Radical Flanks and Violence - Howard Barrell (FSI2013)


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Do violent groups that operate independently of a nonviolent movement or on its fringes increase or decrease the likelihood of success of the civil resistance movement? This talk focuses on the South African anti-apartheid struggle and examine how simultaneous campaigns of civil resistance and organized military violence against apartheid interacted with each other. It shows a complex and paradoxical relationship and argues that the ANC’s almost exclusive focus on armed struggle between 1961 and 1979 severely undermined civil resistance. Ironically, it also held back the development of armed struggle itself, and retarded the achievement of ending apartheid. The talk concludes that civil resistance inside South Africa led by the United Democratic Front (UDF) eventually far surpassed armed activity as a force for change in South Africa in the 1980s.

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Radical Flanks and Violence - Howard Barrell (FSI2013)

  1. 1. A violent flank that fired a blankCivil resistance and armed insurgency inthe struggle against apartheidHoward BarrellDelivered: Fletcher Summer Institute, June 2013
  2. 2. Southern Africa, 1984: ANC military infiltration routeANGOLAANC militarytrainingcampsMain ANCmilitaryinfiltrationrouteANGOLARonnieChris Hani
  3. 3. Along the ANC‟s main guerilla infiltration route….…on a hilloutsideManzini,Swaziland,March 1984
  4. 4. ..
  5. 5. Civil resistance and political-military relationship 1.Erica Chenoweth, Kurt Shock and Maria Stephan* find:• surveyed 233 insurrections, of which 106 involved civil resistanceand 48 simultaneous campaigns of violence;• Found nonviolent resistance campaigns more than twice as likely tosucceed as violent resistance campaigns;* See Chenoweth, E. & Stephan, M. (2011) Why civil resistance works. The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict, Columbia UniversityPress; and Shock, K. & Chenoweth, E., (2011) „Radical Flank Effects and the Outcomes of Civil Resistance Movements‟, paperdelivered at the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, June 2011.
  6. 6. Civil resistance and political-military relationship 2.Moreover, Erica Chenoweth, Kurt Shock and Maria Stephan find that:• when civil resistance and violence deployed in same struggle,– violent campaign has no positive effect on outcome of civilresistance struggle – i.e. no positive violent flank effect;– instead, simultaneous violence has negative effect on civilresistance, although this is „not statistically significant‟; and– their findings suggest power of nonviolent resistance struggleslies „in their ability to promote widespread support andmobilisation‟ whereas violence „is often polarizing and makesall forms of protest riskier‟. So, presence of violence„decreases likelihood of broad-based mass mobilization‟.
  7. 7. Civil resistance, South Africa, 1912-1960• Gandhian tradition• ANC develops base• Defiance campaign• Freedom Charter• Treason trial• Sharpeville massacre• Resort to arms, 1961
  8. 8. Early ANC thinking on armed struggle 1.• Ambiguous:– Defensive– Offensive (Guevarist)– The gist of Guevarist strategy• Key issue in armed revolutionary struggles:relationship between political andmilitary forms of struggle• Other choices in its new strategic discourse:– Trotsky-Lenin insurrectionary model– Attempts to export insurrectionary model– Led to Mao‟s protracted people‟s war model– But ANC chose Guevarist model which saidmilitary means could politically organise peoplepolitically.
  9. 9. Early ANC thinking on armed struggle 2.• 1960 et seq ANCdisregards political struggleby political means• ANC-SACP smashed insidecountry by end-1965: only ahandful of people active.• 1968-69 Wankie, Sipolilocampaigns• 1969: ANC says armedstruggle “only” way• 1965-1976: No armedstruggle inside SA• But pol. organisation is possible.Black ConsciousnessMovement, black trade unionsZambia‘SWA’BonaSipolilo .WankieSouth Africa‘Rhodesia’( )
  10. 10. The Soweto Uprising, June 16 1976
  11. 11. 1976 uprisings: military frustrations…• Thousands of youths leave country;put in ANC military training camps;• Armed struggle stays at very lowlevel of intensity;• Politico-military commission;• Vietnamese response: must revisitissue of relationship betweenpolitical and military struggle.…but political advances…• Militants inside South Africaorganise politically .…as ANC leadership argues
  12. 12. ANC leadership arguments continueas people form united front• Chronic arguments in ANC leadership over relationshipbetween political and military and shape of operationalstructures• But ANC leadership agrees role of political mobilisationis ultimately to serve military campaign.• Anti-Republic campaign, 1981.• Formation of UDF, 1983• Character of UDF– Umbrella– Strong local organisation– Organisation around concrete issues– Provincial leaderships– Small, mobile national leadership– National political focus
  13. 13. Perpetual mass action,1985-1990• Forms:– Demos, local + general strikes– Rent and service boycotts– Students‟, womens‟, other protests– Mass rallies, leafletting, etc., etc.• Iconography of violence at UDFrallies (see right)• Enormous economic, diplomaticand security costs for government• States of emergency declared• UDF outlawed, UDM formed• SA intelligence calculates options• ANC leaders recalculate options:A.S.• „Signals‟become talks• ANC unbanned, 1990
  14. 14. Violent flank and civil resistance in SAParadoxes:1. The ANC‟s obsession with armed struggle from 1960s to 1979 underminedits ability to mount not only civil resistance; it also subverted the ANC‟sability to mount armed struggle itself!1. Civil resistance in South Africa displaced and supplanted an armed struggleof which, powerful political forces intended, that civil resistance should be amere tributary.2. An iconography of violence did, at a particular point in the South Africanliberation struggle – between about 1983 and 1989 – help advance thestruggle being waged by non-violent means.3. It is possible for an organisation that has exhibited at some point anunrivalled will to struggle against an unjust opponent, such as the ANC did,eventually to win power on the back of energies and organisations it had onlya tangential role in generating.
  15. 15. North East KwaZulu-Natal