Julia Roig: Where Does Civil Resistance and Social Justice Fit in MPP?

Julia sent us the following comment regarding our recent post on The Google Maps and Adopt-a-Highway Approach to Systems, She started out by saying "Just a quick note to say how much I loved your recent article. The metaphors are just super. I went to your website in hopes that I could leave a comment on the article there to engage with the substantive dialogue on your platform, but I couldn’t find a place to leave a comment.

[Editor's note: Thanks, Julia!  That's an oversite which we just fixed.  We are asking people to send their comments to us, so we can screen out bots and other malicious content. We do, however, post comments that disagree with us (that's part of the point of this discussion!) We just don't want the bots and trouble makers--our readers all know what we're talking about. We are posting the rest of Julia's comment below and will be answering her shortly in a separate post. ]

by Julia Roig
January 22, 2023

One question I have for you is where you would place civil resistance and social justice movements on your google map and one of the highways to adopt? I saw that those communities were left out of your analysis/examples of the many entry points to this work.  I’m really committed to helping our conflict resolution/bridgebuilding/peacebuilding field develop more of a “movement mindset” and be in relationship with those who are using more nonviolent resistance strategies to disrupt complacency.

Anyway – I’d love to continue the conversation about how best to unite those efforts so the different communities can see themselves as a part of the same map!  I’m the most interested in helping to define the difference between politics as usual and when we need to stand up for basic human/civil rights and threats to democracy. We seem to be getting confused in our quest for bi-partisanship and de-polarization. Two recently articles brought this up for me most urgently:



How do we distinguish when taking a stand is what’s absolutely called for – because we’ve reached the tipping point of uncivil politics/undemocratic behaviors? But perhaps we need to find a better way of doing it.  Anyway – those are some musings on a Sunday night.

Guy Burgess's and Heidi Burgess's Response to Julia

The questions you raise about how our Google Maps metaphor and massively parallel approach relates to social justice advocacy are extremely important and at the core of so many of the tough issues we face. In response to your inquiry and several others we have received, we have created a new set of graphics which we think explains our view of how this all fits together, which we will add to the discussion and newsletter shortly. 

But, we will say now that we have long believed that those in conflict-related fields need to do more to help advocacy groups make more effective use of the conflict and peace field's insights. As the articles that you sent along help demonstrate, many of the things that progressives are doing to help advance social justice objectives risk making things worse, rather than better.

Years ago we created a big section on Beyond Intractability focused on what we called "Constructive Confrontation" that tried to explain to those in advocacy roles how paying more attention to conflict dynamics and especially the "backlash effect" could help them better protect their interests.  We also spent a lot of time earlier this fall exploring the complex relationship between Oppression, Justice, Advocacy, Neutrality, and Peacebuilding. This started with a four-part series in our Substack Newsletter (#53-#57) starting with a debate between us and Jackie Font-Guzman/Bernie Mayer about their book The Neutrality Trap. The neutrality / justice / oppression issue was returned to many times in subsequent newsletters, including Newsletter #60 which includes a link to your [Julia's previous] article, "Rethinking Polarization as the Problem" which you were kind enough to let us repost.

So bottom line, we very much agree that civil resistance and social justice movements fit in MPP, and we'll explain more about our vision of where and how they fit in an upcoming post.