Plan. Execute. Win. Activism and net neutrality

Net neutrality carried the day at the FCC. The years-long fight between certain sectors of business and a coalition in favor of an egalitarian internet is not over by any means, but a decision to treat the internet like a public utility is a clear win for activists.

FCC commissioners hold hands during a hearing on net neutrality today. February 26, 2015. Mark Wilson/Getty

As Waging Nonviolence writes, the grassroots campaign for net neutrality stands as an example of how to structure activism:

Today’s net neutrality rules would not exist without the tireless work of activists both in the streets and behind screens. Last year, I interviewed activists about how they planned to win on net neutrality, something that seemed impossible at the time. But they achieved today’s improbable victory by following those plans to the letter: having a clear and concise demand from day one, creating synergy between online and offline organizing, and framing net neutrality as a social justice issue.

Gene Sharp, which the New Statesman once dubbed “the Machiavelli of Non-Violence”, emphasizes one thing above all in his work: if you want to win, you need a strong, resilient plan (much of his works are available online for free here). In reality, most social justice movements are not fully planned out before they happen, but figuring out what the central demand is, what tactics will be used, and what the contingencies if there is a setback or repression is key. The move for net neutrality was impressive in its breadth and organization, and the structural basis for its success is what can be exported to other struggles.

As an activist states, this is just one step, and the fight to cement the victory continues with a new standoff:

“Our next goal is to undermine the telecom industry,” said Zeese. “We want to make them politically toxic so that anyone who does their bidding is seen as someone who is corrupted by a monopoly system.”

There’s always a next goal. Mobilization is power.

owls among me

In the darkness of the room; I am surrounded by owls

sighing with their blue-white eyes as they sit on tables, shelves, and ceilings

they gaze;

but yet they do not see.

No fault of mine for I know not where

in what factory, in what nation they took their sight; yet

I wonder, in the obsidian winter beyond these walls,

who are you, owl of mine?

Can you think, or are these numbers upon you a tattoo

left by an elder long since past away;

can you smile, or is this happy expression merely a mind contemplating

for a few minutes too long;

And can you feel, or do your memories hold no tulips, no zinnias, no tours around

a field, coyly gazing at an owl sweetly returning your gaze

Bedside owl, I do not know what sorrow you hold, what joy.

But I love you, if it means anything.