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Empirical Support for Nonviolence PDF Print E-mail
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by Abbie Kouzmanoff   
18 November 2014
Image"Violent campaigns are more than twice as likely to fail in their objectives as nonviolent ones. Violence is becoming increasingly ineffective, and nonviolence is becoming increasingly effective over time... Civil resistance can be an effective force for change in the world in almost any context." As to post-campaign outcomes, violence tends to stay around: "Win by the sword, rule by the sword." - Prof. Erica Chenoweth

From The Dartmouth Staff: Professor Presents Empirical Support for Nonviolence
The notion that violent insurgency can effectively enact change around the world is a myth, according to Erica Chenoweth. While at Wesleyan University she co-authored "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict."

She now teaches at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She is an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. She is an internationally recognized authority on alternatives to violence. She is co-author of the award-winning book Why Civil Resistance Works.

Chenoweth's lecture the final installment of Dartmouth College's annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day [2012] focused on the notion that nonviolent resistance is statistically more effective than violent insurgency and leads to more democratic and peaceful countries in the long term.

Chenoweth said she was skeptical about nonviolent resistance prior to her research on the impact of nonviolent strategies. As a security scholar, she had never been confident in the ability of nonviolent movements to revolutionize the political system.

"I am a convert in some ways," Chenoweth said. "I started out thinking I would study violence bullets flying through the air, that's sort of my bag."

As a pragmatist, she said she strayed from a movement she felt often conflated nonviolence with pacifism.

However, Chenoweth said she changed her views after discovering the pragmatic reasons for nonviolence as a more strategic and effective option than violent insurgency.

"I saw civil resistance as a necessary precursor to terrorism and insurgency, and I saw terrorism and insurgency as almost always following the practice of civil resistance," Chenoweth said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "I feel pretty challenged on both of those issues now."

Civil resistance or nonviolent resistance is defined as a form of active conflict where unarmed civilians use a variety of nonviolent tactics like strikes and boycotts to try to effect political change without using or threatening to use violence against the opponent, according to Chenoweth.

The mainstream view on resistance still largely proclaims that if violence does not work, nonviolence is even less effective, Chenoweth said.

Due to Chenoweth's initial skepticism, she carefully defined the criteria for her research, she said. Each case of civil resistance, for example, had to have at least 1,000 active participants.

According to the research, violent campaigns are more than twice as likely to fail in their objectives as nonviolent ones.

"Violence is becoming increasingly ineffective, and nonviolence is becoming increasingly effective over time," Chenoweth said. "Civil resistance can be an effective force for change in the world in almost any context."

Some of this success may be due to the public's greater willingness to participate in nonviolent campaigns than in violent ones, according to Chenoweth. Civil resistance relies on participants' consent and is often highly visible to the public. In addition, nonviolent movements which are less binding than violent movements offer greater flexibility to participants, she said.

"With a nonviolent campaign, people can participate when they feel like it," Chenoweth said. "But then they can go home to their families."

Violent campaigns are associated with a greater number of deaths, despite the "horrific" and visible nature of deaths of peaceful protestors, according to Chenoweth.

Civil resistance also typically leads to improved outcomes in society, Chenoweth said. While violent insurgency sometimes proves effective, more countries emerge peaceful and democratic as a result of civil resistance than violent campaigns.

"Win by the sword, rule by the sword," Chenoweth said. "Nonviolent campaigns are 15 percent less likely to experience a relapse into civil wars than violent campaigns."

Nonviolent campaigns are often successful because they access civilian power rather than relying on the typical instruments of regime elites. In this context, civilians act as the "agents of change" rather than merely being "caught in a crossfire," she said.

Chenoweth said she believes her research encourages those working toward change in a nonviolent way by "spreading the good news" that nonviolent resistance is empirically supported, she said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The best way to succeed in civil resistance has not yet been definitively determined, according to Chenoweth.

Despite scientific findings, the mainstream view is still not supportive of nonviolent resistance.

"Often violence is serving very personal functions for people," Chenoweth said. "Rational insurgents should be able to substitute the method that works for one that doesn't, but people are hanging onto violence for dear life, and I don't know why."

Chenoweth said she hopes people will stop accepting the narrative that violent measures are the only way to overcome certain situations and will instead consider better resolutions to conflict.

The lecture, held on Friday in the Rockefeller Center, was co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Center and the Dickey Center for International Understanding.

* * * * *

The above article was published on thedartmouth.com February 6, 2012. Image

Alternative Radio interview with Erica Chenoweth: read about it and purchase it to hear it at the alternativeradio.org website.

Image
Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D

Erica Chenoweth teaches at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She is an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. She is an internationally recognized authority on alternatives to violence. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Why Civil Resistance Works.

Culture Change has criticized in recent years a tiny mini-movement of ivory-tower militants advocating violence to other human beings in the name of protecting the natural ecosystem. They ignore the teachings and successes of Gandhi, ML King, Jr. and Lennon. Perhaps these desperately concerned, sincere, fringe environmentalists do not take into account the ramifications of violence begetting violence, nor the need for a radically different culturally dominant model than the history of state and Western Civilizational violence.

The odds against any successful violence-against-humans campaign are extremely high in terms of crackdown-certainty, given the disproportionate firepower and tracking that are at hand, and given the populace's nonsupport such a movement in the foreseeable future. Prof. Chenoweth has provided scientific and reasoned support for this analysis. Certain fringe pro-violence-against-humans leaders have denounced Culture Change statements about them on this website (that reappeared on AlterNet.org) as lies, serving to modify or diminish their own movement's mini-momentum by publicly eschewing pro-violence toward humans.

Comments (7)Add Comment
The idea of getting beyond violence is a wonderful notion. Is this the insulated talking to the insulated with blind optimism while not noticing the planet being blown to bits. The gigantic problem is..., violence is there is! In so many forms. Shunning people, neglecting to be truly helpful everyday, not responding to people, decision making that does not include certain groups..., There are so many forms of violence since this is all we have carried with us and have perpetuated. I would love to get beyond violence. I see violence with a smile every single day. It is so simple for insulated people to speak while perpetuating violence with a smile. Good grief !
Joe
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Thanks Jan, an excellent article for culture change.

Possibly it's new to scholars of strategic studies who are trying to emerge from the stultifying deep pretext of security framed as competitive armed aggression, but the time honoured discipline of orchestrating courageous and strategic non-violence and frank mutualism has long been the preferred alternative "to taking arms against a sea of troubles."

Non-violence really works but only in the context that not only is war impoverishing for both victor and vanquished but also and perhaps more important that it is not profitable for them or for any other insulated third party interests such as financiers, currency speculators, arms manufacturers, mercenaries and resource plunderers.

Before the ascendancy of globalization and NATO as revanchist neocon imperialism, it was the function of the United Nations to create an international diplomatic context in which non-violence, mutualism and informed national interest could resist the powerful few who would profit from war, oppression and aggression. It is now 100 years since the beginning of WWI and those who positioned themselves to profit from that diplomatic failure of civilization are still arranging their dominoes to divert power and profit to their private interest from all exploitable subsequent wars, crises, disasters and conflagrations.

Look at it this way, perpetual peace has now actually been achieved; ethnic, racial and religious oppression is finished and armed national aggression is obliterated except where it is caused for and on behalf of the profits of the expansionist masters of our global destiny. It is in their self perpetuating interest --legitimizing aggression involving expensive war in responce to inexpensive terrorism while inspiring reactionary hatred among the people that justifies vast financial responses in militarism, surveillance and security, colonization and oppression.

It is as though the wealthiest of our masters intend to prove how very inhumane we are despite all our pretensions at being civilized. In view of the institutional acceleration of violence, I wonder how Ms Chenoweth is now making out?

Cheers, Michael
Michael Major
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Ironically, Erica Chenoweth is apparently advocating non-violence (as more effective) from within a violence-based prison that is the nation-state...

Violence (Against what/who? Other species? Soils? Climate? Mother Earth, our home, thus, us?) appears as a matter of context and semantics; civil disobedience, a matter of degree...

Christian Bay’s encyclopedia article states that civil disobedience requires ‘carefully chosen and legitimate means’, but holds that they do not have to be nonviolent. It has been argued that, while both civil disobedience and civil rebellion are justified by appeal to constitutional defects, rebellion is much more destructive; therefore, the defects justifying rebellion must be much more serious than those justifying disobedience… McCloskey argues that ‘if violent, intimidatory, coercive disobedience is more effective, it is, other things being equal, more justified than less effective, nonviolent disobedience.’ ”
~ Wikipedia

“The concept of nonviolence is a false ideal. It presupposes the existence of compassion and a sense of justice on the part of one’s adversary. When this adversary [systemic?]* has everything to lose and nothing to gain by exercising justice and compassion, ["]his["] reaction can only be negative.”
~ George Jackson

“Lance Hill criticizes nonviolence as a failed strategy and argues that black armed self-defense and civil violence motivated civil rights reforms more than peaceful appeals to morality and reason.”
~ Wikipedia

“Peter Gelderloos criticises nonviolence as being ineffective, racist, statist, patriarchal, tactically and strategically inferior to militant activism, and deluded. Gelderloos claims that traditional histories whitewash the impact of nonviolence, ignoring the involvement of militants in such movements as the Indian independence movement and the Civil Rights movement and falsely showing Gandhi and King as being their respective movement’s most successful activist. He further argues that nonviolence is generally advocated by [the] privileged… ”

“William P. Meyers argued that nonviolence encourages violence by the state and corporations… with notions of non-violence in a deliberate (and successful) attempt to render [groups] harmless and ineffective.”

“D. A. Clarke… suggests that for nonviolence to be effective, it must be ‘practiced by those who could easily resort to force if they chose’. This argument reasons that nonviolent tactics will be of little or no use to groups that are traditionally considered incapable of violence, since nonviolence will be in keeping with people’s expectations for them and thus go unnoticed.”

“Indian guru Osho Rajneesh heavily criticised teachings of nonviolence, on psychological and spiritual grounds:
‘…For five thousand years people have been taught to be non-violent; they have learnt the trick of pretending. And all that has happened is that they have repressed their violence… Let there be a riot, and all that piousness simply evaporates as if it had never been there…
This violence erupts again and again in this country because of the teaching, a wrong teaching, which is based on repression. Whenever you repress something, it will come up again and again.
I teach you awareness, not repression. That’s why I don’t talk about nonviolence. (…) And the more you become aware, the more your life will attain to silence, peace, love. They are by-products of awareness.”
~ Wikipedia

“Gandhi was not a pacifist; he believed in the right of those being attacked to strike back and regarded inaction as a result of cowardice to be a greater sin than even the most ill-considered aggression.”
~ What Gandhi Says About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage, by Norman G. Finkelstein

“Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.“.” ~ The Matrix

* My additions in square brackets.
Caelan MacIntyre
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A vigorous US citizen movement can force Congress to pass strong climate laws. Then, the rest of the world will fall in line. Such a US movement can be built to a politically-effective size within 24 to 36 months. US action within 36 months is a “necessary but insufficient condition” to bring about a relatively-benign 2C/3.6F (average surface temperature rise) scenario, avoiding a disastrous 4 to 6C / 7.2 to 10.8F scenario.

Erica Chenoweth’s EMPIRICAL dataset of past international citizen movements shows that when 3.5% of a country’s population (11 million pro-climate Americans) is actively involved in a movement, 80% of those movements achieve their objectives. Likely sources of movement members: 250K Green Party members, 350K Occupy members, 8M members of enviro groups (Sierra Club, 350, NRDC), 14.5M union members, 28M minimum wage workers including 4.1M fast food workers, 17M high schoolers, 19M college students, 5M indigenous people, and a portion of 63M Americans who regularly attend church. (A climate movement partnership with labor & fast food workers will augment the policy platform to encompass employment stimulus and labor reforms.)

My argument contrasts progressive California and gridlocked national politics, concluding that US congress will not pass strong climate laws without a citizen movement. Once the argument is made, a summary of effective citizen movement tactics is provided. Following the tactical discussion, a critique of eight other federal strategies (EDF, CCL, NRDC, 350, Sierra Club, Tom Steyer, etc) is provided.

details: http://kerrigon.blogspot.com/2...imate.html

And, via Chenoweth's formula, 11M Americans can also reform state capitalism: http://kerrigon.blogspot.com/2...throw.html
David Kerrigon
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"First, I shy away from absolutist statements of the kind that any one method is more effective than all others under all conditions, in all places, and at all times. That nonviolent resistance – or any other method of social change — is always the best method, everywhere, under all circumstances, seems highly unlikely to me.

Second, I can’t imagine how the superiority of nonviolent resistance could ever be empirically proven. There are far too many things going on in any struggle for change to disentangle the effects of one form of struggle from all the others that are likely to accompany it and from the effects of the different responses to the struggle that different governments may make.

For example, the Gandhian struggle against British control of India was not unaccompanied by a violent resistance. Moreover, Britain’s exhaustion and depletion following WWII likely figured prominently in the country’s willingness to loosen some control over its colonial possession.

Likewise, it is impossible to isolate the effects of the US-sponsored, aided- and organized-civil disobedience movement on the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic from the effects of NATO bombing; the US-sponsored and funded KLA insurgency; sanctions; and the differential withholding by NATO of heating oil from areas that supported Milosevic’s Socialist party. Isolating one element of the anti-Milosevic struggle from its many and diverse elements, and then attributing the outcome of the struggle to one element alone, seems to me to be as dishonest as it is methodologically untenable. And yet, this is exactly what the ICNC has done in its paean to nonviolent struggle, Bringing Down a Dictator.

That Kurtz could argue that a method of social change has been “empirically proven” should raise serious questions about his intellectual honesty. Sadly, he seems to be less a social scientist than a kind of salesman for nonviolent resistance who dishonestly exploits his academic credentials to peddle what any intelligent undergraduate would recognize as a conclusion based on methodological nonsense.

To be clear, my view on nonviolent warfare is that it can be effective, but not at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. Some conditions seem likely to increase the likelihood of a campaign of nonviolent warfare succeeding. These include outside support in the form of funding, training, and organization (what the US government, imperialist foundations and ICNC provide); diplomatic and military pressure on the target government; the use of sanctions and economic warfare to destabilize the economy; and the cooperation of the media to undermine the legitimacy of the target government, as well outside support for so-called “independent” media to do the same. The aim is to weaken and disorganize a government to sap its will to rule. Other governments at other times have been weakened and disorganized by crises (economic catastrophe or the devastation of war, for example) that were not methodically engineered by an outside power. Some of these governments have also been brought down by opposition forces, sometimes violently, sometimes non-violently. The point is that recognizing that nonviolent warfare can be effective in some instances does not amount to essentially conceding that nonviolent civil resistance is empirically proven to be more effective than any other method for bringing about change..."

~ Stephen Gowans
Caelan MacIntyre
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continued from previous...

"...But this is hardly the main concern. Even if I were to concede the point, as Kurtz erroneously claims I have, it wouldn’t erase the collaboration of Kurtz and other exponents of nonviolent warfare with imperialism. That’s the real strike against the ICNC and its agents.

Finally, Kurtz argues that I essentially concede that nonviolent civil resistance is empirically proven to be more effective than any other method for bringing about change. If he could point out where I conceded this, essentially or otherwise, I would be grateful. I can’t recall ever being interested enough in the point to have either conceded or challenged it. However, now that Kurtz has drawn my attention to the question, let me offer two observations.

First, I shy away from absolutist statements of the kind that any one method is more effective than all others under all conditions, in all places, and at all times. That nonviolent resistance – or any other method of social change — is always the best method, everywhere, under all circumstances, seems highly unlikely to me.

Second, I can’t imagine how the superiority of nonviolent resistance could ever be empirically proven. There are far too many things going on in any struggle for change to disentangle the effects of one form of struggle from all the others that are likely to accompany it and from the effects of the different responses to the struggle that different governments may make.

For example, the Gandhian struggle against British control of India was not unaccompanied by a violent resistance. Moreover, Britain’s exhaustion and depletion following WWII likely figured prominently in the country’s willingness to loosen some control over its colonial possession.

Likewise, it is impossible to isolate the effects of the US-sponsored, aided- and organized-civil disobedience movement on the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic from the effects of NATO bombing; the US-sponsored and funded KLA insurgency; sanctions; and the differential withholding by NATO of heating oil from areas that supported Milosevic’s Socialist party. Isolating one element of the anti-Milosevic struggle from its many and diverse elements, and then attributing the outcome of the struggle to one element alone, seems to me to be as dishonest as it is methodologically untenable. And yet, this is exactly what the ICNC has done in its paean to nonviolent struggle, Bringing Down a Dictator.

That Kurtz could argue that a method of social change has been “empirically proven” should raise serious questions about his intellectual honesty. Sadly, he seems to be less a social scientist than a kind of salesman for nonviolent resistance who dishonestly exploits his academic credentials to peddle what any intelligent undergraduate would recognize as a conclusion based on methodological nonsense.

To be clear, my view on nonviolent warfare is that it can be effective, but not at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. Some conditions seem likely to increase the likelihood of a campaign of nonviolent warfare succeeding. These include outside support in the form of funding, training, and organization (what the US government, imperialist foundations and ICNC provide); diplomatic and military pressure on the target government; the use of sanctions and economic warfare to destabilize the economy; and the cooperation of the media to undermine the legitimacy of the target government, as well outside support for so-called “independent” media to do the same. The aim is to weaken and disorganize a government to sap its will to rule. Other governments at other times have been weakened and disorganized by crises (economic catastrophe or the devastation of war, for example) that were not methodically engineered by an outside power. Some of these governments have also been brought down by opposition forces, sometimes violently, sometimes non-violently. The point is that recognizing that nonviolent warfare can be effective in some instances does not amount to essentially conceding that nonviolent civil resistance is empirically proven to be more effective than any other method for bringing about change.

But this is hardly the main concern. Even if I were to concede the point, as Kurtz erroneously claims I have, it wouldn’t erase the collaboration of Kurtz and other exponents of nonviolent warfare with imperialism. That’s the real strike against the ICNC and its agents." ~ Stephen Gowans

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/lester-kurtz’s-duty/
Caelan MacIntyre
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"About the research of Chenoweth and Stephan he [Mark Kramer] says:

I find their argument very intriguing, but one clear problem is that their database unavoidably omits countless non-violent resistance campaigns that never begin (because they are deterred) or that are crushed at a very early stage before they become widely known. Hence, the database is biased toward successful cases of non-violence, leaving ample room for debate about the authors’ conclusions. Moreover, even if Stephan and Chenoweth are correct in their aggregate analysis of non-violent resistance campaigns unadjusted for size, the existence of crucial outliers — China in June 1989, Burma in 2007, Zimbabwe in 2005 and 2008, and Iran in June-July 2009 — raises further questions about the validity of their argument."

...

"Personally, I don’t advocate violence, torture, or extrajudicial killing, whether by states or insurgents. It’s still worth asking though – and the research of Chenowith and Stephan in no way ends the debate – whether nonviolent protest works against a regime truly determined to stay in power at all costs (cf. China, Iran, Syria, and Libya). ~ Thanassis Cambanis

________________



Perhaps it is like a group of essentially-wild fish in a fishbowl. By peaceful means, they make it peaceful within the bowl, but they are still in their prison, the bowl.

The State.

But the issue of violence and non-violence seems a bit of a false dichotomy, and/or gross oversimplification, which seems to ignore ethics, degrees, blurry fuzzinesses, mysteries, surprises, contexts, viruses, mutations, contradictions, paradoxes, evolution, etc., and or but, too, the violence of nature, of the universe, as giving life-- sex, childbirth, supernovae and all that... And bone-sawing, organ-slicing surgeries.

Ouch.

Nevertheless, given the Permaea project, its 'manifesto' of which is almost done and will be submitted as an article to the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia (PRI), maybe we can still give 'It' a stab, some relatively-peaceful surgery?
Caelan MacIntyre
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