taking decisions together – acting jointly
Within the coalition NATO-ZU (Shut down NATO) we agreed guidelines for the actions of civil disobedience. These guidelines spell out the objectives, the basis of nonviolence and the principles of decision making; they serve as the foundation of our action and are to be adhered to.
Within our nonviolent action, we want to act jointly according to the action guidelines below. This does not mean that everyone has to accept these guidelines as their own world view – they are only an agreement for this action.
Nonviolent action is used in situations where human and citizens rights are violated. This are social conditions, in which human life is endangered, oppressed or destroyed; in which human beings are deprived of their ability to express themselves, and injustice and discrimination are being constituted. NATO policy of war contributes to this destruction of the foundations of life (-> see the call Shut down NATO). Violence creates new injuries and injustice, and escalates existing conflicts. By using the varied methods of nonviolent action we confront this policy, make public the unjust conditions and show the interests behind NATO's strategies.
2. No use of violence
The basic principle is the respect for the person and the dignity of human beings. This means both, the exclusion of violence against persons, but also restraint from treating the opponent in a insulting or discriminating way. The distinction between the person and the role a person plays allows to accept the political opponent as a human being and to fight him/her in a dialog in his/her role as a representative of the system we criticise. During our action we do not carry any kind of weapon.
3. Highest possible safety for everyone involved
3.1 Affinity groups
To achieve the highest possible safety for everyone involved, we recommend to organise yourself in an affinity group during a direct action. These are groups of 8-10 persons which know each other and are aware of each others limits, fears and objectives. This allows for a direct contact with like-minded persons during the action, and prevents that individuals get lost in the mass of people. It also allows to watch out for each other. The structure of affinity groups is also important in order to take part in the consensus decision making in the spokescouncil (-> 4. Grass roots democratic structure).
3.2 No drugs or alcohol
In order to not put ourselves or other at risk because careless behaviour or limited awareness during an action, we refrain from using substances that can alter our senses before and during the action. This is for the benefit of the safety of individuals and the entire action group.
4. Grass roots democratic structure
Part of the character of an action is to act in solidarity and respecting each other as equals. I.e. all members of the group have the same chance to take part in decision making processes.
We will attempt to take decisions by consensus, which means to take decisions which everyone in an affinity group can accept. In this, there is no room for majorities or minorities (such as in parliament). It is not about the optimum decision for each one of is, but about a solution which allows us to be able to act as a group, and in which everyone takes the same responsibility for the decision. Consensus can also mean, that different actions take place, if we cannot agree on one action.
For actions in large groups it has proven to be practical to work with a council system. Each affinity group (see below) send one representative to the spokescouncil. The spokescouncil is the body in which ideas, proposals for action and organisational issues are presented.
The “classical” model of a spokescouncil does not allow for decisions, which means that the spokescouncil serves to exchange informationen and opinions, and decisions are then being made in the affinity groups. In case of time pressure everyone decides together whether some questions should be decided in the spokescouncil.
One of the characteristics of nonviolent action is that action plans are announced publicly in advance. Nonviolent action is a public action which also provides the opportunity to express our position. When deciding for a nonviolent action of civil disobedience (i.e. a blockade) everyone should decide for him/herself, if s/he is willing to carry the personal consequences of such an action (i.e. the risk of injury, arrest, prosecution).
6. A constructive counter-proposal
Nonviolent action includes a constructive element side by side with the opposition, a constructive counter-proposal to the policy we criticise. Part of the political alternatives to the military policy of NATO are means and procedures of civilian settlement of conflicts with the long-term objective of a just and democratically organised world. In relation to our action group, this is the practised democratic working together (-> Item 4). Slogan: the means are the end.