• Five examples of civil disobedience to remember

Richard Seymour wrote a handy list of civil disobedience examples that illustrate the variety of tactics used by activists to make political gains. The entire article is here, but here’s the short list:

1. The Salt March

Gandhi and his supporters began a long, expanding march to produce salt and transport it without paying the British colonial tax. The campaign was inspiring for those taking part, since many had never been organised before. It also announced to the world that the Indian masses were a serious force, and that the British authorities had been forced to negotiate with their leader. It also stimulated further waves of civil disobedience.

2. Extremadura campaign

In 1936 Spain, unemployed peasants began to occupy large estates, starting with some 3,000 farms in the Badajoz province. The government, faced with popular unrest, legalised the early occupations. Hundreds of thousands of peasants were re-settled.

3. Dismantling unwanted enterprises

McDonald’s tried to open a branch in the French town of Millau in 1999. José Bové, a militant farmer and member of the agricultural union Confédération Paysanne, arrived with supporters and began to dismantle the branch, brick by brick.These actions brought to the fore not just Bové, but an entire layer of agricultural activists.

4. Flying pickets and sit-ins

During the Great Depression,”flying squadrons” of pickets marched from town to town during the textile strike of 1934, urging workers to walk out. This was particularly important because these workers were often distributed in small production facilities, and had little industrial muscle by themselves.

5. Poll tax non-payment

In the UK in 1990s, groups of people protested against the poll tax - a tax introduced by the Thatcher government which was seen as being unfair by many.A nationwide network of campaigns and non-payment unions developed. These groups brought people who were ordinarily isolated, or not politically active, together. Their strategy was to resist at every step: refusing to register for the tax, contesting liability orders from the council (thus clogging up the legal system) and finally refusing payment. This was highly effective.

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