Movement for a New Society: Training, vision, strategy more

The Movement for a New Society (MNS 1971-1988), was a global training and action network of groups, whose mission was to “spread the tools and consciousness of nonviolent social change.” MNS members developed a critical and comprehensive analysis of society; a vision of a decentralized, democratic and caring social order; nonviolent revolutionary strategies and tactics; and programs aimed at changing values and lives. Their rapid and intensive development, implementation, and spread of these across North America and to every other continent, earned MNS a reputation for proven effectiveness and track record of successful accomplishment on many progressive goals. See:

MNS was founded in 1971 in Philadelphia by leaders of A Quaker Action Group, former staff of the American Friends Service Committee, and secular activist pioneers and veterans of the Civil Rights, peace, anti-war, anti-nuclear, and environmental movements. Prominent among these founders, who were prolific organizers, strategists and authors, were: George Lakey, Bill Moyer, Richard and Phyllis Taylor, Lynne Shivers, Larry Scott, Lillian and George Willoughby, and others.

MNS members functioned via a network of “collectives” and founded, led and/or developed numerous other efforts and organizations addressing many timely political concerns. Among these were: Keystone Safe Energy Alliance, Pennsylvania Jobs with Peace, New Society Publishers, Common Courage Press, Community Printing, Peace Brigades International, and many others. Following disbanding in 1988, leaders promptly founded and led or co-led a numerous new organizations: nationally Training for Change, United for a Fair Economy and Beautiful Trouble, and Earth Quaker Action Team; plus a host of local and regional campaigns, projects and actions. (Find more at ActivistTraining.org.)

MNS alums now, as then, continue to experiment with simple living, community and personal growth, drawing on feminist, anti-racist, anti-classist, and Quaker values, testimonies, and processes. They established “Life Centers” in Philadelphia and other cities, whose resident activists set up or nurtured local co-ops and community organizations and coalitions of many stripes.

Beyond these, the MNS pioneering application and promotion of new shared leadership models, open and quick decision-making, effective meeting facilitation, “macro-analysis seminars,” and other inclusive group processes, continue to inspire and guide a wide range of progressive campaigns and organizations from the 1970s through the present. The global anti-nuclear power/renewable energy movement is a prime example in which MNS trainers, facilitators, strategy, and processes, such as quick decision making in affinity groups, were indispensable. The best known historic example was in the successful, massive nonviolent civil disobedience actions by New England’s Clamshell Alliance to stop construction of a reactor at Seabrook, NH. Fifty MNS members and trainers were among 1414 activists arrested “occupying” that site on May 1, 1977, most of whom spent the next two weeks “jailed” in five New Hampshire National Guard armories until the state released, then dropped charges on them all!

Subsequent movements continue to utilize and benefit from its many influences — from those opposing exploitative corporate global trade, such as Occupy, to today’s racial and gender equity, climate, peace, justice, labor, human rights, and local “affinity groups” such as Earth Quaker Action Team.

Movement for a New Society: Training, vision, strategy more.
Find key MNS documents in Swarthmore Library Peace Collection.

FOR MORE:


Find more at ActivistTraining.org,
ActivistTools.org & MNS 50th Reunion.


See George Lakey’s timely video Polarization & “How We Win” (30-min.),
2023 Author Tour, books, videos; and trailer for his new bio doc.
Also Bill Moyer’s final training video; and MNSers play “Rainstorm
,”
a 2-minute “light-and-lively” (ice-breaker game) in 2009.

Movement for a New Society: Training, Vision, Strategy


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