Acts of concentration are those that assemble human bodies in geographic areas together. Acts of dispersion are nonviolent actions that do not bring bodies into the same space. Why is this important? Because when violent repression is likely to occur, using acts of dispersion can keep people safe while still carrying out effective action.
Think about the difference between filling the streets or emptying the streets. Both are forms of noncooperation and protest. Both might keep people from work, school, shopping, and regular activities. Both send a clear message to the opposition that the populace refuses to cooperate with them. But emptying the streets allows you to adjust for the likelihood of violence while still meeting those goals. If violence is unlikely, then yes, by all means, fill the streets. Just think carefully about which tactics you are using.
Acts of dispersion may include: boycotts, stay-at-homes, walk-outs, use of symbols, call-in-sicks, suspension of social affairs, rent withholding, lockout, severance of funds, refusing to pay fees, hartal (stopping work and regular affairs for a day of fasting and prayer), literature advocating resistance, hiding and escape, fasts, overloading systems and more.
Acts of concentration may include: strikes, picketing, rallies, demonstrations, marches, occupations, blockades, sit-ins, working-to-rule, slow-downs, vigils, pilgrimages, teach-ins, and many more.
Remember, there are some situations where concentration is more effective for a movement than dispersed acts. Acts of concentration can often be galvanizing, and are often very visible, which can help build support for a movement. Acts of intervention (which can require putting one’s physical body in harms way) tend to be highly disruptive to the opposition – which is why the threat of physical and violent repression increases!
Think through this aspect of your tactics as you strategize your campaign. Make wise choices, because this can become a life-or-death question. Using forethought around concentration or dispersion can contribute greatly to the long term success of your movement.
“An idea shot through the movement like a bird in flight: disperse, but move forward. The people vanished. All that remained was a rumble, an unease, a sense of a tidal wave approaching.” – The Dandelion Insurrection
What is The Dandelion Insurrection? It’s a novel about a nonviolent movement for change in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, set in a (slightly) fictionalized United States to oust a not-so-hidden corporate dictatorship. Whether or not it’s real . . . well, that all depends on you. Read the book, live the story.
You can find the book here:https://www.amazon.com/
Not a fan of mega-corporations? You can also get a copy here: http://www.riverasun.com/
Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is a trainer and social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com