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What gives? Revolution or civil engagement and resistance?

Published on 05 August 2020
Updated on 05 April 2024

Ever since people learned to fight autocracy and oppressive regimes, the battle has raged between ‘accommodationists’ and revolutionaries. The first ones pleaded for dialogue and used, if necessary, civil disobedience. The others discounted protest as ineffectual and called for outright revolution.

Please note that the accommodationists had to learn and stand up without tumbling into violence. They only did so in the last couple of hundred years. It is not easy for the people to formulate grievances and install a dialogue with power without over-reaching themselves or drifting into the dead waters of mere tokenism.

What do you think works best?

‘Best’ means success in obtaining redress and change. In a second round, it means long-term success. So, Lenin’s revolution succeeded in the short run yet failed to improve the peoples’ condition in the end.

Here a hint: For the first time, a quantitative study titled Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict has been carried out on the question. You can find the book here and a TEDx Talk on the topic here.

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