Why States Manipulate Nonviolent Movements

Opponents of peace and social change movements often try to convert nonviolent movements into violent ones, which can be suppressed easily.

History is littered with examples. Even during the model nonviolent movement for Indian independence, British soldiers undertook massacres to provoke an armed insurrection, which could easily be crushed. In other cases, terrorist acts that have been attributed to radical organizations were, in fact, done by secret police agents. Thus in his CIA Diary, Philip Agee recalls that he and other CIA agents had the residence of the Ecuadorean Roman Catholic Cardinal bombed by their own operatives, posing as leftists. CIA-influenced organizations then organized demonstrations supporting the Cardinal against " terrorists."

Unlike armies or dynamite, non-violence is cost-effective. This makes it useful to those who are too poor or non-aligned to afford guns. The established press never plays up the contrast between the power of nonviolence and the impotence of violence to solve social ills. Only assiduous researchers know that Indian independence was achieved through nonviolent struggle with only 6,000 deaths, while the war to expel the French from Algeria resulted in two million casualties. This article, as well as others in subsequent issues about similar cases, will show the power of nonviolent direct action, and the regularity with which states seek to turn it into violence.

Peace Magazine Dec 1988-Jan 1989

Peace Magazine Dec 1988-Jan 1989, page 19. Some rights reserved.

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