Movement for a New Society

From Academic Kids

The Movement for a New Society (MNS) was a US-based network of social activists, committed to the principles of nonviolence, who played a key role in social movements of the 1970s and 80s.

The precursor to the MNS was A Quaker Action Group (AQAG), founded by Lawrence Scott in 1966. Dissatisfied with the response of the mainstream Quaker church to the United States involvement in the Vietnam War, Scott founded AQAG with the intention of sparking a renewed commitment to the Quaker Peace Testimony.

Frustrated by their failure to achieve this end, AQAG members including Scott and “convinced” Quaker George Willoughby, refashioned the group as the Movement for A New Society in 1971. Other founding members included Bill Moyer and George Lakey.

The early members of MNS consciously sought to develop tools and strategies that could be employed to bring about revolutionary change through nonviolent means. Through the Life Center Association (Philadelphia, PA), an organization which survives to this day, MNS members also experimented with co-operative living arrangements, in accordance with their feminist and nonviolent beliefs.

Unlike other radical organizations of the time, the MNS did not focus its energies exclusively on one issue or injustice. Its members were involved in working for social change on many fronts, most notably in the movement to end US involvement in the Vietnam war, and during the citizen-led opposition to the expansion of the US nuclear industry in the mid to late ‘70s.

Through the co-operatively owned and managed New Society Publishers, MNS members published numerous pamphlets and books providing practical advice on working for social change. The publications of NSP, most notably the co-operatively authored Resource Manual for a Living Revolution (known affectionately within movement circles as the “monster manual”) were a primary source of inspiration and guidance for citizens across the United States as opposition to nuclear expansion grew, and influenced movements as far afield as the Tasmanian Wilderness Society’s campaign to prevent the damming of the Franklin River.

In 1989, the members of the MNS wound up the organisation. New Society Publishers, now based in British Columbia, continues to publish social-change related titles, with an increased emphasis on the practical aspects of environmental sustainability. In 1995, members of the New Society Publishers Philadelphia office started a website, Nonviolence.org, which continues to publish resources, inspiration and analysis. Until his death in October, 2002, Bill Moyer continued to teach his influential eight-stage model for social change movements, the Movement Action Plan, to activists around the US and around the world. George Lakey, as director of the Philadelphia based Training for Change organisation, still works to promote nonviolence as a powerful technique for resisting injustice.

References

Coover, Virginia ... [et al.] (1985). Resource Manual for a Living Revolution. Philadelphia, PA : New Society Publishers. ISBN 0865710155

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