Saturday, November 15, 2008


The Progressive - Nonviolent resistance is not only the morally superior choice. It is also twice as effective as the violent variety. That's the startling and reassuring discovery by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, who analyzed an astonishing 323 resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006.

"Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns," the authors note in the journal International Security:

"First, a campaign's commitment to nonviolent methods enhances its domestic and international legitimacy and encourages more broad-based participation in the resistance, which translates into increased pressure being brought to bear on the target," they state. "Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime."

In an interesting aside that has relevance for our times, the authors also write that, "Our study does not explicitly compare terrorism to nonviolent resistance, but our argument sheds light on why terrorism has been so unsuccessful."

To their credit, the authors don't gloss over nonviolent campaigns that haven't been successes. They give a clear-eyed assessment of the failure so far of the nonviolent movement in Burma, one of the three detailed case studies in the piece, along with East Timor and the Philippines.


At November 15, 2008 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Non violence may work better in some situations, but it has clearly failed in the US in the struggle against the military-industrial complex and the American empire. The only successes in that struggle have come from the Vietnamese, Iraqis and others who have fought back. The protests and other efforts by Americans to work nonviolently within the system have accomplished nothing over the past 40 years. They may have done what was theoretically the right thing to do, but they have failed in the real world. The war machine is bigger and nastier than ever. To pretend otherwise is just to stand by and watch more people being killed. Which seems more like cowardice than it is pacifism.

At November 16, 2008 8:54 AM, Anonymous Chief Joseph From where the sun now sits I will fight no more. said...

Get yourself some northern lights x blueberry and a copy of "Viva Zapata" with Marlon Brando, It's truly enlightening. Violence is so insidious because it's so easy to rationalise when you have good intentions. Don't you think Coloumus and Custer had good intentions?

At November 16, 2008 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Accomplished nothing in the last 40 years?
Have you never heard of Nelson Mandela and the South African struggles?

The perceived failures in the United States of the 'last 40 years' are attributable to the absence of any kind authentic commitment by those posturing to represent such a movement. Only 4% of the population polled objected to the most recent invasion of Iraq. Similar numbers held true during the Gulf War of '91. The nation was asleep or simply didn't care about the Balkans and the 70 day bombardment of Kosovo.
In short, the non violence movement does not appreciably exist in the United States. True, there may be those who pay perfunctory lip service to such a cause, yet for the most part they remain distracted with priorities directed elsewhere.

At November 16, 2008 2:01 PM, Anonymous dead indians can't type said...

I meant Columbus.

At November 18, 2008 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alinsky noted that, judging by his writings, Gandhi chose non-violence because that's all he had - the people had been stripped of their firearms by the Brits, and had been made so passive that they could hardly be coaxed or shamed into getting off their butts at all. So Gandhiji decided that they could at least pretend to be not cooperating while they sat.

And Orwell noted that the only reason non-violence worked was that the British public, steeped in an expectation of at least nominal fairness, would have toppled the British government if they'd cut up rough. Had it been the Nazis, Soviets, ...or the US... exploiting the country, Gandhiji would have been Nacht-und-Nebel'd and that would have been the end of that!


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