Unity — CANVAS



“History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals.”

Haile Selassie

c. Unity of Purpose – A movement or campaign must have internal consensus about its goals, and these goals must resonate with significant parts of the larger population. Most individuals will only struggle and sacrifice for goals that are meaningful to their everyday lives (goals where their personal concerns also become political concerns) and that are concrete enough to be reasonably attainable. An objective will have greater strategic utility if it is more important for the movement to pursue it than for the opponent to resist it. In other words, pick the “battles” that: 1) mean the most to the people in your movement and society and 2) that you can realistically win. For example, in the Indian Independence Movement against British colonial rule, being able to make salt and not pay a tax on it was easily understandable and important to ordinary people. By launching the Salt March in 1930, Gandhi was able to attack the British monopoly on salt, which touched virtually all members of Indian society. Gandhi’s goal of ending the British salt monopoly was both attainable and concrete, and Gandhi used his strength (large numbers of motivated people) against the British’s weakness (an unenforceable law that was very difficult to defend politically or justify imprisoning people to uphold).

Unity has three components:

a. Unity of People – Nonviolent movements or campaigns require the participation of a diversity of political, social and economic groups and sectors of society – because by definition a movement’s legitimacy and strength lies in its mobilization of large numbers of civilians. For large-scale, national movements, this usually requires a coalition of groups and organizations.

b. Unity Within the Organization – The three levels of the movement — the leadership, the operational network, and people from the widest possible parts of society engaged in conflict — must be in harmony with each other. Therefore, the movement’s organizational structure should be designed to enable the efficient execution of strategy, tactics, and methods. Democratic procedures may be appropriate in the decision making process — but executing those decisions requires discipline, responsiveness and synergy rather than endless debate. Otherwise, there will be organizational breakdown and confusion. In some struggles, your opponent will also attempt to plant people in your movement whose role is to generate debate.