Activist event Resistance research

A proposal for the largest civil disobedience action in world history

On Friday June 5, Stellan Vinthagen, the Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance and Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was invited to give a talk for Greenpeace via a streamed meeting with the office of Greenpeace Sweden Nordic, in Stockholm. The talk was on “Civil Disobedience, Mass Action and Climate Justice” and focused on the problems and possibilities of doing nonviolent civil disobedience in mass mobilizations. Based on existing research Stellan outlined factors that facilitate mass mobilizations, the risks when organizing mass actions, as well as the experiences of and methods applied by those that have done civil disobedience with thousands of participants. For each of the different problems presented, at least one possibility was suggested. Stellan used the opportunity to also give a specific proposal: that some world leading organization with enough legitimacy and capacity needs to take the initiative to organize the world’s largest civil disobedience action in connection to the COP21 conference in Paris. A way to do this is modeled after how the Catholic Pope is elected – the, hopefully, hundreds of thousands of activists should encircle the conference building and “lock-in” the delegates, until they find an agreement on climate justice that the world needs. The idea is to do the opposite to what activists did in Seattle 1999 at the World Trade Organisation summit. Instead of disturbing the meeting of the representatives of the world, as in Seattle, the idea is that the people shall be waiting outside, gathering on the streets and refusing to let any of the delegates out (but of course letting food inside when needed) until the politicians do their job and act as the representatives of the people and the world by making sure to stop the climate change. After the talk, there was a discussion with the participants, and those that attended the After Work session at the office in Stockholm continued with discussions for several hours. The talk exists online with open access for all interested through Greenpeace Greenwire, or on YouTube:

By vinthagen

Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance, and Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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