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When Nonviolent Movements are met with Violent Opposition
by Olivia Ivans
Tuesday Apr 23rd, 2019 10:16 AM
Nonviolent movements have a history of being successful. Though this is true it is difficult for them to maintain their nonviolent actions when they are met with violent opposition by the opposing side.
When Nonviolent Movements are met with Violent Opposition

By Olivia Ivans

Nonviolent movements have a more difficult time remaining nonviolent when met with violent opposition. Though statistics have proven that nonviolent movements are in fact more effective in terms of achieving social change there is a 50% chance that the nonviolent movement will fail if it turns into violence and it is more likely to turn to violence when it is met with violence by the opposing side. It seems to be a recurring theme that when one side of a protest picks up a weapon or resorts to violence it legitimizes the use of violence for the other side as well.

The use of violence tends to either reduce the amount of supporters for the nonviolent movement for fear of the violence that is being used and fear of not having a way to defend oneself. This is how nonviolent movements can evolve into violent ones easily. When a protest remains nonviolent on both sides the public is more likely to continue its support for the social cause on either side. Great points have been made in various articles that the way that a movement resists, whether violently or nonviolently, can create differences in the future. For instance countries that experience nonviolent uprisings are more likely to emerge after with a type of democracy and are 15% less likely to experience another uprising over the same social issue as before. Political Scientist Erica Chenoweth in a Washington Post article discussed that through her research she has seen that movements that have at least 3.5 percent of support can be successful. Chenoweth also pointed out that, “every single campaign that exceeded that 3.5 percent point was a nonviolent one. The nonviolent campaigns were on average four times larger than the average violent campaigns.”

It is in our nature to want to defend ourselves when we are met with violence which makes it that much more difficult to remain nonviolent in violent situations. Nonviolent movements are almost always met with violence because they at some point are always met with regime repression in response since a part of social movements is to go against the social norms in some way shape or form. Though it is hard to maintain nonviolence when met with violent opposition it is proven to be possible to achieve social change this way. Numerous studies show that nonviolence is an effective tactic in achieving social change when it is met with nonviolence as long as it maintains is nonviolent stance even in the face of violent opposition.

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