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The Politics of Nonviolent Action

By Gene Sharp
Published by Porter Sargent Publishers
11 Beacon Street
Boston, Ma 02108

Power and Struggle

The Nature and Control of Political Power
What is the Basic Nature of Political Power?
"All types of struggle, and all means to control governments or defend them against attack, are
based on certain basic assumptions about the basic nature of power. These are not usually
explicit.. people are rarely aware of them and would often find it hard to articulate them. This is
true of advocates of both nonviolent and violent action... Basically, there appear to be two
views of the nature of power. One can see people as dependent upon the good will, the decisions
and the support of their government or any other hierarchical system to which they belong. Or
conversely, one can see that government or system dependent on the people's good will,
decisions and support. One can see the power of a government as emitted from the few who
stand at the pinnacle of command. Or one can see that power, in all governments, as continually
rising from many parts of the society. One can also see power as self-perpetuating, durable, not
easily or quickly controlled or destroyed. Or political power can be viewed as fragile, always
dependent for its strength and existence upon replenishment of its sources, by the cooperation of
a multitude of institutions and people-cooperation which may or may not continue" (Page 8.)

Social Roots of Political Power.

Political power must be seen within the social and cultural context of the society.

A. Sources of Power
1. Authority
2 Human Resources
3. Skills and knowledge
4. Intangible factors
5. Material resources
6. sanctions

B. These sources depend on obedience.

Why do men obey?

"The most important single quality of any government, without which it would not exist, must
be the obedience and submission of its subjects. Obedience is at the heart of political power. The
relationships between the ruler and the subjects, and even the ancient question of why some men
obey other men, therefore becomes relevant to our analysis."

"Many people assume that the issuance of a command and its execution form a single, more or
less automatic operation and therefore that the wielding of political power is an entirely one way
relationship... the relationship between command and obedience is always one of mutual
influence and some degree of interaction-which is "mutually determined" action involving a two
sided relationship between the ruler and the subjects." (page 17)

A. The reasons are various and multiple.

1. Habit
2. Fear of sanctions
3. Moral obligation
4. Self Interest
5. Psychological
6. Zones of in difference
7. Absence of self confidence

B. Obtaining the ruler's functionaries and agents.

C. Obedience is not inevitable.

The Role of Consent

A. Obedience is essentially voluntary
B. Consent can be withdrawn

Toward a Theory of Nonviolent Control of Political Power

A. Traditional controls
1. Self-restraint
2. Institutional arrangements
3. Applying superior means of violence

B. Theorists on the withdrawal of support

C. Clues to the political impact of noncooperation
1. Bureaucratic obstruction
The United States
Chart one: Power
The Soviet Union

2. Popular noncooperation
The Soviet Union
D. Toward a technique of control of political power

Nonviolent Action: An active technique of struggle

Characteristics of Nonviolent action
A. A special type of action
Cart two: Action in Conflicts
B. Motives, methods and leverages
C. Correcting misconceptions
D. A neglected type of struggle

Illustrations from the past

A. Some early historical examples
B. The pre-Gandhian expansion of nonviolent struggle
C. Early twentieth-century cases
1. Russian Empire- 1905-06
2. Berlin-1920
3. The Ruhrkampf-1923

D. Gandhi's contribution
1. Vykaom_1924-25
2. Gandhi's theory of power
3. India-1930-31
E. Struggles against the Nazis
1. Norway-1942
2. Berlin-1943

F. Latin American civilian insurrections

1. Guatemala-1944
G. Rising against Communist regimes
1. Vokuta-1953
H. American Civil Rights struggles
1. Montgomery, Alabama 1955-56

Continuous development
A. Czechoslovakia-1968
Seeking Insight

The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion
Formal Statements
1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public statements
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions

Communication with a wider audience

7. Slogans, caricatures and symbols
8. Banners, posters and displayed communications.
9. Leaflets, pamphlets and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Record, radio and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting

Group representations
13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections
Symbolic Public Acts
18. Displays of flags and symbolic colors
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering of symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Display of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures

Pressure on individuals
31. "Haunting" officials
32. Taunting officials
33. Fraternization
34. Vigils

Drama and music

35. Humorous skits and pranks
36. Performance of plays and music
37. Singing

38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades

Honoring the dead

43. political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places

Public assemblies
47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
50. Teach-ins

Withdrawal and renunciation

51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honors
54. Turning one's back

The Methods of Social Noncooperation

Ostracism of persons
55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott

57. Lysistratic nonaction
58. Excommunication
59. Interdict

Noncooperation with social events, customs and institutions

60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions

Withdrawal from the social system

65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. "Flight" of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration(Hijrat)

The Methods of Economic Noncooperation:

(1) Economic Boycotts
Actions by consumers
71. Consumers boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers' boycott
77. International consumers' boycott

Actions by workers and producers

78. Workmen's boycott
79. Producers boycott

Action by middlemen
80. Supplier's and handler's boycott

Action by owners and management
81. Trader's boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants "general strike"

Action by holders of financial resources

86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91, Refusal of a government's money

Action by governments
92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International seller's embargo
95. International buyers embargo
96. International trade embargo

Symbolic strikes
97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout(Lightening strike)

Agricultural strikes
99. Peasant strikes
100. Farm workers' strike

Strikes by special groups

101. Refusal of impressed labor
102. prisoners' strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike

Ordinary industrial strikes

105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathetic strike

Restricted Strikes

108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting "sick"(Sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike

Multi-Industry Strikes
116. generalized strike
117. General strike

Combination of strikes and economic closures

118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown

The Methods of Political Noncooperation

Rejection of authority
120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

Citizens' noncooperation with government

123. boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
128. Boycott of government supported organizations
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agencies
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

Citizens alternatives to obedience

133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse

138. Sitdown
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws

Action by government personnel

142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny

Domestic governmental action

149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent government units

International governmental action

151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. severance of diploetic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organizations
156. Refusal of membership on international bodies
157. Expulsion form international organizations

The Methods of Nonviolent Intervention

Psychological intervention
158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
(a) Fast of moral pressure
(b) Hunger strike
(c) Satyagrahic fast
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment

Physical intervention
162. Sit-in

163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation

Social Intervention
174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in
178. Guerilla theater
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system

Economic Intervention
181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions

Political Intervention
193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of "neutral laws".
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

Laying the groundwork for nonviolent action

Confronting the opponents power

Risks and variations in nonviolent action

Casting off fear

Social sources of power changes

Leadership in nonviolent struggle

Preparing for nonviolent struggle

A. Investigation
B. Negotiations
C. Sharpening the focus for attack
D. Generating "Cause Consciousness"
E. Quantity and quality in nonviolent action
F. Organizing the movement

Openness and secrecy in nonviolent struggle

Basic Elements of nonviolent strategy

A. The importance of strategy and tactics
B. Some key elements in nonviolent strategy and tactics
1. The indirect approach to the opponent's power
2. Psychological elements
3. Geographical and physical elements
4. Timing
5. Numbers and strength
6. The issue and concentration of strength
7. The initiative

C. The choice of weapons
D. Selecting the strategy and tactics

The ultimatum

The Halt to submission

Initial polarization followed by shifting power

The opponents initial problem

A. Control of communications and information
B. Psychological pressures
C. Confiscation
D. Economic sanctions
E. Bans and Prohibitions
F. Arrests and imprisonments
G. Exceptional restrictions
H. Direct physical violence


The necessity of suffering

Facing brutalities
A. Official and unofficial brutalities
B. Remaining firm


The need for solidarity
A. Maintaining rapport
B. Generating incentives
C. Reducing grounds for capitulation
D. Restraints or sanctions

Inhibiting repression
The opponent prefers violence
The need for nonviolent behavior
How violence weakens the movement
Sabotage and nonviolent action
Other ways to slip into violence
The necessity of discipline
Promoting nonviolent discipline
Refusal to hate
The inefficacy of repression
A. Arresting leaders is inadequate
B. Repression measures may become new points of resistance

Political Jiu-Jitsu
Winning over uncommitted third parties
A. International indignation
B. Factors determining the impact of third party opinion
C. The future of third-party support

Arousing dissent and opposition in the opponents own camp

A. Questioning both repression and the cause
B. Repression produces defections: three cases
C. Four more cases of defections
D. The troops mutiny
E. Splits in the opponent regime
F. provocation and appeals

Increasing support and participation from the grievance group

A. The victory in Palace Square
B. Strength needed to withstand repression
C. Repression may legitimate resistance
D. The number of resisters may grow

Less severe repression and counter-violence?

Altering power relationships

Three Ways Success May Be Achieved

A. Seeking conversion
B. The rationale of self-suffering
C. The barrier of social distance
D. Conversion through self-suffering
E. Some factors influencing conversion
1. External factors
2. Internal factors
F. Conversion may not be achieved

A. Violent repression seen as inappropriate
B. Getting rid of a nuisance
C. Adjusting to opposition in his own group
D. Minimizing economic losses
E. Bowing gracefully to the inevitable

Nonviolent coercion
A. The concept of nonviolent coercion
B. Withdrawing the sources of political power
1. Authority
2. Human resources
3. Skills and knowledge
4. Intangible factors
5. Material resources
6. Sanctions
C. Some factors influencing nonviolent coercion

A successful conclusion?
A. The risk and nature of defeat
B. A draw of interim settlement
C. Success
D. Toward a genuine solution

The Redistribution of Power

Effects on the nonviolent group

A. Ending submissiveness

B. Learning a technique which reveals one's power
C. Increased fearlessness
D. Increased self-esteem
E. Bringing satisfaction, enthusiasm and hope
F. Effects on aggression, masculinity, crime and violence
G. Increased group unity
H. Increased internal cooperation
I. Contagion
J. Conclusion

Diffused power and nonviolent technique

A. Violence and centralization of power
B. Nonviolent action and decentralization of power



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