Nonviolent direct action was employed by Martin Luther King, Jr., to effectuate change in the USA, and modeled on the writings and work of Gandhi in South Africa and India. These are two examples of successful nonviolent change. But are there others? Does nonviolence really work?
The answer is, yes.
Nonviolent revolutions have about double the success rate of those marked by violent means. The rates of success were documented in a study by Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.” International Security 33, no. 1 (Summer 2008): 7-44.
According to Stephan and Chenoweth, of 323 violent and nonviolent movements between 1900 and 2006, 53% of the nonviolent ones succeeded as compared to only 26% of the violent ones. What’s even more telling is that when the movements were repressed, the nonviolent movements were 6 times more likely to succeed.
The article can be accessed at the following link: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/IS3301_pp007-044_Stephan_Chenoweth.pdf
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