No Fresh Issue

The principle called No Fresh Issue states that in order to ensure a nonviolent movement “succeeds” in its objectives and works to heal relationships, the movement’s objectives must be presented clearly, in the beginning, and not altered simply because the resistor has attained a “position of advantage.” Resisting the temptation to “move the goal posts” and take advantage of your opponents weakened position supports an over-all goal of clarity of objectives and building of trust with your opponent. Finally, nonviolence is a conversation, not a power struggle. If we keep pouring on fresh issues when we obtain power, that’s what it becomes.

The purpose of maintaining this discipline is threefold: First, if we can show our opponents that our aim is consistent from the beginning and will not fluctuate with our position of power, then we can demonstrate the sincerity of our goals, the determination of our will, and the firmness of our resolve. Second, never wavering on our goals when we grow in clout clarifies our objectives for to both the supporters and the opponents of the movement. Third, the steadiness of our demands yields trust; if we never waver our opponents begin to believe in the sincerity of our demands.

A historical example of a violation of No Fresh Issue occurred when Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement, on the brink of negotiating an agreement, added the demand of amnesty for political prisoners. Having lost faith in Solidarity’s integrity, the communist regime pulled back and negotiations fell apart, setting the movement back 10 years.However, when a regime (for instance) passes new repressive laws while the movement is still gathering momentum, repeal of those laws must sometimes be added to the list of the movement’s demands.