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The Dynamics of Civil Resistance by Jack DuVall (FSI2013)
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The Dynamics of Civil Resistance by Jack DuVall (FSI2013)


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The modern practice of civil resistance sprang from new ideas about the underlying nature of political power that began to be framed about 170 years ago. As later developed by Gandhi and adopted by …

The modern practice of civil resistance sprang from new ideas about the underlying nature of political power that began to be framed about 170 years ago. As later developed by Gandhi and adopted by scores of movements and campaigns for rights and justice in recent decades, strategies of civil resistance have exhibited a common dynamic, propelled historic changes, and imparted certain political and social properties to the societies in which those changes happened. The record of these strategies in liberating oppressed people, when compared to violent insurgency or revolution, has been remarkable – and suggests why political violence may recede in the future.

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  • 1. WHAT ISTHIS?Unrest?Opposition?Protest?Uprising?Revolution?
  • 2. CIVIL RESISTANCEEmergingForce forRightsand Justice
  • 3. StructureStructure AgencyAgencyStatesStates Non-State ActorsNon-State ActorsGovernmentsGovernments CitizensCitizensRulersRulers PeoplePeopleLawsLaws ConsentConsentElitesElites Civil SocietyCivil SocietyInstitutionsInstitutions MovementsMovementsConditionsConditions SkillsSkillsPhysicalPhysical PoliticalPoliticalUnrestUnrest ResistanceResistance
  • 4. CIVIL RESISTANCE“Power concedes nothing and itnever will. Find out just whatany people will quietly submitto, and you have found out theexact measure of injustice andwrong which will be imposedupon them, and these willcontinue until they areresisted…The limits of tyrantsare prescribed by theendurance of those whom theyoppress.” – Frederick Douglass
  • 5. “The Right to RiseUp”A half-century later,A half-century later,Leo Tolstoy predictedLeo Tolstoy predictedthat “public opinion”that “public opinion”would change thewould change the““whole structure of life”whole structure of life”making violencemaking violence““superfluous.”superfluous.”
  • 6. “The Right to Rise Up”Gandhi was “overwhelmed” byGandhi was “overwhelmed” byTolstoy’s thinking…Tolstoy’s thinking…- Irish resistance to- Irish resistance toBritish rule (e.g. rentBritish rule (e.g. rentstrikes)strikes)- 1905 Russian- 1905 Russianrevolution (e.g.revolution (e.g.marches, strikes)marches, strikes)
  • 7. Tactics of ResistanceTactics of ResistanceProtest/PersuasionProtest/Persuasion- Petitions, symbols, vigilsPetitions, symbols, vigils- Marches, walk-outsMarches, walk-outsNon-cooperationNon-cooperation- Boycotts, strikes, sit-insBoycotts, strikes, sit-ins- Civil disobedienceCivil disobedienceInterventionIntervention-- Blockades, seizuresBlockades, seizures
  • 8. The Dynamic of ResistanceThe Dynamic of ResistanceWhen the people deprive anWhen the people deprive anoppressor of theiroppressor of theirconsent, it reduces hisconsent, it reduces hislegitimacylegitimacy..When enough people refuseWhen enough people refuseto cooperate, theyto cooperate, theyincrease the cost ofincrease the cost ofholdingholding controlcontrol..When the system’sWhen the system’slegitimacy drops and itslegitimacy drops and itscosts rise, its enforcerscosts rise, its enforcersdoubt itsdoubt its enduranceendurance..
  • 9. RECORD OF RESISTANCEThe great nation-changing nonviolent movements:The great nation-changing nonviolent movements:Indians (1920s-40s)Indians (1920s-40s) East Germans (1989)East Germans (1989)Salvadorans (1944)Salvadorans (1944) Mongolians (1990Mongolians (1990))African-Americans (‘60s)African-Americans (‘60s) Malians (1991)Malians (1991)Poles (1970s-1980s)Poles (1970s-1980s) Russians (1991)Russians (1991)South Africans (‘84-’92)South Africans (‘84-’92) Serbs (2000)Serbs (2000)Chileans (1985-1988)Chileans (1985-1988) Georgians (2003)Georgians (2003)Filipinos (1986)Filipinos (1986) Ukrainians (2004)Ukrainians (2004)Czechs/Slovaks (1989)Czechs/Slovaks (1989) Maldivians (2008)Maldivians (2008)
  • 10. RESULTS OF RESISTANCE In the 35 years between 1970 and 2005,In the 35 years between 1970 and 2005,there were 67 transitions fromthere were 67 transitions fromauthoritarian to democraticauthoritarian to democraticgovernments.governments. In 50 of 67In 50 of 67transitions, thetransitions, thekey factor waskey factor wasnonviolent force.nonviolent force.
  • 11. Where does this happen?Where does this happen?…in people’s minds…in people’s mindsTwo modes of language and motivation:Two modes of language and motivation:Ideational: Summoning beliefIdeational: Summoning beliefContent of ideas resonates with people’sContent of ideas resonates with people’svalues, and activates identification with “thevalues, and activates identification with “theother”, e.g. community, posterity.other”, e.g. community, posterity.Instrumental: Manipulating behaviorInstrumental: Manipulating behaviorContent geared to personal material self-Content geared to personal material self-interest, participation is rented.interest, participation is rented.
  • 12. ““We are the mothers of the disappeared,We are the mothers of the disappeared,and we have come to ask, ‘Where are ourand we have come to ask, ‘Where are ourchildren.’”children.’”
  • 13. The Unifying PropositionThe Unifying PropositionGandhi’s Proposition to IndiansGandhi’s Proposition to Indians::“The British are ruling thiscountry for their own benefit,so why should we help them?”
  • 14. The Unifying PropositionThe Unifying PropositionFeatures of the Gandhi propositionFeatures of the Gandhi proposition1.1. Identifies those who are responsible for theIdentifies those who are responsible for theinjusticeinjustice2.2. An argument about how people are governed – howAn argument about how people are governed – howpower is usedpower is used3.3. Identifies the system’s unfairnessIdentifies the system’s unfairness4.4. Explains that the people have allowed these wrongsExplains that the people have allowed these wrongsto persist, but have the power to change themto persist, but have the power to change them
  • 15. Emergent propertiesEmergent propertiesof civilof civilresistanceresistancereasonreason- respects the citizen’s- respects the citizen’smindmind- persuasion, not coercion- persuasion, not coercion- signals honesty &- signals honesty &credibilitycredibility
  • 16. Emergent propertiesEmergent propertiesof civilof civilresistanceresistanceself-ruleself-rule-- SwarajSwaraj-- Self-organizationSelf-organization-- PlanningPlanning-- NonviolentNonviolentdisciplinediscipline
  • 17. Emergent propertiesEmergent propertiesof civilof civilresistanceresistancerePresenTaTIonrePresenTaTIon- Ascertaining/presenting grievancesAscertaining/presenting grievances- Listening, delegating, inviting participationListening, delegating, inviting participation- Humility, not hierarchyHumility, not hierarchy- Solidarity of all,Solidarity of all,not heroism of a fewnot heroism of a few
  • 18. Emergent propertiesEmergent propertiesof civilof civilresistanceresistanceresIlIenCeresIlIenCe- MomentumMomentum- Existential stakesExistential stakes- Certitude of faith inCertitude of faith ineventual successeventual successFannie Lou HamerFannie Lou Hamer
  • 19. The Basis of Resistance:The Basis of Resistance:A Choice of IdentityA Choice of Identity““Who are you?”Who are you?”The object of a ruling elite,The object of a ruling elite,submissive to threats ofsubmissive to threats ofrepression and violence?repression and violence?ororA citizen, able to developA citizen, able to developthe means to obtain powerthe means to obtain powerto win your rights?to win your rights?
  • 20. Demand for Militant StruggleDemand for Militant StruggleFrom people who want…From people who want…--Self-determinationSelf-determination(West Papua, Nagaland)(West Papua, Nagaland)-End to dictatorship-End to dictatorship(Burma, Iran)(Burma, Iran)-End to occupation-End to occupation(West Sahara, Palestine)(West Sahara, Palestine)
  • 21. ““To End Violence…To End Violence………StruggleStrugglefor Justice”for Justice”- Sign held bySign held byanti-apartheid protester,anti-apartheid protester,South Africa, 1986South Africa, 1986
  • 22. Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 2013Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 2013Another year, another people:Another year, another people:another future in theanother future in themaking.making.