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Passive Resistance

Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil

Passive resistance is the non-violent opposition to authority, often involving a refusal to obey the law. A classic example of this is the pacifists who were unwilling to fight during the two world wars of the 20th century. The law required them to fight, but because of their belief in non-violence, they refused to.

Passive resistance can also include forms of civil disobedience, where ordinary citizens refuse to co-operate with the authorities and laws. The early 20th-century suffragettes, protesting for women's rights, held demonstrations in major cities in the United States and Great Britain. Some even participated in hunger strikes.



A recent example of passive resistance in the UK is the 2021 Insulate Britain protests. These were organised in response to the group's perception of the government's lack of action around climate change. Members of the group protested in the middle of some of the busiest UK roads, stopping all traffic from passing through.

During one incident, some superglued themselves to the M25, causing huge problems for hundreds of commuters.

You can read more about their activities here.



In 2022, Just Stop Oil organised severe disruption of many of the major roads in and around London. They did this in the same style as Insulate Britain, by sitting down in the middle of busy roads, refusing to move. Some superglued themselves to the roads to prevent being moved. Throughout September and October, they staged 32 days of disruption, in total incurring 677 arrests.

They protested in this way to force the government to halt the issuing of new licences for oil and gas extraction.

You can read more about their activities here.