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The trifecta of civil resistance: unity, planning, discipline

Hardy Merriman [1]

Three attributes can make the difference between success and failure for nonviolent
movements around the world: unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline.
What makes nonvoent cv resstance movements effectve?
If we accept the axom that n potcs power s never gven, t s aways
taken, the concuson necessary s that hstorc nonvoent movements were
successfu because, somehow, they weded power that was greater than that
of ther opponents.
Ths concuson confcts wth, and opens up a drect ne of questonng about,
the wdey-hed assumpton that power utmatey orgnates from contro of
matera resources and capacty for voence. If ths assumpton were entrey
correct, nonvoent movements woud categorcay fa aganst better-armed
and -resourced opponents. What hstory reveas, however, s a tmene of
many successfu nonvoent strugges, extendng back for more than a century,
wth protagonsts and causes as dverse as humanty tsef. To st some
In the 1930s and 1940s, Indans won ther ndependence by
engagng n massve noncooperaton (economc boycotts,
schoo boycotts, strkes, tax refusa, cv dsobedence,
resgnatons) that threatened to make Inda ungovernabe and
eventuay convnced the Brtsh to eave;
Durng the 1950s and 1960s, the US Cv Rghts Movement won
equa rghts through nonvoent campagns such as the
Montgomery bus boycotts and the Nashve unch-counter st-
ns that expoted weaknesses n the nsttutonazed
segregaton system and attracted supporters natonwde;
From 1965-1970, the Unted Farm Workers unon grew from a
sma, practcay unfunded oca organzaton to a natona
presence through ther successfu use of strkes and boycotts
aganst Caforna grape vneyards;
In 1986 n the Phppnes, actvsts |oned wth mtary defectors
to ray mons to demonstrate aganst the US-backed
dctatorshp of Ferdnand Marcos. Wth hs optons qucky
dmnshng n ght of ths nonvoent uprsng, Marcos fed the
In 1988, Cheans overcame the fear nsted by the bruta
dctatorshp of Augusto Pnochet and campagned and
demonstrated aganst hm. These actons so undermned
Pnochets support that even hs feow mtary |unta members
were no onger oya to hm at the peak of the crss, and he was
forced from power;
From 1980-1989, Poes organzed an ndependent trade unon
as part of the Sodarty movement and took back ther country
from Sovet rue;
In 1989, protests and strkes that became known as the Vevet
Revouton ed to a peacefu transton from communsm n
Czechosovaka. Smar actons ed to peacefu transtons n
East Germany, and n Latva, Lthuana, and Estona n 1991;
Strkes, boycotts, cv dsobedence and externa sanctons
begnnng n the 1980s payed a ma|or roe n endng aparthed
n South Afrca n the eary 1990s;
In the foowng decade, Serbs (2000), Georgans (2003), and
Ukranans (2004) ended autocratc rue by mobzng to
prevent or resst frauduent eecton resuts;
In 2005, Lebanese ended the occupaton of ther country by
Syran troops through massve nonvoent demonstratons;
In 2006, Nepas engaged n mass dsobedence and forced the
restoraton of cvan rue;
From 2007-2009, n the mdst of voent nsurgency and n the
face of a mtary ruer, Pakstan awyers, cv socety groups,
and ordnary ctzens successfuy pushed for the restoraton of
an ndependent |udcary and a repea of state of emergency

If people do not obey, rulers cannot rule
These and other movements of cv resstance succeeded because they were
based on a fundamenta nsght about power: that neary a nsttutons,
organzatons, and systems n a socety depend on the ongong consent,
cooperaton, and obedence of arge numbers of ordnary peope. Therefore, f
peope choose to wthdraw ther consent and cooperaton n an organzed and
strategc way, they can wed coercve power. When peope do not obey, then
presdents, mayors, CEOs, generas, and other power hoders can no onger
rue wth unchecked power.
Nonvoent tactcs, such as strkes, boycotts, mass demonstratons, cv
dsobedence, the estabshment of parae nsttutons, and teray hundreds
of other creatve actons, were the nstruments used to do ths. They were not
used necessary for mora reasons, but rather for pragmatc ones. Some who
adopted cv resstance had seen smar strateges work n other countres or
n ther own hstores, and recognzed that ths type of resstance had the best
prospects of success of the optons avaabe to them.
Skills and conditions
Amdst these nsprng nonvoent movement vctores, however, hstory and
the contemporary word aso offer exampes of faed or nconcusve
movements. The word watched Poands and Czechosovakas nonvoent
revoutons n the same year that t saw the Tananmen Square massacre. In
the ast decade, arge numbers of peope used nonvoent tactcs n Burma,
Zmbabwe, Egypt and Iran, but those movements' goas have not so far been
acheved. In the successfu sef-determnaton strugge n East Tmor, cv
resstance was ndspensabe, but whe t has heped prope cvan-based
movements aganst occupers esewhere-n Paestne, West Papua, Western
Sahara and Tbet-those strugges reman unresoved.
What accounts for the dscrepances among these and other cases?
The factors that made these and other movements succeed or fa s a sub|ect
on whch reasonabe and we-nformed peope can dsagree.|1| Each stuaton
s hghy compex and estabshng drect causaty s dffcut at best. The
arguments I most often hear by schoars, |ournasts, and others are that the
tra|ectores and outcomes of these and other predomnanty nonvoent
movements were argey determned by structures, condtons and exceptona
crcumstances n whch each movement operated.
For exampe, arguments have been made that nonvoent movements are
effectve ony n socetes n whch an oppressor s unwng to use etha force.
Others may cam that certan economc crtera (.e. economc deoogy,
ncome eves, weath dstrbuton, the presence of a mdde cass) and
educatona eves are crtca for successfu movements. St others cam that
the roe of superpowers and regona hegemons supersedes the mportance of
other varabes n determnng a movements outcome. The number of
addtona structures and condtons a person can cte-.e. ethnc dversty,
potca and cutura hstory, popuaton sze, and area-are numerous, and to
be sure, many of these condtons can nfuence the course of a gven
As a counterpont to structura and condtona factors are factors based on a
movements sks n wagng confct, .e. what academcs ca agency. Sks
and agency refer to those varabes over whch a movement has some contro:
what strategy of acton the movement chooses; what anguage t uses to
mobze peope and keep them nvoved; how t buds coatons; where and
how t targets ts adversary; and a myrad of other decsons nvoved n
engagng n cv resstance.
In my vew, these sk-based factors are often sgnfcanty underemphaszed or
overooked by those who come nto contact wth and anayze nonvoent
movements. Why ths s so s beyond the scope of ths artce, but one reason
may be that peope doubt or do not know the premse on whch nonvoent
acton s based-that through shfts n coectve behavor, power can be re-
aocated from entrenched and oppressve adversares to peopes movements.
Instead, they assume that there must have been exogenous varabes or
extraordnary crcumstances that made ths possbe n the cases n whch t
has occurred.
However, we can respect the roe of structures and condtons n nfuencng
nonvoent movements' tra|ectores and outcomes wthout downpayng the
mportance of agency and sks. Indeed, agency and sks make a dfference,
and n some cases have enabed movements to overcome, crcumvent, or
transform adverse condtons.
The mportance, and sometmes prmacy, of sks and agency are consdered
common knowedge n other dscpnes such as busness or mtary thnkng.
Why shoud nonvoent strugge be any dfferent n ths regard? A mtary
genera or corporate CEO woud augh f they were tod that strategy was of
margna mportance to the outcome of ther endeavors. Sun Tzus cassc The
Art of War woud not be so we known f peope thought the outcome of
contests and contentous nteractons were aways foreordaned by matera
To return then to the openng queston of ths artce-what makes nonvoent
movements effectve?-we can start to fnd answers by ookng at strategc
choces and best practces geaned from hstorc movements. There are a
varety of agency-based factors and sks that can nfuence a movements
outcome, but (for the sake of smpcty) f we dst those down to a few
essentas, three attrbutes of successfu nonvoent movements emerge: unty,
pannng, and nonvoent dscpne.
Unity, planning and discipline
At frst gance the mportance of such attrbutes may seem sef-evdent. Yet
the profundty of these attrbutes and ther overarchng mpcatons sometmes
are mssed when one vews movements at a predomnanty tactca and
granuar eve. Each merts eaboraton.
Unity s mportant because nonvoent movements draw ther strength from the
partcpaton of peope n dverse sectors of socety. Put smpy: numbers
matter. The more peope a movement has supportng t, the greater ts
egtmacy, power, and tactca repertore. Successfu movements therefore
contnuay reach out to new groups n ther socetes, e.g. men and women;
youth, aduts, and eders; urban and rura popuatons; mnortes; members of
regous nsttutons; farmers, aborers, busness peope, and professonas;
weathy, mdde cass, and ower economc stratas; poce, soders, and
members of the |udcary, as we as other groups.
Successfu movements aso contnuay reach out to ther opponents
supporters, understandng that one of the strengths of sustaned cv
resstance n the servce of a unfyng vson s the abty to nduce oyaty shfts
and defectons among ts opponents ranks. For exampe, the South Afrcan
ant-aparthed movements ongong cvc dsrupton combned wth ts ca for
natona reconcaton was abe to garner wdespread support and create unty
for the cause of change, even among some whte supporters who had
prevousy supported the aparthed state.
Partcpants n nonvoent movements must aso make compex decsons about
the course ther movements shoud take. Strategic planning s of centra
mportance n dong ths. Regardess of the mert of ones cause or the moray
ndefensbe acts of ones opponent, oppresson s usuay not overcome soey
through spontaneous and mprovsed acts of resstance, even f such acts are
we-executed. Instead, movements gan tracton when they pan how cv
resstance can be systematcay organzed and adopted by peope n socety to
acheve targeted and focused goas.
Decdng what tactcs to use and how they shoud be sequenced; deveopng
gavanzng propostons for change based on the aspratons and grevances of
the peope who the movement ams to represent; pannng what ndvduas
and groups to target wth tactcs and what short-, medum-, and ong-term
ob|ectves to pursue; and budng nes of communcaton so that coatons can
be negotated and but are |ust some of the ssues around whch nonvoent
movements must creatvey strategze. Dong so requres a hostc anayss of
the stuaton n whch the nonvoent strugge takes pace. As part of ther
pannng process, effectve movements formay or nformay gather
nformaton, sten to peope at the grassroots, and anayze themseves, ther
adversares, and uncommtted thrd partes constanty through the course of a
Fnay, a strategy s ony effectve f t s executed n a dscpned way. The
argest rsk for a faure of dscpne n a nonvoent movement s that some
members may become voent. Therefore, nonviolent discipline-the abty of
peope to reman nonvoent, even n the face of provocatons-s often
contnuay nsted n partcpants. There are practca reasons for ths. Voent
ncdents by members of a movement can dramatcay reduce ts egtmacy
whe gvng the movements opponent an excuse to use represson.
Furthermore, a movement that s consstenty nonvoent has a far greater
chance of appeang to a broad range of potenta aes-ncudng even an
adversarys supporters-through the course of ts strugge.
A fu exporaton of these attrbutes coud f books, and the sub|ect of
nonvoent resstance merts and s contnuay recevng further systematc
study. Each movement that emerges adds a body of knowedge to the
coectve understandng of ths phenomenon, yet there s st much about the
art and scence of ths form of potca and soca acton that remans to be
mapped and deveoped.
But these three attrbutes-unty, pannng, and dscpne-are tmeess, and as
such provde a genera framework through whch members and supporters of
movements, as we as those who report and study them, can qucky assess a
movements state. Is t unfed? Does t have a pan? Is t dscpned? The
actons of those who embody these prncpes n nonvoent acton have aready
bazed a path towards a more peacefu and |ust word. The future w be
shaped by those who contnue to do so.

|1| For the purposes of ths artce, I am defnng successfu movements as
those that acheve ther stated ob|ectves and faed movements as those
that do not acheve ther stated ob|ectves. There s a tempora eement n ths
defnton as we. A successfu movement may acheve ts stated ob|ectve (.e.
the Orange movement n Ukrane n 2004) but chaenges n ensung years to
that movements achevement may cause backsdng (for more nformaton on
the Ukrane case, see the November 17, 2010 artce The strugge after peope
power wns |16| by Oena Tregub and Oksana Shuyar on openDemocracy).
Conversey, a movement that fas to acheve ts stated ob|ectve (.e. the
Chnese pro-democracy movement n 1989) may create coatera effects n
ensung years that constructvey advance the movements cause (for more
nformaton on the Chna case, see the November 17, 2010 artce
Repressons Paradox n Chna |17| by Lester Kurtz on openDemocracy).
Whe not necessary changng the cassfcaton of a specfc movement as
successfu or faed, these subsequent effects can be powerfu and
therefore are noteworthy n ther own regard.
Civil resistance as deterrent to fracking: Part One, They shale
not pass
Philippe Duhamel [1]
an we mobili!e and prepare the towns threatened by hydraulic fracturing with
action plans so well"devised, so widely and transparently publici!ed, that
unconventional energy developers wouldn#t dare enter$ See %art Two here &'().

It's win before you fight. Using an innovatively designed
civil resistance campaign as a nonviolent deterrent, the
people of Quebec have so far been successful in defending
their land against hydraulic fracturing. Over the course of three years, plans to drill some 20,000
shale gas wells along the t. !awrence "iver, between #ontreal and Quebec $ity, have been
thwarted to the point of being recogni%ed as a de facto moratorium on this form of e&treme energy
e&traction. 's an organi%er who helped build this movement, I(m here to share some strategic
insights and tactical ideas.
The battle planned
)hat level of preparedness does a resistance movement need to display before it can avoid the need
to engage physically in nonviolent battle*
)hat constitutes a cost high enough to deter the frac+ing industry and the government officials it
seduces* )hat +ind of organi%ing does it ta+e to prevent countrysides from being turned into
industrial wastelands drenched in frac+ing contaminants, dotted with methane,spewing drilling rigs
and carcinogen,emitting holding ponds, criss,crossed by 2-./ truc+ing operations over pipelines
running everywhere*
$an we mobili%e and prepare the towns under threat with action plans so well,devised, so widely
*mage: + ,arie"-eige .esner.
and transparently publici%ed, that unconventional energy developers wouldn't dare enter*
0ow many organi%ed communities would be needed, each ready to sustain protracted action of the
+ind the world has seen unfold in the )est usse& village of 1alcombe 2345*
6his idea of a citi%enry so fiercely indignant, so powerfully organi%ed it could actually shield its
land from the fangs of a strong, wealthy and inherently polluting industry is what inspired an
emergent, integrated civil resistance design.
What the frack?
ometime around 200/, stealthily, in typical blit%+rieg fashion as they do everywhere,
unconventional energy developers moved into Quebec to test drill and frac+ for shale gas, appearing
right in the middle of people's fields and bac+yards. In 2007, environmental organi%ations issued
their first few statements. In 2030, alarmed and intensely worried citi%ens started calling 8ournalists,
who found a compelling story9 articulate, undeserving victims, and a secretive, maladroit, and
insatiable industry. 6he issue suddenly got front page in+ and prime time coverage.
$iti%ens from rural areas soon found each other and started organi%ing. 'rtists and celebrities, some
of whom owned properties in targeted areas, got involved. 6hey helped further alert and mobili%e
public opinion through a viral video. 'n online petition gathered 340,000 names. :&perienced
activists informed by civil resistance theory and practice ;including this author< felt compelled to
8oin, moved by the outrage they felt, and what they feared might happen.
In =anuary 2030, the leadership of the main labour and environmental organi%ations called a
meeting of activists to rally support for a >generic> moratorium on shale gas development, defined
as an immediate suspension of no specific duration of all e&ploration and frac+ing operations.
!abour and environmental leaders had reached a bac+room deal with the main opposition party, the
?arti Qu@b@cois. 6he ?arty would support the call for moratorium on shale gas in the t. !awrence
valley. One of the main environmental spo+esmen was also being groomed for the position of future
:nvironment minister.
Aobody seemed to have a strategy to deal with what would happen once we got a short,term
moratorium. )e were concerned that the anti,frac+ing movement may end up in disarray, or
disband, once a short,term frac+ing moratorium was declared. 1y definition, a moratorium is
temporary. It might be rescinded, potentially under a new government that would no longer have
much use for a citi%en movement.
!a $ampagne #oratoire d'une Beneration ;#CB<, the One,Beneration #oratorium $ampaign, was
founded on a mission to prevent >dirty energy>, i.e. polluting fossil fuels , oil and gas, traditional
and unconventional, whether found on the ground or offshore, including shale oil and gas , and
nuclear energy, from being developed in Quebec. !uc+ily, because it lac+ed e&ploitable
hydrocarbon resources and en8oyed an ample supply of hydroelectric power, the province never had
developed meaningful fossil fuel resources.
In Cecember 2030, a group of us , all volunteers who initially met at the Breenpeace local office
in #ontreal , started circulating a call and proposal to leaders and groups who had +ic+started the
fast,growing mobili%ation on the issue of frac+ing in Quebec9
/!et's get organi%ed. )e are not bluffing. $ome #ay of 2033, we will be ready to ta+e
mass nonviolent action together.D
)ith three preliminary ingredients , an ultimatum to the Quebec government to impose a 20,year
moratorium on frac+ing, a proactive nonviolent direct action training program, and a long,distance
wal+ from "imous+i to #ontreal , our hope was to lay the groundwor+ and build unity around a
preventative struggle strategy to put on hold all current frac+ing operations and pre,testing wells in
the province.
Over the ne&t couple of months, our enthusiasm and the depth of our commitment would be put to
the test.
Resistance to resistance: the challenge of unity
1uilding unity around a preventative civil resistance strategy proved more difficult than we thought.
It is Euite ironic. 6he first and hardest line of struggle is sometimes found with those who, at least in
our mind, are our prime allies.
Initially, the main visible activist leaders in opposition to shale gas did not respond to the proposal.
6hey ignored our repeated reEuests for a meeting to discuss strategy. 'part from Breenpeace, which
has a history and ongoing practice of nonviolent resistance and direct action, the established
environmental ABO's, the main spo+espeople and the issue,advocacy groups focused on media
campaigns simply ignored the idea, hoping it would go away. 6hen, seeing that the campaign didn't
wither and was going to be officially launched, three of the main environmental leaders summoned
us to Euit the initiative, or be ostraci%ed.
Our insistence on the need to go beyond a generic moratorium and to build a capacity for mass civil
disobedience were the main stic+ing points. 1ecause the relationship was untested, and because an
intentional civil resistance approach was relatively new to leaders who had become savvy in the
game of traditional politics, the environmental leaders seemed to fear an uncontrollable fringe, as
they eEuated civil disobedience in particular with violence.
It got ugly. till we didn't stop. )e chose not to respond in +ind, and +ept our eyes on the pri%e,
confident that one day, we would all congratulate each other on a 8oint victory.
Walking the talk
One of the highlights of the One,Beneration #oratorium $ampaign, and one for which it is most
remembered, is the month,long wal+ it organi%ed in the spring of 2033 along an itinerary closely
following the areas claimed for frac+ing by the industry.
On #ay 3F, 2033, after the ultimatum and wee+s of organising, a group of about F0 people, aged
from 3F to /F, started out from the mid,si%ed town of "imous+i. Grom day one, with thumbs up at
our banner and sympathetic hon+ing at our signs, with the occasional gift of muffins and fresh
water from front porches, it was confirmed we were wal+ing the right path9 ordinary people
approved. 'cross the southern shore of the t. !awrence valley, up the "ichelieu river also under
threat, down to #ontreal, some /00 +m ;over -40 miles< were wal+ed, in total for 44 days.
Upon entering a town, we(d put together our singing parade, complete with giant puppets, industry
giants on stilts, and a roaring pipeline dragon flan+ed by papier mHch@ props such as a sic+ cow, a
wal+ing drilling rig, and a giant tap with poison signs.
:ach night, local fol+s were invited to a special event with local singers, s+its, presentations and
short movies, one of which was a participatory video made by local citi%ens. :ach step of the way,
we tal+ed about frac+ing, the need for a 20,year moratorium, long,term solutions ;energy saving
and green alternatives<, and the need to prepare preventative nonviolent struggle, including civil
disobedience as a last resort.
6he press followed us closely, with national media at the start, middle and end points. 6he wal+ was
the event of the day in rural towns. It would usually open the news, with the weather forecast
sometimes closing with what the day would be li+e for the wal+ers. In cities li+e 6rois,"ivieres and
Quebec $ity, the march through downtown would bring out hundreds, marching with the fanfare
and swaying with the samba band. )hen we finally reached #ontreal, a crowd of some 30,000 to
3F,000 people awaited , the largest environmental demonstration in Quebec history at the time ,
our allies having finally come together to celebrate. 6hey held the banner in front of the march, with
?arti Qu@b@cois leader ?auline #arois at their side, with no representative from the wal+ invited to
the photo op, howeverI
In the month it too+ to reach #ontreal, two small victories were achieved. Girst, a bill was presented
and adopted for a reduced F,year moratorium on shale gas development under the t. !awrence
"iver proper and any of its islands west of 'nticosti. econd, on the eve of the wal+ entering the
world(s second largest Grench,spea+ing city, the :nvironment minister declared for the first time
that no more drilling and no more frac+ing would be allowed in the province at all, until further
#ore than two years later, the de facto moratorium is still standing. )e call it a citi%en moratorium,
because it was clearly the result of grassroots organising and popular mobilisation.
Other huge benefits of the wal+ were9
6rust and much closer relationships with rural groups all over the t. !awrence Jalley.
)idespread support for the more >radical> position that shale gas should not be developed, or
should remain in the ground for at least 20 years.
0undreds were now ready to attend Aonviolent Cirect 'ction training sessions.
Other leaders could not malign civil resistance as much , rumours of #oratoire C(une
Beneration being >violent hotheads> subsided ;or stopped wor+ing<.
More than a village to raise a oveent
)inning big usually reEuires a formidable synergy of efforts from wide and diverse civil society
sectors. I would be remiss if I did not mention other +ey initiatives on which this success has rested.
Over a hundred citi%en groups were formed over the last three years, that #oratoire C(une
Beneration ;#CB< had little to no role in organising. #ost were formed after a core group of
infuriated citi%ens e&changed contact information, following an evening educational, at a local
community hall. 6his built the powerful and well mediati%ed "egroupement Interegional Ba% de
chiste Jallee du t,!aurent ;"IBJ!<, with a membership primarily composed of middle,aged,
e&perienced home owners across the area under threat, many with ties to political parties, chiefly
the ?arti Quebecois.
Using traditional community organising methods, the "egroupement canvassed rural communities,
as+ing residents to sign a letter refusing access to the industry, and selling the highly visible red and
yellow KAon au gas de schisteD signs that now dot villages and rural roads across Quebec. Over
40,000 property owners have signed the letter. )ith signature rates sometimes reaching as high as
70L, the organi%ers brought to city hall maps showing the supportive properties painsta+ingly
coloured one by one. #any municipal governments were swayed. 1ylaws specifically designed to
protect drin+ing water sources from the industry drilling were adopted in over M0 towns.
#ore symbolic than legally binding, these bylaws and letters have certainly made visible the blatant
failure of the energy industry to gain any social acceptance of frac+ing in the province.
6he 'Q!?', a government,funded environmental group, has also been +ey in providing initial
e&pertise and direction to the movement. 's well, an independent committee of academic and
scientific e&perts should be mentioned as a ma8or source of critical +nowledge, e&pertise and
analyses to the grassroots and media.
Civil resistance and the language of power
Jack DuVall [1]
*f you want to build a ship, don0t gather your people and ask them to provide
wood, prepare tools, assign tasks. all them together and raise in their minds the
longing for the endless sea.1 2 Antoine de Saint"34upery
Who has po!er?
One of the first people who understood how power could be produced by civil resistance was the
great 'frican,'merican abolitionist, Grederic+ Couglass 23N5. In the years of his wor+ before the
'merican $ivil )ar, which was an age of universal, brutali%ing racism, even white abolitionists
were dismissed as dreamers. 1ut Couglass was no dreamer. 0e operated with cold, furious logic.
6he power of oppressors Kconcedes nothing and it never will,D he said. Oou can find the Ke&act
measureD of in8ustice that will be imposed on people, he e&plained, by measuring how much they
will submit to. 'nd the in8ustice will go on until it is resisted. K6he limits of tyrants are prescribed
by the endurance of those whom they oppress,D he declared.
Couglass saw that if submission were replaced by civil resistance, the people could pierce the
shroud of oppression, shifting power in a way that few in the world would have comprehended. '
half,century later, in the course of en8oining "ussians to resist military conscription, !eo 6olstoy
came to the conclusion that Kpublic opinionD would, in the future, Kchange the whole structure of
lifeD and ma+e violence Ksuperfluous.D In other words, what people believed and what they did to
act on those beliefs could change the conditions they faced, and therefore violent intervention on
behalf of change would be unnecessary.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, #ohandas Bandhi read 6olstoy avidly, corresponded
with him, and was galvani%ed by news reports of civil resistance against 1ritish rule in Ireland and
against the 6sar(s rule in "ussia. :&perimenting, as he put it, with campaigns of nonviolent
resistance against racist laws in outh 'frica and later against 1ritish rule in India, Bandhi
e&panded the repertoire of tactics that people could use to challenge oppression9 tactics of protest
such as petitions, marches and wal+,outsP tactics of noncooperation, such as boycotts, stri+es and
civil disobedienceP and even tactics of disruption, such as bloc+ades and sei%ures of property.
"o! are people roused?
6o enlist and unify the people involved in these campaigns, Bandhi summoned a durable,
passionate commitment from millions of Indians to the cause of swaraj, or self,rule. 0e did this by
listening to them to ensure that their beliefs and grievances were reflected in what his movement
stood for, and by tal+ing with them about the importance of the cause and why their action was
essential. In other words, he gave them an argument, a proposition for them to consider. 6he core
of it, as reflected in many different themes and ideas, was this9 K6he 1ritish are ruling this country
for their own benefit, so why should we help them*D
:mbedded in that simple proposition were three central ideas about the rationale for the movement
for Indian independence, ideas that foreshadowed the same basic rationale for change used by
leaders of later, successful movements that rallied mass participation elsewhere in the world. Girst,
Bandhi identified who was responsible for India(s problems9 the 1ritish, who had long tried to
mollify Indians with the phony e&cuse that 1ritish control was benign. econd, Bandhi defined the
reason for what was wrong with India9 the people were being governed unfairly, and they had no
say in how they were governed. 6hird, he suggested that the people themselves, by tolerating the
1ritish as rulers, and by not resisting their rule, were facilitating the in8ustice that all Indians felt.
=ust as Grederic+ Couglass had done /0 years before, he told his people that the power to liberate
them was in their own hands.
If the terms of your life are dictated by others, but if you have the power to revo+e those terms, then
the Euestion of the moment is for no else but you to answer9 )ill you act* 6his is the e&istential
moment facing every person living with oppression. 6hirty years after India gained its
independence, Jaclav 0avel 2375, the $%ech theorist and leader of civil resistance, said that
everyone who lives under tyranny but doesn(t resist is living a lie, the lie that life is normal Q and
that everyone who resists instead lives Kwithin the truth.D :veryone who tells the truth denies in
principle a system based on lies, 0avel argued, and therefore threatens that system Kin its entirety.D
'nd that is why totalitarian rulers have to arrest every dissident, as 0avel himself was arrested,
twelve years before he became president of his country.
Ceciding to resist after those you trust have summoned you to act has changed the lives of millions,
but it may be less momentous than continuing to resist. trategic thin+ing about civil resistance can
identify ways to minimi%e the ris+s of repression, yet people in many nonviolent movements have
+nown that they were e&changing political dissent for personal 8eopardy if arrest was possible. '
few years ago, the 'merican civil rights leader =ames !awson 2205 told me why he thought that so
many of his colleagues were relentless despite the ris+ of arrests and beatings. 0e cited Gannie !ou
0amer 2235, the leader of voter registration drives in #ississippi, who was pulled from her car by
police one night, beaten almost to death, and after 40 days in the hospital, went immediately into
another voter registration drive. K)hy did she do that*D, !awson as+ed me, and he answered9
K1ecause she believed that if she +ept wor+ing, the movement would succeed, and that if she didn(t,
the movement would fail.D 0er sense of what would happen to herself had become ine&tricably tied
to her sense of what would happen to the movement. $ertitude about the cause is the +ey to
Where do oveents e#ist?
In the late 37/0(s, the military 8unta that ruled 'rgentina fought leftists and dissidents with brutal
tactics. Unmar+ed sedans would appear in the night in front of their houses, and they would be
Rdisappeared(, never to be seen again. On 'pril 40, 37//, fourteen Rmothers of the
disappeared 2225( 2245 went to the central sEuare of 1uenos 'ires, in front of the presidential palace,
and began to protest. 6hey had one Euestion9 )here are our sons and daughters* 6he regime
decided to let them march around the sEuare, because arresting mothers might have angered others.
1ut the mothers +ept coming bac+, until they were a movement Q which encouraged others opposed
to the violence and incompetence of the regime to move into active resistance until eventually,
under the stress of many events, 'rgentina(s dictatorship disintegrated.
)here did this movement start* In a public sEuare in 1uenos 'ires* Ao, in the minds of the
fourteen 'rgentine mothers who conceived a difficult Euestion to pose to the generals who ran the
country. ome who en8oin nonviolence as a response to in8ustice suggest that the behavior of people
in conflicts must be converted, from belligerence to acceptance of others( humanity, for nonviolent
power to emerge. 1ut behavior is first of all a function of volition9 )hat I decide to do, in the
precinct of my own thin+ing, is the impetus for my action. K'ny response that places man in the
center of our current worries,D 0annah 'rendt 22-5 argued, Kand suggests he must be changed
before any relief is to be found is profoundly unpolitical. Gor at the center of politics lies concern
for the world.D
6o turn the people(s concern into action, 'braham !incoln 22F5 said that we must begin with
Kreason Q cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason.D !incoln +new that the content of his cause,
saving the union of 'merican states, had to be instilled in the motives and acts of the people. K)ith
public sentiment, nothing can fail,D he said, Kwithout it, nothing can succeed.D 't a memorial
service when !incoln was assassinated, the philosopher "alph )aldo :merson said of 'mericans
that !incoln had Kthe thought of their minds articulated by his tongue.D
In our time, the philosopher =ohn "awls insisted that every citi%en has Ka duty of civility to appeal
to public reason.D 6his is what Bandhi, Jaclev 0avel, $ora%on 'Euino, Cesmond 6utu and other
champions of civil resistance did Q and in the process, they made Indians, $%echs, Gilipinos, outh
'fricans and many other peoples into conscious, dedicated pursuers of rights and democracy.
?eople move their bodies once they move their minds.
Po!er fro ends
6oday the leading democracies are home to political consultants who tell candidates running for
public office that they should trigger voters( emotions rather than wasting time on ma+ing
arguments about policies much less ideas. ome of these consultants begin with biological
e&planations, insisting that language in politics should manipulate people(s refle&ive feelings in
order to push them into certain choices at the polls. 1ut the history of civil resistance offers little
support to these e&planations of how political convictions are shaped and translated into loyalty or
support for a campaign.
If we fail to reflect the real substance of a cause in the language used to recruit people to 8oin that
cause, we reduce language to propaganda. 6hose who would instrumentali%e language and convert
it into semaphores about transitory feelings do not recogni%e that it will enlist political fervor not if
it blurs but if it crystalli%es ideas about purpose, identity, nationhood and other concepts that
resonate with people(s most deeply held beliefs , and therefore act causally on their development of
commitment and certitude, which are the fuel for the rise and resilience of movements. 'ctivate
%eal for the ends of political action and you will draw power from those who are activated.
I came to this conclusion not only after noticing how the language of supposedly mature
democracies has deteriorated into manipulating voters( momentary li+es and disli+es ;so well
represented by Gaceboo+(s ever,present option to Kli+eD every comment that appears on your
KwallD<, but also because I noticed that scholars and practitioners of nonviolent struggle have
different views about how to teach or train those who are new to the sub8ect. Is it possible to capture
the essence of civil resistance in mechanical formulae about how to use tactics in particular
circumstances* hould tactical action neglect to invo+e a campaign(s core ideas and values or fail to
telegraph the campaign(s purpose through that action* $an a campaign be effectively planned if its
leaders assume that people are ready to be mobili%ed, without first ascertaining what the people
thin+ and how the content of the campaign(s goals can be e&pressed to represent that thin+ing*
6he unconscious tendency to downgrade the language of a movement , from an e&pression of its
primordial purpose in changing the e&isting political order, to a KmessageD that e&ploits listeners(
immediate discontent , is driven mainly by the assumption that a campaign or movement e&ists for
the sole purpose of capturing political power as an end in itself, rather than as a means to the end of
transforming society or the nation. If you capture power without first firing the minds and enlisting
the wor+ of those who will be sta+eholders in the new order, you may have staged a coup de
main ;nonviolent or otherwise<, but you will not have engaged the people in helping to e&ercise
genuine democratic power.
Instrumentali%ing language also tempts ma+ing a fatal strategic mista+e in the effort to accomplish
political change, either through movements of civil resistance or campaigns of conventional
political action, and that mista+e is brea+ing the lin+age between means and ends. Gor civil
resistance to wor+, it has to shred the legitimacy of power,holders whom it opposes and model a
higher legitimacy based on representing the real aspirations of the people. 1ut the fastest way to
forsa+e that advantage is to resort to means that are not seen as legitimate.
Ao participant in a movement can Kbecome the change you want to seeD unless he or she ta+es
action that is consistent with the political values and social vision held by the movement. 6hat is not
only an argument for nonviolent discipline ;since violent resistance usually does not produce
nonviolent order<. It is also why the language of a campaign has to be based on rational propositions
rather than deceptive or misleading allegations. If you lie your way to power, popular consent to
your power is unli+ely to survive the discovery of your deceit, and to believe otherwise is to ma+e
cynicism a 8ustification for e&pediency. Ao campaign can represent people it misleads, because then
their participation is based on false beliefs instead of shared ideas.
One common variation of the inconsistency between means and ends is found in how campaigns
use language to channel the rage of those who are deprived of rights or live with ineEualities. 6he
political psychologist "oy :idelson 22M5argues that shared outrage has lasting political force when
Kit insists on e&planations for what(s wrong and it see+s accountability for the wrongdoing.D In
other words, popular passion can be summoned, but only by using rational arguments to define the
changes that are sought as well as the vices to be overturned. In doing that, a movement does what
the writer 'dam Bopni+ 22/5 says that !incoln did9 it Kturns reason into a new +ind of passion.D
If it would be heeded, the call for civil resistance must propose that a society or nation can be
changed only as people 8oin and remain with a movement to ma+e it change. 6he power of the
language that a movement employs, to call forth power from people who want their freedom, will
come only as it invo+es the ideas and e&hibits the values at the root of their e&istence as a people.
In his last letter to Bandhi, !eo 6olstoy said that he felt it was possible that the wor+ that Bandhi
was doing, ab8uring violent force, could lead to similar action by all the peoples of the world. In the
paintings and photographs of him near the end of his life, 6olstoy loo+ed li+e a prophet. In that
letter to Bandhi, he became one. 6olstoy had no way to outline how he envisaged such power
e&cept through the language of his boo+s and letters. Bandhi had no way to awa+en the Indian
people to the power they already possessed, and no way to teach them how to use it, e&cept through
the language he used to summon the people(s resolve to change their future.
The Syrian resistance: a tale of two struggles
Maciej Bartkowski [1] and Mohja Kah [!]
*n Syria, mi4ing violent and nonviolent resistance 5eopardi!ed people power,
particularly when violence became the main driver of resistance from early (6'(
onward. See %art Two. &'7)
It is a tragedy of history when so many people regardless of sect, ethnicity, religion, and gender 8oin
in nonviolent resistance 23F5 to demand freedom for all, and achieve so much with so little during
such a brief time, only to have their accomplishments go largely unrecogni%ed, and their struggle
devolve into a fight with oppression on its own violent terms , as if these could be complementary
to nonviolent resistance, an effective method to protect people, or a proven instrument to defeat a
brutal regime. 6his happened in yria.
6he recent boo+ "ecovering Aonviolent 0istory 23M5 finds that a number of nonviolent campaigns
in national liberation struggles were overta+en by violent resistance. One ma8or reason for
abandonment of civil resistance in favor of armed struggle is not understanding what civil resistance
can achieve, and with what benefits for a people(s liberation. 6he narrative void about civil
resistance during ongoing conflict is often filled by armed insurrectionists with their own
ideologi%ed discourse, which tries to discredit the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance and
underestimates the costs of violence. 0ow this happened in yria is the story that follows.
Part $: %onviolent and violent conflict
$ivil resistance
6he impact of the nonviolent resistance in yria , before it was largely overshadowed by an armed
uprising in early 2032 , was tremendous. It mobili%ed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of
until,then apathetic citi%ens, produced hundreds of KleadersD from people who were mostly
un+nown e&cept locally, united diverse cross,sections of the yrian population, both rural and
urban, as no other internal struggle since the anti,colonial period, and shoo+ and wea+ened 1aathist
one,party rule.
)idespread, organi%ed, yet non,hierarchical, nonviolent resistance succeeded in wea+ening the
power of the regime to a degree that armed resistance ;notably in 0ama in 37N2<, a few valiant
souls from an intellectual elite ;such as the signatories of the Camascus Ceclaration in 200F<, and
one ethnic group isolated in their armed rebellion ;the Surds in 200-< had all failed to accomplish.
'll this was achieved while the ran+s of civil resisters were being decimated by massacre and
detention, and when they had to undergo a mounting humanitarian crisis.
?rotesters hit the streets in mass numbers on #arch 3N, 2033, in Caraa, 1anyas, 0oms, and
Camascus. 1anyas protesters reached out to the city(s large 'lawite population, singing K?eaceful,
peaceful,neither unni nor 'lawite, we want national unity,D 23/5 In Camascus, protesters
underscored multi,sectarian unity by holding up a sign with a cross and crescent and the words KAo
to repression, Oes to freedom,D 23N5 while an earlier protest on #arch 3F in Camascus had featured
a voice with a coastal 'lawite accent saying, K)e are 'lawites, unnis, people of every yrian sect,
and we want to topple this regime.D 2375

Sillings of unarmed protesters bac+fired on the regime. In
one video 2205uploaded on #arch 24, 2033 in Cara, a man
shouts, in a desperate voice, to armed troops,
ome of you have honor , don't shootT Oou
have brothers U sisters, you have brothers ,
your daughters , your mothers U fathers in
your town , they're 8ust li+e us, don't shootT I6his earth is big enough for all of usT Oou
don't have the right anymore to ta+e all of it for yourselvesT
cenes li+e this in the months of nonviolent resistance countered the regime narrative that Karmed
gangsD were driving the resistance.
?rotests spread to alamiya, hub of yria(s Ismailia hia population. #isyaf, a town with large
$hristian and 'lawite populations alongside unnis, was another early multi,sectarian protest
locale. $hilling scenes of peaceful protesters suppressed by troops in Cara caused #untaha 'trash,
daughter of a national hero from the anti,colonial struggle, to reprimand the president by name on
Orient 6elevision ;owned by a secular, non,Islamist yrian in the Bulf< in her Euavering elderly
voice 2235, declaring outright that the regime narrative was false and refuting its accusation of
sectarianism. 6he civil resistance group Pulse ;Aabd<, begun by 'lawite activists, emerged in 0oms
by summerP a Surdish nonviolent groupAva, formed around =une 2033P women were at the
vanguard of a nonviolent protest series organi%ed in alamiya, called The Street Is Ours ;al,hare
Aon,sectarianism shone during yria(s most massive rally, of an estimated -00,000 in 0ama(s
$loc+ 6ower Euare 2225in =uly 2033, full of scenes of cross,religious embrace, women(s
participation, and nonviolent conduct. 6his broad,based appeal would have hardly been possible,
had not the uprising been unarmed.
)ith the regime insisting it was battling Karmed gangs,D protesters clapped and raised both hands
while marching to show that they were not hiding weapons. In Caraya, Oahya hurba8i populari%ed
the nonviolent concept of Kfraterni%ation,D whereby in order to ma+e human contact with regime
soldiers and soften their hostility or perhaps even motivate their defection, protesters distributed
water and flowers to soldiers at protests.
Alawite symol of doule!pron"ed sword#
cross# crescent# and star with national fla"
colors# carried y protesters in Tal# $mostly
Sunni town in %amascus countryside&# April
1y 'pril, protesters in many towns had begun to self,organi%e, forming a non,hierarchical structure
of local committees which sprang up all over yria to coordinate nonviolent resistance. 's regime
detention swept and relentless violence too+ members, resistance groups dissolved and regrouped
under new names. )ith similar adaptability, protesters innovated dodge,and,feint street tactics.
)ael Surdi, an 'leppo University student, developed a Kflying protest9D protesters gathered on the
agreed,upon street after announcing a fa+e location on government,monitored phone lines, marched
and video,taped for eleven minutes, dispersed and hid or destroyed banners before security arrived,
and went to safe,houses to upload the videos.
Codge,and,feint tactics enabled protesters to protest another day, as did marching in narrow alleys
rather than open sEuares on the :gyptian model, and holding protest signs bac+ward over their
heads, so faces in videos could not be identified. treet protests, whose number rose to 720 different
locations in one wee+ in the nonviolent phase and declined to fewer than 400 during the autumn
2033 when violent resistance began mounting, played an important role not only in publici%ing the
movement(s message but in giving people a personal sense of empowerment, long absent under the
police state. One young activist, K"ose,D e&pressed why protesters did not stop demonstrating, even
+nowing they could be +illed9 K)e do other activism, but we will not stop demonstrating9 to taste
freedom, if only for ten minutesTD
Aarratives of defectors from the regime cite its targeting of lethal force on the unarmed and
innocents as a +ey factor that bro+e the grip of loyalty to the regime. #assacres of unarmed
protesters and the death in regime detention, under apparent torture, of 0am%a Shatib ;reportedly
thirteen years old< were specifically recalled 2245by the first defecting 'lawite officer of record,
'faE 'hmad, who wor+ed in the Cara branch of 'ir Gorce ecurity. 'hmad defected days before
0am%a(s mutilated body was returned to his parents on #ay 2-, 2033.
6he regime responded to its defection problem by introducing snipers and tan+s, among other
tactics, to reduce contact between soldiers and protesters. 6his, however, did not stop defections,
which occurred in this phase mostly among conscripts although a handful of officers defected.
ome at the army defectors( camp in 6ur+ey would form the Gree yrian 'rmy ;G'<. "eports of
field e&ecution of attempted defectors proliferated. In response to defections, 'ssad began using
only three of his army(s twelve divisions, the three manned by 'lawites, to force the sect to retrench
around the regime. ' number of high,level military 22-5 defections occurred after violence spi+ed at
the end of 2033 , though in some cases advanced preparation for defecting occurred during the
nonviolent resistance phase , but these defections were increasingly by unnis. 6his set the stage for
the violent polari%ation of yrian society.
6hat the government +ept responding to nonviolent protests with violent means was freEuently
asserted by observers as an indication of the failure of nonviolent resistance in yria, with the
concomitant assertion that nonviolent actions could succeed only when a regime behaved humanely.
Oet evidence suggests that, while it lasted, nonviolent resistance was in fact a powerful weapon
against the 'ssad regime, forcing it to be on the defensive, react to events, and commit mista+es
that often bac+fired, leading to more resistance and solidarity across diverse groups.
'rmed rebellion
1esides formal regime forces, the government allowed armed loyalist militias to +idnap, loot, rape
during home invasions, and traffic women to rape farms. 6he e&istence of these roving informal
militias contributed to the belief that armed defense was necessary and could protect people against
these violations. "eportedly the regime itself saturated certain areas with arms, to push protesters
into becoming the Karmed gangsD which it claimed to be fighting from the outset. #any brigades at
this stage were native to local communities, ma+ing them accountable.
?eaceful protests continued but with fewer participants9 many former protest locales were becoming
unsafe. In some instances, the protests occurred, according to participants, only because armed
rebels helped barricade areas against regime troops. 6his KprotectionD was short,term, as the
presence of a brigade drew increasingly indiscriminate and more powerful regime fire , including
later airstri+es , to such areas. 6his triggered calls for arming the rebels with more powerful
weapons, rather than returning to nonviolent resistance.
6he tric+le of foreign fighters beginning in late 2033, who entered yria on their own or with
support of foreign governments, further 8eopardi%ed unarmed resistance and reinforced the mutation
of the overall conflict into civil war. 'ma%ingly, it was during this period of increasing violence on
both sides that those who remained committed to nonviolent resistance achieved new levels of
creativity and organi%ation. ome three do%en revolutionary newspapers, many of them distributed
in hard copy on the ground ;some highlighted here 22F5<, emerged. In eptember 2033, Greedom
Cays yria emerged as a coalition of do%ens of nonviolent resistance groups. #embers of groups in
this coalition implemented new, highly creative nonviolent resistance methods.
Gor e&ample, several young underclasswomen at Camascus University released thousands of small
papers from the highest dorm tower, containing messages of freedom and human rights, causing
regime security agents to be assigned to using all their security training for the 8ob of pic+ing up the
subversive litter from campus grounds for days, and pursuing the activists for three wee+s. 6his led,
on Aovember 4, 2033, to the 24,day detention and torture of then eighteen,year,old Oaman Qadri,
young mastermind of the scheme, which caused a ripple effect as her diverse classmates
demonstrated for her, and were themselves detained, spurring more protests not only in Camascus
but in their respective hometowns across yria. *ad, a nonviolent group in 0oms formed initially
by 'lawite activists in spring 2033, redoubled its behind,the,scenes efforts at conflict resolution
among 'lawite and unni villages and city neighborhoods.
6he yrian "evolutionary Oouth group, active in 0oms and Camascus, was launched in #ay 2032
and spearheaded both nonviolent direct actions and socio,economic organi%ing in direct rebuttal to
the claims that Kthe revolution has become totally militari%ed and that there is no room for peaceful
protest 22M5.D o, too, the top the Silling campaign 22/5 that lasted from 'pril to =uly 2032 and
held at least 2M demonstrations in diverse geographic locations, drawing in many minority
members, was an attempt to refocus energies toward nonviolent resistance after militari%ation had
become the dominant resistance.
#eanwhile, civilian structures on the ground in yria were wor+ing toward unified self,governance.
Unity did not come to fruition on a national level, but reached the ne&t, community,centered, level9
"egional $ommand $ouncils ;in Camascus, 0oms, and so on< integrated many aspects of
resistance wor+9 the underground clinic system, an alternate economy, schools, media, and
transportationP in effect, they created alternative local governance. !ocal Gree yrian 'rmy units
had liaison on each council, in an attempt to bring armed rebels under civilian leadership. $ouncils
thus integrated both civilian and armed flan+s.
:ventually, mi&ing violent and nonviolent resistance 8eopardi%ed people power, particularly when
violence became the main driver of resistance from early 2032 onward. 'ssad redoubled his
military efforts and could then show his supporters and neutral yrians that he was their only
protector against violent e&tremists. 'rmed struggle also helped 'ssad to foster s+epticism about
the revolution among $hristians, 'lawites, and other communities , something that he could not
achieve during the first months of resistance. 6he populace now faced daunting conditions in many
cities and towns. Aonviolent activists remained engaged in civic organi%ing 22N5 but, often, in the
form of full,time relief wor+, operating field hospitals and distributing basic goods to displaced
populations, and educating displaced children.
)hen armed resistance fully overtoo+ civil resistance during 2032, it gained e&aggerated influence
over the outside world(s view of the yrian conflict. Once the revolution embraced using violence,
the only way it seemed possible to prevail over 'ssad was to acEuire more arms. 1ecause the fate of
any armed resistance that is wea+er than its adversary is necessarily determined by e&ternal
assistance in the form of weapons, army training or air stri+es, the door is opened to all the negative
conseEuences that stem from outside military involvement. 1y contrast, nonviolent resistance does
not historically need military intervention to prevail. It might welcome help from e&ternal civil
society groups, but what it needs most of all is the force of its own mobili%ed citi%ens. uch struggle
comes with fewer overall costs for the society and greater self,control over the internal tra8ectories
of the resistance and its eventual outcomes.
Resisting corruption: recent progress in Indonesia and Kenya
"haa#ka Beyerle [1]
%eople power may be well"suited to a systemic approach to curbing corruption.
%olitical will can be thwarted, because too many office"holders have a stake in the
crooked status 8uo. Those benefiting from graft are much less likely to stand
against it than those suffering from it.

The CICAK campagn. |akarta Press |14| |14|
Imagne you are an everyday ctzen, vng n a country wth a hstory of over
three decades of state voence and authortaran rue, wth wdespread poverty
st persstent. A nonvoent cvc coaton payed a sgnfcant roe n dspacng
the od regme. The fedgng democracy nherted a thrty-year armed confct
that resuted n thousands of deaths, dysfunctona state nsttutons, securty
force mpunty and gross mafeasance. Yet amdst these chaenges, an ant-
corrupton commsson has been created that has begun to expose ct
behavor and reatonshps among the oca and natona governments,
parament, admnstraton, poce and prvate sector. Not surprsngy, t has
become a target of these corrupt forces, and commssoners have been |aed
on trumped up charges.
Aternatey, magne you ve n desttuton, n a sum, wth tte or no forma
educaton. Ethnc voence has wracked your country, most recenty after
natona eectons. You fee frustraton, hopeessness and anger at the ack of
concern of oca offcas and your eected representatve, who receve funds to
mprove your communty whe you see no benefca resuts. Yet, you aso have
tte confdence you can change thngs, and beeve that n any case, ts
utmatey out of your hands and s the responsbty of others.
What coud you actuay do, n ether stuaton? One opton s to reman
acquescent and suffer. A second opton s to resort to voence, perhaps by
|onng a gang or extremst group, or ventng through rots or mob aggresson,
though ths s hghy unkey to resut n postve change. But there s a thrd
opton. You coud get together wth others sharng the same grevances, and
take up cv resstance to make your coectve voce heard, artcuate
grevances and demands, put pressure on authortes to force acton, and
acheve resuts. Ths s exacty what happened n the above two stores.
In the argest soca mobzaton snce the Reformas movement |15|, whch
ended the bruta Suharto dctatorshp n Indonesa, the 2009
CICAK campagn |16| made hstory. CICAK has a dua meanng. Its an acronym
for Love Indonesa, Love Ant-Corrupton. Its aso a gecko zard, referrng to a
derogatory wretapped comment by the Chef of the Poces Crmna
Department, who kened the Corrupton Eradcaton Commsson (KPK) to a
gecko fghtng the crocode (poce). One hundred cvc organzatons soon
|oned CICAK; a graduate student ndependenty created a Facebook group
whch rapdy grew to 1.7 mon members; and oca groups formed n 20 of
the countrys 33 provnces, wth we-known pubc fgures comng on board.
CICAK organzed actons n |akarta, whe oca chapters and hgh schoo and
unversty students spontaneousy ntated events throughout the country. A
varety of creatve nonvoent tactcs were used, ncudng banners readng
Say no to crocodes, ant-corrupton rngtones, stunts, street muras, wearng
of symbos, sodarty vsts to the KPK, as we as demonstratons, concerts, st-
ns, eafetng and hunger strkes. CICAK demanded an mmedate ndependent
nvestgaton and caed on the Presdent to save the KPK. As cv resstance
escaated, he agreed to the nvestgaton. The Commsson recommended the
charges aganst the KPK offcas be dropped.
The second case s ongong n Kenya. Musms for Human Rghts (MUHURI |17|)
s empowerng the poor n Mombasa to fght poverty by ganng access to
nformaton about budgets, curbng msuse of consttuency deveopment funds,
demandng pro|ects actuay wanted by communtes, and ganng
accountabty of oca offcas and members of parament. Snce 2007,
through a poneerng |18| coaboraton wth the Internatona Budget
Partnershp |19| and veteran actvsts from the ,a!door 9isan Shakti
Sangathan (MKSS |20|) movement for the Rght to Know n Inda, t has
deveoped a defnng nonvoent method, the i$e%step social audit, desgned
to pressure egsators to confront corrupton and msmanagement:
The frst step conssts of nformaton gatherng - records from the
oca Consttuency Deveopment Fund (CDF) offce. The second step s
tranng oca men and women to become communty actvsts who
decpher documents and budgets, montor expendtures and
physcay nspect pubc works. The thrd step nvoves educatng and
motvatng feow ctzens about the CDF and ther rght to nformaton
and accountabty. Communty actvsts and MUHURI use nonvoent
tactcs to attract attenton, drecty engage peope, and encourage
them to attend a pubc hearng. Ths ncudes puppet pays, musca
processons, street theatre, and eafetng. The fourth step s
nspectng the CDF pro|ect ste. Fnay comes the pubc hearng wth
CDF offcas, the meda, and n some cases, the member of
parament. MUHURI frst eads a processon through the communty,
repete wth chantng, a youth band, theatrcs and dancng chdren.
Durng the forum the resuts of the nvestgatons are presented, CDF
offcas are questoned and remeda measures are dentfed. Foow-
up montorng tracks progress.
In vrtuay every part of the word over the past 15 years, ctzens have been
provng they are not passve onookers of ete-drven, ant-corrupton
ntatves, but rather, drvers of accountabty, reform and change - a-the-
whe expandng the appcaton of cv resstance tactcs orgnay honed
through more vsbe ant-dctatorshp and ant-occupaton strugges. Peope
power may be we-suted to a systemc approach to curbng
corrupton. |21| Tradtona, top-down strateges are based on the assumpton
that once ant-corrupton structures are put n pace, ct practces w
change. Insttutons accused of corrupton are often made responsbe for
enactng change. But those beneftng from graft are much ess key to stand
aganst t than those sufferng from t. Its not surprsng that even when
potca w exsts, t can be thwarted, because too many peope have a stake
n the crooked status quo.
In contrast, peope power has a strategc advantage: t conssts of extra-
nsttutona pressure to push for change, when power-hoders are corrupt or
unaccountabe, and nsttutona channes are bocked or neffectve. In ongong
research, ths author has found that grass-roots campagns and movements
targetng corrupton often compement and renforce ega and admnstratve
mechansms, whch consttute the ant-corrupton nfrastructure needed for
ong-term transformaton of systems of graft and abuse. They can dsrupt
vertca and horzonta systems of corrupton. Ctzen mobzaton has aso
bostered the efforts of honest ndvduas wthn the state and other nsttutons
and sectors attemptng reforms and change, even to the extent of defendng
Aruna Roy, one of the founders of the MKSS movement n Inda, characterzes
corrupton as the externa manfestaton of the dena of a rght, an
enttement, a wage, a medcne. In bottom-up approaches, corrupton snt
consdered n a vacuum; t s nked to oppresson and other forms of n|ustce,
from voence to poverty, human rghts abuses, substandard soca servces,
authortaransm, unaccountabty, and envronmenta destructon.
Consequenty, when peope deveop ther own channes of power, the prortes
of fghtng corrupton often shft from grand corrupton, such as massve
embezzement, to those forms of graft and abuse that are most
drecty harmfu to the pubc, partcuary the poor. An actve ctzenry s at the
heart of accountabty and |ustce. In the words of Hussen Khad of MUHURI,
If peope are abe to be encouraged to go out, today ts CDF, tomorrow ts
somethng ese, and another day ts another thng. So CDF s an entry pont to
the reazaton of so many rghts that peope are not gettng.
The achevements of the CICAK campagn, MUHURI and many others not ony
set an exampe, but provde hope that peope can do more than st n quet
sufferng or resort to voence. Often nsttutonazed, corrupton n
democraces and non-democraces ake w reman gobay pervasve to the
extent that we, the peope, have not yet become a nonvoent force for fghtng
the n|ustce that t causes. Cv resstance s a means by whch ctzens can
become that source of change.
Civil resistance as deterrent to fracking: Part T!o, &hale '((
Philippe Duhamel [1]
The on"the"ground citi!en victory against those who represented one of the most
powerful industries in the world is the result of a multi"pronged, multiyear
combination of tactics that has combined into an innovative, compelling strategy.
See %art :ne here &'().
In ?art One, ?hilippe Cuhamel e&plains how !a $ampagne #oratoire d'une Beneration ;#CB<, the
One,Beneration #oratorium $ampaign, deployed an ultimatum to the Quebec government to
impose a 20,year moratorium on frac+ing, a proactive nonviolent direct action training program,
and a long,distance wal+ from "imous+i to #ontreal, to build unity around a preventative struggle
strategy to put on hold all current frac+ing operations and pre,testing wells in the province. )hat
has happened since that success*
1y mid,summer 2033, as we were debriefing and evaluating the wal+ and its success, the
organi%ing challenges and the lessons, #arie,Vve !educ, one of our creative members suggested
that we set up an early warning system to watch and sound the alarm should frac+ing activity
resume on Quebec territory. he suggested we call it Khale 733D.
)e got wor+ing on the design. Girst, there would be the creation and maintenance of a monitoring
website and a 3,N00 number to serve as hubs for active, citi%en,based surveillance.
6he web site that we built, $0I6:733.org [(3] in Grench, sports a big red button to signal
suspicious frac+ing activity, and includes geo,mapping of all +nown potential sites, with a colour,
coded level of alert with short descriptions.
)e have secured the 3,NNN,$0I6: emergency number, allowing for low,tech and more
immediate contact with the campaign.
:yes and ears in the community, watching remotes sites, important intersections and bac+ roads,
paying attention to rumours and tal+ing with strangers, can provide important, timely information. It
is the first and vital step in the system.
6his +ind of surveillance networ+ doesn't always have to be built from scratch. In the $anadian
province of Aew 1runswic+, $anada , Aeighbourhood )atch and 1loc+ ?arent homes were enlisted
to signal to protesters the presence of thumper truc+s, used for seismic testing.
'ny information received is first validated through a basic protocol. =ournalism,style, we need at
least two verified sources before an alert is made public. ?oint people in citi%en groups stand ready
to go out and verify allegations. :ngineers and specialists are on call to validate.
One priority: train, train, train
If anything, the concept of preventative action rests on one paramount priority9 to train communities
in Aonviolent Cirect 'ction ;AJC'< and $ivil Cisobedience ;$C<. 6o reinforce their intended
effect as a deterrent for the industry, the trainings themselves are publici%ed and mediati%ed.
Our trainings are full,day wor+shops, with advance registration, eEual part theory, history of civil
resistance strategy, and tactical training, all based on an e&periential training design.
6o anchor the training, and move the real wor+ of organi%ing, we have started to facilitate tactical
planning towards local emergency plans. )hat are the best locations to bloc+ade* )here will civil
resisters be sheltered* 0ow will they be fed* )ho will provide transportation*
's another innovation, we are using a ?articipatory Jideo process, adapted from US,
based Insi"htshare, teaching small groups in the use of video, the new literacy, to build a rapid
deployment plan. )ith friendly faces from the community, this self,made video can show everyone
, local fol+s, national authorities, and energy investors , the emergency mobilisation and direct
action plans that are being prepared to resist shale gas development, should it ever dare come bac+
in the area.
)irect action: costing the opponent
'lthough we +new intuitively, and politically, that preparing for mass participation in civil
disobedience bloc+ades would constitute a threat to the industry, the $:O of a ma8or firm in the
field of hydraulic fracturing provided a nice confirmation of the validity of one of our tactical
>' frac+ing operation costs about half a million dollars a day. 6hat's why I won't pay
this +ind of money if the ris+ is too high that protesters will chain themselves to
installations, or stop my teams from wor+ing.>
- #ichael 1innion, $:O of Questerre.
>6han+ you #r. 1innion, for sharing the recipe,> we'd Euip at every opportunity. >Aow let's gather
the ingredientsT>
'lthough one would be well,advised to remember that one tactic alone is rarely enough, and that
employing a vast repertoire of methods, with varying levels of ris+s, from none to mild to high, is
+ey to mass participation, and thus victory, other sta+eholders and analysts seem to share his
assessment that direct action and nonviolent bloc+ades represent a high ris+ and real costs for the
In early 2034, !ondon,based $ontrol "is+s, a global ris+ assessment consultancy for industries and
governments, published an in,depth study of anti,frac+ing groups around the world entitled, 6he
Blobal 'nti,Grac+ing #ovement9 )hat it )ants, 0ow it Operates and )hat(s Ae&t. 23-5 On page
30 of the report, $ontrol "is+s consultants provide this piece of analysis on direct action, weighing
more specifically the relative cost.benefit of bloc+ades as a tactic to the anti,frac+ing movement, vs.
unconventional hydrocarbon developers9
>Cirect action serves both strategic and tactical purposes. trategically, it attracts media
attention, raising public awareness of hydraulic fracturing, and thereby increasing
receptiveness to anti,frac+ing messaging and aiding activist recruitment.
Cemonstrations, days of action and non,violent civil disobedience provide impetus and
focus to the anti,frac+ing movement, helping to mobilise grassroots support, and
generating solidarity both locally and globally. Cirect action can also confer political
influence on the anti,frac+ing movement, as the imposition of moratoriums in Grance,
1ulgaria, outh 'frica, $%ech "epublic and elsewhere has demonstrated...>

>1loc+ades are a favoured non,violent direct action tactic across the environmental
activist movement, particularly for rural gas drilling pro8ects, which often depend on
single, purpose,built access roads. 1loc+ades generally do not reEuire site security to be
breached and can occur at a distance from the pro8ect. Gurthermore, while the costs to
activists of bloc+ades are e&tremely low Q both in terms of organisation and penalties Q
the potential for disruption to the target can be significant in terms of lost productivity
and e&tra operating costs.>
?roviding further confirmation of our choice of tactics, $ontrol "is+s also had this to say about one
element of the One,Beneration #oratorium campaign, deemed a relatively sophisticated operation9
>In line with the generic evolution of social movements, online and social media are
also instrumental in organising and mobilising the anti,frac+ing movement. !ocal and
national anti,frac+ing demonstrations, for e&ample, are promoted heavily via Gaceboo+
pages and 6witter feeds, with websites providing ready,made templates for posters, 6,
shirts and banners. 't the more sophisticated end of the spectrum, for e&ample, the anti,
shale Quebecois ;$anada< campaign #oratoire d(une generation maintains a dedicated
initiative , Schiste -(( , to alert activists y email to drillin" activity in the province).
Making the ost of direct action
6he second +ey element of the preventative campaign design deals with training very much
upstream of industry activity.
)e put a lot of emphasis on non,arrest, support roles. Our goal is to get as many people to attend
the training as possible. )e also want to recruit people who might not otherwise attend, because it is
a fact that support roles around nonviolent direct action often involve greater time commitments,
and even courage, than the getting arrested part.
$ivil Cisobedience and Aonviolent Cirect 'ction ;AJC'< trainings can generate Euite a bit of
media bu%%. :specially outside of urban areas, these wor+shops are not only a rare occurrence and a
novelty, they generate enough controversy to provide prime newsworthiness. :specially when
allowed to cover role,plays and other simulations, AJC' trainings provide this irresistible mi& of
anticipation and drama about the upcoming conflict.
'llowing media to cover civil disobedience wor+shops allows training to become an action in itself.
ince not only police and corporate surveillance outfits, but also 8ournalists have been +nown to
covertly attend these trainings, it is better that the movement allow access to the media, and hence
e&ert some control over the message, and plan how to derive the most benefit from the coverage.
Pledging civil resistance
6he training sessions in civil resistance always end with the offer to sign a >?ledge of "esistance>
made out to each participant's name, followed by a graduation ceremony with diplomas also printed
individually , we register people in advance through an online form, and as+ for their personal
information, to be compiled in a database.
1ecause it is formal and dignified, it strengthens people's resolve. It is a serious commitment, that
not everyone, but most participants do ma+e. It prepares people for not 8ust short,term, but a longer,
term vision of how they should contemplate being involved in this struggle. It provides a
reassurance that this movement is serious, well,organi%ed and that it will see to it that nonviolent
discipline doesn't brea+ down, and that high,ris+ roles aren't open to untrained participants.
)e then ta+e a picture of each graduate holding their diploma, and add it to the database of trained
participants. !ater, we send each one their laminated personal card, complete with photo IC, Q"
code, and a newsletter with a fundraising appeal.
)hen we reach F00 trained participants ;right now, our numbers hover 8ust above 400<, we hold a
press conference to show how many people have committed to ta+e part in civil resistance actions,
as direct participants and support, should the industry come bac+.
*earning fro the e#perient
Under a threat as immense as frac+ing, no town could succeed alone. =ust the same, no single
organisation, much less a leader, can claim full credit for such a vast and successful movement.
)ith a mi& of friction and collaboration, the combination of everyone(s diverse efforts and specific
contributions generated the victory. =ust as in nature, it ta+es many speciali%ed roles to ma+e an
effective and resilient movement ecosystem.
?ublic framing
$hoose a frame that allows you to tal+ to almost everybody, ordinary people who do not +now
about, share or even care about the premises of environmental activism, who +now nothing about
movement 8argon such as Kclimate 8usticeD, K$O2 ??#D, or even alternative energy sources. 6o
become a mass movement, we need to develop language devoid of inside code words or policy,
spea+. If your framing allows the other side to win over the fence sitters, you will lose.
)e chose to put forward the idea of a momentary stop , not a permanent ban outright , so that
there could be a way to bring over those who are not yet convinced, or educated enough about the
issue, to even >hear> a hard position such >no shale gas, ever>. 6he One,Beneration #oratorium
idea was able to capture the idea of reaching into the future, to tal+ about life through caring about
our children. Branted, >#oratorium> sounds technical, and soulless. It is itself a term that sounds
li+e 8argon. It was so widely held in the movement, it was the main plan+9 we had to also cater to
the activists.
Ultimatum9 ta+e bac+ the timeline
$iti%en,based initiatives trying to oppose unwanted development tend to be very reactive. 1y
definition, the building of new installations is a process controlled by the opponent. 6herefore, the
timing of events , when and how each of the steps will be carried out, cutting down trees,
bulldo%ing the topsoil, bringing in the eEuipment , is controlled by the opponent.
'dd to this that citi%ens often lac+ in,depth +nowledge of the various steps involved in more
comple& development processes, and you have a very uneEual power over the time and place for
)here do you draw the line* )hen do you launch an action*
:&tensive research, other groups with on,the,ground e&perience, and sympathetic e&perts are all
ways citi%en groups can acEuire better +nowledge of the upcoming process to define the important
steps around which actions can be designed.
'nother great device is the ultimatum , a set date by which a demand must be met, or else a
sanction, or a series of conseEuences, will ensue for the opponent.
#ohandas S. Bandhi made good use of the ultimatum during his career, often in the form of a letter
penned in concerned, amicable language.
Issuing an ultimatum provides a number of advantages, the most important being that it allows a
campaign to regain the initiative, by setting a deadline around which to plan, for a better handle on
preparatory steps for mobili%ations and resource,intensive moments.
1ecause an ultimatum warns opponents ahead of time of the li+ely conseEuences if they opt for
confrontation, it tends to ma+e the issuer loo+ more composed and reasonable. 't least, an attempt
is made at persuasion, before coercion.
6he denouement
One could argue that recent mar+et conditions , in the form of lower gas prices , helped temper
Aorth 'merican enthusiasm and urgency towards the development of e&treme hydrocarbon
deposits. 6rue enough. 1ut shale gas continues to be developed elsewhere, while it has been stopped
in a province where the resource was found to be abundant, close to the surface, and cheap.
ometimes, all it ta+es is some e&tra cost, some new unwanted ris+, or a small increase in political
uncertainty. $ertainly, civil resistance can play a role in all three, for a winning combination to the
benefit of people(s short,term Euality of life, long,term health, their environment, and the promise
of a better life for their children(s children.
Jictories against e&tractive industries and other destructive pro8ects sometimes come in the form of
repeated delays and postponements imposed on promotersI until the conditions or the general
climate, political and otherwise, change permanently. )inning time, especially if the time is used
for more organi%ing, can mean winning, period.
Initially, the opponent in Quebec was wise enough to use public forums to try and pull the public
toward their point of view. It started in the spring of 2030, when the ?etroleum and Bas association
toured the province to tal+ about the benefits of the industry. It was a disaster, helped along with the
arrogance and mista+es of its spo+esmen.
6hen, the provincial government set up multiple environmental review boards. It designed their
mandates so they would be constrained to loo+ only at the how, not the whether if, or when. o
alongside civil resistance, the public authorities and the industry were also doing their advocacy and
consultations, often winning government officials over. )hile activist groups were tempted to
ignore the flawed process, they were nevertheless important as a potential means by which public
decision,ma+ers would ta+e stoc+ of the deeper opposition that civil resistance had been stirring, as
the included chronology shows.
W pring 2030, the issue comes to the fore.
W Gall 2030, ?rovincial government launches an environmental review process on how to mitigate
hydraulic fracturing. $iti%en groups and most environmental organi%ations want proceedings to
focus on whether frac+ing should be allowed and demand a moratorium. #oratoire C(une
Beneration ;#CB< stages a dignified act of defiance9 one by one, everyone in the room stands up
and as+s the board for a one,generation moratorium.
W Cecember 2030 to Gebruary 2033, the #CB strategy proposal is circulated.
W #arch 3, 2033, !aunch of the One Beneration #oratorium $ampaign, with ultimatum to
government set for #ay 3.
W #arch N, 2033, :nvironment minister announces a new study, this time a trategic :nvironmental
'ssesmment ;:'<, but ma+es no commitment that test wells and e&perimental frac+ing will be
W #ay 2033, )al+ from "imous+i to #ontreal, with educational campaign on frac+ing and
proposed long,range strategy of preventative nonviolent direct action. Girst moratorium law
proposed, then adopted on frac+ing under the t. !awrence or any of its islands west of 'nticosti.
W =une 2033, :nvironment minister announces full stop to drilling and frac+ing for shale gas. )al+
culminates on #ontreal.
W Cecember 2033, the :' committee holds proceedings across the t. !awrence valley.
:verywhere, it is met with hours of opposition testimonies and statements from citi%ens, others
standing in silent protest, holding signs with a giant eyeball saying9 KSeeping an eye on you. 6he
ne&t generations are watching.D
W 'pril 2032, first of series of trainings for chiste733 ;hale733< begins. 'bout three hundred
citi%ens have been trained so far.
W eptember 2032, ?arti Qu@b@cois is elected as a minority government. In +eeping with election
promises, it soon announces it will impose a moratorium on frac+ing for shale gas, through a bill to
be presented.
W #ay 2034, ' bill toward a F,year shale gas moratorium in the t. !awrence Jalley is presented,
but has yet to be adopted. 6he ?arti Qu@b@cois also changes and e&tends the modalities of the :'.
Gor the bill to be adopted, the minority government needs the votes of at least one of the largest
opposition parties.
W eptember 2034, the situation is unchanged. :mergency action plans are being drafted by citi%ens
trained in AJC', using an innovative participatory video process.
W 'nd ne&t, e&ploration for shale oil is slated for 203- on 'nticosti Island and the Basp@ peninsula,
areas unfortunately e&cluded from the proposed moratorium. 6wo pipelines carrying 'lberta tar
sands crude have also been announced to carry diluted bitumen across the province. Opposition to
these initiatives is mounting. Jictories bring new challenges, and e&tra layers of comple&ity. !a
lutte continueI
On a practical level, intentional civil resistance planning, relentless community organi%ing, and a
powerful seEuence of preventative nonviolent actions were able to prevent destructive development
from being sold as a >done deal>. Brassroots civil resistance organi%ing acted as a real deterrent
against seemingly undefeatable e&tractive industries.
+ctivis and resistance
6his +ind of success does not come easily. 'nd many threats in Quebec still loom. 1ut the on,the,
ground citi%en victory against those who represented one of the most powerful industries in the
world is the result of a multi,pronged, multiyear seEuence of tactics that combined into an
innovative, compelling strategy.
$ivil resistance can change the politics of environmental threats, by mobili%ing the very same
people who, in democracies, elect the politicians. 'ctivism and advocacy are with us all the time.
1ut sustained pressure by organi%ed groups of informed, determined people who will be affected by
e&ploitative public or private action is still rare in open societies. )hen it is summoned by shrewd
planning and the framing of a cause whose time has come, the result can be to pull the sword of the
people(s power out of the roc+ of even the daunting combination of governmental torpor and
relentless corporate action Q and finally put public interests ahead of private gain.
The Syrian resistance: a tale of two struggles, art !
Maciej Bartkowski [1] and Mohja Kah [!]
%robabilities are always shredded by violent conflict, e4cept the probability that
freedom and 5ustice will be postponed. See %art :ne here. &';)

"ima Cali holding a banner that reads, K#y brother the policeman9 )here are our friends* and who
has imprisoned them*D
's Cr. :rica $henoweth and Cr. #aria tephan reported in their groundbrea+ing Euantitative
research ;reported in /hy 0ivil 1esistance /or2s, $olumbia University ?ress, 2033<, substituting
armed struggle for civil resistance is li+ely to ma+e the success of resistance half as li+ely, even
against the most brutal of regimes. Ao doubt, nonviolent civil resistance can fail. 1ut the same
research showed that violent resistance failed in more than M0L of cases happening in a 30M,year
period, 2.F times more than civil resistance.
#oreover, as this research showed, it ta+es violent resistance against brutal regimes an average of
nine years to run its course, but only three years for nonviolent resistance to succeed or fail.
Part $$: +borting a revolution
Aonviolent resistance dominated the yrian conflict only for less than one year , under one,third of
the average duration needed to produce results. Biven the destructive force of violent conflict in
yria now, any additional year of violent struggle means tens of thousands more lives lost and more
of the nation(s infrastructure in ruins. :ven failed nonviolent resistance costs much less in lives and
property destroyed, while the probability of democrati%ation is still much greater through people
power than with even a victorious violent resistance.
Ginally, no ma8or genocidal act is +nown to have happened during mass,based nonviolent struggles.
6he same cannot be said about violent conflicts, including civil wars. 0ad this information been
+nown widely among revolutionary yrians in 2033, would the turn to civil war have been as
ineluctable as it appears in hindsight* Instead, different beliefs and calculations were in the driver(s
Gour fatal beliefs
)hat can be learned from a clear,eyed evaluation of the yrian nonviolent resistance* )e thin+ it is
important to understand the movement,centered factors that victimi%ed and degraded civil
resistance amid rising armed struggle9
6he belief that armed protection will help defend civil resistance
Osama Aassar, a nonviolent advocate who helped to create Caraya(s !ocal $oordination committee
said in October, 2033, that those who became convinced of the need to bear arms Kbelieve arming
will protect people from getting +illed in demonstrations and shelling of towns, but it will multiply
civilian casualties by tens of thousands,D collapsing the false logic that Karms protect.D hort,term
and immediate protection against a home invasion or rape or neighborhood sniper could in fact be
achieved by armed resistance but only for a limited time and with little overall protection e&tended
over the whole community. $onseEuently, armed protection came at a collective price e&acted by
the regime, resulting in more civilian losses in the long run as whole neighborhoods were
demolished in pitched battles between armed combatants.
In reality, civil resistance, while imposing significant costs on the regime and faced with brutal
repression, saved many lives when it lasted, as the following figures illustrate. Curing the first five
months of nonviolent civil resistance ;mid,#arch to mid,'ugust, 2033<, the death toll was
2,037 23-5 ;figures e&clude regime army casualties<. In the ne&t five months ;mid,'ugust 2033 to
mid,=anuary 2033< mi&ed violent and nonviolent resistance saw the death toll climbed to 4,3--23F5,
a FML increase. Ginally, during the first five months of armed resistance ;mid,=anuary 2032 to mid,
=une 2032< the death toll was already N,37F 23M5, a staggering 3M3L increase in comparison with
the casualties during nonviolent struggle.
6he regime also felt no longer constrained in the use of its deadly chemical weapons and freEuent
use of air stri+es after the uprising became armed. 6here are no +nown cases of death by air stri+es,
for e&ample, when the resistance on the ground was driven by the widespread protest chants of
Kilmiye, silmiyeD ;Kpeaceful, peacefulD<. 6he supremacy of nonviolent resistance over its armed
counterpart in lowering the costs in human lives, and by e&tension in overall costs for the society
when faced with a ruthless adversary, was ignored when, feeling immediate danger as well as high
emotions and affinity with defecting soldiers, people turned to armed rebels to protect them.
6he belief that the regime would fall in wee+s, based on the 6unisian and :gyptian e&periences.
'ctivists interviewed say that many of them held high hopes based on the successes of nonviolent
protests in 6unisia and :gypt, which resulted in the ouster of the heads of those regimes within
wee+s of large street demonstrations, followed by the opting of soldiers not to use violence and
ultimately the generals( decision to desist from it. 6he absence of planning for a protracted, even
years,long, nonviolent resistance may have led to directing full energy initially to the primary tactic
of street demonstrations , the regime(s repression of which often 8ustified the calls for armed
protection of nonviolent protesters , to the detriment of less spectacular underground organi%ing of
institutional networ+s of liberated communities, to which the civil resistance turned only after
months of initial struggle.
In hindsight, one of the wea+nesses of nonviolent resistance was a lac+ of anticipation, planning
and preparation for gradual defections 23/5 that would not bring about the Euic+ collapse of the
regime. 0ad that been anticipated, it might not have paved the way for the emergence of the
KprotectiveD violent flan+ that eventually too+ over the resistance. ' freEuent argument during the
transition to armed resistance was, K)here should defectors go, and where can they put down their
arms* 6hey will be +illed, unless they form a rebel army.D 6his argument was flawed on its very
premise9 that a resort to violence protected people, as if the probability of being +illed decreased
with participation in violent resistance. 6his belief was proven wrong. It was the nonviolent
community of organi%ers and activists that could have offered , both through their networ+s and
nonviolent actions , much better chances of saving lives of the defecting soldiers.
6he belief that the yrian regime was uniEuely brutal, and the related lac+ of +nowledge of
nonviolent struggles in other countries as well as in yria decades before)
6he yrian regime was not atypical in its proclivity to violence, yet youthful revolutionaries
isolated from the facts about other countries( histories believed that yrians faced an e&ceptional
brutality from the 'ssad regime. Gew if any +new that the hah of Iran +illed M00 nonviolent
demonstrators in 6ehran on one day alone, eptember N, 37/N and that #ubara+(s police and other
protectors hesitated little before gunning down 700 protesters during 3/ days of demonstrations in
2033 , more than twice the casualties in yria during the first two and a half wee+ of nonviolent
protests. 6he Euestion is not the willingness to +ill , which every dictator possesses , but his
capacity to sustain the +illing. 6he goal of civil resistance is to wea+en a regime(s capacity to such a
degree that, as in Iran or :gypt, the regime is no longer able to rely on its bureaucracy, business
sector, armed forces or other pillars of support.
yrians who favored armed resistance claimed that the 'merican colonists had armed for their
liberation, failing to notice that 'mericans engaged in 30 years of nonviolent resistance 23N5 against
the 1ritish prior to armed struggle, and the "evolutionary )ar, triggered by the arrival of a massive
1ritish military force on 'merican shores, created desertions away from the rebel side and
undermined colonial unity while earlier nonviolent resistance had broadened its social base. ome
yrian nonviolent groups and activists, in stressing sectarian unity, didn(t see the double,edged
sword of celebrating the multi,sectarian solidarity of an armed nationalist struggle. 6hey touted the
yrian stand against the Grench in 372F , a violent struggle that failed , while ignoring an
astounding episode of nonviolent struggle9 the Beneral tri+es of 374M ;one of the longest in the
human history< that united sectarian communities and achieved significant concessions from the
6he belief that sectarian loyalties would inhibit unarmed resistance and necessitate violent conflict.
One argument for armed struggle was the perception that the sectarian comple&ion of the regime
inhibited a high level of defections from the security apparatus , that 'lawites would remain loyal
due to strong internal ties. )hile the regime pursued pernicious sectarian tactics to ma+e 'lawite
civilians into human shields, latent sectarian discourse surfaced on the revolutionary side, showing
a failure to understand the pressures on the 'lawite 2375 community and to plan ways to ma+e their
defections more feasible.
In the history of revolutions, shooting at the other side has never increased chances for defections.
ectarian discourse by e&tremists such as e&ile 'dnan 'roor was also allowed to develop in the
name of unity against the regime, with the dangers it represented not adeEuately addressed early on.
#any nonsectarian nonviolent activists believed that even mentioning religion was itself sectarian,
and this hampered the effort to stem sectarianism. )hether or not the initial nonviolent resistance,
despite its non,sectarianism, ultimately failed to win ma8orities of $hristians, 'lawites, and other
components of yrian society, what is sure is that armed rebellion aggravated these divisions and
inhibited the breadth and strength of the resistance coalition.
$ivil resistance in yria, while it dominated, was strategically effective against the 'ssad regime.
)hen this method was used by hundreds of thousands of yrians, the regime became uncertain of
the loyalties of its supporters. In contrast, armed struggle neither offered effective protection to the
population, nor placed the resistance in a strategically more advantageous position vis,a,vis 'ssad
than the nonviolent resistance had. 6he degeneration of the conflict from nonviolent to violent force
was not inevitable and might not have been eventual, had the established benefits of civil resistance
been better +nown. Instead, the real gains of civil resistance were never assessed, before being
overcome by the myth of the power of the gun, and later by hope that e&ternal military intervention
could resolve the conflict, even though such intervention has been freEuently shown to be incapable
of assuring human rights 2205, safeguarding civilians 2235 and ending civil wars 2225.
$ivil resistance still continues in yria today despite the prevalence of insensate violence. 6he
armed resistance that led to the disproportionate escalation of violence by the regime, led to
multiple humanitarian catastrophes and the use of chemical weapons. 1ut nonviolent activists are
now focusing on building alternative services and institutions in communities. 6heir wor+ may help
restore social bonds and citi%ens( networ+s even though the strategic effects of nonviolent resistance
have been marginali%ed by civil war.
's we write this, the yrian regime has been constrained by U and "ussian diplomacy to agree to
surrender its chemical weapons to the United Aations. )hile this may stall any decisive outcome in
the civil war, it may also illuminate any ongoing brutality by the regime, leading perhaps to more
assertive criticism by international parties, and perhaps offer space and time for civil resistance to
regenerate. 1ut that is only a possibility. ?robabilities are always shredded by violent conflict,
e&cept the probability that freedom and 8ustice will be postponed.