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(required for global systems change[s] -see evidence base. Example: Greenpeace)
(required for global systems change[s] -see evidence base. Examples: Extinction Rebellion / MLK) See also Levels and types of non-violent civil disobedience
(worth considering in context -see evidence base. Examples: pulling down statues of racists [ref: 2020] / disabling fracking equipment)
(may have occasional uses -see evidence base. Examples: Black Panthers / EZLN)
Please note, there is an ongoing discussion on Activist Handbook of whether violence as a strategic activist approach or tactic should be considered at all, or even acknowledged / discussed as a historic reality. To contribute to this discussion please use the comments section on this page.
(‘Building the new society in the shell of the old, without permission’. Could include elements of 1-5, depending on application. Examples: EZLN / Rojava Revolution [Democratic Confederation of Northern Syria])
(adapted from Gene Sharp, ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’ -Sharp is considered by some to be the ‘godfather’ of civil disobedience.)
A strategy is an overall plan, including a carefully arranged set of tactics, to achieve a strategic aim. Tactical goals should incrementally achieve the strategic aim.
Be realistic. What can you reasonably achieve? Is your Grand Strategic Aim to get a piece of legislation changed, or to bring down / change a whole government? Or is it ‘systems change(s)’ Which systems? How? Consider starting with a smaller GSA.
A campaign is subservient to the overall Grand Strategy (unless your GSA is small enough that you only have one campaign). Ideally, campaign strategies will define campaigns in series, gradually escalating in impact, until the GSA is achieved.
Tactics are subservient to campaign strategies and Grand Strategies. See ‘Choosing your tactics’ below. Tactics must be relevant to achieving strategies. Tactics without encompassing strategies to direct them (overall plans including collections of tactics towards a strategic aim) are aimless and can even be counter-productive.
“In the world of give and take, tactics is the art of how to take and how to give… how the Have-nots can take power away from the Haves”
- Saul Alinsky (Rules for Radicals, p.92)
This section was based on the chapter 'Using your power' in Youth Activist Toolkit, by Advocates for Youth (2019). Insight from Gene Sharp has also been added.
Here are some quick steps to help you decide what tactics to use. These steps can also apply to strategies, i.e. overall plans that include collections of tactics:
In his oft-cited book Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky includes a chapter on tactics containing 13 rules for choosing your tactics.