Direct action originated as an anarchist term for economic and political acts in which the actors use their (e. g. economic or physical) power to directly reach certain goals of interest, in contrast to those actions that appeal to others (e. g. authorities).
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- Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.
- We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
- Direct action enables people to develop a new sense of self-confidence and an awareness of their individual and collective power. Direct action is founded on the idea that people can develop the ability for self-rule only through practice, and proposes that all persons directly decide the important issues facing them. Direct action is not just a tactic, it is individuals asserting their ability to control their own lives and to participate in social life without the need for mediation or control by bureaucrats or professional politicians. Direct action encompasses a whole range of activities, from organising coops to engaging in resistance to authority. Direct action places moral commitment above positive law. Direct action is not a last resort when other methods have failed, but the preferred way of doing things.
- Reclaim the Streets leaflet distributed in July 1996.
- In its essence direct action is the insistence, when faced with structures of unjust authority, on acting as if one is already free. One does not solicit the state. One does not even necessarily make a grand gesture of defiance. Insofar as one is capable, one proceeds as if the state does not exist.
- David Graeber, Direct Action: An Ethnography, Oakland: AK Press, p. 203, 2009.