What it is: This is a way of defending a community or country against oppression, invasion, or violent revolution, without the use of armed forces or weapons. It is sometimes called 'social defence'.
What it means: It involves nonviolent resistance to aggression: individually and together people refuse to accept a brutal authority imposed on them or to obey orders which are unjust or violate universal human rights. When Germany occupied Norway during the Second World War, many of the population showed their resistance in all kinds of subtle and quietly organised ways. For example, when Norwegian children were told to enrol in Nazi youth groups, their parents protested - by swamping the now German-run Ministry of Education with letters saying No, all at the same time. The order was dropped. Teachers also refused to join a compulsory Nazi organisation, or to teach Nazism in the classrooms. When the Germans closed Norway's schools, classes went on in secret in private homes. Teachers were sacked - so parents collected money to pay them. Over 1,000 teachers were arrested and taken to a concentration camp where they spent a dreadful winter, but did not give in. The Nazis never did get a real grip on Norway.
Think about it: This kind of defence against aggression needs courage and determination, but even small acts of non-co-operation can make a difference to how things turn out. What people do and how they do it depends on what sort of people they are. Some work best on their own, like the people who hid Jewish refugees during the Second World War. Others are better in collective action, where they know they must not let each other down. The same is true of people's behaviour in fighting, but the difference is that fighting aims to kill, and nonviolence aims to keep people alive, and without using weapons. Of course, reasons for not co-operating have to be good. One way of testing how good the reasons are is to consider whether it is worth accepting the penalties for refusing to co-operate, as the Norwegians, for example, did.