Friday, May 02, 2008

The problem with non-violent resistence

I encountered this nice article from the USIP websitewith the title "Whither the Bulldozer? Nonviolent Revolution and the Transition to Democracy in Serbia" that explains how the resistance against Milosevic was organized with the help of American organisors. A lesson in Nonviolent Action.

You can also read this New York Times article about Otpor or this WSJ one about Gene Sharp, the ideologue of non-violent resistance.

Here is an article about other color revolutions and here a video("The Revolution Business").

Here is a lecture by Gene Sharp on "Principled Non-Violence". It starts with an introduction. Sharp starts to talk after about 7 minutes. The talk is spread over 6 YouTube videos.

Guerrilla's without guns has a couple of articles on this "non-violent" strategy.

The other main figure in "non-violent protests" is Robert Helvey, former US soldier and diplomat who pioneered the application of Sharp's ideas in Burma.

The problem with this approach is that it is a negoative approach. Its main aim is not to repair policies that it finds disgusting but to undermine the present government. And for that purpose all present problems (which country doesn't have them?) are enlarged and even distorted. The predictable effect is that the government will go in survival mode and won't even think about reform.

Proponents of "non-violent resistence" like to point out the statistics that countries which had a non-violent uprising tend to be better off than those who had a violent uprising when you look ten years laters. That applies even when the uprising fails. What they forget to mention is that those non-violent uprisings work out better because they are more constructive. Their primary aim is to improve the country, not to change the people in charge. Unfortunately Gene Sharp's methods may be non-violent but it are definitely not constructive.

For that reason it is no surprise that the color revolutions have worked out so badly - both when they succeeded and when they failed.


pierre said...

"I encountered this nice article from the USIP website that explains how the resistance against Milosevic was organized with the help of American organisors. A lesson in Nonviolent Action."

A suggestion, change "with the help of American organisors" to "at the direction of American organisors."

Wim Roffel said...

There are lots of websites that explain that the US was involved. There is even a book about it. It was new for me to see someone involved proudly telling how they did it.

It is really amazing how many people accept these theories of Gene Sharp just as a previous generaration embraced Che Guevarra. I think it is no coincidence that Sharp's boss has a Trotskyite past. Personally I don't like their style: this kind of social engineering often leads to loss of trust and trouble later on.