You are here

Preface to 2013 edition

The first edition of our bibliography People Power and Protest Since 1945 was published in March 2006. It focused on predominantly nonviolent struggles against political oppression and racial segregation, and on movements using nonviolent tactics to oppose economic injustice in all its forms, destruction of the environment, and discrimination against women. It also gave weight to opposition to particular wars (e.g. Vietnam), movements for nuclear disarmament and resistance to militarism in general.

The new title, Guide to Civil Resistance; a bibliography on People Power and Protest since 1945, indicates the scope of the coverage and literature, as well as the degree of introductory historical and political analysis provided for each section, and sub-section on specific movements. At the same time, it maintains continuity with the first edition, especially as this has been appreciatively referenced in recent literature.

The term ‘civil resistance’ has historically been used interchangeably with ‘nonviolent struggle’. Since 2006, however, it has again become more prominent in the specialist literature. For instance, it features in the titles of Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (75 - A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) and Chenoweth; Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (59 - A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , and in the sub-titles of Nepstad, Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late Twentieth Century (72 - A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) and Bartkowski, Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles (58 - A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) . Other terms are preferred in specific contexts – for instance, ‘popular resistance’ in Palestine where critics suggest that ‘nonviolence’ has been appropriated by advocates of ‘normalization’.

Here, we propose a categorisation developed by Michael Randle. Civil Resistance refers to collective action for political or social ends without any systematic recourse to violence. It is thus distinguished from individual dissent and non-cooperation on the one hand and military action or armed rebellion on the other. The term civil resistance can cover a spectrum from nonviolent resistance - where a movement makes a positive commitment to pursue a strategy of nonviolent action - to unarmed resistance which is less a policy than a description, that the resisters are not using lethal weapons (although they might fight with stones or might even be suspected of having secret plans to take up arms in the future).

Civil resistance

/ \

Nonviolent resistance    Unarmed resistance

 

Both poles of the spectrum ‘nonviolent’ to ‘unarmed’ are, of course, open to further elaboration, Although nonviolence is closely associated with Gandhi, many subsequent campaigns with a strategic commitment of nonviolence have been selective about which of his counsels to apply. As mass unarmed uprisings against repressive or authoritarian regimes became more common in the 1980s, the term ‘people power’, popularised after the 1986 overthrow of President Marcos in the Philippines, has also been widely adopted. ‘People power’ and ‘unarmed resistance’ might encompass degrees of defensive violence or sabotage which can occur in popular rebellions yet which a strict understanding of ‘nonviolence’ would exclude. The category ‘unarmed resistance’ can also be extended to include ‘everyday’ or ‘unobtrusive’ resistance in situations where there is little space for open opposition, an area for research that has been attracting increasing interest.

Our original bibliography referenced a wide range of movements, and aimed to be global in its coverage. However, it very soon became necessary to extend it. Since 2007 a continuously updated supplement, with additional categories, has been available (together with the original text) online at: http://civilresistance.info

We are now producing a totally revised edition for three main reasons:

1. Significant popular movements using unarmed methods of resistance have occurred since the end of 2005 - most notably the overthrow of the monarchy in Nepal in 2006, the ‘Green Movement’ in Iran 2009-10 and the Arab uprisings in the early months of 2011; several armed struggles have also turned to unarmed tactics, for example in Kashmir;

2. some of the movements covered originally have seen significant revivals - for example in Burma in 2007 - and there have been renewed experiments with nonviolent methods in Pakistan (the Lawyers’ Movement’) and in the Palestinian struggle;

3. there have been important new contributions to the literature on nonviolent or civil resistance, and to historical analysis of key examples of such resistance (for instance the ‘velvet revolutions’ of 1989), as well as better coverage of the ‘electoral revolutions’ that occurred in post-Soviet states just before 2005.

A fourth reason is that we can now provide references for some movements not originally included, and in particular have strengthened our coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa.

This new edition enables us to review and improve the organization of the bibliography. The first change is expanding this to two volumes. Section A of this volume now provides a fuller introduction to the history, theory and practice of civil resistance. We have also incorporated the US Civil Rights Movement (originally allocated to a later section) under A, as an iconic example of nonviolent methods, alongside the brief subsection on Gandhi. We have added an introductory section on social movements - since detailed accounts of, and literature on, these will now be published later as Volume 2. We have also included some key general references (other bibliographies and websites) - listed at the end of the first edition.

The original bibliography had a very extensive section C on the Soviet bloc under Communist rule, indicating the extent of dissent in every country - including in the Soviet Union - and gave many references to popular uprisings in Eastern Europe culminating in the dissolution of the bloc and the USSR. Because the period of Communist Party rule is now becoming more remote (and to cut total length), we now focus primarily on the most important recent examples of civil resistance: Solidarity in Poland (1980-89); the 1989 ‘velvet revolutions’; and 1987-91 uprisings for independence of the Baltic States of the USSR. [Because of the greater flexibility allowed on the internet we have now incorporated sections on East Germany 1953, Hungary and Poland in 1956 and the Czechoslovak Prague Spring of 1968 from the 2006 version of the bibliography.]

The proliferation of movements against both repressive and semi-authoritarian regimes and rigged elections in former states of the Soviet bloc has led us to create a separate section D to cover them, and the democratization literature which focuses on this region (rather than list them under ‘Europe’ and ‘Asia’). In addition, we have introduced a new section F on international forms of support for movements. External public opinion, and forms of political and economic pressure are recognised as a key factor in achieving success in many campaigns. But there are also passionate political and ideological debates about the implications of external funding and other forms of support to movements, especially by governments of nation states and international governmental organizations. These debates had started by 2005 and were noted in the Introduction to the first edition and in relation to some of the entries on specific countries, but deserve more detailed attention.

April Carter, Howard Clark and Michael Randle April 2013