Nonviolent action as Political ‘Jiu-Jitsu’

Political jiu-jitsu uses our opponent’s repression to undermine their sources of power while building our own. Jiu-jitsu is a martial art that uses the attacker’s force against themselves, which means the attacker’s greater size and strength become a disadvantage to them.

Drawing of Gandhi and a quote next to it

Political jiu-jitsu operates on the same principle and occurs when we bravely, nonviolently, and lovingly endure unjust and/or violent repression.

Cruelties committed against loving and kind people appear reprehensible, inhuman, and monstrous to most people. Outraged by our opponent’s repressive attacks, those who learn of it withdraw their support from the violent opposition, and shift it towards the campaigners. This helps us create mass movements of nonviolent noncooperation with those who do harm.

The theory of nonviolent action is based on the view that political power can be controlled via its sources.

“Subjects may disobey laws they reject. Workers may halt work, which may paralyze the economy. The bureaucracy may refuse to carry out instructions. Soldiers and police may become lax in inflicting repression; they may even mutiny. When all these events happen simultaneously, the man who has been ‘ruler’ becomes just another man.”

–Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973)

Lot more food for thought and materials on noviolent action and political jiu-jitsu