An important role for unarmed resistance has been for people to mobilize in defence of their existing government against illegal attempts by military and political groups to seize power. Key examples have become part of the literature on civil resistance – for example the civilian mobilization on behalf of the socialist government in the newly created Weimar Republic in 1920. Whilst unarmed resistance to coups is sometimes treated as part of a wider debate about the possibility of defending existing governments and society against military attack, its importance is in many ways distinct from the case for abandoning weapons for national defence, and can be seen as central to debates about democratization.
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A. 4.a. Civil Resistance to Military Coups
Gorbachev’s own brief account of the attempted coup against him and his reformist programme in August 1991, with some appended documents.
(also in Martin, Nonviolent Struggle and Social Defence (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) ), Ch. 5.
Studies military rebellions after return to civilian government in 1982.
See also: Lopez Levy, Marcela , We Are Millions: Neo-Liberalism and New Forms of Political Action in Argentina London, Latin America Bureau, , 2004 . Includes brief reference to millions demonstrating in support of President Alfonsin after a military uprising in a barracks in Argentina, Easter 1987, against trials of military for the ‘Dirty War’ (pp. 41 and 122), and explains broader context.
Part 4, pp. 433-90, covers the August Coup, emphasizing popular support for the resistance as well as the mistakes of the plotters. For a contrasting interpretation see:
Discusses resistance to Kapp Putsch in Germany 1920 and attempted coup in France by generals based in Algeria in 1961.
Summary analysis of potential for popular nonviolent resistance to defeat coup attempts, recommendations for organised strategy and advance preparations to prevents coups, and with very brief description of resistance to Kapp Putsch in 1920, the Algerian Generals in 1961 and to attempt to overthrow Gorbachev in 1991.
Chapter 4, pp. 59-70, gives an eye witness account of the coup and stresses the inefficiency of the plotters and the limited popular response to Yeltsin’s call for popular defiance and a general strike.
Ch. 9 examines the generals’ putsch in 1961 and notes responses to it both by the left and by De Gaulle, and their conflicting claims to have quashed the coup.