Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

News, Insights, Thoughts

Articles

What Soldiers and Police Should Do at a Protest (Series Part II)

What you do when on duty at a protest can influence others around you. By being calm and nonthreatening, you can ease tension. If you talk with protesters and laugh at their humorous stunts, you can set an example for other troops. Simply making light-hearted comments to your colleagues like, “Wait a second, I think I see my dentist in the crowd, don’t shoot” can make them think twice about engaging in potentially brutal behavior against peaceful protesters. […]

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Ideas & Trends

What Soldiers and Police Need to Know About Protests (Series Part I)

You’re a soldier or police officer who’s been asked to control and possibly shut down a public protest. You’ve been told the protesters are threatening public safety and national security. However, when you encounter them, things are not so clear. There are hundreds or thousands of people and they are not being violent. They say they are standing up for your country’s values. […]

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Movement Commentary

Pigs in Parliament: Uganda’s Anti-Corruption Struggle

The Jobless Brotherhood pulled off their first action in 2014, when activists released two pigs painted yellow (the color of the ruling party) in the Ugandan Parliament while in session. The pigs were wearing tags with written descriptions of corrupt acts that ruling members of Parliament had committed. Pigs were chosen to symbolize the corrupt Ugandan elites who are “eating” public funds. In order to infiltrate Parliament, the activists had befriended the guards for six months. […]

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Scholarship & Research

Ukrainians vs. Putin: Potential for Nonviolent Civilian-based Defense

Ukrainians show a surprising level of support for the type of resistance that neither Ukrainian policymakers nor their Western backers have considered in their defense planning: mass nonviolent resistance actions against a formidable military invader. This human potential for nonviolent resistance remains unfortunately untapped in the Ukrainian national defense strategy. How Ukrainians defend their country against a more militarily powerful adversary will determine Ukraine’s future, including the survival of its nascent democracy. […]

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Scholarship & Research

Explaining Military Coups and Defections—and What Activists Can Do With This Knowledge

Militaries can defect in different manners: by following orders inefficiently, disobeying them altogether, demanding the dictator step down, or joining the opposition. But they also sometimes remove an unpopular dictator by seizing power, as the Sudanese military did in April 2019. Unfortunately, most existing research does not differentiate coups and other forms of military disloyalty and thus does not explain why, during the course of a nonviolent campaign, some militaries defect and others seize power. This is an important question to explore, because different forms of military disloyalty likely bring about different nonviolent campaign outcomes. […]

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Ideas & Trends

What Can We Learn from Agent Provocateurs?

Over the past ten years, a large amount of social movement research has shown that peoples’ movements are more likely to succeed when they have unity among supporters, widespread participation, strategic planning, and nonviolent discipline. It is not surprising, therefore, that agent provocateurs both instigate and encourage real activists to behave in ways that undermine these four keys to movement success. Our challenge is to learn not to take the bait. Why would any of us want to act like agent provocateurs who are trying to harm our movements? […]

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Movement Commentary

The Arts in Today’s Movements: Insights from Nigeria’s #EndSARS Campaign

In my previous blog post I talked about the destructive role that agents provocateurs played in Nigeria’s #EndSARS campaign, which took place last fall. But there were many examples of beauty and constructive power in this movement as well. One of those was in the form of artistic resistance that emerged from diverse communities across the country. In this post, I will share a few examples below–including photography, video, inspirational designs, illustrations, graphic design, paintings, music and dance—and also offer some analysis of the roles that they played in the campaign. […]

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Ideas and Trends

Expanding Our Movement Vision and Odds of Success

Are we already on our way to the next political jolt? Our movements are probably more populous and diverse than ever before. Movement leaders are increasingly deliberate to organize intersectionally and across decentralized structures. Creativity is now mainstreamed within activist culture and there is stronger cooperation across national borders and continents. To ensure that civil resistance remains a force more powerful, though, we’re still going to need a better consolidated ideology, more enduring staying power, and exceptionally innovative tactical chops. […]

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Ideas & Trends

The Impact of Civil Resistance is Declining. What to Do?

The new data are depressing, with mass nonviolent resistance success rates dropping from 52 percent to 34 percent. At the same time however, violent resistance success rates dropped to their lowest point in the past century, at 8 percent. In her Journal of Democracy article a year ago, Chenoweth asks why, and what next? I want to ask, additionally, what to do? To answer this question, I propose to first take a step back and put the evolution of asymmetrical political conflict into perspective, considering developments in both ideology and in practice. This will help us as activists better harness our collective power in the new global context—the focus of my follow-up post. […]

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Scholarship & Research

“Civil Resistance Against Climate Change”: Major Contributions, Remaining Challenges for Our Field (Book Review)

Over the last five years, groups and organizations like Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future emerged to mobilize against climate change and adopted more radical measures than the environmental movement has traditionally used. Although temporarily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a global nonviolent civil resistance movement is coalescing and it is clear that its leaders have been studying and drawing lessons from the field of civil resistance studies. […]

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