From: Brian Martin, "Social defence: arguments and actions", in Shelley Anderson and Janet Larmore (eds.), Nonviolent Struggle and Social Defence (London: War Resisters' International and the Myrtle Solomon Memorial Fund Subcommittee, 1991), pp. 107-109.

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Social offence: taking the struggle to the aggressor

Question 1. Why should we just wait to be taken over?

Question 2. How can social defence work against harassing threats?

Question 3. What about the invader that takes over a remote, sparsely populated part of the country, sets up a fortified border, and gradually takes over more and more territory?

Response Rather than just planning for nonviolent resistance to an invader, there are also nonviolent ways to take the struggle to the opponent. This is one way to oppose harassment such as border violations.

Just as military defence always includes a capacity for offence, so social defence can include a capacity for offence. There are many possible techniques to oppose coups and repression in other countries.

You can Write letters This is simple but influential. Letters to repressive governments or their embassies in your country, stating your concerns, can have an impact, as demonstrated by Amnesty International's letter-writing campaigns against torture.

Letters to local newspapers are an effective way to get your message to the public. Letters to opponents of repressive regimes can provide valuable information and moral support.

You can Organise discussions This can range from informal conversations between two people to large public meetings. Discussions and meetings are vital for sharing the information, insights and skills necessary to stimulate and organise effective action.

You can Make public statements This can be done individually or as a group. You can produce and wear a T-shirt, pin up a poster, organise or sign a petition, make statements to the media and organise small rallies.

You can Support trade union actions This is of symbolic and economic importance. This action can be initiated or promoted by individuals in unions or by several unions as a group.

Trade union bans and public statements have been very important in challenging military power in the Philippines.

You can Support action through organisations Religious, sporting, artistic, women's, youth and many other groups can have an impact by distributing information to members, making public statements and instituting bans.

You can Join boycotts Don't wait for governments to do it. Your shopping dollar makes a difference. Boycotts of South African goods have helped to end apartheid.

You can Communicate through organisations Churches, diplomatic services, banks and other corporations often make regular contact across national boundaries, for example through phone calls and computer links. These channels can be used to pass other information in the course of normal business.

You can Communicate via visitors Both personal and official visitors provide another means of getting information to and from a country.

You can Refuse to be a tourist Instead, write to the foreign government saying you won't visit until democracy is restored. This has been of symbolic and economic importance in the case of Fiji.

You can Help people escape repression They need invitations, visas, money and jobs.

You can Communicate via short-wave radio Repressive governments often cut off communications, especially just after a coup, such as in East Timor after 1975, in Poland in 1981 and in China in 1989. Short-wave radio allows people to communicate directly over long distances, outside government control.

You can Join or support nonviolent intervenors For example, the organisation Peace Brigades International sponsors nonviolent activists to enter violent conflict situations, such as in Guatemala and Sri Lanka. By their very presence, they inhibit violence. They may try to mediate between opposite sides, accompany individuals threatened by violence, organise publicity, or do practical work for the local community.