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
is more than
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
Civil resistance allows people of all different levels of physical ability to participate.
This can include the elderly, people with disabilities, women, children and anyone who else wants to. If you think about it, everyone is born with a natural physical ability to resist nonviolently. 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.”
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, follow along.