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  • Nonviolence Resource Kit - Intro - Peacebuilding
    and a number of successes were obtained better wages and working conditions the abolition of violent traditions and practices the fall of dictatorships the repeal of unjust laws and the rise of democratic governments However examples of nonviolence date back almost 2 500 years ago Despite the widespread use of nonviolence throughout history historians and formal education systems seem to give priority to documenting wars and violence As a result of this reduced attention nonviolence is still an unrefined raw and intuitive technique for struggle whereas the focus on and investment in military war has significantly increased its destructive power Looking at history and examples of nonviolent struggle can help raise awareness of its nature and the way it works and boost confidence 3rd Module Power and Consent The theory of power that most nonviolent groups refer to can be attributed to the nonviolence theorist Gene Sharp Sharp has developed a theory of power that can serve as a framework for understanding how nonviolence works Essentially it states that the members of a society can be divided into rulers and subjects The rulers power is dependent on the goodwill decisions and support of the subjects thus political power is pluralistic and fragile Withdrawal of consent by the subjects is a way to challenge political power and let hidden structural conflicts surface 4th Module More on Power One way to oppose Gene Sharp s theory of power and consent is to highlight its naivety Consent is seen as individualistic and voluntaristic and his theory leaves out much of the complexity of political life Social structures such as capitalism patriarchy and bureaucracy are too complex to fit into the ruler subject picture Thus for the purposes of social analysis a structural approach seems more appropriate for understanding the complex dynamics of a society Nevertheless if the purpose of a theory is to provide some insights that can be used by activists and prepare a group for action then a simple and easy to apply theory serves well That s why Sharp s theory is so successful among nonviolent activists around the world This module is concerned with offering a critical approach to Sharp s theory of power and with providing different perspectives on power 5th Module Strategising for Nonviolence Whilst social movements can gain strength from the passion focus and cohesion of their members the ability to strategise their actions can also significantly increase their effectiveness Nonviolent theorists and movements have developed a number of frameworks that a group can use to build its own strategy Here we present some of these frameworks although it should be borne in mind that these are not prescriptive and any group can develop its own strategy in its own way Simplicity and participation are the two key elements rather than studying elaborate frameworks to develop the perfect strategy it s better to use simple tools that anyone can understand It s also best to do things together Activists will become active if they play a

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