This is the first installment in a multi-part series. Browse the Protective Use of Force index to read more.

Via Deep Green Resistance UK

2016 is predicted to be the hottest year since records began and environmental devastation is increasing. With so little time left and the whole world at stake, are the radical changes to halt climate change and ecocide being made? The simple answer is no, based on species extinction and the continuing global extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

Resistance movements need to be strategic to be effective. This involves selecting appropriate tactics to use and if a tactic is not effective, then choosing another. Nonviolent direct action (NVDA) is important to our struggle to stop environmental destruction, but it is only one tactic. I have found discussions about the appropriate uses of nonviolence, force, and violence unclear and often confusing, which led me to research the topic in greater depth.

Within activist communities and broader society, there are two widely-held perspectives on nonviolence. Some choose NVDA for strategic reasons. They may also see the importance of using force in some situations, if appropriate, but may or may not ever use force themselves. There are also those people who oppose the use of force no matter the circumstances. Any criticism in my articles is directed at the latter perspective as those who hold this perspective routinely mandate nonviolence across whole movements, and categorically reject the use of force or militant resistance, even in self defense. I will refer to people from this perspective as “nonviolence fundamentalists.”

In future articles I will explore what thinkers of the last 150 years have about these ideas, starting with violence. For now I will list those on either side of the debate that I have studied. There are of course others.

Nonviolence fundamentalists include:

Those that support NVDA and the use of force/militant resistance include:

I would also add that most of the people that have written about violence, nonviolence, the use of force or militant resistance are men. I extensively researched women’s contribution to these topics and included everything relevant, without shoehorning them in to appear right on. Women have been very active in struggles using force and nonviolence tactics but it is mainly men that have written about it. This is consistent with men’s dominance in most areas of life. If I have overlooked anyone, I apologise and do set me straight. Some of the amazing women that have been so important to past struggles include Harriet Tubman, Blanca Canales, Angela Davis, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Ulrike Meinhof, Ida Wells-Barnett, and Sojourner Truth.

Featured image: Nonviolent Direct Action at Livermore Lab, byJames Heddle/EON

This is the first installment in a multi-part series. Browse the Protective Use of Force index to read more.

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