198 Methods of Nonviolent ActionAugust 22nd, 2012
Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I like to express it as “your means must contain your ends.” If you oppose the State on purely utilitarian grounds by all mean throw your body into the grinding gears of the political means. But if you oppose the State on principle, because you oppose violence, your means must necessarily be non-violent, and as the State itself is violence, your means must necessarily be non-political. So when I discovered a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action published by the Albert Einstein Institute I simply had to share it here.
You can see the full list here: 198 Method of Nonviolent Action, but here are some of my favorites.
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
Of course the first that comes to mind for me is the Declaration of Independence, which triggered incredible violence, but was itself a nonviolent act. What’s seldom understood about the Declaration is that it was not a state creating document, it was a state abolishing document, asserting that when government became destructive of life, liberty or property it was the right of the people to alter or abolish it. A superior document, in my opinion is the Shire Society Declaration signed in 2009, primarily because it is so explicity non-violent but also because it has literally hundreds of signatures while the Declaration of Independence has only 56.
20. Prayer and worship
Ok, I know many people won’t like that being on the list. What can I say. I’m biased. But it made me think of Tahrir Square. During the Arab Spring numerous houses of worship were attacked by those wishing to sow religious disunity in Egypt. But, on Coptic Christmas Eve thousands of Muslims acted as human shields to protect Coptic Christians as they attended mass in churches around the country, and a week later Coptic Christians returned the favor, joining hands to protect Muslims from police and pro Mubarak thugs as protesters offered their Friday prayers. Egyptian artist, Mohamed El-Sawy famously quipped, “We will either live together, or we will die together.”
Probably the most important method of enacting any long term cultural shift. During the early days of the Occupy Movement I hosted multiple teach-ins on the history and function of the Federal Reserve. Here’s video
69. Collective disappearance
I’m fascinated that this made the list. I’m unaware of this ever actually happening in history. The only example I’m aware of is the disappearance of the productive class in Atlas Shrugged. So called, “Going Galt.” But the next method on the list is very similar, and there are numerous historic examples.
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)
I’m not sure why they included the Arabic term “hijrat” on the list, but it means to flea oppression. The Islamic calendar, called the Hijri Calendar, actually begins with a historic migration from Mecca the Medina to escape persecution, not with Muhammad’s birth as many people mistakenly assume. Today the most successful example of a “hijrat” or protest emigration to flea oppression is the Free State Project, which is a movement of 20,000 freedom loving individuals moving to New Hampshire to get active for liberty.
127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
This goes right along with teach-ins, but as they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get your kids out of the personality-crushing creativity-sucking mental gulags we call public schools. They fail by every measure except one. They succeed in turning vibrant, curious, energetic children into a unquestioning, obedient, factory-ready adults. If you want to learn more about the destructive lessons of public schools, check out the School Sucks Project. Do your kids a favor. Do yourself a favor.
141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws
It’s a basic moral obligation. Good people disobey bad laws, or perhaps a more accurate formulation is, good people disregard bad laws. Just last weekend activists from the Raw Milk Freedom Riders and Lemonade Freedom Day gathered at the reflecting pool on Capitol Hill to violate the onerous regulations against raw milk and lemonade stands. Despite openly breaking these bad laws, no arrests were made, which Liz Reitzig of the Raw Milk Freedom Riders says proves that “laws are arbitrary and arbitrarily enforced.”
What was tragically absent from the list was the use of alternative currencies or counter economics. In fact many of them constitute violence against property. Despite numbers 71 through 119 all appearing under the heading of “Methods of Economic Noncooperation” every single one described strikes, boycotts and other economic strategies common among labor movements. Not one mention of anything even resembling Agorism… except maybe:
91. Refusal of a government’s money
I guess there’s still a lot more work to do.
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