The Methods Of Nonviolent Action
The Methods Of Nonviolent Protest And Persuasion
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
Communications 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. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
17. Mock elections
Symbolic Public Acts
18. Display of flags and symbolic colors
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures
Pressures On Individuals
31. “Haunting” officials
32. Taunting officials
Drama And Music
35. Humorous skits and pranks
36. Performance of plays and music
40. Religious processions
Honoring The Dead
43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places
47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
Withdrawal And Renunciation
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
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
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
Action 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
Action By Workers And Producers
78. Workmen’s boycott
79. Producers’ boycott
Action By Middlemen
80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott
Action By Owners And Management
81. Traders’ boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
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 sellers’ embargo
95. International buyers’ embargo
96. International trade embargo
The Methods Of Economic Noncooperation:
(2) The Strike
97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)
99. Peasant strike
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
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
116. Generalized strike
117. General strike
Combinations Of Strikes And Economic Closures
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 agents
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
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
Domestic Governmental Action
149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental 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 diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organizations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organizations
The Methods Of Nonviolent 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
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation
174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
178. Guerrilla theater
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system
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
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions
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
Acknowledgements And Notes On The History Of
From Dictatorship to Democracy
I have incurred several debts of gratitude while writing the original edition of this essay. Bruce Jenkins, my Special Assistant in 1993, made an inestimable contribution by his identification of problems in content and presentation. He also made incisive recommendations for more rigorous and clearer presentations of difficult ideas (especially concerning strategy), structural reorganization, and editorial improvements.
I am also grateful for the editorial assistance of Stephen Coady. Dr. Christopher Kruegler and Robert Helvey offered very important criticisms and advice. Dr. Hazel McFerson and Dr. Patricia Parkman provided information on struggles in Africa and Latin America, respectively. However, the analysis and conclusions contained therein are solely my responsibility.
In recent years special guidelines for translations have been developed, primarily due to Jamila Raqib’s guidance and to the lessons learned from earlier years. This has been necessary in order to ensure accuracy in languages in which there has earlier been no established clear terminology for this field.
“From Dictatorship to Democracy” was written at the request of the late U Tin Maung Win, a prominent exile Burmese democrat who was then editor of Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal).
The preparation of this text was based over forty years of re- search and writing on nonviolent struggle, dictatorships, totalitarian systems, resistance movements, political theory, sociological analysis, and other fields.
I could not write an analysis that had a focus only on Burma, as I did not know Burma well. Therefore, I had to write a generic analysis.
The essay was originally published in installments in Khit Pyaing in Burmese and English in Bangkok, Thailand in 1993. Afterwards it was issued as a booklet in both languages (1994) and in Burmese again (1996 and 1997). The original booklet editions from Bangkok were issued with the assistance of the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma.
It was circulated both surreptitiously inside Burma and among exiles and sympathizers elsewhere. This analysis was intended only for use by Burmese democrats and various ethnic groups in Burma that wanted independence from the Burman-dominated central government in Rangoon. (Burmans are the dominant ethnic group in Burma.)
I did not then envisage that the generic focus would make the analysis potentially relevant in any country with an authoritarian or dictatorial government. However, that appears to have been the perception by people who in recent years have sought to translate and distribute it in their languages for their countries. Several persons have reported that it reads as though it was written for their country.
The SLORC military dictatorship in Rangoon wasted no time in denouncing this publication. Heavy attacks were made in 1995 and 1996, and reportedly continued in later years in newspapers, radio, and television. As late as 2005, persons were sentenced to seven-year prison terms merely for being in possession of the banned publication.
Although no efforts were made to promote the publication for use in other countries, translations and distribution of the publication began to spread on their own. A copy of the English language edition was seen on display in the window of a bookstore in Bangkok by a student from Indonesia, was purchased, and taken back home. There, it was translated into Indonesian, and published in 1997 by a major Indonesian publisher with an introduction by Abdurrahman Wahid. He was then head of Nadhlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in the world with thirty-five million members, and later President of Indonesia. During this time, at my office at the Albert Einstein Institution we only had a handful of photocopies from the Bangkok English language booklet. For a few years we had to make copies of it when we had enquiries for which it was relevant. Later, Marek Zelaskiewz, from California, took one of those copies to Belgrade during Milosovic’s time and gave it to the organization Civic Initiatives. They translated it into Serbian and published it. When we visited Serbia after the collapse of the Milosevic regime we were told that the booklet had been quite influential in the opposition movement.
Also important had been the workshop on nonviolent struggle that Robert Helvey, a retired US Army colonel, had given in Budapest, Hungary, for about twenty Serbian young people on the nature and potential of nonviolent struggle. Helvey also gave them copies of the complete The Politics of Nonviolent Action. These were the people who became the Otpor organization that led the nonviolent struggle that brought down Milosevic.
We usually do not know how awareness of this publication has spread from country to country. Its availability on our web site in recent years has been important, but clearly that is not the only factor. Tracing these connections would be a major research project.
“From Dictatorship to Democracy” is a heavy analysis and is not easy reading. Yet it has been deemed to be important enough for at least twenty-eight translations (as of January 2008) to be prepared, although they required major work and expense.
Translations of this publication in print or on a web site include the following languages: Amharic (Ethiopia), Arabic, Azeri (Azerbai- jan), Bahasa Indonesia, Belarusian, Burmese, Chin (Burma), Chinese (simplified and traditional Mandarin), Dhivehi (Maldives), Farsi (Iran), French, Georgian, German, Jing Paw (Burma), Karen (Burma), Khmer (Cambodia), Kurdish, Kyrgyz (Kyrgyzstan), Nepali, Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan), Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tibetan, Tigrinya (Eritrea), Ukrainian, Uzbek (Uzbekistan), and Vietnamese. Several others are in preparation.
Between 1993 and 2002 there were six translations. Between 2003 and 2008 there have been twenty-two. The great diversity of the societies and languages into which translations have spread support the provisional conclusion that the persons who initially encounter this document have seen its analysis to be relevant to their society.
Albert Einstein Institution
A Note About Translations And Reprinting Of This Publication
To facilitate dissemination of this publication it has been placed in the public domain. That means that anyone is free to reproduce it or disseminate it.
The author, however, does have several requests that he would like to make, although individuals are under no legal obligation to follow such requests.
• The author requests that no changes be made in the text, either additions or deletions, if it is reproduced.
• The author requests notification from individuals who intend to reproduce this document. Notification can be given to the Albert Einstein Institution (contact information appears in the beginning of this publication immediately before the Table of Contents).
• The author requests that if this document is going to be translated, great care must be taken to preserve the original meaning of the text. Some of the terms in this publication will not translate readily into other languages, as direct equivalents for “nonviolent struggle” and related terms may not be available. Thus, careful consideration must be given to how these terms and concepts are to be translated so as to be understood accurately by new readers.
For individuals and groups that wish to translate this work, the Albert Einstein Institution has developed a standard set of translation procedures that may assist them. They are as follows:
• A selection process takes place to select a translator. Candidates are evaluated on their fluency in both English and the language into which the work will be translated. Candidates are also evaluated on their general knowledge surrounding the subject area and their understanding of the terms and concepts present in the text.
• An evaluator is selected by a similar process. The evaluator’s job is to thoroughly review the translation and to provide feedback and criticism to the translator. It is often better if the translator and evaluator do not know the identities of each other.
• Once the translator and evaluator are selected, the translator submits a sample translation of two or three pages of the text, as well as a list of a number of significant key terms that are present in the text.
• The evaluator evaluates this sample translation and presents feedback to the translator.
• If major problems exist between the translator’s sample translation and the evaluator’s evaluation of that translation, then either the translator or the evaluator may be replaced, depending upon the judgement of the individual or group that is sponsoring the translation. If minor problems exist, the translator proceeds with the full translation of the text, keeping in mind the comments of the evaluator.
• Once the entire text is translated, the evaluator evaluates the entire text and gives feedback to the translator.
• Once the translator has considered this feedback and made any necessary changes, the final version of the text is complete and the translated book is ready to be printed and distributed.
For Further Reading
1. The Anti-Coup by Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution, 2003.
2. Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts by Gene Sharp. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
3. On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About the Funda- mentals by Robert L. Helvey. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institu- tion, 2002.
4. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (3 vols.) by Gene Sharp. Boston: Extending Horizons Books, Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973.
5. Self-Liberation by Gene Sharp with the assistance of Jamila Raqib. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution, 2010.
6. Social Power and Political Freedom by Gene Sharp. Boston: Extending Horizons Books, Porter Sargent Publishers, 1980.
7. There Are Realistic Alternatives by Gene Sharp. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution, 2003.
8. Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential by Gene Sharp. Boston: Extending Horizons Books, Porter Sargent Publishers, 2005.
For order information, please contact:
The Albert Einstein Institution
P.O. Box 455
East Boston, MA 02128,
USA Tel: USA +1 617-247-4882
Fax: USA +1 617-247-4035