Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Non-violent direct action !

OK, let's start getting back in my citations note-book.
This one is from Howard Zinn (Passionate Declarations):

"It is sad to see how, in so many countries, citizens have been led to war by the argument that it is necessary because there are tyrannies abroad, evil rulers, murderous juntas. But to make war is not to destroy the tyrants; it is to kill their subjects, their pawns, their conscripted soldiers, their subjugated civilians [...]
Freedom and justice, which so often have been the excuses for violence, are still our goals. But the means for achieving them must change, because violence, however tempting in the quickness of its action, undermines those goals immediately, and also in the long run. The means for achieving social change must match, morally, the ends."

So, what can we do ? The answer is: non-violent direct action !

"A determined population can not only force a domestic ruler to flee the country, but can make a would-be occupier retreat, by the use of a formidable arsenal of tactics: boycotts and demonstrations, occupations and sit-ins, sit-down strikes and general strikes, obstruction and sabotage, refusal to pay taxes, rent strikes, refusal to cooperate, refusal to obey curfew orders or gag orders, refusal to pay fines, fasts and pray-ins, draft resistance, and civil disobedience of various kinds [...]
Non-violent direct action is inextricably related to democracy. Violence to the point of terrorism is the desperate tactic of tiny groups who are incapable of building a mass base of popular support."


Davy said...

non-violent action often leads to jail in very restrictive societies. Take for example Iran. In the comics/movie Persepolis, you can see a society so much blocked that the only way to resist is : wearing a shorter veil (you can be arrested for that), organizing hidden parties at home (you can go to jail).

To be effective, non-violent action must be followed by a vast majority of the population in the same ways and at the same time.

Conversely the tyran's job is to keep people focusing on "am I legal (alright with the law) today" instead of thinking "these laws are stupid" (a page of persepolis is really relevant of that, I may scan it and send it to you soon)

Cedric said...

no need to look at Iran for your first statement, Jose Bove goes to jail in France because he cuts transgenic corn in open air fields, while there has never been scientific proofs that the transgenic corn is not going to spread everywhere without consequences on the other species including humans ! This is a perfect example for me where the law is applied stupidly.

You are right to say that non-violent action can be effective only if a vast majority follows you. That's why Howard Zinn says that "terrorism is the desperate tactic of tiny groups who are incapable of building a mass base of popular support". But however right you think your cause is, I think it never justifies you to use violence for speeding things up or because you don't find the popular support you want. If your cause is really one worth fighting for, you'll get popular support, as Gandhi or Martin Luther King got.