Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

Encouraging Agents of Repression to Defect: Psychology for Activists

One lab experiment that focused on why people repress is the Stanford Prison Experiment, where participants were put in a simulated prison. The experiment was supposed to go two weeks, but had to shut down after six days. Participants got into a madhouse of social roles… The reason it was finally shut down was that an outsider with some authority intervened, doing on a small scale what nonviolent social movements do on a large scale. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Defending the Truth: An Activist’s Guide to Fighting Foreign Disinformation Warfare

Without a strategic approach to countering disinformation warfare from abroad, activists are in danger of becoming “useful innocents”—unwitting assistants for external interests bent on sowing discord and undermining democratic practices and trust in democracy. As such, activists must be better prepared for the authoritarian onslaught, and An Activist’s Guide to Fighting Foreign Disinformation Warfare aims to serve just this purpose. […]

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Ideas & Trends

“May the Excessive Force Be With You”: How Activists Can Manage Repression to Win

The speaker yells to the police, “We are willing to give you a brief moment of peace. You may take your weapons and our friends and go. Please do not return.” Then, the crowd chants, “You can go! You can go!” The crowd finally leaves the police alone in a cluster, looking slightly bewildered and unsure, robbed of the kind of confrontation for which their training, armor, and weapons were designed. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Deepening Activist Learning for More Effective Civil Resistance Movements

One of the reasons civil resistance movements and campaigns have achieved a relatively high success rate in spite of challenges is that many activists learn by doing in the midst of organizing campaigns. How can activist learning be deepened to further improve movement effectiveness? […]

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Scholarship & Research

Do Military Defections Help or Hinder Pro-Democracy Civil Resistance?

When activists start mobilizing to pursue a transition from dictatorship to democracy in their country, they face real risks—perhaps the most serious being lethal repression at the hands of state security forces. If feeling especially threatened, the dictator may choose to deploy the military and order it to throw its weight behind ending the popular challenge. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Three Ways to Reduce Internal Conflict in Civil Resistance Movements

In any analysis of what drove the Standing Rock camps to implode in the winter of 2016-2017, failing to deal with cultural or racial conflict and turning a blind eye toward internal violence were prominent triggers. This article distills recommendations that can help stave off some of the most vexing internal conflicts that can metastasize like cancers in civil resistance movements. […]

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Ideas & Trends

How to Help a Civil Resistance Campaign: Israeli-Jewish Activists in Palestine

Imagine this scenario: A civil resistance campaign emerges in your country. You agree with the goals of the resistance, but you are not the one facing oppression. In fact, in many ways you are complicit in upholding the regime of oppression. What do you do? How can you help the resistance campaign? […]

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