Non-violent resistance and the properties of states. A preliminary study: Summary
Most research on non-violent resistance against repressive regimes is about methods, strategy and tactics and how the resisters can best deal with them (or how they actually did). What seems to be of marginal interest is the character of the repressive regime against which the resistance is directed. It is as if the methods of non-violence basically have a general application as long as there is repression. Although this often works (but also can fail), I think that non-violent resistance can become more effective if we would know more about the properties of the states that have experienced non-violent resistance.
Since the theme discussed here is new this article is mainly explorative. I have selected 22 countries with major cases of non-violent resistance and six indexes for characterizing them, namely the Corruption Perceptions Index; the Failed States Index; the Democracy Index; the Index of State Weakness; the Global Peace Index and the Positive Peace. For these 22 countries I examine and evaluate the scores and ranks on these indexes. Because of the limited and explorative scope of this study, I have only concentrated on the properties of the countries concerned as such. The interaction between the non-violent methods and these properties has not been examined.
Non-violent resistance and the properties of states. A preliminary study
Henk bij de Weg January 2013
In my article “Nonviolent resistance and repressive regimes” I analysed the relation between methods of non-violent resistance and action and the types of the regimes against which they are employed. Especially, I analysed there which types of methods of non-violent resistance are most appropriate against which types of regime. This analysis was mainly theoretical. In the present article I want to examine what the characteristics of the regimes are against which such methods have been used: If major forms of non-violent resistance have taken place in a country – whether the resistance was successful or whether it has failed – what were then the properties of the states where the resistance took place? My answer to this question will be descriptive in the first place, but the reason that I ask the question is not merely descriptive. The idea behind it is that if we know more about states where non-violent resistance has taken place this will help us in future to choose the right methods for new situations where we want to and need to resist non-violently. Moreover, if we know in what kinds of states non-violent resistance failed maybe the analysis will tell us a bit about the chances of non-violent resistance in future situations and about the chances to keep it non-violently. And maybe it will help us to develop more effective non-violent methods for such situations.
This article is explorative in the first place. To my knowledge no such kind of study has been made before. For this reason and for practical reasons I have to limit myself. I’ll look only at the properties of states where non-violent resistance took place. Not much will be said about what these properties mean for the organisation of non-violence. It is supposed that it is useful to know them and my analysis suggests that it is so, but whether it is really the case and how these properties are relevant must be examined in later studies, by me or by others. In this sense the present study is only preliminary with all its flaws and shortcomings. One such a flaw is the implicit supposition that because a property is present it is relevant for non-violent resistance. This need not be the case, of course. Here I simply want to present insights and ideas that may give handles for later research.
2. Selecting the countries
For a first selection of the countries where non-violent resistance has taken place I have used the table “Major Unarmed Insurrections in the Second and Third Worlds, 1978-2001” in Kurt Schock 2005, p. 4. However, I have omitted all cases before 1989, because important developments have taken place in and about that year that substantially have changed the political situation in the world (the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and with it the fall of communism in most countries). Just because of these developments non-violent resistance against repression got a new boost making new forms of resistance in new circumstances possible, leading to a revival of what is often called “People Power Revolution”. I have made an exception for the case of the resistance against the Marcos regime in the Philippines (1983-1986), which can be seen as the prototype of non-violent people power resistance and which came to a solution just before 1989. I have added also the resistance against apartheid in South Africa, which is another major case of people power and which ended successfully in 1990 but started already many years before 1989. On the other hand, I have not included from Schock’s list the non-violent revolutions in Eastern Europe and Mongolia that took place after 1989, since I have only recent data at my disposal for analysis and since the political structures of these former communist countries have clearly changed very much since then (just because of the non-violent revolution!). I have made an exception for the case of Serbia/Yugoslavia (the fall of Milošević), which took place much later, also because the Milošević regime was not (and never has been) old-fashioned communism. Moreover this non-violent revolution has directly influenced non-violent resistance in several other countries (for instance Georgia 2003 and Egypt 2011).
Since the publication of Schock’s list, new non-violent uprisings have taken place in the world, which I have added, namely the cases of the Philippines (2001), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Burma (2007), Thailand (2010), Tunisia (2011), Egypt (2011), Bahrain (2011), Libya (2011), Yemen (2011) and Syria (2011-present). Although I haven’t omitted Nigeria from Schock’s list, I doubt whether it is right at place here, since in Nigeria there was no such a thing as a “major unarmed insurrection” in 1998-99, although there have been cases of civil nonviolent opposition and resistance and although a regime change from dictatorship to democracy has taken place. See for instance Dagne 2005.
This brings me to table 1 with a list of 22 countries and 25 cases of nonviolent resistance against repression that are examined in this study.
3. Selecting the properties to be analysed
For the selection of the properties of the states that may be relevant for non-violent resistance against repressive regimes I have used several recent studies that order all or most countries in the world on characteristics that can be considered as indications of the social structure of the countries concerned. Actually, my selection of properties of states in this study is a bit arbitrary and it has been determined more by the studies available, my experience in the field of non-violence and my intuitive feeling of what might be relevant than by an explicit theoretical idea or argumentation. In fact it is also a bit difficult to give such an argumentation for my choice because of a lack of theoretical studies in the field of non-violence. There are many studies that examine cases of non-violence but most are more or less descriptive or have a low theoretical level at most. Especially studies that relate the field of non-violence to other fields of social research are almost absent. Schock 2005 is one of the few exceptions. Such being the case, my investigation must be seen as an attempt to broaden the field of non-violence research and as a step to raise its theoretical level. My aim here will be merely gaining a first insight in the value of some structural properties of states for non-violence. Therefore this study is mainly explorative and my analyses are only tentative. My conclusions will be merely preliminary: they will be not more than hints or points of departure for further research.
For characterizing the structures of the countries selected above and especially their political structures, I have made use of the following indexes:
- the Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 of Transparency International (= CPI)
- the Failed States Index 2012 of Fund for Peace (= FSI)
- the Democracy Index 2011 of the Economist Intelligence Unit (=DI)
- the Index of State Weakness by Susan E. Rice and Stewart Patrick, compiled with data up to 2006 (= WSI).
- the Global Peace Index 2012 and the Positive Peace Index of the Institute of Economics and Peace (=GPI)
I refer to these studies where these indexes are presented for a description and explanation of the lists and figures in the present article.
Before I’ll present and analyse the data, I want to point yet to an important methodological restriction of my analysis. The data used for classifying the countries refer to 2011 or a few years before. However, the oldest non-violent movements in table 1 came already to an end in 1986. So there is a gap of up to 25 years between the end of the non-violent movements in the table and the data that typify the countries involved. As a consequence, these countries and especially their political structures can have changed a lot since then, in the first place because the popular protests have been successful (and that’s just why I have omitted the former communist countries). For most indexes presented here older data are available and it would have been better to use figures that refer to the year just before the non-violent movement started or, in case they are not available, to use the oldest figures available. The aim of my study is, however, to get a first indication of the possible relation between state structure and non-violence resistance. My analysis is mere brainstorming. In order to keep this first analysis simple, I have used the same data for the same year for all countries.
4. The Corruption Index and the Failed States Index
I start my analyses with comparing the scores of the countries on the corruption index (CPI) and the failed states index (FSI). In table 2 I have ordered the countries according to their CPI scores and in table 3 according to their FSI scores.
4.1 The Corruption Index
Let us first look at the CPI score in table 2. The possible scores on the CPI range from 0 to 10 with North Korea and Somalia together as most corrupt ranking 182nd with a score of 1.0 and New Zealand as least corrupt ranking first with a score of 9.5. All 22 countries in the table, with the exception of Bahrain with a score of 5.1, have a CPI score lower than 5.0, “which means they are considered significantly corrupt”, as The Guardian remarks on its website where it presents the index. The highest score in table 2, again with the exception of Bahrain (CPI=5.1), is not more than 4.1. With the exception of Burma (CPI=1.5) there is also no country in table 2 that scores lower than 2.0, but in Burma the non-violent uprisings have failed and this is also the case for Bahrain, which is on the other end of the list. 13 countries of table 2, i.e. 59%, have a CPI score between 2.0 and 3.0. In the original list there are 69 countries with such a score, which means that 19% of these 69 countries have had a non-violent uprising against 6% of all other countries and only 1.6% (one country) of all countries with a score higher than 4.1. Of all countries with a CPI score of 4.1 or lower 17% have experienced a non-violent uprising.
Note that the non-violent resistance has been suppressed by violence both in Bahrain and in Burma and that both countries have extreme CPI scores compared with the other countries in the list. There might be a relation with the extreme values of these scores and the violent suppression of non-violent actions, but because it concerns only two cases, no conclusions can be drawn.
4.2 The Failed States Index
To put it briefly, the Failed States Index (FSI) is a measure that indicates to what extent a country is able to control its territory. It is composed of twelve indicators like indicators for demographic pressure, massive movement of internal refugees and internally displaced persons, uneven economic development, and so on. The indicators can vary between 0.0 (best score) and 10.0 (worst score) and they are added in order to get the FSI. So the FSI can range from 0.0 to 120.0. It will be no surprise that also here Somalia is on the wrong end of the scale with a score of 114.9. Most stable country is Finland with a score of 20.0.
Let us look at the FSI of our 22 countries in table 3. The relation between FSI score and the occurrence of non-violent resistance in the past is less marked than in the case of the CPI, although it is still present. In the 55 most stable countries in the original list no non-violent uprising has taken place and all but six states in table 3 belong to 50% weakest ones in the original table of 177 states. Even more, all states score worse than the average (=middle) score of 60.0.
When we compare the lists for the CPI and the FSI, we see that there are no striking differences: The countries have roughly the same rankings in both lists. An exception is the Ukraine, which is much higher on the CPI list (152) than on the FSI list (58). Also Libya and Burma are markedly higher on the CPI list than on the FSI list, while for Georgia it is the other way round (table 3).
4.3 Conclusions on the CPI and FSI
Now I want to draw my first conclusions. States where non-violent uprisings have taken place (with success or without success) are mainly corrupt and unstable states, but not extremely corrupt or extremely unstable. The reason for the latter is maybe that extremely corrupt and extremely unstable countries probably do not have structures that can be used as a “mechanism” by non-violent resisters. For instance, non-violent resistance is not simply a process of open protest, demonstrations and the like, but it involves also a lot of networking, negotiating and pressure, and the like. But these essential parts of nonviolent resistance are difficult to apply, if it is not clear what the factual centre of power is and who is in control, or if there are several competing centres of power. This is in agreement with the phenomenon that revolutions don’t break out under extreme poor conditions. Actually it would be interesting to examine whether what is said to be the case for revolutions in general is also true for the occurrence of non-violent resistance against repressive regimes and for non-violent revolutions, for instance that they happen during a regression after a period of rising living standards and rising expectations. Then the outbreak of non-violent resistance or a non-violent revolution can be seen as a special case of a general phenomenon. What is special of such resistance or such a revolution is that it is non-violent. If it is true that this type of nonviolence is a special case of revolution in general (or of attempts to make a revolution) (and I think it is), then the question is: What are the objective conditions for the outbreak of an uprising or revolution (and there is already a huge literature on it) and what are the special conditions that an uprising or revolution is non-violent?
My first impression is that we do not get extra information, when we look at the average rankings of the 22 countries the CPI list and the FSI list (last column in table 2) or when we compare the rankings of the countries on the two lists (last column in table 3). But I guess that the CPI score of a country tells us more about the chance whether non-violent resistance will take place than the FSI score: Countries with non-violent resistance are rather corrupt than typically stable or unstable. But this is only a first impression and the point should be better examined.
5. The Democracy Index
In my article “Nonviolent resistance and repressive regimes” I analysed what kind of methods of non-violent resistance and action are most appropriate to apply against what types of regimes. But is there any relation between the regime type and the occurrence of non-violent resistance? In order to sort it out, let us look at table 4, which contains the scores of our 22 countries on the Democracy Index (DI). The countries have been ordered from most authoritarian to most democratic. By way of comparison I have also added the CPI scores and rankings and the FSI scores and rankings of the countries concerned.
of the Democracy Index 2011
distinguish four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies,
regimes and authoritarian regimes. I refer to table 5 for the details.
Even more than for the CPI and FSI the scores on the DI in table 4 represent the present situation rather than the political situation at the moment that the non-violent uprising took place, for the aim of non-violent resistance is often just bringing more democracy! And once the aim has been achieved the DI will improve.
On the face of it, the DI scores in table 4 give no indication of the chance that non-violent resistance will happen in certain types of states. It is possible that this is caused by the fact that the table contains only the recent DI scores (for 2011) and not the scores for the moment that the non-violence resistance started in the countries concerned. However, when we skip South Africa from the list, a country that has become clearly more democratic after the end of apartheid in 1990, we can say that a high rank on the DI list (or, what is the same, a high score) makes it unlikely that a regime will be confronted with non-violent resistance: A rank of about 60 or higher or a score of about 6.6 or higher makes it unlikely that non-violent resistance will take place directed at a regime change or a change in the political structure. Such resistance takes place only in the most flawed democracies and in what the composers of the list call hybrid and authoritarian regimes (cf. table 5). Moreover, table 4 suggests that non-violent uprisings are either likely to fail or will become violent if directed against regimes with a very low DI score. At least, this is what happened in five out of six countries with the lowest DI score examined here, namely in Burma, Syria, Bahrain, China and Libya. Also in the sixth country, Yemen, there has been much violence in reaction to the non-violent resistance. All these countries have authoritarian regimes with the exception of China, which has been classified as a low ranking hybrid regime by the composers of the original list.
All countries in table 4, with the exception of South Africa, have an average rank on the CPI, FSI and DI of 75 or less.
5.1 The Democracy Index by factor
Let us look now at the separate factors that make up the Democracy Index (table 6).
Electoral process and pluralism: The 22 countries are more or less evenly divided on this factor, having scores ranging from 0.00 to a high 9.17. However, it is striking that four of the five countries where non-violent resistance was crushed by violence score 0.00, while the fifth country, Bahrain, also scores very low, namely 1.75, which is lower than any other of the remaining states. Apparently, the absence of elections or the absence of free elections clearly enhances the chance that non-violent resistance will be met by violence.
Functioning of government: Almost all 22 countries (18 countries or 82%) have a low score on this factor, namely 5.00 or lower. This means that these countries have a badly functioning government. If we skip South Africa from the list (see the comments on table 4), the significance of this factor is even more striking.
Political participation: Also here most countries score 5.00 or lower, namely 17 countries (77%). Moreover, all countries with a score higher than 5.00 score lower on this factor than on the factor “functioning of government”. If we measure the dispersion of the scores on the factor political participation, and compare it with the dispersion on the factor functioning of government, we see that the dispersion of the scores on the former is somewhat lower than the dispersion of the scores on the latter: there are fewer extreme low values, fewer extreme high values. Generally we can say that our 22 countries are characterized by low political participation.
Political culture: All countries have a more or less average score on this factor, ranging from 3.13 for Nigeria to 6.25 for South Africa and Thailand. Even the countries where non-violence resistance met violence have a more or less average score if not a bit above average. Was it that the political culture was not undeveloped that made that the insurgents initially saw chances for non-violent resistance despite the risk that it would encounter violence? It is something that has to be examined. On the other hand, it is quite well possible that this factor is not relevant, since most countries in the original table of 165 countries and 2 territories have relatively good scores on this factor. Only the democratic countries have clearly higher scores, while there are hardly very low scores.
Civil liberties: All values are present and the group of 22 countries as such has no special characteristics, albeit that all countries where nonviolent resistance was faced with violence score very low on this factor. In fact, these five countries have the lowest scores of the whole group with the exception of Yemen, but the non-violent resistance in Yemen was countered by rather much violence in comparison with the remaining 16 countries.
6. The Index of State Weakness in the developing world
The next index I want to look at now is the Index of State Weakness in the developing world (Weak Sates Index or WSI for short) developed by Susan E. Rice and Stewart Patrick (table 7)
The Weak States Index is a relative measure for the effectiveness of states of the performance on four dimensions: economic, political, security, and social welfare. States are called weak if they lack the capacity and/or will to fulfil their essential responsibilities in these fields. With the help of indicators states get scores for each dimension ranging from 0.0 (worst) to 10.0 (best). The overall score is the average of the individual scores. Then the states are ranged according to the overall score. Rice and Patrick have computed the WSI only for 141 developing countries, which means that the most stable countries in the world are not in their list. In order to make the WSI rank comparable with the ranks of the countries in the other tables, I have assumed a fictive number of 177 countries (the number of countries in the original FSI list) and subtracted the WSI rank from this number. The result is what I have called the “reversed rank”. The table contains also the per capita gross national income (GNI/cap) for the countries concerned. I refer for further methodological details to the source of the table.
The composers of the list distinguish “critically weak states” (bottom quintile; rank 28 or lower; reversed rank 149 or higher), “weak states” (second quintile; rank 29-56 or reversed rank 121-148), and “states to watch” (third and fourth quintile; rank 57-112 or reversed rank 65-120).
Although the WSI and the FSI are related indexes, the former says more about the social aspects of government and the latter more about the territorial aspects. Since the WSI and the FSI use different indicators, the ranks of the countries are also different (table 8). Actually this is a bit surprising in view of the fact that prima facie the WSI and FSI should have to refer to the same property: the absence (or presence) of good government. Moreover, the authors of the report on the WSI call the weakest states also failed states.
Let us now look in more detail at table 7. All countries, with the exception of Bahrain (for which we have no WSI score), fall in one of the three lowest WSI categories, so they are more or less weak states. Although the individual ranks on the FSI and WSI are rather different in many cases, the same is true for the FSI: countries where non-violent resistance has taken place generally do not have really good government structures or they are even quite unstable. But for both indexes we see that the countries with non-violent resistance are not extremely weak or unstable. In countries that are in, say, the lowest decile on the WSI or FSI scales (for instance Somalia, Iraq, Burundi or Côte d’Ivoire) non-violent resistance is not to be expected. In fact, non-violent resistance can occur in all countries in the original list from about rank 15 till about rank 120. The lowest countries are too weak, too unstructured, and/or to chaotic for making non-violent resistance a practical option. The top countries, including the strong countries that are not in the WSI list, are “too democratic” for non-violent resistance: Protests can follow the road of the normal democratic procedures, which does not imply, of course, that often they need to be supported by all kinds of non-violent actions and indeed are supported by such actions. But in democratic countries basically non-violence takes place within the political structures and not against the political structures.
In order to get an impression whether the countries score better or worse on some component factors of the WSI than on others, I have computed the average scores on these factors for our selected countries (table 9). I have omitted Bahrain, since I have no data for this country. For calculating the average score for Social Welfare, I have omitted also Niger, since this country scores extremely low on this factor compared with the other countries.
What remains to be checked then for table 7 is whether there is a relation between a country’s per capita income and the probability of non-violent resistance. In table 7 we can see that the countries involved fall in all income categories. Non-violent resistance can happen as long as the income of a country is not extremely low (but it is to be expected that this fact can be explained better by other factors than by the per capita income as such).
7. The Global Peace Index and the Positive Peace Index
The last index I want to consider is the Global Peace Index 2012 (GPI) which has been compiled for 158 countries by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The report on the GPI contains also a list of 108 countries with their scores on what is called the Positive Peace Index (PPI). I’ll discuss the scores of the countries concerned on this index as well (tables 10 and 11).
The Global Peace Index ranks 158 states according to their level of peacefulness. It is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators for three themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarisation. The lower the score the more peaceful a country is. For further details I refer to the report.
Also here we see that the countries where non-violent resistance has taken place are in the lower range of the 158 countries for which the index has been compiled. The reason why it is so is probably the same as for the other indexes: The countries higher on the list are the more democratic countries and in these countries there are other possibilities than non-violent resistance to express discontentedness with the political situation: the road through the (democratic) institutions; although it may be so that the walk along this road is supported by non-violent action, if judged necessary. For the GPI, the cases of non-violent resistance considered here all took place in countries belonging to the 60% lowest ranking countries. There seems to be no minimum ranking below which non-violent resistance is unlikely to happen. Lowest ranking in our list is Nigeria (#148). Beneath Nigeria one finds countries like Pakistan, Israel and Russia, but also weak states like Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, where non-violent resistance will be difficult to realize, to say the least. If one looks at the positions of the countries that used violence against the non-violent resisters, it is to be expected to find them on the bottom side of the list. Indeed, there is a tendency to find them there (cf. Syria (147), Libya (147), Burma (139) and also Yemen (143), where also some violence has taken place against the resisters). However, Bahrain (118) and China (89) refute this tendency and in view of the small number of countries in the analysis, it is difficult to draw a conclusion.
It is striking that the order of the countries on this list is rather different from the order on the other lists discussed, maybe with the exception of some low ranked countries.
7.2 The Positive Peace Index
In order to describe what the Positive Peace Index represents, it is best to quote the report. The PPI measures “… the strength of the attitudes, institutions, and structures of 108 nations to determine their capacity to create and maintain a peaceful society. The PPI is based on a statistical framework which groups these attributes into eight key categories known as the ‘Pillars of Peace’. These pillars have been identified as describing what underpins a peaceful society. This approach stands in contrast to the extensive quantitative conflict literature which is predominately focused on understanding the causes for the outbreak of war or civil unrest. The PPI is different from the GPI as the latter uses the definition ‘absence of violence or fear of violence’ to measure peace. ... In contrast to negative peace, positive peace is about the appropriate attitudes, institutions, and structures which when strengthened, lead to a more peaceful society.” The Pillars of Peace cover domains like the quality of government, economic and social climate, relations with neighbours and the like.
Also on the PPI the countries where movements of non-violent resistance have taken place rank relatively low, and just like for the GPI they belong to the 60% lowest ranking countries, with Nigeria almost at the bottom. It is striking that Bahrain, where the non-violent movement has been crushed by violence, is the most peaceful of our 16 countries according to its PPI score. How is it possible that a country that uses violence against peaceful protesters is ranked higher than all other countries that avoided massive violence when confronted with a non-violent protest movement? Has Bahrain really such a positive attitude towards peace compared with the other countries concerned as the PPI ranking suggests? It casts doubts on what it is that the PPI stands for or whether its operationalisation is correct. However, here it is not the place to judge it, and here I’ll suppose that the methodology behind both the GPI and PPI are correct.
7.3 Comparing the GPI and the PPI
It is interesting to compare the ranks of the countries on the GPI and the PPI. As the report states: “This analysis allows the comparison of the GPI to the PPI to determine if nations have a positive peace surplus or deficit. This gap is the difference in ranking between the two indices and provides a basic estimate of a nation’s potential to improve or decline in peace. If the ranking is lower on the GPI than the PPI then there is an opportunity for an improvement in peace as the society has the attitudes, institutions, and structures that are associated with higher levels of peace. Similarly, the inverse scenario suggests a fall in peacefulness may be more likely to occur. This is referred to as a positive peace deficit, where the PPI ranking is substantially lower than the GPI ranking, highlighting the weakness of the necessary pillars to sustain peace in a society.” In the last two columns of table 11 I present the data: first the GPI ranks for 2011 (just as the report does in this case) and then the PPI ranks for 2012 (the only one available) minus the GPI ranks for 2011. For most countries the ranking on the PPI is higher than the ranking on the GPI. This means that they have an opportunity for an improvement in peace. This is not really surprising, for it is in line with the fact that the governments decided not to use violence against the non-violent resisters, which suppose a positive attitude towards peaceful solutions, or a negative attitude towards violence at least. In this way it is remarkable that also Syria has an albeit small positive peace surplus in view of massive use of violence employed against peaceful protesters during the first stages of what is now a civil war. It is something to be explained, supposing again that the methodology behind the GPI and PPI is correct (which may be doubtful as we have seen in 7.2). The same could be said about China, weren’t it so that the demonstrations and their violent suppression on the Tiananmen Square took place already more than 20 years ago and much may have changed then in the political attitudes.
Four countries have a clear positive peace deficit: the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa and Bahrain (while for Georgia the PPI and GPI ranks are the same). To start with the last country, for Bahrain this was to be expected in view of the violent reaction to the peaceful demonstrations in 2011. The peace deficit in the Philippines may be a consequence of the civil war in parts of the archipelago. The causes of the positive peace deficits in Thailand and South Africa are more difficult to explain, and I’ll not speculate on what they might be. As such the relation between the GPI and PPI is one of the themes that need further investigation. Anyway, most countries with non-violent resistance have a positive peace surplus, but whether this surplus is a factor contributing to the occurrence of such resistance can only be said if we know the relation GPI-PPI for comparable countries where no non-violent resistance took place, so for countries that belong to the 60% lowest ranking countries for both indexes.
I want to conclude my analyses by quoting a comment by the authors on the GPI and PPI report on the PPI: “One of the most notable observations is that the same attributes associated with peace are also associated with many other positive social and economic outcomes such as high levels of education, higher GDP per capita, low levels of corruption and high social cohesion. Seen in this light, the Pillars of Peace provide a foundation for thinking about how to establish the optimal environment for human wellbeing and potential to flourish.” (p. 34) In view of the other indexes I have analysed here, this would imply that the PPI would do as a predictor or indicator for the effectiveness of non-violent resistance or for whatever we would like to use it in relation to our theme. In very rough lines, the PPI and the other indexes agree, it’s true, but when we look at the details we see substantial differences, besides that the PPI is only available for a limited number of countries at the moment. So the PPI score does not give any indication of the chance that non-violent resistance will be met by violence, as the Democracy Index does for instance. Nor does it become clear when using the PPI that in some very unstable countries (like Somalia) non-violent resistance will not occur (cf the Failed States Index). These are only a few examples. The same is also true for the GPI. Therefore employing other indexes next to the PPI and GPI certainly makes sense.
In this exploratory article I examined whether there is a relation between the properties of states and the chances that the governments ruling that states will be confronted with non-violent resistance. Formulated in another way, I examined what the characteristics of the states are where non-violent resistance against the ruling regime has taken place. The reason for these questions is the idea that if such regimes are different from the “average” regime, knowledge of their characteristics may be employed to develop more effective methods of non-violent resistance or to adapt existing methods better to the particular situation where they are used. However, this article was only about the characteristics of the regimes and not about methods and how to adapt them. For improving the non-violent methods still a lot of theoretical and practical research will be necessary.
For reasons of comparison I have discussed only countries where non-violent movements have occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (plus the Philippines and South Africa and without the former communist countries) for reasons given above. What this article shows is that further research into the characteristics of the regimes concerned will be worthwhile. Regimes, or rather repressive regimes, confronted with non-violent resistance are not average, even not when democratic regimes are excluded from the analysis, since – for obvious reasons, I think – non-violent resistance not is to be expected there. Even more, once the characteristics of a regime are known, it is possible to predict when it is likely that a repressive regime will react with violence and when it will react with less extreme means when confronted with non-violence. However, much research has yet to be done. This study is only preliminary.
Here I’ll not repeat the results of my analysis in detail. They can be found in the paragraphs above where I consider several regime indicators. Anyway, the main line is clear: On almost each index discussed, countries with non-violent resistance movements have low scores but not extremely low scores. Generally, the countries selected that used violence in order to suppress the resistance have the lowest scores on the indexes.
I think that already this general conclusion shows the value of an analysis of the characteristics of states (and their regimes) in the light of non-violence. For instance, the characteristics of the Syrian regime made it highly probably that it would reply with violence to any non-violent deed of resistance. And indeed, that’s what happened. Had the non-violent opposition realized that before, maybe they would have been more careful in organising demonstrations against the Assad regime and have looked for other ways of expressing dissatisfaction and confronting the regime.
This preliminary research has its limitations (and that’s why it is preliminary). In the introduction I have already pointed out that this study may contain methodological flaws. Its most important shortcoming is that the scores on the indexes have not been taken on the eve of the outbreak of the non-violent resistance, but after a regime change has taken place, if not many years later. This may (and in many cases will) give a wrong view of the characteristics of the states analysed. Not a wrong view of what the characteristics of these states are now but a wrong view of what they were at the relevant moments. This is the first point that has to be improved in a follow-up research. It is a problem, however, that in many cases the indices we would like to use did not yet exist at the moments these conflicts broke out. An alternative would be to try to compute the indices afterwards or to guess how they might have been, with all chances of misjudgments (which doesn’t imply that the present indices are faultless). Many indices that are available today go ten years back at most, and some even have been computed for the first time last year.
Another shortcoming of this study is that the choice of the indices has been rather arbitrary, without a theoretical foundation. Also this can be done better and more indices have to be taken into consideration as well.
Nevertheless, or rather just because of these and other shortcomings of the present study, a follow-up study will be useful and it will certainly bring the cause of non-violence a step ahead.
- “Arab Spring”; on website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring
- Dagne, Ted, Nigeria in Political Transition, CRS Report for Congress, 2006; on website: http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/71824.pdf
- “Corruption index 2011 from Transperancy International: find out how countries compare”, The Guardian, Datablog, on website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/dec/01/corruption-index-2011-transparency-international
- “Corruption Perception Index 2011”, Transperancy International; on website: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/
- “Democracy index 2011. Democracy under stress”, Economist Intelligence Unit; on website http://www.sida.se/Global/About%20Sida/S%C3%A5%20arbetar%20vi/EIU_Democracy_Index_Dec2011.pdf
- “The Failed States Index 2012 Interactive Grid”, The Fund for Peace; on website: http://www.fundforpeace.org/global/?q=fsi-grid2012
- “Global Peace Index 2012”, Insitute for Economics and Peace; on website: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012-Global-Peace-Index-Report.pdf
- Rice, Susan E.; Stewart Patrick, “Index of State Weakness in the Developing World”, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 2008; on website: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/reports/2008/2/weak%20states%20index/02_weak_states_index.pdf
- Robinson, Sarah, “When Change Is Not Enough: The Seven Steps To Revolution”, Feb. 20, 2008; on http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/when-change-not-enough-seven-steps-revolution
- Schock, Kurt, Unarmed Insurrections. People Power Movements in Nondemocracies, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2005
- Weg, Henk bij de, “Nonviolent resistance and repressive regimes”; on website: http://www.bijdeweg.nl/Nonviolence.htm
 In particular, I think that the field of non-violence research can get important insights from the resource mobilisation approach. This is beyond the scope of the present study, however.
 http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/ I have also made use of the clear presentation of the data on http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/dec/01/corruption-index-2011-transparency-international
 Rice and Patrick 2008.
 See for instance Robinson 2008. But this revolution theory has bene developed for economically advanced societies. However, many cases of non-violent resistance have taken place in economically less advanced countries or in economically rising countries. Therefore, it would be interesting to examine whether non-violent revolutions (successful or not successful) also happen in situations of rising expectations that did not come out or has a setback in one way or another.
 For a detailed description of the methodology behind DI see the source mentioned in table 4.
 A quick computation will make this clear. Thailand is highest after South Africa with an average rank of 75 and the other countries rank lower.
 Measured by range the dispersion for political participation is 6.11 and for functioning of government is 7.85. Measured by average absolute deviation from the average score the values are 1.12 and 1.77 respectively.
 Which is not the same as impossible, although I think that the chances that it will succeed are low.
 Note that in countries like Romania and Poland, where important non-violent resistance has taken place against the former communist regimes, such resistance just has lea to a change of the political structure, which makes that other ways of protest have become an option.
 This is probably also true for the high income countries that are not in the list, but then for the absence of non-violent resistance.
 Ibid. (see note 18)
 Generally the time gap can be a methodological problem in my analyses as I have made stressed before.
 Although democratic countries can have been confronted with non-violent action. For a description of the difference between non-violent action and non-violent resistance see the Introduction of my “Non-violent resistance and repressive regimes” on website0 http://www.bijdeweg.nl/Nonviolence.htm .