Tag Archives | nonviolent resistance

Six Reasons Why Protest Is So Important for Democracy

In this short introduction to this month’s postings, British philosopher Richard Norman asks why protest is so fundamental for human rights and democratic society. The two articles that follow discuss two different protest movements. The first began exactly forty-one years ago when 14 mothers met in a central square to ask their country’s military dictatorship […]

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Protest in the Black Lives Matter Movement: An Interview with Activist and Lawyer Justin Hansford

As part of OpenDemcracy’s Right to Protest series, Anna Norman interviews activist and lawyer Justin Hansford on the frustration and anger that has given rise to Black Lives Matter, the cultural shifts that are taking place as a result, and the need for protests that disrupt the status quo. ********** Anna Norman (AN): Can you […]

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The Dangers of Political Sainthood

In this timely piece, Harry Blain cautions us from putting too much faith in the “great leader.” Not only does this encourage collective denial and individual cynicism when, as with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, they let us down, but this all too common tendency ignores the thousands upon thousands of ordinary […]

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Why Artistic Activism?

Our first post of the new academic year once again puts the focus on nonviolent forms of resistance, and the need for activists (and indeed educators) to create opportunities that can disrupt people’s pre-existing ideas and values. For this, people must be moved emotionally, and artist and activist Rebecca Bray argues that this can best […]

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An Introduction to Our Topic: Resistance (2)

A serious consideration of nonviolent resistance requires us to confront both practical and conceptual issues. While the practice goes back at least to the 4th century B.C.E., its history and successes remain largely unrecognized. Given our current normalization of violence, we tend to see every nonviolent movement that fails as confirmation of the inherent limitations […]

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What Makes Nonviolent Movements Explode?

With a focus on the Occupy Movement, authors and activists Mark Engler and Paul Engler, provide us with a real understanding of how nonviolent movements succeed. The key is the powerful combination of sacrifice and disruption, something that only rare groups “combine in thoughtful and creative ways.” But when they do, the movement can explode […]

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Five Successful Campaigners Share their Secrets

Activist Ben Phillips interviews the leaders of five successful but quite different nonviolent movements, including the campaigns to end South African Apartheid, save Kenya’s forests and end the debt crisis in developing countries. He learns much that is not taught in social science classrooms. **********  When I was young I got involved in campaigns because […]

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Germaine Tillion, une leçon de vie dont on peut s’inspirer

In this very important contribution, Dawson College Professor Djemaa Maazouzi introduces us to Germaine Tillion, an anthropologist and ethnologist, revered by many as the “conscience of 20th century France,” whose life and work was driven by her moral outrage over human suffering. In the 1930s, she opposed the racist ideologies spreading through Europe and the […]

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Rediscovering Nonviolence in the Vatican

All of the world’s major religions have opposed the taking of human life, but when religions gain political power, the story becomes much more ambivalent, particularly with respect to the acceptance of warfare. Early Christianity expressed a strong commitment to pacifism and opposed Christian participation in war; this shifted once Christianity became the official Church […]

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Humor but Not Humiliation

Gandhi believed that the victim’s suffering could awaken the conscience of an oppressor. This process of conversion has been called moral jiu-jitsu, whereby the unexpected refusal to respond with violence makes the perpetrator lose their moral balance. While many, including Gandhi, have recognized that this process can take time, and often happens by way of […]

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Weapons of Mass Democracy

In this article, originally published in September 2009, Stephen Zunes reveals how veterans of successful nonviolent movements are spreading their knowledge to activists around the world, who are increasingly adopting nonviolent action to overthrow dictatorial regimes or foreign occupiers.  As he emphasizes, though, successful nonviolent revolutions are homegrown affairs that involve a large cross-section of the population, […]

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Reclaiming Nonviolent History

Many people’s histories recount armed struggles and violent insurrections, but often forgotten are the central roles played by ordinary people in nonviolent action. How many of us have heard of the Palestinian Gandhis and Kings, or the fact that most of the original 13 colonies of the US had achieved de facto independence a year […]

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Civil Resistance and the Language of Power

How can nonviolent movements mobilize people to resist injustice, even to the point where their actions put them in personal jeopardy? For Jack Duvall, the answer lies in using the power of language to awaken and sustain a people’s passions, but not through shallow appeals to trigger our emotions, as is popular today, but rather with a call […]

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The Trifecta of Civil Resistance: Unity, Planning, Discipline

It is often argued that the success of nonviolent movements is largely determined by the exceptional circumstances in which each movement operated. This conclusion downplays the  skills and agency of those involved, due perhaps, as Hardy Merriman suggests, to the fact that people doubt or do not know the premise on which nonviolent action is based—that […]

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The Pacifist Dilemma: Women Peacemakers’ Responses to Islamic State

In American scholar Theodore Roszak’s wonderful fictional debate between Ghandi and Churchill, the British Prime Minister challenges Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolence by asking him what one is to do when the enemy is at the gate. Gandhi’s response does not waver: the enemy was “the product of a long catalogue of vengeful and selfish actions” […]

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The Syrian Resistance: A Tale of Two Struggles

Maciej Bartkowski and Mohja Kahf suggest that it is a tragedy of history when so many people regardless of sect, ethnicity, religion, and gender join in nonviolent resistance to demand freedom for all, and achieve so much with so little during such a brief time, only to have their accomplishments go largely unrecognized, and their […]

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Defeating ISIS through Civil Resistance?

Maria Stephan of the United States Institute of Peace looks at the potential of using nonviolent resistance against ISIS.  This article, written in July of this year, picks up from where “The Pacifist Dilemma” ends by addressing how organized nonviolent civilian action could be effective in disrupting and denying the key sources of power on […]

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Deploying Art Against War

Joshua Levkowitz addresses the potential of art to oppose violence and trigger further community resistance, as well as to help communities heal from war. While the results have been varied, the author discusses examples of public art from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East that were presented at a recent forum organized by the United […]

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Countering Hybrid War: Civil Resistance as a National Defence Strategy

This article examines the possibility of deterring aggressive actions by a powerful state through civil resistance. Maciej Bartkowski argues that, while the Western response to Russia’s recent actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine has been predicated on a show of military force, nonviolent civilian defense promises another path. His argument draws both on an understanding […]

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Women’s Power to Stop War: Hubris or Hope

As the world’s oldest women’s international peace organization, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, prepared for its 100th anniversary this year, Cynthia Cockburn looked back to the roots of women’s peace activism, illustrating that from its beginning women took a holistic perspective, drawing out the links between women’s rights, social justice and peace. […]

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Reconciling Red and White Poppies

Pat Romano reflects on some of the difficult truths of war through the lens of the conflict over red and white poppies. Both symbols arose out of the devastation of WWI, the world’s first industrial war. From the start, many perceived the white poppy as offensive to the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice; the […]

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War Is Not a Video Game – Or Is It?

In this essay, Pat Romano examines the blurring of virtual war and real war for both civilians and soldiers, while some Dawson students look behind the façade of the games they play. ****** “(Before) the weapon comes the image. We think others to death before we invent the battle-axe or ballistic missiles with which to […]

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