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Nonviolence in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: theories, critiques and movements.

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Presentation on theme: "Nonviolence in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: theories, critiques and movements."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nonviolence in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: theories, critiques and movements

2 Look at the shift towards violence in the 1960s and 1970s Defence of Nonviolence and the American tradition of nonviolent philosophy Structure of Presentation

3 Loss of faith in Nonviolence? African National Congress after Sharpeville Massacre, 21 March 1960

4 Civil Rights Movement in the USA - Black Power after 1965

5 Frantz Fanon in Algeria - FLN Liberation front, Algerian revolution 1954

6 Defence of Nonviolence and the American tradition of nonviolent philosophy Despite the seemingly bleak picture in many places across the world, there was still a genuine commitment to the belief in the power of Nonviolence.

7 American tradition of nonviolent philosophy Henry David Thoreau July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 Non-violent activism/philosophy largely began with Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” written in 1849

8 ‘Civil Disobedience’ 1849 An argument for individual resistance to civil Government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Government primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Democracy is no cure for Governmental corruption, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice

9 To be an activist means to believe that a better government is possible An activist is usually thought of as an enemy to the country – a man who is able to think with his conscience and make moral distinctions That unjust laws exist, and that it is the responsibility of the activist to protest and try to abolish these laws Activists should not wait for a majority in their favour to act – they should act immediately What activists must do about the possibility of imprisonment

10 Influence of Thoreau’s work Gandhi was impressed by Thoreau's arguments -Concluded: ‘He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced’ Martin Luther King: ‘I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times.’

11 Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. All effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from their subjects. Identifies this hidden structure as providing a window of opportunity for a population to cause significant change in a state. Gene Sharp – Modern day theory of Nonviolence

12 Response to Sharp’s work Sharp also gives no analysis of the social system of bureaucracy and how its hierarchy, division of labour and regular procedures bring everyone together Patriarchy is a system of power which Sharp has not analysed in detail. The social practices by which males dominate over females can hardly be seen as ones simply of ruler and subject. Knowledge and experience of individuals and groups. People with a tradition of independence and social struggle, and with practical experience of opposing authority, are likely to be in a much better situation to make use of non-violent action

13 Conclusion Sharp's picture is essentially voluntarist: people, by deciding to withdraw consent, can topple even the most repressive dictatorship. Shows how seeming weakness - nonviolence - can lead to increasing support. Denotes the wider level of support for nonviolence. Always an intrinsic attempt by people to change for the good, through good.


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