For the use of power we need to adopt both an ethical and a pragmatic approach, this may be difficult and something of a balancing but it is vitally important. Chosing the appropriate means for our ends is the only way to ensure our actions will have utility in the long term. We need to reject the lure of short term fixes that can be forced precisely because they will not have longevity. All our individual behaviours, the language we use and the way our actions demonstrate commitment and confidence must become and integral part of the project. 

Non-violence is a strategic choice, and it is chosen because is is the only route to change that will have any long term utility. Non-violence is not just a tactic to be abandoned if a fight seems more likely to have an effect. Cooperation and collaboration will not, and cannot be brought about by competition and conflict. Force always caused an opposed reaction but even compliance, until I can reverse things, is not a foundation that, permanence can be built on. Only persuasion has any chance.

Can I imagine a situation where hard power is used, yes I can, but only in order to establish reciprocity. The only circumstance I can imagine hard force being used is where it is necessary to demonstrate that use of hard powers against holistic political economy will not be allowed to pass. Remember it has to be appropriate, proportionate and not be seen as an escalation, and it will always be followed by a willingness to cooperate. If used at all, it will require careful and difficult thought, as well as carful and difficult en-action. 

Choosing means

Choosing means become critical, so here are some guidelines: 

When dealing with (the inevitable) opposition from entrenched power and those who want to maintain division and competition

Personal behaviour 


Rhetoric and sabre rattling should be avoided. Once you fail to deliver on a threat you are showing weakness. When faced with a challenge an empty threat actually signals willingness to let things pass.  If chemical weapons are declared to be a ‘red line’ then that is what they are; you have to know in advance what is a proportionate response and what happens next?


You have to be a player with a stake in the outcome. Once in you cannot walk away. A reciprocal process has started. This is why it is necessary to have a political vision; you have to know where you are going to end up. If the means are going to be suited to the ends then there has to be an end for it to be suited too. After toppling the Libyan regime what political settlement do you want in the country, if you don’t want to be in the EU, what do you want the relationship to be? If you want a peaceful transformation of society what exactly is it going to be transformed into and what means will bring it about?

I contend that joining a political party or becoming an activist campaigning to right wrongs, do not, of themselves, have the necessary utility, a different strategy and new tactics are needed.