When we speak of civil disobedience, we think of the “classical” actions and texts of Henry David Thoreau (“Of the Duty to Disobey the State”), of the Indian independence movement and Mahatma Gandhi, of the civil rights movement in the USA (Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man), of the 1968 revolt and the concept of “limited rule-breaking”.
We think of the missile transport blockades by the peace movement and the occupations of construction sites by the anti-nuclear movement in West Germany in the 1980s. We think of the blockades of nuclear waste transports since the 1990s, of blockades of Nazi marches, of liberations of genetically modified fields, of actions against deportation camps, of (wild) strikes and factory occupations.
We think of the actions at summit protests and BlockG8 – the mass blockades of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 and the largest actions of civil disobedience in the history of Germany in terms of the number of participants.
But we also think of the smaller actions of civil disobedience: the destruction of missiles by individual activists of the Plowshares movement, tax boycotts, land and house occupations, the support for military deserters and illegalized migrants.
We think of non-cooperation with unjust structures and non-observance of unjust laws, and the appropriation of the things people need to live with dignity.
We think of the courage that is needed to openly say “no” against injustices – and the determination needed to actively oppose them.
We think of grassroots democracy and collective self-organisation, which underlie many actions of civil disobedience and which are necessary to build alternative structures.
We think of “another world” and believe that the way to it also leads through actions of civil disobedience.