“Nonviolence is the Only Means of Struggle Worthy of a Better World”
(This is the last of 5 short selections from an interview with Waging Nonviolence co-founder Nathan Schneider. You can read the first installment of the interview series here, here and here.) Nathan will be the featured guest for BPF’s monthly phone call this Sunday October 27th.)
Why should people take nonviolent approaches seriously? What is to be gained? What are some of the benefits you’ve personally experienced from nurturing and participating in avowedly nonviolent movements? Are there any limitations that deserve mention?
One could start by saying, perhaps, that nonviolence is the only means of struggle worthy of a better world. I believe this is true; if we were to achieve utopia in my lifetime, it’s through nonviolence that I’d want to tell my children we got there. But then one can also speak of evidence. The historical record shows that popular nonviolent movements are significantly more likely to result in more democratic outcomes than movements driven by military force. They are also more likely to succeed in their aims. The only trouble is that, because our societies put so much wealth and energy into training people for violent conflict, and so little into the discipline and skills needed for nonviolent conflict, nonviolent struggle is slow, and hard. It takes patience, and it lacks the perverse satisfaction of wiping those who might have an honest disagreement with you off the map. But if we put half the resources we currently put into organized violence into disciplined nonviolent organizing, the benefit would be enormous.
Nathan Schneider is a co-founder and editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, both published in 2013 by University of California Press, are Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse and God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet. He has written about religion, reason and violence for publications including The Nation, The New York Times, Harper’s, Commonweal, Religion Dispatches, AlterNet and others. Visit his website at TheRowBoat.com.
Image from Minneapolis artist/activist Ricardo Levins Morales. Please visit his website to learn more about his work.