Nonviolence and Cival Disobedience

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Nonviolence is the practice of using symbolic protests, economic or political noncooperation, civil disobedience and other methods to achieve socio-political goals where no violence is used

In 2006 peace ethnologist Judith Hand presented a strategy for abolishing war premised on using nonviolent resistance (A Future Without War: the Strategy of a Warfare Transition)

Civil disobedience and non-violent resistance are more contagious than most people think; they are always justifiable by a larger cross section of a nation, and to a much larger and more influential international community. Today for most people, non-violent resistance and civil disobedience are more justifiable than violence. In the Middle East and to be precise Palestine, belief in these principles can spread within a short period throughout the Palestinian territories. Add to that movement the peace activists in Israel itself, Arab and Jewish citizens alike, and you will have a viable movement on both sides that can seek common ground peacefully and very effectively.

The 2010–2011 Tunisian uprising: where a chain of demonstrations against unemployment and government corruption in Tunisia. The protests were triggered by the self-immolation of the vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi and resulted in the 24-year-ruling president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fleeing the country a month later.

The cost will definitely be less in terms of lives and property when compared to the cost of the current mindless violent means of the militants, who have played into the hands of Sharon by destroying the intifada with misdirected violence. Even if the cost of the non-violent resistance is the same in the number of lives lost or property destroyed, the Palestinian peace movement will at least have produced some tangible results which the militants so far can not claim to have accomplished.

Some of the nonviolent resistance tactics that have been and are being employed today include: information warfare, vigils, samizdat, picketing, leafleting, protest art/music and poetry, tax resistance, legal/diplomatic wrestling, principal refusal of awards/honors and general strikes

Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. in his own words says;

 “This is not a method of cowardice or stagnant passivity; it does resist. The non-violent resister is just as opposed to the evil he is protesting as the person who used violence.

“This method is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding.

“That the attack is directed toward the forces of evil, rather than the persons caught in the forces. Those of us who struggle against racial injustice must come to see that the basic tension is not between races. The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

“This method not only avoids external physical violence, but also internal violence of the spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. We have learned through the grim realities of life and history that hate and violence solve nothing. Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody”


Nonviolence/civil disobedience today

Today the focus should go to the political elites who are so much interested in their political careers and survival than they are in humanity, and are not ready to sacrifice in doing justice to humanity. Civil disobedience/nonviolence is demonstrated on them through general strikes, demanding their resignation through boycotts and protests, for example the Tunisia uprising 2010-2011, Egyptian protests 2011 and the Syrian uprising 2011

The citizens have an obligation and moral responsibility to oppose indiscriminate appointments, amendments of the existing laws, wrong procedures of vetting and decisions by the government. In Martin Luther king’s words, “without nonviolent forceful direct actions, true civil rights could never be achieved”

Today democracy should not be assumed as the ultimate source or cure for injustice and all sought of malpractices by the governments Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice. The judgment of an individual’s conscience is not necessarily inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so “it is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right… Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. “He adds, “I cannot for an instant recognize as my government which is the slave’s government also.”


Face book as a method of nonviolence/civil disobedience

This is a social network among others like twitter, MySpace, Google+, and Net log which has globalized socializing. Face book though is more common with the young generation but the old are also catching up

Activists, elites as well as the human rights organizations are too running their daily affairs on face book where they are able to get instant responses in order to decide on the next course of action

Through face book and other social websites, people are able to coordinate and communicate faster with people on the ground deprived of any organizing bodies to facilitate civil disobedience and peaceful protests in streets or cities

Social networks and media allow anyone to speak up about his or her concerns and access information on corruption. Attention can be raised using blogs, petitions, video, tags etc., all of which can be anonymous, although in today’s day and age it is much easier to trace uploaded videos, posts, tags etc.

Social networks sites like face book facilitates in disrupting of systems of corruption and social injustices, strengthens citizen participation, strengthens campaign organization and capacity, wins people over and weakens sources of support and control for unaccountable unjust law supporters and corrupt power holders

One of the shortcomings of Face book is that does not allow much customization of the profile beyond a logo and description, but with MySpace, you can really go wild. There are several free services that will help you customize your profile without needing to do too much direct coding

Face book too is not common with all ages, it’s the youths who are mostly aware of it hence it tends to discriminate based on age brackets, using it as a method of nonviolence will be partial and incomplete. Martin Luther king says in his letter, “all communities and states were interrelated, injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere”