New Internationalist

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s SUPERDOVE

Issue 311

Faster than a speeding bullet More powerful than an atomic bomb SUPEDOVE’s amazing might astounds the world!!

“I’ve flown here today to reveal – for the first time ever – the secret of my strength. Most humans think that violence and war deliver results. But as a non-violent superhero, I absolutely disagree. Living in peace does not have to mean surrendering your rights or your point of view – it can mean taking action for change non-violently. And, to prove my point, I’m going to uncover my revolutionary Methods of Non-violent Action. Not everybody can pursue all of these 24 hours a day, as I do. But the feats I’m about to describe are ones that you folks CAN try at home, in the streets and at work.”

Act across borders

Support non-violent organizations worldwide. Use international organizations to put pressure on belligerent member states and lobby multinational corporations that do business with them.

Be a nuissance

Expose yourself to the elements, fast or hunger strike. Hold a sit-in, stand-in, ride-in, wade-in, or pray-in. Conduct a non-violent raid, invasion, interjection, obstruction or occupation. Overload facilities and administrative systems. Disclose identities of secret agents.

Defy authority

Withhold or withdraw allegiance. Refuse public support. Boycott government bodies, elections, government employment, government-supported institutions and withdraw from governmental educational institutions. Refuse assistance to enforcement agents. Remove signs and official documents. Refuse to accept appointed officials. Refuse to dissolve existing institutions.

Recruit government personnel

Government employees can also be superdoves by selectively refusing assistance, blocking lines of command and information, stalling and obstructing, being deliberately inefficient or by mutiny.

Disobey and disappear

Be reluctant and slow in compliance. Disobey only when not under direct supervision. Or all the time. Disguise your disobedience as ignorance. Refuse to disperse. Sit down. Do not co-operate with conscription and deportation. Hide, escape and create false identities. Practise civil disobedience to ‘illegitimate’ laws.

Live in your own world

Set up alternative social institutions. Establish new social patterns. Install alternative communication systems. Create dual sovereignty and parallel government.

Harass a bureaucrat

Haunt or taunt officials. Fraternize with them and break down personal barriers. Hold vigils outside offices and homes.

Become a pro–active introvert

Ostracize, excommunicate, interdict or socially boycott. Suspend social and sports activities, practise social disobedience and withdraw from social institutions. Don’t go to work. Collectively disappear or emigrate in protest.

Renounce and flounce

Walk out. Be silent. Renounce honours. Turn your back in protest.

Use your pocket power

Start a consumers’ boycott, renters’ and tenants’ boycott and workers’ and producers’ boycott. Get the middle-people involved; have a suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott plus a traders’ boycott. Get merchants to strike. Withdraw bank deposits. Don’t pay debts, fees, dues or assessments. Sever funds, credit or revenue. Get governments to hold a domestic embargo and blacklist traders. Conduct an international sellers’ and buyers’ embargo.

Make your own rules

Refuse to let or sell property. Refuse a government’s money. Lock-out. Refuse industrial assistance. Non-violently seize land. Defy blockades. Practise politically motivated counterfeiting. Seize assets. Dump. Selectively patronize. Run alternative markets. Use alternative transportation systems. Create alternative economic institutions.

Start a strike

Notify in advance or just hold a lightning strike. Have a slowdown strike, a working-to-rule-to-the-point-of-absurdity strike, an all-call-in-sick strike or an all-call-in-and-resign strike. Refuse to do certain duties on the job. Conduct multi-industry strikes. Hartal (close shops and businesses in protest).

Get the message

Use slogans, caricatures, and symbols. Create banners, posters and art. Distribute leaflets, pamphlets, news-papers, journals and books. Speak out on radio broadcasts and television. Write messages in the sky and on land. Display flags and symbolic colours, lights and portraits.

Be a trendsetter

Wear symbols and slogans. Disrobe or streak in protest! Deliver symbolic objects to people and organizations. Pray and worship in public. Destroy your own property to symbolize opposition. Create new signs and names for things you disapprove of. Use symbolic sounds. Conduct symbolic reclamations of people or the environment. Use rude gestures to oppose authority.

Come together

Represent a group and lobby or picket. Hold a deputation, mock award or mock election.

Be dramatic

Hold public speeches, letters, petitions and declarations by individuals and groups. Perform humorous skits and pranks. Act in plays. Play music. Shout. Sing.

Step out

March or parade. Join religious processions or pilgrimages. Organize a motorcade.

Honour the dead

Mourn the death of something you cherish, like your local forest or civil democracy. Hold mock funerals. Pay homage at burial places.

So you see, the essence of being SUPERDOVE is creativity and courage. I DARE YOU to try it!

Source: Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, 1973

This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's SUPERDOVE

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

This article was originally published in issue 311

New Internationalist Magazine issue 311
Issue 311

More articles from this issue

  • Chopstick controversy

    April 1, 1999

    China is the biggest consumer, producer and exporter of chopsticks. It fells 25 million trees a year to make 45 billion pairs. Two-thirds are used in China and few are recycled.

  • Language lessons

    April 1, 1999

    English-only policies are under fire in the US.

  • The facts on War and Peace

    April 1, 1999

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.