Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

News, Insights, Thoughts

Articles

“The French Paradox”: For a Greater Recognition of Nonviolent Action as a Political Force

What has surprised me most is not the movements themselves, but rather the discovery that most French political scientists (and the French public more broadly) share a general misunderstanding of what nonviolent struggle is and how it shapes politics. This is “the French paradox”: The French are known world-wide for our massive marches in Paris’ République and Bastille plazas; our crippling, weeks-long public transportation strikes; our extremely active and strong teacher unions… yet our academia don’t specifically study why nonviolent struggle is powerful. […]

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Movement Commentary

Serbian People Bid to Nip Lithium Mining in the Bud

For the last few months, people in the western part of Serbia near the city of Loznica have been struggling to preserve their homes and livelihoods from the invasion of lithium mining investors. This region is rich in jadarite ore from which much-demanded lithium metal is extracted (used in nearly all technology). But the extraction procedure itself would not come without consequences for the environment and the local population. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Upping our Game as Activists and Organizers (Book Review)

I first began exercising my ‘activist muscle’ and learning about nonviolent tactics to abolish nuclear weapons back in the 1980s. At the time, the go-to resource was Gene Sharp’s “198 Nonviolent Action Methods”, published in 1973. It was exhilarating to read about the variety of tactics that had been tried, often successfully, to win social and political change without resort to violence. Now almost 50 years later (did I do the math right?!), I am thrilled that 2021 brought an update to Sharp’s crucial catalog of nonviolent methods […]

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Ideas & Trends

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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