Zoe Broughton and Hugh Warwick (dirs), 'Nonviolence for a Change'

IssueMarch - June 2002
Review by John Courtneidge

This timely and well-produced video (with notes) is a useful resource for peace, social justice, economic and environmental activists.

Using commentaries to camera, it shows details and direct footage of a variety of recent nonviolent direct actions which have taken place in Britain, using the words and witness of the activists themselves. Footage of the essential pre-action planning and training activities serve as useful guides for others considering taking such action.

As a resource for both individuals and for groups, it covers key aspects of the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action, and invites viewers to consider, and discuss, the knotty question of where next?.

I have said, above, that this video is timely. PN readers will have seen the repressive backlash by many national governments against social protest over the past five or six years and one of the issues covered raised during the video is a recurring theme: it asks us whether violence against property (or, for me, against things as compared to humans) is justified as nonviolent activity.

It is good to see this video bringing together the witness of peace, social, economic and environmental activists. To a considerable degree, this raising of awareness is shared by a wide public constituency. In Britain all of our children are recycling activists, even our older neighbours see recycling as being “waste aware”, and few of us are unaware of climate change or global poverty.

One message I received from this video is the need, now, for nonviolent activists, and all people of goodwill, to add deepening agendas of proposition to the world-wide levels of protest: to add evolving, practical, social action to complement this emerging social process.

These activities, invariably, find common threads in their modes of activity. To see, for example on this video, young nonviolent activists demonstrating collective, collaborative and co-operative linking of arms during training is strongly symbolic of the values and action of the “better world” that these activists work towards. For us “olduns”, the delight of the older activist seeing this co-operation as, and in, direct action is one that we can all share.

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