Talk:Direct action

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Added a globalize tag to the article, as I feel it is presently too focused upon the minor scale antics of mainly US-focused leftwing political groups. I've updated the article with some thumbnail pics alluding to major historical events, such as Tienanmen Square and the Berlin Wall, but the text of the article needs wholesale rewriting.--Froglich (talk) 22:52, 21 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Froglich, have any other source suggestions? Looks like the article has picked up more non-US content over the years and I just ordered an overview chapter from which I can add, but do you have sources that cover more of the area you wanted to see represented? czar 16:55, 31 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I moved blockades from the list of types of violent direct actions to nonviolent direct actions. There of course can be violence during blockades—just like there can be violence during sit-ins, strikes, and occupations—but it's not an integral part of the action, and they are usually nonviolent. The relevant part of the linked blockade page reflects this. With emphasis added:

There are a number of protest actions with the specific aim of cutting off material, people or communications from a particular area by non-violence, either in part or totally. The effectiveness of such blockades rely on the principles of nonviolent resistance especially the participation of people and lock-on techniques.

I really don't see any reason why blockades would be considered violent. Warm Worm (talk) 16:14, 20 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think blockades can easily become unlawful restraint or false imprisonment. Roads are often blocked in ways that don't permit people to retreat or escape. I think that's a form of kidnapping and thus violence. PapayaSF (talk)

Not Limited to Anarchist Groups[edit]

The opening explanation states that direct action originated as an anarchist term for economic and political acts.

However, that oversimplifies the history. Direct Action was, and continues to be, used by political and religious groups from one end of the spectrum to the other, including those who believe in order, but who believe in taking action to bring about change. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:43, 12 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree with this, and I would add that since this article deals with a concept in political theory, it might be best to offer multiple definitions and opening up a "controversies" or "debates" section of the article to delineate how these different definitions contend with one another. This I think will also help clear up some of the confusion about whether including left wing versus right wing versus non-politically-aligned behavior is the right course of action. I think to do this effectively would be to start with an overview of a far narrower definition of direct action, and then to expand upon that with various sections devoted to right-wing, left-wing, and politically unaligned actions that could be described as direct action. BigHeadPhilippe (talk) 18:14, 11 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Call to action / CTA[edit]

I've made Call to action a redirect to this article, so we might want to mention it somewhere here. Unless someone has covered it elsewhere? - CorbieV 20:35, 21 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've never seen that phrase used that way. Do you have sourcing for it? czar 00:19, 22 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A quick google search showed that it seems to be used a bit more often in marketing these days. Or perhaps they're just engineering higher google placement? Older usage was more usually political, and it's still in use in grassroots groups online. Here's just a few of the prominent google results:

Many of the other results are things like guidelines that cover any type of CTA - marketing as well as political. Best, - CorbieV 16:52, 22 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think this is an appropriate redirect. An NGO calling for government to take action (by listing calls to action) is not calling for "direct action" in the sense of this article. For instance, a change in government policy is not an example of direction, unless all governments should be listed at List of direct action groups. I don't see anything suitable to link to, but I don't think a link here is helpful at all. - (talk) 14:59, 1 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lead needs rewrite, especially first sentence[edit]

That's one of the most abstract and obtuse lead paragraphs I have read in Wikipedia. Needs a re-write. The first sentence should make clear to the reader what "direct action" is; the reader should NOT have to read the article in order to get "the gist" of it. First off, it should describe "what it is", not how it originated. THIS doesn't help a reader: (current version) "Direct action originated as a political activist term for economic and political acts in which the actors use their power (e.g. economic or physical) to directly reach certain goals of interest; in contrast to those actions that appeal to others (e.g. authorities); by, for example, revealing an existing problem, using physical violence, highlighting an alternative, or demonstrating a possible solution." Please see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section. Normal Op (talk) 17:16, 17 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Direct action or leaderless resistance[edit]

@Vallee01: Your sentence "Direct action is used by anarchists to due to a rejection of unjustified hierarchy and anarchist reliance on decentralization and fluidity" is the odd one. First, it included "to due to" which makes no sense, but I'll assume for a moment that maybe you meant "due to". I'm pretty sure you're describing leaderless resistance, not direct action, when you speak of decentralization and fluidity. And the use of leaderless resistance doesn't "cause" direct action, which is how your sentence is constructed. And that's why I called it odd. Since both of your citations require subscriptions to read them, I couldn't even figure out how to fix your wording. Please fix this. Normal Op (talk) 08:26, 26 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Vallee01: That's a little better because the sentence at least makes sense. ("Direct action is used by anarchists due to a rejection of party politics, and refusal to work within hierarchical bureaucratic institutions.") But the concept... hmm. Are you saying that anarchists turn to direct action when they believe that diplomacy doesn't work? Or are you saying that direct action is only used by the fringe of an anarchist movement because they don't like working within groups? You see, the sentence is still sort of hanging out there in the air and doesn't really paint the scenario, like its context is missing. Maybe weave it into the "History" section with more sentences, then it makes sense to put something in the lead section about anarchism. Normal Op (talk) 18:48, 26 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Normal Op: Anarchists use whatever is needed, certain anarchist ideologies have different views as what it needed. Some anarchists are absolute pacifists, not hitting a person even if they are being completely beat up. Other anarchists are completely militant, taking constant violent action. Some anarchists are Syndicalists, some Communists, some Mutualists, and Collectivists. Anarchism as an ideology is actually extremely ideology identical, simply onto how anarchism is organized, communists want to abolish money and create communism, Mutualist want to maintain some currency and some businesses, while maintaining worker control over mass property, Syndicalists want mass union participation and labor organizations, Collectivists are somewhere in between them all. The universal thing uniting Anarchism is dissolution of unjustified hierarchy, and complete decentralization of society, as well as absolute pluralism and a form of direct participatory democracy whatever form that may be. Anarchists will always use direct action however, whatever they are as Anarchists don't organize in a parties hierarchical organizations. Anarchists as an ideology core principle is forming of collective groups, no anarchists form groups, like unions, communities etc... Anarchist don't create parties and they don't send anyone to congress. Anarchists use diplomacy if its needed, but they won't organize it through bureaucracy. Vallee01 (talk) 08:52, 7 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Street blockades incorrectly listed as nonviolent[edit]

Had removed the unsourced blockade mentions from the listing of nonviolent activities, and this was good faith reversed. Although legitimately discussed as a direct action technique, blockading traffic or people from going about their business is not a tactic utilizing nonviolence. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s never used this approach, as the Selma to Montgomery marches, for example, were done along the sidewalk or the side of the highway, and the Birmingham campaign's use of children sent the children out of the 16th Street Baptist Church 50 at a time to walk to City Hall, using sidewalks and traffic lights. Gandhi's Salt March is less clear as to totally blocking roads, but from a reading the marchers did not block the roads but let traffic flow. James Bevel gives an example of a demonstrator being injured who would need immediate medical care, but does not receive it because of traffic tie-up. Each person inhibited by the blocking of roads has a personal destination in mind, some of which may be vastly important to the care and well-being of themselves or others. Blocking them from their innocent and productive forward movement, citizen travel unrelated to either the conflict or of the overall resulting goal or intent of direct action participants, does not fall into any description of nonviolence given by major adherents and students of the practice that I'm aware of. The language and links on this page for street blockades should probably obtain a separate entry of their own between the listings of 'Nonviolence' and overtly 'Violent' direct action. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:16, 27 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Infobox collage for Selma to Montgomery marches
You are wrong that street blockades weren't used in the 60's civil rights movement. I think you are confusing "nonviolence" with "passivism". They are NOT the same thing. Blockading streets is definitely NOT passivism (it's direct action), but it is also not violent. You are synthesizing something that so far hasn't been presented as a secondary source saying street blockades are violent.
That a street blockade may lead to pedestrians or protesters being run over, or police attacking protesters, or individuals in a protest turning violent, that doesn't make the blockade violent, it means it's risky. But so, too, is a "sit in" or "die in" in the wrong location. There is no guarantee that protesters on a sidewalk won't get plowed by a vehicle (see Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) or beaten by police (see Bloody Sunday (1965)). "Violence" implies some act that is determined to damage some one or some thing. If blacks in the 1960s would have blocked the road, they would have been (and were) met with brutal force by police in those days. Nowadays we don't condone plowing through crowds of protesters, and police don't routinely bludgeon crowds of protesters for blocking a road.
Mexico had a street blockade in 2019 over cuts to agriculture and rural funding [1], as did Argentina over taxing agricultural exports (2008 Argentine government conflict with the agricultural sector), and India in 2019 [2].
Normal Op (talk) 21:56, 27 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Blocking streets or highways and keeping them closed has become a common and accepted tactic of recent direct action events, and deserves mention on this page. That doesn't mean the tactic was used in Gandhi's or the Civil Rights Movement nonviolent campaigns. Bottom line for Wikipedia, do reputable sources exist calling the tactic nonviolence? As for the Selma marches, the first one, Bloody Sunday, resulted in the beatings of a group of individuals marching along a sidewalk intending to continue to walk along the side of the road until they got to Montgomery. The Alabama State troopers and county sheriff officers attacked them when they crossed the Selma city line, resulting in Lyndon Johnson going before Congress and demanding the right to vote. The Civil Rights Movement's nonviolent activists did not fight back or add to the harm, but accepted the hate and frustration of their attackers as a necessary part of their nonviolent movement to educate and heal the country. Well-known photos of demonstrators filling the highway at the court-protected third march to Montgomery depict the beginning of the march, yet the highway soon reopened as they began their three-day trek along its side (the photo in the image-box shows the end of the march, as demonstrators met and joined the marchers near their destination, the Alabama State Capitol building). Direct action which purposely hinders others from going about their business, especially without notice as occurs when people block a highway, arguably has nothing to do with nonviolence. Although street blockades belong in the direct action article they should probably not find mention among the techniques listed in Wikipedia's voice as nonviolent, unless reputable sources exist claiming so. Randy Kryn (talk) 11:32, 28 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Strictly speaking, per WP:BURDEN, that's your onus, not mine. However, perhaps a better way to look at it is to say that "street blockades" needn't be labelled as violent or nonviolent at all, especially if there are many shades of gray. And I'm certainly not opposed to a separate section on the subject. Go ahead and write a section if it's not already covered elsewhere in the encyclopedia. I see that most of the other "techniques" of direct action have their own articles (such as tree spiking, strikes, arson, etc.). I think this article was written to be more of an overview of the concept, rather than a how-to article or detailing any one particular method. If this 'street blockades' topic is as common as you seem to indicate it is, then maybe it should have its own article. Normal Op (talk) 23:40, 28 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article defines direct action much too broadly, and does so without sources[edit]

Direct action is action that directly impedes that carrying out of an (at least perceived) injustice. Spiking trees impedes logging where that is perceived as an environmental injustice. Rescuing monkeys from a research lab, or interfering with a whaling ship, impedes operations that are perceived as an animal injustice.

Actions that draw attention to a cause that do not actually impede anything are not direct actions. e.g. trespassing to put up a large sign promoting your cause is not direct action. It is an attempt to influence others rather than acting directly.

The article reads as though the author is struggling to put together a sense of what direct action is, which is fine as a mental exercise, not so great for a wikipedia article.

The violent vs. nonviolent discussion may be off topic entirely.

The section titled "History" does reference some primary sources that put together, define what direct action is. These sources could be used for properly-referenced introductory paragraphs.

Spope3 (talk) 21:56, 1 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]