Monday, October 01, 2007

Non-Violent Success

Barbara over at Mahablog has the best work around on the happenings in Burma. As fingers are crossed around the world for the success of the monks and the avoiding of death, several questions are raised about non-violent acts designed to overthrow a repressive regime. Are there certain preconditions which make non-violent tactics more likely to succeed?

* Are there sociological, historical, or cultural facts about the regime or colonial power that make non-violent means more effective? The existence of an independent press that is respected by the oppressing power? the brutality of the oppressors? the place of the military in the government? the nature of the self-image of the oppressive society?

* Because crowds can so easily turn to mobs, we most usually find figures like King and Gandhi associated with these movements. Do you need a charismatic figure as a leader? Does this person have to be associated with the majority religion of the oppressed?

I've always wondered why someone like Ibrahim Rivoga in Kosovo was unsuccessful while others like Gandhi and King were so successful. Is it historical accident or were the sociological stars aligned in some cases and not others? Velvet revolutions are wonderful things, but what do we need to have in place to bring them about?