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Opposition to statist and authoritarian forces using protests, non-cooperation and other nonviolent methods

Nonviolent resistance (NVR or nonviolent action) is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha or other methods, while being nonviolent. This type of action highlights the desires of an individual or group that feels that something needs to change to improve the current condition of the resisting person or group. It is largely but wrongly taken as synonymous with civil resistance. Each of these terms—nonviolent resistance and civil resistance—has different connotations and commitments.

Notable Topics

  • Hacktivism - Use of computers and networks to protest or to assist with other acts of resistance


Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, by Wendy McElroy, Literature of Liberty, 1981
Bibliographical essay covering the people and radical movements that influenced Tucker in his founding and publishing of Liberty, its major themes and contributors
Tucker became increasingly hostile to civil disobedience as a strategy ... Gradually, Tucker's attitude changed and he became firmly committed to the strategy of education rather than civil disobedience, especially when that disobedience was likely to guarantee martyrdom or more stringent and repressive laws. With the Chicago Haymarket incident ... and the hysterical repression of radicalism which followed it, Tucker observed first-hand the disastrous consequences of a rash act and concluded the cost outweighed any benefit. In contrast, Harman's Lucifer pursued a policy of baiting the law ...
The Colonial Venture of Ireland, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Jun 2004
Historical account of Ireland from 1840 to the first decade of the twentieth century, including the Young Irelanders, the famines, the Irish in North America, Captain Boycott, the demand for home rule, the Gaelic League and the emergence of Sinn Fein
After the Great Hunger, rents had increased ... Many tenants refused to pay the new assessments, saying the British had no right to charge any rent ... It quickly became a mass movement aimed at breaking "landlordism" by refusing to pay rent and through militant acts—the most famous of which was directed against Capt. Charles C. Boycott. [He] was an estate agent who ordered evictions. In protest, all farmhands and servants refused to labor on the Boycott estate. Shopkeepers refused to supply his household. Policemen had to deliver his mail. In despair, Boycott resigned and retired to England.
Confronting the Empire, by Justin Raimondo, 5 Jan 2007
Comments on the 2007 Iraq War troop surge, prior to its official announcement on 10 Jan, and suggests the antiwar movement camp out and protest in Washington, DC, to make the city unlivable and thus get the politicians to notice the "will of the people"
Let us take as our model the anti-Soviet revolutions of the 1990s, where mass protests brought down the sclerotic commie regimes of Eastern Europe and the USSR without so much as a shot being fired. In most cases ... the pattern was quite similar: a large group of protesters would gather in the main square of the capital city and simply remain there until the regime collapsed, apparently the victim of sheer embarrassment ... A paroxysm of national rage is just what's needed, one that will shock our rulers out of their daydreams of omnipotence and communicate the urgency of the crisis.
Garrison, William Lloyd (1805-1879), by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
The crusading editor, however, did not look to direct political action to eradicate slavery. Moral suasion and nonviolent resistance were his strategies. With agitation, he at first hoped to shame slaveholders into repentance. By early 1842, Garrison had gone so far as to denounce the U.S. Constitution for its proslavery clauses as 'a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.' He publicly burned a copy during one 4th of July celebration, proclaiming: 'So perish all compromises with tyranny!' He now believed that, if anything, the North should secede from the central government.
Related Topic: William Lloyd Garrison
Give Me Liberty [PDF], by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
The task before Americans is to end these police-controls of peaceful, productive ... citizens ... They are a printer in Texas, who printed a letter that twenty million ... have read, though it appeared in no newspaper; the farmer in Nebraska who refused to pay a fine for raising wheat and went to jail "for the principle"; ... the employer in Ohio who ... stakes the existence of his business in resistance to the Federal tyranny that would force him to reduce the wages he pays; the hundreds of thousands of men and women in all these states who are aroused and acting in defense of their rights.
Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, May 2005
Further examination of themes in "Civil Disobedience", including unjust laws, politicians and reformers, voting, when to resist the state and the influence on Gandhi
In 1890, Henry Salt published a collection of Thoreau's political essays, including "Civil Disobedience." The book profoundly influenced a young lawyer in South Africa who was protesting that government's treatment of immigrant workers from India. The lawyer was Mohandas K. Gandhi. Gandhi found in Thoreau the techniques he would use in the subsequent struggle for Indian independence ... By embracing Thoreau's message and by expanding the strategy of civil disobedience, Gandhi focused world attention on the shy Yankee philosopher who lived without real fame in his own nation, in his own time.
"If 1,000 Men Were Not to Pay Their Tax Bills This Year…", by Carl Watner, Reason, Sep 1983
Discusses the 1846 incident that led Thoreau to spend a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax and the influence of his friends Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane as well as those Thoreau influenced later
Thoreau's main point was that men and women should obey the higher law of their own consciences when it clashed with legislated law. The deliberate violation of government law was justified ... for example, when [it] called for the return of slaves to bondage. From a practical point, civil disobedience represented noncooperation with the state and served to draw the attention of good people everywhere to the evil that was being protested ... [P]hilosophers and political activists like Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King have advocated and sometimes actually used this technique.
"It's So Simple, It's Ridiculous", by Brian Doherty, Reason, May 2004
Describes the travails of Bob Schulz, the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education and other American income tax protesters
It's the first national conference of the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education, a nonprofit advocacy group Schulz founded and runs ... Its founder claims Gandhi as his influence: From him Schulz learned that to fight an unjust tyranny, you need a proactive, nonviolent mass movement, and that is what he is trying to create ... He's led marches around IRS headquarters in D.C., and he went on a brief hunger strike in 2001.
La Boétie, Étienne de (1530-1563), by Sharon Presley, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay, focusing on the message of La Boétie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude
The Discourse was unlike any existing political essay. A call for mass civil disobedience and defense of liberty, it ... dared to ask why people consent to their own enslavement by political authority. Terror and force were not enough to enforce obedience, La Boétie argued. He called for people to resist oppression not through bloodshed, but by withdrawing their consent ... [I]t was an important intellectual precursor to anarchism and civil disobedience, inspiring Tolstoy, German anarchist Gustav Landauer, and the writers of the French Revolution.
The Movement Grows, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Libertarian, 1 Jun 1969
Recounts the first three meetings of the Libertarian Forum, the student libertarian organizations at Fordham, Wesleyan, SUNY Buffalo and Stanford, and the formation of the Radical Libertarian Alliance
Our best organized group had been the Fordham Libertarian Alliance which led the sit-in at the once conservative Fordham campus demanding the ouster of the military cadre known as ROTC from the campus ... The Wesleyan group also helped lead an anti-ROTC sit-in at the Administration Building there ... Last year, Ronald Hamowy ... gave a notable speech, carried in the Stanford paper, which sharply criticized the rigidly non-violent tendency of the draft resistance movement of that era. This year, it was Ronald who suggested the sit-in tactic employed by the student rebels against military research at the Stanford Research Institute ...
The Political Thought of Étienne de La Boétie, by Murray N. Rothbard, 1975
Introduction to The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Free Life Editions, 1975), translated by Harry Kurz; summarizes the key insights of La Boétie's work
La Boétie's celebrated and creatively original call for civil disobedience, for mass nonviolent resistance as a method for the overthrow of tyranny, stems directly from the above two premises: the fact that all rule rests on the consent of the subject masses and the great value of natural liberty. For if tyranny really rests on mass consent, then the obvious means for its overthrow is simply by mass withdrawal of that consent. The weight of tyranny would quickly and suddenly collapse under such a nonviolent revolution.
The Secret State, by Carl Oglesby, 19 Dec 1991
Details various events from the dismantling of the Office of Strategic Services after World War II to the 1991 death of Danny Casolaro, which Oglesby said are reason to be worried about "a secret and invisible state within the public state"
The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. led at once to massive urban riots, the breakup of the nonviolent civil rights movement and in ten years to a congressional investigation that found evidence of conspiracy ... The assassinations of King and the second Kennedy were body blows to the civil rights and the antiwar movements and drove nails in the coffins of those who were still committed to the principles of democratic nonviolent struggle. From now on there would be virtually nothing left of the organized movement except the Black Panthers and the Weathermen, both committed to violence ...
Thoreau and "Resistance to Civil Government", by Gary M. Galles, Mises Daily, 19 Sep 2002
Presents several excerpts from "Resistance to Civil Government" together with a short introduction and concluding reflexion
While far less known than Walden, 'Civil Disobedience' has arguably had much farther reaching effects. It helped inspire the Danish resistance in World War II, Gandhi in India, and tax resistors and civic protestors of all types for many decades. And it still has much to say to us today ...
Related Topic: Henry David Thoreau
Without Firing A Single Shot: Voluntaryist Resistance and Societal Defense [PDF], by Carl Watner, The Voluntaryist, 2006
Comprehensive historical review of nonviolent means of defending a society from foreign forces
The term 'people power' is part of a surprisingly long and robust tradition of waging social conflict by nonviolent means. ... Those who have studied the history of nonviolent movements have cataloged a surprisingly long list of examples, often beginning with the American colonial boycotts, tax refusal, and acts of civil disobedience ...


George H. Smith on the Moral Right to Resist Authority, by George H. Smith, 1996
Talk given at conference of the International Society of Individual Liberty

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nonviolent resistance" as of 12 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.