Non-cooperation is a form of non-violent protest. The basic strategy of non-cooperation is a refusal to participate in the social, political, and economic institutions that engage in unfair or oppressive practices. The refusal to participate can take different forms including strikes, boycotts, and other forms of non-violent obstruction.
Goals of Non-Cooperation as a Protest Technique
The primary goal of non-cooperation is to deny or deprive the opponent of the fruits of aggression of an unjust social, political, or economic order. The specific goals include material and non-material objectives. Examples of non-material objectives include undermining the opponent’s political authority, ideology, and legitimacy. Examples of material objectives include provoking economic hardship and so forth. Industrial strikes and similar acts of obstruction illustrate both of these points.
Provoking a Dilemma
The acts of non-cooperation produce social, political, and social consequences that challenge the opponent’s power and authority. The acts of non-cooperation confront the opponent with a dilemma. Leaving the acts of non-cooperation unpunished threatens the opponent’s hold on power. Punishing the acts too harshly further undermines the opponent’s legitimacy domestically and in the eyes of the world community.
The Stay at Home Approach
The most typical type of social withdrawal action is the strike or “stay at home approach. It usually occurs during working hour but it can be applied outside of working hours as well.
The Basic Method
The working population stays at home during a set period of time. The period is typically one to two days, however, the period of time can be much longer.
The goals are usually political, social, economic or a combination of the three
In some cases the social withdrawal action is the result of an organized effort. In other cases, its origins may be more spontaneous.
Advantages of Social Withdrawal as a Non-Cooperation Technique
It greatly reduces the risk of confrontation and injury. This in addition contributes to the attitude of non-violence among the participants.
The collective action of social withdrawal presents a united front to the opposition. This puts more pressure on the opposition to acknowledge and agree with the protesters’ grievances.
The Sri Lankian Example – The 1953 Hartal
The prototypical model for using withdrawal from social institutions as a form of political protest occurred in Ceylon (current day Sri Lanka) in 1953. A countrywide demonstration and strike, commonly referred to as “hartal” was organized to resist and protest the government’s policies of religious and ethnic discrimination. The Hartal was organized by the leftist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP).
The Norwegian Example
The Nazis are typically cited as a litmus test for non-violent resistance. The Nazis occupied Norway from 1940 to 1945 during World War II. One of the ideological tools used to support the regime was organized sporting events. The Nazis and the Norwegian fascist party, Nasjonal Samling, wanted to use the sporting events to represent faith, support, and acceptance of the “New Order.” Norwegians resisted the Nazi occupation by withdrawing their support from the government sanctioned sporting events.