Nonviolence training & performative conflict intervention

Per Herngren provides training in nonviolence, performative conflict intervention, egalitarian methods for cooperation and decision-making, and in how to make our organizations more democratic.

Conflicts, violence, oppression, war, racism, sexism, micro aggressions and bullying cannot be solved simply by enlightened thoughts or insights. We need to develop habits and reflexes, methods and structures in order to intervene quickly and constructively.

The nonviolence trainings of Per Herngren and The Fig Tree Community are based on methods derived from performative conflict intervention and Gandhi’s nonviolence.

Participants are trained in a range of tools and encouraged to develop new tools. The training exercises focus on actions that directly implement democracy, equality, care, and an equal distribution of power.

Performative actions depart from reactive politics

Performative actions are collective actions which reach their objective during the performance of the action. The opposite of this is instrumental action in which the goal is hypothetically achieved in the future.

Through performative actions, we already embody the sort of society we want to see. We invite people to repeat the action, but in a different, even better way. Gandhi talks about experiments with truth. Society will change through repetition, experiments and trainings rather than opinions and visions about a future change.

Nonviolence training embodies the society we want to see

As nonviolence trainings focus on performative interventions, we can reflect after each exercise on whether the action itself embodies the society we want. At the same time we are able to reflect on how and when we fail, and how we can change our collective action. How do we develop methods and organizations that actually work?

Since performative actions actually accomplish their goals, they have much affinity with Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolence where means and ends are one and the same – the end is the method. We become the change we want to see.

Judith Butler and Karen Barad, both researchers, show how queer feminism isn’t primarily about fighting for future goals, but instead performatively realising the goals again and again. Queer and feminism become verbs rather than nouns.

Performative actions are similar to proactive actions. Reactive politics is founded on saying “No” and trying to stop things. Proactive actions actually initiate transformation rather than just reacting.

Nonviolence intervenes

Nonviolence in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi takes away the hyphen in non-violence. Nonviolence intervenes wherever it is necessary to displace oppression; it is not about creating an ideal society alongside the existing oppressive structures, an escape to a happy place far away from power and oppression.

Gandhi connected constructive programs and resistance. Resistance and civil disobedience are intertwined with the creation of societies. You actually experience the nonviolence society through the actions.

When you build democratic organizations and societies you incorporate resistance. Failing to incorporate nonviolence trainings and nonviolent resistance into an organization or a society is to invite violence and oppression.


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