When we think of social change, we often think of protests, campaigns, and direct action. These are all vital ways to say “no!” to destructive practices and institutions.
However, it's equally important that we are building concrete alternatives, where we say “yes!” to the vision of the world we want. Built on the same power analysis as our nonviolent direct action, “constructive programmes” can be powerful acts of resistance. Constructive programmes demonstrate the radical alternatives – to militarism and the causes of climate change, for example – that our world desperately needs, and puts them into practise in the here and now.
For Gandhi, a nonviolent revolution without a constructive programme was impossible; direct action and social change had to be embedded in empowered and vibrant communities that were bringing their own radical and egalitarian visions of life. Along with protest and direct action, he called for communities in India to start building the world they wanted to see, to build a new world in the shell of the old.
War Resisters' International is a global network of pacifists and antimilitarist organisations working for a world without war. In the past, we have created resources for nonviolent activists to use in organizing actions and campaigns. Our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns is now published in over ten languages. We are now beginning to develop a new book, called "New Worlds in Old Shells". New Worlds in Old Shells will explore the means and methods of constructive resistance, based on the stories and experiences of communities involved in such social change.
In preparing this resource, WRI's Empowering Nonviolence Programme is discovering that communities around the world have been developing similar approaches: women's textile projects in Turkey that focus on empowerment, community land trusts in the USA, the Via Campesina movement, and the radical housing coop movement in the UK are just a handful of examples.
We are writing to ask: Are you or your organisation involved in such approaches to social change, or interested in exploring their development with us? If so there are a number of ways of getting involved:
For more information on this project, please email Andrew Metheven at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and interest!