F: Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice
People Power and Protest since 1945: a bibliography of nonviolent action
compiled by April Carter, Howard Clark and Michael Randle
click here for details of how to buy the printed version
Section F: Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice
- F. Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice
- 1. Demands for Land Reform and Land Occupations
- 2. Protests by the Unemployed
- 3. Factory Occupations
- 4. Significant Strikes
- 5. Campaigns by Homeless (Squatting)
- 6. Protests Against Unjust Taxes and Rent Strikes
A significant part of the repertoire of nonviolent direct action derives from movements for economic justice in the past. Strikes and boycotts of all kinds arose out of the evolving trade union movement. Peasant farmers have frequently attempted to occupy and cultivate land which is unused or owned by wealthy landowners. Refusal to pay exorbitant rents has been a tactic of both the rural and urban poor.
Since the 1990s there have been numerous nonviolent campaigns against forms of economic injustice, the dominant role of multinational corporations, and against global neoliberal policies such as privatization – promoted by international bodies such as the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization and regional groupings like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These are listed under G.7.a and G.7.b.
So this section focuses primarily on the period 1945-1990, though it includes land occupations which have occurred more recently.
In Europe peasant seizure of land has often been part of a wider revolutionary upsurge, as in France in 1787 and Russia in 1905 and 1917 and Italy 1919. But there is a long history in Latin America of peasants seizing land (with varying degrees of nonviolence or violence) from absentee or large landowners and planting crops on the land. Sometimes land seizures were retrospectively legalized by government laws or by sale of the land, or even encouraged by leftist politicians. Peasant leagues in Colombia in the 1930s created an independent communist republic in the mountains based on land seized. In the 1950s and 1960s peasants seized land in Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela.
A major movement of the landless in Brazil, Movimento Sem Terra, formally created in 1984, arose out of the industrial and rural militancy of the late 1970s, when there were many land seizures. Sem Terra has continued to organize the landless and unemployed in seizing land from large landowners and multinationals, and in setting up cooperative farms. Their work has also extended to organizing slum dwellers on the outskirts Rio de Janeiro and other large cities in the southeast, providing them with allotments.
583. Branford, Sue and Oriel Glock, The Last Frontier: Fighting Over Land in the Amazon, London, Zed Press, 1985, pp. 336.
584. Branford, Sue and Jan Rocha, Cutting the Wire, London, Latin American Bureau, 2002, pp. 305.
Well researched account of Movimento Sem Terra.
585. Hammond, J.L. ‘Law and disorder: The Brazilian Landless Farmworkers’ movement’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, vol. 18 no. 4 (1991), pp. 269-89. See also Hammond, John L, ‘The MST and the media: competing images of the Brazilian Landless Farmworkers’ Movement’, Latin American Politics and Society, vol. 46, no.4. (Winter, 2004), pp. 61-90.
586. Hurley, Judith, ‘Brazil: A troubled journey to the promised land’ in McManus and Schlabach (eds.), Relentless Persistence, pp. 174-96 (D.IV. Introduction).
The author, who founded a US support group for the landless, provides excerpts from her journal of visiting sites of the land struggle in 1987. She notes intensified confrontations in 1980s between the landed elite and the landless, resorting to lawsuits, demonstrations, fasts, vigils, marches, funerals and above all land occupation.
587. Kingsnorth, Paul, One No, Many Yeses, London, Faber, 2003, pp. 355.
Chapter 7 ‘ Land and freedom’, pp. 241-71, is lively account of visit to Sem Terra projects in Brazil and provides some wider analysis.
588. Schlabach, Gerald, ‘The nonviolence of desperation: Peasant land action in Honduras’ in McManus and Schlabach (eds.), Relentless Persistence, pp. 48-62 (D.IV. Introduction).
Examines 200 peasant occupations in 1972 (assertion of a tradition of ‘les recuperaciones’) in context of developing forms of protest since the ‘great strike’ against United Fruit Company in 1954.
589. Stedile, Joao Pedro, ‘Landless battalions’, New Left Review, no 15 (May/June 2002), pp. 77-104.
An account by a participant in the evolution of land seizures and how Sem Terra in Brazil eventually achieved legal possession.
590.‘Uncapping the bottle: Father Andres Giron and the clamor for land in Guatelama: Interview’, in McManus and Schlabach (eds.), Relentless Persistence, pp. 225-36 (D.IV. Introduction).
Examines role of this radical Catholic priest in a campaign for land reform. Describes his 100-mile ‘hunger march’ in 1986 to demand land, and his 1987 fast and occupation of the square in front of the National Palace; but queries his emphasis on buying land as a solution.
591. Urrutia Montoya, Miguel, The Development of the Colombian Labor Movement, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1969, pp. 297.
Includes material on land seizures, though uses the term ‘violent’ ambiguously to include forms of direct action.
592. Warriner, Doreen, Land Reform in Principle and Practice, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1969, pp. 457.
An overview of land reform assessing political, economic and ideological factors and looking at land reform in practice in particular countries. Much of the emphasis is on government reforms and economic outcomes. But chapter 7 ‘The Latin American background’ examines the role of revolutions in Mexico and Cuba, and action by farm worker syndicates, including land invasions, in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela. Chapter 10 looks at the central role of the trade union movement in Venezuela in land reform, and the history and politics of the movement.
Protests by the unemployed have considerable resonance in Britain, where demonstrators and commentators still refer back to the ‘hunger marches’ of the 1930s. In the USA during the great depression the unemployed created a tent
city in Washington to dramatize their desperate situation. Other protesters around the world have attempted to find more direct answers to their plight. Movements by both the rural and urban unemployed have included seizing land to live on and grow food; workers thrown out of their jobs have occupied and begun to run their factories; and since the unemployed are quite often homeless they also join campaigns to occupy empty buildings.
One unusual tactic, associated with the prominent nonviolent activist Danilo Dolci, were the ‘reverse strikes’ organized in Sicily in December 1955-February 1956 as part of a series of campaigns between 1952 and 1965 to relieve the extreme poverty. When unemployed men started to repair a road outside Partinico, appealing to their constitutional right and duty to work, the police sent them home, and banned a second attempt to repair the road, arresting Dolci and six others.
593. Dolci, Danilo, The Outlaws of Partinico, London, Macgibbon and Kee, 1960, pp. 316.
Describes context of his campaigns – not much detail on the campaigns themselves.
594. McNeish, James, Fire Under the Ashes: The Life of Danilo Dolci, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1965, pp. 256.
Various forms of worker control or worker ownership have at times been introduced by governments or philanthropic industrialists, negotiated between unions and management if a business is failing, or created as experiments in cooperation and worker democracy. This section looks only at some examples of laid-off workers taking direct action leading to worker control, though government intervention and negotiations with former management may arise out of the workers’ actions. Recent factory occupations in Argentina, as part of the popular response to the collapse of the Argentinian economy in November 2001, come under G.7.b.ii.
595. Coates, Ken, Work-ins, Sit-ins and Industrial Democracy, Nottingham, Spokesman Books, 1981, pp. 175.
An account of sit-ins or work-ins to prevent factory closure in Britain in early 1970s and an examination of subsequent developments.
596. Greenwood, J., Worker Sit-ins and Job Protection: Case Studies of Union Intervention, Farnborough, Gower Press, 1977, pp. 121.
Discusses sit-down strikes in Britain, the occupation of the Lip factory in France in 1973 and West European sit-ins and work-ins protesting against redundancy.
597. Lip and the Self-Managed Counter-Revolution, Negation no. 3, Detroit, Black and Red, 1975, pp. 91.
The takeover of the Lip watch making factory in 1973 by workers who had been laid off became a noted example of worker struggle.
598. McGill, Jack, Crisis on the Clyde: The Story of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, London, Davis-Poynter, 1973, pp. 143.
See also: ‘Forging links in Ozarow’ in Notes from Nowhere (ed.), We Are Everywhere,
pp. 450-55, on Polish worker occupation to prevent closure of factory in 2000, supported by local community and anarchist groups (see G.7.a.).
The labour movement has evolve a wide range of tactics associated with strikes to meet specific circumstances – for a detailed breakdown see Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part Two (A.1.). In countries where trade unions are well established strikes have continued to be a useful tactic, but often as an adjunct of bargaining. Many economic strikes since 1945 have not therefore been particularly notable.
This bibliography selectively covers one strike by the poor and underprivileged seeking union organization and minimum economic justice: the California grape pickers. It also deals with one strike with major political implications: the 1984-5 miners’ strike in Britain. (Strikes by women opposing discrimination and demanding equal pay are covered under ‘Feminism’, Section G.4. below)
Since the 1980s the decline in union power, in parallel with the triumph of a neoliberal global economy, and the evolution of new forms of unionism, has meant that labour protest even in the west is often becoming part of a fundamental struggle for basic social justice, and strikes against sweatshop conditions have become widespread (see section G.7.).
This important struggle for fair pay and the right to union organization was led by Cesar Chavez, who adhered to a philosophy of nonviolence. It was supported by a wider boycott of Californian grapes.
599. Day, Mark, Forty Acres: Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers, New York, Praeger, 1971, pp. 222
600. Dunne, John Gregory, Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike, New York, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1967, pp. 202
601. Jenkins, J. Craig, The Politics of Insurgency: The Farm Worker Movement in the 1960s, New York, Columbia University Press, 1985, pp. 131-74.
602. Levy, Jacques, Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa, New York, W.W. Norton, 1975, pp.
603. Matthiesen, Peter, Sal Si Puedes: Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution, New York, Random House, 1969, pp. 372
604. Taylor, Ronald B., Chavez and the Farm Workers, Boston, Beacon Press, 1975, pp. 342. Includes assessment of impact of grape pickers’ strike on immigrant labour in other industries.
See also Sharp et al, Waging Nonviolent Struggle, pp. 173-87 (A.1.).
The miners’ strike to defend their industry against extensive pit closures was also a highly politicized conflict between the National Union of Mineworkers (under the leadership of Arthur Scargill) and the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher. Scargill hoped to repeat the success of the NUM in the early 1970s in undermining the then Conservative government, and Mrs Thatcher was determined to force the miners into surrender. The strike, which the miners eventually lost, saw a government assault on civil liberties and high levels of tension between the police and strikers, and was a turning point in industrial relations in Britain. Its significance is suggested by the large number
of books and pamphlets it generated, some of which are listed below.
One unexpected, and more positive, by-product was that the strike mobilized many women in the mining communities (not previously active in industrial disputes) to organize support for the strikers (see section G.4).
605. Beynon, Huw (ed.), Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike, London, Verso, 1985, pp. 280.
606. Callinicos, Alex and Mike Simons, The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons, London, Socialist Worker, 1985, pp. 256.
607. Goodman, Geoffrey, The Miners’ Strike, London, Pluto, 1985, pp. 224.
608. McCabe, Sarah et al, The Police, Public Order and Civil Liberties: Legacies of the Miners’ Strike, London, Routledge, 1988, pp. 209.
609. Milne, Seumas, The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners, London, Verso, 1994, and Pan, 1995, pp. 511
610. Samuel, Raphael (ed.), The Enemy Within: Pit Villages and the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986, pp. 260.
611. Saunders, Jonathan, Across Frontiers: International Support for the Miners’Strike, London, Canary, 1989, pp. 288.
612. Wilsher, Peter, Donald MacIntyre and Michael Jones with the Sunday Times Insight Team, Strike: Thatcher, Scargill and the Miners, Sevenoaks, Coronet, 1985, pp. 304.
613. Winterton, Jonathan and Ruth Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict: The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike in Yorkshire, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1989, pp. 360.
There have been two types of movement to occupy empty buildings, action by the homeless to find somewhere to live; and counter-cultural movements to create new social spaces and new kinds of society in miniature in parts of modern cities, as for example the Kabouters (successors to the Dutch Provos) did in the 1970s, and groups in Italy are doing today.
614. Anarchy, no. 102 (vol. 9 no. 8), (August 1969). Issue on ‘Squatters’, on London
Campaign starting in 1968, including extract from Kropotkin on ‘The expropriation of dwellings’.
615. Bailey, Ron, The Squatters, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1973, pp. 206.
Covers the London Squatters Campaign 1968-1971, but notes background of the mass movement by homeless people in Britain to occupy military bases, and later luxury flats, in 1945-46.
616. Klein, Naomi, ‘Italy’s Social Centres’ in Fences and Windows, London, Flamingo, 2002, pp. 224-27.
617. Ward, Colin, Housing: An Anarchist Approach, London, Freedom Press, 1976, pp. 182. Ward,
a leading anarchist theorist and expert on housing, examines the post-1945 British squatters movement (pp. 13-27) and assesses the revival of squatting between 1968 and early 1970s.
Opposition to taxes deemed unjust or illegitimate has long been part of popular resistance, as in the preludes to the English Civil War and the American Revolution. Taxes may also be withheld to demonstrate opposition to particular policies, such as war (see section G.3). Sometimes withholding taxes is part of a wider revolt against state policies, as in the Poujadist movement among small farmers in France in the 1950s. At other times the imposition of a tax may be the spark for a movement of resistance, as in the case of Mrs Thatcher’s introduction of a ‘poll tax’ – a new flat rate local government tax on all individuals regardless of their income.
618. Bagguley, Paul, The Mobilization of Anti-Poll Tax Protest in Leeds, University of Leeds, School of Sociology and Social Policy, 1995.
619. Bagguley, P., ‘Protest, poverty and power: A case study of the anti-poll tax movement’, Sociological Review, vol. 43 (1995), pp. 693-719.
620. Haringey Solidarity Group, The Poll Tax Rebellion in Haringey, London, Haringey Solidarity Group, 1999, pp. 30.
621. Ramsey Kanaan interviewed by David Solnit, ‘How one small anarchist group toppled the Thatcher Government’, in David Solnit (ed.), Globalize Liberation: San Francisco, City Lights, 2004, pp. 397-410. (See G.7.a).
Discusses how the anti-poll tax campaign spread beyond its origins in Edinburgh to the rest of Britain, and describes its main tactics.
The campaign of direct action in autumn 2000 against fuel price rises, which spread from France and other European countries, was in Britain focused partly on government taxes on fuel. Whilst poor farmers were active in these protests, direct action seemed to represent the interests of trucking businesses and even the oil companies themselves, and the blockading of fuel depots with lorries was an aggressive form of direct action which threatened the British economy.
622. Lyons, Glenn and Kiron Chatterjee (eds.), Transport Lessons from the Fuel Tax Protests of 2000, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2002, pp. 338.
Includes material on the direct action protests as well as broader issues.
623.Brill, Harry, Why Organizers Fail: The Story of a Rent Strike, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1971, pp. 192.
Examines community action by the poor in Californian studies of urbanization and the environment series.
624. Lipsky, M. Protest in City Politics, Chicago, Rand McNally, 1970, pp. 214.
625. Moorhouse, Bert, Mary Wilson and Chris Chamberlain, ‘Rent strikes – direct action
and the working class’, in Ralph Miliband and John Saville (eds.), The Socialist Register, 1972, London, Merlin Press, 1972.
Starts with an account of the major rent strikes on the Clyde in 1915 and 1921-26, but includes materials on rent strikes in London, 1959-61 and 1968-70 and their implications.
Click on table of contents below to continue browsing the bibliography
- Foreword by Paul Rogers, Acknowledgements, About the Compilers
- General Introduction
- A. Introduction to Nonviolent Action
- B. Elements of Nonviolent Resistance to Colonialism After 1945
- C. Campaigns for Rights and Democracy in Communist Regimes
- D. Resisting Rigged Elections, Oppression, Dictatorship, or Military Rule
- E. Campaigns for Cultural, Civil and Political Rights
- F. Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice
- G. Nonviolent Action in Social Movements
- H. Bibliographies, Websites and Library Resources
- I. Preparation and Training for Nonviolent Action
- Author and subject index to bibliography - omitted from html version but included in pdf
- Supplement to bibliography, March 2007
- Ongoing online updates to bibliography