Main Points:

It is often assumed that the choice of nonviolent resistance is made for moral reasons, but the historical record suggests otherwise.  Most who used nonviolent action in the twentieth century did so because military or physical force was not a viable option.  Some simply lacked sufficient arms to mount a violent revolt; others had recently seen a violent insurrection fail, with devastating results for life and property.  But since people’s most vital interests were at stake, and because they were determined to take down the rulers or laws that withheld their rights, they were impelled to take up other, nonviolent weapons.  Those who used nonviolent action in our stories did not come to make peace.  They came to fight. (5)

Lessons of nonviolent campaigns: (7)

-        The use of nonviolent sanctions has been far more frequent and widespread than usually supposed.  They were crucial elements of history-making struggles in every part of the world and in every decade of the century.

-        Nonviolent action has worked against all types of oppressive opponents – and there is no correlation between the degree of violence used against nonviolent resisters and the likelihood of their eventual success.  Some who faced the greatest brutality prevailed decisively.

-        A nonviolent movement’s potential for success degenerates when it tries to incorporate violence into its strategy.  Once a regime is attacked with deadly force, its ability to rally internal support and apply repression is enhanced.

-        Mobilizing and maintaining a popular movement geared to nonviolent action go hand in hand with strengthening a civil society and establishing or sustaining democracy.

2 misperceptions of nonviolent conflict: (7)

-        Since the century’s two most celebrated leaders of nonviolent movements – Gandhi and MLK, Jr. – emerged from religious callings, nonviolent action has been stereotyped as a moral preference rather than a pragmatic choice, thereby obscuring its strategic value in conflicts.

-        Since the fall of Marcos in 1986, news coverage of mass nonviolent action has left the impression that “people power” comes from the size or energy of crowds who agitate in city streets.  While physically confronting an opponent can be necessary, the true rhythm of effective nonviolent action is less spontaneous than it is intentional, less theatrical than technical.  It has little to do with shouting slogans and putting flowers in gun barrels.  It has everything to do with separating governments from their means of control.

Nonviolent action is possible, and is capable of wielding great power even against ruthless rulers and military regimes, because it attacks the most vulnerable characteristic of all hierarchical institutions and governments: dependence on the governed. (9)

Nonviolent action is like violent combat in at least two ways: It does not succeed automatically, and it does not operate mysteriously – it works by identifying an opponent’s vulnerabilities and taking away his ability to maintain control. (494)

No one of the century’s nonviolent campaigns offers an ideal prototype for achieving victory… It was always the product of sensible decisions by shrewd leaders, on behalf of unified and persistent people – which is the everyday basis of heroism. (495)

The Way to Prevail: (496)

-        Organization: It requires an organization: a movement that develops and communicates clear goals to its followers and that is reasonably unified and broadly representative of the people in whose name it speaks. (496)

-        Realistic Goals: Movements that set towering aims may elicit keen enthusiasm from those who join the fight. But not budging from lofty plans also may foreclose partial victories and harden adversaries, making repression more likely… Ambitious goals, modest goals: The choice has to be realistic, for a movement must make progress before it can make history. (496)

-        Vanguard who understands the broad and specific grievances: Most popular movements begin with a core of activists who rally support from other walks of life and go on to capture broad consent for their goals.  That requires finding out whose support is likely and what divisions have to be bridged in order to forge a cohesive and expansive force for change.  No task for a movement is more difficult. (497)

-        Robust Sanctions: All of these sanctions, spread across the calendar or the length of a country, can throw the weight of the people against a regime without exposing many of them to violence.  Distributing nonviolent action over time and space can overstretch a regime’s capacity to restrain events, limiting the reach of repression. (499)

-        A mass nonviolent movement can force a favorable outcome in one of three ways: (501)

o   By coercing a ruler to surrender power or leave.

o   By inducing a regime to compromise and make concessions.

o   By converting the regime’s view of the conflict, so that it believes it should no longer dictate the result.

A strategy for action is needed, and that strategy has to involve: (502)

-        Attainable goals.

-        Movement unity.

-        Robust sanctions that restrict the opponent.

-        To shift the momentum of conflict in its favor, the nonviolent movement has to:

o   expand the scope and variety of its offensive action,

o   defend its popular base against repression,

o   pierce the legitimacy of its adversary,

o   exploit his weaknesses and concessions.

-        When all of this happens, an oppressor inevitably loses support inside and outside his country, and his means of repression or terror can be unfastened.

-        When the regime realizes that it can no longer dictate the outcome, the premise and means of its power implode.