PILLARS OF SUPPORT Successful nonviolent movements analyze the various segments of society (pillars) that keep a power structure

intact (supported). Once identified, those pillars can be dissected into their component parts, identifying specific individuals or groups that make up that pillar. Nonviolent movements plan for ways to weaken and topple those pillars, eventually causing the power structure to collapse all together.

On the other hand, violence against any of these pillars only serves to strengthen them. This is particularly important in the case of the police and military.


Gene Sharp on Sabotage "There are strong reasons why the introduction of sabotage will seriously weaken a nonviolent action movement. These are rooted in the differing dynamics and mechanisms of these two techniques. There are at least nine such reasons: 1. Sabotage always runs the risk of unintentional physical injury or death to opponents or to innocent bystanders...Nonviolent action, on the other hand, requires that its supporters refuse to use physical violence and instead protect the lives of opponents and others. Even limited injuries or deaths will rebound against the nonviolent movement. 2. Effective sabotage in difficult situations requires a willingness to use physical violence against persons who discover the plans and are willing and able either to reveal or to prevent them. Nonviolent action, conversely, requires for success the strict maintenance of nonviolence. 3. Sabotage requires secrecy in the planning and carrying out of missions ... secrecy introduces a whole series of disruptive influences. These include ultimate dependence on violence (instead of nonviolence), fear of discovery (in place of fearless open action), and wild suspicions among the opponents about the resisters' intent and plans which may increase brutalities and intransigence (in place of the usually announced intentions). 4. Sabotage requires only a few persons to carry it out and hence reduces the number of effective resisters, while nonviolent action makes possible a large degree of participation among the whole population. 5. Confidence in the adequacy of nonviolent action is a great aid to its successful application. The use of sabotage, however, demonstrates a lack of such confidence which is detrimental to effective use of nonviolent action. 6. Nonviolent action is based upon a challenge in human terms by human beings to other human beings. Sabotage relies on physical destruction of property, a very different approach likely to detract from the operation of the other, potentially more powerful, influences.

7. Sabotage and nonviolent action are rooted in quite different premises about how to undermine the opponent. Nonviolent action produces withdrawal of consent by the subjects, while sabotage acts against the opponent by destroying property. 8. Where physical injury or death occurs to persons because of sabotage, whether accidental or deliberate, there is likely to be a relative loss of sympathy and support for the nonviolent group and/or an increase in sympathy and support for the opponent - the opposite of what is likely and necessary in nonviolent action. 9. Sabotage is likely to result in highly disproportionate repression against the saboteurs or the general population or both. Contrary to the effects of repression against persistent nonviolent actionists, repression provoked by sabotage is not likely to weaken the opponent's relative power position.