No, I’m not an expert on the subject, and I probably never will be. Right now, I feel like I was a TA again, barely a week ahead of the students. Still, it’s important to get this information out.
There are a lot of reasons to do so. If you’re anything like me, your notion of how non-violent conflict works is that it’s firmly in the Gandhi/Batman/Aikido/Star Trek phaser complex of things that would be nice to do, but which require such supernormal morality/skill/special conditions/technology that it won’t work for us mere mortals. If we want things to change, ultimately we might believe that change requires either huge amounts of wealth and/or violence, and we feel angry and powerless as a result. This view happens to be false. It’s probably a symptom of how our culture deals with violence, but it’s profoundly disempowering in that it stops us from realizing that there are other ways to achieve the same goals.
Again, there are a bunch of reasons why this matters, but I’ll start with the one that shocked me: so far as researchers can tell, since 1900, non-violent campaigns have been roughly twice as successful at achieving their goals (fall of the USSR, anyone?) as have violent campaigns (the sample size was over 100). This is even when people didn’t know what they were doing at first. Even back in 1973, there were almost 200 known and used “weapons” in the non-violent arsenal, and quite a few have been created since then. And some of them have been used against you. Recently. If you’re interested in learning more, read on.