Peaceful Protest is Much More Effective than Violence for Toppling Dictators

Courtesy of Max Fisher @ Washington Post:

Political scientist Erica Chenoweth used to believe, as many do, that violence is the most reliable way to get rid of a dictator. History is filled, after all, with coups, rebellions and civil wars. She didn’t take public protests or other forms of peaceful resistance very seriously; how could they possible upend a powerful, authoritarian regime?

Then, as Chenoweth recounts in a Ted Talk posted online Monday, she put together some data and was surprised by what she found. “I collected data on all major nonviolent and violent campaigns for the overthrow of a government or a territorial liberation since 1900,” she says — hundreds of cases. “The data blew me away.”

Here’s her chart, which pretty clearly suggests that nonviolent movements are much likelier to work:

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(Erica Chenoweth/YouTube)

And that trend is actually “increasing over time,” Chenoweth adds. “Nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful.” Below is a chart of the successful campaigns from 1940 to 2006. Continue reading