Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not your Granny's nonviolence

In our endless effort to update our knowledge about nonviolence, I'd propose a blogstorm with all my readers, or with both of them, as the case may be. The question I'm asking is, How has the theory and practice of nonviolence changed as we've crossed a decade into a new millennium?

There are many other generally related questions about nonviolence, such as What Gandhian nonviolence methods are probably cultural specific and which might be more universal? or Are there any of Gandhi's methods that are now outdated? or WWGD if he were alive today? and so forth. But I wonder if we might start thinking about what the newest advances might be? I hope you'll comment.

I'm going to start by noting that we finally have some empirical research to back up our idea that nonviolence works. The 2005 Freedom House study is one of them and the work that is underway at Wesleyan University under the intellectual leadership of Erica Chenoweth is another profound set of contributions to our knowledge about nonviolence. This work is complex and starts to prove out the distinct pain-gain advantage of strategic nonviolence.

Another possible area of exploration is the uptick in nonviolent accompaniment work. This has become more routinized by nongovernmental organizations such as Peace Brigades International, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Nonviolent Peaceforce. Early assessment of this by Liam Mahony and Luis Eguren has helped us start to grasp the power in this tactic.

What other facets of nonviolence are relatively new, either beyond Gene Sharp's 198 ways or much more developed since his 1973 blockbuster trilogy on the Power, Methods, and Dynamics of nonviolence?

1 comment:

Jason said...

Tom wrote: "How has the theory and practice of nonviolence changed as we've crossed a decade into a new millennium?"

A few changes of note.

1. The explosion of instant information transmission has allowed nonviolence advocates to do two things.

a. Organize at a faster pace and with a broader constituency.
b. Document examples of government sanctioned violence more quickly and, again, to a wider audience using media platforms that simply did not exist in Gandhi's time. Witness the YouTube videos showing the Iranian governments violent crackdown of election protesters. When every world citizen can easily become a citizen journalist, governments are often finding themselves more easily accountable to world opinion.

Jason Reagan