Erica Chenoweth on Confronting the myth of the rational insurgent

Excerpted from Naked Capitalism, Professor Erica Chenoweth analyses the relative success (and consequences) of no less than 323 non-violent and violent revolutions from 1900 to 2006. Take a look.


Occupy’s public discussions on “diversity of tactics” have often lacked historical perspective; discussions, at least online, have tended to degenerate to “Ghandi!” “No, ANC!” Now, however, Erica Chenoweth has developed a dataset and analyzed the historical record. Below the fold are slides summarizing the results of her study of 323 non-violent and violent campaigns from 1900-2006. (There are twenty slides, so anybody with a slow connection may prefer to download a zipped file of the original PDF). Here’s one key slide:

I’m sure, readers, that like any study, Chenoweth’s work is open to challenge on any number of grounds. That said, surely looking to the historical record to see what’s worked isn’t such a bad thing?

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Why not do what works? Is that so wrong?


2 Comments Erica Chenoweth on Confronting the myth of the rational insurgent

  1. Matthew Slater

    The data in this article is much more black and white than the rich data presented in Why Civil Resistance Works.
    As with religious academic work, one can’t help but feel that the authors have a strong motivation to be partial with the data. I would like to see a believer in violent resistance try to make the opposite case, using similiarly selected data.
    How do you count campaigns? When does one campaign bleed into another? how does a parallel or preceding violent campaign help or hinder a peaceful one?
    These questions are very hard to deal with.

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