Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

News, Insights, Thoughts

Articles

Inside Cote d’Ivoire’s Nonviolent Struggle for Disability Rights (Interview)

For over a decade, ICNC grantee Ahouty Kouakou and his colleagues from two civil society groups have been engaged in a nonviolent struggle for disability rights in Côte d’Ivoire, a small Francophone country in West Africa. Parting with the bleak Parisian winter last December, I thawed out during a three-day site visit to the country’s economic capital, Abidjan […]

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Ideas & Trends

“Revolutionizing” Revolution: A New Path for Political Change in Latin America

The term “Revolution” has ceased being associated uniquely with bloody revolts that generally end up with new dictatorships in power, and has become a synonym of truly mass movements with poetic names, capable of paving the road to lasting democracies. Latin America is not exempt from this reality, in spite of all stereotypes that try to restrict and disqualify the development of strategic nonviolent action on our continent. […]

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Ideas & Trends

How “Movement Halfway Houses” Can Increase Activist Learning

January 21 is a national holiday in the United States that honors Martin Luther King, Jr., who first came to prominence as a civil resistance leader during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Yet, the boycott was not inspired by King. It was inspired by Rosa Parks, one of the Highlander Folk School’s best-known graduates […]

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Ideas & Trends

Small Grants, Big Commitment: Reflections on Support for Grassroots Activists and Organizers

An increasing number of human rights foundations focus on supporting “movements” and the “grassroots.”  Definitions of these terms may vary, as do approaches. Amidst this backdrop, I want to offer some reflections and lessons learned on this topic from ICNC’s work.  Consider this one of many reference points in the growing conversation. […]

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Movement Commentary

Protesting Corruption in Iran: Real Demands for Real Change

December 28 marks the one-year anniversary of a new wave of civil resistance in Iran, that had been brewing in various towns and cities around the country since the 2009 Green Revolution. Corruption and economic hardship—although not entirely new problems—are the two main grievances that link the past year’s demonstrations […]

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Ideas & Trends

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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