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new internationalist
issue 311 - April 1999

Super powerful - Superdove

Is it a bird ? Is it a plane ? No it's
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 nuisance –
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)

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New Internationalist issue 311 magazine cover This article is from the April 1999 issue of New Internationalist.
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