This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A conceptual framework for liberation
! "ene S#arp$ Senior Sc#olar%in%Re&i'ence
T#e Albert Ein&tein In&titution
Copyright © by Gene Sharp, 1993. All rights reserved including translation rights. All
requests should be addressed in writing to Gene Sharp, Albert instein !nstitution, 1"3#
$assachusetts Avenue, Ca%bridge, $assachusetts #&13', (SA) *A+, (SA - .1/0'/.0/91".
2hey will be sy%pathetically considered.
3ne o4 %y %a5or concerns 4or %any years has been how people could prevent and destroy
dictatorships. 2his has been nurtured in part because o4 a belie4 that hu%an beings should not be
do%inated and destroyed by such regi%es. 2hat belie4 has been strengthened by readings on the
i%portance o4 hu%an 4reedo%, on the nature o4 dictatorships 64ro% Aristotle to analysts o4
totalitarianis%7, and histories o4 dictatorships 6especially the 8a9i and Stalinist syste%s7.
3ver the years ! have had occasion to get to :now people who lived and su44ered under 8a9i
rule, including so%e who survived concentration ca%ps. !n 8orway ! %et people who had
resisted 4ascist rule and survived, and heard o4 those who perished. ! tal:ed with ;ews who had
escaped the 8a9i clutches and with persons who had helped to save the%.
<nowledge o4 the terror o4 Co%%unist rule in various countries has been learned %ore 4ro%
boo:s than personal contacts. 2he terror o4 these syste%s appeared to %e to be especially
poignant 4or these dictatorships were i%posed in the na%e o4 liberation 4ro% oppression and
!n %ore recent decades through visits o4 persons 4ro% dictatorially ruled countries, such as
>ana%a, >oland, Chile, 2ibet, and ?ur%a, the realities o4 today@s dictatorships beca%e %ore
real. *ro% 2ibetans who had 4ought against Chinese Co%%unist aggression, Aussians who had
de4eated the August 1991 hard0line coup, and 2hais who had nonviolently bloc:ed a return to
%ilitary rule, ! have gained o4ten troubling perspectives on the insidious nature o4 dictatorships.
2he sense o4 pathos and outrage against the brutalities, along with ad%iration o4 the cal%
herois% o4 unbelievably brave %en and wo%en, were so%eti%es strengthened by visits to
places where the dangers were still great, and yet de4iance by brave people continued. 2hese
included >ana%a under 8oriega) Bilnius, Cithuania, under continued Soviet repression)
2ianan%en Square, ?ei5ing, during both the 4estive de%onstration o4 4reedo% and while the 4irst
ar%ored personnel carriers entered that 4ate4ul night) and the 5ungle headquarters o4 the
de%ocratic opposition at $anerplaw in Dliberated ?ur%a.D
So%eti%es ! visited the sites o4 the 4allen, as the television tower and the ce%etery in
Bilnius, the public par: in Aiga where people had been gunned down, the center o4 *errara in
northern !taly where the 4ascists lined up and shot resisters, and a si%ple ce%etery in
$anerplaw 4illed with bodies o4 %en who had died %uch too young. !t is a sad reali9ation that
every dictatorship leaves such death and destruction in its wa:e.
3ut o4 these concerns and e=periences grew a deter%ined hope that prevention o4 tyranny
%ight be possible, that success4ul struggles against dictatorships could be waged without %ass
%utual slaughters, that dictatorships could be destroyed and new ones prevented 4ro% rising out
o4 the ashes.
! have tried to thin: care4ully about the %ost e44ective ways in which dictatorships could be
success4ully disintegrated with the least possible cost in su44ering and lives. !n this ! have drawn
on %y studies over %any years o4 dictatorships, resistance %ove%ents, revolutions, political
thought, govern%ental syste%s, and especially realistic nonviolent struggle.
2his publication is the result. ! a% certain it is 4ar 4ro% per4ect. ?ut, perhaps, it o44ers so%e
guidelines to assist thought and planning to produce %ove%ents o4 liberation that are %ore
power4ul and e44ective than %ight otherwise be the case.
34 necessity, and o4 deliberate choice, the 4ocus o4 this essay is on the generic proble% o4
how to destroy a dictatorship and to prevent the rise o4 a new one. ! a% not co%petent to
produce a detailed analysis and prescription 4or a particular country. Eowever, it is %y hope that
this generic analysis %ay be use4ul to people in, un4ortunately, too %any countries who now
4ace the realities o4 dictatorial rule. 2hey will need to e=a%ine the validity o4 this analysis 4or
their situations and the e=tent to which its %a5or reco%%endations are, or can be %ade to be,
applicable 4or their liberation struggles.
! have incurred several debts o4 gratitude in writing this essay. ?ruce ;en:ins, %y Special
Assistant, has %ade an inesti%able contribution by his identi4ication o4 proble%s in content and
presentation, and through his incisive reco%%endations 4or %ore rigorous and clearer
presentations o4 di44icult ideas 6especially concerning strategy7, structural reorgani9ation, and
editorial i%prove%ents. ! a% also grate4ul 4or the editorial assistance o4 Stephen Coady. Fr.
Christopher <ruegler and Aobert Eelvey have o44ered very i%portant criticis%s and advice. Fr.
Ea9el $c*erson and Fr. >atricia >ar:%an have provided %e in4or%ation on struggles in A4rica
and Catin A%erica, respectively. Although this wor: has greatly bene4ited 4ro% such :ind and
generous support, the analysis and conclusions contained therein are %y responsibility.
8owhere in this analysis do ! assu%e that de4ying dictators will be an easy or cost04ree
endeavor. All 4or%s o4 struggle have co%plications and costs. *ighting dictators will, o4 course,
bring casualties. !t is %y hope, however, that this analysis will spur resistance leaders to
consider strategies that %ay increase their e44ective power while reducing the relative level o4
8or should this analysis be interpreted to %ean that when a speci4ic dictatorship is ended, all
other proble%s will also disappear. 2he 4all o4 one regi%e does not bring in a utopia. Aather, it
opens the way 4or hard wor: and long e44orts to build %ore 5ust social, econo%ic, and political
relationships and the eradication o4 other 4or%s o4 in5ustices and oppression. !t is %y hope that
this brie4 e=a%ination o4 how a dictatorship can be disintegrated %ay be 4ound use4ul wherever
people live under do%ination and desire to be 4ree.
. 3ctober 1993
Albert instein !nstitution
1"3# $assachusetts Avenue
Ca%bridge, $assachusetts #&13', (SA
Facin( Dictator&#ip& Reali&ticall!
!n recent years various dictatorships0o4 both internal and e=ternal origin0have collapsed or
stu%bled when con4ronted by de4iant, %obili9ed people. 34ten seen as 4ir%ly entrenched and
i%pregnable, so%e o4 these dictatorships proved unable to withstand the concerted political,
econo%ic, and social de4iance o4 the people.
Since 19'# dictatorships have collapsed be4ore the predo%inantly nonviolent de4iance o4
people in stonia, Catvia, and Cithuania, >oland, ast Ger%any, C9echoslova:ia and Slovenia,
$adagascar, $ali, ?olivia, and the >hilippines. 8onviolent resistance has 4urthered the
%ove%ent toward de%ocrati9ation in 8epal, Ga%bia, South <orea, Chile, Argentina, Eaiti,
?ra9il, (ruguay, $alawi, 2hailand, ?ulgaria, Eungary, Gaire, 8igeria, and various parts o4 the
4or%er Soviet (nion 6playing a signi4icant role in the de4eat o4 the August 1991 atte%pted hard0
line coup d@Htat7.
!n addition, %ass political de4iance617 has occurred in China, ?ur%a, and 2ibet in recent
years. Although those struggles have not brought an end to the ruling dictatorships or
occupations, they have e=posed the brutal nature o4 those repressive regi%es to the world
co%%unity and have provided the populations with valuable e=perience with this 4or% o4
2he collapse o4 dictatorships in the above na%ed countries certainly has not erased all other
proble%s in those societies, poverty, cri%e, bureaucratic ine44iciency, and environ%ental
destruction are o4ten the legacy o4 brutal regi%es. Eowever, the down4all o4 these dictatorships
has %ini%ally li4ted %uch o4 the su44ering o4 the victi%s o4 oppression, and has opened the way
4or the rebuilding o4 these societies with greater political de%ocracy, personal liberties, and
A continuin( problem
2here has indeed been a trend towards greater de%ocrati9ation and 4reedo% in the world in
the past decades. According to *reedo% Eouse, which co%piles a yearly international survey o4
the status o4 political rights and civil liberties, the nu%ber o4 countries around the world
classi4ied as D4reeD has grown signi4icantly in the last ten years,6&7
*ree >artly *ree 8ot *ree
19/" "1 6&/I7 "' 63&I7 .3 6"1I7
19'" 13 63&I7 19 631I7 11 633I7
199" /. 6"#I7 .1 63&I7 1" 6&'I7
&##" '9 6".I7 1" 6&'I7 "9 6&.I7
Eowever, this positive trend is te%pered by the large nu%bers o4 peoples still living under
conditions o4 tyranny. As o4 ;anuary 1993, 31I o4 the world@s 1."1 billion population lived in
countries and territories designated as Dnot 4ree,D 637 that is, areas with e=tre%ely restricted
political rights and civil liberties. 2he 3' countries and 1& territories in the Dnot 4reeD category
are ruled by a range o4 %ilitary dictatorships 6as in ?ur%a and Sudan7, traditional repressive
%onarchies 6as in Saudi Arabia and ?hutan7, do%inant political parties 6as in China, !raq, and
8orth <orea7, 4oreign occupiers 6as in 2ibet and ast 2i%or7, or are in a state o4 transition.
$any countries today are in a state o4 rapid econo%ic, political, and social change. Although
the nu%ber o4 D4reeD countries has increased in the past ten years, there is a great ris: that %any
nations, in the 4ace o4 such rapid 4unda%ental changes, will %ove in the opposite direction and
e=perience new 4or%s o4 dictatorship. $ilitary cliques, a%bitious individuals, elected o44icials,
and doctrinal political parties will repeatedly see: to i%pose their will. Coups d@eat are and will
re%ain a co%%on occurrence. ?asic hu%an and political rights will continue to be denied to
vast nu%bers o4 peoples.
(n4ortunately, the past is still with us. 2he proble% o4 dictatorships is deep. >eople in %any
countries have e=perienced decades or even centuries o4 oppression, whether o4 do%estic or
4oreign origin. *requently, unquestioning sub%ission to authority 4igures and rulers has been
long inculcated. !n e=tre%e cases, the social, political, econo%ic, and even religious institutions
o4 the society0outside o4 state control0have been deliberately wea:ened, subordinated, or even
replaced by new regi%ented institutions used by the state or ruling party to control the society.
2he population has o4ten been ato%i9ed 6turned into a %ass o4 isolated individuals7 unable to
wor: together to achieve 4reedo%, to con4ide in each other, or even to do %uch o4 anything at
their own initiative.
2he result is predictable, the population beco%es wea:, lac:s sel40con4idence, and is
incapable o4 resistance. >eople are o4ten too 4rightened to share their hatred o4 the dictatorship
and their hunger 4or 4reedo% even with 4a%ily and 4riends. >eople are o4ten too terri4ied to thin:
seriously o4 public resistance. !n any case, what would be the useJ !nstead, they 4ace su44ering
without purpose and a 4uture without hope.
Current conditions in today@s dictatorships %ay be %uch worse than earlier. !n the past, so%e
people %ay have atte%pted resistance. Short0lived %ass protests and de%onstrations %ay have
occurred. >erhaps spirits soared te%porarily. At other ti%es, individuals and s%all groups %ay
have conducted brave but i%potent gestures, asserting so%e principle or si%ply their de4iance.
Eowever noble the %otives, such past acts o4 resistance have o4ten been insu44icient to
overco%e the people@s 4ear and habit o4 obedience, a necessary prerequisite to destroy the
dictatorship. Sadly, those acts %ay have brought instead only increased su44ering and death, not
victories or even hope.
Free'om t#rou(# )iolence*
Khat is to be done in such circu%stancesJ 2he obvious possibilities see% useless.
Constitutional and legal barriers, 5udicial decisions, and public opinion are nor%ally ignored by
dictators. (nderstandably, reacting to the brutalities, torture, disappearances, and :illings,
people o4ten have concluded that only violence can end a dictatorship. Angry victi%s have
so%eti%es organi9ed to 4ight the brutal dictators with whatever violent and %ilitary capacity
they could %uster, despite the odds being against the%. 2hese people have o4ten 4ought bravely,
at great cost in su44ering and lives. 2heir acco%plish%ents have so%eti%es been re%ar:able, but
they rarely have won 4reedo%. Biolent rebellions can trigger brutal repression that 4requently
leaves the populace %ore helpless than be4ore.
Khatever the %erits o4 the violent option, however, one point is clear. ?y placing con4idence
in violent %eans, one has chosen the very type o4 struggle with which the oppressors nearly
always have superiority. 2he dictators are equipped to apply violence overwhel%ingly. Eowever
long or brie4ly these de%ocrats can continue, eventually the harsh %ilitary realities usually
beco%e inescapable. 2he dictators al%ost always have superiority in %ilitary hardware,
a%%unition, transportation, and the si9e o4 %ilitary 4orces. Fespite bravery, the de%ocrats are
6al%ost always7 no %atch.
Khen conventional %ilitary rebellion is recogni9ed as unrealistic, so%e dissidents then 4avor
guerrilla war4are. Eowever, guerrilla war4are rarely, i4 ever, bene4its the oppressed population or
ushers in a de%ocracy. Guerrilla war4are is no obvious solution, particularly given the very
strong tendency toward i%%ense casualties a%ong one@s own people. 2he technique is no
guarantor against 4ailure, despite supporting theory and strategic analyses, and so%eti%es
international bac:ing. Guerrilla struggles o4ten last a very long ti%e. Civilian populations are
o4ten displaced by the ruling govern%ent, with i%%ense hu%an su44ering and social dislocation.
ven when success4ul, guerrilla struggles o4ten have signi4icant long0ter% negative
structural consequences. !%%ediately, the attac:ed regi%e beco%es %ore dictatorial as a result
o4 its counter%easures. !4 the guerrillas should 4inally succeed, the resulting new regi%e is o4ten
%ore dictatorial than its predecessor due to the centrali9ing i%pact o4 the e=panded %ilitary
4orces and the wea:ening or destruction o4 the society@s independent groups and institutions
during the struggle0bodies which are vital in establishing and %aintaining a de%ocratic society.
3pponents o4 dictatorships should loo: 4or another option.
Coup&$ election&$ forei(n &a)ior&*
A %ilitary coup d@Ltat against a dictatorship %ight appear to be relatively one o4 the easiest
and quic:est ways to re%ove a particularly repugnant regi%e. Eowever, there are very serious
proble%s with that technique. $ost i%portantly, it leaves in place the e=isting %aldistribution o4
power between the population and the elite in control o4 the govern%ent and its %ilitary 4orces.
2he re%oval o4 particular persons and cliques 4ro% the governing positions %ost li:ely will
%erely %a:e it possible 4or another group to ta:e their place. 2heoretically, this group %ight be
%ilder in its behavior and be open in li%ited ways to de%ocratic re4or%s. Eowever, the opposite
is as li:ely to be the case.
A4ter consolidating its position, the new clique %ay turn out to be %ore ruthless and %ore
a%bitious than the old one. Consequently, the new clique0in which hopes %ay have been placed0
will be able to do whatever it wants without concern 4or de%ocracy or hu%an rights. 2hat is not
an acceptable answer to the proble% o4 dictatorship.
lections are not available under dictatorships as an instru%ent o4 signi4icant political
change. So%e dictatorial regi%es, such as those o4 the 4or%er Soviet0do%inated astern bloc,
went through the %otions in order to appear de%ocratic. 2hose elections, however, were %erely
rigidly controlled plebiscites to get public endorse%ent o4 candidates already hand pic:ed by the
dictators. Fictators under pressure %ay at ti%es agree to new elections, but then rig the% to
place civilian puppets in govern%ent o44ices. !4 opposition candidates have been allowed to run
and were actually elected, as occurred in ?ur%a in 199# and 8igeria in 1993, results %ay
si%ply be ignored and the DvictorsD sub5ected to inti%idation, arrest, or even e=ecution.
Fictators are not in the business o4 allowing elections that could re%ove the% 4ro% their
$any people now su44ering under a brutal dictatorship, or who have gone into e=ile to
escape its i%%ediate grasp, do not believe that the oppressed can liberate the%selves. 2hey
e=pect that their people can only be saved by the actions o4 others. 2hese people place their
con4idence in e=ternal 4orces. 2hey believe that only international help can be strong enough to
bring down the dictators.
2he view that the oppressed are unable to act e44ectively is so%eti%es accurate 4or a certain
ti%e period. As noted, o4ten oppressed people are unwilling and te%porarily unable to struggle
because they have no con4idence in their ability to 4ace the ruthless dictatorship, and no :nown
way to save the%selves. !t is there4ore understandable that %any people place their hope 4or
liberation in others. 2his outside 4orce %ay be Dpublic opinion,D the (nited 8ations, a particular
country, or international econo%ic and political sanctions.
Such a scenario %ay sound co%4orting, but there are grave proble%s with this reliance on an
outside savior. Such con4idence %ay be totally %isplaced. (sually no 4oreign saviors are
co%ing, and i4 a 4oreign state does intervene, it probably should not be trusted.
A 4ew harsh realities concerning reliance on 4oreign intervention need to be e%phasi9ed
• *requently 4oreign states will tolerate, or even positively assist, a dictatorship in
order to advance their own econo%ic or political interests.
• *oreign states also %ay be willing to sell out an oppressed people instead o4 :eeping
pledges to assist their liberation at the cost o4 another ob5ective.
• So%e 4oreign states will act against a dictatorship only to gain their own econo%ic,
political, or %ilitary control over the country.
• 2he 4oreign states %ay beco%e actively involved 4or positive purposes only i4 and
when the internal resistance %ove%ent has already begun sha:ing the dictatorship,
having thereby 4ocused international attention on the brutal nature o4 the regi%e.
Fictatorships usually e=ist pri%arily because o4 the internal power distribution in the ho%e
country. 2he population and society are too wea: to cause the dictatorship serious proble%s,
wealth and power are concentrated in too 4ew hands. Although dictatorships %ay bene4it 4ro% or
be so%ewhat wea:ened by international actions, their continuation is dependent pri%arily on
!nternational pressures can be very use4ul, however, when they are supporting a power4ul
internal resistance %ove%ent. 2hen, 4or e=a%ple, international econo%ic boycotts, e%bargoes,
the brea:ing o4 diplo%atic relations, e=pulsion 4ro% international organi9ations, conde%nation
by (nited 8ations bodies, and the li:e can assist greatly. Eowever, in the absence o4 a strong
internal resistance %ove%ent such actions by others are unli:ely to happen.
Facin( t#e #ar' trut#
2he conclusion is a hard one. Khen one wants to bring down a dictatorship %ost e44ectively
and with the least cost then one has 4our i%%ediate tas:s,
• 3ne %ust strengthen the oppressed population the%selves in their deter%ination,
sel40con4idence, and resistance s:ills)
• 3ne %ust strengthen the independent social groups and institutions o4 the oppressed
• 3ne %ust create a power4ul internal resistance 4orce) and
• 3ne %ust develop a wise grand strategic plan 4or liberation and i%ple%ent it
A liberation struggle is a ti%e 4or sel40reliance and internal strengthening o4 the struggle
group. As Charles Stewart >arnell called out during the !rish rent stri:e ca%paign in 1'/9 and
“It is no use relying on the Government . . . . You must only rely upon your own
determination . . . . [H]elp yourselves by standing together . . . strengthen those amongst
yourselves who are weak . . . , band yourselves together, organize yourselves . . . and you
must win . . . .
hen you have made this !uestion ripe "or settlement, then and not till then will it be
Against a strong sel40reliant 4orce, given wise strategy, disciplined and courageous action,
and genuine strength, the dictatorship will eventually cru%ble. $ini%ally, however, the above
4our require%ents %ust be 4ul4illed.
As the above discussion indicates, liberation 4ro% dictatorships ulti%ately depends on the
people@s ability to liberate the%selves. 2he cases o4 success4ul political de4iance0or nonviolent
struggle 4or political ends0cited above indicate that the %eans do e=ist 4or populations to 4ree
the%selves, but that option has re%ained undeveloped. Ke will e=a%ine this option in detail in
the 4ollowing chapters. Eowever, we should 4irst loo: at the issue o4 negotiations as a %eans o4
T#e Dan(er& Of +e(otiation&
Khen 4aced with the severe proble%s o4 con4ronting a dictatorship 6as surveyed in Chapter
3ne7, so%e people %ay lapse bac: into passive sub%ission. 3thers, seeing no prospect o4
achieving de%ocracy, %ay conclude they %ust co%e to ter%s with the apparently per%anent
dictatorship, hoping that through Dconciliation,D Dco%pro%ise,D and DnegotiationsD they %ight
be able to salvage so%e positive ele%ents and to end the brutalities. 3n the sur4ace, lac:ing
realistic options, there is appeal in that line o4 thin:ing.
Serious struggle against brutal dictatorships is not a pleasant prospect. Khy is it necessary to
go that routeJ Can@t everyone 5ust be reasonable and 4ind ways to tal:, to negotiate the way to a
gradual end to the dictatorshipJ Can@t the de%ocrats appeal to the dictators@ sense o4 co%%on
hu%anity and convince the% to reduce their do%ination bit by bit, and perhaps 4inally to give
way co%pletely to the establish%ent o4 a de%ocracyJ
!t is so%eti%es argued that the truth is not all on one side. >erhaps the de%ocrats have
%isunderstood the dictators, who %ay have acted 4ro% good %otives in di44icult circu%stancesJ
3r perhaps so%e %ay thin:, the dictators would gladly re%ove the%selves 4ro% the di44icult
situation 4acing the country i4 only given so%e encourage%ent and entice%ents. !t %ay be
argued that the dictators could be o44ered a Dwin0winD solution, in which everyone gains
so%ething. 2he ris:s and pain o4 4urther struggle could be unnecessary, it %ay be argued, i4 the
de%ocratic opposition is only willing to settle the con4lict peace4ully by negotiations 6which
%ay even perhaps be assisted by so%e s:illed individuals or even another govern%ent7. Kould
that not be pre4erable to a di44icult struggle, even i4 it is one conducted by nonviolent struggle
rather than by %ilitary warJ
Merit& an' limitation& of ne(otiation&
8egotiations are a very use4ul tool in resolving certain types o4 issues in con4licts and should
not be neglected or re5ected when they are appropriate. !n so%e situations where no 4unda%ental
issues are at sta:e, and there4ore a co%pro%ise is acceptable, negotiations can be an i%portant
%eans to settle a con4lict. A labor stri:e 4or higher wages is a good e=a%ple o4 the appropriate
role o4 negotiations in a con4lict, a negotiated settle%ent %ay provide an increase so%ewhere
between the su%s originally proposed by each o4 the contending sides. Cabor con4licts with
legal trade unions are, however, quite di44erent than the con4licts in which the continued
e=istence o4 a cruel dictatorship or the establish%ent o4 political 4reedo% are at sta:e.
Khen the issues at sta:e are 4unda%ental, a44ecting religious principles, issues o4 hu%an
4reedo%, or the whole 4uture develop%ent o4 the society, negotiations do not provide a way o4
reaching a %utually satis4actory solution. 3n so%e basic issues there should be no co%pro%ise.
3nly a shi4t in power relations in 4avor o4 the de%ocrats can adequately sa4eguard the basic
issues at sta:e. Such a shi4t will occur through struggle, not negotiations. 2his is not to say that
negotiations ought never to be used. 2he point here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to
re%ove a strong dictatorship in the absence o4 a power4ul de%ocratic opposition.
8egotiations, o4 course, %ay not be an option at all. *ir%ly entrenched dictators who 4eel
secure in their position %ay re4use to negotiate with their de%ocratic opponents. 3r, when
negotiations have been initiated, the de%ocratic negotiators %ay disappear and never be heard
!ndividuals and groups who oppose dictatorship and 4avor negotiations will o4ten have good
%otives. specially when a %ilitary struggle has continued 4or years against a brutal dictatorship
without 4inal victory, it is understandable that all the people o4 whatever political persuasion
would want peace. 8egotiations are especially li:ely to beco%e an issue a%ong de%ocrats
where the dictators have clear %ilitary superiority and the destruction and casualties a%ong
one@s own people are no longer bearable. 2here will then be a strong te%ptation to e=plore any
other route which %ight salvage so%e o4 the de%ocrats@ ob5ectives while bringing an end to the
cycle o4 violence and counter0violence.
2he o44er by a dictatorship o4 DpeaceD through negotiations with the de%ocratic opposition
is, o4 course, rather disingenuous. 2he violence could be ended i%%ediately by the dictators
the%selves, i4 only they would stop waging war on their own people. 2hey could at their own
initiative without any bargaining restore respect 4or hu%an dignity and rights, 4ree political
prisoners, end torture, halt %ilitary operations, withdraw 4ro% the govern%ent, and apologi9e to
Khen the dictatorship is strong but an irritating resistance e=ists, the dictators %ay wish to
negotiate the opposition into surrender under the guise o4 %a:ing Dpeace.D 2he call to negotiate
can sound appealing, but grave dangers can be lur:ing within the negotiating roo%.
3n the other hand, when the opposition is e=ceptionally strong and the dictatorship is
genuinely threatened, the dictators %ay see: negotiations in order to salvage as %uch o4 their
control or wealth as possible. !n neither case should the de%ocrats help the dictators achieve
Fe%ocrats should be wary o4 the traps which %ay be deliberately built into a negotiation
process by the dictators. 2he call 4or negotiations when basic issues o4 political liberties are
involved %ay be an e44ort by the dictators to induce the de%ocrats to surrender peace4ully while
the violence o4 the dictatorship continues. !n those types o4 con4licts the only proper role o4
negotiations %ay occur at the end o4 a decisive struggle in which the power o4 the dictators has
been e44ectively destroyed and they see: personal sa4e passage to an international airport.
Power an' ,u&tice in ne(otiation&
!4 this 5udg%ent sounds too harsh a co%%entary on negotiations, perhaps so%e o4 the
ro%anticis% associated with the% needs to be %oderated. Clear thin:ing is required as to how
D8egotiationD does not %ean that the two sides sit down together on a basis o4 equality and
tal: through and resolve the di44erences that produced the con4lict between the%. 2wo 4acts %ust
be re%e%bered. *irst, in negotiations it is not the relative 5ustice o4 the con4licting views and
ob5ectives which deter%ines the content o4 a negotiated agree%ent. Second, the content o4 a
negotiated agree%ent is largely deter%ined by the power capacity o4 each side.
Several di44icult questions %ust be considered. Khat can each side do at a later date to gain
its ob5ectives i4 the other side 4ails to co%e to an agree%ent at the negotiating tableJ Khat can
each side do a4ter an agree%ent is reached i4 the other side brea:s its word and uses its available
4orces to sei9e its ob5ectives despite the agree%entJ
A settle%ent is not reached in negotiations through an assess%ent o4 the rights and wrongs
o4 the issues at sta:e. Khile those %ay be %uch discussed, the real results in negotiations co%e
4ro% an assess%ent o4 the absolute and relative power situations o4 the contending groups. Khat
can the de%ocrats do to ensure that their %ini%u% clai%s cannot be deniedJ Khat can the
dictators do to stay in control and neutrali9e the de%ocratsJ !n other words, i4 an agree%ent
co%es, it is %ore li:ely the result o4 each side esti%ating how the power capacities o4 the two
sides co%pare, and then calculating how an open struggle %ight end.
Attention %ust also be given to what each side is willing to give up in order to reach
agree%ent. !n success4ul negotiations there is co%pro%ise, a splitting o4 di44erences. ach side
gets part o4 what it wants and gives up part o4 its ob5ectives.
!n the case o4 e=tre%e dictatorships what are the pro0de%ocracy 4orces to give up to the
dictatorsJ Khat ob5ectives o4 the dictators are the pro0de%ocracy 4orces to acceptJ Are the
de%ocrats to give to the dictators 6whether a political party or a %ilitary cabal7 a
constitutionally0established per%anent role in the 4uture govern%entJ Khere is the de%ocracy
ven assu%ing that all goes well in negotiations, it is necessary to as:, Khat :ind o4 peace
will be the resultJ Kill li4e then be better or worse than would be i4 the de%ocrats began or
continued to struggleJ
Fictators %ay have a variety o4 %otives and ob5ectives underlying their do%ination, power,
position, wealth, reshaping the society, and the li:e. 3ne should re%e%ber that none o4 these
will be served i4 they abandon their control positions. !n the event o4 negotiations dictators will
try to preserve their goals.
Khatever pro%ises o44ered by dictators in any negotiated settle%ent, no one should ever
4orget that the dictators %ay pro%ise anything to secure sub%ission 4ro% their de%ocratic
opponents, and then bra9enly violate those sa%e agree%ents.
!4 the de%ocrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve 4ro% repression, they %ay
be very disappointed. A halt to resistance rarely brings reduced repression. 3nce the restraining
4orce o4 internal and international opposition has been re%oved, dictators %ay even %a:e their
oppression and violence %ore brutal than be4ore. 2he collapse o4 popular resistance o4ten
re%oves the countervailing 4orce which has li%ited the control and brutality o4 the dictatorship.
2he tyrants can then %ove ahead against who%ever they wish. D*or the tyrant has the power to
in4lict only that which we lac: the strength to resist,D wrote <rishnalal Shridharani.617
Aesistance, not negotiations, is essential 4or change in con4licts where 4unda%ental issues
are at sta:e. !n nearly all cases, resistance %ust continue to drive dictators out o4 power. Success
is %ost o4ten deter%ined not by negotiating a settle%ent but through the wise use o4 the %ost
appropriate and power4ul %eans o4 resistance available. !t is our contention, to be e=plored later
in %ore detail, that political de4iance, or nonviolent struggle, is the %ost power4ul %eans
available to those struggling 4or 4reedo%.
.#at kin' of peace*
!4 dictators and de%ocrats are to tal: about peace at all, e=tre%ely clear thin:ing is needed
because o4 the dangers involved. 8ot everyone who uses the word DpeaceD wants peace with
4reedo% and 5ustice. Sub%ission to cruel oppression and passive acquiescence to ruthless
dictators who have perpetrated atrocities on hundreds o4 thousands o4 people is no real peace.
Eitler o4ten called 4or peace, by which he %eant sub%ission to his will. A dictators@ peace is
o4ten no %ore than the peace o4 the prison or o4 the grave.
2here are other dangers. Kell intended negotiators so%eti%es con4use the ob5ectives o4 the
negotiations and the negotiation process itsel4. *urther, de%ocratic negotiators, or 4oreign
negotiation specialists accepted to assist in the negotiations, %ay in a single stro:e provide the
dictators with the do%estic and international legiti%acy which they had been previously denied
because o4 their sei9ure o4 the state, hu%an rights violations, and brutalities. Kithout that
desperately needed legiti%acy, the dictators cannot continue to rule inde4initely. =ponents o4
peace should not provide the% legiti%acy.
Rea&on& for #ope
As stated earlier, opposition leaders %ay 4eel 4orced to pursue negotiations out o4 a sense o4
hopelessness o4 the de%ocratic struggle. Eowever, that sense o4 powerlessness can be changed.
Fictatorships are not per%anent. >eople living under dictatorships need not re%ain wea:, and
dictators need not be allowed to re%ain power4ul inde4initely. Aristotle noted long ago, D. . .
M3Nligarchy and tyranny are shorter0lived than any other constitution. . . . MANll round, tyrannies
have not lasted long.D6.7 $odern dictatorships are also vulnerable. 2heir wea:nesses can be
aggravated and the dictators@ power can be disintegrated. 6!n Chapter *our we will e=a%ine
these wea:nesses in %ore detail.7
Aecent history shows the vulnerability o4 dictatorships, and reveals that they can cru%ble in
a relatively short ti%e span, whereas ten years 00 19'#0199# 00 were required to bring down the
Co%%unist dictatorship in >oland, in ast Ger%any and C9echoslova:ia in 19'9 it occurred
within wee:s. !n l Salvador and Guate%ala in 19"" the struggles against the entrenched brutal
%ilitary dictators required appro=i%ately two wee:s each. 2he %ilitarily power4ul regi%e o4 the
Shah in !ran was under%ined in a 4ew %onths. 2he $arcos dictatorship in the >hilippines 4ell
be4ore people power within wee:s in 19'., the (nited States govern%ent quic:ly abandoned
>resident $arcos when the strength o4 the opposition beca%e apparent. 2he atte%pted hard0line
coup in the Soviet (nion in August 1991 was bloc:ed in days by political de4iance. 2herea4ter,
%any o4 its long do%inated constituent nations in only days, wee:s, and %onths regained their
2he old preconception that violent %eans always wor: quic:ly and nonviolent %eans always
require vast ti%e is clearly not valid. Although %uch ti%e %ay be required 4or changes in the
underlying situation and society, the actual 4ight against a dictatorship so%eti%es occurs
relatively quic:ly by nonviolent struggle.
8egotiations are not the only alternative to a continuing war o4 annihilation on the one hand
and capitulation on the other. 2he e=a%ples 5ust cited, as well as those listed in Chapter 3ne,
illustrate that another option e=ists 4or those who want both peace and 4reedo%, political
.#ence Come& T#e Power*
Achieving 4reedo% with peace is o4 course no si%ple tas:. !t will require great strategic
s:ill, organi9ation, and planning. Above all, it will require power. Fe%ocrats cannot hope to
bring down a dictatorship and establish political 4reedo% without the ability to apply their own
?ut how is this possibleJ Khat :ind o4 power can the de%ocratic opposition %obili9e that
will be su44icient to destroy the dictatorship and its vast %ilitary and police networ:sJ 2he
answers lie in an o4t ignored understanding o4 political power. Cearning this insight is not really
so di44icult a tas:. So%e basic truths are quite si%ple.
T#e -Monke! Ma&ter- fable
A *ourteenth Century Chinese parable by Ciu0;i, 4or e=a%ple, outlines this neglected
understanding o4 political power quite well, 6/7
!n the 4eudal state o4 Chu an old %an survived by :eeping %on:eys in his service. 2he
people o4 Chu called hi% D5u gongD 6%on:ey %aster7.
ach %orning, the old %an would asse%ble the %on:eys in his courtyard, and order the
eldest one to lead the others to the %ountains to gather 4ruits 4ro% bushes and trees. !t was the
rule that each %on:ey had to give one tenth o4 his collection to the old %an. 2hose who 4ailed to
do so would be ruthlessly 4logged. All the %on:eys su44ered bitterly, but dared not co%plain.
3ne day, a s%all %on:ey as:ed the other %on:eys, DFid the old %an plant all the 4ruit trees
and bushesJD 2he others said, D8o, they grew naturally.D 2he s%all %on:ey 4urther as:ed,
DCan@t we ta:e the 4ruits without the old %an@s per%issionJD 2he others replied, DOes, we all
can.D 2he s%all %on:ey continued, D2hen, why should we depend on the old %an) why %ust we
all serve hi%JD
?e4ore the s%all %on:ey was able to 4inish his state%ent, all the %on:eys suddenly beca%e
enlightened and awa:ened.
3n the sa%e night, watching that the old %an had 4allen asleep, the %on:eys tore down all
the barricades o4 the stoc:ade in which they were con4ined, and destroyed the stoc:ade entirely.
2hey also too: the 4ruits the old %an had in storage, brought all with the% to the woods, and
never returned. 2he old %an 4inally died o4 starvation.
Ou0li09i says, $%ome men in the world rule their people by tri&ks and not by righteous
prin&iples. 'ren(t they )ust like the monkey master* +hey are not aware o" their
muddleheadedness. 's soon as their people be&ome enlightened, their tri&ks no longer work.$
+ece&&ar! &ource& of political power
2he principle is si%ple. Fictators require the assistance o4 the people they rule, without
which they cannot secure and %aintain the sources o4 political power. 2hese sources o4 political
• Authority, the belie4 a%ong the people that the regi%e is legiti%ate, and that they
have a %oral duty to obey it)
• Eu%an resources, the nu%ber and i%portance o4 the persons and groups which are
obeying, cooperating, or providing assistance to the rulers)
• S:ills and :nowledge, needed by the regi%e to per4or% speci4ic actions and supplied
by the cooperating persons and groups)
• !ntangible 4actors, psychological and ideological 4actors which %ay induce people to
obey and assist the rulers)
• $aterial resources, the degree to which the rulers control or have access to property,
natural resources, 4inancial resources, the econo%ic syste%, and %eans o4
co%%unication and transportation) and
• Sanctions, punish%ents, threatened or applied, against the disobedient and
noncooperative to ensure the sub%ission and cooperation which are needed 4or the
regi%e to e=ist and carry out its policies.
All o4 these sources, however, depend on acceptance o4 the regi%e, on the sub%ission and
obedience o4 the population, and on the cooperation o4 innu%erable people and the %any
institutions o4 the society. 2hese are not guaranteed.
*ull cooperation, obedience, and support will increase the availability o4 the needed sources
o4 power and, consequently e=pand the power capacity o4 any govern%ent.
3n the other hand, withdrawal o4 popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and
dictators di%inishes, and %ay sever, the availability o4 the sources o4 power on which all rulers
depend. Kithout availability o4 those sources, the rulers@ power wea:ens and 4inally dissolves.
8aturally, dictators are sensitive to actions and ideas that threaten their capacity to do as they
li:e. Fictators are there4ore li:ely to threaten and punish those who disobey, stri:e, or 4ail to
cooperate. Eowever, that is not the end o4 the story. Aepression, even brutalities, do not always
produce a resu%ption o4 the necessary degree o4 sub%ission and cooperation 4or the regi%e to
!4, despite repression, the sources o4 power can be restricted or severed 4or enough ti%e, the
initial results %ay be uncertainty and con4usion within the dictatorship. 2hat is li:ely to be
4ollowed by a clear wea:ening o4 the power o4 the dictatorship. 3ver ti%e, the withholding o4
the sources o4 power can produce the paralysis and i%potence o4 the regi%e, and in severe
cases, its disintegration. 2he dictators@ power will die, slowly or rapidly, 4ro% political
2he degree o4 liberty or tyranny in any govern%ent is, it 4ollows, in large degree a re4lection
o4 the relative deter%ination o4 the sub5ects to be 4ree and their willingness and ability to resist
e44orts to enslave the%.
Contrary to popular opinion, even totalitarian dictatorships are dependent on the population
and the societies they rule. As the political scientist <arl K. Feutsch noted in 1913,
2otalitarian power is strong only i4 it does not have to be used too o4ten. !4 totalitarian power
%ust be used at all ti%es against the entire population, it is unli:ely to re%ain power4ul 4or long.
Since totalitarian regi%es require %ore power 4or dealing with their sub5ects than do other types
o4 govern%ent, such regi%es stand in greater need o4 widespread and dependable co%pliance
habits a%ong their people) %ore than that they have to be able to count on the active support o4
at least signi4icant parts o4 the population in case o4 need.6'7
2he nglish 8ineteenth Century legal theorist ;ohn Austin described the situation o4 a
dictatorship con4ronting a disa44ected people. Austin argued that i4 %ost o4 the population were
deter%ined to destroy the govern%ent and were willing to endure repression to do so, then the
%ight o4 the govern%ent, including those who supported it, could not preserve the hated
govern%ent, even i4 it received 4oreign assistance. 2he de4iant people could not be 4orced bac:
into per%anent obedience and sub5ection, Austin concluded.697
8iccolo $achiavelli had %uch earlier argued that the prince D. . . who has the public as a
whole 4or his ene%y can never %a:e hi%sel4 secure) and the greater his cruelty, the wea:er does
his regi%e beco%e.D61#7
2he practical political application o4 these insights was de%onstrated by the heroic
8orwegian resisters against the 8a9i occupation, and as cited in Chapter 3ne, by the brave
>oles, Ger%ans, C9echs, Slova:s, and %any others who resisted Co%%unist aggression and
dictatorship, and 4inally helped produce the collapse o4 Co%%unist rule in urope. 2his, o4
course, is no new pheno%enon, cases o4 nonviolent resistance go bac: at least to "9" ?.C. when
plebeians withdrew cooperation 4ro% their Ao%an patrician %asters.6117 8onviolent struggle
has been e%ployed at various ti%es by peoples throughout Asia, A4rica, the A%ericas,
Australasia, and the >aci4ic islands, as well as urope.
2hree o4 the %ost i%portant 4actors in deter%ining to what degree a govern%ent@s power
will be controlled or uncontrolled there4ore are, 617 the relative desire o4 the populace to i%pose
li%its on the govern%ent@s power) 6&7 the relative strength o4 the sub5ects@ independent
organi9ations and institutions to withdraw collectively the sources o4 power) and 637 the
population@s relative ability to withhold their consent and assistance.
Center& of 'emocratic power
3ne characteristic o4 a de%ocratic society is that there e=ist independent o4 the state a
%ultitude o4 nongovern%ental groups and institutions. 2hese include, 4or e=a%ple, 4a%ilies,
religious organi9ations, cultural associations, sports clubs, econo%ic institutions, trade unions,
student associations, political parties, villages, neighborhood associations, gardening clubs,
hu%an rights organi9ations, %usical groups, literary societies, and others. 2hese bodies are
i%portant in serving their own ob5ectives and also in helping to %eet social needs.
Additionally, these bodies have great political signi4icance. 2hey provide group and
institutional bases by which people can e=ert in4luence over the direction o4 their society and
resist other groups or the govern%ent when they are seen to i%pinge un5ustly on their interests,
activities, or purposes. !solated individuals, not %e%bers o4 such groups, usually are unable to
%a:e a signi4icant i%pact on the rest o4 the society, %uch less a govern%ent, and certainly not a
Consequently, i4 the autono%y and 4reedo% o4 such bodies can be ta:en away by the
dictators, the population will be relatively helpless. Also, i4 these institutions can the%selves be
dictatorially controlled by the central regi%e or replaced by new controlled ones, they can be
used to do%inate both the individual %e%bers and also those areas o4 the society.
Eowever, i4 the autono%y and 4reedo% o4 these independent civil institutions 6outside o4
govern%ent control7 can be %aintained or regained they are highly i%portant 4or the application
o4 political de4iance. 2he co%%on 4eature o4 the cited e=a%ples in which dictatorships have
been disintegrated or wea:ened has been the courageous %ass application o4 political de4iance
by the population and its institutions.
As stated, these centers o4 power provide the institutional bases 4ro% which the population
can e=ert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls. !n the 4uture, they will be part o4 the
indispensable structural base 4or a 4ree society. 2heir continued independence and growth
there4ore is o4ten a prerequisite 4or the success o4 the liberation struggle.
!4 the dictatorship has been largely success4ul in destroying or controlling the society@s
independent bodies, it will be i%portant 4or the resisters to create new independent social groups
and institutions, or to reassert de%ocratic control over surviving or partially controlled bodies.
Furing the Eungarian Aevolution o4 191.0191/ a %ultitude o4 direct de%ocracy councils
e%erged, even 5oining together to establish 4or so%e wee:s a whole 4ederated syste% o4
institutions and governance. !n >oland during the late 19'#s wor:ers %aintained illegal
Solidarity unions and, in so%e cases, too: over control o4 the o44icial, Co%%unist do%inated,
trade unions. Such institutional develop%ents can have very i%portant political consequences.
34 course, none o4 this %eans that wea:ening and destroying dictatorships is easy, nor that
every atte%pt will succeed. !t certainly does not %ean that the struggle will be 4ree o4 casualties,
4or those still serving the dictators are li:ely to 4ight bac: in an e44ort to 4orce the populace to
resu%e cooperation and obedience.
2he above insight into power does %ean, however, that the deliberate disintegration o4
dictatorships is possible. Fictatorships in particular have speci4ic characteristics that render
the% highly vulnerable to s:ill4ully i%ple%ented political de4iance. Cet us e=a%ine these
characteristics in %ore detail.
Dictator&#ip& Ha)e .eakne&&e&
Fictatorships o4ten appear invulnerable. !ntelligence agencies, police, %ilitary 4orces,
prisons, concentration ca%ps, and e=ecution squads are controlled by a power4ul 4ew. A
country@s 4inances, natural resources, and production capacities are o4ten arbitrarily plundered by
dictators and used to support the dictators@ will.
!n co%parison, de%ocratic opposition 4orces o4ten appear e=tre%ely wea:, ine44ective, and
powerless. 2hat perception o4 invulnerability against powerlessness %a:es e44ective opposition
2hat is not the whole story, however.
I'entif!in( t#e Ac#ille&/ #eel
A %yth 4ro% Classical Greece illustrates well the vulnerability o4 the supposedly
invulnerable. Against the warrior Achilles, no blow would in5ure and no sword would penetrate
his s:in. Khen still a baby, Achilles@ %other had supposedly dipped hi% into the waters o4 the
%agical river Sty=, resulting in the protection o4 his body 4ro% all dangers. 2here was, however,
a proble%. Since the baby was held by his heel so that he would not be washed away, the
%agical water had not covered that s%all part o4 his body. Khen Achilles was a grown %an he
appeared to all to be invulnerable to the ene%ies@ weapons. Eowever, in the battle against 2roy,
instructed by one who :new the wea:ness, an ene%y soldier ai%ed his arrow at Achilles@
unprotected heel, the one spot where he could be in5ured. 2he stri:e proved 4atal. Still today, the
phrase DAchilles@ heelD re4ers to the vulnerable part o4 a person, a plan, or an institution at which
i4 attac:ed there is no protection.
2he sa%e principle applies to ruthless dictatorships. 2hey, too, can be conquered, but %ost
quic:ly and with least cost i4 their wea:nesses can be identi4ied and the attac: concentrated on
.eakne&&e& of 'ictator&#ip&
A%ong the wea:nesses o4 dictatorships are the 4ollowing,
1. 2he cooperation o4 a %ultitude o4 people, groups, and institutions needed to operate
the syste% %ay be restricted or withdrawn.
&. 2he require%ents and e44ects o4 the regi%e@s past policies will so%ewhat li%it its
present ability to adopt and i%ple%ent con4licting policies.
3. 2he syste% %ay beco%e routine in its operation, less able to ad5ust quic:ly to new
". >ersonnel and resources already allocated 4or e=isting tas:s will not be easily
available 4or new needs.
1. Subordinates 4ear4ul o4 displeasing their superiors %ay not report accurate or co%plete
in4or%ation needed by the dictators to %a:e decisions.
.. 2he ideology %ay erode, and %yths and sy%bols o4 the syste% %ay beco%e unstable.
/. !4 a strong ideology is present which in4luences one@s view o4 reality, 4ir% adherence
to it %ay cause inattention to actual conditions and needs.
'. Feteriorating e44iciency and co%petency o4 the bureaucracy, or e=cessive controls and
regulations, %ay %a:e the syste%@s policies and operation ine44ective.
9. !nternal institutional con4licts and personal rivalries and hostilities %ay har%, and
even disrupt, the operation o4 the dictatorship.
1#. !ntellectuals and students %ay beco%e restless in response to conditions, restrictions,
doctrinalis%, and repression.
11. 2he general public %ay over ti%e beco%e apathetic, s:eptical, and even hostile to the
1&. Aegional, class, cultural, or national di44erences %ay beco%e acute.
13. 2he power hierarchy o4 the dictatorship is always unstable to so%e degree, and at
ti%es e=tre%ely so. !ndividuals do not only re%ain in the sa%e position in the ran:ing,
but %ay rise or 4all to other ran:s or be re%oved entirely and replaced by new persons.
1". Sections o4 the police or %ilitary 4orces %ay act to achieve their own ob5ectives,
even against the will o4 established dictators, including by coup d@Ltat.
11. !4 the dictatorship is new, ti%e is required 4or it to beco%e well established.
1.. Kith so %any decisions %ade by so 4ew people in the dictatorship, %ista:es o4
5udg%ent, policy, and action are li:ely to occur.
1/. !4 the regi%e see:s to avoid these dangers and decentrali9es controls and decision
%a:ing, its control over the central levers o4 power %ay be 4urther eroded.
Attackin( weakne&&e& of 'ictator&#ip&
Kith :nowledge o4 such inherent wea:nesses, the de%ocratic opposition can see: to
aggravate these DAchilles@ heelsD deliberately in order to alter the syste% drastically or to
2he conclusion is then clear, despite the appearances o4 strength, all dictatorships have
wea:nesses, internal ine44iciencies, personal rivalries, institutional ine44iciencies, and con4licts
between organi9ations and depart%ents. 2hese wea:nesses, over ti%e, tend to %a:e the regi%e
less e44ective and %ore vulnerable to changing conditions and deliberate resistance. 8ot
everything the regi%e sets out to acco%plish will get co%pleted. At ti%es, 4or e=a%ple, even
Eitler@s direct orders were never i%ple%ented because those beneath hi% in the hierarchy
re4used to carry the% out. 2he dictatorial regi%e %ay at ti%es even 4all apart quic:ly, as we
have already observed.
2his does not %ean dictatorships can be destroyed without ris:s and casualties. very
possible course o4 action 4or liberation will involve ris:s and potential su44ering, and will ta:e
ti%e to operate. And, o4 course, no %eans o4 action can ensure rapid success in every situation.
Eowever, types o4 struggle which target the dictatorship@s identi4iable wea:nesses have greater
chance o4 success than those which see: to 4ight the dictatorship where it is clearly strongest.
2he question is how this struggle is to be waged.
!n Chapter 3ne we noted that %ilitary resistance against dictatorships does not stri:e the%
where they are wea:est, but rather where they are strongest. ?y choosing to co%pete in the areas
o4 %ilitary 4orces, supplies o4 a%%unition, weapons technology, and the li:e, resistance
%ove%ents tend to put the%selves at a distinct disadvantage. Fictatorships will al%ost always
be able to %uster superior resources in these areas. 2he dangers o4 relying on 4oreign powers 4or
salvation were also outlined. !n Chapter 2wo we e=a%ined the proble%s o4 relying on
negotiations as a %eans to re%ove dictatorships.
Khat %eans are then available that will o44er the de%ocratic resistance distinct advantages
and will tend to aggravate the identi4ied wea:nesses o4 dictatorshipsJ Khat technique o4 action
will capitali9e on the theory o4 political power discussed in Chapter 2hreeJ 2he alternative o4
choice is political de4iance.
>olitical de4iance has the 4ollowing characteristics,
P !t does not accept that the outco%e will be decided by the %eans o4 4ighting chosen by
P !t is di44icult 4or the regi%e to co%bat.
P !t can uniquely aggravate wea:nesses o4 the dictatorship and can sever its sources o4
P !t can in action be widely dispersed but can also be concentrated on a speci4ic
P !t leads to errors o4 5udg%ent and action by the dictators.
P !t can e44ectively utili9e the population as a whole and the society@s groups and
institutions in the struggle to end the brutal do%ination by the 4ew.
P !t helps to spread the distribution o4 e44ective power in the society, %a:ing the
establish%ent and %aintenance o4 a de%ocratic society %ore possible.
T#e workin(& of non)iolent &tru((le
Ci:e %ilitary capabilities, political de4iance can be e%ployed 4or a variety o4 purposes,
ranging 4ro% e44orts to in4luence the opponents to ta:e di44erent actions, create conditions 4or
peace4ul resolution o4 con4lict, or to disintegrate the opponents@ regi%e. Eowever, political
de4iance operates in quite di44erent ways 4ro% violence. Although both techniques are %eans to
wage struggle, they do so with very di44erent %eans and with di44erent consequences. 2he ways
and results o4 violent con4lict are well :nown. >hysical weapons are used to inti%idate, in5ure,
:ill, and destroy.
8onviolent struggle is a %uch %ore co%ple= and varied %eans o4 struggle than is violence.
!nstead, the struggle is 4ought by psychological, social, econo%ic, and political weapons applied
by the population and the institutions o4 the society. 2hese have been :nown under various
na%es o4 protests, stri:es, noncooperation, boycotts, disa44ection, and people power. As noted
earlier, all govern%ents can rule only as long as they receive replenish%ent o4 the needed
sources o4 their power 4ro% the cooperation, sub%ission, and obedience o4 the population and
the institutions o4 the society. >olitical de4iance, unli:e violence, is uniquely suited to severing
those sources o4 power.
+on)iolent weapon& an' 'i&cipline
2he co%%on error o4 past i%provised political de4iance ca%paigns is the reliance on only
one or two %ethods, such as stri:es and %ass de%onstrations. !n 4act, a %ultitude o4 %ethods
e=ist that allow resistance strategists to concentrate and disperse resistance as required.
About two hundred speci4ic %ethods o4 nonviolent action have been identi4ied, and there are
certainly scores %ore. 2hese %ethods are classi4ied under three broad categories, protest and
persuasion, noncooperation, and intervention. $ethods o4 nonviolent protest and persuasion are
largely sy%bolic de%onstrations, including parades, %arches, and vigils 61" %ethods7.
8oncooperation is divided into three sub0categories, 6a7 social noncooperation 61. %ethods7, 6b7
econo%ic noncooperation, including boycotts 6&. %ethods7 and stri:es 6&3 %ethods7, and ©
political noncooperation 63' %ethods7. 8onviolent intervention, by psychological, physical,
social, econo%ic, or political %eans, such as the 4ast, nonviolent occupation, and parallel
govern%ent 6"1 %ethods7, is the 4inal group. A list o4 19' o4 these %ethods is included as the
Appendi= to this publication.
2he use o4 a considerable nu%ber o4 these %ethods0care4ully chosen, applied persistently
and on a large scale, wielded in the conte=t o4 a wise strategy and appropriate tactics, by trained
civilians0is li:ely to cause any illegiti%ate regi%e severe proble%s. 2his applies to all
!n contrast to %ilitary %eans, the %ethods o4 nonviolent struggle can be 4ocused directly on
the issues at sta:e. *or e=a%ple, since the issue o4 dictatorship is pri%arily political, then
political 4or%s o4 nonviolent struggle would be crucial. 2hese would include denial o4
legiti%acy to the dictators and noncooperation with the their regi%e. 8oncooperation would also
be applied against speci4ic policies. At ti%es stalling and procrastination %ay be quietly and
even secretly practiced, while at other ti%es open disobedience and de4iant public
de%onstrations and stri:es %ay be visible to all.
3n the other hand, i4 the dictatorship is vulnerable to econo%ic pressures or i4 %any o4 the
popular grievances against it are econo%ic, then econo%ic action, such as boycotts or stri:es,
%ay be appropriate resistance %ethods. 2he dictators@ e44orts to e=ploit the econo%ic syste%
%ight be %et with li%ited general stri:es, slow0downs, and re4usal o4 assistance by 6or
disappearance o47 indispensable e=perts. Selective use o4 various types o4 stri:es %ay be
conducted at :ey points in %anu4acturing, in transport, in the supply o4 raw %aterials, and in the
distribution o4 products.
So%e %ethods o4 nonviolent struggle require people to per4or% acts unrelated to their
nor%al lives, such as distributing lea4lets, operating an underground press, going on hunger
stri:e, or sitting down in the streets. 2hese %ethods %ay be di44icult 4or so%e people to
underta:e e=cept in very e=tre%e situations.
3ther %ethods o4 nonviolent struggle instead require people to continue appro=i%ately their
nor%al lives, though in so%ewhat di44erent ways. *or e=a%ple, people %ay report 4or wor:,
instead o4 stri:ing, but then deliberately wor: %ore slowly or ine44iciently than usual.
D$ista:esD %ay be consciously %ade %ore 4requently. 3ne %ay beco%e Dsic:D and DunableD to
wor: at certain ti%es. 3r, one %ay si%ply re4use to wor:. 3ne %ight go to religious services
when the act e=presses not only religious but also political convictions. 3ne %ay act to protect
children 4ro% the attac:ers@ propaganda by education at ho%e or in illegal classes. 3ne %ight
re4use to 5oin certain Dreco%%endedD or required organi9ations that one would not have 5oined
4reely in earlier ti%es. 2he si%ilarity o4 such types o4 action to people@s usual activities and the
li%ited degree o4 departure 4ro% their nor%al lives %ay %a:e participation in the national
liberation struggle %uch easier 4or %any people.
Since nonviolent struggle and violence operate in 4unda%entally di44erent ways, even li%ited
resistance violence during a political de4iance ca%paign will be counterproductive 4or it will
shi4t the struggle to one in which the dictators have an overwhel%ing advantage 6%ilitary
war4are7. 8onviolent discipline is a :ey to success and %ust be %aintained despite provocations
and brutalities by the dictators and their agents.
2he %aintenance o4 nonviolent discipline against violent opponents 4acilitates the wor:ings
o4 the 4our %echanis%s o4 change in nonviolent struggle 6discussed below7. 8onviolent
discipline is also e=tre%ely i%portant in the process o4 political 5iu05itsu. !n this process the star:
brutality o4 the regi%e against the clearly nonviolent actionists politically rebounds against the
dictators@ position, causing dissention in their own ran:s as well as 4o%enting support 4or the
resisters a%ong the general population, the regi%e@s usual supporters, and third parties.
!n so%e cases, however, li%ited violence against the dictatorship %ay be inevitable.
*rustration and hatred o4 the regi%e %ay e=plode into violence. 3r, certain groups %ay be
unwilling to abandon violent %eans even though they recogni9e the i%portant role o4 nonviolent
struggle. !n these cases, political de4iance does not need to be abandoned. Eowever, it will be
necessary to separate the violent action as 4ar as possible 4ro% the nonviolent action. 2his should
be done in ter%s o4 geography, population groups, ti%ing, and issues. 3therwise the violence
could have a disastrous e44ect on the potentially %uch %ore power4ul and success4ul use o4
2he historical record indicates that while casualties in dead and wounded %ust be e=pected
in political de4iance, they will be 4ar 4ewer than the casualties in %ilitary war4are. *urther%ore,
this type o4 struggle does not contribute to the endless cycle o4 :illing and brutality.
8onviolent struggle both requires and tends to produce a loss 6or greater control7 o4 4ear o4
the govern%ent and its violent repression. 2hat abandon%ent or control o4 4ear is a :ey ele%ent
in destroying the power o4 the dictators over the general population.
Openne&&$ &ecrec!$ an' #i(# &tan'ar'&
Secrecy, deception, and underground conspiracy pose very di44icult proble%s 4or a
%ove%ent using nonviolent action. !t is o4ten i%possible to :eep the political police and
intelligence agents 4ro% learning about intentions and plans. *ro% the perspective o4 the
%ove%ent, secrecy is not only rooted in 4ear but contributes to 4ear, which da%pens the spirit o4
resistance and reduces the nu%ber o4 people who can participate in a given action. !t also can
contribute to suspicions and accusations, o4ten un5usti4ied, within the %ove%ent, concerning
who is an in4or%er or agent 4or the opponents. Secrecy %ay also a44ect the ability o4 a
%ove%ent to re%ain nonviolent. !n contrast, openness regarding intentions and plans will not
only have the opposite e44ects, but will contribute to an i%age that the resistance %ove%ent is in
4act e=tre%ely power4ul. 2he proble% is o4 course %ore co%ple= than this suggests, and there
are signi4icant aspects o4 resistance activities which %ay require secrecy. A well0in4or%ed
assess%ent will be required by those :nowledgeable about both the dyna%ics o4 nonviolent
struggle and also the dictatorship@s %eans o4 surveillance in the speci4ic situation.
2he editing, printing, and distribution o4 underground publications, the use o4 illegal radio
broadcasts 4ro% within the country, and the gathering o4 intelligence about the operations o4 the
dictatorship are a%ong the special li%ited types o4 activities where a high degree o4 secrecy will
2he %aintenance o4 high standards o4 behavior in nonviolent action is necessary at all stages
o4 the con4lict. Such 4actors as 4earlessness and %aintaining nonviolent discipline are always
required. !t is i%portant to re%e%ber that large nu%bers o4 people %ay 4requently be necessary
to e44ect particular changes. Eowever, such nu%bers can be obtained as reliable participants
only by %aintaining the high standards o4 the %ove%ent.
S#iftin( power relation&#ip&
Strategists need to re%e%ber that the con4lict applying political de4iance is a constantly
changing 4ield o4 struggle with continuing interplay o4 %oves and counter%oves. 8othing is
static. >ower relationships, both absolute and relative, are sub5ect to constant and rapid changes.
2his is %ade possible by the resisters continuing their nonviolent persistence despite repression.
2he variations in the respective power o4 the contending sides in this type o4 con4lict
situation are li:ely to be %ore e=tre%e than in violent con4licts, to ta:e place %ore quic:ly, and
to have %ore diverse and politically signi4icant consequences. Fue to these variations, speci4ic
actions by the resisters are li:ely to have consequences 4ar beyond the particular ti%e and place
in which they occur. 2hese e44ects will rebound to strengthen or wea:en one group or another.
!n addition, the nonviolent group %ay, by its actions e=ert in4luence over the increase or
decrease in the relative strength o4 the opponent group to a 4ar greater degree than occurs in
%ilitary con4licts. *or e=a%ple, disciplined courageous nonviolent resistance in 4ace o4 the
dictators@ brutalities %ay induce unease, disa44ection, unreliability, and in e=tre%e situations
even %utiny a%ong the dictators@ own soldiers and population. 2his resistance %ay also result in
increased international conde%nation o4 the dictatorship. !n addition, s:ill4ul, disciplined, and
persistent use o4 political de4iance %ay result in %ore and %ore participation in the resistance by
people who nor%ally would give their tacit support to the dictators or generally re%ain neutral
in the con4lict.
Four mec#ani&m& of c#an(e
8onviolent struggle produces change in 4our ways. 2he 4irst %echanis% is the least li:ely,
though it has occurred. Khen %e%bers o4 the opponent group are e%otionally %oved by the
su44ering o4 repression i%posed on courageous nonviolent resisters or are rationally persuaded
that the resisters@ cause is 5ust, they %ay co%e to accept the resisters@ ai%s. 2his %echanis% is
called conversion. 2hough cases o4 conversion in nonviolent action do so%eti%es happen, they
are rare, and in %ost con4licts this does not occur at all or at least not on a signi4icant scale.
*ar %ore o4ten, nonviolent struggle operates by changing the con4lict situation and the
society so that the opponents si%ply cannot do as they li:e. !t is this change which produces the
other three %echanis%s, acco%%odation, nonviolent coercion, and disintegration. Khich o4
these occurs depends on the degree to which the relative and absolute power relations are shi4ted
in 4avor o4 the de%ocrats.
!4 the issues are not 4unda%ental ones, the de%ands o4 the opposition in a li%ited ca%paign
are not considered threatening, and the contest o4 4orces has altered the power relationships to
so%e degree, the i%%ediate con4lict %ay be ended by reaching an agree%ent, a splitting o4
di44erences or co%pro%ise. 2his %echanis% is called acco%%odation. $any stri:es are settled
in this %anner, 4or e=a%ple, with both sides attaining so%e o4 their ob5ectives but neither
achieving all it wanted. A govern%ent %ay perceive such a settle%ent to have so%e positive
bene4its, such as de4using tension, creating an i%pression o4 D4airness,D or polishing the
international i%age o4 the regi%e. !t is i%portant, there4ore, that great care be e=ercised in
selecting the issues on which a settle%ent by acco%%odation is acceptable. A struggle to bring
down a dictatorship is not one o4 these.
8onviolent struggle can be %uch %ore power4ul than indicated by the %echanis%s o4
conversion or acco%%odation. $ass noncooperation and de4iance can so change social and
political situations, especially power relationships, that the dictators@ ability to control the
econo%ic, social, and political processes o4 govern%ent and the society is in 4act ta:en away.
2he opponents@ %ilitary 4orces %ay beco%e so unreliable that they no longer si%ply obey orders
to repress resisters. Although the opponents@ leaders re%ain in their positions, and adhere to their
original goals, their ability to act e44ectively has been ta:en away 4ro% the%. 2hat is called
!n so%e e=tre%e situations, the conditions producing nonviolent coercion are carried still
4urther. 2he opponents@ leadership in 4act loses all ability to act and their own structure o4 power
collapses. 2he resisters@ sel40direction, noncooperation, and de4iance beco%e so co%plete that
the opponents now lac: even a se%blance o4 control over the%. 2he opponents@ bureaucracy
re4uses to obey its own leadership. 2he opponents@ troops and police %utiny. 2he opponents@
usual supporters or population repudiate their 4or%er leadership, denying that they have any
right to rule at all. Eence, their 4or%er assistance and obedience 4alls away. 2he 4ourth
%echanis% o4 change, disintegration o4 the opponents@ syste%, is so co%plete that they do not
even have su44icient power to surrender. 2he regi%e si%ply 4alls to pieces.
!n planning liberation strategies, these 4our %echanis%s should be :ept in %ind. 2hey
so%eti%es operate essentially by chance. Eowever, the selection o4 one or %ore o4 these as the
intended %echanis% o4 change in a con4lict will %a:e it possible to 4or%ulate speci4ic and
%utually rein4orcing strategies. Khich %echanis% 6or %echanis%s7 to select will depend on
nu%erous 4actors, including the absolute and relative power o4 the contending groups and the
attitudes and ob5ectives o4 the nonviolent struggle group.
Democrati1in( effect& of political 'efiance
!n contrast to the centrali9ing e44ects o4 violent sanctions, use o4 the technique o4 nonviolent
struggle contributes to de%ocrati9ing the political society in several ways.
3ne part o4 the de%ocrati9ing e44ect is negative. 2hat is, in contrast to %ilitary %eans, this
technique does not provide a %eans o4 repression under co%%and o4 a ruling elite which can be
turned against the population to establish or %aintain a dictatorship. Ceaders o4 a political
de4iance %ove%ent can e=ert in4luence and apply pressures on their 4ollowers, but they cannot
i%prison or e=ecute the% when they dissent or choose other leaders.
Another part o4 the de%ocrati9ing e44ect is positive. 2hat is, nonviolent struggle provides the
population with %eans o4 resistance which can be used to achieve and de4end their liberties
against e=isting or would0be dictators. ?elow are several o4 the positive de%ocrati9ing e44ects
nonviolent struggle %ay have,
• =perience in applying nonviolent struggle %ay result in the population being %ore
sel40con4ident in challenging the regi%e@s threats and capacity 4or violent repression.
• 8onviolent struggle provides the %eans o4 noncooperation and de4iance by which the
population can resist unde%ocratic controls over the% by any dictatorial group.
• 8onviolent struggle can be used to assert the practice o4 de%ocratic 4reedo%s, such
as 4ree speech, 4ree press, independent organi9ations, and 4ree asse%bly, in 4ace o4
• 8onviolent struggle contributes strongly to the survival, rebirth, and strengthening o4
the independent groups and institutions o4 the society, as previously discussed. 2hese are
i%portant 4or de%ocracy because o4 their capacity to %obili9e the power capacity o4 the
population and to i%pose li%its on the e44ective power o4 any would0be dictators.
• 8onviolent struggle provides %eans by which the population can wield power
against repressive police and %ilitary action by a dictatorial govern%ent.
• 8onviolent struggle provides %ethods by which the population and the independent
institutions can in the interests o4 de%ocracy restrict or sever the sources o4 power 4or
the ruling elite, thereby threatening its capacity to continue its do%ination.
Comple0it! of non)iolent &tru((le
As we have seen 4ro% this discussion, nonviolent struggle is a co%ple= technique o4 social
action, involving a %ultitude o4 %ethods, a range o4 %echanis%s o4 change, and speci4ic
behavioral require%ents. 2o be e44ective, especially against a dictatorship, political de4iance
requires care4ul planning and preparation. >rospective participants will need to understand what
is required o4 the%. Aesources will need to have been %ade available. And strategists will need
to have analy9ed how nonviolent struggle can be %ost e44ectively applied. Ke now turn our
attention to this latter crucial ele%ent, the need 4or strategic planning.
T#e +ee' For Strate(ic Plannin(
>olitical de4iance ca%paigns against dictatorships %ay begin in a variety o4 ways. !n the past
these struggles have al%ost always been unplanned and essentially accidental. Speci4ic
grievances which have triggered past initial actions have varied widely, but o4ten included new
brutalities, the arrest or :illing o4 a highly regarded person, a new repressive policy or order,
4ood shortages, disrespect toward religious belie4s, or an anniversary o4 an i%portant related
event. So%eti%es, a particular act by the dictatorship has so enraged the populace that they have
launched into action without having any idea how the rising %ight end. At other ti%es a
courageous individual or a s%all group %ay have ta:en action which aroused support. A speci4ic
grievance %ay be recogni9ed by others as si%ilar to wrongs they had e=perienced and they, too,
%ay thus 5oin the struggle. So%eti%es, a speci4ic call 4or resistance 4ro% a s%all group or
individual %ay %eet an une=pectedly large response.
Khile spontaneity has so%e positive qualities, it has o4ten had disadvantages. *requently,
the de%ocratic resisters have not anticipated the brutalities o4 the dictatorship, so that they
su44ered gravely and the resistance has collapsed. At ti%es the lac: o4 planning by de%ocrats has
le4t crucial decisions to chance, with disastrous results. ven when the oppressive syste% was
brought down, lac: o4 planning on how to handle the transition to a de%ocratic syste% has
contributed to the e%ergence o4 a new dictatorship.
!n the 4uture, unplanned popular action will undoubtedly play signi4icant roles in risings
against dictatorships. Eowever, it is now possible to calculate the %ost e44ective ways to bring
down a dictatorship, to assess when the political situation and popular %ood are ripe, and to
choose how to initiate a ca%paign. Bery care4ul thought based on a realistic assess%ent o4 the
situation and the capabilities o4 the populace is required in order to select e44ective ways to
achieve 4reedo% under such circu%stances.
!4 one wishes to acco%plish so%ething, it is wise to plan how to do it. 2he %ore i%portant
the goal, or the graver the consequences o4 4ailure, the %ore i%portant planning beco%es.
Strategic planning increases the li:elihood that all available resources will be %obili9ed and
e%ployed %ost e44ectively. 2his is especially true 4or a de%ocratic %ove%ent0which has li%ited
%aterial resources and whose supporters will be in danger0that is trying to bring down a
power4ul dictatorship. !n contrast, the dictatorship usually will have access to vast %aterial
resources, organi9ational strength, and ability to perpetrate brutalities.
D2o plan a strategyD here %eans to calculate a course o4 action that will %a:e it %ore li:ely
to get 4ro% the present to the desired 4uture situation. !n ter%s o4 this discussion, it %eans 4ro%
a dictatorship to a 4uture de%ocratic syste%. A plan to achieve that ob5ective will usually consist
o4 a phased series o4 ca%paigns and other organi9ed activities designed to strengthen the
oppressed population and society and to wea:en the dictatorship. 8ote here that the ob5ective is
not si%ply to destroy the current dictatorship but to e%place a de%ocratic syste%. A grand
strategy which li%its its ob5ective to %erely destroying the incu%bent dictatorship runs a great
ris: o4 producing another tyrant.
Hur'le& to plannin(
So%e e=ponents o4 4reedo% in various parts o4 the world do not bring their 4ull capacities to
bear on the proble% o4 how to achieve liberation. 3nly rarely do these advocates 4ully recogni9e
the e=tre%e i%portance o4 care4ul strategic planning be4ore they act. Consequently, this is
al%ost never done.
Khy is it that the people who have the vision o4 bringing political 4reedo% to their people
should so rarely prepare a co%prehensive strategic plan to achieve that goalJ (n4ortunately,
o4ten %ost people in de%ocratic opposition groups do not understand the need 4or strategic
planning or are not accusto%ed or trained to thin: strategically. 2his is a di44icult tas:.
Constantly harassed by the dictatorship, and overwhel%ed by i%%ediate responsibilities,
resistance leaders o4ten do not have the sa4ety or ti%e to develop strategic thin:ing s:ills.
!nstead, it is a co%%on pattern si%ply to react to the initiatives o4 the dictatorship. 2he
opposition is then always on the de4ensive, see:ing to %aintain li%ited liberties or bastions o4
4reedo%, at best slowing the advance o4 the dictatorial controls or causing certain proble%s 4or
the regi%e@s new policies.
So%e individuals and groups, o4 course, %ay not see the need 4or broad long ter% planning
o4 a liberation %ove%ent. !nstead, they %ay naQvely thin: that i4 they si%ply espouse their goal
strongly, 4ir%ly, and long enough, it will so%ehow co%e to pass. 3thers assu%e that i4 they
si%ply live and witness according to their principles and ideals in 4ace o4 di44iculties, they are
doing all they can to i%ple%ent the%. 2he espousal o4 hu%ane goals and loyalty to ideals are
ad%irable, but are grossly inadequate to end a dictatorship and to achieve 4reedo%.
3ther opponents o4 dictatorship %ay naQvely thin: that i4 only they use enough violence,
4reedo% will co%e. ?ut, as noted earlier violence is no guarantor o4 success. !nstead o4
liberation, it can lead to de4eat, %assive tragedy, or both. !n %ost situations the dictatorship is
best equipped 4or violent struggle and the %ilitary realities rarely, i4 ever, 4avor the de%ocrats.
2here are also activists who base their actions on what they D4eelD they should do. 2hese
approaches are, however, not only egocentric but they o44er no guidance 4or developing a grand
strategy o4 liberation.
Action based on a Dbright ideaD which so%eone has had is also li%ited. Khat is needed
instead is action based on care4ul calculation o4 the Dne=t stepsD required to topple the
dictatorship. Kithout strategic analysis, resistance leaders will o4ten not :now what that Dne=t
stepD should be, 4or they have not thought care4ully about the successive speci4ic steps required
to achieve victory. Creativity and bright ideas are very i%portant, but they need to be utili9ed in
order to advance the strategic situation o4 the de%ocratic 4orces.
Acutely aware o4 the %ultitude o4 actions which could be ta:en against the dictatorship and
unable to deter%ine where to begin, so%e people counsel DFo everything si%ultaneously.D 2hat
%ight be help4ul but, o4 course, is i%possible, especially 4or relatively wea: %ove%ents.
*urther%ore, such an approach provides no guidance on where to begin, on where to
concentrate e44orts, and how to use o4ten li%ited resources.
3ther persons and groups %ay see the need 4or so%e planning, but are only able to thin:
about it on a short0ter% or tactical basis. 2hey %ay not see that longer0ter% planning is
necessary or possible. 2hey %ay at ti%es be unable to thin: and analy9e in strategic ter%s,
allowing the%selves to be repeatedly distracted by relatively s%all issues, o4ten responding to
the opponents@ actions rather than sei9ing the initiative 4or the de%ocratic resistance. Fevoting
so %uch energy to short0ter% activities, these leaders o4ten 4ail to e=plore several alternative
courses o4 action which could guide the overall e44orts so that the goal is constantly approached.
!t is also 5ust possible that so%e de%ocratic %ove%ents do not plan a co%prehensive
strategy to bring down the dictatorship, concentrating instead only on i%%ediate issues, 4or
another very good reason. !nside the%selves, they do not really believe that the dictatorship can
be ended by their own e44orts. 2here4ore, planning how to do so is considered to be a ro%antic
waste o4 ti%e or an e=ercise in 4utility. >eople struggling 4or 4reedo% against established brutal
dictatorships are o4ten con4ronted by such i%%ense %ilitary and police power that it appears the
dictators can acco%plish whatever they will. Cac:ing real hope, these people will, nevertheless,
de4y the dictatorship 4or reasons o4 integrity and perhaps history. 2hough they will never ad%it
it, perhaps never consciously recogni9e it, their actions appear to the%selves as hopeless. Eence,
4or the%, long0ter% co%prehensive strategic planning has no %erit.
2he result o4 such 4ailures to plan strategically is o4ten drastic, one@s strength is dissipated,
one@s actions are ine44ective, energy is wasted on %inor issues, advantages are not utili9ed, and
sacri4ices are 4or naught. !4 de%ocrats do not plan strategically they are li:ely to 4ail to achieve
their ob5ectives. A poorly planned, odd %i=ture o4 activities will not %ove a %a5or resistance
e44ort 4orward. !nstead, it will %ore li:ely allow the dictatorship to increase its controls and
(n4ortunately, because co%prehensive strategic plans 4or liberation are rarely i4 ever
developed, dictatorships appear %uch %ore durable than they in 4act are. 2hey survive 4or years
or decades longer than need be the case.
Four important term& in &trate(ic plannin(
!n order to help us to thin: strategically, clarity about the %eanings o4 4our basic ter%s is
Grand strategy is the conception which serves to coordinate and direct the use o4 all
appropriate and available resources 6econo%ic, hu%an, %oral, political, organi9ational, etc.7 o4 a
group see:ing to attain its ob5ectives in a con4lict.
Grand strategy, by 4ocusing pri%ary attention on the group@s ob5ectives and resources in the
con4lict, deter%ines the %ost appropriate technique o4 action 6such as conventional %ilitary
war4are or nonviolent struggle7 to be e%ployed in the con4lict. !n planning a grand strategy
resistance leaders %ust evaluate and plan which pressures and in4luences are to be brought to
bear upon the opponents. *urther, grand strategy will include decisions on the appropriate
conditions and ti%ing under which initial and subsequent resistance ca%paigns will be launched.
Grand strategy sets the basic 4ra%ewor: 4or the selection o4 %ore li%ited strategies 4or
waging the struggle. Grand strategy also deter%ines the allocation o4 general tas:s to particular
groups and the distribution o4 resources to the% 4or use in the struggle.
Strategy is the conception o4 how best to achieve particular ob5ectives in a con4lict,
operating within the scope o4 the chosen grand strategy. Strategy is concerned with whether,
when, and how to 4ight, as well as how to achieve %a=i%u% e44ectiveness in struggling 4or
certain ends. A strategy has been co%pared to the artist@s concept, while a strategic plan is the
Strategy %ay also include e44orts to develop a strategic situation which is so advantageous
that the opponents are able to 4oresee that open con4lict is li:ely to bring their certain de4eat, and
there4ore capitulate without an open struggle. 3r, i4 not, the i%proved strategic situation will
%a:e success o4 the challengers certain in struggle. Strategy also involves how to act to %a:e
good use o4 successes when gained.
Applied to the course o4 the struggle itsel4, the strategic plan is the basic idea o4 how a
ca%paign shall develop, and how its separate co%ponents shall be 4itted together to contribute
%ost advantageously to achieve its ob5ectives. !t involves the s:ill4ul deploy%ent o4 particular
action groups in s%aller operations. >lanning 4or a wise strategy %ust ta:e into consideration the
require%ents 4or success in the operation o4 the chosen technique o4 struggle. Fi44erent
techniques will have di44erent require%ents. 34 course, 5ust 4ul4illing Drequire%entsD is not
su44icient to ensure success. Additional 4actors %ay also be needed.
!n devising strategies, the de%ocrats %ust clearly de4ine their ob5ectives and deter%ine how
to %easure the e44ectiveness o4 e44orts to achieve the%. 2his de4inition and analysis per%its the
strategist to identi4y the precise require%ents 4or securing each selected ob5ective. 2his need 4or
clarity and de4inition applies equally to tactical planning.
2actics and %ethods o4 action are used to i%ple%ent the strategy. 2actics relate to the s:ill4ul
use o4 one@s 4orces to the best advantage in a li%ited situation. A tactic is a li%ited action,
e%ployed to achieve a restricted ob5ective. 2he choice o4 tactics is governed by the conception
o4 how best in a restricted phase o4 a con4lict to utili9e the available %eans o4 4ighting to
i%ple%ent the strategy. 2o be %ost e44ective, tactics and %ethods %ust be chosen and applied
with constant attention to the achieve%ent o4 strategic ob5ectives. 2actical gains that do not
rein4orce the attain%ent o4 strategic ob5ectives %ay in the end turn out to be wasted energy.
A tactic is thus concerned with a li%ited course o4 action which 4its within the broad
strategy, 5ust as a strategy 4its within the grand strategy. 2actics are always concerned with
4ighting, whereas strategy includes wider considerations. A particular tactic can only be
understood as part o4 the overall strategy o4 a battle or a ca%paign. 2actics are applied 4or
shorter periods o4 ti%e than strategies, or in s%aller areas 6geographical, institutional, etc.7, or
by a %ore li%ited nu%ber o4 people, or 4or %ore li%ited ob5ectives. !n nonviolent action the
distinction between a tactical ob5ective and a strategic ob5ective %ay be partly indicated by
whether the chosen ob5ective o4 the action is %inor or %a5or.
344ensive tactical engage%ents are selected to support attain%ent o4 strategic ob5ectives.
2actical engage%ents are the tools o4 the strategist in creating conditions 4avorable 4or
delivering decisive attac:s against an opponent. !t is %ost i%portant, there4ore, that those given
responsibility 4or planning and e=ecuting tactical operations be s:illed in assessing the situation,
and selecting the %ost appropriate %ethods 4or it. 2hose e=pected to participate %ust be trained
in the use o4 the chosen technique and the speci4ic %ethods.
$ethod re4ers to the speci4ic weapons or %eans o4 action. Kithin the technique o4
nonviolent struggle, these include the do9ens o4 particular 4or%s o4 action 6such as the %any
:inds o4 stri:es, boycotts, political noncooperation, and the li:e7 cited in Chapter *ive. 6See also
2he develop%ent o4 a responsible and e44ective strategic plan 4or a nonviolent struggle
depends upon the care4ul 4or%ulation and selection o4 the grand strategy, strategies, tactics, and
2he %ain lesson o4 this discussion is that a calculated use o4 one@s intellect is required in
care4ul strategic planning 4or liberation 4ro% a dictatorship. *ailure to plan intelligently can
contribute to disasters, while the e44ective use o4 one@s intellectual capacities can chart a strategic
course that will 5udiciously utili9e one@s available resources to %ove the society toward the goal
o4 liberty and de%ocracy.
!n order to increase the chances 4or success, resistance leaders will need to 4or%ulate a
co%prehensive plan o4 action capable o4 strengthening the su44ering people, wea:ening and then
destroying the dictatorship, and building a durable de%ocracy. 2o achieve such a plan o4 action,
a care4ul assess%ent o4 the situation and o4 the options 4or e44ective action is needed. 3ut o4
such a care4ul analysis both a grand strategy and the speci4ic ca%paign strategies 4or achieving
4reedo% can be developed. 2hough related, the develop%ent o4 grand strategy and ca%paign
strategies are two separate processes. 3nly a4ter the grand strategy has been developed can the
speci4ic ca%paign strategies be 4ully developed. Ca%paign strategies will need to be designed to
achieve and rein4orce the grand strategic ob5ectives.
2he develop%ent o4 resistance strategy requires attention to %any questions and tas:s. Eere
we shall identi4y so%e o4 the i%portant 4actors which need to be considered, both at the grand
strategic level and the level o4 ca%paign strategy. All strategic planning, however, requires that
the resistance planners have a pro4ound understanding o4 the entire con4lict situation, including
attention to physical, historical, govern%ental, %ilitary, cultural, social, political, psychological,
econo%ic, and international 4actors. Strategies can only be developed in the conte=t o4 the
particular struggle and its bac:ground.
34 pri%ary i%portance, de%ocratic leaders and strategic planners will want to assess the
ob5ectives and i%portance o4 the cause. Are the ob5ectives worth a %a5or struggle, and whyJ !t is
critical to deter%ine the real ob5ective o4 the struggle. Ke have argued here that overthrow o4 the
dictatorship or re%oval o4 the present dictators is not enough. 2he ob5ective in these con4licts
needs to be the establish%ent o4 a 4ree society with a de%ocratic syste% o4 govern%ent. Clarity
on this point will in4luence the develop%ent o4 a grand strategy and o4 the ensuing speci4ic
>articularly, strategists will need to answer %any 4unda%ental questions, such as these,
• Khat are the %ain obstacles to achieving 4reedo%J
• Khat 4actors will 4acilitate achieving 4reedo%J
• Khat are the %ain strengths o4 the dictatorshipJ
• Khat are the various wea:nesses o4 the dictatorshipJ
• 2o what degree are the sources o4 power 4or the dictatorship vulnerableJ
• Khat are the strengths o4 the de%ocratic 4orces and the general populationJ
• Khat are the wea:nesses o4 the de%ocratic 4orces and the general population and
how can they be correctedJ
• Khat is the status o4 third parties, not i%%ediately involved in the con4lict, who
already assist or %ight assist, either the dictatorship or the de%ocratic %ove%ent, and i4
so in what waysJ
C#oice of mean&
At the grand strategic level, planners will need to choose the %ain %eans o4 struggle to be
e%ployed in the co%ing con4lict. 2he %erits and li%itations o4 several alternative techniques o4
struggle will need to be evaluated, such as conventional %ilitary war4are, guerrilla war4are,
political de4iance, and others.
!n %a:ing this choice the strategists will need to consider such questions as the 4ollowing, !s
the chosen type o4 struggle within the capacities o4 the de%ocratsJ Foes the chosen technique
utili9e strengths o4 the do%inated populationJ Foes this technique target the wea:nesses o4 the
dictatorship, or does it stri:e at its strongest pointsJ Fo the %eans help the de%ocrats beco%e
%ore sel40reliant, or do they require dependency on third parties or e=ternal suppliersJ Khat is
the record o4 the use o4 the chosen %eans in bringing down dictatorshipsJ Fo they increase or
li%it the casualties and destruction which %ay be incurred in the co%ing con4lictJ Assu%ing
success in ending the dictatorship, what e44ect would the selected %eans have on the type o4
govern%ent that would arise 4ro% the struggleJ 2he types o4 action deter%ined to be
counterproductive will need to be e=cluded in the developed grand strategy.
!n previous chapters we have argued that political de4iance o44ers signi4icant co%parative
advantages to other techniques o4 struggle. Strategists will need to e=a%ine their particular
con4lict situation and deter%ine whether political de4iance provides a44ir%ative answers the
Plannin( for 'emocrac!
!t should be re%e%bered that against a dictatorship the ob5ective o4 the grand strategy is not
si%ply to bring down the dictators but to install a de%ocratic syste% and %a:e the rise o4 a new
dictatorship i%possible. 2o acco%plish these ob5ectives, the chosen %eans o4 struggle will need
to contribute to a change in the distribution o4 e44ective power in the society. (nder the
dictatorship the population and civil institutions o4 the society have been too wea:, and the
govern%ent too strong. Kithout a change in this i%balance, a new set o4 rulers can, i4 they wish,
be 5ust as dictatorial as the old ones. A Dpalace revolutionD or a coup d@Ltat there4ore is not
>olitical de4iance contributes to a %ore equitable distribution o4 e44ective power through the
%obili9ation o4 the society against the dictatorship, as was discussed in Chapter *ive. 2his
process occurs in several ways. 2he develop%ent o4 a nonviolent struggle capacity %eans that
the dictatorship@s capacity 4or violent repression no longer as easily produces inti%idation and
sub%ission a%ong the population. 2he population will have at its disposal power4ul %eans to
counter and at ti%es bloc: the e=ertion o4 the dictators@ power. *urther, the %obili9ation o4
popular power through political de4iance will strengthen the independent institutions o4 the
society. 2he e=perience o4 once e=ercising e44ective power is not quic:ly 4orgot. 2he :nowledge
and s:ill gained in struggle will %a:e the population less li:ely to be easily do%inated by
would0be dictators. 2his shi4t in power relationships would ulti%ately %a:e establish%ent o4 a
durable de%ocratic society %uch %ore li:ely.
As part o4 the preparation o4 a grand strategy it is necessary to assess what will be the
relative roles o4 internal resistance and e=ternal pressures 4or disintegrating the dictatorship. !n
this analysis we have argued that the %ain 4orce o4 the struggle %ust be borne 4ro% inside the
country itsel4. 2o the degree that international assistance co%es at all, it will be sti%ulated by the
As a %odest supple%ent, e44orts can be %ade to %obili9e world public opinion against the
dictatorship, on hu%anitarian, %oral, and religious grounds. 44orts can be ta:en to obtain
diplo%atic, political, and econo%ic sanctions by govern%ents and international organi9ations
against the dictatorship. 2hese %ay ta:e the 4or%s o4 econo%ic and %ilitary weapons
e%bargoes, reduction in levels o4 diplo%atic recognition or the brea:ing o4 diplo%atic ties,
banning o4 econo%ic assistance and prohibition o4 invest%ents in the dictatorial country,
e=pulsion o4 the dictatorial govern%ent 4ro% various international organi9ations and 4ro%
(nited 8ations bodies. *urther, international assistance, such as the provision o4 4inancial and
co%%unications support, can also be provided directly to the de%ocratic 4orces.
Formulatin( a (ran' &trate(!
*ollowing an assess%ent o4 the situation, the choice o4 %eans, and a deter%ination o4 the
role o4 e=ternal assistance, planners o4 the grand strategy will need to s:etch in broad stro:es
how the con4lict %ight best be conducted. 2his broad plan would stretch 4ro% the present to the
4uture liberation and the institution o4 a de%ocratic syste%. !n 4or%ulating a grand strategy these
planners will need to as: the%selves a variety o4 questions. 2he 4ollowing questions pose 6in a
%ore speci4ic way than earlier7 the types o4 considerations required in devising a grand strategy
4or a political de4iance struggle,
Khat is the broadest conception o4 how the dictatorship is to be ended and de%ocracy
Eow %ight the long0ter% struggle best beginJ Eow can the oppressed population %uster
su44icient sel40con4idence and strength to act to challenge the dictatorship, even initially in a
li%ited wayJ Eow could the population@s capacity to apply noncooperation and de4iance be
increased with ti%e and e=perienceJ Khat %ight be the ob5ectives o4 a series o4 li%ited
ca%paigns to regain de%ocratic control over the society and li%it the dictatorshipJ
Are there independent institutions that have survived the dictatorship which %ight be used in
the struggle to establish 4reedo%J Khat institutions o4 the society can be regained 4ro% the
dictators@ control, or what institutions need to be newly created by the de%ocrats to %eet their
needs and establish spheres o4 de%ocracy even while the dictatorship continuesJ
Eow can organi9ational strength in the resistance be developedJ Eow can participants be
trainedJ Khat resources 64inances, equip%ent, etc.7 will be required throughout the struggleJ
Khat types o4 sy%bolis% can be %ost e44ective in %obili9ing the populationJ
?y what :inds o4 action and in what stages could the sources o4 power o4 the dictators be
incre%entally wea:ened and severedJ Eow can the resisting population si%ultaneously persist
in its de4iance and also %aintain the necessary nonviolent disciplineJ Eow can the society
continue to %eet its basic needs during the course o4 the struggleJ Eow can social order be
%aintained in the %idst o4 the con4lictJ As victory approaches, how can the de%ocratic
resistance continue to build the institutional base o4 the post0dictatorship society to %a:e the
transition as s%ooth as possibleJ
!t %ust be re%e%bered that no single blueprint e=ists or can be created to plan strategy 4or
every liberation %ove%ent against dictatorships. ach struggle to bring down a dictatorship and
establish a de%ocratic syste% will be so%ewhat di44erent. 8o two situations will be e=actly
ali:e, each dictatorship will have so%e individual characteristics, and the capacities o4 the
4reedo%0see:ing population will vary. >lanners o4 grand strategy 4or a political de4iance struggle
will require a pro4ound understanding not only o4 their speci4ic con4lict situation, but o4 their
chosen %eans o4 struggle as well.6137
Khen the grand strategy o4 the struggle has been care4ully planned there are sound reasons
4or %a:ing it widely :nown. 2he large nu%bers o4 people required to participate %ay be %ore
willing and able to act i4 they understand the general conception, as well as speci4ic instructions.
2his :nowledge could potentially have a very positive e44ect on their %orale, their willingness to
participate, and to act appropriately. 2he general outlines o4 the grand strategy would beco%e
:nown to the dictators in any case and :nowledge o4 its 4eatures potentially could lead the% to
be less brutal in their repression, :nowing that it could rebound politically against the%selves.
Awareness o4 the special characteristics o4 the grand strategy could potentially also contribute to
dissension and de4ections 4ro% the dictators@ own ca%p.
3nce a grand strategic plan 4or bringing down the dictatorship and establishing a de%ocratic
syste% has been adopted, it is i%portant 4or the pro0de%ocracy groups to persist in applying it.
3nly in very rare circu%stances should the struggle depart 4ro% the initial grand strategy. Khen
there is abundant evidence that the chosen grand strategy was %isconceived, or that the
circu%stances o4 the struggle have 4unda%entally changed, planners %ay need to alter the grand
strategy. ven then, this should be done only a4ter a basic reassess%ent has been %ade and a
new %ore adequate grand strategic plan has been developed and adopted.
Plannin( campai(n &trate(ie&
Eowever wise and pro%ising the developed grand strategy to end the dictatorship and to
institute de%ocracy %ay be, a grand strategy does not i%ple%ent itsel4. >articular strategies will
need to be developed to guide the %a5or ca%paigns ai%ed at under%ining the dictators@ power.
2hese strategies, in turn, will incorporate and guide a range o4 tactical engage%ents that will ai%
to stri:e decisive blows against the dictators@ regi%e. 2he tactics and the speci4ic %ethods o4
action %ust be chosen care4ully so that they contribute to achieving the goals o4 each particular
strategy. 2he discussion here 4ocuses e=clusively on the level o4 strategy.
Strategists planning the %a5or ca%paigns will, li:e those who planned the grand strategy,
require a thorough understanding o4 the nature and %odes o4 operation o4 their chosen technique
o4 struggle. ;ust as %ilitary o44icers %ust understand 4orce structures, tactics, logistics,
%unitions, the e44ects o4 geography, and the li:e in order to plot %ilitary strategy, political
de4iance planners %ust understand the nature and strategic principles o4 nonviolent struggle.
ven then, however, :nowledge o4 nonviolent struggle, attention to reco%%endations in this
essay, and answers to the questions posed here will not the%selves produce strategies. 2he
4or%ulation o4 strategies 4or the struggle still requires an in4or%ed creativity.
!n planning the strategies 4or the speci4ic selective resistance ca%paigns and 4or the longer
ter% develop%ent o4 the liberation struggle, the political de4iance strategists will need to
consider various issues and proble%s. 2he 4ollowing are a%ong these,
• Feter%ination o4 the speci4ic ob5ectives o4 the ca%paign and their contributions to
i%ple%enting the grand strategy.
• Consideration o4 the speci4ic %ethods, or political weapons, that can best be used to
i%ple%ent the chosen strategies. Kithin each overall plan 4or a particular strategic
ca%paign it will be necessary to deter%ine what s%aller, tactical plans and which
speci4ic %ethods o4 action should be used to i%pose pressures and restrictions against
the dictatorship@s sources o4 power. !t should be re%e%bered that the achieve%ent o4
%a5or ob5ectives will co%e as a result o4 care4ully chosen and i%ple%ented speci4ic
• Feter%ination whether, or how, econo%ic issues should be related to the overall
essentially political struggleJ !4 econo%ic issues are to be pro%inent in the struggle, care
will be needed that the econo%ic grievances can actually be re%edied a4ter the
dictatorship is ended. 3therwise, disillusion%ent and disa44ection %ay set in i4 quic:
solutions are not provided during the transition period to a de%ocratic society. Such
disillusion%ent could 4acilitate the rise o4 dictatorial 4orces pro%ising an end to
• Feter%ination in advance o4 what :ind o4 leadership structure and co%%unications
syste% will wor: best 4or initiating the resistance struggle. Khat %eans o4 decision0
%a:ing and co%%unication will be possible during the course o4 the struggle to give
continuing guidance to the resisters and the general populationJ
• Co%%unication o4 the resistance news to the general population, to the dictators@
4orces, and the international press. Clai%s and reporting should always be strictly
4actual. =aggerations and un4ounded clai%s will under%ine the credibility o4 the
• >lans 4or sel40reliant constructive social, educational, econo%ic, and political
activities to %eet the needs o4 one@s own people during the co%ing con4lict. Such
pro5ects can be conducted by persons not directly involved in the resistance activities.
• Feter%ination o4 what :ind o4 e=ternal assistance is desirable in support o4 the
speci4ic ca%paign or the general liberation struggle. Eow can e=ternal help be best
%obili9ed and used without %a:ing the internal struggle dependent on uncertain e=ternal
4actorsJ Attention will need to be given to which e=ternal groups are %ost li:ely, and
%ost appropriate, to assist, such as non0govern%ental organi9ations 6social %ove%ents,
religious or political groups, labor unions, etc.7 govern%ents, andRor the (nited 8ations
and its various bodies.
*urther%ore, the resistance planners will need to ta:e %easures to preserve order and to
%eet social needs by one@s own 4orces during %ass resistance against dictatorial controls. 2his
will not only create alternative independent de%ocratic structures and %eet genuine needs, but
also will reduce credibility 4or any clai%s that ruthless repression is required to halt disorder and
Sprea'in( t#e i'ea of noncooperation
*or success4ul political de4iance against a dictatorship, it is essential that the population
grasp the idea o4 noncooperation. As illustrated by the D$on:ey $asterD story 6see Chapter
2hree7, the basic idea is si%ple, i4 enough o4 the subordinates re4use to continue their
cooperation long enough despite repression, the oppressive syste% will be wea:ened and 4inally
>eople living under the dictatorship %ay be already 4a%iliar with this concept 4ro% a variety
o4 sources. ven so, the de%ocratic 4orces should deliberately spread and populari9e the idea o4
noncooperation. 2he D$on:ey $asterD story, or a si%ilar one, could be disse%inated throughout
the society. Such a story could be easily understood. 3nce the general concept o4
noncooperation is grasped, people will be able to understand the relevance o4 4uture calls to
practice noncooperation with the dictatorship. 2hey will also be able on their own to i%provise a
%yriad o4 speci4ic 4or%s o4 noncooperation in new situations.
Fespite the di44iculties and dangers in atte%pts to co%%unicate ideas, news, and resistance
instructions while living under dictatorships, de%ocrats have 4requently proved this to be
possible. ven under 8a9i and Co%%unist rule it was possible 4or resisters to co%%unicate not
only with other individuals but even with large public audiences through the production o4
illegal newspapers, lea4lets, boo:s, and in later years with audio and video cassettes.
Kith the advantage o4 prior strategic planning, general guidelines 4or resistance can be
prepared and disse%inated. 2hese can indicate the issues and circu%stances under which the
population should protest and withhold cooperation, and how this %ight be done. 2hen, even i4
co%%unications 4ro% the de%ocratic leadership are severed, and speci4ic instructions have not
been issued or received, the population will :now how to act on certain i%portant issues. Such
guidelines would also provide a test to identi4y counter4eit Dresistance instructionsD issued by the
political police designed to provo:e discrediting action.
Repre&&ion an' countermea&ure&
Strategic planners will need to assess the li:ely responses and repression, especially the
threshold o4 violence, o4 the dictatorship to the actions o4 the de%ocratic resistance. !t will be
necessary to deter%ine how to withstand, counteract, or avoid this possible increased repression
without sub%ission. 2actically, 4or speci4ic occasions, appropriate warnings about e=pected
repression would be in order to the population and the resisters, so that they will :now the ris:s
o4 participation. !4 repression %ay be serious, preparations 4or %edical assistance 4or wounded
resisters should be %ade.
Anticipating repression, the strategists will do well to consider in advance the use o4 tactics
and %ethods which will contribute to achieving the speci4ic goal o4 a ca%paign, or liberation,
but which will %a:e brutal repression less li:ely or less possible. *or e=a%ple, street
de%onstrations and parades against e=tre%e dictatorships %ay be dra%atic, but they %ay ris:
thousands o4 dead de%onstrators. 2he high cost to the de%onstrators %ay not, however, actually
apply %ore pressure on the dictatorship than would occur through everyone staying ho%e, a
stri:e, or %assive acts o4 noncooperation 4ro% the civil servants.
!4 it has been proposed that provocative resistance action ris:ing high casualties will be
required 4or a strategic purpose, then one should very care4ully consider the proposal@s costs and
possible gains. Kill the population and the resisters be li:ely to behave in a disciplined and
nonviolent %anner during the course o4 the struggleJ Can they resist provocations to violenceJ
>lanners %ust consider what %easures %ay be ta:en to :eep nonviolent discipline and %aintain
the resistance despite brutalities. Kill such %easures as pledges, policy state%ents, discipline
lea4lets, %arshals 4or de%onstrations, and boycotts o4 pro0violence persons and groups be
possible and e44ectiveJ Ceaders should always be alert 4or the presence o4 agents provocateurs
whose %ission will be to incite the de%onstrators to violence.
A'#erin( to t#e &trate(ic plan
3nce a sound strategic plan is in place, the de%ocratic 4orces should not be distracted by
%inor %oves o4 the dictators that %ay te%pt the% to depart 4ro% the grand strategy and the
strategy 4or a particular ca%paign, causing the% to 4ocus %a5or activities on uni%portant issues.
8or should the e%otions o4 the %o%ent0perhaps in response to new brutalities by the
dictatorship0be allowed to divert the de%ocratic resistance 4ro% its grand strategy or the
ca%paign strategy. 2he brutalities %ay have been perpetrated precisely in order to provo:e the
de%ocratic 4orces to abandon their well0laid plan and even to co%%it violent acts in order that
the dictators could %ore easily de4eat the%.
As long as the basic analysis is 5udged to be sound, the tas: o4 the pro0de%ocracy 4orces is
to press 4orward stage by stage. 34 course, changes in tactics and inter%ediate ob5ectives will
occur and good leaders will always be ready to e=ploit opportunities. 2hese ad5ust%ents should
not be con4used with ob5ectives o4 the grand strategy or the ob5ectives o4 the speci4ic ca%paign.
Care4ul i%ple%entation o4 the chosen grand strategy and o4 strategies 4or particular ca%paigns
will greatly contribute to success.
Appl!in( Political Defiance
!n situations in which the population 4eels powerless and 4rightened, it is i%portant that
initial tas:s 4or the public be low0ris:, con4idence0building actions. 2hese types o4 actions0such
as wearing one@s clothes in an unusual way0%ay publicly register a dissenting opinion and
provide an opportunity 4or the public to participate signi4icantly in acts o4 dissent. !n other cases
a relatively %inor 6on the sur4ace7 nonpolitical issue 6as securing a sa4e water supply7 %ight be
%ade the 4ocus 4or group action. Strategists should choose an issue the %erits o4 which will be
widely recogni9ed and di44icult to re5ect. Success in such li%ited ca%paigns could not only
correct speci4ic grievances but also convince the population that it indeed has power potential.
$ost o4 the strategies o4 ca%paigns in the long0ter% struggle should not ai% 4or the
i%%ediate co%plete down4all o4 the dictatorship, but instead o4 gaining li%ited ob5ectives. 8or
does every ca%paign require the participation o4 all sections o4 the population.
!n conte%plating a series o4 speci4ic ca%paigns to i%ple%ent the grand strategy, the
de4iance strategists need to consider how the ca%paigns at the beginning, the %iddle, and near
the conclusion o4 the long0ter% struggle will di44er 4ro% each other.
!n the initial stages o4 the struggle, separate ca%paigns with di44erent speci4ic ob5ectives can
be very use4ul. Such selective ca%paigns %ay 4ollow one a4ter the other. 3ccasionally, two or
three %ight overlap in ti%e.
!n planning a strategy 4or Dselective resistanceD it is necessary to identi4y speci4ic li%ited
issues or grievances which sy%boli9e the general oppression o4 the dictatorship. Such issues
%ay be the appropriate targets 4or conducting ca%paigns to gain inter%ediary strategic
ob5ectives within the over0all grand strategy.
2hese inter%ediary strategic ob5ectives need to be attainable by the current or pro5ected
power capacity o4 the de%ocratic 4orces. 2his helps to ensure a series o4 victories, which are
good 4or %orale, and also contribute to advantageous incre%ental shi4ts in power relations 4or
the long0ter% struggle.
Selective resistance strategies should concentrate pri%arily on speci4ic social, econo%ic, or
political issues. 2hese %ay be chosen in order to :eep so%e part o4 the social and political
syste% out o4 the dictators@ control, to regain control o4 so%e part currently controlled by the
dictators, or to deny the dictators a particular ob5ective. !4 possible, the ca%paign o4 selective
resistance should also stri:e at one wea:ness or %ore o4 the dictatorship, as already discussed.
2hereby, de%ocrats can %a:e the greatest possible i%pact with their available power capacity.
Bery early the strategists need to plan at least the strategy 4or the 4irst ca%paign. Khat are to
be its li%ited ob5ectivesJ Eow will it help 4ul4ill the chosen grand strategyJ !4 possible, it is wise
to 4or%ulate at least the general outlines o4 strategies 4or a second and possibly a third
ca%paign. All such strategies will need to i%ple%ent the chosen grand strategy and operate
within its general guidelines.
At the beginning o4 a new ca%paign to under%ine the dictatorship, the 4irst %ore
speci4ically political actions %ay be li%ited in scope. 2hey should be designed in part to test and
in4luence the %ood o4 the population, and to prepare the% 4or continuing struggle through
noncooperation and political de4iance.
2he initial action is li:ely to ta:e the 4or% o4 sy%bolic protest or %ay be a sy%bolic act o4
li%ited or te%porary noncooperation. !4 the nu%ber o4 persons willing to act is 4ew, then the
initial act %ight, 4or e=a%ple, involve placing 4lowers at a place o4 sy%bolic i%portance. 3n the
other hand, i4 the nu%bers willing to act is very large, then a 4ive %inute halt to all activities or
several %inutes o4 silence %ight be used. !n other situations, a 4ew individuals %ight underta:e
a hunger stri:e, a vigil at a place o4 sy%bolic i%portance, a brie4 student boycott o4 classes, or a
te%porary sit0in at an i%portant o44ice. (nder a dictatorship these %ore aggressive actions
would %ost li:ely be %et with harsh repression.
Certain sy%bolic acts, such as a physical occupation in 4ront o4 the dictators@ palace or
political police headquarters %ay involve high ris: and are there4ore not advisable 4or initiating
!nitial sy%bolic protest actions have at ti%es aroused %a5or national and international
attention0as the %ass street de%onstrations in ?ur%a in 19'' or the student occupation and
hunger stri:e in 2ianan%an Square in ?ei5ing in 19'9. 2he high casualties o4 de%onstrators in
both o4 these cases points to the great care strategists %ust e=ercise in planning ca%paigns.
Although having a tre%endous %oral and psychological i%pact, such actions by the%selves are
unli:ely to bring down a dictatorship, 4or they re%ain largely sy%bolic and do not alter the
power position o4 the dictatorship.
!t usually is not possible to sever the availability o4 the sources o4 power to the dictators
co%pletely and rapidly at the beginning o4 a struggle. 2hat would require virtually the whole
population and al%ost all the institutions o4 the society0which had previously been largely
sub%issive0to re5ect absolutely the regi%e and suddenly de4y it by %assive and strong
noncooperation. 2hat has not yet occurred and would be %ost di44icult to achieve. !n %ost cases,
there4ore, a quic: ca%paign o4 4ull noncooperation and de4iance is an unrealistic strategy 4or an
early ca%paign against the dictatorship.
Furing a selective resistance ca%paign the brunt o4 the struggle is 4or a ti%e usually borne
by one section or %ore o4 the population. !n a later ca%paign with a di44erent ob5ective, the
burden o4 the struggle would be shi4ted to other population groups. *or e=a%ple, students %ight
conduct stri:es on an educational issue, religious leaders and believers %ight concentrate on a
4reedo% o4 religion issue, rail wor:ers %ight %eticulously obey sa4ety regulations so as to slow
down the rail transport syste%, 5ournalists %ight challenge censorship by publishing papers with
blan: spaces in which prohibited articles would have appeared, or police %ight repeatedly 4ail to
locate and arrest wanted %e%bers o4 the de%ocratic opposition. >hasing resistance ca%paigns
by issue and population group will allow certain seg%ents o4 the population to rest while
Selective resistance is especially i%portant to de4end the e=istence and autono%y o4
independent social, econo%ic, and political groups and institutions outside the control o4 the
dictatorship, which were brie4ly discussed earlier. 2hese centers o4 power provide the
institutional bases 4ro% which the population can e=ert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls.
!n the struggle, they are li:ely to be a%ong the 4irst targets o4 the dictatorship.
Aimin( at t#e 'ictator&/ power
As the long0ter% struggle develops beyond the initial strategies into %ore a%bitious and
advanced phases, the strategists will need to calculate how the dictators@ sources o4 power can be
4urther restricted. 2he ai% would be to use popular noncooperation to create a new %ore
advantageous strategic situation 4or the de%ocratic 4orces.
As the de%ocratic resistance 4orces gained strength, strategists would plot %ore a%bitious
noncooperation and de4iance to sever the dictatorships@ sources o4 power, with the goal o4
producing increasing political paralysis, and in the end the disintegration o4 the dictatorship
!t will be necessary to plan care4ully how the de%ocratic 4orces can wea:en the support
people and groups have previously o44ered to the dictatorship. Kill their support be wea:ened
by revelations o4 the brutalities perpetrated by the regi%e, by e=posure o4 the disastrous
econo%ic consequences o4 the dictators@ policies, or by a new understanding that the dictatorship
can be endedJ 2he dictators@ supporters should at least be induced to beco%e DneutralD in their
activities 6D4ence sittersD7 or pre4erably to beco%e active supporters o4 the %ove%ent 4or
Furing the planning and i%ple%entation o4 political de4iance and noncooperation, it is
highly i%portant to pay close attention to all o4 the dictators@ %ain supporters and aides,
including their inner clique, political party, police, and bureaucrats, but especially their ar%y.
2he degree o4 loyalty o4 the %ilitary 4orces, both soldiers and o44icers, to the dictatorship
would need to be care4ully assessed and a deter%ination %ade whether the %ilitary is open to
in4luence by the de%ocratic 4orces. $ight %any o4 the ordinary soldiers be unhappy and
4rightened conscriptsJ $ight %any o4 the soldiers and o44icers be alienated 4ro% the regi%e 4or
personal, 4a%ily, or political reasonsJ Khat other 4actors %ight %a:e soldiers and o44icers
vulnerable to de%ocratic subversionJ
arly in the liberation struggle a special strategy should be developed to co%%unicate with
the dictators@ troops and 4unctionaries. ?y words, sy%bols, and actions, the de%ocratic 4orces
can in4or% the troops that the liberation struggle will be vigorous, deter%ined, and persistent.
2roops should learn that the struggle will be o4 a special character, designed to under%ine the
dictatorship but not to threaten their lives. Such e44orts would ai% ulti%ately to under%ine the
%orale o4 the dictators@ troops and 4inally to subvert their loyalty and obedience in 4avor o4 the
de%ocratic %ove%ent. Si%ilar strategies could be ai%ed at the police and civil servants.
2he atte%pt to garner sy%pathy 4ro% and, eventually, induce disobedience a%ong the
dictators@ 4orces ought not to be interpreted, however, to %ean encourage%ent o4 the %ilitary
4orces to %a:e a short ri4t o4 the current dictatorship through %ilitary action. Such a scenario is
not li:ely to install a wor:ing de%ocracy 4or 6as we have discussed7 a coup d@Ltat does little to
redress the i%balance o4 power relations between the populace and the rulers. 2here4ore, it will
be necessary to plan how sy%pathetic %ilitary o44icers can be brought to understand that neither
a %ilitary coup nor a civil war against the dictatorship is required or desirable.
Sy%pathetic o44icers can play vital roles in the de%ocratic struggle, such as spreading
disa44ection and noncooperation in the %ilitary 4orces, encouraging deliberate ine44iciencies and
the quiet ignoring o4 orders, and supporting the re4usal to carry out repression. $ilitary
personnel %ay also o44er various %odes o4 positive nonviolent assistance to the de%ocracy
%ove%ent, including sa4e passage, in4or%ation, 4ood, %edical supplies, and the li:e.
2he ar%y is one o4 the %ost i%portant sources o4 the power o4 dictators because it can use
its disciplined %ilitary units and weaponry directly to attac: and to punish the disobedient
population. Fe4iance strategists should re%e%ber that it will be e=ceptionally di44icult, or
i%possible, to disintegrate the dictatorship i4 the police, bureaucrats, and %ilitary 4orces re%ain
4ully supportive o4 the dictatorship and obedient in carrying out its co%%ands. Strategies ai%ed
at subverting the loyalty o4 the dictators@ 4orces should there4ore be given a high priority by
2he de%ocratic 4orces should re%e%ber that disa44ection and disobedience a%ong the
%ilitary 4orces and police can be highly dangerous 4or the %e%bers o4 those groups. 2hey could
e=pect severe penalties 4or any act o4 disobedience and e=ecution 4or acts o4 %utiny. 2he
de%ocratic 4orces should not as: the soldiers and o44icers that they i%%ediately %utiny. !nstead,
where co%%unication is possible, it should be %ade clear that there are a %ultitude o4 relatively
sa4e 4or%s o4 Ddisguised disobedienceD that they can ta:e initially. *or e=a%ple, police and
troops can carry out instructions 4or repression ine44iciently, 4ail to locate wanted persons, warn
resisters o4 i%pending repression, arrests, or deportations, and 4ail to report i%portant
in4or%ation to their superior o44icers. Fisa44ected o44icers in turn can neglect to relay co%%ands
4or repression down the chain o4 co%%and. Soldiers %ay shoot over the heads o4 de%onstrators.
Si%ilarly, 4or their part, civil servants can lose 4iles and instructions, wor: ine44iciently, and
beco%e DillD so that they need to stay ho%e until they Drecover.D
S#ift& in &trate(!
2he political de4iance strategists will need constantly to assess how the grand strategy and
the speci4ic ca%paign strategies are being i%ple%ented. !t is possible, 4or e=a%ple, that the
struggle %ay not go as well as e=pected. !n that case it will be necessary to calculate what shi4ts
in strategy %ight be required. Khat can be done to increase the %ove%ent@s strength and regain
the initiativeJ !n such a situation, it will be necessary to identi4y the proble%, %a:e a strategic
reassess%ent, possibly shi4t struggle responsibilities to a di44erent population group, %obili9e
additional sources o4 power, and develop alternative courses o4 action. Khen that is done, the
new plan should be i%ple%ented i%%ediately.
Conversely, i4 the struggle has gone %uch better than e=pected and the dictatorship is
collapsing earlier than previously calculated, how can the de%ocratic 4orces capitali9e on
une=pected gains and %ove toward paraly9ing the dictatorshipJ Ke will e=plore this question in
the 4ollowing chapter.
Di&inte(ratin( T#e Dictator&#ip
2he cu%ulative e44ect o4 well0conducted and success4ul political de4iance ca%paigns would
be to strengthen the resistance and to establish and e=pand areas o4 the society where the
dictatorship 4aced li%its on its e44ective control. 2hese ca%paigns would also provide i%portant
e=perience in how to re4use cooperation and how to o44er political de4iance. 2hat e=perience
will be o4 great assistance when the ti%e co%es 4or noncooperation and de4iance on a %ass
As was discussed in Chapter 2hree, obedience, cooperation, and sub%ission are essential i4
dictators are to be power4ul. Kithout access to the sources o4 political power, the dictators@
power wea:ens and 4inally dissolves. Kithdrawal o4 support is there4ore the %a5or required
action to disintegrate a dictatorship. !t %ay be use4ul to review how the sources o4 power can be
a44ected by political de4iance.
Acts o4 sy%bolic repudiation and de4iance are a%ong the available %eans to under%ine the
regi%e@s %oral and political authority0its legiti%acy. 2he greater the regi%e@s authority, the
greater and %ore reliable is the obedience and cooperation which it will receive. $oral
disapproval needs to be e=pressed in action in order seriously to threaten the e=istence o4 the
dictatorship. Kithdrawal o4 cooperation and obedience are needed to sever the availability o4
other sources o4 the regi%e@s power.
A second i%portant such source o4 power is hu%an resources, the nu%ber and i%portance o4
the persons and groups which obey, cooperate with, or assist the rulers. !4 noncooperation is
practiced by large parts o4 the population, the regi%e will be in serious trouble. *or e=a%ple, i4
the civil servants no longer 4unction with their nor%al e44iciency or even stay at ho%e, the
ad%inistrative apparatus will be gravely a44ected.
Si%ilarly, i4 the noncooperating persons and groups include those which have previously
supplied speciali9ed s:ills and :nowledge, then the dictators will see their capacity to i%ple%ent
their will gravely wea:ened. ven their ability even to %a:e well in4or%ed decisions and
develop e44ective policies %ay be seriously reduced.
!4 psychological and ideological in4luences0called intangible 4actors0which usually induce
people to obey and assist the rulers are wea:ened or reversed, the population will be %ore
inclined to disobey and to noncooperate.
2he dictators@ access to %aterial resources also directly a44ects their power. Kith control o4
4inancial resources, the econo%ic syste%, property, natural resources, transportation, and %eans
o4 co%%unication in the hands o4 actual or potential opponents o4 the regi%e, another %a5or
source o4 their power is vulnerable or re%oved. Stri:es, boycotts, and increasing autono%y in
the econo%y, co%%unications, and transportation will wea:en the regi%e.
As previously discussed, the dictators@ ability to threaten or apply sanctions 00 punish%ents
against the restive, disobedient, and noncooperative sections o4 the population0is a central
source o4 the power o4 dictators. 2his source o4 power can be wea:ened in two ways. *irst, i4 the
population is prepared, as in a war, to ris: serious consequences as the price o4 de4iance, the
e44ectiveness o4 the available sanctions will be drastically reduced 6that is, the dictators@
repression will not secure the desired sub%ission7. Second, i4 the police and the %ilitary 4orces
the%selves beco%e disa44ected, they %ay on an individual or %ass basis evade or outright de4y
orders to arrest, beat, or shoot resisters. !4 the dictators can no longer rely on the police and
%ilitary 4orces to carry out repression, the dictatorship is gravely threatened.
!n su%%ary, success against an entrenched dictatorship requires that noncooperation and
de4iance reduce and re%ove the sources o4 the regi%e@s power. Kithout constant replenish%ent
o4 the necessary sources o4 power the dictatorship will wea:en and 4inally disintegrate.
Co%petent strategic planning o4 political de4iance against dictatorships there4ore needs to target
the dictators@ %ost i%portant sources o4 power.
Co%bined with political de4iance during the phase o4 selective resistance, the growth o4
autono%ous social, econo%ic, cultural, and political institutions progressively e=pands the
Dde%ocratic spaceD o4 the society and shrin:s the control o4 the dictatorship. As the civil
institutions o4 the society beco%e stronger vis0S0vis the dictatorship, then, whatever the
dictators %ay wish, the population is incre%entally building an independent society outside o4
their control. !4 and when the dictatorship intervenes to halt this Descalating 4reedo%,D
nonviolent struggle can be applied in de4ense o4 this newly won space and the dictatorship will
be 4aced with yet another D4rontD in the struggle.
!n ti%e, this co%bination o4 resistance and institution building can lead to de 4acto 4reedo%,
%a:ing the collapse o4 the dictatorship and the 4or%al installation o4 a de%ocratic syste%
undeniable because the power relationships within the society have been 4unda%entally altered.
>oland in the 19/#s and 19'#s provides a clear e=a%ple o4 the progressive reclai%ing o4 a
society@s 4unctions and institutions by the resistance. 2he Catholic church had been persecuted
but never brought under 4ull Co%%unist control. !n 19/. certain intellectuals and wor:ers
4or%ed s%all groups such as <.3.A. 6Kor:ers Fe4ense Co%%ittee7 to advance their political
ideas. 2he organi9ation o4 the Solidarity trade union with its power to wield e44ective stri:es
4orced its own legali9ation in 19'#. >easants, students, and %any other groups also 4or%ed their
own independent organi9ations. Khen the Co%%unists reali9ed that these groups had changed
the power realities, Solidarity was again banned and the Co%%unists resorted to %ilitary rule.
ven under %artial law, with %any i%prison%ents and harsh persecution, the new
independent institutions o4 the society continued to 4unction. *or e=a%ple, do9ens o4 illegal
newspapers and %aga9ines continued to be published. !llegal publishing houses annually issued
hundreds o4 boo:s, while well0:nown writers boycotted Co%%unist publications and
govern%ent publishing houses. Si%ilar activities continued in other parts o4 the society.
(nder the ;arusels:i %ilitary regi%e, the %ilitary0Co%%unist govern%ent was at one point
described as bouncing around on the top o4 the society. 2he o44icials still occupied govern%ent
o44ices and buildings. 2he regi%e could still stri:e down into the society, with punish%ents,
arrests, i%prison%ent, sei9ure o4 printing presses, and the li:e. 2he dictatorship, however, could
not control the society. *ro% that point, it was only a %atter o4 ti%e until the society was able to
bring down the regi%e co%pletely.
ven while a dictatorship still occupies govern%ent positions it is so%eti%es possible to
organi9e a de%ocratic Dparallel govern%ent.D 2his would increasingly operate as a rival
govern%ent to which loyalty, co%pliance, and cooperation are given by the population and the
society@s institutions. 2he dictatorship would then consequently, on an increasing basis, be
deprived o4 these characteristics o4 govern%ent. ventually, the de%ocratic parallel govern%ent
%ay 4ully replace the dictatorial regi%e as part o4 the transition to a de%ocratic syste%. !n due
course then a constitution would be adopted and elections held as part o4 the transition.
Di&inte(ratin( t#e 'ictator&#ip
Khile the institutional trans4or%ation o4 the society is ta:ing place, the de4iance and
noncooperation %ove%ent %ay escalate. Strategists o4 the de%ocratic 4orces should conte%plate
early that there will co%e a ti%e when the de%ocratic 4orces can %ove beyond selective
resistance and launch %ass de4iance. !n %ost cases, ti%e will be required 4or creating, building,
or e=panding resistance capacities, and the develop%ent o4 %ass de4iance %ay occur only a4ter
several years. Furing this interi% period ca%paigns o4 selective resistance should be launched
with increasingly i%portant political ob5ectives. Carger parts o4 the population at all levels o4 the
society should beco%e involved. Given deter%ined and disciplined political de4iance during this
escalation o4 activities, the internal wea:nesses o4 the dictatorship are li:ely to beco%e
2he co%bination o4 strong political de4iance and the building o4 independent institutions is
li:ely in ti%e to produce widespread international attention 4avorable to the de%ocratic 4orces. !t
%ay also produce international diplo%atic conde%nations, boycotts, and e%bargoes in support
o4 the de%ocratic 4orces 6as it did 4or >oland7.
Strategists should be aware that in so%e situations the collapse o4 the dictatorship %ay occur
e=tre%ely rapidly, as in ast Ger%any in 19'9. 2his can happen when the sources o4 power are
%assively severed as a result o4 the whole population@s revulsion against the dictatorship. 2his
pattern is not usual, however, and it is better to plan 4or a long0ter% struggle 6but to be prepared
4or a short one7.
Furing the course o4 the liberation struggle, victories, even on li%ited issues, should be
celebrated. 2hose who have earned the victory should be recogni9ed. Celebrations with
vigilance should also help to :eep up the %orale needed 4or 4uture stages o4 the struggle.
Han'lin( &ucce&& re&pon&ibl!
>lanners o4 the grand strategy should calculate in advance the possible and pre4erred ways in
which a success4ul struggle %ight best be concluded in order to prevent the rise o4 a new
dictatorship and to ensure the gradual establish%ent o4 a durable de%ocratic syste%.
2he de%ocrats should calculate how the transition 4ro% the dictatorship to the interi%
govern%ent shall be handled at the end o4 the struggle. !t is desirable at that ti%e to establish
quic:ly a new 4unctioning govern%ent. Eowever, it %ust not be %erely the old one with new
personnel. !t is necessary to calculate what sections o4 the old govern%ental structure 6as the
political police7 are to be co%pletely abolished because o4 their inherent anti0de%ocratic
character and which sections retained to be sub5ected to later de%ocrati9ation e44orts. A
co%plete govern%ental void could open the way to chaos or a new dictatorship.
2hought should be given in advance to deter%ine what is to be the policy toward high
o44icials o4 the dictatorship when its power disintegrates. *or e=a%ple, are the dictators to be
brought to trial in a courtJ Are they to be per%itted to leave the country per%anentlyJ Khat
other options %ay there be which are consistent with political de4iance, the need 4or
reconstructing the country, and building a de%ocracy 4ollowing the victoryJ A blood bath %ust
be avoided which could have drastic consequences on the possibility o4 a 4uture de%ocratic
Speci4ic plans 4or the transition to de%ocracy should be ready 4or application when the
dictatorship is wea:ening or collapses. Such plans will help to prevent another group 4ro%
sei9ing state power through a coup d@Ltat. >lans 4or the institution o4 de%ocratic constitutional
govern%ent with 4ull political and personal liberties will also be required. 2he changes won at a
great price should not be lost through lac: o4 planning.
Khen con4ronted with the increasingly e%powered population and the growth o4
independent de%ocratic groups and institutions0both o4 which the dictatorship is unable to
control0the dictators will 4ind that their whole venture is unravelling. $assive shut0downs o4 the
society, general stri:es, %ass stay0at0ho%es, de4iant %arches, or other activities will increasingly
under%ine the dictators@ own organi9ation and related institutions. As a consequence o4 such
de4iance and noncooperation, e=ecuted wisely and with %ass participation over ti%e, the
dictators would beco%e powerless and the de%ocratic de4enders would, without violence,
triu%ph. 2he dictatorship would disintegrate be4ore the de4iant population.
8ot every such e44ort will succeed, especially not easily, and rarely quic:ly. !t should be
re%e%bered that as %any %ilitary wars are lost as are won. Eowever, political de4iance o44ers a
real possibility o4 victory. As stated earlier, that possibility can be greatly increased through the
develop%ent o4 a wise grand strategy, care4ul strategic planning, hard wor:, and disciplined
"roun'work For Durable Democrac!
2he disintegration o4 the dictatorship is o4 course a cause 4or %a5or celebration. >eople who
have su44ered 4or so long and struggled at great price %erit a ti%e o4 5oy, rela=ation, and
recognition. 2hey should 4eel proud o4 the%selves and o4 all who struggled with the% to win
political 4reedo%. 8ot all will have lived to see this day. 2he living and the dead will be
re%e%bered as heroes who helped to shape the history o4 4reedo% in their country.
(n4ortunately, this is not a ti%e 4or a reduction in vigilance. ven in the event o4 a
success4ul disintegration o4 the dictatorship by political de4iance, care4ul precautions %ust be
ta:en to prevent the rise o4 a new oppressive regi%e out o4 the con4usion 4ollowing the collapse
o4 the old one. 2he leaders o4 the pro0de%ocracy 4orces should have prepared in advance 4or an
orderly transition to a de%ocracy. 2he dictatorial structures will need to be dis%antled. 2he
constitutional and legal bases and standards o4 behavior o4 a durable de%ocracy will need to be
8o one should believe that with the down4all o4 the dictatorship an ideal society will
i%%ediately appear. 2he disintegration o4 the dictatorship si%ply provides the beginning point,
under conditions o4 enhanced 4reedo%, 4or long0ter% e44orts to i%prove the society and %eet
hu%an needs %ore adequately. Serious political, econo%ic, and social proble%s will continue
4or years, requiring the cooperation o4 %any people and groups in see:ing their resolution. 2he
new political syste% should provide the opportunities 4or people with varying outloo:s and
4avored %easures to continue constructive wor: and policy develop%ent to deal with proble%s
in the 4uture.
T#reat& of a new 'ictator&#ip
Aristotle warned long ago that D. . . tyranny can also change into tyranny. . . .D61"7 2here is
a%ple historical evidence 4ro% *rance 6the ;acobins and 8apoleon7, Aussia 6the ?olshevi:s7,
!ran 6the Ayatollah7, ?ur%a 6SC3AC7, and elsewhere that the collapse o4 an oppressive regi%e
will be seen by so%e persons and groups as %erely the opportunity 4or the% to step in as the
new %asters. 2heir %otives %ay vary, but the results are o4ten appro=i%ately the sa%e. 2he new
dictatorship %ay even be %ore cruel and total in its control than the old one.
ven be4ore the collapse o4 the dictatorship %e%bers o4 the old regi%e %ay atte%pt to cut
short the de4iance struggle 4or de%ocracy by staging a coup d@Ltat designed to pree%pt victory
by the popular resistance. !t %ay clai% to oust the dictatorship, but in 4act see: only to i%pose a
new re4urbished %odel o4 the old one.
2here are ways in which coups against newly liberated societies can be de4eated. Advance
:nowledge o4 that de4ense capacity %ay at ti%es be su44icient to deter the atte%pt. >reparation
can produce prevention.
!%%ediately a4ter a coup is started, the putschists require legiti%acy, that is, acceptance o4
their %oral and political right to rule. 2he 4irst basic principle o4 anti0coup de4ense is there4ore
to deny legiti%acy to the putschists.
2he putschists also require that the civilian leaders and population be supportive, con4used,
or 5ust passive. 2he putschists require the cooperation o4 specialists and advisors, bureaucrats
and civil servants, ad%inistrators and 5udges in order to consolidate their control over the
a44ected society. 2he putschists also require that the %ultitude o4 people who operate the
political syste%, the society@s institutions, the econo%y, the police, and the %ilitary 4orces will
passively sub%it and carry out their usual 4unctions as %odi4ied by the putschists@ orders and
2he second basic principle o4 anti0coup de4ense is to resist the putschists with
noncooperation and de4iance. 2he needed cooperation and assistance %ust be denied.
ssentially the sa%e %eans o4 struggle that was used against the dictatorship can be used against
the new threat, but applied i%%ediately. !4 both legiti%acy and cooperation are denied, the coup
%ay die o4 political starvation and the chance to build a de%ocratic society restored.
2he new de%ocratic syste% will require a constitution that establishes the desired
4ra%ewor: o4 the de%ocratic govern%ent. 2he constitution should set the purposes o4
govern%ent, li%its on govern%ental powers, the %eans and ti%ing o4 elections by which
govern%ental o44icials and legislators will be chosen, the inherent rights o4 the people, and the
relation o4 the national govern%ent to other lower levels o4 govern%ent.
Kithin the central govern%ent, i4 it is to re%ain de%ocratic, a clear division o4 authority
should be established between the legislative, e=ecutive, and 5udicial branches o4 govern%ent.
Strong restrictions should be included on activities o4 the police, intelligence services, and
%ilitary 4orces to prohibit any political inter4erence.
!n the interests o4 preserving the de%ocratic syste% and i%peding dictatorial trends and
%easures, the constitution should pre4erably be one which establishes a 4ederal syste% with
signi4icant prerogatives reserved 4or the regional, state, and local levels o4 govern%ent. !n so%e
situations the Swiss syste% o4 cantons %ight be considered in which relatively s%all areas retain
%a5or prerogatives, while re%aining a part o4 the whole country.
!4 a constitution with %any o4 these 4eatures e=isted earlier in the newly liberated country@s
history, it %ay be wise si%ply to restore it to operation, a%ending it as dee%ed necessary and
desirable. !4 a suitable older constitution is not present, it %ay be necessary to operate with an
interi% constitution. 3therwise, a new constitution will need to be prepared. >reparing a new
constitution will ta:e considerable ti%e and thought. >opular participation in this process is
desirable and required 4or rati4ication o4 a new te=t or a%end%ents. 3ne should be very cautious
about including in the constitution pro%ises which later %ight prove i%possible to i%ple%ent or
provisions which would require a highly centrali9ed govern%ent, 4or both can 4acilitate a new
2he wording o4 the constitution should be easily understood by the %a5ority o4 the
population. A constitution should not be so co%ple= or a%biguous that only lawyers or other
elites can clai% to understand it.
A 'emocratic 'efen&e polic!
2he liberated country %ay also 4ace 4oreign threats 4or which a de4ense capacity would be
required. 2he country %ight also be threatened by 4oreign atte%pts to establish econo%ic,
political, or %ilitary do%ination.
!n the interests o4 %aintaining internal de%ocracy, serious consideration should be given to
applying the basic principles o4 political de4iance to the needs o4 national de4ense.6117 ?y
placing resistance capacity directly in the hands o4 the citi9enry, newly liberated countries could
avoid the need to establish a strong %ilitary capacity which could itsel4 threaten de%ocracy or
require vast econo%ic resources %uch needed 4or other purposes.
!t %ust be re%e%bered that so%e groups will ignore any constitutional provision in their ai%
to establish the%selves as new dictators. 2here4ore, a per%anent role will e=ist 4or the
population to apply political de4iance and noncooperation against would0be dictators and to
preserve de%ocratic structures, rights, and procedures.
A meritoriou& re&pon&ibilit!
2he e44ect o4 nonviolent struggle is not only to wea:en and re%ove the dictators but also to
e%power the oppressed. 2his technique enables people who 4or%erly 4elt the%selves to be only
pawns or victi%s to wield power directly in order to gain by their own e44orts greater 4reedo%
and 5ustice. 2his e=perience o4 struggle has i%portant psychological consequences, contributing
to increased sel40estee% and sel40con4idence a%ong the 4or%erly powerless.
3ne i%portant long0ter% bene4icial consequence o4 the use o4 nonviolent struggle 4or
establishing de%ocratic govern%ent is that the society will be %ore capable o4 dealing with
continuing and 4uture proble%s. 2hese %ight include 4uture govern%ental abuse and corruption,
%altreat%ent o4 any group, econo%ic in5ustices, and li%itations on the de%ocratic qualities o4
the political syste%. 2he population e=perienced in the use o4 political de4iance is less li:ely to
be vulnerable to 4uture dictatorships.
A4ter liberation, 4a%iliarity with nonviolent struggle will provide ways to de4end de%ocracy,
civil liberties, %inority rights, and prerogatives o4 regional, state, and local govern%ents and
nongovern%ental institutions. Such %eans also provide ways by which people and groups can
e=press e=tre%e dissent peace4ully on issues seen as so i%portant that opposition groups have
so%eti%es resorted to terroris% or guerrilla war4are.
2he thoughts in this e=a%ination o4 political de4iance or nonviolent struggle are intended to
be help4ul to all persons and groups who see: to li4t dictatorial oppression 4ro% their people and
to establish a durable de%ocratic syste% which respects hu%an 4reedo%s and popular action to
i%prove the society.
2here are three %a5or conclusions to the ideas s:etched here,
P Ciberation 4ro% dictatorships is possible)
P Bery care4ul thought and strategic planning will be required to achieve it) and
P Bigilance, hard wor:, and disciplined struggle, o4ten at great cost, will be needed.
2he o4t quoted phrase D*reedo% is not 4reeD is true. 8o outside 4orce is co%ing to give
oppressed people the 4reedo% they so %uch want. >eople will have to learn how to ta:e that
4reedo% the%selves. asy it cannot be.
!4 people can grasp what is required 4or their own liberation, they can chart courses o4 action
which, through %uch travail, can eventually bring the% their 4reedo%. 2hen, with diligence they
can construct a new de%ocratic order and prepare 4or its de4ense. *reedo% won by struggle o4
this type can be durable. !t can be %aintained by a tenacious people co%%itted to its
preservation and enrich%ent.
T#e Met#o'& Of +on)iolent Action 2345
T#e Met#o'& of non)iolent Prote&t an' Per&ua&ion
1. >ublic speeches
&. Cetters o4 opposition or support
3. Feclarations by organi9ations and institutions
". Signed public state%ents
1. Feclarations o4 indict%ent and intention
.. Group or %ass petitions
Communication& wit# a wi'er au'ience
/. Slogans, caricatures, and sy%bols
'. ?anners, posters, and displayed co%%unications
9. Cea4lets,pa%phlets, and boo:s
1#. 8ewspapers and 5ournals
11. Aecords, radio, and television
1&. S:ywriting and earthwriting
1". $oc: awards
11. Group lobbying
1/. $oc: elections
S!mbolic public act&
1'. Fisplay o4 4lags and sy%bolic colors
19. Kearing o4 sy%bols
&#. >rayer and worship
&1. Felivering sy%bolic ob5ects
&&. >rotest disrobings
&3. Festruction o4 own property
&". Sy%bolic lights
&1. Fisplays o4 portraits
&.. >aint as protest
&/. 8ew signs and na%es
&' Sy%bolic sounds
&9. Sy%bolic recla%ations
3#. Aude gestures
Pre&&ure& on in'i)i'ual&
31. DEauntingD o44icials
3&. 2aunting o44icials
Drama an' mu&ic
31. Eu%orous s:its and pran:s
3.. >er4or%ance o4 plays and %usic
"#. Aeligious processions
Honorin( t#e 'ea'
"3. >olitical %ourning
"". $oc: 4unerals
"1. Fe%onstrative 4unerals
".. Eo%age at burial places
"/. Asse%blies o4 protest or support
"'. >rotest %eetings
"9. Ca%ou4laged %eetings o4 protest
.it#'rawal an' renunciation
13. Aenouncing honors
1". 2urning one@s bac:
THE METHODS OF SOCIA6 +O+COOPERATIO+
O&traci&m of per&on&
11. Social boycott
1.. Selective social boycott
1/. Cysistratic nonaction
+oncooperation wit# &ocial e)ent&$ cu&tom&$ an' in&titution&
.#. Suspension o4 social and sports activities
.1. ?oycott o4 social a44airs
.&. Student stri:e
.3. Social disobedience
.". Kithdrawal 4ro% social institutions
.it#'rawal from t#e &ocial &!&tem
... 2otal personal noncooperation
./. *light o4 wor:ers
.9. Collective disappearance
/#. >rotest e%igration 6Ei5rat7
THE METHODS OF ECO+OMIC +O+COOPERATIO+7
235 ECO+OMIC OYCOTTS
Action b! con&umer&
/1. Consu%ers@ boycott
/&. 8onconsu%ption o4 boycotted goods
/3. >olicy o4 austerity
/". Aent withholding
/1. Ae4usal to rent
/.. 8ational consu%ers@ boycott
//. !nternational consu%ers@ boycott
Action b! worker& an' pro'ucer&
/'. Kor:%en@s boycott
/9. >roducers@ boycott
Action b! mi''lemen
'#. Suppliers@ and handlers@ boycott
Action b! owner& an' mana(ement
'1. 2raders@ boycott
'&. Ae4usal to let or sell property
'". Ae4usal o4 industrial assistance
'1. $erchants@ Dgeneral stri:eD
Action b! #ol'er& of financial re&ource&
'.. Kithdrawal o4 ban: deposits
'/. Ae4usal to pay 4ees, dues, and assess%ents
''. Ae4usal to pay debts or interest
'9. Severance o4 4unds and credit
9#. Aevenue re4usal
91. Ae4usal o4 a govern%ent@s %oney
Action b! (o)ernment&
9&. Fo%estic e%bargo
93. ?lac:listing o4 traders
9". !nternational sellers@ e%bargo
91. !nternational buyers@ e%bargo
9.. !nternational trade e%bargo
THE METHODS OF ECO+OMIC +O+COOPERATIO+7
285 THE STRI9E
9/. >rotest stri:e
9'. Tuic:ie wal:out 6lightning stri:e7
99. >easant stri:e
1##. *ar% wor:ers@ stri:e
Strike& b! &pecial (roup&
1#1. Ae4usal o4 i%pressed labor
1#&. >risoners@ stri:e
1#3. Cra4t stri:e
1#". >ro4essional stri:e
Or'inar! in'u&trial &trike&
1#1. stablish%ent stri:e
1#.. !ndustry stri:e
1#/. Sy%pathetic stri:e
1#'. Fetailed stri:e
1#9. ?u%per stri:e
11#. Slowdown stri:e
111. Kor:ing0to0rule stri:e
11&. Aeporting Dsic:D 6sic:0in7
113. Stri:e by resignation
11". Ci%ited stri:e
111. Selective stri:e
11.. Generali9ed stri:e
11/. General stri:e
Combination& of &trike& an' economic clo&ure&
119. cono%ic shutdown
THE METHODS OF PO6ITICA6
Re,ection of aut#orit!
1&#. Kithholding or withdrawal o4 allegiance
1&1. Ae4usal o4 public support
1&&. Citerature and speeches advocating resistance
Citi1en&/ noncooperation wit# (o)ernment
1&3. ?oycott o4 legislative bodies
1&3. ?oycott o4 elections
1&1. ?oycott o4 govern%ent e%ploy%ent and positions
1&.. ?oycott o4 govern%ent depart%ents, agencies and
1&/. Kithdrawal 4ro% govern%ent educational institutions
1&'. ?oycott o4 govern%ent0supported organi9ations
1&9. Ae4usal o4 assistance to en4orce%ent agents
13#. Ae%oval o4 own signs and place%ar:s
131. Ae4usal to accept appointed o44icials
13&. Ae4usal to dissolve e=isting institutions
Citi1en&/ alternati)e& to obe'ience
133. Aeluctant and slow co%pliance
13". 8onobedience in absence o4 direct supervision
131. >opular nonobedience
13.. Fisguised disobedience
13/. Ae4usal o4 an asse%blage or %eeting to disperse
139. 8oncooperation with conscription and deportation
1"#. Eiding, escape and 4alse identities
1"1. Civil disobedience o4 Dillegiti%ateD laws
Action b! (o)ernment per&onnel
1"&. Selective re4usal o4 assistance by govern%ent aides
1"3. ?loc:ing o4 lines o4 co%%and and in4or%ation
1"". Stalling and obstruction
1"1. General ad%inistrative noncooperation
1"/. Feliberate ine44iciency and selective noncooperation by
Dome&tic (o)ernmental action
1"9. Tuasi0legal evasions and delays
11#. 8oncooperation by constituent govern%ental units
International (o)ernmental action
111. Changes in diplo%atic and other representation
11&. Felay and cancellation o4 diplo%atic events
113. Kithholding o4 diplo%atic recognition
11". Severance o4 diplo%atic relations
111. Kithdrawal 4ro% international organi9ations
11.. Ae4usal o4 %e%bership in international bodies
11/. =pulsion 4ro% international organi9ations
THE METHODS OF +O+:IO6E+T I+TER:E+TIO+
11'. Sel40e=posure to the ele%ents
119. 2he 4ast
6a7 *ast o4 %oral pressure
6b7 Eunger stri:e
6c7 Satyagrahic 4ast
1.#. Aeverse trial
1.1. 8onviolent harass%ent
1.'. 8onviolent raids
1.9. 8onviolent air raids
1/#. 8onviolent invasion
1/1. 8onviolent inter5ection
1/&. 8onviolent obstruction
1/3. 8onviolent occupation
1/". stablishing new social patterns
1/1. 3verloading o4 4acilities
1/'. Guerrilla theater
1/9. Alternative social institutions
1'#. Alternative co%%unication syste%
1'1. Aeverse stri:e
1'&. Stay0in stri:e
1'3. 8onviolent land sei9ure
1'". Fe4iance o4 bloc:ades
1'1. >olitically %otivated counter4eiting
1'.. >reclusive purchasing
1'/. Sei9ure o4 assets
1'9. Selective patronage
19#. Alternative %ar:ets
191. Alternative transportation syste%s
19&. Alternative econo%ic institutions
193. 3verloading o4 ad%inistrative syste%s
19". Fisclosing identities o4 secret agents
191. See:ing i%prison%ent
19.. Civil disobedience o4 DneutralD laws
19/. Kor:0on without collaboration
19'. Fual sovereignty and parallel govern%ent
About t#e Aut#or
Gene Sharp, F. >hil. 63=on.7, is Senior Scholar0in0Aesidence at the Albert instein
!nstitution, Ca%bridge, $assachusetts. Ee is also >ro4essor %eritus o4 >olitical Science at the
(niversity o4 $assachusetts Fart%outh, and Associate o4 the Center 4or !nternational A44airs,
Earvard (niversity. Ee is the author o4 various boo:s, including 2he >olitics o4 8onviolent
Action 619/37, Social >ower and >olitical *reedo% 619'#7, and Civilian0?ased Fe4ense 6199#7.
617 2he ter% used in this conte=t was introduced by Aobert Eelvey. D>olitical de4ianceD is
nonviolent struggle 6protest, noncooperation, and intervention7 applied de4iantly and actively 4or
political purposes. 2he ter% originated in response to the con4usion and distortion created by
equating nonviolent struggle with paci4is% and %oral or religious Dnonviolence.D DFe4ianceD
denotes a deliberate challenge to authority by disobedience, allowing no roo% 4or sub%ission.
D>olitical de4ianceD describes the environ%ent in which the action is e%ployed 6political7 as
well as the ob5ective 6political power7. 2he ter% is used principally to describe action by
populations to regain 4ro% dictatorships control over govern%ental institutions by relentlessly
attac:ing their sources o4 power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do
so. !n this paper, political de4iance, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent struggle will be used
interchangeably, although the latter two ter%s generally re4er to struggles with a broader range
o4 ob5ectives 6social, econo%ic, psychological, etc.7.
6&7 *reedo% Eouse, *reedo% in the Korld, 2he Annual Survey o4 >olitical Aights and Civil
Ciberties, 199&01993 68ew Oor:, *reedo% Eouse, 19937, p. .. 61993 4igures are as o4 ;anuary
19937. See pp. /90'# 4or a description o4 *reedo% Eouse@s categories o4 D4ree,D Dpartly 4ree,D
and Dnot 4ree.D
637 *reedo% Eouse, *reedo% in the Korld, p. ".
6"7 >atric: Sars4ield 3@Eegarty, A Eistory o4 !reland (nder the (nion, 1''#019&& 6Condon,
$ethuen, 191&7, pp. "9#0"91.
617 <rishnalal Shridharani, Kar Kithout Biolence, A Study o4 Gandhi@s $ethod and !ts
Acco%plish%ents 68ew Oor:, Earcourt, ?race, 1939, and reprint 8ew Oor: and Condon,
Garland >ublishing, 19/&7, p. &.#.
6.7 Aristotle, 2he >olitics, transl. by 2. A. Sinclair 6Ear%ondsworth, $iddlese=, ngland and
?alti%ore, $aryland, >enguin ?oo:s 1'/. M19.&N7, ?oo: B, Chapter 1&, pp. &31 and &3&.
6/7 2his story, originally titled DAule by 2ric:sD is 4ro% Ou0li09i by Ciu ;i 61311013/17 and
has been translated by Sidney 2ai, all rights reserved. Ou0li09i is also the pseudony% o4 Ciu ;i.
2he translation was originally published in 8onviolent Sanctions, 8ews 4ro% the Albert
instein !nstitution 6Ca%bridge, $ass.7, Bol. !B, 8o. 3 6Kinter 199&019937, p. 3.
6'7 <arl K. Feutsch, DCrac:s in the $onolith,D in Carl ;. *riedrich, ed., 2otalitarianis%
6Ca%bridge, $ass., Earvard (niversity >ress, 191"7, pp. 313031".
697 ;ohn Austin, Cectures on ;urisprudence or the >hilosophy o4 >ositive Caw 6*i4th edition,
revised and edited by Aobert Ca%pbell, & vol., Condon, ;ohn $urray, 1911 M1'.1N7, Bol. !, p.
61#7 8iccolo $achiavelli, D2he Fiscourses on the *irst 2en ?oo:s o4 Civy,D in 2he
Fiscourses o4 8iccolo $achiavelli 6Condon, Aoutledge and <egan >aul, 191#7, Bol. !, p. &1".
6117 See Gene Sharp, 2he >olitics o4 8onviolent Action 6?oston, >orter Sargent, 19/37, p.
/1 and passi% 4or other historical e=a%ples.
61&7 Aobert Eelvey, personal co%%unication, 11 August 1993.
6137 Aeco%%ended 4ull length studies are Gene Sharp, 2he >olitics o4 8onviolent Action
and >eter Ac:er%an and Christopher <ruegler, Strategic 8onviolent Con4lict 6Kestport,
Connecticut, >raeger, 199"7.
61"7 Aristotle, 2he >olitics, ?oo: B, Chapter 1&, p. &33.
6117 See Gene Sharp, Civilian0?ased Fe4ense, A >ost0$ilitary Keapons Syste% 6>rinceton,
8ew ;ersey, >rinceton (niversity >ress, 199#7.
61.7 2his list, with de4initions and historical e=a%ples, is ta:en 4ro% Gene Sharp, 2he
>olitics o4 8onviolent Action, >art 2wo, 2he $ethods o4 8onviolent Action.
*acing Fictatorships Aealistically 1
A continuing proble% &
*reedo% through violenceJ 3
Coups, elections, 4oreign saviorsJ "
*acing the hard truth /
2he Fangers o4 8egotiations 9
$erits and li%itations o4 negotiations 9
8egotiated surrenderJ 1#
>ower and 5ustice in negotiations 11
DAgreeableD dictators 1&
Khat :ind o4 peaceJ 13
Aeasons 4or hope 1"
Khence Co%es the >owerJ 1/
2he D$on:ey $asterD 4able 1/
8ecessary sources o4 political power 1'
Centers o4 de%ocratic power &1
Fictatorships Eave Kea:nesses &3
!denti4ying the Achilles@ heel &3
Kea:nesses o4 dictatorships &"
Attac:ing wea:nesses o4 dictatorships &1
=ercising >ower &/
2he wor:ings o4 nonviolent struggle &'
8onviolent weapons and discipline &'
3penness, secrecy, and high standards 31
Shi4ting power relationships 3&
*our %echanis%s o4 change 3&
Fe%ocrati9ing e44ects o4 political de4iance 3"
Co%ple=ity o4 nonviolent struggle 31
2he need 4or Strategic >lanning 3/
Aealistic planning 3'
Eurdles to planning 3'
*our i%portant ter%s in strategic planning "#
>lanning Strategy "1
Choice o4 %eans ".
>lanning 4or de%ocracy "/
=ternal assistance "/
*or%ulating a grand strategy "'
>lanning ca%paign strategies 1#
Spreading the idea o4 noncooperation 1&
Aepression and counter%easures 13
Adhering to the strategic plan 1"
Applying >olitical Fe4iance 11
Selective resistance 11
Sy%bolic challenge 1.
Spreading responsibility 1/
Ai%ing at the dictators@ power 1'
Shi4ts in strategy .#
Fisintegrating 2he Fictatorship .1
scalating 4reedo% .&
Fisintegrating the dictatorship ."
Eandling success responsibly .1
Groundwor: *or Furable Fe%ocracy ./
2hreats o4 a new dictatorship ./
?loc:ing coups .'
Constitution dra4ting .'
A de%ocratic de4ense policy .9
A %eritorious responsibility /#
2he $ethods 34 8onviolent Action /3
About the Author '1
Copyright © Gene Sharp 1993
Soviet repression; Tiananmen Square, Beijing, during both the festive demonstration of freedom and while the first armored personnel carriers entered that fateful night; and the jungle headquarters of the democratic opposition at Manerplaw in "liberated Burma." Sometimes I visited the sites of the fallen, as the television tower and the cemetery in Vilnius, the public park in Riga where people had been gunned down, the center of Ferrara in northern Italy where the fascists lined up and shot resisters, and a simple cemetery in Manerplaw filled with bodies of men who had died much too young. It is a sad realization that every dictatorship leaves such death and destruction in its wake. Out of these concerns and experiences grew a determined hope that prevention of tyranny might be possible, that successful struggles against dictatorships could be waged without mass mutual slaughters, that dictatorships could be destroyed and new ones prevented from rising out of the ashes. I have tried to think carefully about the most effective ways in which dictatorships could be successfully disintegrated with the least possible cost in suffering and lives. In this I have drawn on my studies over many years of dictatorships, resistance movements, revolutions, political thought, governmental systems, and especially realistic nonviolent struggle. This publication is the result. I am certain it is far from perfect. But, perhaps, it offers some guidelines to assist thought and planning to produce movements of liberation that are more powerful and effective than might otherwise be the case. Of necessity, and of deliberate choice, the focus of this essay is on the generic problem of how to destroy a dictatorship and to prevent the rise of a new one. I am not competent to produce a detailed analysis and prescription for a particular country. However, it is my hope that this generic analysis may be useful to people in, unfortunately, too many countries who now face the realities of dictatorial rule. They will need to examine the validity of this analysis for their situations and the extent to which its major recommendations are, or can be made to be, applicable for their liberation struggles. I have incurred several debts of gratitude in writing this essay. Bruce Jenkins, my Special Assistant, has made an inestimable contribution by his identification of problems in content and presentation, and through his incisive recommendations for more rigorous and clearer presentations of difficult ideas (especially concerning strategy), structural reorganization, and editorial improvements. I am also grateful for the editorial assistance of Stephen Coady. Dr. Christopher Kruegler and Robert Helvey have offered very important criticisms and advice. Dr. Hazel McFerson and Dr. Patricia Parkman have provided me information on struggles in Africa and Latin America, respectively. Although this work has greatly benefited from such kind and generous support, the analysis and conclusions contained therein are my responsibility.
Nowhere in this analysis do I assume that defying dictators will be an easy or cost-free endeavor. All forms of struggle have complications and costs. Fighting dictators will, of course, bring casualties. It is my hope, however, that this analysis will spur resistance leaders to consider strategies that may increase their effective power while reducing the relative level of casualties. Nor should this analysis be interpreted to mean that when a specific dictatorship is ended, all other problems will also disappear. The fall of one regime does not bring in a utopia. Rather, it opens the way for hard work and long efforts to build more just social, economic, and political relationships and the eradication of other forms of injustices and oppression. It is my hope that this brief examination of how a dictatorship can be disintegrated may be found useful wherever people live under domination and desire to be free.
6 October 1993 Albert Einstein Institution 1430 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
One Facing Dictatorships Realistically
In recent years various dictatorships-of both internal and external origin-have collapsed or stumbled when confronted by defiant, mobilized people. Often seen as firmly entrenched and impregnable, some of these dictatorships proved unable to withstand the concerted political, economic, and social defiance of the people. Since 1980 dictatorships have collapsed before the predominantly nonviolent defiance of people in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Slovenia, Madagascar, Mali, Bolivia, and the Philippines. Nonviolent resistance has furthered the movement toward democratization in Nepal, Zambia, South Korea, Chile, Argentina, Haiti, Brazil, Uruguay, Malawi, Thailand, Bulgaria, Hungary, Zaire, Nigeria, and various parts of the former Soviet Union (playing a significant role in the defeat of the August 1991 attempted hard-line coup d'état). In addition, mass political defiance(1) has occurred in China, Burma, and Tibet in recent years. Although those struggles have not brought an end to the ruling dictatorships or occupations, they have exposed the brutal nature of those repressive regimes to the 3
Unfortunately. Although the number of "free" countries has increased in the past ten years.45 billion population lived in countries and territories designated as "not free. will move in the opposite direction and experience new forms of dictatorship. Frequently. traditional repressive monarchies (as in Saudi Arabia and Bhutan). ambitious individuals. and social justice. bureaucratic inefficiency. Many countries today are in a state of rapid economic. According to Freedom House. or are in a state of transition. and environmental destruction are often the legacy of brutal regimes. this positive trend is tempered by the large numbers of peoples still living under conditions of tyranny. The problem of dictatorships is deep. the number of countries around the world classified as "free" has grown significantly in the last ten years:(2) 1974 1984 1994 2004 Free 41 (27%) 53 (32%) 76 (40%) 89 (46%) Partly Free 48 (32%) 59 (35%) 61 (32%) 54 (28%) Not Free 63 (41%) 55 (33%) 54 (28%) 49 (26%) However. there is a great risk that many nations. which compiles a yearly international survey of the status of political rights and civil liberties. People in many countries have experienced decades or even centuries of oppression. The 38 countries and 12 territories in the "not free" category are ruled by a range of military dictatorships (as in Burma and Sudan). whether of domestic or foreign origin. Iraq. foreign occupiers (as in Tibet and East Timor). crime. political. A continuing problem There has indeed been a trend towards greater democratization and freedom in the world in the past decades. dominant political parties (as in China." (3) that is.world community and have provided the populations with valuable experience with this form of struggle. Coups d'eat are and will remain a common occurrence. and doctrinal political parties will repeatedly seek to impose their will. However. the past is still with us. elected officials. Basic human and political rights will continue to be denied to vast numbers of peoples. As of January 1993. unquestioning submission to authority figures and 4 . the downfall of these dictatorships has minimally lifted much of the suffering of the victims of oppression. personal liberties. in the face of such rapid fundamental changes. and has opened the way for the rebuilding of these societies with greater political democracy. areas with extremely restricted political rights and civil liberties. Military cliques. 31% of the world's 5. The collapse of dictatorships in the above named countries certainly has not erased all other problems in those societies: poverty. and social change. and North Korea).
the democrats are (almost always) no match. Their accomplishments have sometimes been remarkable. ammunition. to confide in each other. People are often too frightened to share their hatred of the dictatorship and their hunger for freedom even with family and friends. At other times. Violent rebellions can trigger brutal repression that frequently leaves the populace more helpless than before. Angry victims have sometimes organized to fight the brutal dictators with whatever violent and military capacity they could muster. subordinated. The dictators almost always have superiority in military hardware. However noble the motives. lacks self-confidence. economic. torture. However. what would be the use? Instead. Despite bravery. Whatever the merits of the violent option. they face suffering without purpose and a future without hope. In any case. people often have concluded that only violence can end a dictatorship. and even religious institutions of the society-outside of state control-have been deliberately weakened. and is incapable of resistance. one point is clear. however. but they rarely have won freedom. the social. The result is predictable: the population becomes weak. asserting some principle or simply their defiance. Perhaps spirits soared temporarily. The dictators are equipped to apply violence overwhelmingly. eventually the harsh military realities usually become inescapable. despite the odds being against them. When conventional military rebellion is recognized as unrealistic. In the past. disappearances. and the size of military forces. judicial decisions. political. those acts may have brought instead only increased suffering and death. some people may have attempted resistance. some dissidents then favor guerrilla warfare. or even to do much of anything at their own initiative. People are often too terrified to think seriously of public resistance. and public opinion are normally ignored by dictators. reacting to the brutalities. not victories or even hope. one has chosen the very type of struggle with which the oppressors nearly always have superiority. Constitutional and legal barriers. Current conditions in today's dictatorships may be much worse than earlier. In extreme cases. These people have often fought bravely.rulers has been long inculcated. benefits the 5 . Sadly. such past acts of resistance have often been insufficient to overcome the people's fear and habit of obedience. Short-lived mass protests and demonstrations may have occurred. Understandably. and killings. individuals and small groups may have conducted brave but impotent gestures. By placing confidence in violent means. The population has often been atomized (turned into a mass of isolated individuals) unable to work together to achieve freedom. at great cost in suffering and lives. a necessary prerequisite to destroy the dictatorship. or even replaced by new regimented institutions used by the state or ruling party to control the society. Freedom through violence? What is to be done in such circumstances? The obvious possibilities seem useless. transportation. guerrilla warfare rarely. if ever. However long or briefly these democrats can continue.
oppressed population or ushers in a democracy. as occurred in Burma in 1990 and Nigeria in 1993. Immediately. The technique is no guarantor against failure. with immense human suffering and social dislocation. If opposition candidates have been allowed to run and were actually elected. Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones. Even when successful. however. results may simply be ignored and the "victors" subjected to intimidation. Those elections. this group might be milder in its behavior and be open in limited ways to democratic reforms. Civilian populations are often displaced by the ruling government. Theoretically. Guerrilla warfare is no obvious solution. foreign saviors? A military coup d'‚tat against a dictatorship might appear to be relatively one of the easiest and quickest ways to remove a particularly repugnant regime. Dictators under pressure may at times agree to new elections. That is not an acceptable answer to the problem of dictatorship. 6 . However. or even execution. the new clique may turn out to be more ruthless and more ambitious than the old one. Most importantly. the resulting new regime is often more dictatorial than its predecessor due to the centralizing impact of the expanded military forces and the weakening or destruction of the society's independent groups and institutions during the struggle-bodies which are vital in establishing and maintaining a democratic society. particularly given the very strong tendency toward immense casualties among one's own people. such as those of the former Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc. guerrilla struggles often have significant long-term negative structural consequences. the new clique-in which hopes may have been placed-will be able to do whatever it wants without concern for democracy or human rights. it leaves in place the existing maldistribution of power between the population and the elite in control of the government and its military forces. Guerrilla struggles often last a very long time. The removal of particular persons and cliques from the governing positions most likely will merely make it possible for another group to take their place. the opposite is as likely to be the case. Coups. However. were merely rigidly controlled plebiscites to get public endorsement of candidates already hand picked by the dictators. arrest. there are very serious problems with that technique. Some dictatorial regimes. Elections are not available under dictatorships as an instrument of significant political change. elections. Consequently. went through the motions in order to appear democratic. If the guerrillas should finally succeed. despite supporting theory and strategic analyses. Opponents of dictatorships should look for another option. and sometimes international backing. After consolidating its position. the attacked regime becomes more dictatorial as a result of its countermeasures. but then rig them to place civilian puppets in government offices.
It is therefore understandable that many people place their hope for liberation in others. and if a foreign state does intervene. and the like can assist greatly. having thereby focused international attention on the brutal nature of the regime. a dictatorship in order to advance their own economic or political interests. Such a scenario may sound comforting. This outside force may be "public opinion. International pressures can be very useful. in the absence of a strong internal resistance movement such actions by others are unlikely to happen. Such confidence may be totally misplaced. or international economic and political sanctions. Although dictatorships may benefit from or be somewhat weakened by international actions. They believe that only international help can be strong enough to bring down the dictators. • Some foreign states will act against a dictatorship only to gain their own economic. As noted. wealth and power are concentrated in too few hands. They expect that their people can only be saved by the actions of others. their continuation is dependent primarily on internal factors. However. A few harsh realities concerning reliance on foreign intervention need to be emphasized here: • Frequently foreign states will tolerate. 7 . but there are grave problems with this reliance on an outside savior. or who have gone into exile to escape its immediate grasp. however. and no known way to save themselves. do not believe that the oppressed can liberate themselves. These people place their confidence in external forces. a particular country. Then. it probably should not be trusted. • Foreign states also may be willing to sell out an oppressed people instead of keeping pledges to assist their liberation at the cost of another objective." the United Nations. The population and society are too weak to cause the dictatorship serious problems. international economic boycotts. embargoes. or military control over the country. for example. the breaking of diplomatic relations. or even positively assist. condemnation by United Nations bodies. often oppressed people are unwilling and temporarily unable to struggle because they have no confidence in their ability to face the ruthless dictatorship. • The foreign states may become actively involved for positive purposes only if and when the internal resistance movement has already begun shaking the dictatorship.Many people now suffering under a brutal dictatorship. The view that the oppressed are unable to act effectively is sometimes accurate for a certain time period. Usually no foreign saviors are coming. expulsion from international organizations. Dictatorships usually exist primarily because of the internal power distribution in the home country. political. when they are supporting a powerful internal resistance movement.
self-confidence. We will examine this option in detail in the following chapters. . . and you must win . and resistance skills. When you have made this question ripe for settlement. . the above four requirements must be fulfilled. . strengthen those amongst yourselves who are weak . As Charles Stewart Parnell called out during the Irish rent strike campaign in 1879 and 1880: “It is no use relying on the Government . . Two The Dangers Of Negotiations 8 . . liberation from dictatorships ultimately depends on the people's ability to liberate themselves. However. . given wise strategy. disciplined and courageous action. . . then and not till then will it be settled”. . As the above discussion indicates. . A liberation struggle is a time for self-reliance and internal strengthening of the struggle group. but that option has remained undeveloped. however. band yourselves together.Facing the hard truth The conclusion is a hard one. When one wants to bring down a dictatorship most effectively and with the least cost then one has four immediate tasks: • • • • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination. organize yourselves . and One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully. . One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people. The cases of successful political defiance-or nonviolent struggle for political ends-cited above indicate that the means do exist for populations to free themselves. Minimally. (4) Against a strong self-reliant force. One must create a powerful internal resistance force. and genuine strength. we should first look at the issue of negotiations as a means of dismantling dictatorships. . [H]elp yourselves by standing together . . . . You must only rely upon your own determination . the dictatorship will eventually crumble.
When the issues at stake are fundamental. A labor strike for higher wages is a good example of the appropriate role of negotiations in a conflict: a negotiated settlement may provide an increase somewhere between the sums originally proposed by each of the contending sides. in which everyone gains something. may conclude they must come to terms with the apparently permanent dictatorship. lacking realistic options." "compromise. issues of human freedom. The point 9 . On the surface. even if it is one conducted by nonviolent struggle rather than by military war? Merits and limitations of negotiations Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving certain types of issues in conflicts and should not be neglected or rejected when they are appropriate. Others. however. some people may lapse back into passive submission.When faced with the severe problems of confronting a dictatorship (as surveyed in Chapter One). negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution. quite different than the conflicts in which the continued existence of a cruel dictatorship or the establishment of political freedom are at stake. hoping that through "conciliation. Perhaps the democrats have misunderstood the dictators. Only a shift in power relations in favor of the democrats can adequately safeguard the basic issues at stake. affecting religious principles. On some basic issues there should be no compromise." and "negotiations" they might be able to salvage some positive elements and to end the brutalities. or the whole future development of the society. Would that not be preferable to a difficult struggle. In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake. to negotiate the way to a gradual end to the dictatorship? Can't the democrats appeal to the dictators' sense of common humanity and convince them to reduce their domination bit by bit. the dictators would gladly remove themselves from the difficult situation facing the country if only given some encouragement and enticements. It may be argued that the dictators could be offered a "win-win" solution. This is not to say that negotiations ought never to be used. The risks and pain of further struggle could be unnecessary. Serious struggle against brutal dictatorships is not a pleasant prospect. if the democratic opposition is only willing to settle the conflict peacefully by negotiations (which may even perhaps be assisted by some skilled individuals or even another government). there is appeal in that line of thinking. negotiations can be an important means to settle a conflict. Why is it necessary to go that route? Can't everyone just be reasonable and find ways to talk. and therefore a compromise is acceptable. it may be argued. and perhaps finally to give way completely to the establishment of a democracy? It is sometimes argued that the truth is not all on one side. not negotiations. Such a shift will occur through struggle. seeing no prospect of achieving democracy. Labor conflicts with legal trade unions are. who may have acted from good motives in difficult circumstances? Or perhaps some may think.
the democratic negotiators may disappear and never be heard from again. They could at their own initiative without any bargaining restore respect for human dignity and rights. may not be an option at all. it is understandable that all the people of whatever political persuasion would want peace. Negotiated surrender? Individuals and groups who oppose dictatorship and favor negotiations will often have good motives. halt military operations. 10 . if only they would stop waging war on their own people. The call for negotiations when basic issues of political liberties are involved may be an effort by the dictators to induce the democrats to surrender peacefully while the violence of the dictatorship continues. In those types of conflicts the only proper role of negotiations may occur at the end of a decisive struggle in which the power of the dictators has been effectively destroyed and they seek personal safe passage to an international airport. Democrats should be wary of the traps which may be deliberately built into a negotiation process by the dictators. the dictators may wish to negotiate the opposition into surrender under the guise of making "peace. of course. the dictators may seek negotiations in order to salvage as much of their control or wealth as possible. and apologize to the people. Negotiations are especially likely to become an issue among democrats where the dictators have clear military superiority and the destruction and casualties among one's own people are no longer bearable. In neither case should the democrats help the dictators achieve their goals." The call to negotiate can sound appealing. when negotiations have been initiated. Or. of course. rather disingenuous. Firmly entrenched dictators who feel secure in their position may refuse to negotiate with their democratic opponents. When the dictatorship is strong but an irritating resistance exists. The offer by a dictatorship of "peace" through negotiations with the democratic opposition is. end torture. withdraw from the government. when the opposition is exceptionally strong and the dictatorship is genuinely threatened. On the other hand. but grave dangers can be lurking within the negotiating room. There will then be a strong temptation to explore any other route which might salvage some of the democrats' objectives while bringing an end to the cycle of violence and counter-violence.here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic opposition. The violence could be ended immediately by the dictators themselves. Especially when a military struggle has continued for years against a brutal dictatorship without final victory. Negotiations. free political prisoners.
What can each side do at a later date to gain its objectives if the other side fails to come to an agreement at the negotiating table? What can each side do after an agreement is reached if the other side breaks its word and uses its available forces to seize its objectives despite the agreement? A settlement is not reached in negotiations through an assessment of the rights and wrongs of the issues at stake. "Negotiation" does not mean that the two sides sit down together on a basis of equality and talk through and resolve the differences that produced the conflict between them. In the case of extreme dictatorships what are the pro-democracy forces to give up to the dictators? What objectives of the dictators are the pro-democracy forces to accept? Are the democrats to give to the dictators (whether a political party or a military cabal) a constitutionally-established permanent role in the future government? Where is the democracy in that? Even assuming that all goes well in negotiations. What can the democrats do to ensure that their minimum claims cannot be denied? What can the dictators do to stay in control and neutralize the democrats? In other words. perhaps some of the romanticism associated with them needs to be moderated. if an agreement comes. While those may be much discussed. First. the real results in negotiations come from an assessment of the absolute and relative power situations of the contending groups. Each side gets part of what it wants and gives up part of its objectives. Several difficult questions must be considered. Clear thinking is required as to how negotiations operate. in negotiations it is not the relative justice of the conflicting views and objectives which determines the content of a negotiated agreement. it is necessary to ask: What kind of peace will be the result? Will life then be better or worse than would be if the democrats began or continued to struggle? "Agreeable" dictators 11 . it is more likely the result of each side estimating how the power capacities of the two sides compare. In successful negotiations there is compromise. and then calculating how an open struggle might end. Two facts must be remembered. a splitting of differences. the content of a negotiated agreement is largely determined by the power capacity of each side. Second. Attention must also be given to what each side is willing to give up in order to reach agreement.Power and justice in negotiations If this judgment sounds too harsh a commentary on negotiations.
Submission to cruel oppression and passive acquiescence to ruthless dictators who have perpetrated atrocities on hundreds of thousands of people is no real peace. is essential for change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake. Not everyone who uses the word "peace" wants peace with freedom and justice. to be explored later in more detail. If the democrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve from repression. human rights violations." wrote Krishnalal Shridharani. There are other dangers. the dictators cannot continue to rule indefinitely. A halt to resistance rarely brings reduced repression. position. not negotiations. Well intended negotiators sometimes confuse the objectives of the negotiations and the negotiation process itself. reshaping the society. Success is most often determined not by negotiating a settlement but through the wise use of the most appropriate and powerful means of resistance available.Dictators may have a variety of motives and objectives underlying their domination: power. "For the tyrant has the power to inflict only that which we lack the strength to resist. In nearly all cases. Once the restraining force of internal and international opposition has been removed. may in a single stroke provide the dictators with the domestic and international legitimacy which they had been previously denied because of their seizure of the state. The collapse of popular resistance often removes the countervailing force which has limited the control and brutality of the dictatorship. democratic negotiators. no one should ever forget that the dictators may promise anything to secure submission from their democratic opponents. dictators may even make their oppression and violence more brutal than before. or foreign negotiation specialists accepted to assist in the negotiations. The tyrants can then move ahead against whomever they wish. or nonviolent struggle. extremely clear thinking is needed because of the dangers involved. that political defiance. Hitler often called for peace. and brutalities. One should remember that none of these will be served if they abandon their control positions. and then brazenly violate those same agreements. resistance must continue to drive dictators out of power. and the like. A dictators' peace is often no more than the peace of the prison or of the grave. Exponents of peace should not provide them legitimacy. In the event of negotiations dictators will try to preserve their goals. Further. Without that desperately needed legitimacy. What kind of peace? If dictators and democrats are to talk about peace at all. Whatever promises offered by dictators in any negotiated settlement. is the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom. by which he meant submission to his will. Reasons for hope 12 . It is our contention. wealth.(5) Resistance. they may be very disappointed.
were required to bring down the Communist dictatorship in Poland. Above all. and reveals that they can crumble in a relatively short time span: whereas ten years -. In El Salvador and Guatemala in 1944 the struggles against the entrenched brutal military dictators required approximately two weeks each. it will require power.1980-1990 -. 13 . [O]ligarchy and tyranny are shorter-lived than any other constitution. many of its long dominated constituent nations in only days. . in East Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1989 it occurred within weeks. weeks. as well as those listed in Chapter One. Although much time may be required for changes in the underlying situation and society. People living under dictatorships need not remain weak. It will require great strategic skill. illustrate that another option exists for those who want both peace and freedom: political defiance.As stated earlier. organization. . . The old preconception that violent means always work quickly and nonviolent means always require vast time is clearly not valid. that sense of powerlessness can be changed. The examples just cited. Three Whence Comes The Power? Achieving freedom with peace is of course no simple task. .) Recent history shows the vulnerability of dictatorships. the actual fight against a dictatorship sometimes occurs relatively quickly by nonviolent struggle. The attempted hard-line coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991 was blocked in days by political defiance. and dictators need not be allowed to remain powerful indefinitely. tyrannies have not lasted long. and planning. The Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines fell before people power within weeks in 1986: the United States government quickly abandoned President Marcos when the strength of the opposition became apparent. The militarily powerful regime of the Shah in Iran was undermined in a few months. Thereafter. However. . opposition leaders may feel forced to pursue negotiations out of a sense of hopelessness of the democratic struggle."(6) Modern dictatorships are also vulnerable. Negotiations are not the only alternative to a continuing war of annihilation on the one hand and capitulation on the other. ". Dictatorships are not permanent. Their weaknesses can be aggravated and the dictators' power can be disintegrated. (In Chapter Four we will examine these weaknesses in more detail. [A]ll round. Democrats cannot hope to bring down a dictatorship and establish political freedom without the ability to apply their own power effectively. and months regained their independence. Aristotle noted long ago.
On the same night. watching that the old man had fallen asleep. outlines this neglected understanding of political power quite well: (7) In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. Learning this insight is not really so difficult a task. The people of Chu called him "ju gong" (monkey master). and never returned. Some basic truths are quite simple. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage. Yu-li-zi says. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one tenth of his collection to the old man. Dictators require the assistance of the people they rule. the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard. and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees." The small monkey continued: "Then." Necessary sources of political power The principle is simple.But how is this possible? What kind of power can the democratic opposition mobilize that will be sufficient to destroy the dictatorship and its vast military and police networks? The answers lie in an oft ignored understanding of political power. for example. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. their tricks no longer work. "Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened. a small monkey asked the other monkeys: "Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?" The others said: "No. but dared not complain. Aren't they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. why should we depend on the old man. The "Monkey Master" fable A Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji. we all can. brought all with them to the woods. As soon as their people become enlightened. and destroyed the stockade entirely. Each morning." The small monkey further asked: "Can't we take the fruits without the old man's permission?" The others replied: "Yes. the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined. These sources of political power include: 14 . One day. they grew naturally. why must we all serve him?" Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement. The old man finally died of starvation. All the monkeys suffered bitterly. without which they cannot secure and maintain the sources of political power.
and means of communication and transportation. On the other hand. • Skills and knowledge.• Authority. the economic system. its disintegration. needed by the regime to perform specific actions and supplied by the cooperating persons and groups. Repression. on the submission and obedience of the population. That is likely to be followed by a clear weakening of the power of the dictatorship. the number and importance of the persons and groups which are obeying. All of these sources. Without availability of those sources. and support will increase the availability of the needed sources of power and. The dictators' power will die. If. obedience. Over time. psychological and ideological factors which may induce people to obey and assist the rulers. The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is. and may sever. Naturally. threatened or applied. the degree to which the rulers control or have access to property. Dictators are therefore likely to threaten and punish those who disobey. the availability of the sources of power on which all rulers depend. the withholding of the sources of power can produce the paralysis and impotence of the regime. however. even brutalities. strike. • Material resources. slowly or rapidly. the sources of power can be restricted or severed for enough time. Full cooperation. and in severe cases. or fail to cooperate. natural resources. it follows. or providing assistance to the rulers. that is not the end of the story. • Intangible factors. the belief among the people that the regime is legitimate. despite repression. and on the cooperation of innumerable people and the many institutions of the society. in large degree a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them. depend on acceptance of the regime. dictators are sensitive to actions and ideas that threaten their capacity to do as they like. and that they have a moral duty to obey it. the rulers' power weakens and finally dissolves. withdrawal of popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and dictators diminishes. financial resources. However. do not always produce a resumption of the necessary degree of submission and cooperation for the regime to function. • Human resources. punishments. and • Sanctions. These are not guaranteed. the initial results may be uncertainty and confusion within the dictatorship. 15 . cooperating. from political starvation. consequently expand the power capacity of any government. against the disobedient and noncooperative to ensure the submission and cooperation which are needed for the regime to exist and carry out its policies.
Czechs. 16 . Africa. Austin argued that if most of the population were determined to destroy the government and were willing to endure repression to do so. as well as Europe.Contrary to popular opinion. and (3) the population's relative ability to withhold their consent and assistance. economic institutions. by the brave Poles. The defiant people could not be forced back into permanent obedience and subjection. (2) the relative strength of the subjects' independent organizations and institutions to withdraw collectively the sources of power.C. . Three of the most important factors in determining to what degree a government's power will be controlled or uncontrolled therefore are: (1) the relative desire of the populace to impose limits on the government's power. even if it received foreign assistance. As the political scientist Karl W. Slovaks. . cultural associations. These include. more than that they have to be able to count on the active support of at least significant parts of the population in case of need. could not preserve the hated government. Germans. Deutsch noted in 1953: Totalitarian power is strong only if it does not have to be used too often. the Americas. and finally helped produce the collapse of Communist rule in Europe. religious organizations. sports clubs. such regimes stand in greater need of widespread and dependable compliance habits among their people. If totalitarian power must be used at all times against the entire population. who has the public as a whole for his enemy can never make himself secure. of course. is no new phenomenon: cases of nonviolent resistance go back at least to 494 B. it is unlikely to remain powerful for long. This. and many others who resisted Communist aggression and dictatorship. the weaker does his regime become. and as cited in Chapter One. Austin concluded. for example. when plebeians withdrew cooperation from their Roman patrician masters. including those who supported it. and the Pacific islands. Centers of democratic power One characteristic of a democratic society is that there exist independent of the state a multitude of nongovernmental groups and institutions. and the greater his cruelty.(8) The English Nineteenth Century legal theorist John Austin described the situation of a dictatorship confronting a disaffected people. families.(9) Niccolo Machiavelli had much earlier argued that the prince ".(11) Nonviolent struggle has been employed at various times by peoples throughout Asia. Australasia. then the might of the government. Since totalitarian regimes require more power for dealing with their subjects than do other types of government."(10) The practical political application of these insights was demonstrated by the heroic Norwegian resisters against the Nazi occupation. even totalitarian dictatorships are dependent on the population and the societies they rule.
trade unions, student associations, political parties, villages, neighborhood associations, gardening clubs, human rights organizations, musical groups, literary societies, and others. These bodies are important in serving their own objectives and also in helping to meet social needs. Additionally, these bodies have great political significance. They provide group and institutional bases by which people can exert influence over the direction of their society and resist other groups or the government when they are seen to impinge unjustly on their interests, activities, or purposes. Isolated individuals, not members of such groups, usually are unable to make a significant impact on the rest of the society, much less a government, and certainly not a dictatorship. Consequently, if the autonomy and freedom of such bodies can be taken away by the dictators, the population will be relatively helpless. Also, if these institutions can themselves be dictatorially controlled by the central regime or replaced by new controlled ones, they can be used to dominate both the individual members and also those areas of the society. However, if the autonomy and freedom of these independent civil institutions (outside of government control) can be maintained or regained they are highly important for the application of political defiance. The common feature of the cited examples in which dictatorships have been disintegrated or weakened has been the courageous mass application of political defiance by the population and its institutions. As stated, these centers of power provide the institutional bases from which the population can exert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls. In the future, they will be part of the indispensable structural base for a free society. Their continued independence and growth therefore is often a prerequisite for the success of the liberation struggle. If the dictatorship has been largely successful in destroying or controlling the society's independent bodies, it will be important for the resisters to create new independent social groups and institutions, or to reassert democratic control over surviving or partially controlled bodies. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956-1957 a multitude of direct democracy councils emerged, even joining together to establish for some weeks a whole federated system of institutions and governance. In Poland during the late 1980s workers maintained illegal Solidarity unions and, in some cases, took over control of the official, Communist dominated, trade unions. Such institutional developments can have very important political consequences. Of course, none of this means that weakening and destroying dictatorships is easy, nor that every attempt will succeed. It certainly does not mean that the struggle will be free of casualties, for those still serving the dictators are likely to fight back in an effort to force the populace to resume cooperation and obedience.
The above insight into power does mean, however, that the deliberate disintegration of dictatorships is possible. Dictatorships in particular have specific characteristics that render them highly vulnerable to skillfully implemented political defiance. Let us examine these characteristics in more detail.
Four Dictatorships Have Weaknesses
Dictatorships often appear invulnerable. Intelligence agencies, police, military forces, prisons, concentration camps, and execution squads are controlled by a powerful few. A country's finances, natural resources, and production capacities are often arbitrarily plundered by dictators and used to support the dictators' will. In comparison, democratic opposition forces often appear extremely weak, ineffective, and powerless. That perception of invulnerability against powerlessness makes effective opposition unlikely. That is not the whole story, however.
Identifying the Achilles' heel
A myth from Classical Greece illustrates well the vulnerability of the supposedly invulnerable. Against the warrior Achilles, no blow would injure and no sword would penetrate his skin. When still a baby, Achilles' mother had supposedly dipped him into the waters of the magical river Styx, resulting in the protection of his body from all dangers. There was, however, a problem. Since the baby was held by his heel so that he would not be washed away, the magical water had not covered that small part of his body. When Achilles was a grown man he appeared to all to be invulnerable to the enemies' weapons. However, in the battle against Troy, instructed by one who knew the weakness, an enemy soldier aimed his arrow at Achilles' unprotected heel, the one spot where he could be injured. The strike proved fatal. Still today, the phrase "Achilles' heel" refers to the vulnerable part of a person, a plan, or an institution at which if attacked there is no protection. The same principle applies to ruthless dictatorships. They, too, can be conquered, but most quickly and with least cost if their weaknesses can be identified and the attack concentrated on them.
Weaknesses of dictatorships
Among the weaknesses of dictatorships are the following: 1. The cooperation of a multitude of people, groups, and institutions needed to operate the system may be restricted or withdrawn. 2. The requirements and effects of the regime's past policies will somewhat limit its present ability to adopt and implement conflicting policies. 3. The system may become routine in its operation, less able to adjust quickly to new situations. 4. Personnel and resources already allocated for existing tasks will not be easily available for new needs. 5. Subordinates fearful of displeasing their superiors may not report accurate or complete information needed by the dictators to make decisions. 6. The ideology may erode, and myths and symbols of the system may become unstable. 7. If a strong ideology is present which influences one's view of reality, firm adherence to it may cause inattention to actual conditions and needs. 8. Deteriorating efficiency and competency of the bureaucracy, or excessive controls and regulations, may make the system's policies and operation ineffective. 9. Internal institutional conflicts and personal rivalries and hostilities may harm, and even disrupt, the operation of the dictatorship. 10. Intellectuals and students may become restless in response to conditions, restrictions, doctrinalism, and repression. 11. The general public may over time become apathetic, skeptical, and even hostile to the regime. 12. Regional, class, cultural, or national differences may become acute. 13. The power hierarchy of the dictatorship is always unstable to some degree, and at times extremely so. Individuals do not only remain in the same position in the ranking, but may rise or fall to other ranks or be removed entirely and replaced by new persons. 14. Sections of the police or military forces may act to achieve their own objectives, even against the will of established dictators, including by coup d'‚tat. 15. If the dictatorship is new, time is required for it to become well established. 16. With so many decisions made by so few people in the dictatorship, mistakes of judgment, policy, and action are likely to occur. 17. If the regime seeks to avoid these dangers and decentralizes controls and decision making, its control over the central levers of power may be further eroded.
Attacking weaknesses of dictatorships
With knowledge of such inherent weaknesses, the democratic opposition can seek to aggravate these "Achilles' heels" deliberately in order to alter the system drastically or to disintegrate it.
as we have already observed. • It is difficult for the regime to combat. Not everything the regime sets out to accomplish will get completed. Political defiance has the following characteristics: • It does not accept that the outcome will be decided by the means of fighting chosen by the dictatorship. Five Exercising Power In Chapter One we noted that military resistance against dictatorships does not strike them where they are weakest. tend to make the regime less effective and more vulnerable to changing conditions and deliberate resistance. Every possible course of action for liberation will involve risks and potential suffering. In Chapter Two we examined the problems of relying on negotiations as a means to remove dictatorships. types of struggle which target the dictatorship's identifiable weaknesses have greater chance of success than those which seek to fight the dictatorship where it is clearly strongest. even Hitler's direct orders were never implemented because those beneath him in the hierarchy refused to carry them out. Dictatorships will almost always be able to muster superior resources in these areas. institutional inefficiencies. And.The conclusion is then clear: despite the appearances of strength. but rather where they are strongest. These weaknesses. By choosing to compete in the areas of military forces. over time. no means of action can ensure rapid success in every situation. The question is how this struggle is to be waged. all dictatorships have weaknesses. for example. resistance movements tend to put themselves at a distinct disadvantage. This does not mean dictatorships can be destroyed without risks and casualties. weapons technology. 20 . and conflicts between organizations and departments. and will take time to operate. What means are then available that will offer the democratic resistance distinct advantages and will tend to aggravate the identified weaknesses of dictatorships? What technique of action will capitalize on the theory of political power discussed in Chapter Three? The alternative of choice is political defiance. personal rivalries. However. supplies of ammunition. of course. The dictatorial regime may at times even fall apart quickly. At times. The dangers of relying on foreign powers for salvation were also outlined. and the like. internal inefficiencies.
• It can uniquely aggravate weaknesses of the dictatorship and can sever its sources of power. and political weapons applied by the population and the institutions of the society. or to disintegrate the opponents' regime. is uniquely suited to severing those sources of power. ranging from efforts to influence the opponents to take different actions. strikes. Nonviolent weapons and discipline The common error of past improvised political defiance campaigns is the reliance on only one or two methods. the struggle is fought by psychological. political defiance can be employed for a variety of purposes. The ways and results of violent conflict are well known. About two hundred specific methods of nonviolent action have been identified. and obedience of the population and the institutions of the society. These methods are classified under three broad categories: protest and persuasion. Physical weapons are used to intimidate. submission. including parades. The workings of nonviolent struggle Like military capabilities. • It can in action be widely dispersed but can also be concentrated on a specific objective. • It can effectively utilize the population as a whole and the society's groups and institutions in the struggle to end the brutal domination by the few. and people power. marches. they do so with very different means and with different consequences. Although both techniques are means to wage struggle. noncooperation. • It leads to errors of judgment and action by the dictators. all governments can rule only as long as they receive replenishment of the needed sources of their power from the cooperation. noncooperation. Political defiance. kill. and 21 . making the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society more possible. such as strikes and mass demonstrations. economic. disaffection. However. As noted earlier. political defiance operates in quite different ways from violence. Instead. and destroy. • It helps to spread the distribution of effective power in the society. injure. create conditions for peaceful resolution of conflict. These have been known under various names of protests. boycotts. and intervention. Nonviolent struggle is a much more complex and varied means of struggle than is violence. unlike violence. a multitude of methods exist that allow resistance strategists to concentrate and disperse resistance as required. and there are certainly scores more. social. In fact. Methods of nonviolent protest and persuasion are largely symbolic demonstrations.
physical. such as distributing leaflets. Noncooperation is divided into three sub-categories: (a) social noncooperation (16 methods). then political forms of nonviolent struggle would be crucial. the methods of nonviolent struggle can be focused directly on the issues at stake. The use of a considerable number of these methods-carefully chosen. slow-downs. 22 . The dictators' efforts to exploit the economic system might be met with limited general strikes. but then deliberately work more slowly or inefficiently than usual. At times stalling and procrastination may be quietly and even secretly practiced. then economic action. Nonviolent intervention. since the issue of dictatorship is primarily political. operating an underground press. is the final group. One might go to religious services when the act expresses not only religious but also political convictions. going on hunger strike. by psychological. One may become "sick" and "unable" to work at certain times. such as the fast. or political means. For example. may be appropriate resistance methods. such as boycotts or strikes. On the other hand. A list of 198 of these methods is included as the Appendix to this publication. while at other times open disobedience and defiant public demonstrations and strikes may be visible to all. though in somewhat different ways. These methods may be difficult for some people to undertake except in very extreme situations. These would include denial of legitimacy to the dictators and noncooperation with the their regime. Selective use of various types of strikes may be conducted at key points in manufacturing. or sitting down in the streets. including boycotts (26 methods) and strikes (23 methods). one may simply refuse to work. applied persistently and on a large scale. Some methods of nonviolent struggle require people to perform acts unrelated to their normal lives. wielded in the context of a wise strategy and appropriate tactics. This applies to all dictatorships. "Mistakes" may be consciously made more frequently. social. and © political noncooperation (38 methods). Noncooperation would also be applied against specific policies. Or. One might refuse to join certain "recommended" or required organizations that one would not have joined freely in earlier times. The similarity of such types of action to people's usual activities and the limited degree of departure from their normal lives may make participation in the national liberation struggle much easier for many people. people may report for work. if the dictatorship is vulnerable to economic pressures or if many of the popular grievances against it are economic. and parallel government (41 methods). instead of striking. economic. by trained civilians-is likely to cause any illegitimate regime severe problems. nonviolent occupation. and refusal of assistance by (or disappearance of) indispensable experts.vigils (54 methods). in the supply of raw materials. In contrast to military means. in transport. and in the distribution of products. For example. Other methods of nonviolent struggle instead require people to continue approximately their normal lives. (b) economic noncooperation. One may act to protect children from the attackers' propaganda by education at home or in illegal classes.
The historical record indicates that while casualties in dead and wounded must be expected in political defiance. Nonviolent discipline is also extremely important in the process of political jiu-jitsu. In some cases. but will contribute to an image that the resistance movement is in fact extremely powerful. Openness.Since nonviolent struggle and violence operate in fundamentally different ways. and issues. Nonviolent struggle both requires and tends to produce a loss (or greater control) of fear of the government and its violent repression. Or. causing dissention in their own ranks as well as fomenting support for the resisters among the general population. the regime's usual supporters. It is often impossible to keep the political police and intelligence agents from learning about intentions and plans. This should be done in terms of geography. However. limited violence against the dictatorship may be inevitable. even limited resistance violence during a political defiance campaign will be counterproductive for it will shift the struggle to one in which the dictators have an overwhelming advantage (military warfare). political defiance does not need to be abandoned. Frustration and hatred of the regime may explode into violence. certain groups may be unwilling to abandon violent means even though they recognize the important role of nonviolent struggle. this type of struggle does not contribute to the endless cycle of killing and brutality. and underground conspiracy pose very difficult problems for a movement using nonviolent action. population groups. Secrecy may also affect the ability of a movement to remain nonviolent. which dampens the spirit of resistance and reduces the number of people who can participate in a given action. The maintenance of nonviolent discipline against violent opponents facilitates the workings of the four mechanisms of change in nonviolent struggle (discussed below). That abandonment or control of fear is a key element in destroying the power of the dictators over the general population. Furthermore. secrecy. within the movement. Nonviolent discipline is a key to success and must be maintained despite provocations and brutalities by the dictators and their agents. From the perspective of the movement. and high standards Secrecy. In these cases. It also can contribute to suspicions and accusations. and third parties. however. openness regarding intentions and plans will not only have the opposite effects. concerning who is an informer or agent for the opponents. Otherwise the violence could have a disastrous effect on the potentially much more powerful and successful use of political defiance. The problem is of 23 . secrecy is not only rooted in fear but contributes to fear. often unjustified. In this process the stark brutality of the regime against the clearly nonviolent actionists politically rebounds against the dictators' position. it will be necessary to separate the violent action as far as possible from the nonviolent action. timing. they will be far fewer than the casualties in military warfare. In contrast. deception.
This is made possible by the resisters continuing their nonviolent persistence despite repression. Four mechanisms of change 24 . disciplined courageous nonviolent resistance in face of the dictators' brutalities may induce unease. Such factors as fearlessness and maintaining nonviolent discipline are always required. are subject to constant and rapid changes. and the gathering of intelligence about the operations of the dictatorship are among the special limited types of activities where a high degree of secrecy will be required. and distribution of underground publications. and in extreme situations even mutiny among the dictators' own soldiers and population. Power relationships. and there are significant aspects of resistance activities which may require secrecy. This resistance may also result in increased international condemnation of the dictatorship. both absolute and relative. and to have more diverse and politically significant consequences. A well-informed assessment will be required by those knowledgeable about both the dynamics of nonviolent struggle and also the dictatorship's means of surveillance in the specific situation. such numbers can be obtained as reliable participants only by maintaining the high standards of the movement. printing. The editing.course more complex than this suggests. the nonviolent group may. The maintenance of high standards of behavior in nonviolent action is necessary at all stages of the conflict. These effects will rebound to strengthen or weaken one group or another. Nothing is static. The variations in the respective power of the contending sides in this type of conflict situation are likely to be more extreme than in violent conflicts. skillful. and persistent use of political defiance may result in more and more participation in the resistance by people who normally would give their tacit support to the dictators or generally remain neutral in the conflict. Due to these variations. However. It is important to remember that large numbers of people may frequently be necessary to effect particular changes. specific actions by the resisters are likely to have consequences far beyond the particular time and place in which they occur. In addition. the use of illegal radio broadcasts from within the country. unreliability. Shifting power relationships Strategists need to remember that the conflict applying political defiance is a constantly changing field of struggle with continuing interplay of moves and countermoves. For example. disciplined. In addition. by its actions exert influence over the increase or decrease in the relative strength of the opponent group to a far greater degree than occurs in military conflicts. disaffection. to take place more quickly.
It is this change which produces the other three mechanisms: accommodation. they may come to accept the resisters' aims. the conditions producing nonviolent coercion are carried still further. they are rare. social. for example. nonviolent struggle operates by changing the conflict situation and the society so that the opponents simply cannot do as they like. noncooperation. is so complete that they do not even have sufficient power to surrender. The opponents' bureaucracy refuses to obey its own leadership.Nonviolent struggle produces change in four ways. and in most conflicts this does not occur at all or at least not on a significant scale. though it has occurred. such as defusing tension." or polishing the international image of the regime. the immediate conflict may be ended by reaching an agreement. therefore. Mass noncooperation and defiance can so change social and political situations. The first mechanism is the least likely. creating an impression of "fairness. and adhere to their original goals. and defiance become so complete that the opponents now lack even a semblance of control over them. The resisters' self-direction. and disintegration. The regime simply falls to pieces. Which of these occurs depends on the degree to which the relative and absolute power relations are shifted in favor of the democrats. Though cases of conversion in nonviolent action do sometimes happen. a splitting of differences or compromise. Nonviolent struggle can be much more powerful than indicated by the mechanisms of conversion or accommodation. that great care be exercised in selecting the issues on which a settlement by accommodation is acceptable. The opponents' troops and police mutiny. It is important. their ability to act effectively has been taken away from them. especially power relationships. A government may perceive such a settlement to have some positive benefits. A struggle to bring down a dictatorship is not one of these. Far more often. nonviolent coercion. that the dictators' ability to control the economic. The opponents' leadership in fact loses all ability to act and their own structure of power collapses. That is called nonviolent coercion. disintegration of the opponents' system. with both sides attaining some of their objectives but neither achieving all it wanted. 25 . their former assistance and obedience falls away. Many strikes are settled in this manner. and political processes of government and the society is in fact taken away. Although the opponents' leaders remain in their positions. The opponents' military forces may become so unreliable that they no longer simply obey orders to repress resisters. The opponents' usual supporters or population repudiate their former leadership. This mechanism is called accommodation. and the contest of forces has altered the power relationships to some degree. Hence. This mechanism is called conversion. the demands of the opposition in a limited campaign are not considered threatening. The fourth mechanism of change. If the issues are not fundamental ones. When members of the opponent group are emotionally moved by the suffering of repression imposed on courageous nonviolent resisters or are rationally persuaded that the resisters' cause is just. In some extreme situations. denying that they have any right to rule at all.
However. Another part of the democratizing effect is positive. this technique does not provide a means of repression under command of a ruling elite which can be turned against the population to establish or maintain a dictatorship. Democratizing effects of political defiance In contrast to the centralizing effects of violent sanctions. and strengthening of the independent groups and institutions of the society. in face of repressive controls. Nonviolent struggle can be used to assert the practice of democratic freedoms. such as free speech. independent organizations. Below are several of the positive democratizing effects nonviolent struggle may have: • • • • • • Experience in applying nonviolent struggle may result in the population being more self-confident in challenging the regime's threats and capacity for violent repression. Nonviolent struggle provides means by which the population can wield power against repressive police and military action by a dictatorial government. One part of the democratizing effect is negative. use of the technique of nonviolent struggle contributes to democratizing the political society in several ways. That is. Nonviolent struggle contributes strongly to the survival. free press. rebirth.In planning liberation strategies. and free assembly. They sometimes operate essentially by chance. Which mechanism (or mechanisms) to select will depend on numerous factors. including the absolute and relative power of the contending groups and the attitudes and objectives of the nonviolent struggle group. the selection of one or more of these as the intended mechanism of change in a conflict will make it possible to formulate specific and mutually reinforcing strategies. in contrast to military means. Leaders of a political defiance movement can exert influence and apply pressures on their followers. That is. These are important for democracy because of their capacity to mobilize the power capacity of the population and to impose limits on the effective power of any would-be dictators. 26 . Nonviolent struggle provides methods by which the population and the independent institutions can in the interests of democracy restrict or sever the sources of power for the ruling elite. these four mechanisms should be kept in mind. but they cannot imprison or execute them when they dissent or choose other leaders. as previously discussed. nonviolent struggle provides the population with means of resistance which can be used to achieve and defend their liberties against existing or would-be dictators. Nonviolent struggle provides the means of noncooperation and defiance by which the population can resist undemocratic controls over them by any dictatorial group. thereby threatening its capacity to continue its domination.
Sometimes. the democratic resisters have not anticipated the brutalities of the dictatorship. Specific grievances which have triggered past initial actions have varied widely. a new repressive policy or order. At other times a courageous individual or a small group may have taken action which aroused support. Sometimes. unplanned popular action will undoubtedly play significant roles in risings against dictatorships. or an anniversary of an important related event. lack of planning on how to handle the transition to a democratic system has contributed to the emergence of a new dictatorship. To be effective. However. the arrest or killing of a highly regarded person. Even when the oppressive system was brought down. nonviolent struggle is a complex technique of social action. Six The Need For Strategic Planning Political defiance campaigns against dictatorships may begin in a variety of ways.Complexity of nonviolent struggle As we have seen from this discussion. Realistic planning In the future. a range of mechanisms of change. it is now possible to calculate the most effective ways to bring down a dictatorship. While spontaneity has some positive qualities. and to choose how to initiate a campaign. a particular act by the dictatorship has so enraged the populace that they have launched into action without having any idea how the rising might end. Resources will need to have been made available. too. may thus join the struggle. with disastrous results. it has often had disadvantages. so that they suffered gravely and the resistance has collapsed. Very careful thought based on a 27 . and specific behavioral requirements. to assess when the political situation and popular mood are ripe. disrespect toward religious beliefs. A specific grievance may be recognized by others as similar to wrongs they had experienced and they. especially against a dictatorship. And strategists will need to have analyzed how nonviolent struggle can be most effectively applied. At times the lack of planning by democrats has left crucial decisions to chance. Frequently. political defiance requires careful planning and preparation. We now turn our attention to this latter crucial element: the need for strategic planning. In the past these struggles have almost always been unplanned and essentially accidental. involving a multitude of methods. but often included new brutalities. a specific call for resistance from a small group or individual may meet an unexpectedly large response. Prospective participants will need to understand what is required of them. food shortages.
realistic assessment of the situation and the capabilities of the populace is required in order to select effective ways to achieve freedom under such circumstances. the more important planning becomes. it is wise to plan how to do it. Note here that the objective is not simply to destroy the current dictatorship but to emplace a democratic system. In terms of this discussion. or the graver the consequences of failure. A grand strategy which limits its objective to merely destroying the incumbent dictatorship runs a great risk of producing another tyrant. In contrast. The more important the goal. Instead. resistance leaders often do not have the safety or time to develop strategic thinking skills. The opposition is then always on the defensive. 28 . A plan to achieve that objective will usually consist of a phased series of campaigns and other organized activities designed to strengthen the oppressed population and society and to weaken the dictatorship. and long enough. and ability to perpetrate brutalities. This is a difficult task. may not see the need for broad long term planning of a liberation movement. firmly. This is especially true for a democratic movement-which has limited material resources and whose supporters will be in dangerthat is trying to bring down a powerful dictatorship. "To plan a strategy" here means to calculate a course of action that will make it more likely to get from the present to the desired future situation. Why is it that the people who have the vision of bringing political freedom to their people should so rarely prepare a comprehensive strategic plan to achieve that goal? Unfortunately. this is almost never done. Consequently. and overwhelmed by immediate responsibilities. it will somehow come to pass. Only rarely do these advocates fully recognize the extreme importance of careful strategic planning before they act. often most people in democratic opposition groups do not understand the need for strategic planning or are not accustomed or trained to think strategically. Strategic planning increases the likelihood that all available resources will be mobilized and employed most effectively. at best slowing the advance of the dictatorial controls or causing certain problems for the regime's new policies. it means from a dictatorship to a future democratic system. Hurdles to planning Some exponents of freedom in various parts of the world do not bring their full capacities to bear on the problem of how to achieve liberation. Constantly harassed by the dictatorship. of course. they may na‹vely think that if they simply espouse their goal strongly. seeking to maintain limited liberties or bastions of freedom. Some individuals and groups. the dictatorship usually will have access to vast material resources. organizational strength. If one wishes to accomplish something. it is a common pattern simply to react to the initiatives of the dictatorship. Instead.
Furthermore. Creativity and bright ideas are very important. but they need to be utilized in order to advance the strategic situation of the democratic forces. as noted earlier violence is no guarantor of success. They may not see that longer-term planning is necessary or possible. Devoting so much energy to short-term activities. for they have not thought carefully about the successive specific steps required to achieve victory. of course. for another very good reason. but are grossly inadequate to end a dictatorship and to achieve freedom. What is needed instead is action based on careful calculation of the "next steps" required to topple the dictatorship. massive tragedy. Acutely aware of the multitude of actions which could be taken against the dictatorship and unable to determine where to begin. In most situations the dictatorship is best equipped for violent struggle and the military realities rarely. allowing themselves to be repeatedly distracted by relatively small issues. or both.Others assume that if they simply live and witness according to their principles and ideals in face of difficulties. however. especially for relatively weak movements. on where to concentrate efforts. Inside themselves. resistance leaders will often not know what that "next step" should be. it can lead to defeat. People struggling for freedom against established brutal dictatorships are often confronted by such immense military and police power that it appears the dictators can accomplish whatever they will. Therefore. favor the democrats. Other opponents of dictatorship may na‹vely think that if only they use enough violence. It is also just possible that some democratic movements do not plan a comprehensive strategy to bring down the dictatorship. and how to use often limited resources. planning how to do so is considered to be a romantic waste of time or an exercise in futility. they are doing all they can to implement them. not only egocentric but they offer no guidance for developing a grand strategy of liberation. some people counsel "Do everything simultaneously. they do not really believe that the dictatorship can be ended by their own efforts. Action based on a "bright idea" which someone has had is also limited. There are also activists who base their actions on what they "feel" they should do. is impossible. such an approach provides no guidance on where to begin. Other persons and groups may see the need for some planning. these leaders often fail to explore several alternative courses of action which could guide the overall efforts so that the goal is constantly approached. Instead of liberation. These approaches are. freedom will come." That might be helpful but. but are only able to think about it on a short-term or tactical basis. concentrating instead only on immediate issues. Without strategic analysis. if ever. But. 29 . often responding to the opponents' actions rather than seizing the initiative for the democratic resistance. They may at times be unable to think and analyze in strategic terms. The espousal of humane goals and loyalty to ideals are admirable.
and sacrifices are for naught. while a strategic plan is the architect's blueprint. energy is wasted on minor issues. advantages are not utilized. Hence. moral. If democrats do not plan strategically they are likely to fail to achieve their objectives.) of a group seeking to attain its objectives in a conflict. grand strategy will include decisions on the appropriate conditions and timing under which initial and subsequent resistance campaigns will be launched. these people will. Though they will never admit it. odd mixture of activities will not move a major resistance effort forward. nevertheless.Lacking real hope. clarity about the meanings of four basic terms is important. A poorly planned. Grand strategy. Strategy is the conception of how best to achieve particular objectives in a conflict. Grand strategy sets the basic framework for the selection of more limited strategies for waging the struggle. one's actions are ineffective. Strategy is concerned with whether. and how to fight. by focusing primary attention on the group's objectives and resources in the conflict. In planning a grand strategy resistance leaders must evaluate and plan which pressures and influences are to be brought to bear upon the opponents. long-term comprehensive strategic planning has no merit. Unfortunately. Instead. organizational. political. it will more likely allow the dictatorship to increase its controls and power. They survive for years or decades longer than need be the case. A strategy has been compared to the artist's concept. dictatorships appear much more durable than they in fact are.(12) 30 . etc. perhaps never consciously recognize it. determines the most appropriate technique of action (such as conventional military warfare or nonviolent struggle) to be employed in the conflict. as well as how to achieve maximum effectiveness in struggling for certain ends. Further. Four important terms in strategic planning In order to help us to think strategically. Grand strategy also determines the allocation of general tasks to particular groups and the distribution of resources to them for use in the struggle. Grand strategy is the conception which serves to coordinate and direct the use of all appropriate and available resources (economic. The result of such failures to plan strategically is often drastic: one's strength is dissipated. human. because comprehensive strategic plans for liberation are rarely if ever developed. their actions appear to themselves as hopeless. operating within the scope of the chosen grand strategy. when. defy the dictatorship for reasons of integrity and perhaps history. for them.
Tactical gains that do not reinforce the attainment of strategic objectives may in the end turn out to be wasted energy. institutional.Strategy may also include efforts to develop a strategic situation which is so advantageous that the opponents are able to foresee that open conflict is likely to bring their certain defeat. Strategy also involves how to act to make good use of successes when gained. and how its separate components shall be fitted together to contribute most advantageously to achieve its objectives. or by a more limited number of people. or for more limited objectives. just as a strategy fits within the grand strategy. Different techniques will have different requirements. whereas strategy includes wider considerations. the strategic plan is the basic idea of how a campaign shall develop. the democrats must clearly define their objectives and determine how to measure the effectiveness of efforts to achieve them. Tactics relate to the skillful use of one's forces to the best advantage in a limited situation. tactics and methods must be chosen and applied with constant attention to the achievement of strategic objectives. Offensive tactical engagements are selected to support attainment of strategic objectives. It is most important. This definition and analysis permits the strategist to identify the precise requirements for securing each selected objective. 31 . Tactics are always concerned with fighting. just fulfilling "requirements" is not sufficient to ensure success. and therefore capitulate without an open struggle. etc. Additional factors may also be needed. A tactic is thus concerned with a limited course of action which fits within the broad strategy. if not. A particular tactic can only be understood as part of the overall strategy of a battle or a campaign. Of course. To be most effective. Or. the improved strategic situation will make success of the challengers certain in struggle. In devising strategies. Tactical engagements are the tools of the strategist in creating conditions favorable for delivering decisive attacks against an opponent. In nonviolent action the distinction between a tactical objective and a strategic objective may be partly indicated by whether the chosen objective of the action is minor or major. and selecting the most appropriate methods for it. employed to achieve a restricted objective. Tactics are applied for shorter periods of time than strategies. Planning for a wise strategy must take into consideration the requirements for success in the operation of the chosen technique of struggle. A tactic is a limited action. or in smaller areas (geographical. This need for clarity and definition applies equally to tactical planning.). that those given responsibility for planning and executing tactical operations be skilled in assessing the situation. Applied to the course of the struggle itself. It involves the skillful deployment of particular action groups in smaller operations. Tactics and methods of action are used to implement the strategy. Those expected to participate must be trained in the use of the chosen technique and the specific methods. The choice of tactics is governed by the conception of how best in a restricted phase of a conflict to utilize the available means of fighting to implement the strategy. therefore.
Within the technique of nonviolent struggle. Campaign strategies will need to be designed to achieve and reinforce the grand strategic objectives. Though related. Seven Planning Strategy In order to increase the chances for success. democratic leaders and strategic planners will want to assess the objectives and importance of the cause. and the like) cited in Chapter Five. tactics. boycotts. Here we shall identify some of the important factors which need to be considered. historical. The main lesson of this discussion is that a calculated use of one's intellect is required in careful strategic planning for liberation from a dictatorship. while the effective use of one's intellectual capacities can chart a strategic course that will judiciously utilize one's available resources to move the society toward the goal of liberty and democracy.) The development of a responsible and effective strategic plan for a nonviolent struggle depends upon the careful formulation and selection of the grand strategy. Out of such a careful analysis both a grand strategy and the specific campaign strategies for achieving freedom can be developed. military. We have argued here that overthrow of the dictatorship or removal of the present dictators is not enough. both at the grand strategic level and the level of campaign strategy. strategies. these include the dozens of particular forms of action (such as the many kinds of strikes. Strategies can only be developed in the context of the particular struggle and its background. weakening and then destroying the dictatorship. and methods.Method refers to the specific weapons or means of action. cultural. political noncooperation. including attention to physical. Are the objectives worth a major struggle. and international factors. and building a durable democracy. economic. governmental. The development of resistance strategy requires attention to many questions and tasks. and why? It is critical to determine the real objective of the struggle. social. Failure to plan intelligently can contribute to disasters. (See also Appendix. Of primary importance. resistance leaders will need to formulate a comprehensive plan of action capable of strengthening the suffering people. Only after the grand strategy has been developed can the specific campaign strategies be fully developed. a careful assessment of the situation and of the options for effective action is needed. however. political. psychological. All strategic planning. The 32 . requires that the resistance planners have a profound understanding of the entire conflict situation. To achieve such a plan of action. the development of grand strategy and campaign strategies are two separate processes.
or do they require dependency on third parties or external suppliers? What is the record of the use of the chosen means in bringing down dictatorships? Do they increase or limit the casualties and destruction which may be incurred in the coming conflict? Assuming success in ending the dictatorship. Particularly. such as these: • • • • • • • • What are the main obstacles to achieving freedom? What factors will facilitate achieving freedom? What are the main strengths of the dictatorship? What are the various weaknesses of the dictatorship? To what degree are the sources of power for the dictatorship vulnerable? What are the strengths of the democratic forces and the general population? What are the weaknesses of the democratic forces and the general population and how can they be corrected? What is the status of third parties. either the dictatorship or the democratic movement. who already assist or might assist.objective in these conflicts needs to be the establishment of a free society with a democratic system of government. Clarity on this point will influence the development of a grand strategy and of the ensuing specific strategies. such as conventional military warfare. what effect would the selected means have on the type of government that would arise from the struggle? The types of action determined to be counterproductive will need to be excluded in the developed grand strategy. Strategists will need to examine their particular conflict situation and determine whether political defiance provides affirmative answers the above questions. In making this choice the strategists will need to consider such questions as the following: Is the chosen type of struggle within the capacities of the democrats? Does the chosen technique utilize strengths of the dominated population? Does this technique target the weaknesses of the dictatorship. Planning for democracy 33 . planners will need to choose the main means of struggle to be employed in the coming conflict. In previous chapters we have argued that political defiance offers significant comparative advantages to other techniques of struggle. political defiance. and others. and if so in what ways? Choice of means At the grand strategic level. not immediately involved in the conflict. guerrilla warfare. The merits and limitations of several alternative techniques of struggle will need to be evaluated. or does it strike at its strongest points? Do the means help the democrats become more self-reliant. strategists will need to answer many fundamental questions.
as was discussed in Chapter Five. Further. it will be stimulated by the internal struggle. a new set of rulers can. the mobilization of popular power through political defiance will strengthen the independent institutions of the society. The knowledge and skill gained in struggle will make the population less likely to be easily dominated by would-be dictators. the chosen means of struggle will need to contribute to a change in the distribution of effective power in the society. and religious grounds. Under the dictatorship the population and civil institutions of the society have been too weak.It should be remembered that against a dictatorship the objective of the grand strategy is not simply to bring down the dictators but to install a democratic system and make the rise of a new dictatorship impossible. can also be provided directly to the democratic forces. This process occurs in several ways. moral. To the degree that international assistance comes at all. To accomplish these objectives. The population will have at its disposal powerful means to counter and at times block the exertion of the dictators' power. Formulating a grand strategy 34 . be just as dictatorial as the old ones. Without a change in this imbalance. and the government too strong. As a modest supplement. international assistance. and economic sanctions by governments and international organizations against the dictatorship. These may take the forms of economic and military weapons embargoes. External assistance As part of the preparation of a grand strategy it is necessary to assess what will be the relative roles of internal resistance and external pressures for disintegrating the dictatorship. such as the provision of financial and communications support. expulsion of the dictatorial government from various international organizations and from United Nations bodies. banning of economic assistance and prohibition of investments in the dictatorial country. reduction in levels of diplomatic recognition or the breaking of diplomatic ties. The development of a nonviolent struggle capacity means that the dictatorship's capacity for violent repression no longer as easily produces intimidation and submission among the population. Political defiance contributes to a more equitable distribution of effective power through the mobilization of the society against the dictatorship. Efforts can be taken to obtain diplomatic. efforts can be made to mobilize world public opinion against the dictatorship. In this analysis we have argued that the main force of the struggle must be borne from inside the country itself. Further. The experience of once exercising effective power is not quickly forgot. if they wish. A "palace revolution" or a coup d'‚tat therefore is not welcome. This shift in power relationships would ultimately make establishment of a durable democratic society much more likely. political. on humanitarian.
or what institutions need to be newly created by the democrats to meet their needs and establish spheres of democracy even while the dictatorship continues? How can organizational strength in the resistance be developed? How can participants be trained? What resources (finances. The following questions pose (in a more specific way than earlier) the types of considerations required in devising a grand strategy for a political defiance struggle: What is the broadest conception of how the dictatorship is to be ended and democracy installed? How might the long-term struggle best begin? How can the oppressed population muster sufficient self-confidence and strength to act to challenge the dictatorship. This broad plan would stretch from the present to the future liberation and the institution of a democratic system.Following an assessment of the situation. Each struggle to bring down a dictatorship and establish a democratic system will be somewhat different. Planners of grand strategy for a political defiance struggle will require a profound understanding not only of their specific conflict situation.(13) 35 . each dictatorship will have some individual characteristics.) will be required throughout the struggle? What types of symbolism can be most effective in mobilizing the population? By what kinds of action and in what stages could the sources of power of the dictators be incrementally weakened and severed? How can the resisting population simultaneously persist in its defiance and also maintain the necessary nonviolent discipline? How can the society continue to meet its basic needs during the course of the struggle? How can social order be maintained in the midst of the conflict? As victory approaches. planners of the grand strategy will need to sketch in broad strokes how the conflict might best be conducted. and a determination of the role of external assistance. the choice of means. but of their chosen means of struggle as well. and the capacities of the freedom-seeking population will vary. how can the democratic resistance continue to build the institutional base of the post-dictatorship society to make the transition as smooth as possible? It must be remembered that no single blueprint exists or can be created to plan strategy for every liberation movement against dictatorships. etc. even initially in a limited way? How could the population's capacity to apply noncooperation and defiance be increased with time and experience? What might be the objectives of a series of limited campaigns to regain democratic control over the society and limit the dictatorship? Are there independent institutions that have survived the dictatorship which might be used in the struggle to establish freedom? What institutions of the society can be regained from the dictators' control. In formulating a grand strategy these planners will need to ask themselves a variety of questions. No two situations will be exactly alike. equipment.
Only in very rare circumstances should the struggle depart from the initial grand strategy. this should be done only after a basic reassessment has been made and a new more adequate grand strategic plan has been developed and adopted. In planning the strategies for the specific selective resistance campaigns and for the longer term development of the liberation struggle. their willingness to participate. tactics. a grand strategy does not implement itself. like those who planned the grand strategy. or that the circumstances of the struggle have fundamentally changed. The formulation of strategies for the struggle still requires an informed creativity. munitions.When the grand strategy of the struggle has been carefully planned there are sound reasons for making it widely known. This knowledge could potentially have a very positive effect on their morale. Planning campaign strategies However wise and promising the developed grand strategy to end the dictatorship and to institute democracy may be. When there is abundant evidence that the chosen grand strategy was misconceived. the political defiance strategists will need to consider various issues and problems. it is important for the pro-democracy groups to persist in applying it. The general outlines of the grand strategy would become known to the dictators in any case and knowledge of its features potentially could lead them to be less brutal in their repression. planners may need to alter the grand strategy. knowledge of nonviolent struggle. Strategists planning the major campaigns will. Just as military officers must understand force structures. Even then. attention to recommendations in this essay. require a thorough understanding of the nature and modes of operation of their chosen technique of struggle. the effects of geography. knowing that it could rebound politically against themselves. political defiance planners must understand the nature and strategic principles of nonviolent struggle. however. and to act appropriately. will incorporate and guide a range of tactical engagements that will aim to strike decisive blows against the dictators' regime. The discussion here focuses exclusively on the level of strategy. The following are among these: 36 . Even then. in turn. Particular strategies will need to be developed to guide the major campaigns aimed at undermining the dictators' power. and the like in order to plot military strategy. and answers to the questions posed here will not themselves produce strategies. Awareness of the special characteristics of the grand strategy could potentially also contribute to dissension and defections from the dictators' own camp. The large numbers of people required to participate may be more willing and able to act if they understand the general conception. logistics. Once a grand strategic plan for bringing down the dictatorship and establishing a democratic system has been adopted. as well as specific instructions. The tactics and the specific methods of action must be chosen carefully so that they contribute to achieving the goals of each particular strategy. These strategies.
and most appropriate. This will not only create alternative independent democratic structures and meet genuine needs. Furthermore. or political weapons. What means of decision-making and communication will be possible during the course of the struggle to give continuing guidance to the resisters and the general population? Communication of the resistance news to the general population. Determination in advance of what kind of leadership structure and communications system will work best for initiating the resistance struggle. and the international press. Spreading the idea of noncooperation 37 . tactical plans and which specific methods of action should be used to impose pressures and restrictions against the dictatorship's sources of power.• • • • • • • Determination of the specific objectives of the campaign and their contributions to implementing the grand strategy.) governments. or how. Determination of what kind of external assistance is desirable in support of the specific campaign or the general liberation struggle. economic. Otherwise. to assist. but also will reduce credibility for any claims that ruthless repression is required to halt disorder and lawlessness. disillusionment and disaffection may set in if quick solutions are not provided during the transition period to a democratic society. religious or political groups. Determination whether. to the dictators' forces. Plans for self-reliant constructive social. such as non-governmental organizations (social movements. labor unions. and/or the United Nations and its various bodies. and political activities to meet the needs of one's own people during the coming conflict. Claims and reporting should always be strictly factual. Within each overall plan for a particular strategic campaign it will be necessary to determine what smaller. economic issues should be related to the overall essentially political struggle? If economic issues are to be prominent in the struggle. It should be remembered that the achievement of major objectives will come as a result of carefully chosen and implemented specific smaller steps. etc. Such disillusionment could facilitate the rise of dictatorial forces promising an end to economic woes. Such projects can be conducted by persons not directly involved in the resistance activities. How can external help be best mobilized and used without making the internal struggle dependent on uncertain external factors? Attention will need to be given to which external groups are most likely. educational. care will be needed that the economic grievances can actually be remedied after the dictatorship is ended. Exaggerations and unfounded claims will undermine the credibility of the resistance. that can best be used to implement the chosen strategies. the resistance planners will need to take measures to preserve order and to meet social needs by one's own forces during mass resistance against dictatorial controls. Consideration of the specific methods.
the strategists will do well to consider in advance the use of tactics and methods which will contribute to achieving the specific goal of a campaign. the basic idea is simple: if enough of the subordinates refuse to continue their cooperation long enough despite repression. the democratic forces should deliberately spread and popularize the idea of noncooperation. It will be necessary to determine how to withstand. Such a story could be easily understood. it is essential that the population grasp the idea of noncooperation. Anticipating repression. counteract. general guidelines for resistance can be prepared and disseminated. but which will make brutal repression less likely or less possible. democrats have frequently proved this to be possible. With the advantage of prior strategic planning. preparations for medical assistance for wounded resisters should be made. so that they will know the risks of participation. Even under Nazi and Communist rule it was possible for resisters to communicate not only with other individuals but even with large public audiences through the production of illegal newspapers. or avoid this possible increased repression without submission. 38 . For example. Tactically. They will also be able on their own to improvise a myriad of specific forms of noncooperation in new situations. even if communications from the democratic leadership are severed. Once the general concept of noncooperation is grasped. and in later years with audio and video cassettes.For successful political defiance against a dictatorship. and how this might be done. especially the threshold of violence. leaflets. and specific instructions have not been issued or received. Despite the difficulties and dangers in attempts to communicate ideas. the population will know how to act on certain important issues. Then. If repression may be serious. Repression and countermeasures Strategic planners will need to assess the likely responses and repression. The "Monkey Master" story. People living under the dictatorship may be already familiar with this concept from a variety of sources. news. could be disseminated throughout the society. people will be able to understand the relevance of future calls to practice noncooperation with the dictatorship. These can indicate the issues and circumstances under which the population should protest and withhold cooperation. Such guidelines would also provide a test to identify counterfeit "resistance instructions" issued by the political police designed to provoke discrediting action. or liberation. books. Even so. As illustrated by the "Monkey Master" story (see Chapter Three). and resistance instructions while living under dictatorships. the oppressive system will be weakened and finally collapse. for specific occasions. appropriate warnings about expected repression would be in order to the population and the resisters. or a similar one. of the dictatorship to the actions of the democratic resistance.
the task of the pro-democracy forces is to press forward stage by stage. Adhering to the strategic plan Once a sound strategic plan is in place.street demonstrations and parades against extreme dictatorships may be dramatic. confidence-building actions. Eight Applying Political Defiance In situations in which the population feels powerless and frightened. Careful implementation of the chosen grand strategy and of strategies for particular campaigns will greatly contribute to success. changes in tactics and intermediate objectives will occur and good leaders will always be ready to exploit opportunities. marshals for demonstrations. Of course. These types of 39 . it is important that initial tasks for the public be low-risk. These adjustments should not be confused with objectives of the grand strategy or the objectives of the specific campaign. discipline leaflets. but they may risk thousands of dead demonstrators. Will such measures as pledges. Will the population and the resisters be likely to behave in a disciplined and nonviolent manner during the course of the struggle? Can they resist provocations to violence? Planners must consider what measures may be taken to keep nonviolent discipline and maintain the resistance despite brutalities. the democratic forces should not be distracted by minor moves of the dictators that may tempt them to depart from the grand strategy and the strategy for a particular campaign. Nor should the emotions of the moment-perhaps in response to new brutalities by the dictatorship-be allowed to divert the democratic resistance from its grand strategy or the campaign strategy. causing them to focus major activities on unimportant issues. If it has been proposed that provocative resistance action risking high casualties will be required for a strategic purpose. policy statements. and boycotts of pro-violence persons and groups be possible and effective? Leaders should always be alert for the presence of agents provocateurs whose mission will be to incite the demonstrators to violence. a strike. actually apply more pressure on the dictatorship than would occur through everyone staying home. The brutalities may have been perpetrated precisely in order to provoke the democratic forces to abandon their well-laid plan and even to commit violent acts in order that the dictators could more easily defeat them. The high cost to the demonstrators may not. or massive acts of noncooperation from the civil servants. As long as the basic analysis is judged to be sound. then one should very carefully consider the proposal's costs and possible gains. however.
and near the conclusion of the long-term struggle will differ from each other. two or three might overlap in time. and also contribute to advantageous incremental shifts in power relations for the long-term struggle. Most of the strategies of campaigns in the long-term struggle should not aim for the immediate complete downfall of the dictatorship. or to deny the dictators a particular objective. In other cases a relatively minor (on the surface) nonpolitical issue (as securing a safe water supply) might be made the focus for group action. If possible. Very early the strategists need to plan at least the strategy for the first campaign. Nor does every campaign require the participation of all sections of the population. or political issues. In contemplating a series of specific campaigns to implement the grand strategy. What are to be its limited objectives? How will it help fulfill the chosen grand strategy? If possible. the middle. separate campaigns with different specific objectives can be very useful. In planning a strategy for "selective resistance" it is necessary to identify specific limited issues or grievances which symbolize the general oppression of the dictatorship. as already discussed.actions-such as wearing one's clothes in an unusual way-may publicly register a dissenting opinion and provide an opportunity for the public to participate significantly in acts of dissent. Selective resistance In the initial stages of the struggle. Occasionally. but instead of gaining limited objectives. Strategists should choose an issue the merits of which will be widely recognized and difficult to reject. Such issues may be the appropriate targets for conducting campaigns to gain intermediary strategic objectives within the over-all grand strategy. to regain control of some part currently controlled by the dictators. Such selective campaigns may follow one after the other. the defiance strategists need to consider how the campaigns at the beginning. which are good for morale. the campaign of selective resistance should also strike at one weakness or more of the dictatorship. This helps to ensure a series of victories. economic. These intermediary strategic objectives need to be attainable by the current or projected power capacity of the democratic forces. Selective resistance strategies should concentrate primarily on specific social. Success in such limited campaigns could not only correct specific grievances but also convince the population that it indeed has power potential. Thereby. it is wise to formulate at least the general outlines of strategies for a second and 40 . These may be chosen in order to keep some part of the social and political system out of the dictators' control. democrats can make the greatest possible impact with their available power capacity.
That would require virtually the whole population and almost all the institutions of the society-which had previously been largely submissive-to reject absolutely the regime and suddenly defy it by massive and strong noncooperation. or a temporary sit-in at an important office. the first more specifically political actions may be limited in scope. The initial action is likely to take the form of symbolic protest or may be a symbolic act of limited or temporary noncooperation. In a later campaign with a different 41 . All such strategies will need to implement the chosen grand strategy and operate within its general guidelines. It usually is not possible to sever the availability of the sources of power to the dictators completely and rapidly at the beginning of a struggle. for example. and to prepare them for continuing struggle through noncooperation and political defiance. Initial symbolic protest actions have at times aroused major national and international attention-as the mass street demonstrations in Burma in 1988 or the student occupation and hunger strike in Tiananman Square in Beijing in 1989. a few individuals might undertake a hunger strike. then a five minute halt to all activities or several minutes of silence might be used. such actions by themselves are unlikely to bring down a dictatorship. In other situations.possibly a third campaign. Symbolic challenge At the beginning of a new campaign to undermine the dictatorship. Spreading responsibility During a selective resistance campaign the brunt of the struggle is for a time usually borne by one section or more of the population. such as a physical occupation in front of the dictators' palace or political police headquarters may involve high risk and are therefore not advisable for initiating a campaign. Under a dictatorship these more aggressive actions would most likely be met with harsh repression. On the other hand. The high casualties of demonstrators in both of these cases points to the great care strategists must exercise in planning campaigns. for they remain largely symbolic and do not alter the power position of the dictatorship. In most cases. a quick campaign of full noncooperation and defiance is an unrealistic strategy for an early campaign against the dictatorship. if the numbers willing to act is very large. If the number of persons willing to act is few. Certain symbolic acts. involve placing flowers at a place of symbolic importance. a brief student boycott of classes. then the initial act might. a vigil at a place of symbolic importance. They should be designed in part to test and influence the mood of the population. therefore. That has not yet occurred and would be most difficult to achieve. Although having a tremendous moral and psychological impact.
and in the end the disintegration of the dictatorship itself. and political groups and institutions outside the control of the dictatorship. During the planning and implementation of political defiance and noncooperation. Selective resistance is especially important to defend the existence and autonomy of independent social. rail workers might meticulously obey safety regulations so as to slow down the rail transport system. Phasing resistance campaigns by issue and population group will allow certain segments of the population to rest while resistance continues. journalists might challenge censorship by publishing papers with blank spaces in which prohibited articles would have appeared. Aiming at the dictators' power As the long-term struggle develops beyond the initial strategies into more ambitious and advanced phases. the burden of the struggle would be shifted to other population groups. with the goal of producing increasing political paralysis. including their inner clique. it is highly important to pay close attention to all of the dictators' main supporters and aides. police. These centers of power provide the institutional bases from which the population can exert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls. students might conduct strikes on an educational issue. to the dictatorship would need to be carefully assessed and a determination made whether the military is open to influence by the democratic forces. they are likely to be among the first targets of the dictatorship. the strategists will need to calculate how the dictators' sources of power can be further restricted. political party. or police might repeatedly fail to locate and arrest wanted members of the democratic opposition. and bureaucrats. both soldiers and officers. In the struggle. religious leaders and believers might concentrate on a freedom of religion issue. The aim would be to use popular noncooperation to create a new more advantageous strategic situation for the democratic forces. As the democratic resistance forces gained strength. For example. strategists would plot more ambitious noncooperation and defiance to sever the dictatorships' sources of power.objective. The degree of loyalty of the military forces. Will their support be weakened by revelations of the brutalities perpetrated by the regime. economic. but especially their army. It will be necessary to plan carefully how the democratic forces can weaken the support people and groups have previously offered to the dictatorship. which were briefly discussed earlier. or by a new understanding that the dictatorship can be ended? The dictators' supporters should at least be induced to become "neutral" in their activities ("fence sitters") or preferably to become active supporters of the movement for democracy. by exposure of the disastrous economic consequences of the dictators' policies. Might many of the ordinary 42 .
such as spreading disaffection and noncooperation in the military forces. designed to undermine the dictatorship but not to threaten their lives. to mean encouragement of the military forces to make a short rift of the current dictatorship through military action. Such efforts would aim ultimately to undermine the morale of the dictators' troops and finally to subvert their loyalty and obedience in favor of the democratic movement. and supporting the refusal to carry out repression.soldiers be unhappy and frightened conscripts? Might many of the soldiers and officers be alienated from the regime for personal. Therefore. For example. it should be made clear that there are a multitude of relatively safe forms of "disguised disobedience" that they can take initially. to disintegrate the dictatorship if the police. and actions. Troops should learn that the struggle will be of a special character. eventually. including safe passage. Defiance strategists should remember that it will be exceptionally difficult. or impossible. By words. medical supplies. Military personnel may also offer various modes of positive nonviolent assistance to the democracy movement. determined. it will be necessary to plan how sympathetic military officers can be brought to understand that neither a military coup nor a civil war against the dictatorship is required or desirable. and military forces remain fully supportive of the dictatorship and obedient in carrying out its commands. The army is one of the most important sources of the power of dictators because it can use its disciplined military units and weaponry directly to attack and to punish the disobedient population. where communication is possible. warn resisters of impending repression. Instead. Similar strategies could be aimed at the police and civil servants. Strategies aimed at subverting the loyalty of the dictators' forces should therefore be given a high priority by democratic strategists. The democratic forces should remember that disaffection and disobedience among the military forces and police can be highly dangerous for the members of those groups. arrests. family. and the like. 43 . The attempt to garner sympathy from and. food. The democratic forces should not ask the soldiers and officers that they immediately mutiny. the democratic forces can inform the troops that the liberation struggle will be vigorous. encouraging deliberate inefficiencies and the quiet ignoring of orders. however. fail to locate wanted persons. or political reasons? What other factors might make soldiers and officers vulnerable to democratic subversion? Early in the liberation struggle a special strategy should be developed to communicate with the dictators' troops and functionaries. or deportations. induce disobedience among the dictators' forces ought not to be interpreted. symbols. Such a scenario is not likely to install a working democracy for (as we have discussed) a coup d'‚tat does little to redress the imbalance of power relations between the populace and the rulers. and persistent. They could expect severe penalties for any act of disobedience and execution for acts of mutiny. bureaucrats. police and troops can carry out instructions for repression inefficiently. Sympathetic officers can play vital roles in the democratic struggle. information.
Similarly. possibly shift struggle responsibilities to a different population group. the new plan should be implemented immediately. if the struggle has gone much better than expected and the dictatorship is collapsing earlier than previously calculated. It may be useful to review how the sources of power can be affected by political defiance. and submission are essential if dictators are to be powerful. Disaffected officers in turn can neglect to relay commands for repression down the chain of command. make a strategic reassessment. cooperation. and become "ill" so that they need to stay home until they "recover. civil servants can lose files and instructions. That experience will be of great assistance when the time comes for noncooperation and defiance on a mass scale. for their part. In that case it will be necessary to calculate what shifts in strategy might be required.and fail to report important information to their superior officers. Conversely. What can be done to increase the movement's strength and regain the initiative? In such a situation. that the struggle may not go as well as expected." Shifts in strategy The political defiance strategists will need constantly to assess how the grand strategy and the specific campaign strategies are being implemented. it will be necessary to identify the problem. These campaigns would also provide important experience in how to refuse cooperation and how to offer political defiance. obedience. the dictators' power weakens and finally dissolves. Without access to the sources of political power. It is possible. Nine Disintegrating The Dictatorship The cumulative effect of well-conducted and successful political defiance campaigns would be to strengthen the resistance and to establish and expand areas of the society where the dictatorship faced limits on its effective control. When that is done. for example. how can the democratic forces capitalize on unexpected gains and move toward paralyzing the dictatorship? We will explore this question in the following chapter. Soldiers may shoot over the heads of demonstrators. As was discussed in Chapter Three. 44 . and develop alternative courses of action. work inefficiently. mobilize additional sources of power. Withdrawal of support is therefore the major required action to disintegrate a dictatorship.
property. if the noncooperating persons and groups include those which have previously supplied specialized skills and knowledge. Withdrawal of cooperation and obedience are needed to sever the availability of other sources of the regime's power. natural resources. the economic system. If the dictators can no longer rely on the police and military forces to carry out repression. as in a war. Second. if the police and the military forces themselves become disaffected. If psychological and ideological influences-called intangible factors-which usually induce people to obey and assist the rulers are weakened or reversed. success against an entrenched dictatorship requires that noncooperation and defiance reduce and remove the sources of the regime's power. the effectiveness of the available sanctions will be drastically reduced (that is. disobedient. Without constant replenishment of the necessary sources of power the dictatorship will weaken and finally disintegrate. For example. With control of financial resources. beat. or assist the rulers. the administrative apparatus will be gravely affected. if the civil servants no longer function with their normal efficiency or even stay at home. if the population is prepared. transportation. and increasing autonomy in the economy. and means of communication in the hands of actual or potential opponents of the regime. As previously discussed. The greater the regime's authority. the dictators' repression will not secure the desired submission).Acts of symbolic repudiation and defiance are among the available means to undermine the regime's moral and political authority-its legitimacy. the number and importance of the persons and groups which obey. the population will be more inclined to disobey and to noncooperate. Similarly. and transportation will weaken the regime. communications. In summary. First. or shoot resisters. to risk serious consequences as the price of defiance. Strikes. cooperate with. the greater and more reliable is the obedience and cooperation which it will receive. 45 . the regime will be in serious trouble. A second important such source of power is human resources. Moral disapproval needs to be expressed in action in order seriously to threaten the existence of the dictatorship. another major source of their power is vulnerable or removed. the dictators' ability to threaten or apply sanctions -punishments against the restive. Competent strategic planning of political defiance against dictatorships therefore needs to target the dictators' most important sources of power. If noncooperation is practiced by large parts of the population. boycotts. Even their ability even to make well informed decisions and develop effective policies may be seriously reduced. the dictatorship is gravely threatened. they may on an individual or mass basis evade or outright defy orders to arrest. then the dictators will see their capacity to implement their will gravely weakened. The dictators' access to material resources also directly affects their power. and noncooperative sections of the population-is a central source of the power of dictators. This source of power can be weakened in two ways.
Under the Jaruselski military regime. the military-Communist government was at one point described as bouncing around on the top of the society. on an increasing 46 . Even under martial law. the growth of autonomous social." This would increasingly operate as a rival government to which loyalty.Escalating freedom Combined with political defiance during the phase of selective resistance. The regime could still strike down into the society. The officials still occupied government offices and buildings. and political institutions progressively expands the "democratic space" of the society and shrinks the control of the dictatorship. and cooperation are given by the population and the society's institutions. and the like. The Catholic church had been persecuted but never brought under full Communist control. this combination of resistance and institution building can lead to de facto freedom." nonviolent struggle can be applied in defense of this newly won space and the dictatorship will be faced with yet another "front" in the struggle. making the collapse of the dictatorship and the formal installation of a democratic system undeniable because the power relationships within the society have been fundamentally altered. Peasants. it was only a matter of time until the society was able to bring down the regime completely. Similar activities continued in other parts of the society. economic. Even while a dictatorship still occupies government positions it is sometimes possible to organize a democratic "parallel government. imprisonment. arrests.R. the new independent institutions of the society continued to function. however. seizure of printing presses. The organization of the Solidarity trade union with its power to wield effective strikes forced its own legalization in 1980. whatever the dictators may wish. In time. could not control the society.O. Solidarity was again banned and the Communists resorted to military rule. compliance. The dictatorship. then. Illegal publishing houses annually issued hundreds of books. while well-known writers boycotted Communist publications and government publishing houses. with punishments. As the civil institutions of the society become stronger vis-…-vis the dictatorship. dozens of illegal newspapers and magazines continued to be published. the population is incrementally building an independent society outside of their control. Poland in the 1970s and 1980s provides a clear example of the progressive reclaiming of a society's functions and institutions by the resistance. The dictatorship would then consequently. From that point. When the Communists realized that these groups had changed the power realities. In 1976 certain intellectuals and workers formed small groups such as K. and many other groups also formed their own independent organizations. cultural. If and when the dictatorship intervenes to halt this "escalating freedom. (Workers Defense Committee) to advance their political ideas. with many imprisonments and harsh persecution. students. For example.
building. time will be required for creating. However. In most cases. it must not be merely the old one with new personnel. Eventually. or expanding resistance capacities. It is desirable at that time to establish quickly a new functioning government. In due course then a constitution would be adopted and elections held as part of the transition. This pattern is not usual. The combination of strong political defiance and the building of independent institutions is likely in time to produce widespread international attention favorable to the democratic forces.basis. boycotts. The democrats should calculate how the transition from the dictatorship to the interim government shall be handled at the end of the struggle. It is necessary to calculate what sections of the old governmental 47 . the democratic parallel government may fully replace the dictatorial regime as part of the transition to a democratic system. Larger parts of the population at all levels of the society should become involved. Disintegrating the dictatorship While the institutional transformation of the society is taking place. This can happen when the sources of power are massively severed as a result of the whole population's revulsion against the dictatorship. the defiance and noncooperation movement may escalate. Those who have earned the victory should be recognized. however. Strategists of the democratic forces should contemplate early that there will come a time when the democratic forces can move beyond selective resistance and launch mass defiance. as in East Germany in 1989. Handling success responsibly Planners of the grand strategy should calculate in advance the possible and preferred ways in which a successful struggle might best be concluded in order to prevent the rise of a new dictatorship and to ensure the gradual establishment of a durable democratic system. victories. and embargoes in support of the democratic forces (as it did for Poland). It may also produce international diplomatic condemnations. even on limited issues. the internal weaknesses of the dictatorship are likely to become increasingly obvious. and it is better to plan for a long-term struggle (but to be prepared for a short one). should be celebrated. During this interim period campaigns of selective resistance should be launched with increasingly important political objectives. Given determined and disciplined political defiance during this escalation of activities. During the course of the liberation struggle. Strategists should be aware that in some situations the collapse of the dictatorship may occur extremely rapidly. Celebrations with vigilance should also help to keep up the morale needed for future stages of the struggle. and the development of mass defiance may occur only after several years. be deprived of these characteristics of government.
People who have suffered for so long and struggled at great price merit a time of joy. and recognition. and rarely quickly. Plans for the institution of democratic constitutional government with full political and personal liberties will also be required. It should be remembered that as many military wars are lost as are won. the need for reconstructing the country. Ten Groundwork For Durable Democracy The disintegration of the dictatorship is of course a cause for major celebration. or other activities will increasingly undermine the dictators' own organization and related institutions. They should feel proud of themselves and of all who 48 . Not every such effort will succeed. that possibility can be greatly increased through the development of a wise grand strategy. The changes won at a great price should not be lost through lack of planning. For example. general strikes. mass stay-at-homes. Thought should be given in advance to determine what is to be the policy toward high officials of the dictatorship when its power disintegrates. defiant marches. relaxation. careful strategic planning. However. are the dictators to be brought to trial in a court? Are they to be permitted to leave the country permanently? What other options may there be which are consistent with political defiance. triumph. Specific plans for the transition to democracy should be ready for application when the dictatorship is weakening or collapses. political defiance offers a real possibility of victory. A complete governmental void could open the way to chaos or a new dictatorship. the dictators would become powerless and the democratic defenders would. Such plans will help to prevent another group from seizing state power through a coup d'‚tat. As a consequence of such defiance and noncooperation. and disciplined courageous struggle. hard work. When confronted with the increasingly empowered population and the growth of independent democratic groups and institutions-both of which the dictatorship is unable to control-the dictators will find that their whole venture is unravelling. Massive shut-downs of the society. executed wisely and with mass participation over time. As stated earlier. without violence. and building a democracy following the victory? A blood bath must be avoided which could have drastic consequences on the possibility of a future democratic system. especially not easily.structure (as the political police) are to be completely abolished because of their inherent anti-democratic character and which sections retained to be subjected to later democratization efforts. The dictatorship would disintegrate before the defiant population.
Unfortunately. Threats of a new dictatorship Aristotle warned long ago that ". The dictatorial structures will need to be dismantled. Even before the collapse of the dictatorship members of the old regime may attempt to cut short the defiance struggle for democracy by staging a coup d'‚tat designed to preempt victory by the popular resistance. but in fact seek only to impose a new refurbished model of the old one. No one should believe that with the downfall of the dictatorship an ideal society will immediately appear. Russia (the Bolsheviks). tyranny can also change into tyranny. . Even in the event of a successful disintegration of the dictatorship by political defiance. The new political system should provide the opportunities for people with varying outlooks and favored measures to continue constructive work and policy development to deal with problems in the future. . The new dictatorship may even be more cruel and total in its control than the old one. . under conditions of enhanced freedom. Advance knowledge of that defense capacity may at times be sufficient to deter the attempt. economic. careful precautions must be taken to prevent the rise of a new oppressive regime out of the confusion following the collapse of the old one.struggled with them to win political freedom. this is not a time for a reduction in vigilance. Not all will have lived to see this day. . Serious political. and social problems will continue for years. The constitutional and legal bases and standards of behavior of a durable democracy will need to be built. Iran (the Ayatollah). The living and the dead will be remembered as heroes who helped to shape the history of freedom in their country. The leaders of the pro-democracy forces should have prepared in advance for an orderly transition to a democracy. but the results are often approximately the same. The disintegration of the dictatorship simply provides the beginning point. Blocking coups There are ways in which coups against newly liberated societies can be defeated. . Their motives may vary. Burma (SLORC). and elsewhere that the collapse of an oppressive regime will be seen by some persons and groups as merely the opportunity for them to step in as the new masters. requiring the cooperation of many people and groups in seeking their resolution. 49 . It may claim to oust the dictatorship. for long-term efforts to improve the society and meet human needs more adequately."(14) There is ample historical evidence from France (the Jacobins and Napoleon). Preparation can produce prevention.
a new constitution will need to be prepared. acceptance of their moral and political right to rule. confused. The putschists require the cooperation of specialists and advisors. Essentially the same means of struggle that was used against the dictatorship can be used against the new threat. Constitution drafting The new democratic system will require a constitution that establishes the desired framework of the democratic government. bureaucrats and civil servants. a clear division of authority should be established between the legislative. The putschists also require that the multitude of people who operate the political system. the coup may die of political starvation and the chance to build a democratic society restored. In some situations the Swiss system of cantons might be considered in which relatively small areas retain major prerogatives. administrators and judges in order to consolidate their control over the affected society. it may be wise simply to restore it to operation. If a constitution with many of these features existed earlier in the newly liberated country's history. intelligence services. The putschists also require that the civilian leaders and population be supportive.Immediately after a coup is started. the constitution should preferably be one which establishes a federal system with significant prerogatives reserved for the regional. limits on governmental powers. Strong restrictions should be included on activities of the police. the police. the putschists require legitimacy. The needed cooperation and assistance must be denied. but applied immediately. In the interests of preserving the democratic system and impeding dictatorial trends and measures. executive. The second basic principle of anti-coup defense is to resist the putschists with noncooperation and defiance. the means and timing of elections by which governmental officials and legislators will be chosen. Preparing a new constitution will take considerable time and thought. and the military forces will passively submit and carry out their usual functions as modified by the putschists' orders and policies. amending it as deemed necessary and desirable. Popular 50 . the inherent rights of the people. Otherwise. Within the central government. The constitution should set the purposes of government. while remaining a part of the whole country. The first basic principle of anti-coup defense is therefore to deny legitimacy to the putschists. it may be necessary to operate with an interim constitution. and military forces to prohibit any political interference. and the relation of the national government to other lower levels of government. If a suitable older constitution is not present. that is. state. the economy. if it is to remain democratic. the society's institutions. and judicial branches of government. and local levels of government. If both legitimacy and cooperation are denied. or just passive.
for both can facilitate a new dictatorship. The population experienced in the use of political defiance is less likely to be vulnerable to future dictatorships. The wording of the constitution should be easily understood by the majority of the population. economic injustices.(15) By placing resistance capacity directly in the hands of the citizenry.participation in this process is desirable and required for ratification of a new text or amendments. rights. A meritorious responsibility The effect of nonviolent struggle is not only to weaken and remove the dictators but also to empower the oppressed. This experience of struggle has important psychological consequences. These might include future governmental abuse and corruption. This technique enables people who formerly felt themselves to be only pawns or victims to wield power directly in order to gain by their own efforts greater freedom and justice. It must be remembered that some groups will ignore any constitutional provision in their aim to establish themselves as new dictators. The country might also be threatened by foreign attempts to establish economic. 51 . contributing to increased self-esteem and self-confidence among the formerly powerless. Therefore. One important long-term beneficial consequence of the use of nonviolent struggle for establishing democratic government is that the society will be more capable of dealing with continuing and future problems. In the interests of maintaining internal democracy. and limitations on the democratic qualities of the political system. maltreatment of any group. political. newly liberated countries could avoid the need to establish a strong military capacity which could itself threaten democracy or require vast economic resources much needed for other purposes. and procedures. a permanent role will exist for the population to apply political defiance and noncooperation against would-be dictators and to preserve democratic structures. A democratic defense policy The liberated country may also face foreign threats for which a defense capacity would be required. One should be very cautious about including in the constitution promises which later might prove impossible to implement or provisions which would require a highly centralized government. or military domination. A constitution should not be so complex or ambiguous that only lawyers or other elites can claim to understand it. serious consideration should be given to applying the basic principles of political defiance to the needs of national defense.
After liberation. will be needed. through much travail. Freedom won by struggle of this type can be durable. and local governments and nongovernmental institutions. hard work. Declarations by organizations and institutions 4. There are three major conclusions to the ideas sketched here: • Liberation from dictatorships is possible. civil liberties. and • Vigilance. often at great cost. No outside force is coming to give oppressed people the freedom they so much want. and disciplined struggle. they can chart courses of action which. Letters of opposition or support 3. Appendix The Methods Of Nonviolent Action (16) The Methods of nonviolent Protest and Persuasion Formal statements 1. • Very careful thought and strategic planning will be required to achieve it. with diligence they can construct a new democratic order and prepare for its defense. Such means also provide ways by which people and groups can express extreme dissent peacefully on issues seen as so important that opposition groups have sometimes resorted to terrorism or guerrilla warfare. and prerogatives of regional. state. The oft quoted phrase "Freedom is not free" is true. familiarity with nonviolent struggle will provide ways to defend democracy. minority rights. If people can grasp what is required for their own liberation. It can be maintained by a tenacious people committed to its preservation and enrichment. can eventually bring them their freedom. Signed public statements 52 . Then. People will have to learn how to take that freedom themselves. Easy it cannot be. The thoughts in this examination of political defiance or nonviolent struggle are intended to be helpful to all persons and groups who seek to lift dictatorial oppression from their people and to establish a durable democratic system which respects human freedoms and popular action to improve the society. Public speeches 2.
Prayer and worship 21. Fraternization 34. Group lobbying 16. Destruction of own property 24. Delivering symbolic objects 22. Slogans. Records. and books 10. Protest disrobings 23. Paint as protest 27. "Haunting" officials 32. and displayed communications 9. Symbolic lights 25. Rude gestures Pressures on individuals 31. Display of flags and symbolic colors 19. New signs and names 28 Symbolic sounds 29. Deputations 14. Declarations of indictment and intention 6. Picketing 17. caricatures. Mock awards 15. Banners. and television 12. Symbolic reclamations 30. Mock elections Symbolic public acts 18. Leaflets. and symbols 8. 5. Skywriting and earthwriting Group representations 13. Newspapers and journals 11.pamphlets. posters. Displays of portraits 26. Group or mass petitions Communications with a wider audience 7. Vigils 53 . Taunting officials 33. Wearing of symbols 20. radio.
Protest meetings 49. Teach-ins Withdrawal and renunciation 51. Mock funerals 45. Homage at burial places Public assemblies 47. Pilgrimages 42. Motorcades Honoring the dead 43. Turning one's back THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION Ostracism of persons 54 . Political mourning 44. Marches 39. Religious processions 41. Renouncing honors 54. Walk-outs 52. Silence 53. Humorous skits and pranks 36. Camouflaged meetings of protest 50. Demonstrative funerals 46. Singing Processions 38. Assemblies of protest or support 48.Drama and music 35. Parades 40. Performance of plays and music 37.
Excommunication 59. International consumers' boycott Action by workers and producers 78. Interdict Noncooperation with social events. Consumers' boycott 72. Selective social boycott 57. Student strike 63. Flight of workers 68. Boycott of social affairs 62. Stay-at-home 66. Social boycott 56. National consumers' boycott 77. Policy of austerity 74. Workmen's boycott 79. Rent withholding 75. Suspension of social and sports activities 61. customs. Sanctuary 69. Withdrawal from social institutions Withdrawal from the social system 65. Producers' boycott 55 . Total personal noncooperation 67. Protest emigration (Hijrat) THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: (1) ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS Action by consumers 71. Social disobedience 64. Refusal to rent 76. and institutions 60. Collective disappearance 70. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods 73. 55. Lysistratic nonaction 58.
International buyers' embargo 96. Merchants' "general strike" Action by holders of financial resources 86. Revenue refusal 91. dues. Lockout 84. Refusal to pay debts or interest 89. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott Action by owners and management 81. Refusal to pay fees. International trade embargo THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: (2) THE STRIKE Symbolic strikes 97. Severance of funds and credit 90. Quickie walkout (lightning strike) Agricultural strikes 56 . Refusal of industrial assistance 85. Protest strike 98. Refusal of a government's money Action by governments 92. Traders' boycott 82. Blacklisting of traders 94. and assessments 88. Refusal to let or sell property 83. International sellers' embargo 95. Withdrawal of bank deposits 87. Domestic embargo 93.Action by middlemen 80.
General strike Combinations of strikes and economic closures 118. Peasant strike 100. Sympathetic strike Restricted strikes 108. Professional strike Ordinary industrial strikes 105. Limited strike 115. Economic shutdown THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION Rejection of authority 57 . Selective strike Multi-industry strikes 116. Industry strike 107. Working-to-rule strike 112. Refusal of impressed labor 102. 99. Generalized strike 117. Slowdown strike 111. Craft strike 104. Strike by resignation 114. Hartal 119. Establishment strike 106. Detailed strike 109. Reporting "sick" (sick-in) 113. Bumper strike 110. Prisoners' strike 103. Farm workers' strike Strikes by special groups 101.
Refusal to accept appointed officials 132. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents 130. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation 140. Withdrawal from government educational institutions 128. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides 143. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse 138. 120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance 121. Hiding. Refusal of public support 122. Mutiny 58 . agencies and Other bodies 127. Removal of own signs and placemarks 131. Stalling and obstruction 145. Literature and speeches advocating resistance Citizens' noncooperation with government 123. General administrative noncooperation 147. escape and false identities 141. Reluctant and slow compliance 134. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws Action by government personnel 142. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by Enforcement agents 148. Boycott of government employment and positions 126. Disguised disobedience 137. Boycott of government departments. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions Citizens' alternatives to obedience 133. Sitdown 139. Boycott of government-supported organizations 129. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision 135. Popular nonobedience 136. Boycott of elections 125. Boycott of legislative bodies 123. Blocking of lines of command and information 144.
Nonviolent harassment Physical intervention 162. Refusal of membership in international bodies 157. Wade-in 166. Expulsion from international organizations THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION Psychological intervention 158. Nonviolent occupation 59 . Changes in diplomatic and other representation 152. Stand-in 164. Nonviolent interjection 172. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units International governmental action 151. Withdrawal from international organizations 156. Quasi-legal evasions and delays 150. Nonviolent air raids 170. Nonviolent invasion 171.Domestic governmental action 149. Self-exposure to the elements 159. The fast (a) Fast of moral pressure (b) Hunger strike (c) Satyagrahic fast 160. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events 153. Mill-in 167. Ride-in 165. Severance of diplomatic relations 155. Pray-in 168. Nonviolent obstruction 173. Nonviolent raids 169. Withholding of diplomatic recognition 154. Sit-in 163. Reverse trial 161.
Alternative transportation systems 192. Guerrilla theater 179. Work-on without collaboration 198. Phil. Seeking imprisonment 196. Dual sovereignty and parallel government About the Author Gene Sharp. Establishing new social patterns 175. He is also Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Stall-in 177. Cambridge. and Associate of the Center for International Affairs. D. Alternative markets 191. is Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the Albert Einstein Institution. Overloading of facilities 176. Selective patronage 190. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws 197. Overloading of administrative systems 194. Seizure of assets 188. Preclusive purchasing 187. Harvard University. (Oxon.Social intervention 174. He is the author of various books. Massachusetts. Nonviolent land seizure 184. Stay-in strike 183. Disclosing identities of secret agents 195. Alternative social institutions 180. Politically motivated counterfeiting 186. Defiance of blockades 185. including 60 . Reverse strike 182. Speak-in 178. Dumping 189.). Alternative economic institutions Political intervention 193. Alternative communication system Economic intervention 181.
The translation was originally published in Nonviolent Sanctions: News from the Albert Einstein Institution (Cambridge. 260. 1972). Book V.). Mass. ed. (2) Freedom House. pp. psychological. although the latter two terms generally refer to struggles with a broader range of objectives (social. (6) Aristotle. "Political defiance" is nonviolent struggle (protest. "Cracks in the Monolith. and reprint New York and London: Garland Publishing. No. In this paper. Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. nonviolent resistance. 1954). (4) Patrick Sarsfield O'Hegarty." in Carl J. transl. 4. See pp. Brace.: Harvard University Press." (3) Freedom House. etc. A. 490-491. Friedrich. (1) The term used in this context was introduced by Robert Helvey. by T. 3. 1992-1993 (New York: Freedom House.The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973). (7) This story. 231 and 232. Deutsch. The term originated in response to the confusion and distortion created by equating nonviolent struggle with pacifism and moral or religious "nonviolence. A History of Ireland Under the Union. and intervention) applied defiantly and actively for political purposes. 1952). p. all rights reserved. Middlesex. Vol. p. and Civilian-Based Defense (1990). (8) Karl W. p. Yu-li-zi is also the pseudonym of Liu Ji. Maryland: Penguin Books 1876 ). allowing no room for submission. 3 (Winter 1992-1993). 1880-1922 (London: Methuen. Freedom in the World. economic.." and "not free. Chapter 12. Totalitarianism (Cambridge. (5) Krishnalal Shridharani. 1993). The Politics. IV. 61 . The term is used principally to describe action by populations to regain from dictatorships control over governmental institutions by relentlessly attacking their sources of power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do so. 79-80 for a description of Freedom House's categories of "free. 1939." "Defiance" denotes a deliberate challenge to authority by disobedience. England and Baltimore. and nonviolent struggle will be used interchangeably. noncooperation. pp. Mass. 66 (1993 figures are as of January 1993). pp. War Without Violence: A Study of Gandhi's Method and Its Accomplishments (New York: Harcourt.)." "partly free. "Political defiance" describes the environment in which the action is employed (political) as well as the objective (political power). p. political defiance. originally titled "Rule by Tricks" is from Yu-li-zi by Liu Ji (1311-1375) and has been translated by Sidney Tai. Social Power and Political Freedom (1980). Sinclair (Harmondsworth. 313-314.
CONTENTS Preface v One Facing Dictatorships Realistically 1 A continuing problem 2 Freedom through violence? 3 Coups. (12) Robert Helvey. (16) This list. 1990).. 1911 ). The Politics." in The Discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. The Politics of Nonviolent Action. 296. 1994). 15 August 1993. I. foreign saviors? 4 Facing the hard truth 7 Two 62 . Book V. Chapter 12. elections. Vol. "The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy. Vol. with definitions and historical examples. revised and edited by Robert Campbell. p. (15) See Gene Sharp. is taken from Gene Sharp. Lectures on Jurisprudence or the Philosophy of Positive Law (Fifth edition. London: John Murray. The Methods of Nonviolent Action. (11) See Gene Sharp. 2 vol. (13) Recommended full length studies are Gene Sharp. 1973). p. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent. Part Two. Strategic Nonviolent Conflict (Westport. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. The Politics of Nonviolent Action and Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler. 233. (14) Aristotle. Connecticut: Praeger. Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System (Princeton. (10) Niccolo Machiavelli. personal communication. p. I. 75 and passim for other historical examples. 254.(9) John Austin. 1950). p.
and high standards 31 63 . secrecy.The Dangers of Negotiations 9 Merits and limitations of negotiations 9 Negotiated surrender? 10 Power and justice in negotiations 11 "Agreeable" dictators 12 What kind of peace? 13 Reasons for hope 14 Three Whence Comes the Power? 17 The "Monkey Master" fable 17 Necessary sources of political power 18 Centers of democratic power 21 Four Dictatorships Have Weaknesses 23 Identifying the Achilles' heel 23 Weaknesses of dictatorships 24 Attacking weaknesses of dictatorships 25 Five Exercising Power 27 The workings of nonviolent struggle 28 Nonviolent weapons and discipline 28 Openness.
Shifting power relationships 32 Four mechanisms of change 32 Democratizing effects of political defiance 34 Complexity of nonviolent struggle 35 Six The need for Strategic Planning 37 Realistic planning 38 Hurdles to planning 38 Four important terms in strategic planning 40 Seven Planning Strategy 45 Choice of means 46 Planning for democracy 47 External assistance 47 Formulating a grand strategy 48 Planning campaign strategies 50 Spreading the idea of noncooperation 52 Repression and countermeasures 53 Adhering to the strategic plan 54 Eight Applying Political Defiance 55 Selective resistance 55 64 .
Symbolic challenge 56 Spreading responsibility 57 Aiming at the dictators' power 58 Shifts in strategy 60 Nine Disintegrating The Dictatorship 61 Escalating freedom 62 Disintegrating the dictatorship 64 Handling success responsibly 65 Ten Groundwork For Durable Democracy 67 Threats of a new dictatorship 67 Blocking coups 68 Constitution drafting 68 A democratic defense policy 69 A meritorious responsibility 70 Appendix The Methods Of Nonviolent Action 73 About the Author 81 Copyright © Gene Sharp 1993 65 .
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