Strategy and Tactics: What's the difference?

Is it just me, didn't the last guys who did this win? I mean they won big. Sacked the city, ruined the culture, enslaved the women and children. Was this a good idea or what? Thought of by the great Odysseus whose fame reaches down through the ages to our modern time. While it is debatable who ever made this meme this was probably trying to make fun of Mexicans,  I'm not sure they picked the right visual. But it does offer an interesting context to begin to talk about strategy and tactics.


Strategy, writes Gene Sharp, the director and founder of the Albert Einstein Institution alleged mastermind of the non-violent "color revolutions" that swept across Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, and "inspiration for the the Arab Spring" in his book From Dictatorship To Democracy writes "the conception of how to best achieve particular objectives in a conflict ... strategy is concerned with whether, when, and how to fight, as well as how to achieve maximum effectiveness in struggling for certain ends".


Sharp goes on writing, "some individuals and groups, of course, may not see the need for the broad long-term planning of a liberation movement. Instead, they may naively think that if they simply espouse their goals strongly, firmly, and long enough, it will somehow come to pass. Others assume that if they simply live and witness according to their principles and ideals in face of difficulties, they are doing all they can to implement them. The espousal of humane goals and loyalty to ideals are admirable, but are grossly inadequate to end a dictatorship and a to achieve freedom".


Just to be clear. Whether it is deserved or not Gene Sharp is quite a controversial figure. He has been accused by the likes of the late Hugo Chavez, the Government of Iran and others of playing a significant role in the overthrow of governments across the globe considered unfriendly to the United States. Not to shabby for a guy it seems very few people in the United States have heard about. For those of us purporting to engage in the building of a mass movement reading Gene Sharp might not be a bad idea. Presenting what I consider sound advice and as a definite thread in his most wide spread and read publication - Sharp is clear about the need for strategic planning.


Tactics, according to Sharp are "a limited action, employed to achieve a restricted objective. The choice of tactics is governed by the conception of how best in a restricted phase of conflict to utilize the available means of fighting to implement the strategy ... tactics are always concerned with fighting, whereas strategy includes wider considerations". 


The picture above is an example of a tactic, one used at the end of a siege a failed strategy. What makes this picture tragically humorous is that it serves to point out one of our greatest failing as an indigenous community, we do not have a master strategy for political empowerment - only tactics. Which brings us to the news article below. This story tells how Jack Davis, a self made manufacturing millionaire and DEMOCRAT candidate for Congress in New York's 26th district. To some it may seem like beating a dead horse, but look at what is written below. This guys was a Democrat running for U.S. Congress; a millionaire, self made man, business tycoon the type of man others in our society look up to. Is this guy a crack pot? I mean if this man sat you down at a table and said "I think you can make money, this way" you would take what he has to say very seriously.


Instead Davis says, "I think they'll do it without a civil war. They'll take control of the state government and start voting themselves anything they want."


Isn't that what democracy is all about? Or is it only okay when Indigenous peoples are forced to vote for the only game in town? Imagine the anguish and torment this patriotic old man must have gone through to come to this conclusion. He sees something in Xicanos and other indigenous peoples we do not see in ourselves. He also see through the eyes of a free person. Free to make his own destiny.


We don't get it. But men like Jack Davis and Gene Sharp do. It is all about power and how we go about building power to make change. Gene Sharp knows it is possible for the citizens by their non compliance to topple that government or at the very least create some political elbow room for themselves. Down load the Sharp booklet, read it and implement it. Who knows, maybe there is something to this advice he's been spreading around the rest of the world for the past 25 years.  

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