Erica Chenoweth: Confronting the myth of the rational insurgent

By Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D

Lambert here: Occupy’s public discussions on “diversity of tactics” have often lacked historical perspective; discussions, at least online, have tended to degenerate to “Ghandi!” “No, ANC!” Now, however, Erica Chenoweth has developed a dataset and analyzed the historical record. Below the fold are slides summarizing the results of her study of 323
 non-violent and violent campaigns 
 1900‐2006. (There are twenty slides, so anybody with a slow connection may prefer to download a zipped file of the original PDF). Here’s one key slide:

I’m sure, readers, that like any study, Chenoweth’s work is open to challenge on any number of grounds. That said, surely looking to the historical record to see what’s worked isn’t such a bad thing?

* * *

Why not do what works? Is that so wrong?

NOTE Lambert here once again. The paper that these slides summarize will be delivered by Professor Chenoweth at this year’s International Studies Association Annual Meeting at a special workshop in advance of the proceedings not yet listed in the program.

UPDATE Professor Chenoweth comments:

A debate is unfolding in the comments section [here at NC]. I address many of the questions raised here in a paper I am writing for the ISA Annual Meetings in San Diego in April. Most of the critiques the NC readers are raising about the data, however, are addressed and dealt with in my book with Maria Stephan. For anyone interested, the data and appendix used for the book are available at my research page.

As Maria and I emphasize, our book is not meant to be the last word. Instead, we hope it will catalyze new and improved research on the topic of civil resistance–a field I’ve been encouraging security studies scholars to take seriously. One of the ways I’ve been hoping to attract greater attention to the topic of civil resistance has been to develop this “myths” talk, which I have tested out on a few different audiences. It’s supposed to be provocative, and it generally has elicited fairly strong reactions. The response over at NC is no exception.

My hope is not to provoke discussion for its own sake. Instead, my goals are twofold: 1) to encourage more systematic empirical research on the topic; and 2) to persuade people, on the basis of existing empirical research, that nonviolent resistance can often be a viable alternative for challenging entrenched power.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. Nathanael

        I’m going to comment right up top about two major holes in this research:

        (1) reversed causation problem. It is well-documented that movements *turn* to violence *after* they have been frustrated repeatedly. Accordingly, the graph is merely demonstrating the obvious, with causation reversed.
        (2) confounding variables problems. As another commenter wrote, violent struggles against a foreign oppressor are more likely to succeed than violent struggles against a domestic oppressor, while peaceful struggles against a foreign oppressor are less likely to succeed than peaceful struggles against a domestic oppressor; and struggles against a foreign oppressor are also more likely to *be* violent.

        (3) The definition of success is unclear, rendering the paper entirely subjective.

        In other words, poor work, and I wouldn’t pass it through peer review until these problems are addressed.

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  1. Sally Fraudclosure

    The state will frequently incite violence so their own response can be more brutal. Notably, there is fresh proof of this understanding here in the US and in Israel’s apartheid campaign.

    1. Gnatie

      I think that you are giving too much credit to strategy ont he part of both US and Israeli authorities. Since both sets of leaders are democratically elected most moves are as much a response to what they THINK will keep them in power as they are ideological.

      Also – I am a VERY harsh critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (both the citizens and non-citizens), but it’s not apartheid (yet – it could get there in a couple of more generations). To use the term both shows (a) a misunderstanding of daily life in Israel and in the territories and (b) diminishes the cause of black S. Africans.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Agreed. I think this compilation of data is great. Makes me think a more granular analysis will continue to provide much insight into the issue.

    1. Richard Kline

      It has been well-understood since the 1950s, due to comparisons exactly as here, that nonviolent campaigns had far higher probabilities of success. Stil, this study extends the timeframe surveyed, and that’s a plus.

      What I found especially interesting and new, though, was the data on participation rates relative to success. That was very thought provoking. A participation rate of ~1.5% equated to a 90% success rate. And the relationship was effectively linear, greater participation has a very strong correlation with success (though of course there are other variables).

      I see one minor and correctible flaw with the presentation, and one examination not evidently pursued but which would be highly valuable. First, nowhere in the presentation is ‘violence’ defined. I’m assuming that violence as presented in this study is guns-and-bombs kind of insurgency, with assassination being a third leg of the stool. I’m sure Ms. Chenoweth had a definition, but it should be made explicit in the presentation. Second, it would be valuable to correlate the degree of violence with the degree of success (or the lack of it). I suspect that this study already has the criteria to perform that evaluation, but it would be a distinct benefit to get the actual results for comparative purposes.

      High participation and pronounced nonviolence are by far the best organizational desiderata if objective success is the goal. What we see to my mind is that those committed to violence, or to the gray area of property destruction, simply don’t share the same goals as those focused on nonviolent political change. There is not a ‘diversity of tactics’ but rather an incompatibility of goals. Those perpared to smash-and-dash are not shy about imposing their goals upon others, and have given scant indication of changing those goals. So it remains for the rest of us to decide what we will do about that. ‘Tolerate it’ has been the working choice thus far; as we see here, that will substantially drive down the likelihood of success.

  2. voislav

    It’s always dangerous to apply a blanket analysis to very different problems. In Figure 2 it’s clear that there are really two different types of insurgencies: one against an external agent (for example colonial government) and the other against the internal agent (dictatorship). In the first case as evidenced by 1940-1960 period where most insurgencies were of the colonial kind, violence is somewhat more effective than non-violence. In the second case, for example looking from 1980 on, non-violence is more effective.

    There are other factors in play as well, technology progress, for example, increases the firepower of the military, making it less likely to be defeated by violent means.

    Essentially though, it boils down that the external agent are much quicker to cut and run when the cost of holding power exceeds their income derived from that power. This makes violence much more effective, because it eats into the profits much faster than non-violence. Internal agent, on the other hand, is much less susceptible to economic damage.

    What would really interest me is the breakdown of the Figure 2 into anti-colonial and anti-dictatorship insurgencies. That would really give us a real picture of violent vs. non-violent means. My suspicion is that that would drastically increase the effectiveness of non-violence in the anti-dictatorship insurgencies.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Another issue to include would be the presence of the USSR/USA dynamic in the post-World War II era. One might notice India was a British colony through World War II. U.S./Soviet hegemony changed the conversation at least for a time. Dien Bien Pu happened before the Suez crisis when the U.S. started to explain the Soviet issue was taking precedence.

      Without arranging the map around the new dynamic, I doubt some of the peaceful ends of European colonialism would have been so cheerful.

    2. Alex

      I would also be interested in situations where there is a violent and a non-violent movement aiming for the same essential goals? Given a choice between two groups like The Black Panthers and the NAACP, is a government more likely to chose the NAACP if The Black Panthers are present or if they are not present?

      1. Benedict@Large

        This is key. In all of the most cited instances of “success”, there were both, with the non-violent groups substantially larger in size. In this situation, the “oppressor” has the choice to (in NLP lingo) “move away from the pain” and “move towards the pleasure”. The oppressor thus is provided the political opportunity to appear to be siding with the non-violent, when it is in reality difusing the violent.

    3. Richard Kline

      So voislav, there have actually been comparisons of this kind (in Sharp’s work amongst others). The variable of external rather than internal does _not_ produce sharp differences in outcome; sometimes yes, sometimes not. The ‘value’ extracted by an external occupier is much, much overblown. The value is often not economic but political: pressure upon a third party, protecting external population elements locally present, etc. In fact colonial occupations are generally far more bitterly pursued over much longer times than internal ones exactly because the worst costs are borne externally and internal situations collapsed much faster.

      You are asking interesting questions, but the historical results don’t tend to align well with the hypotheses you have in play so far. But dig more, the literature has a lot to offer.

      1. Nathanael

        I think there are major pscyhological factors at work differentiating an external oppression from an internal one — insider/outsider theory, anyone?

        I can’t comprehend what you’re saying, but you don’t appear to actually be arguing with the idea that the dynamics are completely different when the oppressor is “from elsewhere”.

    4. Nathanael

      It’s worth noting that the French Revolution (of 1789) changed from non-violent to violent right around the time when it changed from a domestic matter to a foreign matter — the point at which the royalist absolutists invited in foreign troops to oppress the Republic.

      So yeah, approximately correct.

  3. Maju

    This is not a serious study: it is a publicity stunt. There may be a serious study behind but we do not know of it and we cannot consider its data here. It may be even correct (IDK) but the way of presenting it makes it extremely suspicious.

    For example we do not know what exactly are the campaigns, how much they are revolutions and how much just sectorial movements (which are nice but not really the core matter).

    Revolutionary processes, as have been already discussed in this blog (at least in the comments), are seldom nonviolent (nor purely violent either). I’d like to know if the author for example considers in her ‘pink and blue’ bi-chromatic vision whether the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions were “nonviolent”. There were not either violent, I know but something in between: the author has no color for that most common process.

    I have even used minor violence in nonviolent actions discretely and with success. For example once I threatened a recruit with a bite so I could lock a chain at the gate of a military headquarter. Otherwise the whole stunt would have failed. Nobody noticed. It all looked totally nonviolent for the press (and almost all participants) but the threat was violence indeed.

    Things are not black and white and, as Gandhi himself left written, “the difference is not so much between those who fight with weapons and those who do with the Satyagraha, but between those who fight and those who do not”.

    1. Tiercelet


      I would also question some of the definitions at work here. For instance, the “Post-Conflict Regime Type” slide — would Egypt count as a democracy? When a great many observers are concerned that the movement was co-opted by the military, and resulted in changing the head but not the body? ‘Democracy’ may not be the aim of all social movements, and a nominally democratic state may just be a more sophisticated form of oligarchical repression.

      Additionally, movements do not happen in isolation. “ANC vs Gandhi” is one paradigm, but the reality is that Gandhi’s movement was not the only one active. The power structure negotiates with a Gandhi or an MLK because it’s afraid of the violent other movements. Does that count as a “radical flank” or as a different movement entirely? I would like to see how the study accounts for this kind of “good cop bad cop” effect.

      There’s also the question of the extent to which governments and media structures have gotten better at manipulating the non-participating public over the survey period.

      1. Erick Muller

        The main proble here is that the author of this article does not define critical concepts, like you just ponted out Tiercelet, what is a Democracy?, What characteristics does need to have a regime to be consider a Democracy?, and so on…

        I lot of the issues that I have found in the comment´s have to do with the fact that people don´t define or have a clear definition of the concepts that they are using to express and opinion or make an argument. Maybe if the author of this slide show made and adendum with some definitions it would be a lot clearer for thee rest of us to understand what she meant.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The real missing point is violence typically follows the failure of non-violent means. The American problems in the 1770’s started in the 1760’s, and even our great General George Washington was tossed from the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1775 for telling everyone not to give up on negotiations and boycotts.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because the International Studies Association is known for its zany antics? “Publicity stunts?” No, its not the study; it’s slides derived from a study, as I note at the end of it the post.

      1. aet

        History seems to show that in affairs of either love or war, success may sometimes justify an otherwise inexcusable tactic.

        That being said, violence itself is “born ugly” – and there’s no “lipstick” that can EVER beautify it.

      2. Maju

        So do you mind providing the link to the original paper? As mentioned several times around here: key definitions and all the detail of the studied (?) process are lacking, the “campaigns” (? are we discussing political campaigns or revolutions?) are not clearly defined in any way and they are instead force-fed into two extremist categories: violent and non-violent (which is not the same as nonviolent) and the result is a propaganda stunt and nothing else.

    4. Richard Kline

      Maju, you don’t know what you’re talking about. This presentation was extracted from a _larger study_, as Lambert mentioned. There have been numers of similar comparative analyses done over the last forty plus years, this work is grounded in a body of scholarly literature which makes _exactly the fine comparisions_ whose absence you inaccurately bemoan. Peac and Conflict Studies: ever heard of it? The fact is that the fine distinctions have been exhaustively critiqued.

      Your remark that few major changes are accomplished by completely nonviolent means is made in ignorance of the facts, Maju. There are _numerous_instances. Rather then detail, I suggest, simply, that you inform yourself. Actual instances are catalogued in detail in Gene Sharp’s work; do a search, checkout some texts, then come back with an informed opinion.

      1. Maju

        Richard: I know that I have not seen any study anywhere, just vague references to “a study”. Do you guys think we are dumb or something and can be misled that way?

        I’m calling your bluff since comment #1 and demanding to see the study in order to analyze it properly, yet the name, link or DOI address never shows up. C’mon!

        “Your remark that few major changes are accomplished by completely nonviolent means is made in ignorance of the facts, Maju. There are _numerous_instances. Rather then detail, I suggest, simply, that you inform yourself”.

        This is the kind of empty discourse that I truly hate: you make _BIG_ claims supported by absolutely NOTHING. Are you a publicist or something because it’s all like an advert: lots of inflated words and no substance behind.

        1. dsLambert Strether Post author

          “demanding to see the study.” From the comments thread, which you have either not read, or have ignored, or are hoping others do not read, a link to the research page is given, which includes the dataset. The full paper that the slides are drawn from will be published in March, as stated in the initial post. There is also a link to an earlier 2008 paper, which includes the methodology, with an excerpt.

          Please stop repeating this. If there’s empty discourse here, it’s not from Kline, or Chenoweth.

      2. Nathanael

        “Your remark that few major changes are accomplished by completely nonviolent means is made in ignorance of the facts, Maju. There are _numerous_instances.”

        No, there aren’t. There are fewer than 10, ever.

        Of course, your definition of “major” may involve things which I don’t consider major, and you may be counting things as “completely nonviolent” which manifestly weren’t.

        1. Nathanael

          There were a lot of major things accomplished with *minimal* violence (minor property damage), and a lot of minor things accomplished with no violence.

  4. The Emperor Jones

    Compare and contrast:

    Czechoslovakia/Vaclav Havel/The Velvet Revolution, and;

    Yugoslavia/Slobodan Milošević/prolonged war and instability

    1. Binky the Bear

      Does this include domestic proxies for world powers?
      Al Qaida (Carter/Reagan realpolitik) vs. Russia?
      Saddam Hussein vs. previous Iraqi government (itself a BP puppet?)
      Reza Pahlavi over Mossadegh? Ayatollah Khomeini over Pahlavi?
      US proxy over Arbenz? US proxy over Allende? US proxy vs. Daniel Ortega? US proxy vs. Australia, Canada ca 1974?
      USSR proxies in Angola? Cuba? Warsaw Pact?

  5. don

    What defines success? I don’t see any criteria for defining success.

    The author claims that what has taken place in Egypt is a revolution. Hardly credible.

    1. The Emperor Jones

      What criteria would you like?

      If you like violence, sating of an irrational urge to seek revenge or to hold power at any cost, and chronic structural instability, success might be measured by a high body count of the enemy.

      OTOH, if peacefulness, rational outcomes which rely on shared power, and long-term stability are your goals, low body counts would be best.

      Long term, one good metric for the definition of success would be the ability of any new social structure to thrive and prosper.

      Actions having equal but opposite reactions, those seeking violence usually call the tune. Passive resistance is counterintuitive and much more difficult than tit-for-tat retaliation.

      What has taken place in Egypt is just the beginning. Obviously, a substantial portion of the Egyptian public isn’t yet satisfied with the results of the Arab Spring. That the new power structure has shown a propensity for violence would seem to foreshadow a bad result (failure of the society to thrive and prosper).

      1. don

        What is taking place in Egypt is a very complicated situation, one in which the Muslim Brotherhood has gained strength through the non-violent electoral arena while sitting out the protest movement that has swept the country. In the meantime, the military largely remains in control, not only politically but economically (being that it owns much of the economy). Thus, is it correct to claim that what has happened in Egypt to be a revolution? I think not.

        This then raises doubts as to the author’s criteria for success, since she concludes that what has taken place in Egypt to be a revolution. One might think of this as just semantics, but I suspect its more than that.

          1. Roger Bigod

            One analysis is that the Egyptian military controlled a huge chunk of the economy. The orderly succession is that a Colonel took power (Nasser, Sadat, Mubarek) and held it long enough to enrich himself. A whole generation of aspiring officers were waiting, and Mubarek not only didn’t step down by wanted to change the rules by passing power to his son. The military used the uprising to get rid of him.

            In this reading, the change is purely symbolic. Much as we approve of what the symbols represent, celebration is premature.

          2. PunchnRun

            Yes, the Egyptian situation is not complete and it has a long way to go. But the nonviolent component has been powerful. If it continues to progress and evolves the power structure into one that allows both political and economic participation by those currently excluded, then I would consider it a total success. The partial success so far has included the endorsement of nonviolent process by those currently in power and the protesters. The technique of exclusion of those who insist on violent engagements seems me to be the necessary next step for both parties.

          3. don

            The dictator didn’t flee the country; he’s there facing trial.

            You may call it a success but your simply saying so doesn’t make it one. Neither is it the case that because you post the study that makes you the final arbiter of what is true and what isn’t.

            Today protesters have marched to the Ministry of Interior building in Cairo, where many were injured from tear gas. Egypt is a violent society, whether in the form of structural violence, i.e. poverty, etc., or violence from military/police directed at protesters. For the resistance in Egypt there is no question of use of violence: it simply isn’t practical and would be a tactical/strategic blunder. They don’t have the power. So non-violent resistance is a given.

            Conditions could change on the ground at some point, where we witness violence perhaps like that in Syria, where defecting soldiers are defending protesters, through the use of violence, i.e. using weapons to attack Syrian military/police: self-defense. The point here is that ultimately the decision to resort to violence or not is a decision to be made by the resistance itself, not by you, me or an author of a study on (non)violence and social change.

          4. Anonymous Jones

            Is don trying to assert that “success” in any context is relative to one’s perspective and goals, or does he not understand that “success” is relative to those things?

            I can’t tell if he doesn’t understand the word, or if he thinks Lambert doesn’t understand the word.

            I think Lambert understands the word. Not sure if don does, but I could be wrong.

            Obviously, success is relative and undefinable on a broad basis unless one wants to use (often mythical) consensus as a proxy for widely held views. That doesn’t mean an author can’t use his or her own personal definition of success in a research paper. In fact, it means the opposite. He or she must.

  6. Bev

    Maybe my posts are too long.

    Gene Sharp (born January 21, 1928) is Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.[2] He is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world.


    Here is where it can get even better. By supporting Dennis Kucinich and his NEED act HR 2990

    News: Chicago Teachers Union Supports HR 2990

    returns money creation to the government away from Bankers’ Debt based Money creation (you can never get out of Debt if your Money itself is DEBT)and means we are the most establishment, the most pro-government in resistance to banks.

    We need new names for this type of resistance to banks and support for government to do the best again for the sixth time, control a DEBT FREE money to benefit everyone.

    And, this is to help everyone no matter what background or ideology. This is the opposite of partisan. This is the thing that can unite us all for a common good for all.

    Check the Index for app. 200 Non-violent actions people can take to construct positive change.

    From Dictatorship to Democracy
    by Gene Sharp

    Title: From Dictatorship to Democracy

    Author: Gene Sharp

    ISBN: 1-880813-09-2

    Published: 1993, May 2002, June 2003

    Price: $10.00 each (discounts available for bulk orders)
    You may order or download this publication.

    Also available as an audio book (click to listen) read by David H. Erdody,

    A short description of the history of this book, From Dictatorship to Democracy, may be downloaded here.


    How To Start A Revolution: Gene Sharp wins top Foreign Policy award

    Road to Revolution

    Current has produced the 30-minute film Road to Revolution that follows filmmaker Ruaridh Arrow as he battles with uninterested TV commissioners and death threats in Tahrir Square to produce his documentary, How To Start A Revolution. Winner of Raindance best doc award, Arrow’s film gives an exclusive insight into the man who has aided dozens of revolutions, Gene Sharp, with his handbook on over-throwing dictatorships. This behind the scenes programme allows Arrow to explain why he felt it was so important to make this incredible film and how he had the persistence to develop it through a variety of means including crowd-funding, twitter and a network of international revolutionaries.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See however the ironic #genesharptaughtme and this post. We shouldn’t ever view Sharp’s work as a “handbook,” I feel, or take away credit from people on the ground. Here is an Annotated Version of Sharps 198 Methods of Non-Violent Protest and Persuasion; considering it as a taxonomy, I’m not sure of its complete goodness of fit for the American context; there doesn’t seem to be a way to categorize the Mad As Hell doctors’ bus trip, or SD’s Greyhound ride — both of these arise from the distances implied by America’s continental scale.

    2. Bev

      To regain government power over money, people’s vote need to really count.


      Posted on Friday, January 13
      By Bev Harris

      Permission to reprint granted, with link to

      In a major step towards global centralization of election processes, the world’s dominant Internet voting company has purchased the USA’s dominant election results reporting company.

      When you view your local or state election results on the Internet, on portals which often appear to be owned by the county elections division, in over 525 US jurisdictions you are actually redirected to a private corporate site controlled by SOE software, which operates under the name

      The good news is that this firm promptly reports precinct-level detail in downloadable spreadsheet format. As reported by in 2008, the bad news is that this centralizes one middleman access point for over 525 jurisdictions in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, KY, MI, KS, IL, IN, NC, NM, MN, NY, SC, TX, UT, WA. And growing.

      As local election results funnel through SOE’s servers (typically before they reach the public elsewhere), those who run the computer servers for SOE essentially get “first look” at results and the ability to immediately and privately examine vote details throughout the USA.

      In 2004, many Americans were justifiably concerned when, days before the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell redirected Ohio election night results through the Tennessee-based server for several national Republican Party operations.

      This is worse: This redirects results reporting to a centralized privately held server which is not just for Ohio, but national; not just USA-based, but global.

      A mitigation against fraud by SOE insiders has been the separation of voting machine systems from the SOE results reports. Because most US jurisdictions require posting evidence of results from each voting machine at the precinct, public citizens can organize to examine these results to compare with SOE results. Black Box Voting spearheaded a national citizen action to videotape / photograph these poll tapes in 2008.

      With the merger of SOE and SCYTL, that won’t work (if SCYTL’s voting system is used). When there are two truly independent sources of information, the public can perform its own “audit” by matching one number against the other.

      These two independent sources, however, will now be merged into one single source: an Internet voting system controlled by SCYTL, with a results reporting system also controlled by SCYTL.

      With SCYTL internet voting, there will be no ballots. No physical evidence. No chain of custody. No way for the public to authenticate who actually cast the votes, chain of custody, or the count.

      SCYTL is moving into or already running elections in: the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Australia.

      SCYTL is based in Barcelona; its funding comes from international venture capital funds including Nauta Capital, Balderton Capital and Spinnaker.

      Here is the link to the press release regarding SYCTL’s acquisition of SOE: g-election-software-provider-2012-01-11


      “In 2007…the top 250 companies in the world had sales in excess of $14.7 trillion…an amount exceeding the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of the United States or the European Union, $13.2 trillion and $13.7 trillion, respectively…combined sales of the top five (Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and General Motors) was nearly $1.5 trillion — larger than the GDP of all but seven countries.” — Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, by David Rothkopf

      Why this is important:


      To help the government control money creation, we would have to also help them control democracy creation:

      By Brad Friedman

      Recommended #OWS Demand: Let ALL Citizens 18 and Older Vote, On Paper Ballots, Count Them in Public

      I offer the following simple “demand” for consideration by OWS, as this one likely underscores almost every other. Or, at least, without it, all other demands may ultimately be rendered moot.

      Here it is. One demand that seems simple enough — and is as non-partisan as can (be) — for your consideration:

      Every U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older who wishes to vote, gets to vote. Period. Those votes, on hand-marked paper ballots, will be counted publicly, by hand, on Election Night, at the precinct, in front of all observers and video cameras.

      Please help spread this to the Occupiers if you agree its important. For example, Tweet it (or a link to this article) like mad (with #ows in the text), and/or spread it via Facebook and/or print it out and take it to a General Assembly at an Occupation near you!


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The process, I believe (from the Barcalounger and FWIW) is more important than any one demand. Aren’t demands really a request to the 1% to be bribed? (Of course, one could also take the view that a maximalist position yields the greatest possible bribe).

        1. Bev

          The process is by routine, legitmate process, HR 2990 which accomplishs a goal that can turn the economy around fast with money for jobs to fix infrastructure and systems that are failing. Process meets goals. So, gooooood.


          And, No on the bribery part.


          And, thank you for displaying at least for a while all of my comments which were meant to further demonstrate the importance of regaining control of our money to be DEBT FREE and control of our democracy.

          A frequent writer at this site, george washington, quotes many Military personnel and CIA, FBI and other agents who have called for an investigation into 911. So, this is not new territory for you. And, thanks to all reporters, this has consequences perhaps in this upcoming election. So…


          Bev Harris forum discussion about this article:

          This update thanks to research by the impressive public citizen Joseph Holder. As he points out, this creates a monopoly.

          It creates a vertical monopoly, in that you have one provider providing each step of the system, and a horizontal monopoly, with one provider delivering results across the majority of the geographic spectrum.

          January 11, 2012 07:30 AM Eastern Time

          SCYTL Acquires SOE Software, Becoming the Leading Election Software Provider


          “This integration of our companies will allow us to offer even greater levels of service and functionality to both our existing US customer base as well as new domestic and international customers by being able to expand our existing product functionality on a global scale”.


          more from forum

          It took 75 years to ban slavery for the first time (this was done 100 years before the USA banned it). This was not “economically feasible” in the global sugar trade. Still, public citizens kept at it till they got what they wanted.

          The story above is why I get annoyed at those who play partisan politics with the issue of public controls on elections. (Review again the quote at the end of the article, which is why I put it there.) It is exceptionally difficult, probably not possible, to get installed into office as either a Democrat or a Republican unless the real power super-elites find that person acceptable to their interests, which have a great deal to do with resource control on a global scale.

          It is a surprisingly small number of people worldwide who are meaningful players on the global corporate field. There are about 6,000 of them, and while they do include some heads of states, like “president of the United States”, by and large those are considered rotating pieces which are replaceable.

          Most real power is held by private corporate directors and the investment banking firms that move their money. There are really no global laws and there is no global enforcement mechanism, so these guys duck in and out of about 70 offshore secrecy havens like Jersey and the Cayman Islands, like Butch Cassidy setting up camp in the Waterpocket fold.

          Most of the power is controlled by western corporations, a large portion of them based in the United States, but they only base certain operations here, and create offshore entities whenever they want to dodge regulations or taxes.

          Now here’s the problem: These are very pragmatic men. Mostly men, a few women. These are not idealistic men, and they don’t give a hoot about what Thomas Jefferson thought or what the Declaration of Independence says. In fact, when your company depends on resources that are geographically dispersed, it can be doggone risky to let the people decide who governs the territory in which those resources (like oil, minerals, water) are found.

          As I say, these are tough, practical men who are used to solving problems, and public control of elections is a bit of a “problem” if you can’t exert enough control by influence over who can run for office (ballot access and campaign finance) or persuasion (mainstream TV media). If that influence fails, and the wrong guy gets nominated, and the public just wants to go out and vote for him anyway, that’s a problem.

          In that case, if you’re a practical and ruthless man, you need to control the mechanism of the election itself.

          And there you have it.


          1. Bev

            Well, there it is. After a time of not showing up, the following was another attempt to post. And, it too is now showing up the next day.

        2. Bev

          You choose a process appropriate to achieving a goal, such as Dennis Kucinich’s heroic NEED Act HR 2990 for debt free public money to turn the economy and jobs around fast.


          from Bev Harris:

          It took 75 years to ban slavery for the first time (this was done 100 years before the USA banned it). This was not “economically feasible” in the global sugar trade. Still, public citizens kept at it till they got what they wanted.

          The story above is why I get annoyed at those who play partisan politics with the issue of public controls on elections. (Review again the quote at the end of the article, which is why I put it there.) It is exceptionally difficult, probably not possible, to get installed into office as either a Democrat or a Republican unless the real power super-elites find that person acceptable to their interests, which have a great deal to do with resource control on a global scale.

          It is a surprisingly small number of people worldwide who are meaningful players on the global corporate field. There are about 6,000 of them, and while they do include some heads of states, like “president of the United States”, by and large those are considered rotating pieces which are replaceable.

          Most real power is held by private corporate directors and the investment banking firms that move their money. There are really no global laws and there is no global enforcement mechanism, so these guys duck in and out of about 70 offshore secrecy havens like Jersey and the Cayman Islands, like Butch Cassidy setting up camp in the Waterpocket fold.

          Most of the power is controlled by western corporations, a large portion of them based in the United States, but they only base certain operations here, and create offshore entities whenever they want to dodge regulations or taxes.

          Now here’s the problem: These are very pragmatic men. Mostly men, a few women. These are not idealistic men, and they don’t give a hoot about what Thomas Jefferson thought or what the Declaration of Independence says. In fact, when your company depends on resources that are geographically dispersed, it can be doggone risky to let the people decide who governs the territory in which those resources (like oil, minerals, water) are found.

          As I say, these are tough, practical men who are used to solving problems, and public control of elections is a bit of a “problem” if you can’t exert enough control by influence over who can run for office (ballot access and campaign finance) or persuasion (mainstream TV media). If that influence fails, and the wrong guy gets nominated, and the public just wants to go out and vote for him anyway, that’s a problem.

          In that case, if you’re a practical and ruthless man, you need to control the mechanism of the election itself.

          And there you have it.


          Another process to achieve a goal:

          EDA–Election Defense Alliance at

          The Occupy Movement, Rigged Elections, and the Bastille Line: An Urgent Call To Action

          All revolutions, even peaceful ones, require a point of attack capable of breaking through the Wall erected by the Powers-That-Be. The Occupy movement, such a welcome and important revival of democracy, has great potential to “rattle the walls” and change our times. There’s great heat out in the winter cold all over America (and across much of the globe). Focusing all that Heat like an acetylene torch on restoring observable vote counting and honest elections may well be the best, if not the only, chance the Occupy movement has to break the chokehold of the 1%.


          and Lynn Landes


          There is no transparency to our current voting system. The only thing candidates and voters can do under current circumstances to find out how citizens really voted is to conduct their own CITIZEN AUDITS. And even if you do prove fraud, it is highly unlikely Congress will ever do anything about something that they have benefited from. Congress has legalized election fraud by allowing, if not mandating, non-transparent voting systems that prohibit direct access to a paper ballot and meaningful public oversight:

          ABSENTEE VOTING (1870’s)

          SECRET BALLOT (1880’s)

          VOTING MACHINES (1890’s)

          I believe that there should be only one standard of voting for both our political representatives and voters. I believe that all voting should be open and public – no machines, no absentee or early voting, and no secret ballots. Secret ballots are really an anonymous ballots that corrupt election officials can count any way they want. Why one standard of voting for politicians and another for the public?

        1. Bev

          Why this is important:

          Fearful GOPers, Failed Dem Prepare for Jeb Bush Draft

          Contributer George Washington often sites political, military, intelligence agents and leaders who want to reopen an investigation into 911. Bravo.

          This time with links:

          Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11 – and Former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee – Calls for a New 9/11 Investigation

          High-Level Officials Eager to Spill the Beans About What REALLY Happened on 9/11 … But No One In Washington or the Media Wants to Hear


          Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Says that the Government Has ORDERED the Media Not to Cover 9/11


          As brave a journalist as George Washington is, so too is journalist Len Hart:

          AA Exposes Bush’s ‘Big Lie’: Flight 11 DID NOT FLY on 911!

          by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

          American Airlines is the source for information that AA Flights 11 (North Tower) and 77 (Pentagon) did not fly on 911. If neither flew on 911, the Bush ‘theory’ is a lie.

    3. Benedict@Large

      The AMI proposal is based on the flawed view of money creation held by the Monetarists. Banks do not create money; they create credit. Only the federal government creates money. It is when the stock of credit outgrows the stock of money undergriding that credit creation that collapses may occur. But it is bank-created credit that collapses; not federal-created money. There is no need to take back money-creation from the banks, because they simply do not create it.

      1. Benedict@Large

        Perhaps a simple explanation of the difference. Using the monetarist view, you think that you have $1000 in the bank, while what you actually have an IOU from that bank for $1000. Your money isn’t actually there. It is gone from the moment you deposit it; off doing the things that banks do to earn a living.

        When you say the banks “create” money, what they are actually doing is borrowing from the federal government, using bank assets as their security. It is bank assets being lent, not bank reserves as the Monetarists claim. This explains the technical cause of the crash; the collapse in value of bank assets. It also explains why, no matter how much money has been pumped into their reserves, they still do not lend. They don’t because the quality of their assets are not sufficient to justify the risk even otherwise sound loans expose them to.

        For a more formal presentation, refer to the Horizonal-Vertical model developed in Modern Monetary Theory.

      2. Bev

        How the Economists Facilitated the Crisis and How HR 6550* Solves it

        [now HR 2990 the NEED Act]

        On June 13, 2011, in The State’s Crisis, by AMI

        The crisis gives a rare opportunity for reform. There’s no denying that the present “Economics” regime has been a key cause of the pain, suffering, illness and even death inflicted on America’s less affluent; and of the worldwide economic destruction we see. My observations are admittedly from an outsider and there should be a value for you from that perspective, but this was well expressed by Economist Jamie Galbraith in testimony to the Senate Crime subcommittee on May 4th, 2010:

        “I write to you from a disgraced profession. Economic theory, as widely taught since the 1980s, failed miserably to understand the forces behind the financial crisis.”

        With rare exceptions, those in control of the World’s monetary/economic agenda and the theories supporting it have helped bring the world to its knees. Shouldn’t they (and their theories) be held accountable? The challenge will be for “youngsters” like yourselves, to bring your chosen profession to its senses.

        False “monetary” beliefs (some call them theories) have misdirected public policy decisions for decades, with devastating effect! Errors of Concept, methodology and factual errors led to disastrous outcomes for our nation and have the potential to gradually take America down into an unprecedented abyss of lawlessness and deprivation. Consider the present insane calls for austerity. Economists have allowed the idea to prevail that a government has to be run the way a shopkeepers runs his store. These times call for greater care and some heroism among economists; and cowardice is no longer tolerable among those who do understand.

        Which particular monetary errors? Most importantly, economists have not understood or appreciated the difference between money and credit. That using credit for money is dangerous, harmful and unnecessary. Can’t they read Knapp’s “State Theory of Money, available in English since the early 1920s, to understand credit is just one type of money system, and not a good one at that? Even Minsky who pointed out that such a fractional reserve system always collapses, regarded that as a problem inherent in “Capitalism, and didn’t consider eradicating it but merely called for government providing jobs when the credit structure was in collapse. A solution that one of AMIs researchers said was like “trimming poison ivy!”

        Many economists have falsely concluded that “all money is debt,” and while most money in our particular mis structured system is debt, this attitude ignores the possibility and necessity to define a better system based on government money, not private debt. This failure to understand the concept of government money as opposed to private credit, has had immense and deadly repercussions. The Great Henry Simons summed it up in one magnificent sentence in the 1930s:

        “The mistake … lies in fearing money and trusting debt.”

        Henry Simons, (Economic Policy for a Free Society, 1930s, P.199)

        This fundamental error has allowed the most egregious banking and money system to dominate our society for a century. It has caused immense damage:

        For example: The privatization of our monetary system, with control over public policy being in unelected hands, for whoever controls the money system, over time will control the nation.

        And look what they have done with that power:

        * They’ve given special privilege to create money to some, and disadvantage to others; which has led to an obscene concentration of wealth and a corresponding poverty! This has encouraged lawlessness and corruption among the privileged; pushing them to diseased excess for acquisition, and ignoring those among us in great need.

        * They’ve turned economics into a primitive religion, and worshipped the “market” as a god, despite all evidence to the contrary. A primary tool they use is to denigrate and ignore evidence. “Anecdotal” was the description Greenspan used for real evidence that challenges their theories. A fundamental sin of poor methodology.

        * They have placed an unnecessary ball and chain on the leg of every producer by having the money supply itself bear an unnecessary interest cost to society.

        * They’ve foisted a “fractional reserve” system on us prone to periodic collapse. Credit will collapse during a crisis. Money does not collapse. Credit will collapse during a crisis. Money does not collapse. Money does not collapse.

        In our present system most of what we use for money – more accurately purchasing media – comes into existence as an interest bearing debt, when banks make loans. In that sense, most money in our fractional reserve system – is debt. But economists can’t seem to grasp that those rules can and must be changed. Afraid to confront their paymasters, who are benefitting from the injustice, they can’t conceive of practical ways we can use real government issued money for money instead of substituting private debt for it. They ignore previous attempts such as the Chicago Plan of the 1930s; and smear prior periods when such real money was used successfully.

        Errors of methodology regarding money include refusal to examine the facts and a tendency to ignore history where the monetary facts are found. This leads to the silliest errors of fact regarding monetary history including:

        * Being unaware of the colonial periods’ excellent experience with government money.

        * The Continental Currency – they are generally unaware they were destroyed by Brit counterfeiting.

        * The Greenbacks – which is mistakenly characterized as worthless paper money, ignoring that they ultimately exchanged one for one with gold.

        * The French Assignats – where they have again ignored Brit counterfeiting and enshrined the propaganda book written by a banking heir as unbiased fact (White’s Fiat Money in France)!

        * The German Hyperinflation is not recognized as occurring under a privately owned and privately controlled Reichsbank!

        * Regarding the FED as part of the government!

        * The Free banking Schools misidentify the Free banking period because New York’s “Free Banking Law” gave better results. But despite its title it imposed much stronger requirements and regulations and was the opposite of free banking!


        Enter The Congress’ Best Economist- Congressman Dennis Kucinich

        On December 17, 2010, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced the National Emergency Employment Defense Act (“NEED,” HR 6550*) [now HR 2990] which contains all the monetary reform provisions of The American Monetary Act- see the brochure at It is much more than regulation; it fundamentally reforms our private CREDIT/DEBT system now wrecking our nation and harming all humanity, and replaces it with a government MONEY system.

        The Act achieves reform with 3 basic provisions. All three are necessary; doing one or two of them wouldn’t work and could cause more damage.

        In brief:

        First the Federal Reserve gets incorporated into the U.S. Treasury where all new money is created by our government – what people think happens now.

        Second, It ends the fractional reserve system. Banks no longer have the accounting privilege of creating our money supply. All their previously issued credit is converted into U.S. Money through an elegant and gentle accounting change. The banks are held accountable for this conversion and from that point operate the way people think they do now – as intermediaries between depositors and borrowers.

        Third, new money is introduced by the government spending it into circulation for infrastructure, starting with the $2.2 trillion the engineers tell us is needed to properly maintain our infrastructure over the next 5 years. Infrastructure will include the necessary human infrastructure of health care and education.

        Banks are encouraged to continue lending as profit making companies, but are no longer allowed to create our money supply through their loan making activity.

        Thus, The NEED Act nationalizes the money system, not the banking system. Banking is absolutely not a proper function of government, but providing the nation’s money supply is a key function of government. No one else can do it properly. Talk of nationalizing the banking business really acts like a poison pill to block real reform. Same for talk of the states going into the banking business keeping the fractional reserve system in place, and allowing the banks to continue creating what we use for money! That would reform nothing and actually endorses the fractional reserve system! It is a farcical diversion, misleading some good people away from real monetary reform at the only time reform is possible – during a crisis. All serious Monetary reformers understand that banks can not be allowed to create our money supply.

        1. Bev

          Byron Dale simply, powerfully describes the source of our money injustice:

          Why Are We Short Of Money? Why?

          The World Economy Trembles
          Because Every Nation Is Short Of Money.


          Money Is The Easiest Thing In The World To Create.

          It Is Done On a Computer.
          Type It In. Press enter.
          That Is, In Fact, How They Do It Now.
          But, They Only Do It As A Loan.


          Because You Let Them.
          That’s Stupid.
          Don’t Be Stupid.

          You Can’t Borrow Yourself Out Of Debt.


          In The United States, You Do Not Have To Settle For
          Banker Created Debt.
          There Is The Solution To This Economic Crisis.


          Think about it:
          If the banks are the only ones who create money,
          and you have to give it back to them (loan payments) – two things happen.

          1st. You have to give it back!! You never get to keep it in exchange for goods/services. In the aggregate (combined picture) you do the work, but can’t keep the money.


          2nd. If the banks are the only ones allowed to create money, and then only as a loan, in the aggregate, you have to borrow to pay interest!

          IMPOSSIBLE to get out of debt.


          ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8
          U.S. Constitution
          The Congress shall have Power …
          To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof…

          So Do It!!

          DEBT FREE


          Kucinich Proposes Landmark Jobs Plan

          Bill To Put 7 Million Americans Back to Work, Rebuild Infrastructure

  7. Steve Roberts

    I agree with many of the myths but it doesn’t mean you can always choose one or the other. A true revolution needs a leader and the people to follow that leadership and sometimes, you just have to go with the guy who got you there, regardless of how ugly it is.

    Non-violence works against a leadership structure that cares about public opinion. If public opinion doesn’t matter, non-violence will never work. Against Stalin, non-violence wasn’t the answer. By the 1980’s, non-violence became relevant because public opinion and access to media became relevant. Lech Walesa!

  8. Dave

    The point doesn’t seem to have been to placate all perspectives, rather to engender discourse. Picking apart at the methods, definitions, etc. may be useful in some circumstances, but it is wasted effort here. The point is to think about what the actual results of violent versus non-violent action tends to be. Since there is no established rigor around this effort, I’ll applaud the seminal approach than blather on about empirical deficiencies.

    1. don

      “The point doesn’t seem to have been to placate all perspectives, rather to engender discourse.”

      “. . . I’ll applaud the seminal approach than blather on about empirical deficiencies.”

      Pointing out empirical deficiencies is to “blather on”? Perhaps its is part of the discourse, and your criticism of the criticism is to stifle that discourse.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        To merely replicate the conventional wisdom the slides respond to is indeed to blather. To add additional data or ask probing questions is not to blather. Both tendencies are operative on this thread. This is a huge issue. I don’t see a reason to be dismissive of the work (“stunt”). I see every reason to test the conclusions; every study should be tested. Would that some oratory were as skeptically examined as these slides!

        1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

          Conventional wisdom seems to me to be on of those whistle words implying somehow that the statements labeled as such are somehow “unexamined” or “not having evidence to support them”.
          Methinks that the author actually lists her perceptions and assumptions but fails to prove that they are indeed widely held by others.

    2. RW Jones

      One can’t make solid conclusions about the results of violence vs non-violence without looking at definitions and methods as well. Facts emerge from sound data-gathering and analysis; they rarely appear to us in spite of these things.

      One possibility for the higher failure rate of struggles that use violence that should be considered is that people might resort to violence late in the struggle when all indicators are that the struggle if failing. One cannot conclude from the graph alone that use of violence was the cause of the struggle’s failure. Thus you cannot simply declare ‘facts’ as proven without looking at methods and definitions.

      1. RW Jones

        I should add that I realize the study concludes that violence is often employed as a first resort and that the idea of struggles turning from peaceful to violent as needed is a myth. I’m just saying I don’t see that conclusion supported in the limited data presented here, so it needs to be explored. Methods, etc. do need to be looked at in order for one to judge whether these conclusions are valid.

        But I applaud the study and look forward to more analysis of it, and thank Lambert (and Yves) for bringing it to our attention.

        1. Nathanael

          So the study makes utterly bullshit conclusions that “violence is often employed as a first resort”? Wow!

          Yeah right. That’s easily proven wrong: look at ANY INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT OR PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT OR PRO-CIVIL-RIGHTS MOVEMENT WHATSOEVER, ANYWHERE, EVER, and look back at the previous 50 years of history.

          1. Nathanael

            Hell, the Indian Wars were already a followup to decades attempted nonviolence (by the Native Americans).

            I mean, I could go on and on — all of history is like this. There is *no* insurgent movement which used violence as its “first” choice, barring those which were essentially personality cults run by would-be warlords.

    3. Steve Roberts

      I agree. Calling the perceptions myths is absolutely true and I’m not sure why people claim otherwise.

      I think what people have a problem with is the implied assumption that non-violence can be chosen over a violent approach. That’s a wrong assumption to make about the piece I feel.

      Lech Walesa is a hero of mine but I also recognize his path wouldn’t have worked 20 years earlier. In the study I’m not sure how you can quantify a person like Lech Walesa as a failure in 1950’s Poland because I can guarantee you there were many following a similar path that failed quietly with a bullet to the back of the head in a basement.

    1. F. Beard

      Nonviolent campaigns precludes the killing of people who deserve to die. libarbarian

      Why do them the favor? There are many other problems with your desire for vengeance but ineffectiveness is one.

      1. Praedor

        I am more than happy to see to it that those who deserve to die actually die. I would be unaccepting of a “Truth and Reconciliation” movement that allowed murderers from a nasty regime to go free for the sake of “reconciliation”. How nice of you to decide for the dead, for their families, etc, that reconciling with the torturers or murderers trumps true justice.

        Some people deserve to die and must die. Anything less is rewarding their monstrous actions.

          1. Maju

            I can respect the process of South Africa: it was deep and pardon was not guaranteed: the victims had to issue it and the criminal had to show repentment. That was intended to be cathartic and, as far as I know, it was.

            But the process of Chile and Argentina has been like in Spain: burying the memory of the fascist terror. That only causes persistence of the wound and of the vicious dynamics created by the fascists, who in Chile and Spain at least, still control the system almost totally.

            The anger remains, the countries are divided sociologically and the fascists have not repented at all. The corpses of the massacres remain buried by the roads, the kidnapped children may still no know who were their true biological parents but worst of all is the lack of shame by which the fascists, recycled into conservatives and liberals (center-right in Europe), still think that the are in charge (and for most practical purposes they are).

            That’s not any solution. It does not work. I prefer all out war to this shameful method of “I beat you and then we are friends, so I can beat you again”. That’s not reconciliation: it’s a vicious circle of abuse.

            Lambert you are either extremely naive or a system’s propagandist.

          2. Anon

            Exercising the right to self-defence is never abusive.

            But Garzón is on trial right now in Spain because the forces of darkness there vanquished those of light. The light of Lorca, among many other flames, was extinguished. Dark night followed, and those who acquiesced in the lack of justice, and who continue to do so, acquiesced in a perversion so dark, it turned blood to ice.


          3. Maju

            Anon is right in the sense that we do have the right and the ethical duty to defend ourselves, those who are weaker and in general decency and humanity (human rights if you wish).

            But he/she is wrong in relating judge Garzón to “the good side” because that guy may be a maverick but he’s also a torturer and an enemy of free expression, as I discussed briefly at my politico blog three days ago. He has been in the forefront of political repression in the Basque Country, has done nothing to investigate or suppress tortures (a systematic practice in Spain, specially against Basques), has been terribly active in expanding the scope of the notion of “terrorism” to all kind of dissident political expressions and has closed at least two newspapers (one of them the only one in Basque language), a radio station and the only research journalism magazine back in the day.

            Garzón should be in prison, albeit for different reasons to those he is being judged for.

        1. F. Beard

          How nice of you to decide for the dead, for their families, etc, that reconciling with the torturers or murderers trumps true justice. Praedor

          I would never do such but due process is required. And by due process I do not mean a standard so high that convictions are impossible either.

        2. Anon

          If going after Pinochet and the rump of the Francoist regime doesn’t put you on the side of light, I don’t know what does.

          But you evidently do not recognize the Spanish state, in any case, Maju.

          1. Maju

            He’s doing that only or mostly for personal gain (fame).

            In any case all those stunts can’t wash his guilt in the persistence of torture under his direct responsibility, his guilt in the extension of repression in the Basque Country to all aspects of life, reducing civil liberties to nothingness and his guilt specifically in closing media that was dissident with the Neo-Francoist regime of which he’s just another minion.

            No, publicity stunts can’t wash the infinite Neofascist guilt of Inquisitor number one Baltasar Garzón.

      1. Woodrow Wilson

        “Deserve” as decided by whom? –

        It doesn’t matter, hence the “objective”.

        If the objective is to kill one particular person or one-hundred persons, if that one person or one-hundred are killed, then the objective is met. The objective could be established by one or many persons, even if the originator(s)are no longer present/alive to carry out said objective, it doesn’t matter as long as the ultimate goal of the objective is met.

        Success of accomplishing any objective is of course subjective.

        For purposes of this thread, OWS will consistently be defeated because of a combination of factors: tactical ineptitude, will and no clear objective shared by one-hundred percent of its participants.

        OWS does not have these aforementioned capabilities by 100% of its participants. Therefore, they will continue to get crushed, but good luck with those protests.

  9. libarbarian

    Until she shows her dataset, this is worthless. God knows how she picked what constituted “movements” and how she judged their “success” or “failure”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      There is a link to the research page, which includes links to the datasets at UPDATE in the post. Have at it! Also, as I note, these slides are drawn from a paper to be presented later which presumably will discuss the methodology.

  10. Paul Tioxon

    Violence works, it just works for stamping out any change methods, especially violent attempts, simply because the resources of the state and the wealthy and powerful are greater, better organized, entrenched and overwhelming. Does inter state warfare fail because one violent side loses and another violent side wins? Violent force is always the final arbiter. The concessions that are granted to the 99% are always granted for no other reason than they coincide with the enlightened self interest of the ruling elite.

    And among the ruling elite the most powerful that can wring the concessions from the most reactionary proponents of brutal suppression of any challengers to the existing social order’s arrangement for maintaining the wealth and privileges of the powerful, is also the result of violent struggle. The assassinations of the Kennedys, MLK and Hoffa completed the take down of the head of concession granting era of leadership which was replaced by the neo-liberalism we have suffered under for over the past 40 years.

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        It worked in Libya, or so they say. Gaddafi is gone. On the other hand, according to the study, one would think Libya’s chances of arriving at democracy – if that was the goal at all – are quite dim.
        Violence always trumps peacefullness sooner or later, because violence intimidates and submission becomes an act of survival at one point. You see that currently in Afghanistan. The Taliban are back obviously and while there are getting stronger, people will adapt. No chance of peaceful resistance working with them.

        The situation in the U.S. may be different as long as the elite think they have something to gain by not dropping the democratic mask. If they decide to switch to something more authoritarian/totalitarien, the OWS approach won’t work.

    1. Jeff W

      Violence works.

      Dr. Chenoweth isn’t arguing that violence doesn’t work—she, in fact, acknowledges [PDF] that it does. But she says that nonviolent resistance is twice as effective as violent campaigns and gives reasons as to why:

      Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns. There are two reasons for this success. First, a campaign’s commitment to nonviolent methods enhances its domestic and international legitimacy and encourages more broad-based participation in the resistance, which translates into increased pressure being brought to bear on the target. Recognition of the challenge group’s grievances can translate into greater internal and external support for that group and alienation of the target regime, undermining the regime’s main sources of political, economic, and even military power.

      Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime. Potentially sympathetic publics perceive violent militants as having maximalist or extremist goals beyond accommodation, but they perceive nonviolent resistance groups as less extreme, thereby enhancing their appeal and facilitating the extraction of concessions through bargaining.

      When David Graeber says

      “We obviously are never going to defeat the 101st airborne division on the streets,” said anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber, addressing that general assembly. “Where we win is when we are able to convince the 101st airborne division not to shoot us.”

      he’s pointing to one dynamic—defection of the security forces—that makes nonviolent resistance more effective, according to Chenoweth, than violent campaigns.

      1. David Graeber

        This is all true, but I feel I should clarify a bit on what we’re calling “violence.”

        The Egyptian uprising against Mubarak is generally seen as having been successful in this way because of non-violence, as indeed it was. However when I talked to Egyptians involved in organizing it, they said things like “sure we were non-violent. We just threw rocks. We never used guns or anything like that.” Which kind of brings home that how protestors acts are reported and perceived means a lot too. It would be extremely difficult to create a way to ensure that when a crowd is being assaulted by riot cops with plastic bullets, let alone real bullets, no one will even so much as chuck a bottle at them, or throw back a tear gas canister. But we have plenty people here in the US who claim that even strong language (“fuck the police”) on the part of protestors being attacked is a form of violence and somehow justifies those attacks or anyway is the only thing worthy of report from the event.

        If events like have been happening in Syria were happening in the US, the US media, despite not being directly controlled by the government, would have reported them exactly like the Syrian government-controlled media did: just repeat whatever the army and police said, note protestor “violence” of any kind and never describe the army and police violence as “violence” but only as a response, etc etc.

        So we have to understand there’s a difference between not attempting a military solution, which is not only ineffective, as you note, but also will pretty much guarantee if you win nasty things will happen, and total pacifism. And I would encourage everyone to be careful not to frame things in ways that play into the hands of media whose first instinct will always be to justify official violence against protestors who – while one or two might break some glass or throw something against armored riot cops (basically an expressive act) – are not setting out to actually hurt someone.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          A few random comments less thoughtful than deserved.

          1. Tactically, I really like shields. Kudos to whoever (in #OO) put that together. Effective, sends the right message, and replete with visual possibilities for the footage!

          2. I don’t see “Fuck the Police” as violence (unless we classify verbal violence as violence, and I’m not sure I’m ready to do that….). I see that as pushback and rather weak claim as a small talking point in the larger discussion between those who see the perception of non-violence as a strategic asset, and those who don’t.

          UPDATE 3. No, I’m not a pacifist. However, I’d argue that the vast majority of comments on this thread basically say: Where’s the dataset and what’s the methodology? So, in a weird kind of way, the violence advocates on this thread are doing exactly what they also advocate in the real world: Attacking their enemy’s position of strength. Heh heh. I’m sure Professor Chenoweth and those who read the slides with an open mind will be happy to “fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”

          One thing to note is a fundamental asymmetry between violence advocates and non-violence advocates: The perception of a non-violent event (by Occupiers) can easily be destroyed by a single violent act, but the perception of a violent event (by Occupiers) is very difficult to overcome with any number of non-violent acts. (Sure, the media is what it is, but “Damn! If only the Western Front didn’t have all these trenches, the cavalry could really be doing its job!”). So I don’t blame non-violence advocates for seeing a slippery slope here. Especially given the absence of a commitment to non-violence by the GA that is running the FTP events.

          1 gallon of water + 1 ounce of sewage = 1 gallon and 1 ounce of sewage. To make the asymmetry more vivid.

          1. Maju

            You are very very confused: I have to read yet any “violence advocate” (may I have missed any?) Demands of rationality and scientific method are not calls for violence?

            Basically you are saying: or you accept this pseudo-scientific junk as godspeak or you are a terrorist. What’s the difference between you and George W. Bush?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Maju writes: I have to read yet any “violence advocate.” Then you’re not reading the thread:

          1. “I am more than happy to see to it that those who deserve to die actually die.”

          2. “Violence always trumps peacefullness sooner or later”

          3. “Nonviolence is a tactic that has a place alongside of the use of violence as a tactic.”

          There’s also a pervasive and unquestioned assumption that violence is rational, normal, and always available as “a last resort.” If that’s not advocacy, it’s ideology.

          And there’s also the tendency of violence advocates to cloak their meaning with phrases like “diversity of tactics.”

          1. Maju

            Number one is maybe that. It’s also the old issue of death penalty and Hitler, you know – but conceded it may be somewhat “violent”.

            Number two is a mere subjective and debatable statement on what usually happens: it is not advocating anything.

            Number three is actually the most interesting and a sentence that should open a debate. Certainly, as I see it, nonviolent should not renounce to struggle because some people use violent means. They should detach themselves, hush the saboteurs out of their actions/movement but they should not stop fighting just because someone else is using violence with similar goals.

            It’s possible that parallel violence may hurt the nonviolent campaign but not necessarily: Gandhi’s and King’s own campaigns were paralleled by armed groups and they still arguably succeeded (?)

            In any case it’s a matter of debate, not an appeal for violence as such.

          2. Maju

            “And there’s also the tendency of violence advocates to cloak their meaning with phrases like “diversity of tactics.””

            There’s also the tendency of those who want to throw shit on a movement to aggrandize anecdotal “violence” (??) and to hide behind that in order to demobilize. I think you are trying to do that.

            And that is something that neither Gandhi nor King would have done nor accepted: they would have fought on with their strategy hoping to overcome the violent fetishists.

            Doing otherwise is cowardice or even betrayal.

        3. affinis

          With a protest that mixes in throwing bottles, rocks, smashing a few windows, etc….
          The problem is, that won’t work to effectively build a mass movement in the U.S. sufficient to challenge and take down the status quo. It’ll simply drive people away.

          In almost all cases violence and property destruction seem to be strategically stupid here.
          This comes down to a matter of judgment. I’ve watched things play out enough over the years, including in various political actions that I’ve personally been involved with, to reach the conclusion that keeping it almost entirely nonviolent works better than militant actions with some property destruction (or abusive language).

          If your focus is very limited, as opposed to building a movement, somewhat higher levels of militancy might be strategically optimal – e.g. in certain labor strike situations. But for larger movement-building, it really turns folks away.

          Even “Fuck the Police” chants…For me it’s not about “Oh horrors – this offends my dainty sensibilities”. It’s that it turns people off. And it drives people into the pillars of support rather than pulling them out of those pillars. Cops/authorities solidify (while when stuff like this is avoided, I’ve seen considerable defections – e.g. in WI protests last year, a contingent of cops joined the protest, and some on-duty cops even helped smuggle items into the Capitol).

          With BB stuff – it would be nice if BB could break kettles and not throw bottles. But doesn’t work. I guess humans needs a bright line. Otherwise, they’ll do stupid shit. E.g. You can make the argument that Glass-Steagall restrictions are suboptimal – that better economic outcomes are possible without it. The problem is – even though this might be true in theory, in reality, with Glass-Steagall gone, banksters just engage in fraud, etc. In a lot of cases, firm lines are necessary, despite theoretical arguments one can weave – where some theoretical positive action is prevented by the line. Without the line, things will go in the wrong direction.

          With regard to shields – a couple weeks prior to the OO move-in day, I tweeted a link to shield-building instructions. In retrospect, I’m concluding that this was dumb. This wasn’t, essentially, just protective or Tute Bianche-style action. Folks were throwing shit from behind the shields. And I’d quibble with the characterization of this as simply an expressive act (yes – the thrown balloon was expressive, and I think that was also true with some other stuff – but sometimes I think the intent actually was to harm – not surprising given the circumstances and preceding events). I’ll also point out, at times at OO events, BB folks have thrown stuff at cops with no immediately preceding police provocation.

          As far as the difficulty of maintaining nonviolent discipline in the face of police repression. That really depends on the strength of the social consensus for maintaining nonviolence among protesters. In some cases I’ve seen strict nonviolence maintained even in the face of pretty brutal police actions. And it seems that Otpor actually did pretty well with that.

          None of this justifies police brutality/repression. OPD is facing likely federal receivership for good reason. But full nonviolence sharply highlights the repression and removes excuses for it – e.g. the widespread revulsion and extensive media coverage of the pepper-spray-cop incident.

          I understand the concern about playing into MSM hands. But on the flip side – some in OO who favor nonviolence (over “diversity of tactics”) have complained strongly that they feel that discussion of the question has been suppressed (and their comments criticized) in the name of maintaining solidarity. It seems that some have stopped participating in OO as a consequence. Earlier today, I came across a quote in the local paper (in an article on an unrelated topic) that seems apt here – “My experience in studying organizations is that when they stop asking tough questions, they might be better off in the short run, but in the long run they get themselves into a lot of trouble.” ~Jeremi Suri.

          Final note – some of Chenoweth’s methods (along with a few interesting case studies) can be found in her 2008 paper “Why Civil
          Resistance Works – The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict
          “. Though this doesn’t include her more recent research.

          1. Maju

            “throwing bottles, rocks, smashing a few windows”…

            Where? I see these accusations being thrown once and again but all I see in videos is nonviolence, at worst some angry yelling. I have the impression that some people is just lying to throw shit on a movement and damage its reputation.

          2. Maju

            How do you know those “activists” so keen of gratuitous vandalism (not even real violence, just vandalism) aren’t police infiltrators? That’s what we got in Canada just a year and a half ago – some have short memory! Probably US secret services are less naive and won’t use uniform boots in undercover operations, specially not after that fiasco.

            Whatever the case these acts are isolated provocations, whoever is the culprit and do not seem to represent the general spirit of the Occupy movement. I watch videos and news all the time about this movement and it’s the first time I have watched such acts, certainly too similar to the provocations of Ontario police in 2010 (and other cases).

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            “For what you can see?” You didn’t click through to the videos (not “images”), then. Or you did, and decided not to tell the truth. One is from the ground during the night, the other is from a skycam during the day, and the third is agitprop for black bloc aggro (which I encourage all to watch). They are clearly not the same incident, nor could they be, since the agitprop is not an incident, by definition.

            I certainly hope all violence advocates aren’t this lazy or untruthful. That would bode ill for those who buy into their tactics.

          4. affinis

            The three links I posted are from at least two entirely different dates – as it says on the videos.
            Here’s one from yet another date
            I can keep posting these indefinitely, but I don’t see the point, since infinite evidence will never be sufficient for willful blindness.

            BB is mainstream in Occupy Oakland. I didn’t say it represents Occupy in general. There have been BB actions elsewhere, but more limited.

            Most of the people doing BB actions sincerely think they’re heroic revolutionaries. They’re deluded. I’ve been trying to convince some of them that their actions harm the movement, but have had zero success. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some provocateurs among them.

            As someone from Occupy Oakland said, “violence is sexy”, so it gets attention and spreads. And some people elsewhere see Occupy Oakland as “inspirational”, so want to emulate its tactics.

            Some of the latest BB acts are against Occupy livestreamers – e.g multiple streamers targeted in Oakland (with cam stolen from OccupyFreedomLA) and an attempt by a BB guy to snatch Tim Pool’s cam at OWS (with multiple people calling Tim Pool a “snitch” for filming BB acts). The BB don’t want their antics filmed. But if you take out the streamers, you’re undermining one of the most important assets Occupy has.

          5. affinis

            No Maju. That’s in the skycam and BB included this incident as one scene in their agitprop video.
            I guess I’m forced to repeat Lambert:
            “I certainly hope all violence advocates aren’t this lazy or untruthful.”

          6. Nathanael

            “In almost all cases violence and property destruction seem to be strategically stupid here.”

            That seems to be correct. I suspect that may change in 10-20 years if the authoritarian brutality keeps getting worse. (At some point, with the US imprisoning more people than any other country, both in absolute terms and per capita, we may hit the point where people WANT the storming of the prisons.) But *for now* I agree, violence and property destruction seem to be strategically stupid in the US in almost all cases.

  11. pathman

    This fits well with Gene Sharp’s “From Dictatorship to Democracy.” He also advocates non-violence. The key is massive non-compliance.

    1. Praedor

      There’s the rub. You cannot get massive noncompliance. You may get a lot of people involved but you will assuredly find that even that large number is a huge minority of the populace.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Of course you can get massive non-compliance. The Montgomery bus boycott is one example. Closer to the present day, do you really think Mubarak wouldn’t have gone for a Tien An Man solution if he could have? But he never ordered to Army to fire. Why? Because the Army would have refused to obey. The Egyptian Occupiers achieved their legitimacy through the strategic use of non-violence. And if they had not split the Army from the Police, they would have been slaughtered in the battle of Tahrir Square. In fact, you could see the entire Tahrir Square sequence as a massive exercise in non-compliance — the whole city was shut down until Mubarak left.

        1. Jeff W

          Several generals of the PLA refused or “contributed to the hesitance” to crack down during the June 4 protests. There was at least talk that a deal had been worked out:

          The diplomat said that there appeared to have been a deal worked out with Mr. Li and Mr. Deng, such that the military would support them and obey orders, and in return the army would not be ordered to engage in violent confrontations with students or ordinary citizens. [emphasis added]

          which points, at least, to the potential of non-violence as a strategic asset.

          The general best-known for his non-compliance, Xu Qinxian, apparently has no regrets.

        2. Anon

          The army is in power in Egypt. The army will never not be in power in Egypt until the US says so. This is the geopolitical reality, the facts on the ground.

          The Egyptian people know this. They know they have only scratched the surface. They know they have a real fight on their hands. This is 4GW now, Iraq come to Egypt.

          This one will run and run.

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    “A true revolution needs a leader.” Translation: “A failed revolution has tall poppy syndrome.” Transation 2: “A disastrous revolution kills a lot of people and reproduces or makes worse the power structure it was intended to replace.”

    Leadership is a concept that really needs to be examined, and the fact that you see so many books touting it in airport bookstore business sections should tell you something.

    1. MisterG

      This is an intriguing study, and has clearly provoked a very vocal discussion, bravo! Perhaps your next step could be leading an FDL book-review style discussion with the author? That would give NC readers a chance to read her book and other papers instead of just shooting from the hip.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        MisterG, I read you, but I think it might make sense to wait ’til the paper comes out. Also, I’m getting (being given) a copy of the book.

        And in the meantime, I should be able to prepare an entertaining series of proviolence tropes.

  13. Elizabeth Cook

    Applying this type of research kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it? Occupy is about reinventing our economic system, in my view, to one that is humane, just and environmentally sound. This is new territory and can’t be quantified in graphs and charts. In addition, the vast majority of folks want a peaceful, velvet revolution if at all possible. I’m afraid the use of violence would drive many would be supporters off, and I know I’m not alone in this assessment.

  14. Parvaneh Ferhadi

    The dataset – from 1900 to 2006 – seems to be a bit short considering 5000 years of documented human history. Democracy has existed before – namely in Greece and Rome – both died a violent death. Or take Weimar – same fate.

    Assuming that democracy is the endstate of human societal and governmental development is thus a stretch. There are so many forces working against it – using violent means – that the notion ported in this study strikes me as naive.

    1. RW Jones

      Democracy never existed in ancient Rome. There was voting by tribes, but this process was easily controlled by the elites to make sure that the wishes of ‘the people’ were never seriously considered. The efforts by the people to have some sort of a say were quashed once and for all along with the Gracchi brothers.

      If you mean to say that the pre-Augustan Roman republic was a democracy, think again. It was an oligarchy controlled by an aristocratic senate.

      I’m still not really sure of the point of your post. I think you are confusing the idea of democracy as ‘inevitable’ vs democracy as ‘desirable end state’. Thinking that democracy is inevitable would be naive. I don’t see the author of the study concluding that democracy is inevitable, however, merely desirable.

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        See, there is your first problem. One would have to define what passes as an actual, acceptable democracy in this study.
        And then one would have to establish that this concept of democracy was indeed a known and accepted one during the period reviewed, in other words did the revolution or uprising really try to achieve that state defined above as democracy.

        I would also add that in many violent uprisings establishing a democracy was not the goal at all. So giving the “success rate” might be misleading.

        1. RW Jones

          I don’t see how this is my problem. You are the one who criticizes a data-set spanning 2000-2006 as problematic based on alleged democracies from 2000 years ago.

          1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

            Hhm, yeah. Replacing one conventional wisdom with another that seems more appropriate for the current times and agenda at hand isn’t really a study, it’s more marketing, IMHO.

          2. RW Jones

            Wisdom based on a study using empirical evidence is the exact opposite of ‘conventional wisdom’. What on earth are you talking about?

            I regret engaging with you. I won’t make that mistake again. Toodles.

          3. Parvaneh Ferhadi

            It’s quite simple actually. You are discussing something without being clear about the definitions that are used. It is up to to study to establish those definitions, and as far as I can tell, that hasn’t been done. In addition the data set is not long enough to make any general conclusions.

            And besides “empirical” only means that it has been observed, it doesn’t mean that it is a law or rule that is generally valid – that’s where a longer data set comes in handy. Hardly wisdom at all here, neither conventional nor otherwise.

            And now I bid you goodby, oh wise and condescending one.

        2. lambert strether

          I don’t think that it matters what you, or I, think of as success or meeting some abstract goal that we set up post hoc. I think what matters is how the movement defines success. I grant I may differ with Chenoweth in this.

    2. lambert strether

      A dataset has to include all recorded history to be valid? That’s a new one to me; I’ll have to think about it.

      Seriously, I don’t have a problem with taking the 20th C onward as the cutoff point; and I don’t see any point in getting wrapped around the axle about whether non-violence worked or didn’t work in a society vastly unlike our own from thousands of years ago. This comment is like the book reviewer who complained that a book about penguins should have been written about pigeons.

      1. Praedor

        OK, please provide us a single example of a purely nonviolent revolution. Even in the 20th C alone up to today. Define what you mean by “succeed” too.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          First, “purely non-violent”?! Nothing in history or RL is ever pure, so there are no examples to be had. Pas si bete. If you want examples of movements that successfully used a reputation for non-violence as a strategic asset, check out the long quote I left below from Chenoweth and Stephan’s 2008 paper.

          Second, as I’ve argued several times on this thread, the definition of success is for the movement itself to define, not for me from the Barcalounger.

          1. Maju

            But there’s allegedly a study which we have not been able to read (no link, no DOI, no reference whatsoever) but which is being presented to us as “the truth”(TM) by means of a slide presentation for nodding zombies.

            For example I know nearly all the details of the total resistance to recruitment in the state of Spain in the 1980s and 90s, as I was very deeply involved. Without doubt the movement had a nonviolent reputation but did the movement succeed? Per some observer’s standards it may be the case: conscription was abolished, however the organizations involved, notably the Movement of Conscientious Objection (MOC) demanded the abolition of the army, exiting NATO, expulsion of US bases and total demilitarization of the country (which would imply at least demilitarization of police, etc. though this aspect was ambiguous). Certainly the campaign even if somewhat successful and definitely very popular failed on its stated goals: Spain was not demilitarized at all, just conscription was conveniently abolished when the same ‘fashion’ of professional armies extended through all NATOland.

            Similarly one can consider that the success of Gandhi’s campaign was accidental (that is the argument of Losurdo in fact) as decolonization was happening anyhow, with or without Gandhi.

            Was Martin Luther King and overall the civil rights movement successful? Only somewhat. Certainly it achieved things but there’s still a lot to do.

            The movements do not always have a finished consensuated or easy to read concept of success or defeat. Usually you get a bit of success and bit of defeat at the same time. The author may have tried her best to interpret when is success and when is defeat but this is subject to extreme bias.

            Also the author may have totally failed to understand the causes of violence. Some seem to think violence is a mere arbitrary choice of means but it’s at least as much in most cases something you can’t but chose because the (perceived) violence deployed against you is already brutal and apparently impossible to fight by other means. For example it’s not the same the rosy path of today’s Scotland to independence than the thorny one of Ireland. The timing is different but also the historical role of each of these nations in the British Empire.

            As I said before this is a useless exposition for those already convinced. And I, with a long background in nonviolence (and really very little, if any, in violence – I have a very hot temper if that serves as qualification) am not persuaded.

            There are lines of cops and soldiers between the people and the rulers. If the people can’t persuade them with good words, then maybe at some point they need to do it with bad actions.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              “Allegedly a study,” forsooth. So, relying on people not to read the post or the thread? The paper is forthcoming, the data is on the author’s research page, to which there is a link, the author’s CV is linked to as well, and there is a link to a similar paper from 2008 with a long excerpt. Sure violence doesn’t require such dishonest advocacy if the case for it is so clear? Smarter, and far less prolix, trolls, please.

          2. Lidia

            Lambert, these are good questions surrounding the definitions.

            I wonder, though, about Ghandi and the extent to which power was ceded, not because non-violent protest demonstrated the moral necessity of cessation, but because the cessation was Already In The Cards for other reasons and motives.

            The British left India, it’s true. The Americans left Iraq (mostly) and the Soviets left Afghanistan, but they all left in a position of weakness rather than strength, being weaker upon leaving as oppposed to when they went in.

            I think the same will happen with the Occupy movement and the banks. The banks are already weak, already bankrupt going on ten years or more now. It will take but little resistance, civil disobedience, walking-away, and resorting to alternative non-bank financing to create a tipping point and put a stake in their hearts. Modern banksterism cannot exist in a non-growth economy.

            So how to measure “success” against an enemy which is mortally ill to begin with?

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            Lidia: I agree, these are good questions. In a different post, I would have done a more academic approach, I guess. I wanted to get the simpler message out.

            Maju: Please stop repeating that there is no study. I’ve answered this multiple places and so have others. And speaking of sourcing, I’d really like to believe that you were intimately involved with work in Spain, but right now all I have is a handle. Do you have any links on this? Or are researchers of non-violence, and non-violence advocates, the only people who need to provide evidence?

          4. Maju

            I do not have to demonstrate anything to you, man. I know what I have done in my life and that is enough. I never asked who you are nor researched your background: I could not care less: I’ll judge you for your acts and words.

            And someone who writes “non-violence” instead of “nonviolence” is not a Gandhian but a fraud.

            As for the study, I am still waiting for the link or other reference. It’s not that there is no study but that we can’t discuss it without reading it first.

            The fact that there is (?) a study does not make this slideshow more certain or false. The existence of a study as such is not evidence but a vehicle for us to judge the alleged evidence behind these claims in full detail. That I am still awaiting to be produced so we can enter the phase of real debate on the merits and demerits of the alleged paper.

            LINK please.

  15. F. Beard

    Great post, Lambert!

    But just to screw it down a bit more:

    The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalm 11:5

    [cue Skippy to protest this peaceful warning from the “bloody Old Testament” ?]

    1. travizm

      Skippy got nicked by a car last night and is resting up but he asked me to ridicule you for attacking ideology with ideology.

      at least i think thats what he said…

      i personally have got no issues with religion except to say that if you are going to have faith than you need to tolerate faith of another……that is if I ate a few bad mushrooms and god spoke to me telling me to kill everyone without their first name beginning with T, S, L, C, or Y………than you somehow need to tolerate this. Event though being an F you would be pretty high up on my infidel list.

      Or should we put some boundaries on faith?

      1. F. Beard

        i personally have got no issues with religion except to say that if you are going to have faith than you need to tolerate faith of another… travizm

        I do, on a verse by verse basis. So whip out your holy book and thump it or proclaim what your god “told you” via shrooms. Maybe I’ll agree, maybe not.

        As for violence, it is counter-productive. John Pike is a “hero” for demonstrating the inhuman callousness and brutality of the Establishment. He made no friends for it, you can be sure.

        1. Skippy


          Any city that doesn’t “receive” the followers of Jesus will be destroyed in a manner even more savage than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. 6:11


          Jesus says that God is like a slave-owner who beats his slaves “with many stripes.” 12:46-47

          In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man goes to hell, because as Abraham explains, he had a good life on earth and so now he will be tormented. Whereas Lazarus, who was miserable on earth, is now in heaven. This seems fair to Jesus. 16:19-31


          In the parable of the talents, Jesus says that God takes what is not rightly his, and reaps what he didn’t sow. The parable ends with the words: “bring them [those who preferred not to be ruled by him] hither, and slay them before me.” 19:22-27

          Jesus believed the stupid and vicious story from Numbers 21. (God sent snakes to bite the people for complaining about the lack of food and water. Then God told Moses to make a brass snake to cure them from the bites.) 3:14

          The “wrath of God” is on all unbelievers. 3:36


          The author of Acts talks about the “sure mercies of David.” But David was anything but merciful. For an example of his behavior see 2 Sam.12:31 and 1 Chr.20:3, where he saws, hacks, and burns to death the inhabitants of several cities. 13:34


          God punishes everyone for someone else’s sin; then he saves them by killing an innocent victim. 5:12

          2 Thessalonians:

          We are predestined by God to go to either heaven or hell. None of our thoughts, words, or actions can affect the final outcome. 1:4-5, 11


          Those who disobeyed the Old Testament law were killed without mercy. It will be much worse for those who displease Jesus. 10:28-29

          “Others were tortured … that they might obtain a better resurrection.” 11:35

          “Ye are come … to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things that that of Abel.” 12:22-24

          Skippy… Any way, if some wrote this stuff today… well???

          1. F. Beard

            nd 1 Chr.20:3, where he saws, hacks, and burns to death the inhabitants of several cities. Skippy

            He brought out the people who were in it, and cut them with saws and with sharp instruments and with axes. And thus David did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 20:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            Genealogies bore me so I have avoided Chronicles. Yes, sawing some one to death is vicious (I see no mention of burning, btw) but at least they would quickly bleed to death unlike some napalm and WP victims.

            As for the other stuff. Yawn …

            I had a friend like you in HS and College. I internalized his arguments against the Bible and even extrapolated them. It took me 20 years but I eventually silenced that Devil’s advocate in my head. I find your objections not any more potent.

            Like I said, I will not wear out my welcome here with unnecessary defense of the Bible but I suggest you keep reading it till you are knowledgeable enough to advocate God’s side too. Skilled debaters are expected to be able to argue BOTH sides.

            Meanwhile the bankers are ignored whilst we squabble amongst ourselves? Can’t that wait until AFTER they are defeated?

          2. Skippy

            I’m not trying to do anything but, inform people of the duality inherit in your belief.

            Skippy… of which you knowingly obfuscate.

          3. Skippy

            “Meanwhile the bankers are ignored whilst we squabble amongst ourselves? Can’t that wait until AFTER they are defeated?”… beard.

            Banks are just – a – component of the system. The system does not price or value the very resources that enable life. The root code of this system is based in beliefs from antiquity, of which your is a quasi continuation of others. The root code is fubar.

            Banks are the least of our problems, turn them into utility’s of the people, problem solved.

            Skippy… I’m concerned with all life having a go, you want prosperity for one. You tinker with viral bad code, I would quarantine it. Is it mad to destroy a world and call it prosperity? To envision utopia (rapture) for thousands of years, yet it is always around the corner, too pine for destruction?


            The coccyx, or tailbone, is the remnant of a lost tail. All mammals have a tail at one point in their development; in humans, it is present for a period of 4 weeks, during stages 14 to 22 of human embryogenesis.[8] This tail is most prominent in human embryos 31–35 days old.[9] The tailbone, located at the end of the spine, has lost its original function in assisting balance and mobility, though it still serves some secondary functions, such as being an attachment point for muscles, which explains why it has not degraded further.

            In rare cases congenital defect results in a short tail-like structure being present at birth. Twenty-three cases of human babies born with such a structure have been reported in the medical literature since 1884.[10][11]


          4. F. Beard

            Banks are the least of our problems, turn them into utility’s of the people, problem solved. Skippy

            Baloney. “Credit creation” involves the taking of purchasing power from all to give to some – to the so-called “credit-worthy.” Even if the process of determining “credit- worthiness” (ability to repay) was 100% objective (it often isn’t – see “redlining”) the granting of credit still is a transfer of wealth from some to others – typically from the poorer to the richer.

            Skippy… I’m concerned with all life having a go, you want prosperity for one.

            I presume you mean “one species” instead of me personally. But you are still incorrect. Environmental destruction is certainly financed with a great deal of “credit.” And the bust phase of the boom-bust cycle is also very destructive (see copper thefts and rotting houses and gold mining in the 3rd world).

            I target a system that is historically rooted in fraud (“Your deposit is available on demand even though we lent it out”), based on theft from everyone especially the poor and which killed 50-86 million in WW II alone.

            And your target? Anyone who disagrees with you on how the entire world should be administered? Tyrant much?

            I suppose you can’t help it. Some of those who deny God must feel they have to do His work themselves. I once did.

            Btw, it’s too cold in Europe now. Your godsmanship is poor.

          5. Nathanael

            Eh. The Bible is a load of old stories. Some of them are sensible, many of them are completely psychotic and immoral.

            I feel sorry for anyone who thinks the Bible is a source of morality. Morality comes from one’s own heart.

    2. Lidia

      F.B. If “the Lord’s soul” hates violence so much, then why does he see to it that infant’s heads are dashed against rocks and so forth?

      The biblical god character is a violent psychopath and narcissist.

      1. F. Beard

        You misquote. The Lord’s soul hates those who love violence.

        And don’t expect me to defend infanticide though I note that many liberals have no problem with it. I suppose they think it is a mercy of sorts.

        The biblical god character is a violent psychopath

        He does get wrathful but for reasons liberals should approve of such as oppression of the poor.

        and narcissist.

        Then how does He find time to number the hairs of His children?

        Gee wiz, does the whole world have to be converted before we can even have ethical money creation?

        1. Nathanael

          You clearly have not actually read the whole Bible. There are long sections in which God is really a monstrous mass-murderer, torturer, narcissist, and sociopath.

          Of course, if you choose to believe that some parts of the Bible are not true or holy, I respect that — it’s a pile of old stories, some inspired, some psychotic.

          If you believe all of the Bible is true and good — *then you have not actually read it*.

          “Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!” — Psalm 137:9

  16. TK421

    But how are we supposed to make ourselves feel tough and courageous without calling for the death (committed by other people) of someone we don’t like?

    1. RW Jones

      Reading over the comments here it really amazes me how many people seem to want to maintain a right to resort to violence in spite of numerous historical examples of violence unleashing far more than its proponents ever bargained for (regardless of what their particular cause happened to be) and how quick they are to dismiss a study that says non-violence can work.

        1. Praedor

          No. And it is truly odd that one would say, “people want to retain the right to violence”. Taking away ANY right is violence itself and a means of subjugation. You cannot take away the right of self-defense. Can’t be done. It is an inalienable human right. I see violence in a true revolution as self-defense at its root.

          There has never ever been a nonviolent-only revolution. Never. Not in India, not anywhere. Ever. Cannot happen, not a true revolution. All you can hope for is adjustment and some change via nonviolence. You cannot get full-on change. Egypt hasn’t managed it today (and that revolt was NOT exclusively nonviolent either and wont be in the future).

          Sorry, no black-and-white bifurcation exists. Nonviolence is a tactic that has a place alongside of the use of violence as a tactic. They always operate together.

  17. knowbuddhau

    As one whose focus is on the psych into psyop, and comparative mythology into psyop’s titanic sib, myhtop, I applaud the effort announced in the title: confronting the myth of the rational insurgent. I mean, why should the cast of the TV series “Myth Busters” get to have all the fun?

    At the same time, as a poet, it pains me that we always use myth to mean lie, and never to mean what it really means: a metaphor. Myths are the windows through which we view the world stages on which we’re playing.

    “The only good markets are Free Markets™.” This phrase implies an entire world of policies, institutions, and so on. “Al-Qaeda helped Saddam do 9/11” is another. “We cannot allow Iran to have even one nuke.” What a loaded statement!

    The Chicago School excels at economic myth-making. Michael Hudson is always on about how intolerant and censorial are Friedmanite high priest’s ensconced as “editors” of academic journals. And in a fantastic October, 2008 speech, Naomi Klein revealed the role of the Chicago School in the horrendous jacking of the entire nation of Chile.

    Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

    You know, the most left-wing place on the planet at the moment is, interestingly enough, the first place where Chicago School ideology made that leap from the textbook into the real world, and that’s Latin America. And that happened for a very specific reason, as you know. This — in the 1950s, there was great concern at the State Department about the fact that Latin America, then as now, as it seems to do, was moving to the left. There was concern about what they called the “pink economists,” the rise of developmentalism, import substitution, and, of course, socialism. And, of course, this was a concern because it greatly affected American and European interests, because the crux of the argument of import substitution was that countries like Chile and Argentina, Guatemala, should stop exporting their raw natural resources to the north and then importing expensive processed goods to the south, that it didn’t make economic sense, that they should use the same tools of protectionism, of state supports, that built the economies of Europe and North America. That was that crazy radical idea, and it was unacceptable.

    So, this plan was cooked up — it was between the head of USAID’s Chile office and the head of the University of Chicago’s Economics Department — to try to change the debate in Latin America, starting in Chile, because that’s where developmentalism had gained its deepest roots. And the idea was to bring a group of Chilean students to the University of Chicago to study under a group of economists who were considered so extreme that they were on the margins of the discussion in the United States, which, of course, at the time, in the 1950s, was fully in the grips of Keynesianism. But the idea was that there would be — this would be a battle to the — a counterbalance to the emergence of left-wing ideas in Latin America, that they would go home and counterbalance the pink economists.

    And so, the Chicago Boys were born. And it was considered a success, and the Ford Foundation got in on the funding. And hundreds and hundreds of Latin American students, on full scholarships, came to the University of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s to study here to try to engage in what Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile’s foreign minister after the dictatorship finally ended, described as a project of deliberate ideological transfer, taking these extreme-right ideas, that were seen as marginal even in the United States, and transplanting them to Latin America. That was his phrase — that is his phrase.

    But today, we see that these ideas are reemerging in Latin America. They were suppressed with force, overthrown with military coups, and then Chile and Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil all became, to varying degrees, laboratories for the ideas that were taught in the classrooms of the University of Chicago. But now, because there was never a democratic consent for this, the ideas are reemerging.


    I cite all this as evidence of the political power of myths: to bring into being the world stage on which we believe ourselves to be playing our notorious parts. Who can forget the myth that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” that was being propounded right up to the moment it crashed? “Dog whistle” politics are another example of the political power of myth.

    Myths codify our ways of being human in the world. Artists create icons by distilling powerful metaphors into ideographs. The Chicago School’s economic myths have helped bring into being the neoliberal world of hurt we live in.

    Personally, I’d like to see more Freedmanite myths likewise busted. Looking forward to reading the full study.

    1. Lidia

      Your comment brings to mind John Michael Greer who, as a Druid, sometimes refers to “thaumaturgy” (i.e, “magic”).

      And I marginalized this somewhat, until I really understood the power of Money to “cloud men’s minds”.

      No sane society would otherwise pump petroleum out of the ground in order to make plastic bottles and then truck, ship and fly tap water from one country to another, exchanging it at enormous expense. Only money makes this clear insanity not only possible, but seem indeed reasonable and beneficial. Hence money has a supernatural power (which I have come to regard as truly evil).

      All the newspapers and TV programs which encourage the status quo in the face of all contrary evidence are employing a kind of black magic, which dooms us and the planet and all its plant and animal life. I don’t state this lightly. Money is the only thing that could make me believe in a Satanic power, on this earth.

  18. knowbuddhau


    “As one whose focus is on the weaponization, by APA and DOD, of psych into psyop, and of comparative mythology into psyop’s titanic sib, mythop,…”

  19. Duder

    Idiotic. What is the metric of “success”?

    A comparative of OWS has serious problems because the movement itself has not yet even defined what might constitute success, i.e. demands.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why are demands the only (“i.e.”) metric? Surely the process itself can be a metric.

      That’s like saying the only metric for a democracy is policy outcomes, when in fact a functioning democracy also doesn’t permit stolen elections, and so forth. I’m perfectly happy with the ability to exercise the right of peaceable assembly as a metric, especially since it’s in danger.

      1. Duder

        “Process” as politics only further points to the obscurity of this “nonviolent-violent” dichotomy, and the attempt to create a metric for “success” in insurgent politics.

        1. Duder

          Further, the “right to assemble” is a demand. It is a right we demand of the state, and its apparatuses, such as the police.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            OK, we’re agreed then. When I hear the request for “a demand,” I think of policy demands like Move to Amend, or the right to vote when you’re 18 (see above) or whatever. And I think of the Bill of Rights as something systemic, not policy. But sure, demanding the right to peaceably assemble be real and instead of being in some kind of “free speech zone” is a bedrock demand.

  20. Michael

    I have to admit that this study is consistent with my biases. In my experience, the people advocating for violence in the orgs I was involved with were doing so because they wished to be violent, not because they viewed violence as the tactic most likely to be successful. There were often good reasons for this — those advocating for violence were often deeply angry and hurt by brutality which had been committed on them in the past. But it was about them, not the movement.

    1. RW Jones

      This is a definite problem with resorting to violence. A cause may actually attract new followers when it resorts to violence, but this isn’t necessarily because they think the cause now has a chance of success. Often they are simply attracted to the violence itself, and prove to be adept at using that violence for their own personal ends rather than in furtherance of the cause. Napoleon comes to mind as an excellent historical example of this phenomenon.

      1. Nathanael

        Napoleon is not a good example; Napoleon actually *was* successful.

        The goal by the point Napoleon reached power was to prevent France from being carved up by the combined forces of the rest of Europe’s crowned heads. Mission accomplished.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Of course it’s also highly suspicious behavior to claim to support Occupy then to spend a disproportionate amount of time concern trolling the Occupy protesters for imagined “violence” when the police have committed about ONE THOUSAND TIMES the violence that the Occupiers committed.*

        If I were to commission agents to disrupt Occupy I think the concern troll may be more disruptive than the agents provocateur (in today’s day and age).

        *And a study that analyzed the “violence” in the policing and protesting of Occupy may be more useful than the grand and overreaching study cited in the post.

    2. Praedor

      I’m an aggressive physical type by nature. That said, I would not step up and advocate for violence right off the chocks. I would even go along with passive resistance until the point I get hit with a billy club or the person next to me gets shot (or I get shot but survive). At that point, I’m going to take off the gloves.

      I would worry that anyone vociferously calling for violence right off the chocks IS a provocateur plant and would be very interested in tailing them home and around to see if they are meeting with they enemy. Once violence from the OTHER side is unleashed however, I’m all in for equitable response. Sorry but I am not into permanent passivity.

      1. Walter Wit Man


        The problem is Occupy has been totally non-violent and the police have committed so much violence and provocation it’s ridiculous, and yet we still have supposed supporters wanting to divide and incorrectly label people as “violent.”

  21. rotter

    this study is full of loaded asumptions…er..assertions.. .. mostly everything in your power point presentation in undefined…what is a “democracy” 5 years after? what is “success”? …Personally i believe that the western focus on “nonviolence” is a protection feature for the ruling class. Youll notice the culture of the U.S…all of it. poliitcal, acadremic, etc., which pays such glorious lip service to “noviolence” is always, nonstop, in the process of inflicting violence on anyone and anything that stands in its way.

    1. lambert strether

      A lot of comments on this thread seem to boil down to “It’s only a PowerPoint presentation!” Which would be fine, I suppose, if (a) the conventional wisdom of violence advocates didn’t absolutely dominate conventional discourse and (b) violence advocates didn’t increasingly dominate in some Occupations (under the mush mouth and Orwellian banner of “diversity of tactics.”

      I think it makes more sense from every standpoint to get his information out now rather than wait for the full scholarly treatment two months from now. You, I think, would rather have waited until the full paper was published two months from now. I guess we’ll just have to disagree.

      Meanwhile, the slides do perform the salutary function of concentrating the conventional wisdom of violence advocates in one place — and offering rebuttals. Perhaps non-violence advocates will less easily shouted down now.

      1. rotter

        As a personal choice I would agree that peace is better than war, not suffering is better than suffering.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Who is advocating violence? You keep throwing that charge around, as you did to me, but what in the hell are you talking about?

        Who is saying let’s get a bunch of weapons and go out and attack the police?

        All protest is theater and it is often confrontational.

        When the police use violence to suppress civil disobedience, in a way that is extremely unjust, people have a right to defend themselves and it’s only natural that some people will react “violently” in return. This is human nature. You can not excise it from Occupy. Pretending that excising “violence”*, is an achievable goal or something that needs to be “enforced” via snitching or shaming is counterproductive and actually supporting the other side.

        It’s like saying, “I would like to support the black community because the police have really abused its civil liberties and treats this community unfairly, but until they stop using and selling illegal drugs how can “normal” people support them? They should turn all their drug dealers into the police, and then I will support them.”

        *The definition of violence is extremely loose. Many have mimicked the mainstream media and politicians by claiming property damage is violence, etc.

  22. Soullite

    This is bunk. There has never been a purely nonviolent movement. There have been very few purely violent movements. You cannot treat them as being truly separate. There were militants and terrorists in the civil rights movement. There were revolutionary alternatives to Gandhi. How do you know if the nonviolent movements could have succeeded without those violent alternatives? Of COURSE governments pick to make peace with the nonviolent factions when possible, but does this study separate THAT from a purely nonviolent response bringing about that surrender? This study doesn’t seem to have shades of grey; it’s ‘violent’ or ‘nonviolent’. How do we know the author isn’t attributing ‘victory’ to ‘nonviolence’ wherever any argument for that can be made, and only grudgingly acknowledging ‘violent’ successes when there was no nonviolent faction to attribute success to?

    And, really, how do you know that violent movements and nonviolent movements don’t succeed or fail under different circumstances? When the press is on your side, a nonviolent movement can go well enough. But what if the press is outright hostile? What if they won’t even cover you? What if the authorities say ‘screw this arresting crap, open fire!’ how successful is nonviolence then?

    1. lambert strether

      Well, that depends, doesn’t it? You could argue that the closure of the Port of Oakland (non-violent, 10K attending) was a direct result of the authorities doing exactly that.

      There seems to be a misconception that non-violent tactics automagically makes the authorities less violent. They can, but not always. That does not, however, invalidate non-violence as a strategy.

      1. Praedor

        Sure, nonviolence is a valid strategy among strategies and it has a place. Sometimes it can work but sometimes it cannot. Rarely (if ever actually) can it work all by its lonesome. As argued above, there is no such thing in history of a purely nonviolent protest/rebellion. Never has happened, never will. Can’t happen because not everyone is willing to sit down quiet and expose their neck for cutting. “Sure, kill me or beat me to a pulp! I’m happy to take it!” Meh. Some people can do that (and cannot actually do anything else) but not most. Many will run and hide (meaning drop out of the protest) and many will respond with tit-for-tat. I prefer many tits for your one tat. That’s just me.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        You are aware that previous efforts to close the Port of Oakland resulted in massive violence by the police? No? We had this discussion before and I’m surprised you skipped over this very important fact.

        The police RESERVE the right to crack skulls and fire bullets and shoot grenades at protester in the future, like they did in the past.

        THE ONLY reason the cops didn’t bust heads at the last port closure was because of the numbers of people and the attention it received (and little things like Mayor Quan’s husband taking part).

        The police will find a way to crack skulls regardless of how docile you act. Just look at the students that were accused of “violence” at Berkeley for linking hands while they were receiving their beatings (evidently, one should allow the police a clean shot to the noggin).

    2. Lidia

      There’s also the question of “what is violence?”.

      Violence is people going hungry while their leaders ride in limousines.

      Violence is poisoning the land and water, even if no one notices for years, or if it causes cancers 20 years down the road.

      Violence is telling youngsters and oldsters that they are on their own and they can expect no help from anyone else.

      Violence is nuclear power with no plan or concern for nuclear waste.

      Violence is verbal degradation and humiliation. Violence is arbitrary discrimination.

      Violence isn’t only sticks and stones and bullets.

        1. Lidia

          and what?

          I’m just saying the definition of violence is vaster than that which is considered by most.

  23. ebear

    The title tells you everything you know.

    A true scientific study poses a question in the main title, not the conclusion.

    1. ebear

      I’ll just add that there are really two questions here.

      1. what is an appropriate level of response to violence?

      2. what is the rate of success of that response?

      1. lambert strether

        Actually, there’s one question, and here it is:

        Why do violence advocates, who believe killing in service of their political goals is good, try to impose standards of evidence and reasoning on non-violence advocates that they are not willing to impose on themselves?

        I’m seeing an awful lot of repetition of shopworn anecdotes and talking points I see from violence fan bois on Occupy threads; and I see very little direct engagement with the points Chenoweth makes. Where’s the massive takedown? Come on, violence fans: Is that all you’ve got?

        1. Praedor

          I refuse to take a hit without hitting back. Ever. You hit me I hit you (harder). Simple mathematical balance.

          Also, there is no such thing as a magical, always-working, tactic. The tactic one uses must depend upon the nature of the opponent. Always. If your opponent is more than happy to use violence early and often and repeatedly against nonviolent protestors, then your nonviolent protest isn’t working and cannot work. Simple. It also depends on the timing of the protest – you need to discover the true nature of your opponent: is the opponent willing to go violent immediately and all the way? Or will the opponent seek to avoid it or try it and then back away due to greater public response? Just how responsive to the greater public is the enemy? If they don’t give a crap about the public response or if they are willing to go violent early and continuously, then nonviolence cannot succeed except to make their job of wiping you away easier.

          There is no magic here. Every tactic has strengths and weaknesses and no tactic can work in EVERY circumstance, nonviolent OR violent.

          1. Skippy

            Wow… Back in the day and you were on my team. On an Op, and made such an assertion… I’d off you…cold.

            Skippy… its all about you… eh.

          2. Nathanael

            The game-theory strategy “Tit for tat” has been shown to be highly effective in many many situations, including ecological ones. “Massive retaliation” is effective in a much more limited and trickier to identify set of circumstances.

            If the opposition forces are notably violent and your forces are *capable* of executing tit-for-tat or massive retaliation, then violence *may* be the correct strategy.

            I submit that it was so in the Civil War, where the Southern plantation owners were hellbent on violence, and only massive retaliation — Sherman’s march to the sea — got them to back off even a little.

            However, I would also say that these situations are not actually very common.

    2. lambert strether

      First, the title, a gerund, states and could state no conclusion.

      Second, your statement is false in fact. Here is the style that Nature, a premier scientific journal, wishes for authors in titles:

      A succinct, informative but also tempting title is essential, and is the first of the key features in a manuscript to come under editorial scrutiny.

      Not a mechanical formula, like “must be a question,” at all.

  24. Praedor

    Ugh. The revolt in India was NOT non-violent and thus NOT a success for nonviolent protest. Ghandi was but a PART of the larger, longer struggle and merely added to the whole revolt, to the point of being the straw that broke the camel’s back. There was plenty of violent revolt going on before and during Ghandi’s non-violent method AND Ghandi did NOT require non-violence. He preferred it but he did NOT require it. He demanded that the people resist. If they couldn’t resist nonviolently then he felt that they STILL needed to resist anyway (with violence).

    There is no example in history of a purely nonviolent revolution succeeding. Egypt is the most current failure as they did not actually succeed except partially (getting Mubarak out) but the bigger part of the previous power structure (the military) remains firmly in power…and the Muslim Bro-hood is climbing into bed now with the military. The revolution in Egypt merely continues – and does anyone not recall the exchange of violence, as is proper, during the protest? When you hit me you can rest absolutely assured that I am going to hit back only harder.

    Nonviolent protest CANNOT work against any regime that is more than happy to use violence against nonviolent rebels. The Nazis were delighted to have such passive targets in the Jews of 20s and 30s Germany and thus Ghandi’s HORRIBLE recommendation that they SHOULD just go passively to the gas chambers was a certain failure of tactic. It made the job of getting rid of them soooooo much easier. Likewise today, Syria cannot collapse into democracy via nonviolent means (and it is too late for that anyway because the violence is already running along quite well) because Hassad is more than happy to kill them anyway!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t accept the rhetorical sleight of hand where we get to define the meaning of success instead of the Egyptians. The Egyptians evolved a single demand that “all walks of life” could accept — that Mubarak leave — and did accept. They also split the Army and the police, because they treated non-violence as a strategic asset (which is what I argue for). How is overthrowing a dictator and achieving their demand not a success for the Egytians?!

      Further, I’m certain that the Egyptians themselves were fully aware that there would be much more work to do after Mubarak’s exit. It would be more remarkable if they thought that there would not be. In fact, I can’t recall a single commentator, across the entire Egyptian spectrum of opinion, who said “Mubarak is gone, so our work is done.” Straw manning…

      Finally, more violence after Mubarak’s departure would have been the answer… Why, exactly?

      1. rotter

        They are also now ruled by a puppet millitary regime beholden to the US and wesstern Europe. Thats the kind of fake “success” were talking about i guess.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          1. It’s success as they defined it. And if you don’t think getting rid of Mubarak was a good thing, ask the Egyptians if they want to go back.

          2. The rhetorical strategy that those who advocate killing their political opponents are using is getting awfully old. It has two parts: (a) Hold non-violence advocates to an impossible standard while ignoring real successes, and (b) assert, without any evidence whatever, that more or better violence would have achieved more. Your comment exemplifies this technique.

  25. Lambert Strether Post author

    Here’s an earlier, complete paper by Stephan and Chenoweth from 2008; these slides are, as I said, taken from a forthcoming paper. I’ll quote a big part of the executive summary. For those who are asking for methodolody, that’s a good start. Emphasis is mine:

    Implicit in recent scholarly debates about the efficacy of methods of warfare is the assumption that the most effective means of waging political struggle entails violence. Among political scientists, the prevailing view is that opposition movements select violent methods because such means are more effective than nonviolent strategies at achieving policy goals. Despite these assumptions, from 2000 to 2006 organized civilian populations successfully employed nonviolent methods including boycotts, strikes, protests, and organized noncooperation to challenge entrenched power and exact political concessions in Serbia (2000), Madagascar (2002), Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004–05), Lebanon (2005), and Nepal (2006). The success of these nonviolent campaigns—especially in light of the enduring violent insurgencies occurring in some of the same countries—begs systematic investigation.

    Extant literature provides explanations as to why nonviolent campaigns are effective means of resistance. Little of the literature, however, comprehensively analyzes all known observations of nonviolent and violent insurgencies as analogous resistance types. This study aims to all this gap by systematically exploring the strategic effectiveness of violent and nonviolent campaigns in confiicts between nonstate and state actors using aggregate data on major nonviolent and violent resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006. To better understand the causal mechanisms driving these outcomes, we also compare our statistical andings with historical cases that have featured periods of both violent and nonviolent resistance.

    Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns.

    There are two reasons for this success. First, a campaign’s commitment to nonviolent methods enhances its domestic and international legitimacy and encourages more broad-based participation in the resistance, which translates into increased pressure being brought to bear on the target. Recognition of the challenge group’s grievances can translate into greater internal and external support for that group and alienation of the target regime, undermining the regime’s main sources of political, economic, and even military power.

    Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime. Potentially sympathetic publics perceive violent militants as having maximalist or extremist goals beyond accommodation, but they perceive nonviolent resistance groups as less extreme, thereby enhancing their appeal and facilitating the extraction of concessions through bargaining.

    Our findings challenge the conventional wisdom that violent resistance against conventionally superior adversaries is the most effective way for resistance groups to achieve policy goals. Instead, we assert that nonviolent resistance is a forceful alternative to political violence that can pose effective challenges to democratic and nondemocratic opponents, and at times can do so more effectively than violent resistance.

    The article proceeds as follows. The first section presents our main argument. The second section introduces the data set and reports our preliminary empirical andings. In the third section, we evaluate three case studies of non-violent and violent campaigns in Southeast Asia. We conclude with some theoretical and policy recommendations derived from these findings.

  26. Lambert Strether Post author

    Professor Chenoweth comments:

    A debate is unfolding in the comments section [here at NC]. I address many of the questions raised here in a paper I am writing for the ISA Annual Meetings in San Diego in April. Most of the critiques the NC readers are raising about the data, however, are addressed and dealt with in my book with Maria Stephan. For anyone interested, the data and appendix used for the book are available at my research page.

    As Maria and I emphasize, our book is not meant to be the last word. Instead, we hope it will catalyze new and improved research on the topic of civil resistance–a field I’ve been encouraging security studies scholars to take seriously. One of the ways I’ve been hoping to attract greater attention to the topic of civil resistance has been to develop this “myths” talk, which I have tested out on a few different audiences. It’s supposed to be provocative, and it generally has elicited fairly strong reactions. The response over at NC is no exception.

    My hope is not to provoke discussion for its own sake. Instead, my goals are twofold: 1) to encourage more systematic empirical research on the topic; and 2) to persuade people, on the basis of existing empirical research, that nonviolent resistance can often be a viable alternative for challenging entrenched power.

  27. different clue

    The OWSers will have to spend the next several years at least knowing what they even want and what they even think their situation is; and how they all got where they are . . before they can decide what they want to get, be, and do. So they have lots of time to decide about when to be nonviolent, when to get violent, etc.

    Once the OWSers have decided or discovered all those things, there may still be all kinds of pre-violent or non-violent methods for getting or doing what they want. And any individual can decide for hermself whether he/she wants to employ strategic aggressive non-violent action to get or do something, and whether that is the same or different than
    pacifist Christian Witness through Martyrdom through self non-defense against overt attempts to kill one’s own physical person in the meantime.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Perhaps the discussion can be informed by actual empirical research, as that to come in Chenoweth’s paper, performed by her in 2008, and available on her research page.

      Alternatively, we could toss paragraphs like your second one at each other.

      Which procedure do you recommend?

  28. blamblamkafoom

    Are we saying that causality flows from tactics to participation to success? Take the Slovenes: 88% of them voted for independence, then they won themselves a little war. Did violence succeed because of pre-existing high participation? Or did high participation succeed despite violence? Or did a little violence do the trick because there were no Serbs in Slovenia, so the Serbs let them go? Maybe the data shows that violence works fine when participation’s high and the regime’s resolve is weak.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t comment on Slovenia!

      But I don’t think it’s a causal flow. None of this stuff is linear.

      Again, the Egyptians. As Chenoweth points out, and Graeber agrees, they achieved legitimacy through non-violence. But they also had to reinforce their legitimacy (keep the balloon in the air, as it were). That makes things a cycle, not linear. If you treat non-violence as a mere tactic in a bait-and-switch operation, perceptions and legitimacy can change, I would think.

  29. Mark Mattaini

    Having actually read the Stephan and Chenoweth article in International Security (1998, V. 33, pp. 7-44, and having carefully studied the Chenoweth and Stephan book (2011), I can tell you that their study is methodologically strong and important. Not definitive, no single study is, but important. It is worth the time it would take to read both of these pieces carefully. Really, this is fine work that cannot be adequately assessed from a ppt presentation. Mark Mattaini, University of Illinois at Chicago

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Mark, thanks. My purpose in focusing on the slides was to make the ideas easy to propagate in an almost emergency situation where non-violence as a strategy has all too few defenders. If I had wanted to write a critique of Chenoweth’s methodology, I would have (assuming I could have).

      As I said, attacking Chenoweth on methodology and the dataset is to attack her on her strongest point, as people who study her work will come to realize.

      1. MisterG

        At the is risk of repeating myself:

        “This is an intriguing study, and has clearly provoked a very vocal discussion, bravo! Perhaps your next step could be leading an FDL book-review style discussion with the author? That would give NC readers a chance to read her book and other papers instead of just shooting from the hip.”

        Her book, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict” was published last August and would probably answer many of the questions posted here.

  30. Fiver

    Without the study it’s impossible to comment. Just on what I see on spec, the obvious first question is:

    1) What is the winning strategy when those in control have a monopoly on violence and are prepared to use it liberally? The Nazi or Pol Pot comes to mind. But also Bush/Obama.

    And second:

    2) There’s a big difference between what’s theoretically possible, eg, imagine a true general strike wherein everyone just drops work or any form of cooperation with the Government, and the odds it might occur (zero is close enough).

    1. Nathanael

      (1) Depends on the popularity of those in control. If they can be split from their source of popularity, they may soon find themselves not in control. This applies both to general popularity and to popularity among the “enforcer class”.

      If those in control have the sense to remain popular (by feeding, housing, employing the vast majority of people, for instance), only outside intervention can overthrow them. If they don’t have that sense, they are remarkably weak.

  31. abprosper

    This smacks of agitprop to me, granted noble anti violence agitprop but agitprop none the less. I might however be wrong.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Yep. That’s my take too. It’s very disruptive and it just seems so disproportionate and silly to me.

      I mean there has been so very little “violence” committed by occupy protesters in the face of massive police violence and yet some want to have a huge discussion about eradicating violence from Occupy.

      Who does this discussion primarily benefit?

  32. Fiver

    Surely simple common sense would inform that non-violence “succeeds” more often that violence else we’d be in a constant state of violence. I rather suspect that this all boils down to what is meant by “success” as in this statement:

    “Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns.”

    How exactly was much of Latin America supposed to non-violently resist US-backed Death Squads who murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

    How was Iraq going to non-violently resist the US attack once it was clear it was going to be smashed no matter what Saddam said or did? How will the Iraqi people take their country BACK from the US-installed police state that now rules?

    How was Afghanistan going to repel the Soviets, or the US?

    How far would Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement have gotten had there NOT been the perception of a huge, seething anger-bomb ready to explode, and which did explode in major urban riots in many of the biggest cities through 1967?

    Suppose LBJ had been 10 years younger, and NOT been broken and resigned, but rather continued to escalate the Vietnam War and continued the Draft?

    Same question re South Africa. Would there be “democratic” (sort of) rule in South Africa now if Mandela did not quite deliberately use the “It’s either me and peace, or these others behind me and a sea of blood” approach?

    How would Ghandi have fared had the British not opted to fully support him over his very popular and credible “communist” alternative intent on ridding India of Britain completely?

    Suppose, instead of Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time had brought the hammer down? How many (pick your colour)”non-violent insurgencies” in the former Bloc and/or Republics would have “succeeded” in those circumstances?

    I hate to say this, but I think it’s completely naive to leave out of the equation:




    For the sake of clarity:

    Palestinians have been in pursuit of justice for 70 brutally punishing years. They have tried every possible means, peaceful and violent, and are no better off now than when they started.

    After the horrific massacre of civilians in Gaza in Jan 2009, I concluded, and commented on a number of Websites that the only way the Palestinians would ever win their freedom, dignity, rights, land and justice would be for the entire population, men, women and children, unarmed, to climb that f-ing wall and walk to either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to demand justice and STAY THERE (I argued the same for Americans re Wall Street and Washington also in 2009). During the Arab Spring last year, I was stunned to see it reported that something very similar was briefly underway:

    For their trouble, many were beaten to a pulp, outright killed, or thrown in jail:

    There have been other recent studies suggesting the world is “less violent” than it was, say, 30 years ago. Well, that’s not difficult to account for – most of the violence took the form of large-scale proxy wars (at least in the US version of reality – in reality, they were anti-colonial in nature)in the “fight against communism”. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union following the physical destruction of the “left” pretty much the world over, there IS no power on the other side able to arm either a resistance OR a government the US wants eliminated. Instead, what we got was the wholesale abandonment of secular options in the Muslim world in the face of overwhelming US power, with radical fundamentalists replacing secular socialists, democrats, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely CRAVE a non-violent re-ordering of power. But to win requires MORE courage than violent resistance, because you have to be willing to be brutalized and NOT fight back. How many people in the US or other wealthy countries have THAT sort of courage, or ANY sort of courage, for that matter? So far I’ve seen a tiny handful of the adult population, a few terrific people, mostly kids, involved in OWS and the attempted Flotilla(s) and that’s it – in a country where the President has asserted the right to incarcerate or kill anyone deemed an “enemy”. Have we even 1 iota of the courage of the Palestinians who dared that walk KNOWING what would happen?

    We better be clear in our minds exactly what it means when those with power refuse to hand it over and do not care what it takes to keep it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On your next to last paragraph: I agree. This is what the civil rights movement did. Sometimes the only way to play a winning hand is to assume that the cards fall in a certain way; hopefully studies like Chenoweth’s will help us figure that out.

    2. Maju

      “non-violence “succeeds” more often that violence else we’d be in a constant state of violence”

      No. You do not understand:

      1. Nonviolence (written this way all together, as translation of Gandhi’s “ahimsa”: literally “nonharm”) is not a mere absence of violence but an affluence of disobedience and grassroots organization. Nonviolence as defined by people like Thoreau, Tolstoy, Gandhi and King, among others, is a dynamic of active disobedience very different, radically opposite in fact, from the peace of cemeteries and prisons that some here seem to confuse with.

      2. We do live in a state of permanent violence, of course and if you had read Gandhi you would understand it. Violence is identical to abuse and injustice in Gandhi’s discourse, and Gandhi realizes that even response violence has something of that injustice embedded and that’s why he argues against it and for other, supposedly more advanced, better, ways of conducting resistance.

      As for the rest I basically agree but let’s not confuse nonviolence with mere lack of popular violence, nor with a concentration camp where nobody dares to rebel either.

      1. Fiver

        No. That’s not what I meant at all. I meant that the real way to look at this is:

        “What percentage of social conflicts are serious enough to provoke real popular resistance? And, how often does that resistance run into a regime of whatever stripe that is prepared to smack it down violently.” In other words, you will almost always have peaceful efforts attempted first, thus the apparent greater success of the tactic, rather than focusing squarely on the willingness to be brutal of the regime as the determinant of the percentages.

    3. Nathanael

      “We better be clear in our minds exactly what it means when those with power refuse to hand it over and do not care what it takes to keep it.”

      Ah, but that is not what is happening. They *do* care what it takes to keep power. If it requires feeding and employing the masses, *they won’t do it*. If it requires setting up a fairer system of laws or taxes, *they won’t do it*.

      This is their critical weakness, their ideological blindness, their stupidity.

      Similar stupidity doomed the king and his allies during the French Revolution.

      The Emperor Augustus was smarter, and ruled happily for a long time.

  33. Ralph Winstanley

    Have you considered that resort to violence may be a function in part of the objective probability of success of the insurgent movement? If this is the case, wouldn’t there be a degree of autocorrelation between violent tactics and relative lack of success of a movement?

    1. Maju

      That’s a very probable reality. For example in the decolonization process, armed resistance arose specially among those left behind: Algeria, Palestine, the Portuguese colonies, etc.

    2. Nathanael

      Yep. Movements which have been frustrated for long times turn to violence (this is easy enough to show historically).

      So the entire premise of the paper is based on a backwards causation fallacy.

    1. Bev

      Pardon me, but at whom is the comment directed?

      Also, noted that my post of Feb. 2 is below later dated posts, though all are against the left most margin side of page.

    2. Bev

      This topic that you brought to good attention about Chenoweth’s work is vital and important.

      I was just making the strongest case across varied fields (money, democracy, politics and law that need to unite) to support her vital work.

      Better than me, interview again Michael Hudson about Chenoweth’s work and his efforts.


      And, thank you for brave work.

  34. myiq2xu

    Violence is a tactic. Its usefulness depends on your strategy. Before you can have a strategy you need a goal.

    Goals determine strategy. Strategy determines tactics.

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