Tumblr is where tens of millions of creative people around the world share and follow the things they love.Sign up to find more cool stuff to follow
Nationalism vs Internationalism
There is a tension between nationalism and internationalism. Nationalism for its own sake, coupled with xenophobia, is a destructive, sometimes fascist, force. Nationalism of a marginalized people is OK, especially in the face of evil imperialism and colonialism. Internationalism, the peaceful coexistence of people of various ethnicities and nationalities in one state, takes strong internal infrastructure, both political and economic, so all groups, all peoples, are equally respected and represented.
For example, French nationalism is fascist because the French are the dominant ethnicity in France. Same with Russian nationalism in the Soviet Union; this was one of the many betrayals of Stalinism. The US has a history of struggling with this representation, with NINA, racial profiling, African marginalization, and of course slavery, and in the 21st century xenophobia and American nationalism are rampant, especially in the South.
Kurdish nationalism and Irish nationalism are OK because they Irish in the UK and the Kurdish in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria are both marginalized populations.
It takes maturity in the moral and political development of a country to accommodate all populations. Canada is a good example of a mature nation, accommodating the Native peoples, the Quebecois, and the international community of Ontario.
The humanitarian consciousness needed for internationalism is one of the many things we Trotskyists advocate for, and it is one of the key changes needed in the world to bring peace and permanent revolution.
“Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.”—Carl Sagan
Latin American Internationalism - An Example for Europe?
The Sandinista Revolution was an important modern demonstration of the internationalist ideals of Latin America. A key element of the Latin American identity, this internationalism and how it has developed hold interesting lessons for the construction of a positive European identity VICTOR FIGUEROA-CLARK - London - 05/07/2011
Managua (Nicaragua) July 19th 1979. The guerrilla columns of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, slowly pushed their way through the vast crowds filling the streets. People threw flowers and handed out small plastic bags filled with diluted fruit juice. The guerrillas gave out shining bullets and received kisses and embraces. People shouted slogans and sang revolutionary songs in a demonstration of collective joy such as is rarely witnessed.
Among those celebrating were many who had come to fight for the Sandinistas from far and wide, most from Latin America and others from the US and Europe too. Adventurers some, convinced revolutionaries others?all had risked their lives to help the Nicaraguan people win freedom from a 40-year tyranny. Eighty-three of them were Chileans, members of the parties of the overthrown Popular Unity coalition in Chile. These Chileans were, in the words of a Venezuelan internationalist, “the very image of the vanguard fighter”?clean cut, professional, disciplined, and orderly. Most of them were officers, trained in Cuba in preparation for a democratic future in Chile.
About six weeks before the triumph, the first of them had arrived on the frontlines along the Costa Rican border. Their task was to help reorganise the guerrilla columns into a more regular force and to use recently arrived artillery pieces to provide heavy support for the embattled guerrillas. The idea was to fix the feared National Guard in place, allowing the popular risings in the cities of Nicaragua to spread. The fighting was fierce. Both sides knew that this front was the most important of the war. If the Guard could force the Sandinistas back into Costa Rica, they would be able to turn on the cities one by one, as they had done a year earlier, drowning the streets in blood and suffocating the rebellion. Casualties were high and many of the fallen were internationalists, among them Gaspar Garcia Laviana, the Spanish priest-turned revolutionary.
The Chileans were not the first foreigners on the Southern Front. During the two previous years many other volunteers had arrived to fight on for the FSLN, including a brigade of Panamanians. The majority arrived through the cooperation of several governments and organisations, with a political and moral interest in overthrowing Somoza. The army-less Costa Rican government, threatened for decades by Somoza’s overwhelming military power and his political machinations in the border provinces, provided a safe haven for the Sandinistas. Panama and Venezuela provided arms and money, with other countries providing diplomatic support. The Cubans were the last on board, knowing that their presence might provoke a US intervention, and in early 1979 they agreed to begin supplying the Sandinistas with weapons and munitions at the instigation of the Venezuelan President, Carlos Andres Perez.
Somoza’s press spoke of “Sandino-Communist Invasion”, but the scale of the popular uprising against the regime belied this. Together with the immense bravery and sacrifice of the Nicaraguan people, these high-level international efforts, the internationalist solidarity of combatants and supporters from abroad helped Nicaragua free itself from the tyranny of the Somoza regime. However, this was only the first step in what was to be a long struggle against what was fundamentally foreign aggression. Thousands of volunteers from across the world flocked to Nicaragua to assist the revolution attempting to build a new society, among them many exiled Chilean Allendistas.
The Sandinista Revolution managed to inspire such international support because it was only the latest in a long line of David vs Goliath processes in Latin America. The common thread between them was the hostile reaction of powerful external forces to their efforts to overcome the causes of their underdevelopment. Millions of Latin Americans felt the effects as these processes were crushed. The result has been to underline the importance of internal democracy and participation and international support and cooperation among Latin American nations, which is one of the driving motors of the current efforts at integration in the region. In Latin America therefore the drive to integration comes from a shared history and similar conditions of economic development, as well as linguistic and cultural harmony. Together they give the concept of “Our America” its strength and popularity.
The international ideal also resonates with many Europeans, and yet the political and economic efforts made to create our union are not necessarily matched by a popular vision, in a process that is almost the opposite of that in Latin America. In Europe the process of integration has had remarkably little input from society. The process of developing a European Constitution has been a classic example of this top-down approach. The opportunity was lost to engage the peoples of the Union in a meaningful political process over the laws that will govern us, and determine the European Union’s place in the world. The Latin American lesson for the development of a strong European identity is that it must be led by its people, through giving them ownership of its ideals and its place in the world; after all, Europe too has a long history of shared heroes, shared struggles and shared development.
However, a shared history is not enough if people are not aware of its existence. Throughout Europe national interpretations of history predominate, which tend to ignore commonalities and present ‘foreigners’ negatively. But emphasising commonalities and the role of foreigners is not enough. Just as in Latin America, a European identity must be based on broad, positive and universal ideals. The elements for this are present in our histories, in the overcoming of European fascism and authoritarianism and the achievement of social and economic rights. The development of Latin America and its internationalist idealism - which the Sandinista Revolution strongly contributed to - provide some interesting ideas for the development of a European identity if we have the courage to undertake the revision of our national historic narratives.
Article appeared in
History of student intolerance
I have just stumbled upon some old speaking notes from a few years back when I used to give talks to students on the history of the student movement to try to inspire and agitate them into action. To my disappointment my many attempts to challenge this consensus of apathy always seemed to be beaten. I thought I would share them with you one last time, this time with no objective to challenge anything, I just think you may find them interesting…
Introduction to student intolerance
Student protests against the war have made their way to the front covers of our newspapers and the top stories of our nightly news. While this issue may spur the most media attention, movements dealing with other issues such as debates over curricula and the Chinese occupation of Tibet are fixtures of modern college campuses throughout the country. To think that instances of activism such as these are recent phenomena would be a mistake,
Historically, student movements have been in existence almost as long as universities themselves. As early as the 4th century, students were engaged in protests against professors with unpopular political views.
In the 12th and 13th Century students understood their how to use their collective economic influence to influence their own interests.
Students used to move from town to town collectively knowing they could leaver discounts!
In 1158 Students worked as collective and formed unions, bargaining for discounted books and cheaper rent. Students formed the first university the University of Bologna as a guild of students.
This model was used later by students, who as a collective threatened to withdraw from the city of Paris abandoning the town en mass. This threat of collective economic sanctions successfully extorted significant legal and economic concessions from the Paris Municipal.
1322 in Cambridge students and towns’ folk violently clashed over a number of days with numerous deaths. The result of this was the university gaining economic control of the town and Seats in Parliament for the students of the University.
During the Middle Ages, the universities of Paris and Bologna were often the scene of violent confrontations between townsmen and students.
In the 18th and 19th Century students interests broadened to include a more internationalist perspective with a social conscience.
The 18th Century heralded the coming of the modern era saw an increase in student activism. American students declared their opposition to British rule; student unrest took on strong political overtones during the American Revolution.
19th century students involved with anti slavery campaigns as part of the Emancipation and Abolitionist movements to end the slave trade and free slaves in Western Europe and the Americas.
A network of local abolition groups was established across the country. They campaigned through public meetings and the publication of pamphlets and petitions. The first record of the creation of an international student movement was with the movement of ideas and tactics with students as they traveled to foreign universities to study.
Students played an important role in almost every one of the major revolutions of the 19th and 20th century. Toward the end of the 19th century students embraced the new theories of socialism and communism being advanced in Europe. Again these ideas and discussions could be shared as students moved from country to country to study and teach.
20th Century Revolution and Peace
20th Century student movement spread revolutionary word around the world.
First World War started by students (Gavrilo Printsip of Black Hand-Unification or Death Socialist-republican organisation) assassinating Duke Franz Ferdinand.
Paradoxically, the ideology of the organisation was pan-slavic and socialist with some republican tendencies but the result of its actions were used as an excuse for the beginning of the greatest of all Imperialist wars – the First World War.
Reaction to the death of the First World War Students as Internationalist and a peace movement in the 1930’s. In 1922 NUS set up as an internationalist organisation, this was a criteria for UK students who wanted to join as a broader international student movement.
A wave of student activism took place against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Although the first national student organizations had been formed in the wake of World War I, postwar prosperity led university populations to favor conservative goals.
The Depression and the rise of fascism, however, helped to shift political attitudes to become increasingly progressive. During the 1930s, the American Student Union (ASU), formed from the merger of the National Student League and the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID), gained mass appeal at colleges across America. Domestically, the group sought more government funding of education and provision of jobs, increased academic freedom and the protection of free speech.
Moreover, it campaigned to gain collective bargaining rights and to encourage racial equality.
17th Nov international student day of action
On 17th November 1939 Anti-Nazi demonstrations and riots in Prague, which were suppressed by Nazi forces. Student Jan Opletal was seriously wounded by a shot to his stomach, and later died on November 11. His funeral on November 15, attended by several thousands of students, turned into another anti-Nazi demonstration. As a result, the Reichsprotektor (Nazi-representative in the puppet-state Bohemia and Moravia). Konstantin von Neurath closed all Czech universities and colleges, sent over 1200 students to concentration camps, and had nine students executed (on November 17th).
17th November 1941
The day was first marked in 1941 in London by the International Students’ Council (which had many refugee members) in accord with the Allies, and the tradition has been kept up by the successor International Union of Students, which has been pressing with National Unions of Students in Europe and other groups to make the day an official United Nations observance.
17th November 1973
The Athens Polytechnic uprising against the Greek military junta of 1973 came to a climax on November 17, with a violent crackdown and a tank crushing the gates of the university. The Day of the Greek Students is today among the official student holidays in Greece.
17th November 1989
The 1989 Prague demonstrations for International Students’ Day helped spark the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day is today marked among both the official holidays in the Czech Republic (since 2000, thanks to the efforts of the Czech Student Chamber of the Council of Higher Education Institutions) and the holidays in Slovakia.
Post War Student Movements and Politics of the 1960’s,
Socialist activity and student protest, often in support of labor struggles and economic justice for the poor, blossomed during the Great Depression. Many students spoke out against McCarthyism in the 1950s. In the early 1960s Spurred on by the civil-rights movement students campaigned for the Freedom of speech on campus.
The Free Speech Movement at the UC Berkeley campus was another major source of conflict during the sixties. This group, led by Mario Savio, arose in 1964 when university administrators decided to enforce a ban on campus political advocacy. Students who did not abide by the rules were taken into custody. Their arrest led others to stage a series of sit-ins in protest. After three months of crusading, the activists would prove victorious in early 1965, when campus officials gave in to the students’ demands for free speech rights.
The Vietnam War, and a growing counterculture of radical student organization of the 1960s, groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Students for a Democratic Society(SDS). The SDS rose to prominence in the influential Port Huron (Mich.) Statement (1962), the organization presented its vision for post–Vietnam War America and called for students to join in a movement to establish “participatory democracy and economic justice”, criticizing corporate-military interlocks and unresponsive government bureaucracy; their tactics included sit-ins, mass demonstrations, teach-ins and student strikes.
However, with the growth of the anti–Vietnam War movement anti–Vietnam War movement, domestic and international reaction (1965–73) in opposition to U.S. policy during the Vietnam War . During the four years following passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution (Aug., 1964), which authorized U.S. The SDS organization became well known. SDS demonstrations against the war drew thousands of protesters.
1968 The Year of the Student
Europe and Japan were also scenes of massive student protests, including a nationwide strike of French students and workers (May–June, 1968). Students began protesting overcrowding and repressive conduct codes but soon moved to a critique of a society whose work and culture ethic was based on consumption.
The background to these events included: Collapse of the Bretton Woods Arrangements, the successful Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the suppression of the Prague Spring, the growing influence of Maoism after the Sino-Soviet Split and the growth of Euro-communism, as well as the earlier crisis over Algeria.
In Paris in May 1968, massive confrontations between police and students brought workers out on a general strike and brought the government to the point of collapse.
The May 1968 events in Paris would be followed by clashes between police and students on countries all around the world, and would have a lasting political impact.
“Late Saturday morning balance sheet of the tragic night in the Latin Quarter: 367 injured were counted in the hospitals, 251 of whom were members of the forces of order, and 102 students. Of the 367 injured 54 were hospitalized, among whom four students and 18 policemen were in serious condition.
As for arrests, the number has reached 461, of whom 60 were foreigners. 63 of the arrested were brought before judges: 26 students, 3 high-schoolers, and the rest – 34 individuals – were not students.
The material damages were important: 60 cars totally burned, 128 others seriously damaged. “
Report by the Head of Police after a days rioting
Following the riot About 800,000 students, teachers and workers marched through the French capital demanding the fall of the government under Charles de Gaulle and protesting at police brutality during the riots of the past few days.
This time, police kept a low profile for most of the day but later blocked off bridges across the Seine to keep demonstrators on the Left Bank, the scene of running battles between students and the CRS (riot police) over the last 10 days.
The crowds of protesters marched for four hours starting at the Place de la Republique on the Right Bank of the River Seine. They grew ever larger as they crossed the river to the Left Bank student quarter and up the Boulevard St Michel to Place Denfert-Rochereau. Carrying flags and banners, workers, students and teachers chanted “De Gaulle assassin” and “CRS-SS”, comparing the riot police to Nazis.
They have several and various demands. Left-wing students - no doubt inspired by similar protests in the United States and the spring pro-democracy riots in Prague - want reform of the “bourgeois” university system and an end to the “police state”.
They also called for the release of their leaders, many of whom were arrested after a night of rioting three days ago when students ripped up cobbles from the streets to set up barricades.
Workers have a series of grievances including poor state salaries, centralisation and discrimination. The one-day strike has affected all aspects of daily life in the capital and is spreading out into the rest of the country. Public transport, air travel, power supplies, postal services and manufacturing were all severely hampered.
The Columbia University protests of 1968 were among the many student demonstrations that erupted around the world in that year.
The SDS sponsored a protest at Columbia University in the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregatory gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park. The protests resulted in the student occupation of many university buildings and that was ended by their eventual violent removal by the New York City Police Department and arrest of more than 700 protesters.
In that same year, increasingly divided by factional disputes, the organization collapsed, leaving behind a small faction, known as the Weathermen that advocated violent revolutionary action.
The 1970s a time of violent student revolution
The 1970 student strike for peace involved 200 campuses across the UK. Police response was often violent, as in the 1970 Jackson State and Kent State killings and at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
The Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization (abbreviated WUO), was an American radical left organization. It originated in 1969 growing out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) as a faction of SDS composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their supporters.
It took its name from the lyric “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”, from the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows was the title of a position paper they distributed at an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969. This founding document called for a “white fighting force” to be allied with the “Black Liberation Movement” and other radical movements to achieve “the destruction of US imperialism and achieve a classless world: world communism.”
With a charismatic and articulate leadership whose revolutionary positions were characterized by anti-imperialist, feminist, and Black liberationist rhetoric, the group conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s, including aiding the jailbreak and escape of Timothy Leary.
The “Days of Rage,” their first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago timed to coincide with the trial of the Chicago Seven. As a “National Action” built around John Jacobs’ slogan (leader of the weathermen and an advocate of the use of violent force to overthrow the government of the United States. A fugitive since 1970, he was never captured and died on the run), “bring the war home.”The National Action grew out of a resolution drafted by Jacobs and introduced at the October 1968 SDS National Council meeting in Boulder, Colorado. The resolution, titled “The Elections Don’t Mean Shit—Vote Where the Power Is—Our Power Is In The Street” and adopted by the council, was prompted by the success of the DNC protests in August 1968 and reflected Jacobs’ strong advocacy of direct action.
In 1970 the group issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government, under the name “Weather Underground Organization” (WUO).
The bombing attacks mostly targeted government buildings, along with several banks. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiqués identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a communiqué saying it was “in protest of the US invasion of Laos.” For the bombing of The Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated it was “in retaliation for the US bombing raid in Hanoi.” For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State Building, they stated it was “in response to escalation in Vietnam.”
The Weathermen largely disintegrated shortly after the United States reached a peace accord in Vietnam in 1973, which saw the general decline of the American New Left.
The Red Army Faction (German: Rote Armee Fraktion), shortened to RAF and in its early stages commonly known as Baader-Meinhof Group or Gang, was one of postwar West Germany’s most violent and prominent groups who advocated communist inspired terrorism emerged from the 1968 student protest movement and was bent on overthrowing the capitalist establishment.
The RAF described itself as a communist “urban guerrilla” group engaged in armed resistance against what they deemed to be a fascist state. The RAF was formally founded in 1970 by Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Horst Mahler, and Ulrike Meinhof. Irmgard Möller and Brigitte Mohnhaupt joined early in 1971.
The Red Army Faction operated from the late 1960s to 1998, committing numerous operations, especially in the autumn of 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as “German Autumn”. It was held responsible for 34 deaths, including many secondary targets—such as chauffeurs and bodyguards—and many injuries in its almost 30 years of activity. Although more well-known, the RAF conducted fewer attacks than the Revolutionary Cells (RZ), which is held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995.
Sep. 1970: RAF robs banks to finance terrorist activities (DM 220,000 = approx. $70-80,000)
22 Sep. 1971 - a Chief of Police is the first RAF victim to be killed. A total of 33 deaths are attributable to the RAF, along with numerous people wounded.
May 1972 - RAF bombings: Police building in Augsburg I G Farben Building in Frankfurt (U.S. Army offices) — one U.S. officer killed, 13 wounded
Axel Springer Publishers in Berlin (time bomb) U.S. Army Europe Headquarters in Heidelberg — 4 U. S. servicemen killed
South Africa and Anti Apartheid 1980’s
Student involvement in the Anti-Apartheid movement reached a peak in the 1970s and 1980s when students across the UK marched in their thousands and ensured the debate was kept alive.
Continued pressure from students contributed to Barclays Bank withdrawing its investment and support for the regime. NUS, in conjunction with local students’ unions, had threatened a nationwide student boycott of the Bank if it did not withdraw from South Africa. Eventually, Barclays decided to withdraw its support, citing NUS’ as an influential factor.
NUS was instrumental in setting up a network of anti-apartheid activists in the 1970s at almost every union across the UK. This activity was largely led by Mike Terry, who succeeded Tony Klug as the Convenor of the NUS International Policy Group, and went on to become the Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The main aim of this campaign was to apply pressure on universities and colleges to dispose of their investments in southern Africa.
NUS also supported local action. When the rugby club at Queen’s University Belfast agreed to tour South Africa, they were opposed by their students’ union and NUS.
After several decades of campaigning, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and Apartheid eventually came to an end in 1994.
Miners Strike and Thatcher
UK Students were involved in fundraising and activism to help the Miners. One example of this was Sheffield Students unions who for legal reasons was not aloud to give money directly to the miners so it used to buy this chairs at massively inflated prices!
The Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 sometimes called the “Autumn of Nations”, were a revolutionary wave that swept across Central and Eastern Europe in late 1989, ending in the overthrow of Soviet-style communist states within the space of a few months.
The largely bloodless political upheaval began in Poland, continued in Hungary, and then led to a surge of mostly peaceful revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. Romania was the only Eastern-bloc country to overthrow its communist regime violently and execute its head of state.
The Revolutions of 1989 greatly altered the balance of power in the world and marked (together with the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union) the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the Post-Cold War era.
The subsequent events that continued in 1990 and 1991 are also referred to as a part of the revolutions of 1989.
17th November 1989 Velvet Revolution
The “Velvet Revolution” was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the Communist government. On November 17, 1989 (Friday), riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated half-million. A two-hour general strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.
With the collapse of other Communist governments, and increasing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 that it would relinquish power and dismantle the single-party state. Barbed wire and other obstructions were removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On December 10, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-Communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989.
In June 1990 Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.
The Romanian Revolution
Unlike other Eastern European countries, Romania had never undergone even limited de-Stalinization. In November 1989, Ceauşescu, then aged 71, was re-elected for another five years as leader of the Romanian Communist Party, signaling that he intended to ride out the anti-Communist uprisings sweeping the rest of Eastern Europe. As Ceauşescu prepared to go on a state visit to Iran, his Securitate ordered the arrest and exile of a local Hungarian-speaking Calvinist minister, László Tőkés, on 16 December, for sermons offending the regime. Tőkés was seized, but only after serious rioting erupted. Timişoara was the first city to react, on 16 December, and it remained rioting for 5 days.
Returning from Iran, Ceauşescu ordered a mass rally in his support outside Communist Party headquarters in Bucharest. However, to his shock, the crowd booed as he spoke. Someone incident at the back of the crowed made Ceauşescu panic and this further made the crowd panic which started the revolution.
After learning about the incidents (both from Timişoara and from Bucharest) from Western radio stations, years of repressed dissatisfaction boiled to the surface throughout the Romanian populace and even among elements in Ceauşescu’s own government, and the demonstrations spread throughout the country.
At first the security forces obeyed Ceauşescu’s orders to shoot protesters, but on the morning of 22 December, the Romanian military suddenly changed sides. Army tanks began moving towards the Central Committee building with crowds swarming alongside them. The rioters forced open the doors of the Central Committee building in an attempt to get Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, in their grip, but they managed to escape via a helicopter waiting for them on the roof of the building.
Although elation followed the flight of the Ceauşescus, uncertainty surrounded their fate. On Christmas Day, Romanian television showed the Ceauşescus facing a hasty trial, and then suffering summary execution. An interim National Salvation Front Council took over and announced elections for April 1990. The first elections were actually held on May 20, 1990.
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, culminating in a violent conflict referred to as the Tiananmen Square massacre and in China was a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) beginning on April.
Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the protests occurred in a year that saw the collapse of a number of communist governments around the world.
The protests were sparked by the death of a pro-market, pro-democracy, and anti-corruption official, Hu Yaobang, whom protesters wanted to mourn. By the eve of Hu’s funeral, 1,000,000 people had gathered on the Tiananmen Square.
The protests lacked a unified cause or leadership; participants included disillusioned Communist Party members and Trotskyists as well as free market reformers, who were generally against the government’s authoritarianism and voiced calls for economic change and democratic reform within the structure of the government. The demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, but large-scale protests also occurred in cities throughout China, including Shanghai, which remained peaceful throughout the protests.
The movement lasted seven weeks, from Hu’s death on 15 April until tanks cleared Tiananmen Square on 4 June. In Beijing, the resulting military response to the protesters by the PRC government left many civilians dead or severely injured. The number of deaths is not known and many different estimates exist. New York Times estimated the death toll at 400-800 based on information he gathered from multiple medical sources.
Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the PRC press. Members of the Party who had publicly sympathized with the protesters were purged, with several high-ranking members placed under house arrest, such as General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. There was widespread international condemnation of the PRC government’s use of force against the protesters.
Serbia a very student Revolution
On October 5th, 2000, the eyes of the world were turned towards Belgrade, capital of Serbia, where hundreds of thousands of protesters were defeating the last standing dictator in Europe - Slobodan Milosevic.
After more than twelve years of rule in Serbia, with impressive damage caused to his own people and Balkans region as well - having 4 regional wars behind, and more than a million refugees, war with NATO Alliance (bombing campaign which lasted for three months), Milosevic was unable to win his last battle - battle against Serbian people’s nonviolent movement.
Serbian case offers a deep analysis on how the Serbs have organized and implemented their struggle to win their nonviolent war against Milosevic and finally opened the door for democracy and a chance for nation’s better future
Otpor was formed on October 10, 1998 in response to repressive university and media laws introduced earlier that year. In the beginning, Otpor’s activities were limited to University of Belgrade.
In the aftermath of the NATO air strikes against FR Yugoslavia in 1999 regarding the Kosovo War, Otpor began a political campaign against the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević. This resulted in nationwide police repression against Otpor activists, during which nearly 2000 were arrested, some beaten. During the presidential campaign of September 2000, Otpor launched its “Gotov je” (He’s finished) campaign which would galvanize national discontent with Milošević and eventually result in his defeat.
Some students who led Otpor used Serbian translations of Gene Sharp’s writings on nonviolent action as a theoretical basis for their campaign. Sharp is a political scientist, professor emeritus, and founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization which studies and promotes the use of nonviolent action in conflicts around the world.
Otpor became one of the defining symbols of anti-Milošević struggle and his subsequent overthrow. By aiming their activities at the pool of youth abstinents and other disillusioned voters, Otpor contributed to one of the biggest turnouts ever for the September 24, 2000 federal presidential elections.
Having succeeded in persuading a large number of the traditional electorate to abandon Milošević was another one of the areas where the smear-proof Otpor played a key role. Milošević had in the past succeeded in persuading the public that his opponents were spies and traitors, but on this occasion, it backfired, as the beatings and imprisonments during the summer of 2000 further cemented the decision to vote against the regime in many voters’ minds.
1999 Battle for Seattle
Protest activity surrounding the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, which was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations, occurred on November 30, 1999 (nicknamed “N30” on similar lines to Reclaim the street’s J18 and similar mobilisations), when the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, United States.
The negotiations were quickly overshadowed by massive and controversial street protests outside the hotels and the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, in what became the second phase of the anti-globalization movement in the United States. The scale of the demonstrations—even the lowest estimates put the crowd at over 40,000—dwarfed any previous demonstration in the United States against a world meeting of any of the organizations generally associated with economic globalization (such as the WTO, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the World Bank). The events are sometimes referred to as the Battle of Seattle.
Otpor in Iran
In the context of the current protests in Iran, it is quite surprising that no one in the mainstream media has mentioned the example of the Otpor actions (Serbian for resistance) featuring many students, which successfully undermined and dispatched Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia.
It may be that the obvious parallels to draw are with Iran’s revolution of 1979. But there are a number of differences - not least that the Iranian revolution was a conservative backlash against the westernising and secularising efforts of the western-backed Shah. But also that half Iran’s population is now under 25.
This may be a situation where more youthful, western examples are applicable. The media has acknowledged the use of Twitter in the co-ordination of protests, but as yet, not the tactics and philosophy that might be employed, as demonstrated in Serbia.
Using many of the methods advocated by non-violent specialist Gene Sharpe, Otpor launched a “Gotov je” (meaning “he’s finished”) campaign, undermining and subverting Milosevic’s various pillars of support including the judiciary and the police.
There are similarities with the current situation in Iran: the origins of Otpor were in the street protests, featuring students, in 1996 and 1997 after Milosevic refused to recognize the results of elections in the areas where he lost.
Many people feel that protests such as the ones we are currently seeing in Iran are just spontaneous and lack little method. This may be true, but it need not be the case, nor need it be the end of the matter, as the Otpor students showed. And neither is violence the desirable approach.
Gene Sharpe lists 198 specific nonviolent methods and tactics of protest and resistance which have been used by resistance movements around the world. The basic philosophy is that any power that a leader may have is given to it by a population and if the support of the population can be removed, a tipping point may be reached and power enabled to change hands without violence. Since states have particular ways of maintaining control and keeping power (these may be cultural as well as institutional) it is a matter of targeting those deliberately.
Otpor also organized in Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian governments during their separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.
In recent years various dictatorships have collapsed when confronted by defiant, mobilized people. Often seen as strong and powerful, some of these dictatorships proved unable to oppose focused and strategically planned popular movement campaigns.
Nonviolent end to dictatorships
Since 1980s dictatorships were defeated by nonviolent movements of people in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Slovenia, Madagascar, Mali, Bolivia, and the Philippines.
Nonviolent resistance has strengthened pro-democratic movements in Nepal, Zambia, South Korea, Chile, Argentina, China, Haiti, Brazil, Uruguay, Malawi, Thailand, Bulgaria, Hungary, Zaire, Nigeria, Lebanon, Venezuela and various parts of the former Soviet Union.
In addition, mass political defiance has occurred in Burma, Zimbabwe, Maldives, Thonga and Tibet in recent years. Although those struggles have not brought victory over dictators, they badly harmed the authority of those oppressive regimes both in countries and international community.
At the end, the newest examples of perfectly implemented Strategic Nonviolent Action knowledge in Serbia, in huge and coordinated multi-level campaign which defeated Slobodan Milosevic at October 5, 2000 and very similar recent example in Georgia 2003 and Ukraine in 2004 strengthens the impression of Universality of this method.
Knowledge and experience transfer process to the student leaders and activists of democratic movements in many of this countries. It works worldwide.
Students, throughout the history were on avant-garde of revolutionary movements throughout world. Students by themselves do not make revolutions happen. They are too small in numbers (2-3% of the society) but they serve the function of awakening the people, pointing to problem, and providing to the people the vision of tomorrow (democracy, rule of law) and they can shame out elder people to the action.
They are not stand by themselves; they stand together with their family. Whether your parents would disagree, and primarily because they love you so much, and afraid that something will happen to you on the demonstrations they will stand for you - because it is their parents obligation.
They are also considered being immortal - bad things are not going happen to them, but to somebody else. They have nothing to lose - careers, jobs, month salaries, women and children, because they normally don’t have all of them yet. If they have problem with the parents, their commitment to the democratic struggle is too strong they are going to participate.
Leaves us with Activism on Campus today what can we learn from the past?
“You must train the nonviolent army for so long that you make the battle unnecessary” (OTPOR training rule, based on Mahatma Gandhi)
As government will always be happy to use violence against their own people, nonviolent movements throughout world need to develop their own Arsenal of nonviolent weapons.
Based on knowledge and experience worldwide of how to organise, build movements, develop mass actions, and connect yourself to the people which may help you.
Nonviolent battles should be armed with knowledge how to perform nonviolent action and how to reach for strategic alliances outside country. If you want to win, you must take the offense, based on strategic principles.
PRINCIPLES OF STRATEGIC NONVIOLENT CONFLICT
(Adopted from Ackerman and Kruegler, 1994)
PRINCIPLES OF DEVELOPMENT
1. Formulate objectives
2. Strengthen organization
3. Gather materials
4. Get external help
5. Choose methods
PRINCIPLES OF ENGAGEMENT
6. Attack control
7. Mute violence
8. Alienate support
9. Maintain nonviolence
PRINCIPLES OF CONCEPTION
10. Assess at all levels
12. Maintain continuity
(I apologies for the lack of references but they were reading notes. I was given much of this from some friends involved in the Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies - or CANVAS represents an International network of trainers and consultants, established in 2003. http://www.canvasopedia.org/
There are a number of different ideological variations and rectified practices that have defined the integral essence of what such an undertaking represents before members of the international mainstream. The technological advancements that have been made since the conclusion of the Second World War have literally altered every component of individualized human conduction.
Therefore, the human race is becoming much more dependent on these technologies which ensure the competence of its functionality. The advancements that have been made in the name of information technology demonstrate some of the greatest promises that have the ability to broker greater degrees of ideological interchange among some of the most diversified elements of the human race. It is this reality that alludes to the growing insignificance that territorial boundaries will have towards the increasing efforts which promote degrees of political, economic, and cultural reconciliation. It is this fact of reality that demonstrates one of the greatest byproducts made by the surge of information technology and the internet. Such commodities retain the ability to instigate a revolutionary international transition that diverges on a more centralized function of the international community. In relation, there have been numerous initiatives that have been proposed to promote greater lengths of cooperation which are established along the lines geo-political incentives. The rectification of the European and African Unions represent such an underlying ideal and practice.
Invariably, the concept of internationalism is not a new phenomenon to the conduction of human civilization. When an unaligned observer attempts to inquire into the formation of international empires, a sense of internationalism must exist within its internal elements which consolidate the necessary resources in order to ensure a feasible degree of compliance with such an aspiration. In this degree, the concept of internationalism exists for the specific interests of a particular country, nationality, and culture. The primary incentive that had provided the integral basis of motivation for the expansion of colonization was not intended to advocate for a greater degree of harmonized reconciliation for the human race; but to pillage the raw materials and indigenous peoples for the sake of achieving its own variation of international supremacy as the world’s most affluent empire. On a more personal level, your ancestors exist as a living testament to the realities that define the course of European colonization throughout the Indian sub-continent.
A greater degree of inquiry can be made into the formation of ideological structures. A number of references can be made from the Communist Manifesto for internationalist references. The initial ideal behind economic class struggle on a social level represents a synthesis that can only take an internationalist form of life. In all reality, it was the long term aspiration of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to witness a worldwide Proletarian revolution that would not just confine itself to continental Europe. These are only two different examples that represent some of the integral components behind the vast complexity of internationalism.
Notes from an Indian Wedding: The Groomsmen
This is the most compelling argument you can make in favor of globalization.
It’s a dozen guys, of more than a dozen nationalities, having grown up in several dozen countries, traveling thousands of miles to celebrate a friend (center, turban with the pearls) in the ways that are important to him, his family, and his culture.
It’s a Briton, a Swiss-Indonesian, an English-Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Swede, a Tanzanian-Omani, an Indian, an American born and raised abroad (that would be Alex), a Nigerian, a Chinese-Kenyan, another Indian, and a Singaporean.
It’s a tangled jumble of multicultural friendships, the product of growing up as a “third culture kid” in international schools across Europe and Asia, of being the “international mafia” at your university in the UK or the US, of answering to the nickname “globotrash” because “Eurotrash” is just a little too limiting, and of having to pause in response to the question “Where are you from?” before delivering the inevitable non-answer: “Well, it’s complicated…”
It’s certainly not the world in which I was raised (uh, hello, Tennessee), but it’s a tight-knit, fun-loving group that I’ve been warmly welcomed into, and although I still very much want to move back to the US someday, it’s also made me realize the immense benefits of raising your children abroad.
It’s what we need more of in a world of increasing parochialism and insularity, fragmentation and misunderstanding.
It’s internationalism, and it’s cosmopolitanism, and you know what? It’s good.