Insights: Non-violence as an effective strategy?

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Professor Kathleen Cunningham as part of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace series on Leadership and Global Governance. 

Non-violence as an influential strategy?

Professor Kathleen Gallagher’s lecture on self-determination of nationalistic organizations offers insightful and relevant evidence on moving towards a peaceful society. Groups seeking self-determination have been known to have high internal fragmentation that is associated with the use of violence in pursuit of political recognition.

However, upon further examination of the variety of strategies implemented by these organizations, Professor Gallagher’s research indicates that the number of non-violent strategies employed is, in fact, substantial. Her work recognizes examples of non-violent strategy to include but not limit, economic non-cooperation (strikes and boycotts), protest, and political non-cooperation (purposeful withdrawal from political processes).

But are non-violent strategies effective? 

This is an extremely relevant question in a time when U.S national protests continue to attract large numbers of activists. Although the motives of Professor Gallagher’s treatment groups differ, the impact of non-violent strategies offers unique insight. Professor Gallagher finds that the utilization of non-violent strategies is effective and actually leads to a three-fold increase in government accommodations.

What does it mean to be effective?

The definition of success and how effectiveness is measured is a debatable topic. Professor Gallagher narrows the definition of success to be the measures of accommodations and concessions an organization is able to secure from their government. This includes a variety of cases like legislative action, constitutional changes, language recognition, and fiscal autonomy, that are named as a few key “successes”.

Is effectiveness enough?

Professor Gallagher’s findings are seemingly optimistic, but what does it imply for the future of these organizations? The ultimate goal of self-determining organizations is independence. So, one must ask if Professor Gallagher’s measure of success is a strong enough incentive for group reform?

Nevertheless, applying her findings to popular protest movements in our society today could be important to maintaining a peaceful democracy.

About the Author:

img_3242-1-qmtxxt-150x150Esther Kaufman is an undergraduate student studying Economics at the University of Maryland with a minor in Global Terrorism Studies.  She is interested in the effects of economic policy on issues such as equality, welfare and radicalization of individuals in society.

Photo Credit: karstenphoto Flickr via Compfight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *