Nonviolent revolutions succeed more than violent ones, says the data

That’s just a fact, not a moral sentiment or idealistic wish

Nonviolence matters to capitalism because old capitalism, in which we all play a part, fosters violence. The violence happens because someone, somewhere is making a profit from it.

Much of it is kept out of our view, by design. “We save money by dumping our toxic waste into rivers and letting taxpayers deal with it!” is hardly a good advertising campaign, but it is a proven way to increase shareholder value. There are companies proving it right now, and my lunch is going to be cheaper because they do.

It’s not that the people profiting want others dead or injured—it’s because fear keeps people from getting in the way of a profitable venture. It keeps migrant workers from calling the cops. It keeps girls from competing with boys in school. It keeps journalists and citizens from asking questions.

And of course, much of the violence in the world is economic. Why, for example, do women still make less money than men in the United States, when we know it’s happening, we say it’s wrong, and the majority of us are women and men who support equal pay? Don’t feel bad if you’re stumped by the question. Surveys find that most Americans support equal pay for equal work, but also believe that the problem mostly doesn’t exist.

The most successful bullying is stealthy. You know you’re being bullied but you can’t find the person doing it. Or you’re being gaslighted into thinking you’re not being bullied at all.

Even many people who admire Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King and are personally nonviolent still have the belief that in the end, the only way to change things is through violence. But that’s simply not true. That’s not a moral statement or an idealistic wish. That’s simply what the data tells us, according to Erica Chenowith of the University of Denver.

Success Rates of Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns, 1900-2006Success Rates of Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns, 1900-2006 | Erica Chenowith

While it’s true that sometimes physical force is justified for self-defense, many revolutionaries have foregone self-defense and found that facing the bullets and beatings has been the path to victory. But there’s more to nonviolent resistance than just marching and getting beaten the way it happened at Selma.

The science of nonviolence has evolved and become sophisticated. And it knows how to win. Nonviolence in Gandhi’s day was at the same stage nuclear science was leading up to Enrico Fermi’s splitting of the atom at Columbia and here in Chicago. Now, the science of nonviolent resistance is demonstrably more powerful than armies.

I’ll talk more about places like Serbia, where it won decisively, and Egypt, where it won temporarily but is now regrouping.

As for Syria, there is a small but powerful group of nonviolent activists there and they are being advised and trained by the Serbs who overthrew Milosevic. Instead of funding dubious rebel groups who are only slightly less dangerous than Assad and ISIS, we should help them.


By | 2017-08-03T08:10:19+00:00 August 3rd, 2017|Peace|0 Comments