Tag Archives: Poland

National Nonviolent Defense Against Aggressor-States

2 Jan
  • What would you do if foreign troops invaded & occupied your town, city, region, or country?
  • In your view, how effective can nonviolent resistance against a powerful aggressor-state be?
  • In your view, how effective can armed resistance against a powerful aggressor-state be?
  • What resistance action would you join if your town, city, region or country was occupied by a brutal foreign regime?

Listen to my webinar recording where I discuss these and other questions relevant to the civilian-led nonviolent defense against invader-states.

In case of aggression more Poles will join nonviolent defense and civil resistance than armed struggle

18 Mar

Which type of collective resistance has greater chances of mobilizing more people in the face of a violent adversary? In other words, which resistance – violent or nonviolent – has more powerful participation driver?protest

According to a recent survey for the Polish commercial broadcaster TVN 27% of adult Poles expressed their desire to take up arms in case of foreign aggression. This would constitute 8,6 million of all adult Poles. However, this number increases by 10% or more than 2 million people, to the level of 11,9 million (37%) of those who are ready to “resist [foreign invasion], not by fighting with arms, but by engaging in other, non-military activities.” 11% or  2 million people, were undecided. But even this group would be more likely to participate in some selected and lower risk nonviolent resistance actions than to join or lead an armed campaign. Thus, the participation in nonviolent struggle in Poland could in theory reach the level of close to 50% of the adult population or 16 million people, almost twice as many as those who are now ready to join armed struggle.  The remaining 19% would immigrate from the country altogether.

In my recent piece on the conflict in Ukraine I have highlighted that nonviolent civilian-led defense and resistance have greater chances of mobilizing and engaging much greater number of people than the armed struggle. I wrote that by “opting for the military approach [to the conflict in Donbas] Ukraine had significantly limited human resources and civic mobilization capacities, especially in the light of recent reports on increase in draft dodging. Approximately 250,000 active duty Ukrainian military personnel, several thousands of paramilitary forces and civilian volunteers – at best, 300,000 people – might be engaged directly or indirectly in the armed struggle. This constitutes not even 1% of the Ukrainian adult population (15 years and older). Therefore, the first and foremost strategy for Ukraine must be to devise the type of resistance that asks and enable all 40 million people to take part in it, and do so on a daily basis.”

Indeed, according to my colleague, Erica Chenoweth, who studied 323 armed and unarmed conflicts over more than 100 years, nonviolent campaigns have historically been “11 times larger as proportion of population size than average violent campaigns.” This feature, among other elements described in the recent study on countering hybrid warfare with nonviolent civilian defense, makes civil resistance an attractive defense weapon against aggression by a more powerful neighbor.

Those who are responsible for planning national defense and security policies of their countries, specially when they face militarily superior adversary, would benefit from paying greater attention to a powerful participation driver that  nonviolent defense and civil resistance offer. Arguably, this type of resistance could turn whole nation into a disciplined and committed fighting society much easier and faster than armed resistance.

 

Review of my edited book Recovering Nonviolent History

2 Aug

Review of my edited book Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles by Erica Chenoweth in Journal of Peace Research, November 2013, vol. 50, 761.

Bartkowski, Maciej, ed. (2013) Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. xii + 436 pp. ISBN 9781588268952.

Political science and sociology have long regarded nbook_frontation-building as a fundamentally violent process. As Charles Tilly famously argued, ‘War makes the state, and the state makes war.’ This volume challenges this claim, arguing instead that popular nonviolent struggles have been equally influential in defining peoples, cultures, and borders. In Recovering Nonviolent History, Maciej Bartkowski has assembled a compelling set of research articles that describe the many ways that people power movements have actively confronted foreign occupation, colonial influence, and territorial domination in ways that have affected the current global landscape. Impressive in global and historical scope, the book’s main theoretical contribution is its conjecture that nonviolent resistance may have played an equally important role in the establishment of nations and states as violent struggle – a hypothesis that receives limited support in the case studies, though systematic testing is left to future researchers. Each of the chapters possesses originality, detailed research, and success at ‘recovering’ some novel national histories. Highlights include Conser’s chapter on civil resistance in the American colonies from 1765 to 1775, and Smithey’s chapter, which challenges the notion that collective action is always predetermined by pre-existing repertoires and argues that instead, opportunities and opponent moves can produce novel forms of collective action that can in turn reinforce existing values or even introduce new identities. The main weakness of the volume is the puzzle that remains – if nonviolent struggles have been so important in state and identity formation, then why have they been forgotten? Bartkowski’s concluding chapter offers some potential explanations – including the ‘cloaking’ of masculinity in the archetype of armed struggle, the influence of external actors taking credit for victorious struggles, and that civil resistance is just now an emerging field of study – but the volume leaves these as untested hypotheses. More research is required to understand the reasons why the history of nonviolent resistance needs recovering in the first place.

Erica Chenoweth