During the 60's I was part of the Vietnam war protests. I recently received an email from one of my contacts who wished me to pass this along. Your struggle is of course entirely different, different goals and a different political and safety situation. I pass this along with my best wishes and dearly hope for minimal violence. Not sure if I can embed his email: if not I'll just cut and paste. If I can embed you'll notice his gmail account registers his name as Karl Marx and as far as I know that is his name. Even though we worked closely together neither of us knew the real name or face of the other. I suggest the same for your groups. Karl mentions all this so let me let him talk for himself. Not to worry if you find him pompous I always have. =========start of forwarded mail======================= From: Karl Marx <email@example.com> Date: Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 4:26 AM Subject: Open letter to the Iranian protesters To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Please publish and translate. I wish that this be disseminated as widely as possible. Not that I have any essential truths but that I was there, made mistakes, the movement learned from those mistakes eventually getting what we wanted. Non-violence is the only way to effect the changes that you want. Violence is a vicious circle from which there is no exit. I know of 4 examples where a group was able to get what they wanted through non-violence. If they had chosen violence they would have lost. 1> The expulsion of England from India 2> The civil rights movement 3> Vietnam war protests in America 4> The velvet revolution. I can only speak to the one example that I participated in; the Vietnam war protest in America. As the movement matured we learned lessons about what worked and didn't work. I do not nor could I ever give you advice on what to ask for. Iran is your country and the only peoples that can make that determination are you as a people. Which is not to say that the government is the people. That is not nor has it ever been the case. What lessons did we learn? We had the great advantage of being able to read Gandhi and some of us knew Dr. King. From their examples we drew the strength to control our emotions in the service of our goals. The only control you have is over yourself and to a point those who share your convictions. You can not let your emotions or ego make your decisions for you. That knowledge took me about 2 years to learn. By far the hardest lesson that we learned was that it is useless to try to convince anyone of our cause by logic. Being largely students we thought that reason was how political decisions were made. Rather we found out that all political decisions are emotional of nature. To let the unconvinced know that you are willing to die for your cause; without killing back was our most powerful weapon. However this requires that you are dealing with a moral other. Gandhi made this point when he expressed relief that he dealt with the British and not the Nazi. The Nazi would have killed without compunction. You are trying to convince your own people so hopefully this should not be the case. Facing soldiers our men would look them in the eyes so that they would know our humanity. That we were just like them. We listened to the same music, struggled with the same problems. We knew that if they saw us like them that they would not fire upon us. This of course did not always work as Kent state showed. Facing soldiers our women would put flowers into the rifles of the soldiers. Saying in effect instead of death and bullets let us talk about flowers and beauty. Facing opposition when we marched we put the "Vietnam veterans against the war" at the front. Who was going to say to a man who had lost his limbs that he had no courage. And they always spoke softly so that they would get listened to. Regardless of who wins the election these principles will work. After all look at what happened to Richard Nixon. On the lines: If it looks like a confrontation it will be; better to choose your times and avoid those situations that you can not win. We always took coffee cans (with lids) to scoop up the gas canisters. Having a double layer of cloth with charcoal in it can work as a gas mask. Talk to your chemists: I only know that whatever they did worked well. If it escalates then withdraw. He who protests and runs away lives to protest another day. You will be called cowards by some. But the whole point is to win in the end, not day by day. The process is slow but if done right irreversible. Essentially by your actions you are educating. Arguement is possible with words. Moral actions educate, therefore there is no arguement. Dealing with infiltrators: If someone urges you to commit violence they are opposed to you. They and not the people you are trying to convince are the enemy. Before a march that I was involved in we had an individual with guns and explosives; spouting violence. We got him drunk & tied him up in the abandoned building we used for our meetings. Thus his violence was not part of our march. We always thought he was with the FBI. And yes we never went back for him. But we did not commit violence upon him. We just isolated him and rendered him ineffective. Now if he recognized us he could have had us arrested. Except that no one gave him their real name and as there was no hierarchy so no other group could be compromised. So shy away from and isolate all individuals who preach violence. It is only by non-violence that you can make the changes you want and anyone in the way of that non-violence should be isolated. You have the advantage of emails, SMS and twitter, which we did not have. Instead we met at Rock concerts to discuss what our goals should be. Never talk about particular actions but only about overall goals. Organizational structure look up how the Polish resistance set themselves up in cells that did not answer to a main leader. Structure looks like this: First a very loose knit group of people who can talk about goals and reach reasonable conclusions. Meetings don't have to be done in person a teleconference for instance would be just as good. Second a tight group where everyone has know one another since childhood; this is where particular actions will be decided on. A communal group that sets the goals. Individual cells would then decide on how to best achieve that goal in their area, school or workplace. Be like a worm instead of a snake. When the head of a snake is cut off the snake dies. When the head/tail of a worm is cut off you have just created two worms where there were just one. The task is never done. We are now focused on removing some of the sharp teeth of capitalism. So that we can effect real change we have chosen to do this in Europe and not America. Our aim is that everyone should have a place to stay, enough to eat, a job and the opportunity to make cultural contributions society. Wish us luck with this venture as we'll need it. Some of our members have reminded me that this is a coin. On one side reads: From each according to their ability to each according to their need. The other side reads: Those who do not work do not eat. We are moral not because we want to avoid punishment. We are moral because that's the world we chose to live in. Lastly with few exceptions never become known. Even 35 years later ;>) The cult of personality leads to dictatorship even in those with the best intentions. Which is why this message is from your uncle Karl. ===============end forwarded message============== My best friend yet I've never seen his face.