Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nonviolent Method # 4: Signed Public Statements

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Method Number 4 in Gene Sharp’s brilliant work The Methods of Nonviolent Action is Signed Public Statements.  

For instance, in Czechoslovakia in 1968 the government and the population was doing all these freedom reforms and the hard-line Communists in government couldn’t stand it, but they were a minority in their government so they couldn’t stop all these great new laws, and they were like “Fuck that!” and they called the Russians and said “Could you please help us out by invading our country and putting our group in supreme power?  And the Russians were like “Okaaay”, and they invaded.  And the Czech people were all “Oh no you don't!”  So the leaders of the legitimately elected Czechoslovak government all signed this public statement saying “Hey!  This invasion’s illegal, we don’t want this.”

Anyway, that’s how Signed Public Statements work in theory.  The book didn’t have any examples of signed public statements that were actually successful, so I don’t know if it works or not. 

Interestingly, this is a method that’s already been used by the know-nothing climate denier faction.  They basically wrote this letter that says “Oh it would be bad for the environment and for public health if we did anything to stop climate change, in fact climate change might even be good!  Yeah, and polar bears might sprout wings! 

Anyway they got 31,000 quote unquote “scientists” to sign this thing called the Oregon Petition, but some of them were just like celebrities and fictional characters, not even scientists at all, and almost all the scientists weren’t climate scientists, they were mostly, like, engineers, right? What do they know about climate science?  “Oh, I’ve never studied this and I really don’t know that much about it but I do know how to put up bridges, ANYWAY, since I have a degree in science people should just trust me when I say climate change is a hoax.”

What?!

I mean if they were engineering a bridge and a bunch of climate scientists said “Oh, this is bullshit, you don’t know what you’re doing!  We know more about building bridges than you people who’ve studied it your whole lives!”

That's just not gonna happen right?  Climate scientists are cooler than that.  Engineers, not so much.  Anyway, I kinda don’t think Signed Public Statements would work in climate change’s case because they other side doesn’t believe what scientists say!  They’re all “So what if 98% of climate scientists say that, THAT MEANS NOTHING!”  Really?!  So we can deduce that 99% also wouldn't be good enough.  They're not gonna believe what 100% of the climate scientists say.  "Holy crap we're out of climate scientists, quick, get some engineers!"

But how could Signed Public Statements have an impact?  Well, in those places where they elect climate denier politicians – particularly in places that are getting hammered by extreme weather – prominent citizens could make it socially acceptable to talk about this.  I'm talkin' about business leaders, religious leaders, hard-workin' farmers!

And as long as we’re talkin’ about business leaders – these guys  are a big part of the coalition that elects the guys that say nothing should be done about climate change.  So, “Hello!  Business leaders!  Climate change is gonna take you down too! 

And if you don't believe a Pissed-Off Polar Bear, maybe you'll believe Christine LaGarde of the International Monetary Fund, who said if we don’t act soon to stop climate change everybody’s gonna be “roasted, toasted, fried, and grilled!”  That’s everybody!!!

So, it’s gonna be really important if we get a lot of big-time business leaders to say “Uhhh, yeah we gotta do something about this”, ‘cuz that’s the only way you’re gonna get through to the business community.  

So Signed Public Statements are really gonna be most effective in the communities where climate denial is in vogue. 

Alright, next time, we’ll talk about Nonviolent Method Number 5: Declarations of Indictment and Intention.  


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