by Rebel Fagin

Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and I can move the earth.” To leverage the earth one must first find the fulcrum and apply pressure.

The majority of Americans will never rise up in resistance. We have been trained since birth to obey and for those that do there is a certain amount of material and social comfort awarded, kind’a like a dog biscuit. Add to this the perspective of corporate media and most American’s end up comfortably ignorant.

There is also a sizable minority of us born to resist. The common traits resisters share are intelligence, courage, and persistence. To succeed in social change as a minority we need to focus more on the fulcrums of change than on winning over the majority.

Some definitions are in order. Strategies are long-term, overarching plans to reach a goal. Tactics refer to short-term techniques employed on specific actions. What follows are some examples of tactics that focused on the fulcrums of change. Each tactic had to meet certain criteria to succeed.

In 1765 Britain imposed the Stamp Act on the colonists. The colonists despised this tax and needed to repeal it. For the Stamp Act to succeed a tax collector had to enter the town or village and collect it from the citizens. This individual’s personal vulnerability was the fulcrum point as citizens beat, tarred and feathered tax collectors before driving them out of town. Few returned. The criteria for this action included a small number of people willing to engage in violence and the tacit support of the community. Solidarity had to be strong enough so informants feared to speak out.

Not all fulcrums involve violence. In 1955 the African-American citizens of Montgomery, Alabama started boycotting the public busses until racial segregation laws were revoked. Most of the bus ridership was African-American. They rode the buses to go downtown to shop and work. Once the boycott began they quit shopping downtown as much as possible. The fulcrum of change was the economic vulnerability of the business district. It was the local business community that told the government to segregate the buses. The criteria here included a homogenous community working in solidarity with the majority of people participating in the boycott. It also included months of pre-planning and developing support systems like car pooling.

In 1983 over 1,000 people were arrested for peacefully blockading Livermore Labs. Most carried no IDs and were arrested as Jane or John Doe. Without ID one can not be arraigned in court. The fulcrum was the already over-crowded court calendar. The court had to negotiate with the protesters. The criteria were large numbers acting in solidarity.

The indigenous people of Brazil saw their forests disappearing down paved roads. They noticed that the trees were carried on trucks and that the trucks had air filled tires. A handful of activists took scraps of metal and nails and built road spikes that they scattered up and down the highways. The criteria here were the vulnerability of technology, a few people who would engage in property destruction, and the solidarity of the community.

In New York, Father Frank Morales has been know to finish mass, pick up a crowbar, and lead his mostly homeless congregation in occupying abandoned buildings. The fulcrum is the occupation. It forces landlords into dealing with the people. The criteria here include a willingness to ignore property rights, solidarity, and a moderate number of people.

In your town today you can organize a slate of candidates and take over government by being elected to city council or school board. The fulcrum here is democratic participation apathy. In many towns there is a shortage of candidates for these positions. With the majority of the city council your slate could, for example, limit the number of box stores in your town. At school board level you could push back at laws demanding that “intelligent design” be discussed in science classes. The criteria here are a few highly committed, charismatic people, a number of enthusiastic volunteers, and a certain amount of money and know-how. It’s critical for this tactic to work that you identify voters, register them, have them check their registration, and get them to the polls.

The point in all this is that as agent of change we need to find the vulnerable places in the Corporate Death State and strike there. A minority of people who lack both political power and vast fortunes do organize and succeed. Once we do the majority will join us.


Sources: Deep Green Resistance © 2011 Aric McBay, Give Me Liberty © 2008 Naomi Wolf, The Fourth World War 2004, Media Accountability Conference 2007


Rebel Fagin writes for the Sonoma County Peace Press &