Waging-Nonviolent-Struggle-20th-Century-Practice-and-21st-Century-Potential (3)

2nd part http://www.freeinchina.org/waging-nonviolent-struggle2/
What words to use?

The type of action in these cases and others has been given various names, some of which are useful and others of which are inappropriate. These names include “nonviolent resistance,” “civil resistance,” “passive resistance,” “nonviolence,” “people power,” “political defiance,” and “positive action.” The use of the term “nonviolence” is especially unfortunate, because it con- fuses these forms of mass action with beliefs in ethical or religious nonviolence (“principled nonviolence”). Those beliefs, which have their merits, are different phenomena that usually are unre- lated to mass struggles conducted by people who do not share such beliefs. To identify the technique, we here use and recom- mend the terms nonviolent action or nonviolent struggle.

Because of the continuing imprecision and confusion about which words to use, it has been necessary over recent decades to refine existing terminology to describe and discuss such action, and even to develop new words and phrases. Therefore, a short glossary has been included for reference at the end of this book.
Exposing misconceptions

In addition to misconceptions conveyed by unfortunate termi- nology, there are other areas of confusion in the field of nonvio- lent struggle as well. Despite new studies in recent decades, inaccuracies and misunderstandings are still widespread. Here are corrections for some of them:

(1) Nonviolent action has nothing to do with passivity, sub- missiveness, or cowardice. Just as in violent action, these must first be rejected and overcome before the struggle can proceed.
(2) Nonviolent action is a means of conducting conflicts and can be very powerful, but it is an extremely different phenome- non from violence of all types.
(3) Nonviolent action is not to be equated with verbal persua- sion or purely psychological influences, although this technique may sometimes include action to apply psychological pressures for attitude change. Nonviolent action is a technique of struggle involving the use of psychological, social, economic, and political power in the matching of forces in conflict.
(4) Nonviolent action does not depend on the assumption that people are inherently “good.” The potentialities of people for both “good” and “evil” are recognized, including the extremes of cruelty and inhumanity.
(5) In order to use nonviolent action effectively, people do not have to be pacifists or saints. Nonviolent action has been pre- dominantly and successfully practiced by “ordinary” people.
(6) Success with nonviolent action does not require (though it may be helped by) shared standards and principles, or a high de- gree of shared interests or feelings of psychological closeness be- tween the contending sides. If the opponents are emotionally unmoved by nonviolent resistance in face of violent repression, and therefore unwilling to agree to the objectives of the nonviolent struggle group, the resisters may apply coercive nonviolent measures. Difficult enforcement problems, economic losses, and political paralysis do not require the opponents’ agreement to be felt.
(7) Nonviolent action is at least as much of a Western phe- nomenon as an Eastern one. Indeed, it is probably more Western, if one takes into account the widespread use of strikes and eco- nomic boycotts in the labor movements, the noncooperation struggles of subordinated European nationalities, and the strug- gles against dictatorships.
(8) In nonviolent action, there is no assumption that the oppo- nents will refrain from using violence against nonviolent resisters. In fact, the technique is capable of operating against violence.
(9) There is nothing in nonviolent action to prevent it from be- ing used for both “good” and “bad” causes. However, the social consequences of its use for a “bad” cause differ considerably from the consequences of violence used for the same “bad” cause.
(10) Nonviolent action is not limited to domestic conflicts within a democratic system. In order to have a chance of success, it is not necessary that the struggle be waged against relatively gentle and restrained opponents. Nonviolent struggle has been widely used against powerful governments, foreign occupiers, despotic regimes, tyrannical governments, empires, ruthless dicta- torships, and totalitarian systems. These difficult nonviolent struggles against violent opponents have sometimes been successful.
(11) One of the many widely believed myths about conflict is that violence works quickly, and nonviolent struggle takes a long time to bring results. This is not true. Some wars and other vio- lent struggles have been fought for many years, even decades. Some nonviolent struggles have brought victories very quickly, even within days or weeks. The time taken to achieve victory with this technique depends on diverse factors—including the strength of the nonviolent resisters and the wisdom of their actions.

What about human nature?

Despite the widespread occurrence of this type of conflict, many people still assume that nonviolent struggle is contrary to “human nature.” It is often claimed that its widespread practice would require either a fundamental change in human beings or the acceptance of a powerful new religious or ideological belief system. Those views are not supported by the reality of past con- flicts that have been waged by use of this technique.

In fact, the practice of this type of struggle is not based on be- lief in “turning the other cheek” or loving one’s enemies. Instead, the widespread practice of this technique is more often based on the undeniable capacity of human beings to be stubborn, and to do what they want to do or to refuse to do what they are ordered, whatever their beliefs about the use or nonuse of violence. Mas- sive stubbornness can have powerful political consequences.
In any case, the view that nonviolent struggle is impossible ex- cept under rare conditions is contrary to the facts. That which has happened in the past is possible in the future.

The extremely widespread practice of nonviolent struggle is possible because the operation of this technique is compatible with the nature of political power and the vulnerabilities of all hi- erarchical systems. These systems and all governments depend on the subordinated populations, groups, and institutions to supply them with their needed sources of power. Before continuing with the examination of the technique of nonviolent struggle, it is therefore necessary to explore in greater depth the nature of the power of dominant institutions and all governments. This analy- sis sheds light on how it is that nonviolent struggle can be effec- tive against repressive and ruthless regimes. They are vulnerable.
4th part: http://www.freeinchina.org/waging-nonviolent-struggle4

2 It is worth noting that some believers in “principled nonviolence” have even rejected nonviolent struggle because it was a way to wage conflict (in which they did not be- lieve).



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