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Debra Smith


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What does it take for nonviolent movements to succeed? Is there really power in nonviolent actions? Can nonviolence succeed?

I am encountering a lot of sceptism about the effectiveness of nonviolent protests and movements.
What does it take for nonviolent movements to succeed?

Here is an article about nonviolent movements in the Middle East to get us started:


An excerpt from the above article:

"Even if a government has a monopoly of military force and the support of the world’s one remaining superpower, it is still ultimately powerless if the people refuse to recognize its authority. Through general strikes, filling the streets, mass refusal to obey official orders, and other forms of nonviolent resistance, even the most autocratic regime cannot survive.

Freedom House, in its 2005 study “How Freedom Is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy,” observed that, of the nearly 70 countries that had made the transition from dictatorship to varying degrees of democracy in the previous 30 years, only a small minority did so through armed struggle from below or reform instigated from above. Hardly any new democracies resulted from foreign invasion. In nearly three-quarters of the transitions, change was rooted in democratic civil-society organizations that employed nonviolent methods."

Please share your thoughts, reflections, examples and ideas.
Share examples of nonviolent successes even if you believe that others might know about them.


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    Dec 3 2011: Debra, good question !!

    IMHO, most people focus on making the transition, which is good. As we could have seen recently in north african countries, one of that reason for that focus is that disrupting from the current tyranny is very difficult and has medium to low chance to succeed.

    This is good to add chance of success, but far from being enough, for the following reasons: if the transition has been done with violence, unethical facts, ..., then it will be mostly impossible to transition to a peaceful democratic regime, because people will have reasons to hate each other.

    So I don't know if nonviolence can succeed, but my point is : if you want to move to some situation which is worth the move, for that situation to have value, be stable and welcome, the move must be nonviolent.

    If you move from an oppressing regime with violence, all you will do is to move to another oppressing regime, just switching who are those who take advantage of the country.

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