Call for submissions: New Worlds in Old Shells


Permaculture farmers in El Salvador
Permaculture farmers in El Salvador

When we think of social change, we often think of protests, campaigns, and direct action. These are all vital ways to say “no!” to destructive practices and institutions.

However, it's equally important that we are building concrete alternatives, where we say “yes!” to the vision of the world we want. Built on the same power analysis as our nonviolent direct action, “constructive programmes” demonstrate the radical alternatives – to militarism and the causes of climate change, for example – that our world desperately needs, and puts them into practise in the here and now.

For Gandhi, a nonviolent revolution without a constructive programme was impossible; direct action and social change efforts had to be embedded in empowered and vibrant communities that were bringing their own radical and egalitarian visions of life. Along with protest and direct action, Gandhi called for communities in India to start building the world they wanted to see, to build a new world in the shell of the old. This approach to social change is – of course – not limited to the Indian independence movement, there are many examples of such work taking place all over the world.

War Resisters' International ( is a global network of pacifists and antimilitarist organisations working for a world without war. In the past, we have created resources for nonviolent activists to use in organizing actions and campaigns. Our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns is now published in over ten languages ( We are now beginning to develop a new book, called "New Worlds in Old Shells". New Worlds in Old Shells will explore constructive programme – both modern and historical - based on the stories and experiences of communities involved in such social change. The work is being led by an international editorial committee from across the WRI network.

In preparing this resource, WRI's Nonviolence Programme is discovering that communities around the world have been developing similar approaches: women's textile projects in Turkey that focus on empowerment, community land trusts in the USA, the Via Campesina movement, and the radical housing coop movement in the UK are just a handful of examples – there are many more.

We are rooting our analysis in six key values:

  • Equality: recognition that each person has value, a commitment to equal rights, and ensuring equitable access to opportunities and resources.

  • Emancipation: commitment to freeing ourselves and our communities from all forms of domination.

  • Community: commitment to building a sense of belonging and interconnection between people, both locally and globally, and always with respect for our differences.

  • Sustainability/ecology: commitment to nurture our environment for the long-term welfare of all.

  • Nonviolence: commitment to overcome all forms of violence and oppression.

  • Economic Justice: commitment to building economies that allow individuals and communities to flourish, without harming one community to benefit another.

We are keen to hear from others involved in similar work, to share ideas and analysis. We hope to build a broad base of knowledge and skills that is useful to other activists around the world.

For more information on this project, please email Andrew Metheven at For more information on War Resisters’ International, see, and for our nonviolence resources, see

Programmes & Projects

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