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Civilian Based Defense

Brian Martin wrote:

[Your message about Y2K and CBD has been forwarded to me.] I have not been looking specifically at Y2K but have done quite a bit of work on the role of technology in supporting nonviolent defence, much of which is relevant.

Tom Atlee replied:

Thank you, Brian...The particular need I am seeking to satisfy is this: If there are widespread disruptions from Y2K which involve - lack of basics (food, water, power, etc.) for many people - disruption of police and civil authorities - disruption of military and geopolitical stability - the empowerment of local powerholders such as mafia, gangs, etc. (as in Russia and US inner cities) - martial law and/or - military coups in formerly democratic republics does CBD have know-how that communities could use to prepare themselves within the next 6-12 months, so they can minimize the possibility of violence and oppression within and around their neighborhoods during the Y2K era? There are no guarantees that Y2K will or will not cause such disruptions. The point is that an increasing number of people in the US (and, to a lesser degree, elsewhere) BELIEVE there will be such disruptions. Those people are OPEN TO ALTERNATIVES to existing social structures. CBD is one such alternative. Y2K is a carrier-wave that can bring CBD to these populations. There are over 100 Y2K-preparedness community groups around the US. Many would find CBD very useful and interesting, if they knew about it, and if CBD has things that they can learn and apply WITHIN 1999, before the year 2000. I am not an expert, so I don't know what to advise them. Do you have thoughts on this?

Brian Martin replied:

You ask, "does CBD have the know-how?" CBD is not a box of advice and quick fixes that can be deployed in an instant. Just as military defence requires recruitment, training, strategy, infrastructure, popular support, etc., so nonviolent defence has similar requirements. Most important are the psychological and social conditions, including an understanding of the dynamics of nonviolent action and a willingness to support a nonviolent struggle. This sort of understanding and willingness sometimes can develop quickly in a situation of repression and oppression (such as the Philippines in 1986, though there was a lot of unpublicised preparatory work); I'm not sure how easy it will be to promote in Y2K communities, when survival of potential social collapse is the main motivation. It's certainly worth trying.

A key part of this would be for some members of Y2K-preparedness communities to learn about nonviolent action and then apply the principles to their own situation. You may find my long chapter "Social defence: arguments and actions" of value.

The first part, on arguments, is most relevant to understanding nonviolent defence. The second part, on actions, has some ideas for what might be done, such as the sections on role plays, training and organising.