About the 3.5%

“I’d like to ask you to imagine that you live in a very repressive country. There are elections, but they are fake. The leader wins 100% of the vote each time. Security forces beat up opposition leaders with impunity, and they harass everyone else.” 

– Dr. Erica Chenoweth, September 21, 2013

Imagine that you live in a very repressive country.

There are elections,

but they are fake.


In 2011, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan published a groundbreaking study about the impact of civil resistance in the 21st Century. Chenoweth admits that she began the research as a bit of a skeptic, she felt that nonviolent action education “well-intentioned, but dangerously naive.”

Over two years, Chenoweth and Stephan examined 323 nonviolent and violent campaigns throughout the world, all of which took place between 1900 – 2006. They focused on actions that involved at least 1,000 participants and resulted in the overthrow of a government or a territorial liberation of some kind.

What their research concluded that the nonviolent opposition campaigns were actually more than twice as successful in achieving their political objectives.


from Why Civil Resistance Works The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erica Chenoweth, Maria J Stephan

Nonviolent opposition

is more than


as successful.

The research also showed that this trend has been increasing over time, even in those extremely brutal authoritarian conditions where the researchers expected non-violent resistance to fail.

In her 2013 TED Talk, Chenoweth said:

“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the



participation of just

3.5 percent of the population.

In the US today, that’s about 11 million people.

On average, non-violent campaigns were

four times larger

than the average violent campaign and they were often

much more inclusive and representative

in terms of




political party,

class and

urban-rural distinction.

Civil resistance allows people of all different levels of physical ability to participate.

This can include

the elderly

people with disabilities


children and

anyone who else wants to.

If you think about it, everyone is born with a natural physical ability to resist non-violently.  Anyone who has kids knows how hard it is to pick up a child who doesn’t want to move or to feed a child who doesn’t want to eat.”

Imagine that you live in a very repressive country.

There are elections,

but they are fake.


Now let’s say you’ve had enough.

That’s where I am tonight.

It turns out that there are blueprints for making this kind of thing happen. And if you’re ready to act, I’ve got a map and a flashlight.

If you’re part of the 3.5% of the population who are willing to engage in active sustained nonviolent participation, tag 3 people on social media you know you can count on to join us. Feel free to tag this post or a link the video below with the words:

I’m part of the 3.5%.

Invite your friends to watch the video below, and ask them to tag 3 people they know who can be counted on to join us.

I’ll be back soon.

One thought on “About the 3.5%

Comments are closed.