Tag Archives: nonviolence

RESISTANCE – Resistance to Trump

21 Apr

Over at Blogging Heads, Robert Wright talks with Erica Chenoweth, a student of non-violent resistance who is Professor & Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Along with Maria J. Stephen she’s published Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia UP, 2011).

Early in the discussion she specifies the kind of resistance they studied (c. 3:26):

People that rely on techniques of resistance that don’t physically harm the opponent or threaten to physically harm the opponent can be categorized as nonviolent. And that when people rely on those type of techniques of resistance, whether or not they have a moral commitment to passivism or a moral commitment to non-violence per se, that the accumulation of those non-violent techniques activates a number of different political dynamics in a society that makes them more likely to succeed.

They discussion spends some time on Egypt and Syria, noting that things were going well with primarily non-violent methods in Syria (17:39 ff.) until regional and international actors began interfering (by supplying arms, etc.). Toward the end Chenoweth about current resistence to the Trump administration in America (c. 52:14):


The nice thing about studying nonviolent resistance in dictatorships and in territorial independence movements is that we picked those cases deliberately because they were thought to be the hardest for these campaigns to succeed. And so if there are lessons that can be learned from them that can be applied in cases where there are more freedoms of association and freedom of speech that people enjoy right now, we should expect those lessons to be easily translatable.

And really I’ll just say that the four things that succeed in these difficult situations do, is that first (1) they get large and diverse participation. Second (2) they switch up techniques so that they’re not always protesting, or petitioning, or striking. They’re doing lots of different things that are sort of sequenced in a way that continually puts pressure on the site of oppression in order to dismantle it or transform it. The third thing (3) they do is they remain resilient, even when repression escalates against them. So, meaning they have a plan and they’ve figured out a way to prepare for the repression, they expect it, and they remain disciplined and the stick to the plan even when it starts.

And the fourth thing (4) they do they elicit defections or loyalty shifts from within the opponent’s pillars of support. So in this case it would mean getting a bunch of congress-people who are in the GOP to start coming out more openly and resisting the Trump agenda in Congress. It could mean police that refuse to crack down in certain ways or like deportation officials who refuse to comply with orders they think are unjust, or excessive, or disproportional.

So there are lots or ways we can imagine these taking place in the US and I would argue that many of those have already started, as you mention, the courts for example. I think there are lots of ways that the lessons from the hundreds of other countries that I’ve studied over the last century could apply to our case and there are tried and true methods of nonviolent resistance that apply absolutely in the American context today.


The unlikely oracle of Occupy – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com

1 Mar

Concerning nonviolence, the Arab Spring, and Occupy:

It’s as though below the visible landscape of politics, whose permanence and strength we characteristically overestimate, there’s this other landscape we rather pallidly call the world of opinion.

And somewhere in this landscape of popular will, in these changes in hearts and minds — a phrase that has become a cliché but still expresses a deep truth — lie hidden powers that, when they erupt, can overmatch and bring down existing structures. That’s what John Adams said about the American Revolution: the revolution was in the hearts of the people, the minds of the people. It was amazing to find that very Vietnam-era phrase in Adams’ eighteenth century writings. What John Adams was saying you find over and over again in the history of revolutions, once you look for it.

via The unlikely oracle of Occupy – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com.

On the eve of destruction – Occupy Oakland – Salon.com

15 Nov

But Occupy Oakland can’t fight police violence with violence. The movement’s high point may have been the Nov. 2 general strike, which grew out of mass revulsion at the police tactics used to tear down the camp the week before. At least 10,000 people joined a day-long peaceful protest that culminated in closing down the Port of Oakland, with the support of the traditionally radical longshoremen’s union. But the movement began sliding downhill the same day, first when splinter groups broke windows and vandalized storefronts during the peaceful march, despite efforts by the vast majority of protesters to either stop or discourage the violence. Then that night about 200 people broke into and occupied a downtown building, inviting new clashes with cops. Videos showed members of the violent faction even attacking other Occupy Oakland supporters, and some fervent occupiers began to claim that the violence was coming from outsiders unaffiliated with the Occupy movement.

via On the eve of destruction – Occupy Oakland – Salon.com.

Nonviolence Works

8 Oct

John Horgan talks with Steve Pinker on blogginheads.tv about Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. There’s a brief segment where they talk about how nonviolence as a tactic (e.g. as Gandhi advocated) is more effective than violence. In particular, Pinker mentions a study that showed that nonviolence insurrections succeeded about 2/3s to 3/4s of the time while the violent ones only succeeded about a quarter to a third of the time.