This morning I joined my friend, Sarah, at an event put on by Warm Cookies of the Revolution. Warm Cookies bills itself as a Civic Health Club, and while Sarah has participated in numerous events, today was my first.
The topic: The Science of Effective Resistance by Erica Chenoweth
When Sarah texted me the invite I went to the site to read up on the talk, and saw that it was about nonviolent conflict. My first thought was, “Screw that. We need to be in the streets with torches and pitchforks, and maybe burn a few cars while we’re at it.” (Yes, I am incredibly frustrated with the timid response from the “opposition” party.) But I value Sarah’s judgment and wanted to spend time with her today, so I thanked her for the invitation. And off we went.
Here’s my takeaway: Erica Chenoweth has done the numbers on violent vs nonviolent campaigns of resistance. And guess what? Nonviolent campaigns have a higher success rate. There are a variety of reasons for that but the one that went ping in my head was that acts of violence can (and probably will) turn off active allies and potential allies. Imagine that!
Her research shows that all successful nonviolent campaigns have three things in common:
- mass participation
- defections from the ruling regime
- the use of flexible tactics
Hey, looky there! We’ve got two out of three going on right this very moment!