Monday, June 29, 2009

Supporting civic nonviolent movements

Recent studies have shown that civic nonviolent movements are by far more effective in bringing democratic changes in autocratically and dictatorially governed countries than movements that use violence do. Nonviolent movements are not only more effective than movements that use violence, but they bring also bigger democratic changes than more or less violent movements do. In spite of this, politicians in democratic countries that want to support democratic changes in not democratically governed countries ignore these facts and they are hardly prepared to support civic nonviolent movements otherwise than with words. They see nonviolence as “soft”. But as Adrian Karatnycky and Peter Ackerman put it “Given the significance of the civic factor in dozens of recent transitions from dictatorship, it is surprising how small a proportion of international donor assistance is targeted to this sector” (in “How Freedom Is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy”, The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, vol. 7-3 (June 2005) ). For what is soft about supporting what is successful at the cost of supporting what is less successful? To give only one example, rather than bombing Serbia the NATO had had to support Otpor, the nonviolent movement that brought Milošević down.

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