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How to Change the World Without War or Weapons—and Three Reasons Why This Works
Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Springfield, MA
Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip: January 2024

Quick note from Shel: I’ve been writing at least one monthly newsletter all the way back to 1997—but I’ve never tried to integrate it with my blog before. It occurred to me that people who read the blog would probably also want to read the newsletter. Each issue contains either a how-to tip or a think piece and a review of a resource (usually a book). Click here to see past issues all the way back to at least 2008.

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In the video I review below, Bill McKibben of 350.org and Third Act cites Erica Chenoweth’s finding that when just 3-1/2 percent of a population engages in disciplined nonviolent resistance, it can be enough to topple a government.

He doesn’t mention that Chenoweth’s research also showed that nonviolent resistance was 10 times more effective than violent insurrection. Those who used it were more likely to achieve even “impossible” goals, even when facing the most repressive governments in history, such as Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. AND they were more likely to achieve lasting change that didn’t just swing back with the next change in government. Other researchers including the late Gene Sharp have identified literally hundreds of nonviolent tactics. Sharp’s list of 198 nonviolent tactics predates the Internet and the Covid pandemic. Those two phenomena alone probably doubled the list.

Chenoweth was not originally an advocate of nonviolence. In fact, she was quite skeptical at first—until her own statistical analyses proved that nonviolence works better. This validates what lifetime pacifists like Stephen Zunes, George Lakey, Barbara Deming, Harvey Wasserman, Anna Gyorgy, Gene Sharp, my late friends Dave Dellinger, Frances Crowe, and Wally and Juanita Nelson, and many others have said for decades. It also validates the strategic commitment to nonviolence by people like MLK, Gandhi, and Mandela (none of whom was originally pacifist in principle).

The Three Reasons

I think I can shed some light on why this is true:

1) You can’t outgun the state. They have tanks, WMDs, and lots of person-power. Engaging in violence is letting them choose the battlefield and the tools. You probably can’t outgun the Oath Keepers either, unless you ARE the state. But vigilante groups (sorry this article is so difficult to parse), predatory employers, and even governments (see citations above) don’t tend to be successful against disciplined massive resistance, even if they inflict damage against the nonviolent resisters.

2) When the state attacks unarmed civilians, it has a jiu-jitsu effect of creating sympathy for those who are attacked, not just locally but across the world (as is happening in Ukraine and Gaza right now). But when armed radicals attack the state or civilians or even destroy the property of the middle and upper classes, that rebound effect creates support for the government, who can then marginalize and isolate the opposition as “terrorists”–and have an excuse to clamp down further on civil liberties. We see this in the wildly disproportionate Israeli response to the (brutal and completely unacceptable) Hamas murder of 1200 and taking 240 as hostages.

Because of the Hamas brutality, Israel felt justified in killing tens of thousands (mostly civilians and including thousands of kids) and making millions homeless. But Israel’s government does not seem to realize that they have just sewn the seeds for another generation of embittered radicals to rise up against them. And just as the US, which had the moral high ground and support of the global community in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001 but lost it in the twin wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, found itself a pariah, so does Israel. (I’m writing this on December 23, 2023. The situation I describe is current as of that date.)

3) When a government falls by force of arms, the conquerors want to make sure they aren’t taken out next. Thus, the pressure to become more dictatorial, which erodes popular support. I am old enough to remember when thugs like Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and even the Iranian mullahs were welcomed as heroes by the local population, until they turned out to be just as vile as their predecessors, if not more. So the violence ends up blocking the transition to a better society, causing resentment and apathy.

Bonus Article: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for a More Ethical, Ecological, Profitable, and Successful Business

Normally, I only have one main article and a review of one resource. I’m doing this extra one as a gift to you to help you start your year off while you’re still thinking about this new beginning.


Remember: businesses based on ethics and quality actually work better. With that in mind, here are twelve easy resolutions to inspire your business to achieve a very profitable 2024. This is not coming from God, just me, your newsletter writer. Accept and honor what’s useful to you. Modify or discard what’s not. 

1) I will base every aspect of my business on honesty, integrity, and quality.

2) I will make sure every employee, from janitor to CEO, is trained to view every interaction with a customer as a key step in the marketing process and to always give the customer respect and attention.

3) I will train and empower every employee to let the customer go away feeling good about the entire interaction.

4) I will stand behind my products and services. It is better to refund the money and create a positive buzz.

5) Understanding that it costs an average of five times more to bring in a new customer as to keep an existing one, I will see that the entire organization exceeds customer expectations.

6) Recognizing that my competitors can be my strongest allies, I will initiate at least one joint venture (after all, if FedEx and the Postal Service, Apple and IBM, and General Motors and Toyota can cooperate, surely I can too).

7) If my company is not the best answer to prospect’s needs, I will refer that prospect to the company that can best serve, if I know of one. 

8) I will devote business resources to make the world a better place.

9) I will volunteer on a community project and set up incentives for my employees to volunteer on the projects of their choice.

10) I will base decisions on the Abundance Principle that there is enough to go around, and not on market share.

11) I will reduce my firm’s use of water and energy, and reduce my family’s use at home, and inform others of the easy changes I’ve made. (See my ebook, Painless Green, for 111 suggestions)

12) I will grow by marketing the advantages of doing business with a socially and environmentally conscious, ethical company.

Four of marketing and profitability consultant/copywriter Shel Horowitz’s 10 books cover marketing for green and social equity businesses. Three of those have won awards, including his most recent book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson).

Discover why Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, futurist Seth Godin, and many others recommend Shel’s 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (and download a free sampler). Autographed and inscribed copies available.

View highlights from (and listen to) more than 30 podcasts ranging from 5 minutes to a full hour. Click here to see descriptions and replay links.

Another Recommended Resource: History of Nonviolence: From Thoreau and Tolstoy and Gandhi towards the present

The Sustainability Scorecard

History of Nonviolent Action: From Thoreau and Tolstoy and Gandhi towards the present
Narrated by Bill McKibben

If you’ve been on my list for a while, you probably know that I consider my two careers of activism and marketing to be inextricably braided together. I’ve brought lessons from the business world into my activism, and lessons from activism into business. The synergy makes both far more effective than either on their own. And on the activist side, I’ve been a proponent, practitioner, and publicizer of nonviolent social change. I’ve read a lot of the research, and it all proves that nonviolent struggles are more likely to win, less likely to result in mass civilian death (though it does happen sometimes, at the hands of particularly brutal opponents), and more likely to create lasting positive change. Think about the US civil rights, feminist, safe energy and LGBTQ movements, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and Arab Spring.

Bill McKibben, founder of both 350.org and Third Act, narrates an hour-long history of nonviolent civil disobedience going all the way back to Thoreau, who influenced Tolstoy, who in turn corresponded with a very young Gandhi, whose work both in South Africa and pre-partition India in turn influenced MLK. The video doesn’t explicitly say so, but MLK clearly influenced Mandela, and so the circle came back around to South Africa. And MLK and Mandela have certainly impacted every nonviolent campaign I’m familiar with in our own time. Because I’ve been studying this movement since the 1970s, I knew much of the history he narrates, but I hadn’t seen most of the wonderful archival footage it includes, such as Gandhi standing with his Muslim counterpart Abdul Ghaffar Khan and a movie clip of the Salt March.

Of course, activism is not only, or even mostly, about charismatic leaders. These are people’s movements and some of them involved tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. This video is the first of a four-part series. If you change the number at the end of https://thirdact.org/events/direct-action-series-webinar-1/ (to 2, then 3, then 4), you ought to be able to watch them as they become available. The second one is available now and the third one will air at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18. You can register on the ThirdAct.org site.

And if you’re not yet an activist, I hope watching this series may help you find a passion for changing the world through nonviolent action. If you think you can’t make a difference, consider these blog posts: the second and fourth parts of a five-part series I wrote reflecting back on the 40th anniversary of the 1977 Seabrook Occupation (which was a life-changing event for me):


(If you want to read the whole series all the way through, start at https://greenandprofitable.com/40-years-ago-today-we-changed-the-world-part-1/ and click the link to the next part at the bottom of each segment.)

Connect with Shel

Turn Your Sustainability/CSR Report Into Powerful Marketing!  http://goingbeyondsustainability.com/turn-that-nobody-reads-it-csr-report-into-a-marketing-win/

About Shel

Speaker, author, and consultant Shel Horowitz of GoingBeyondSustainabiity.com helps businesses find the sweet spot at the intersections of profitability with environmental and social good — creating and marketing profitable products and services that make a direct difference on problems like hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change. His 10th book is Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World.

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