In 2008, Dr. Erica Chenoweth and Dr. Maria J. Stephan did a landmark study, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of
Nonviolent Conflict in 2008 showing that nonviolent movements are more successful than violent movements and have become increasing so. The introduction of this 2008 study states that:
Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns. There are two reasons for this success. 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. Recognition of the challenge group’s grievances can translate into greater internal and external support for that group and alienation of the target regime, undermining the regime’s main sources of political, economic, and even military power.
Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime. Potentially sympathetic publics perceive violent militants as having maximalist or extremist goals beyond accommodation, but they perceive nonviolent resistance groups as less extreme, thereby enhancing their appeal and facilitating the extraction of concessions through bargaining.
Our findings challenge the conventional wisdom that violent resistance against conventionally superior adversaries is the most effective way for resistance groups to achieve policy goals. Instead, we assert that nonviolent resistance is a forceful alternative to political violence that can pose effective challenges to democratic and nondemocratic opponents, and at times can do so more effectively than violent resistance.
One of our goals on this site is to catalog the hidden history of pacifists. This article does so beautifully.
The Genius of Erasmus | War Is A Crime .org.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, who lived from October 27, 1466, to July 12, 1536, faced censorship in his day, and has never been as popular among the rich and powerful as has his contemporary Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. But at a distance of half a millennium, we ought to be able to judge work on its merit — and we ought to have regular celebrations of Erasmus around the world. Some of his ideas are catching on. His name is familiar in Europe as that of the EU’s student exchange program, named in his honor. We ought perhaps to wonder what oddball ideas these days might catch on in the 2500s — if humanity is around then.
In 1517, Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, speaking in the first-person, complains about how humanity treats her. She claims to offer “the source of all human blessings” and to be scorned by people who “go in quest of evils infinite in number.”
Read the rest of the article.
The second excerpt in The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace.from Linus Pauling & Daisaku Ikeda‘s 1992 book A Lifelong Quest for Peace forms the books twenty-first chapter. This dialogue continues the Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975- ) section of the book. In previous essay titled Immorality of War: Pauling & Ikeda, I discuss their credentials including Pauling’s Nobel Prizes both in Chemistry and Peace, along with Ikeda’s 1983 United Nations Peace Award.
This 3 1/2 page conversation does not make a cogent argument against absolute pacifism. Both speakers make the obligatory reference to Hitler; discuss the difficulties of being a pacifist in a non-pacifist world; and determine that unsurprisingly that Einstein was not an absolute pacifist. Paradoxically in an essay that argues against pacifism, they conclude with a discussion of how Japan has advanced quicker in economic and individual health due its not diverting national resources into a military economy.
The Hitler argument is that pacifism would be useless against the Nazis. It is usually raised by those who are fearful of the concept of pacifism. I would not expect this argument from these authors or to be promoted by the editors of this collection. Continue reading Pauling & Ikeda’s False Dilemma of Absolute Pacifism
Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hahn‘s 1975 dialogue Communities of Resistance: A Conversation is the eighteenth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace . This dialogue leads off the Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975- ) section of the book. Hahn and Berrigan’s hopes for communities of resistance springs from their own experience with religious communities in the Buddhist and Catholic faiths, respectively, and with the experiences of their late mutual friend Thomas Merton.
We have already discussed Merton’s essay The Root of War is Fear from a previous chapter in the same book. In it, Merton defines the calling of a Christian to “work for the total abolition of war.” Merton reminds us that the place to end war is within ourselves. My comments in the post about Merton’s essay could easily be applied to Berrigan and Hahn: Continue reading Daniel Berrigan & Thich Nhat Hahn discuss Communities of Resistance
The eleventh chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace contains Albert Camus‘ 1946 essay Neither Victims nor Executioners. Camus wrote this 16-page essay as World War II had just ended, and it seemed as if the Soviet Union and the United States were dragging the planet into the horrors of a third world war. Eleven years later, he would win the Nobel prize for literature. There is so much to discuss in this essay I will being reviewing it in parts.
Camus begins the essay by naming the 20th century in relation to recent centuries. He labels the 20th century: the century of fear. Though he does not blame science directly for the atmosphere of fear, he sees the technology it invented as a tool of fear. The more recent film Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore echoes this same diagnosis in that the United States in particular has adopted a a culture of fear. Continue reading Albert Camus’ Neither Victims nor Executioners: Century of Fear
The tenth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace contains a selection from Simone Weil‘s short 1933 essay Reflections on War . Weil wrote this essay at age 24, and would die young eleven years later. Some would ascribe her death to her empathy for those suffering during World War II being too much for her frail health.
This section of the essay begins with the query: “Can a revolution avoid war?” She rightly states that “Revolutionary War is the grave of revolution.” This was the central to the nonviolent methods of Indian independence taking place at the time this essay was written. And is central to the beliefs of today’s Occupation movement in the US. Continue reading Simon Weil’s Reflections on War
The ninth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace contains Dorothy Day‘s short 1942 essay Our Country Passes from Undeclared War to Declared War; We continue our Christian Pacifist Stand. This essay is the sequel to last week’s pre-WWII essay Pacifism.
From its title onward, the essay is directed to a Christian audience as it opens with “Dear fellow workers in Christ” The prior essay quoted the Pope. This essay quotes a priest named Father Orchard for 5 paragraphs.
This essay seems to refer to Christian imagery more to reassure Day herself of the righteous of her non-collaboration with the war efforts than to convince her audience. It is clear from the essay that Day’s work has suffered greatly from her pacifist stand in the face of overwhelming US support for entering the war: Continue reading Dorothy Day’s Christian Pacifist Stand against US entry into WWII