Erica Chenoweth: Changing Sides in Egypt — What Happened to Nonviolence?

Erica Chenoweth & Maria Stephan
Erica Chenoweth & Maria Stephan

The editors at Waging Nonviolence have posted an excellent essay by Erica Chenoweth analyzing what’s happening to Egypt’s nonviolence movement.

Chenoweth and her research partner Maria Stephan wrote the award-winning Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Non-Violent Conflict.

Here’s an excerpt from Erica’s recent article:

Millions of people demonstrated throughout Egypt over the past month, once again demanding the fall of the regime. Former president Mohammed Morsi’s regime fought back, but the people stayed. Finally, the army stepped in and forced the ruler to step down. “The people and the army are one hand!” chanted the crowds. Masses of ordinary Egyptians, it would seem, compelled one part of the regime to turn against the other and bring about change.

Or perhaps that isn’t what happened at all.

Scholars of civil resistance often argue that one key mechanism for change is defections — in which key loyalists and functionaries withdraw their support from the power structure. Examples include transportation workers during the California farm workers’ movement, security forces during the People Power campaign in the Philippines, or the so-called “refuseniks,” the Israeli soldiers who declined to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories during the First Intifada. In reviewing the historical record of more than 100 civil resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006, Maria Stephan and I found that security-force defections dramatically increase the chances for nonviolent resistance to succeed. Such changes of course among elites can go a long way toward bringing about the will of the people.

But recent events in Libya, Syria and Egypt suggest that defections can also carry considerable risks for nonviolent campaigns. In the cases of Libya and Syria, nonviolent action led to defections among the armed forces early on in the conflicts. However, the defectors took their weapons with them, regrouped as armed challengers, and essentially undermined and supplanted nonviolent campaigns by initiating armed struggle. —Erica Chenoweth, Changing sides doesn’t always make for transformation — just look at Egypt (Waging Nonviolence)

The Catholic Sisters Who Resisted Genocide

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide the Benebikira Sisters, a Catholic order of religious women, at great risk to themselves, sheltered hundreds of orphans and others who sought refuge in their convents.

Last month, 6,000 miles away from their homeland, the sisters were honored with the Courage of Conscience Award by the Peace Abbey. The women were cited for “their courage, faith and integrity during the genocide in 1994.”

Read the whole story by Kathleen Sullivan here.

Learn more about the Benebikira Sisters and the Peace Abbey.

Eric Stoner Asks if Sept. 26 ‘One-Day-Action’ is Start of Movement?

Eric Stoner over at Waging Nonviolence has a good post on the Sept. 26 “Sunday Without Women” event offering critique and support. Read it here.

… In general, I think this is a great idea. Given that the church is such a large institution though, to have a real effect a boycott like this would likely need to include millions of Catholics. They would also need to be outspoken about their reasons for not going to church, otherwise the Vatican might not make the connection.

And although it would be difficult, the boycott would need to be an indefinite. Staying away from church for one Mass will be easily ignored. That said, this one-day action could prove to be an important first step towards building a larger movement for change in the Catholic Church. …

See full post here.

It’s Time to Move Our Money

board_community_bankLet’s be honest. Most of us have what money we have in some big bank because of a) convenience or b) our little bank got eaten up by a big bank and we just didn’t have the time or energy to find some place new.

Last year I went through several hoops to get my accounts out of Bank of America only to find that, 2 months after I switched, my new bank had been taken over by Wells Fargo. Argh!

But now, I’m going to try for it again. I want to try to move most of my accounts to Self-help Credit Union in North Carolina and keep a small checking account here in DC with Lafayette Federal Credit Union that serves D.C. residents.

It’s time for Americans to reinvest in community banks. This movement has been building for a number of years. Churches in particular have made community economics a priority.

Ched Myers and the folks at the Sabbath Economics Cooperative have been educating on community investing as a faith act for 25 years. Now, what was once only practiced by a few is graduating into a mainstream movement of the many.

Eric Stoner over at Waging Nonviolence has a nice post on the movement to get Americans to shift their money out of big banks into community banks and credit unions. There’s also a great little video (below) out promoting the Move Your Money campaign.

Sojourners’ Jim Wallis also just put out a book called Rediscovering Values on what the Bible teaches us about our current economic debacle and had a good piece in the Washington Post called A Religious Response to the Financial Crisis.

Wallis says, “The market’s first commandment, “There is never enough,” must be replaced by the dictums of God’s economy — namely, there is enough, if we share it. … Already, pastors, lay leaders and innovative faith-based practitioners are suggesting creative answers: mutual aid; congregational and community credit unions; and new cooperative strategies for solving such problems as hunger, homelessness and joblessness. If these initiatives succeed, the economic crisis may offer congregations a rare opportunity to clarify their missions and reconnect with their communities. ”

Tell me your stories on where you store the green stuff and what it helps to grow!