Monday, December 03, 2007

Resistance to oppression

"If the essence of totalitarianism is its attempted penetration of the innermost recesses of life, then resistance can begin in those same recesses – in a private conversation, in a letter, in disobedience of a regulation at work, even in the invisible realms of a person’s thoughts". (Schell, The unconquerable world, Penguin Books, p. 199)
Nonviolent resistance is not only mass demonstrations, strikes, open protests, and the like as practised by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others and as theoretically developped by Gene Sharp. Nonviolent resistance is also living your own way of life, doing what you want to do in the way you want to do it: doing things not because the regime or the dictator prescribes them, but because you think that it is the right way of doing. It is what Havel called "living in truth". These (the open protests and "living in truth") are the two main ways of nonviolent resistance. The first means resistance on the political level, the second on the level of daily life. Both are important and both have to be applied according to the circumstances. Sometimes open resistance is better, sometimes hidden resistance is better, and sometimes both can be applied at the same time.

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