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DAF Non-violence Statement

The Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) is committed to non-violent means of seeking social and political change in a context of societal disruption and collapse.

Non-violent action uses symbolic protests, non-cooperation, and defiance, but never physical violence. Three broad classes of non-violent action include:

1. Non-violent protest and persuasion,
2. Non-cooperation, and
3. Non-violent intervention.

DAF will never endorse or condone people or groups who either advocate or tolerate the use of physically violent tactics in the pursuit of social and political change, or as a direct response to, or in preparation for, climate-induced collapse. Violent means are incompatible with peaceful ends, and are completely in opposition to DAF’s mission to enable loving responses to our predicament. History shows us that, no matter what explanations or justifications are offered, violence begets more violence.

In only supporting non-violent action, DAF strives to align ourselves with established international principles, frameworks and leaders for non-violence including:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s six principles of non-violent action. 1. Non-violence is a way of life for courageous people; 2. Non-violence seeks to win friendship and understanding; 3. Non-violence seeks to defeat injustice not people; 4. Non-violence holds that suffering for a cause can educate and transform people and societies; 5. Non-violence chooses love instead of hate; 6. Non-violence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
  • The principle of satyagraha, expounded by Mahatma Gandhi. Satyagraha is particularly meaningful, as it is about eliminating antagonisms without causing harm to the antagonists. We see this as another way to express our intention to overcome the widespread psycho-social “othering” tendencies that are at the root of the global predicament (see link to Katie and Jem’s facilitation paper). 
  • UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 (2007) on the International Day of Non-violence (2 October) . This reaffirms the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence, desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding. 

This principle does not mean members in DAF are all pacifists who believe that there are no reasons for the use of physical violence as self-defence in certain situations. Some people in the Deep Adaptation field and in the DAF itself do believe in non-violence in a broader sense that includes such pacifism, but it also includes people who do not. Therefore, we anticipate meaningful discussions in the coming months and years about how deep and wide a coherent principle of non-violence could go. And yet, while conversations about this topic may occur, DAF will never endorse or condone the use of violence if there is any sense that it is not for immediate self-defence. 

We actively resist narratives suggesting that we have reached a stage where our collective self-defense against the threats to our collective survival mean that physical violence becomes necessary, tolerable, or justifiable, as in the case of some eco-fascist responses to climate breakdown appearing across the political spectrum. These frame the climate crisis in racist and xenophobic terms, tolerating or even calling for genocide as a realistic or desirable environmentalist solution.

Many people in the Deep Adaptation movement are on a journey of inquiry into non-violence as a philosophy and outlook. We recognise that violence is in every one of us, because it runs through the very structure and narratives of our societies – and even in the very language we use. To us, this calls for a sustained and unflinching investigation into the many deep ways in which our systems of exploitation and oppression are perpetuated by us as individuals and social groups, unconsciously. 

The philosophy of non-violence can help inform the way we relate to each other in communication, action, and inaction. That’s why DAF will continue to be a space where people are invited to continuously discover and rediscover how our ways of relating – characterised by assumptions of separation and scarcity – can contribute to othering, diminishing, and harming people, as well as the non-human world.

Deep Adaptation is a concept that is not owned by anyone, including either its originator nor DAF. People and groups of people around the world are coming together to respond to or prepare for disruption or collapse and are finding the idea and framework of Deep Adaptation helpful. Some such groups, which identify as or associate themselves with Deep Adaptation, may be in areas where there are or will be high-intensity struggles, and where physical violence is used as one tactic for self-defense and possibly for social or political change. We will not engage or support such groups.

As the generally accepted social structures that prevail in societies worldwide are likely to become increasingly disrupted and disruptive over the coming months and years, we are now making this position public, as well as the following commitments to uphold this position:

  • Any person with a volunteer or official role with DAF, the DAF Holding Group, Core Team, or working as a paid contractor, is required to confirm their alignment with the principles in this statement, to be aware of and agree to support the aims, ethos and policies of DAF, and refrain from any public communication contrary to this position. If this commitment is breached, they will be asked to leave their role. 
  • Every new participant joining one of our platforms will be required to read and agree with guidelines which forbid hate speech or bullying, forbid communications that might incite physical violence or be seen to endorse or tolerate such violence or organised conflict, and warn that arguing for fascistic or violent approaches will lead to posts being deleted and accounts blocked.
  • DAF will not align itself with organisations, movements or initiatives that are not clear about their commitment to non-violence. We recognise that, in a situation of increasing vulnerability, disruption and anxiety, it can be very difficult to explore and find agreement around values, and remain committed to putting those values into action. Therefore, when discussing such matters it is imperative that the philosophy of non-violence will form the basis of those discussions, and that they will be characterised by a commitment to compassion, curiosity and respect.

Key reference texts: