Direct action - definition

1. Direct action defined as an anarchist ideal principle.

At the second Nordic IFA/IAF congress in Oslo 1983, the following resolution was unanimously decided upon, regarding direct action as an anarchist ideal principle:

Direct action and indirect action. What is really that?

Direct action is the main strategy of anarchism.

An act is a direct action if:

- all persons who are direct, i.e. considerably and concretly affected by the matter (in question) decide on equal footing ;

- these persons themselves put the decisions into practice, and take the responsability of realizing the goal.

Both conditions must be satisfied. A direct action is therefore a direct democratic action. A direct action is then an action direct on the matter by those who are directly affected.

If the decisions are made by others than, or by only some of those who are directly affected by the matter in question, the action is not direct. All or most of those who are directly affected, will then be excluded from, or develop an indirect relation to the management of the action. That is a sort of indirect action.

If the matter in question is not approached directly, and the action is based on the purpose being realized by others than those who are are directly affected, the action is also indirect. In other words: if someone makes decisions which affect others direct and/or others than those affected are responible for realizing the purpose of the action, the action is indirect.

2. Direct action in practice.

a) If both conditions in 1. are based on general consent we have the ideal anarchist situation or close to, 90% - 100% flat organization. There are in practice many types of actions that are compatible with 1. If there is no general consent, Libertarian Human Rights for the minority must be secured, etc., i.e. being within the framework of Real Democracy , a bottom - up approach.

b) Direct action may also be used to stop repression and exploitation, i.e. against archs economically and/or political/administrative, a bottom - up approach. There are in practice many types of actions that are compatible with this.

c) In practice there exist degrees of direct vs indirect action, and an action must be significantly direct, i.e. equal to or more than 50% direct, to be accounted for as a direct action. Thus there must be a significant approximation to the ideal anarchist principle of direct action, see 1., otherways it is indirect action, i.e. significantly. As mentioned this means a bottom - up approach, influence from the people seen as class in contrast to superiors in rank and/or income - and upwards, significantly, and not the other way around, a top - down approach, significantly. Non-libertarian actions, say, ochlarchical, are clearly not direct actions, but a top - down approach..

d) A direct action may be non-violent or violent, but anarchists only accept defensive violence, proportionate in self defense. Other violent actions are ochlarchy and ochlarchist, and not anarchistic. See also Antimilitarism - an anarchist approach, IJA 2 (38), and the Anarchist International Security Council, AISC, for direct action in self-defense matters. Terrorism is never a direct action, it is clearly a top - down approach. But sabotage and even killing in pure self defense of aggressive, attacking murderer(s), alone or with allies - if there is no other option - are direct action, a significant bottom - up approach. Terrorism is a form of ochlarchy, and as indicated very much a top - down approach, it is ultra-authoritarian and extremist, and not anarchist. Violence is an evil that should be used as little as possible.

e) Examples of non-violent direct actions are non-ochlarchical: e-mail campaigns, use of Websites, petitions and similar, also with lists of people signing up for the resolution, dialog, direct negotiation and arbitration, leaflets and books etc., stands, street demonstrations, rallies, co-operatives, self-employed and networks of self-employed, strikes - also general strike and workplace occupation strike, as long the strike does not go against life or health, boycott, sitins and blockades and sabotage in the meaning of working slow, referendum and direct democracy in general. See also point 2. a) and b).

Political or industrial direct actions are intended to have an immediate and noticeable effect that will influence a political administration or an employer. Anarchists' political/administrative and economic direct actions are actions for changing the societal organization in horizontal direction, and thus not violent attacks on persons and things, which are a top - down approach - economically and /or political/administrative [except in self-defense matters, see above].

This is the only strategy that works, there must be consistency between aims and means. The real aim is in general the consequences of the use of the means involved, not some ideological manifesto with good intentions, if any. Attacking persons and things will in general not change the societal organization in horizontal direction. In general, even if you kill the top boss, he or she will always be replaced by a new one on the top, perhaps even more authoritarian, and there is no shift of the societal organization in horizontal direction. Thus it is not anarchistic.

Resolution, decided with general consent, by:
The International Anarchist Congress
The 11th Anarchist Biennial 27-28.11.2010
International Congress-Seminar on Anarchism
The AI/IFA network represents more than 50 000 anarchist world wide
To see the Website of the Congress - Click here!

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