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Guest Thinkers

Modern Nonviolence Movements

Civil resistance usually cannot survive systematic and violent repression, and it is still often suppressed by authoritarian governments. At least in the Arab world, this seems to be changing.

Brian Urquhart traces the roots of nonviolent civil resistance: “The basic rationale of civil resistance is that the power of rulers ultimately lies in the obedience and cooperation of their subjects. So far, at any rate, no one has found a reliable way of making civil resistance work in a totalitarian police state—as distinguished from the satellites of such states—although the current revolts in the Arab world may prove an exception to this rule. The American civil rights movement or the ultimately effective protests against the war in Vietnam could count on publicity and support in a working democracy.”


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