pro-democracy forces in Egypt would have found useful in 2011. The Global Nonviolent Action Database has many cases illustrating the missed opportunities when crisis deepened beyond the expectations of the would-be reformers. They weren’t prepared to be nimble and support their movements to express fully the people power that might be mobilized.

By responding to Nathan’s challenge I became more grounded in my identity as a lifelong activist and gained tools for staying in touch with today’s reality while preparing for tomorrow’s possibilities. I’m grateful to so many along the way, including longtime activist David Hartsough whose recent cross-country travels convinced him that the book speaks to today’s challenges and helped make this new North American edition possible.

Woman faces 300 neo-Nazis in Sweden – video

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A lady in Sweden defies 300 neo-Nazi marchers in the the town of Borlänge on Sunday. Tess Asplund can be seen in a video, published on the party’s Youtube channel, raising a fist in front of the far-right marchers before she is pushed aside. A man, the group identify as Swedish actor Rasmus Acking is also forcefully shoved aside

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Woman who defied 300 neo-Nazis at Swedish rally speaks of anger

The Guardian | Protest -

Tess Asplund, who was photographed with fist raised in lone protest against far-right activists, says she acted on impulse

The lone protest of a woman defying a march of 300 uniformed neo-Nazis is set to become an iconic image of resistance to the rise of the far-right in Scandinavia.

A photograph of Tess Asplund, 42, with fist raised against the shaven-headed leadership of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) in Borlänge, central Sweden, on Sunday has gone viral in the country.

Related: Sweden sends sharp signal with plan to expel up to 80,000 asylum seekers

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China to release last prisoner jailed over Tiananmen Square protests

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Miao Deshun, who was 25 when he was jailed in 1989, has been in prison for almost three decades and has had no contact with outside world for years

The last prisoner being held in China in connection with the 1989 Tiananmen protests is set to be released later this year after nearly three decades behind bars.

Miao Deshun, who was 25 at the time of the mass pro-democracy demonstrations, was one of about 1,600 Chinese people jailed following a brutal military crackdown on 4 June 1989 in which hundreds of lives are believed to have been lost.

Related: Hong Kong's Tiananmen museum to close amid claims of China pressure

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Thousands of students miss class as Detroit teachers' strike enters day two

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Nearly ever school in Detroit remains closed in second day of ‘sickout’, as teachers protest district’s inability to pay over the summer

Nearly every school in Detroit was closed for the second straight day on Tuesday, once again causing more than 45,000 students to miss class because of a funding crisis that has put the city at odds with teachers.

The Detroit Teachers Federation called for a mass sickout after the school district’s management announced over the weekend that it would not be able to pay teachers in the summer.

Related: Michigan governor faces yet another lawsuit – this time over Detroit schools

Related: 'Little Miss Flint' ready to welcome Obama after letter asking him to visit

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When Father Daniel Berrigan went underground as ‘The Holy Outlaw’

Waging Nonviolence -

by The Editors

After being sentenced to three years in prison for his part in the 1968 burning of stolen draft files in Catonsville, Maryland, Rev. Daniel Berrigan went underground, evading capture by the FBI for four months. During that time, Berrigan — who passed away on April 30 at the age of 94 — was interviewed for a television documentary called “The Holy Outlaw,” which aired in September 1970, one month after he was finally apprehended.

The documentary, directed by Lee Lockwood for PBS-precursor National Educational Television, has been hard to find over the years, relegated to clips on Democracy Now! and the odd showing at Berrigan-related events. However, thanks to a copy of the film saved by his longtime Jesuit community, Waging Nonviolence is able to share this incredibly rare and important chronicling of Berrigan’s trailblazing act of civil disobedience.

In addition to candid interviews with Berrigan, the film features prominent commentary from renowned historian Howard Zinn, who gives poignant context to Berrigan’s act of defiance, saying, “The law, what we call the law, hunts down some of the best people in society — the people we need to build the kind of country that we need.” Berrigan’s mother, theologian William Stringfellow and members of the Milwaukee 14 also appear in the film, offering support to the self-proclaimed “peace criminal” and “refugee of justice.”

At one point, Berrigan appears in a Philadelphia church to give an impromptu sermon. After being introduced by John Raines — who, along with his wife Bonnie would take part in the infamous Media, Pennsylvania FBI office break-in a year later — Berrigan told churchgoers, “There are a hundred nonviolent means of resisting those who would inflict death as the ordinary way of life… Peace will not be won without such serious and constant and sacrificial and courageous actions on the part of large numbers of good men and women.”

Toward the end of the film, Lockwood asks Berrigan if he has any knowledge of whether his actions have helped make a change. Berrigan responds by saying, “The first evidence of anything really occurring in the lives of others is some evidence that some change has occurred to one’s self, and I’m quite certain that that has occurred.” This particular line reveals the true purpose — and lasting legacy — of the film: to depict a man in transformation.

In the final scene, Berrigan is in handcuffs, being hauled away to jail by disgruntled FBI agents — all while wearing a smile on his face. A reporter asks, “What are your future plans?” After pausing a moment, the answer becomes clear to Berrigan: “Resistance!” It’s the final word spoken in the film, but one that Berrigan would speak many times over the rest of his life.

The time has come to turn up the heat on those who are wrecking planet Earth

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Break free and join the biggest global action against fossil fuel companies the world has ever seen

An interesting question is, what are you waiting for?

Global warming is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a civilisation — certainly you want to act to slow it down, but perhaps you’ve been waiting for just the right moment.

Related: Climate protesters invade UK's largest opencast coal mine

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Parents and pupils protest against Year 2 Sats – video

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Parents and children protest in Preston Park, Brighton, on Tuesday against the introduction of Sats testing for Year 2 schoolchildren. Protests are also taking place in Newcastle, Sheffield and Reading. Chris Riddell, the children’s laureate, libraries and reading are of greater value than testing for younger children

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Paraguay battles over land rights in the courts and across the airwaves

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As soya companies appropriate land in Paraguay, many small-scale campesino farmers are forced out to cities. For those who stay to fight for their land, the conflict can turn bloody

For 14 years, Juan Aveiro broadcast Radio Mandu’arã to a cluster of communities in a remote corner of eastern Paraguay. He and his team of volunteer journalists worked from a makeshift studio painted with a mural depicting Paraguayan farmers, or campesinos, with their fists in the air, beneath a banner proclaiming “peace and justice!”

Then, in November, police raided Mandu’arã’s studio. “They took everything,” Aveiro says.

Related: Disappearing world: Paraguay's Ayoreo people fight devastating land sales | Toby Stirling Hill

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Prosecutors to appeal against arms fair protesters verdict

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Crown Prosecution Service to try to overturn ruling in favour of group who said they blocked road to stop war crimes

Prosecutors are to appeal against a judge’s decision to dismiss charges against protesters who said they took direct action against an arms fair to stop crimes being committed with the weapons on sale.

A district judge last month dismissed the charges against five men and three women after they argued in court that authorities had failed to do enough to stop illegal deals at the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in east London.

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The life and death of Daniel Berrigan

Waging Nonviolence -

by Rev. John Dear

Rev. Daniel Berrigan in 1995. (Getty/Chris Felver)

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, the renowned anti-war activist, award-winning poet, author and Jesuit priest, who inspired religious opposition to the Vietnam War and later the U.S. nuclear weapons industry, died at age 94, just a week shy of his 95th birthday.

He died of natural causes at the Jesuit infirmary at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx. I had visited him just last week. He has long been in declining health.

Dan Berrigan published over 50 books of poetry, essays, journals and scripture commentaries, as well as an award winning play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” in his remarkable life, but he was most known for burning draft files with homemade napalm along with his brother Philip and seven others on May 17, 1968, in Catonsville, Maryland, igniting widespread national protest against the Vietnam war, including increased opposition from religious communities. He was the first U.S. priest ever arrested in protest of war, at the national mobilization against the Vietnam war at the Pentagon in October 1967. He was arrested hundreds of times since then in protests against war and nuclear weapons, spent two years of his life in prison, and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Daniel Berrigan was born on May 9, 1921 in Virginia, Minnesota, the fifth of six boys to Thomas and Frieda Berrigan. His family subsequently moved to Syracuse, New York, where the boys grew up attending Catholic grade schools. After high school, Berrigan applied to the Society of Jesus, the Catholic religious order known as “The Jesuits.” He entered the Jesuit novitiate at St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, near Poughkeepsie, New York in August 1939.

With his classmates, he made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, a 30-day silent retreat; spent two years studying philosophy; went on to teach at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey (from 1946-1949); and eventually, to study at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts (from 1949-1953).

Berrigan was ordained a priest on June 21, 1952 in Boston. In 1953, he traveled to France for the traditional Jesuit sabbatical year known as “tertianship.” There, his worldview expanded as he met the French “worker priests.” He returned to teach at Brooklyn Prep until 1957, when he moved on to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, where he taught New Testament until 1962. There he founded “International House,” an intentional community of activist students who seek to live solidarity with the third world poor, a project that continues today.

In 1957, Berrigan published his first book of poetry, “Time Without Number.” The book won the Lamont Poetry Award and was nominated for the National Book Award. His poem “Credentials,” had first caught the attention of poet Marianne Moore who recommended his poetry to publishers and became a friend.

After that first book, Berrigan began publishing one or two books of poetry and prose each year for the rest of his life. His early books include “The Bride: Essays in the Church”; “Encounters; The Bow in the Clouds”; “The World for Wedding Ring”; “No One Walks Waters”; “They Call us Dead Men”; “Love, Love at the End”; and “False Gods, Real Men.”

Denied permission to accompany his younger brother Philip, a Josephite priest, on a Freedom Ride through the South, Berrigan went to Paris on sabbatical in 1963, and then on to Czechoslovakia, Hungary and South Africa. On his return, he began to speak out against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship. In 1964, along with his brother Philip, A.J. Muste, Jim Forest and other peacemakers, he attended a retreat hosted by Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani. That retreat marked a turning point for Merton and the Berrigans as they committed themselves to write and speak out against war and nuclear weapons, and advocate Christian peacemaking.

Merton recorded his meeting with Berrigan in the early 1960s in “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” calling Berrigan “an altogether winning and warm intelligence and a man who, I think, has more than anyone I have ever met the true wide-ranging and simple heart of the Jesuit: zeal, compassion, understanding and uninhibited religious freedom. Just seeing him restores one’s hope in the church.”

In 1965, he marched in Selma, became assistant editor of “Jesuit Missions,” and co-founded Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam with Rabbi Abraham Heschel. He began a grueling weekly speaking schedule across the country that continued until about 10 years ago.

In November 1965, a young Catholic Worker named Roger LaPorte immolated himself in front of the United Nations. After speaking at a private liturgy for LaPorte, Berrigan was ordered to leave the country immediately by his Jesuit superiors. Berrigan began a six-month journey throughout Latin America. His expulsion cause a national stir throughout the media, and Berrigan returned to New York and in 1967, became the first Catholic chaplain at Cornell University. His book, “Consequences: Truth and…” chronicled his journeys to Selma, South Africa and Latin America.

On October 22, 1967, Berrigan was arrested for the first time with hundreds of students protesting the war at the Pentagon. “For the first time,” he wrote in his journal in the D.C. Jail, “I put on the prison blue jeans and denim shirt; a clerical attire I highly recommend for a new church.” In February 1968, he traveled to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn to receive three U.S. Air Force personnel who were being released. While they awaited their meeting with the Viet Cong, they took cover in a Hanoi shelter as U.S. bombs fell around him. His diary of his trip to North Vietnam, “Night Flight to Hanoi,” was published later that year.

The Catonsville Nine watch draft files burn as they wait to be arrested.

On May 17th, 1968, along with his brother Philip and seven others, Berrigan burned 300 A-1 draft files in Catonsville, Maryland, in a protest against the Vietnam War. “Our apologies, good friends,” Dan wrote in the Catonsville Nine statement, “for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.” Their action attracted massive national and international press, and led to hundreds of similar demonstrations. After an explosive three-day trial in October, he was found guilty of destruction of property.

In his autobiography, “To Dwell in Peace,” Berrigan reflected on the effect of the Catonsville protest: “The act was pitiful, a tiny flare amid the consuming fires of war. But Catonsville was like a firebreak, a small fire lit, to contain and conquer a greater. The time, the place, were weirdly right. They spoke for passion, symbol, reprisal. Catonsville seemed to light up the dark places of the heart, where courage and risk and hope were awaiting a signal, a dawn,” he wrote. “For the remainder of our lives, the fires would burn and burn, in hearts and minds, in draft boards, in prisons and courts. A new fire, new as a Pentecost, flared up in eyes deadened and hopeless, the noble powers of soul given over to the ‘powers of the upper air.’ ‘Nothing can be done!’ How often we had heard that gasp: the last of the human, of soul, of freedom. Indeed, something could be done, and was. And would be.”

The Catonsville Nine protest was followed extensively around the world, in large part because of the shock of two Catholic priests facing prison for a peace protest.

In his 1969 bestseller, “No Bars to Manhood,” Berrigan wrote: “We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total — but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial… There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war — at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.”

Back at Cornell, Berrigan wrote the best-selling play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” which later opened in New York and Los Angeles, and became a film under the direction of actor Gregory Peck. The play has been performed hundreds of times around the world, and continues to be performed as a statement against war.

When Berrigan and his co-defendants were to report to prison to begin their sentences in April 1970, both Berrigans went “underground” instead of turning themselves in. For four months, Daniel Berrigan traveled through the Northeast, speaking to the media, writing articles against the war, and occasionally appearing in public, much to the anger and frustration of J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I., which eventually tracked him down and arrested him on August 11, 1970, at the home of theologian William Stringfellow on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. He was brought to the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, where he spent 18 months. On June 9, 1971, while having his teeth examined, he suffered a massive allergic reaction to a misfired novocaine injection and nearly died. On February 24, 1972, he was released.

In “The Dark Night of Resistance,” a bestseller written during his months underground, Berrigan used St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night of the Soul” as a guide for antiwar resisters. Harvard professor Robert Coles recorded a series of conversations with Berrigan during his months in hiding in Boston, later published as “The Geography of Faith.” “America is Hard to Find” was his collected letters and articles from underground and prison, and was published along with “Trial Poems” and “Prison Poems.” His prison diary, “Lights on in the House of the Dead,” another bestseller, recorded his Danbury experience.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Berrigan attracted widespread media attention, was on the cover of Time magazine, and became the focus of intense national debate not only about the war, but how people of faith should oppose the war. He became one the most well-known priests in the world, and consistently called for the Church to abolish its just war theory and return to the nonviolence of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel.

While he was underground, Berrigan wrote a widely-circulated open letter, first published in the Village Voice, to the Weathermen, the underground group of violent revolutionaries who blew up buildings in opposition to U.S. wars. “The death of a single human is too heavy a price to pay for the vindication of any principle, however sacred,” Berrigan wrote. Some credited his statement as a major reason for the break up of the Weather Underground.

In 1972, the U.S. filed indictments against the Berrigans and other activists charging them with threatening to kidnap Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The trial in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, aimed mainly at Philip Berrigan, was the longest trial in U.S. history, up to that time, and resulted in a mistrial and equivalent acquittal. Afterwards, Berrigan spent six months in Paris living and studying with Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, collaborating on a book of conversations about peace, called “The Raft is not the Shore.”

In 1973, after teaching at Union Theological Seminary and Fordham University, Berrigan joined the New York West Side Jesuit Community on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he lived with some 30 other Jesuits for the rest of his life.

Daniel Berrigan participating in a prayer service in support of Occupy Wall Street in 2012. (Flickr/Al-Nite Images)

After the indictments and mistrial in Harrisburg, the Berrigans turned their attention to the U.S. nuclear weapons industry and embarked on resistance as a way of life. On September 9, 1980, with Philip and six friends, Berrigan walked into the General Electric headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and hammered on unarmed nuclear weapon nosecones. They were arrested, tried, convicted and faced up to 10 years in prison for the felony charge of destruction of government property. Their “Plowshares” action opened a new chapter in the history of nonviolent resistance and the anti-nuclear movement. Berrigan drew inspiration from the biblical prophet Isaiah who wrote that one day, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

During their 1981 trial in Philadelphia, which was later dramatized in the film, “In the King of Prussia,” starring Martin Sheen, Berrigan said: “The only message I have to the world is: We are not allowed to kill innocent people. We are not allowed to be complicit in murder. We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly … It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, ‘Stop killing.’ There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people. There are other projects I could be very helpful at. And I can’t do them. I cannot. Because everything is endangered. Everything is up for grabs. Ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated. Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view. We are back where we started. Thou shalt not kill; we are not allowed to kill. Everything today comes down to that — everything.”

Over 100 plowshares anti-nuclear demonstrations have occurred since 1980, including in England, Ireland, Germany and Australia.

As he continued to speak each week around the country and publish books of poetry and essays, Berrigan also served as a hospital chaplain in Manhattan at St. Rose’s Home for the poor, and then at St. Vincent’s Hospital, with cancer patients and later with AIDS patients, which he chronicled in his books, “We Die Before We Live,” and “Sorrow Built a Bridge.” In 1984, he traveled to El Salvador and Nicaragua to learn first-hand from church leaders about the effects of the U.S. wars there, and wrote about the journey in “Steadfastness of the Saints.”

In 1985, filmmaker Roland Joffe invited Berrigan to Paraguay, Argentina and Colombia to serve as advisor to the film, “The Mission.” He also had a small part, alongside Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson. Berrigan published an account about the making of the film, the Jesuit missions in Latin America of 1770s, and their relevance to contemporary efforts against war today, in his book, “The Mission.” In 1988, he published his autobiography, “To Dwell In Peace.”

In the mid-1980s, Berrigan began to publish a series of 20 scripture commentaries on the books of the Hebrew Bible. “And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems of Daniel Berrigan, 1957-1997,” which I edited, was published in 1996.

Dan was my greatest friend and teacher, for over 35 years. We traveled the nation and the world together; went to jail together; and I edited five books of his writings. But all along I consider him one of the most important religious figures of the last century, right alongside Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and his brother Philip. Dan and Phil inspired millions of people around the world to speak out against war and work for peace, and helped turn the Catholic church back to its Gospel roots of peace and nonviolence. I consider him not just a legendary peace activist, but one of the greatest saints and prophets of modern times. I will write more about him, but for now, I celebrate his extraordinary life, and invite everyone to ponder his great witness.

Thank you, Dan. May we all take heart from your astonishing peacemaking life, and carry on the work to abolish war, poverty and nuclear weapons.

A version of this story was published on Common Dreams.

May Day protests in Seattle turn violent – video

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May Day protests in Seattle turned violent on Sunday with officials saying demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Police said at least nine people were arrested, and five officers injured. The pro-immigration marches were held in cities across the country over the weekend, with some, such as the march in Los Angeles, having a decidedly anti-Trump message

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Why are we boycotting school? Because of the pressure on our young children | Steve Rose

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Teachers and schools need our support. They, and our children, deserve a better future than the one Nicky Morgan is mapping out for them

Hands up who knows what a subordinating conjunction is? I’m a journalist and I had no idea what one was, nor have I ever needed to. My seven-year-old son and daughter, however, were expected to explain what one is as part of their homework recently.

This is where education is, these days – by my reckoning, pretty much where it was in the 1950s – and I’m not alone in fearing it’s going to get even worse. That is why I am taking my children out of school on Tuesday, along with many others.

Parents are the largest contingent in the entire education system, and yet we’ve felt powerless to do anything

Related: Parents to keep children out of school in key stage exam boycott

Related: I’d rather have a Margaret Thatcher state school than a Michael Gove one | John Harris

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Father Daniel Berrigan obituary

The Guardian | Protest -

Radical Catholic priest and writer who led protests against the Vietnam war

The American Jesuit priest Father Daniel Berrigan, who has died aged 94, formed a radical partnership with his younger brother, Philip, that energised the movement against the Vietnam war in the 1960s and created a tradition of pacifist activism that lasted a generation. Unlike Philip, a former Josephite who gave up the priesthood and married an ex-nun, Daniel remained in holy orders as a Jesuit thinker, writer and teacher, and a well-regarded poet. If Philip was the heart of the anti-war movement, Daniel’s intellectual and theological contributions made him the brains.

He made consistent denunciations of the “war-making sins” of the state, while a strong strain of philosophical anarchism caused him to rage against what he called “American military imperialism”. His detractors, many from within the Catholic church’s liberal wing, maintained that his teachings alienated as many as they recruited. Berrigan, in one of several well-known aphorisms, retorted that “a good peace movement starts out small and gets smaller”.

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Police fire teargas at May Day protesters in Paris – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Police and protesters clashed on the streets of Paris at a May Day rally on Sunday. Violence broke out as people took to the streets to demonstrate against proposed labour reforms. Protesters threw projectiles at riot police who responded by firing teargas to disperse crowds. Police say between 16,000 and 17,000 people took part in the rally. Photograph: Pierre Crom/Getty Images

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Poverty Is Organized Terrorism

Revolution News -

“Terrorism, which is represented as external, as outside, is very much a domestic phenomenon. Terrorism very much shaped the history of the United States Of America.” Angela Y. Davis/ Freedom Is A Constant Struggle. “There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry seasonRead More

Chicago: Remember Rekia Organizers Chain Together to Block NFL Draft Town

Revolution News -

Organizers from Assata’s Daughters, Black Lives Matter: Chicago, and the fierce femmes of F.L.Y. shut down the intersection at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive, disrupting the NFL Draft Town. Statement from protest organizers Chicago – Yesterday, 300 community members were laid off from Chicago State University due to lack of full funding for the university.Read More

Debate on protesting Trump featured in Vox

Waging Nonviolence -

by Eric Stoner

In March, we published a series of articles on how activists are approaching their protests against Donald Trump and ways that they might rethink or reinvigorate them. Yesterday, Dara Lind drew heavily from the conversation on Waging Nonviolence, particularly the exchange between George Lakey and Andrew Willis Garcés, in her article for Vox, “Anti-Trump protesters aren’t trying to change anyone’s mind. Here’s their strategy.

German riot police arrest protesters outside far-right party conference - video

The Guardian | Protest -

At least 400 people protesting outside a meeting held by far-right German political party Alternative für Deutschland are arrested by riot police. Demonstrators attempt to block the entrance to the event on Saturday, where up to 2,000 AfD members are expected to pass an anti-Islam manifesto. AfD made substantial gains in German regional elections last month, entering state parliaments for the first time in three regions

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