University of Essex
The world is becoming less stable and secure, and the freedoms and interests of all open societies are endangered. Yet, recent history has witnessed the destabilisation of autocratic and oppressive regimes via the most unassuming of catalysts: civil resistance. To understand this people-driven phenomenon and to shed light on an enormously important subject, Erica Chenoweth presents an impressive range of examples to address some of the more obvious objections to civil resistance as a method. Critics tend to assume that nonviolence is equivalent to passivity, that such movements can be easily suppressed with violence, that they often contain violent elements, and that they work only against democratic governments. Chenoweth complements her examples with sweeping empirical assessments of potential explanations for the efficacy of protest movements. Among them are the strategic dynamics of civil resistance, the '3.5%' rule (that nonviolent protest movements engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change), repression, backfire and defections, violence within and against the movement, and the future of civil resistance. Chenoweth takes social movements from across the globe, emphasizing the importance of tactical design and the organization of civil resistance. But as she acknowledges, sectarian and regressive movements can also employ civil resistance, and they frequently do. Chenoweth, without doubt, challenges our perceptions of civil resistance and debunks the myth that violence is more effective than civil protest. This book is as much advocacy as it is an analysis of nonviolence. Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know is an unwavering introductory guide and comprehensive toolkit to civil resistance's methods and potential.