“Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
“In each case, civil resistance by ordinary members of the public trumped the political elite to achieve radical change.
“There are, of course, many ethical reasons to use nonviolent strategies. But compelling research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics – by a long way.
“Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
“Chenoweth’s influence can be seen in the recent Extinction Rebellion protests, whose founders say they have been directly inspired by her findings.
“Needless to say, Chenoweth’s research builds on the philosophies of many influential figures throughout history. The African-American abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the suffrage campaigner Susan B Anthony, the Indian independence activist Mahatma Gandhi and the US civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King have all convincingly argued for the power of peaceful protest.”
Read the full story by David Robson….