Day 8 Fall 2002 September 19, 2002
1. Names. Proposals due Tuesday. WW II chapter; not too much reading. Group D responses.
http://www.bluffton.edu/~gundyj/ModAm/Modamer.html Course web site newly revised!
Some “Alternate History” sites:
http://www.althist.com/alternate_american_civil_wars.htm Offers two alternate scenarios for the Civil War.
http://www.scifan.com/themes/themes.asp?TH_themeid=14 Lists six novels, all alternate Civil War histories.
http://www.ahtg.net/alterframe.html The Alternate History Travel Guides. Lighthearted.
http://www.uchronia.net/ Uchronia, the “alternate history list.”
http://users.metro2000.net/~stabbott/AH.htm Another alternate history site.
Also some recent commentary on Iraq, at the end of today’s (lengthy!) corpus.
2. Shift today from military/foreign affairs to economic, industrial, social history. Two foci: industrialization, capitalism, and labor; and gender issues. In a time of corporate scandals, stock market collapses, and accusations of collusion in the highest circles, the first chapter is all too obviously relevant. And in a time when we are still trying to sort out what it might mean for men and women to be equal, the second likewise. Or so it seems to me.
Chapter 7: Workers, industrial revolution, urbanization, poverty, inequity, labor organizing and resistance, violence, etc. What do principles like freedom, opportunity, equality, democracy actually mean? Those terms are still being defined and redefined today. In defense of freedom we’re keeping our enemies in cages in Cuba . . .
Another question: how do our opinions about these issues relate to our particular life situations? How many here are paying their bills with money made by factory labor? Farm income? Some kind of white-collar/professional income? (OK, loans don’t count . . .)
Jefferson and the ideal of the small farmer. The industrial revolution and the shift to worker/employer relations—80% self-employed in 1880, 20% by 1920. (141)
Wage slavery—is this just a bad-conscience accusation by defenders of slavery? Well, partly, surely. But conditions were indeed terrible, hours long, housing bad, wages low, prospects grim.
142: “Anyone caught permanently in a wage-earning position, lacking property and security for old age, was not a free person.”
Question: Anybody here know anyone who feels stuck in a job they hate but feel they can’t leave? What might it be like to quit a job that barely supported you and your family and allowed you to save almost nothing, move to a new city where you knew nobody and try to start over? Where would you get the money to move? How would you live until you found work and got your first paycheck?
Inequality: rise of the industrial rich, late 19th century. We know about this; did you know that the most substantial welfare program of the time was veterans’ benefits?
Workers’ movements: the Knights of Labor, 144-5. The Haymarket Affair, demonstration for the 8-hour day.
A.F.L., Gompers, organized mainly skilled white males.
IWW, the Wobblies, pacifist and class-conscious.
Mother Jones and other socialists.
Farm organizing and the populist movement, 147.
Middle class reformers like Samuel Jones, Jane Addams, Nelson O. Nelson.
Debs and the Socialist movement. The Pullman strike of 1894. “While there is a lower class, I am in it . . .” (151)
Federal responses: corporations as legal persons, most govt. action on the side of business. Socialists and radical critics in U.S. marginalized even further after WW I and Russian revolution.
Ongoing question: how much inequality can a society tolerate before it becomes unacceptably unstable and violent? Worker/CEO inequities have skyrocketed in the last twenty years.
Much, much more might be said on this subject; we’ll return to it, with Roger and Me and elsewhere along the way. Here’s a short piece of reading to add to the mix. Two “tales,” two stories about American society and how it works.
Chapter 8: Gender and gender inequities. Gender as social construction, 156.
157: on “warrior societies” and their qualities: male dominance, hierarchy, authoritarianism, lost of social violence. Rape and domestic abuse—shocking levels. Causes? Life problems? Biology? Simply a social choice that “works”? “Men in power make choices for violence,” says Andrea Dworkin, though she’s not exactly a middle-of-the-road theorist.
These paragraphs also could use a lot of unpacking and further qualification and analysis. But how about the idea that the power imbalance between sexes “traps both men and women in a limited range of behaviors”? I think it’s true; I also think that there’s been major change in the last thirty years or so. Again, we’ll talk more about Where We Are later on . . .
Varieties of gender relationships: agrarian patriarchy, separate spheres, companionate marriage, 159 ff. Separate cultural world, close same-sex bonds between both men and women. Alternatives to conventional thinking, the Quakers, the Great Peace of Deganawidah (again).
The separate sphere system, with industrial revolution and rise of wage work. Men the active, public business world, women home and church. The “angel in the house,” the “haven in a heartless world,” all that stuff. It’s not “the way things always were,” it’s a relatively recent social construction.
The Seneca Falls declaration on the rights of women. Early feminist movement, parallel to abolition movement.
164 the Muscular Christianity stuff of late century, sports, the military; rise of “masculinity” as value; sports as sanctioning violence, “hyper-masculine and hostile towards women.” Analogies with military are not hard to notice.
Side note: anybody note the odd statistic about beer consumption on 166? There must be some kind of typo, or lack of clarity . . .
The early-century movements for temperance and the vote. The anti-saloon movement, the WCTU. Prohibition 1919, suffrage 1920. Addams and Gilman, tensions between individualism and community values, about whether women have “essential” traits that would improve society if allowed more play.
But, as Carol Tavris asks, is there something essential different in men’s and women’s natures? Or is it all a matter of social construction?
Rapid redefinitions of gender roles in WW II and following, leading to the crisis of the 50s. Tompkins on the limits of men’s roles, 170, derived from Westerns and sports. “Kansas is good country for men and dogs, but it’s tough on women and horses.”
Friedan and the Feminine Mystique. Feminism and Vietnam as war for being tough and a winner. Continuing controversy about domestic violence, right to carry a gun, etc.
The need for courage, on the part of all, if we’re to create more equal gender constructions.
While I did read both chapters seven and eight, I have to admit that
the part on workers and socialism and rebellions, did not interest me at
all. However, I really enjoyed the gender matters chapter and that is what
I’m going to respond mainly to.
In this chapter, I found a lot of things that were disturbing, shocking, confusing and interesting. The one paragraph that gives statistics on domestic abuse was disturbing and shocking. I am a social work major and
this part caused me great concern. I’ve always known that domestic abuse is
a major violence issue in America and around the world. But some of these
statistics had me exclaiming out loud in the library “wow!”. The two I was
most shocked by was that “more than half of all women experience some form
of violence from their spouse during marriage…” I found that hard to
believe. That seems like such a big number to me. The other one that
surprised me was that “the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the
United States is homicide.” I was shocked by that. That seems to be one of
those things you just don’t hear about. When I think of domestic violence
of think of husbands beating their wives. It never occurred to me that some
of those wives would be pregnant. This statistic reminds me of the movie
Fried Green Tomatoes that we watched for First Year Seminar where Ruth was
slapped and thrown down the stairs by her husband while she was pregnant. I
guess I had just never really thought about that aspect before now.
The underlying theme that I want to talk about in regards to the chapters is power. Every thing I read had to do with who has the power or who wants the power, in my opinion. Just to quote some of these sentences:
“…battering men use violence to get or regain the power and control they
assume is theirs…”; “men are conditioned into roles of power and
domination…”; “men feel pressured to ‘prove their manhood’ by being powerful
and in control”; “…and insure their access to power..”. And to quote
Abigail Adams at the beginning of this chapter in her letter to her husband,
“Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of Husbands.” I just noticed
while reading through, that the question throughout history when dealing
with gender, or even workers, is who has the power. Those who have the
power have control. In the gender sense, when women try exert too much
power or control over their husbands, their husbands may take to violence to
try and show that he is the one who is in power, not the wife. Along those
lines is the part in this chapter when they were talking about warrior
societies. Men in warrior societies (includes the United States) frequently
justify violence as a protection of possessions, including “their” women and
children. I have a big problem with this. I took a Women’s Issues class
here as an elective, and one of the things we studied was the fact that
women and men were created equal. We, as women, do not belong to anybody.
We are not possessions of someone. No where in the Bible does it say, take
your wife, for she is yours to exert power and to dominate over her.
This gender issue has been debated over many years and I think it will
continue to be debated for many years to come until all women feel they are
“equal” to men and in my opinion I don’t think that will come until a women
is elected president of the United States. I am very grateful for all the
women before me who have lobbied for my freedoms today but in some ways, I
don’t think that women, as a group, will ever be fully satisfied until they
feel that they have power over men.
I found the chapter on corporations interesting. The point to which the governement coddles big businesses is rather disturbing. corporations who are losing money get huge tax cuts in an attempt to "stimulate" the economy. Anyway, venting about government policy was not my point. I found the "Ongoing Patterns" portion of the chapter especially intriguing. The author writes that, "too great an inequality in the distribution of wealth contributes to violence and instability in a society." This statement stuck out for several reasons. For one, I agree. For another, I've never heard too many people support that reasoning. Usually violence is blamed on moral corruptness, ineffective leadership, etc. But it seems quite logical to me that inequality leads to resentfulness which leads to instability.
Another statement that stuck out to me was, "Nevertheless, it is clear that inequality is the natural outcome of capitalism." It just seems funny to me that a democracy -- a system of government in which everyone is suppossedly equal, would embrace an economic system that lends itself to the opposite. It's rather ironic, I think, that supposed freedom for all and opportunity for all leads to inequality, economic disparity etc. Though i guess that in a democracy all are created equal, not equal in talent. I realize now that i am rambling rather incoherently, so i will cease to write. good night – erin miller
The great disparity between the rich and the poor rages on still today and the gap seems to increase even more. Looking at how industrial workers were treated back during the industrial revolution we see that maybe there treated like slaves in a sense. There was much unfair treatment towards them with wages, hours worked, and working conditions. Employers did have an upper hand on their workers because there wasn't much set up to protect employers from such conditions. Since there were so many people looking for jobs some of these factory jobs were scarce for the unemployed. People traveled from other countries to come to America to find jobs. So for the employers they were able to take advantage of this. So in a different light these jobs were a choice whereas slavery wasn't for blacks. If we recall we remember that the blacks didn't have a choice in the matter and were kidnapped from their homeland and brought to America to work. We see that the movement to bring some sort of equality and fair treatment for employers wasn't much about violence as other situations that tried to change their conditions. Groups came together and formed a sort of union to try to force employers to change. This somewhat worked but the employers got smarter and countered the strikes with other workers or with the government's help, such as the railroad attaching mail wagons to the trains so it would become a federal offense not to deliver mail. So where does the government fit with a capitalist economy? As workers we want to be protected but at the same time we don't want the government to run our economy because then they may regulate too much. If we fast-forward to today we see that from the past working conditions are much better but is it more equal? If we look at the distribution between the rich and the poor we see that there is an even greater gap then ever before. We also see that companies are moving their factories to other countries because they don't have to pay as much across seas and boarders as they do within the states. We hear about how bad working conditions are for them and so it raises a problem of what we as a nation should do about working conditions for other countries. It is obvious that the people with the most money have the most power. There is always ways around obstacles if one has the necessary materials so for the ones with the least they end up being the ones left out to hang. So I wonder if this employee-employer issue is really solved yet or not.
The issue with gender will always be an issue just like race is will always be an issue. There are too many stereotypes that as a society we cannot get rid of. But from where women first started to where they are now they have come a long ways and with great persistence and patience. One of the things that had a great deal with how our nation looked at women was when our nation was at war. Women had to go into certain job fields that only men did and women were able to accomplish such jobs. Plus with the industrial revolution our economy changed and the way of living changed as well. There is a great deal that that author writes about with manhood and how males need to have control. There is a great difference in the makeup of males and females and how they think and interact. We know that males are more aggressive then women. If we are talking about non-violent movements and I do think that this was a non-violent movement I'm not sure if I could see women mounting up for violent attacks to gain equality. Still today there are great issues with male-female relations. They talked about domestic violence and also a great deal about stereotypes. Stereotypes are probably one issue that creates an illusion that still separates us from equality, not just with gender but also with race and class.
I was very torn over whom I should support when thinking about the whole
subject of industry. However, once I started to write out my response on
paper I found myself understanding the arguments of the industrial captains
more then that of the workers. My acceptance started when I was writing
down each group's definition of freedom. The employers believed that
freedom is the ability to create wealth without rules and regulations.
Employees felt that freedom came from the benefits received after doing a
days work. But aren't the definitions for freedom very similar? Well
employees took the definition one step further by adding the remark that
they wanted to be free of poverty, lousy hours, horrible benefits, and child
labor. The gap between the two groups grew when workers commented that they
were basically slaves. The captains replied that the workers were on liberty
contract and could leave at any time. The captains did not care because they
knew they could find other workers. If you do not like your job then leave.
There are other jobs out there. I realize that in this time period, finding
another job might mean moving across several states, but isn't that worth
the effort if you find a job you like? It could also be argued that if they
did get another job, the wages and hours may be just as bad. Also, even if
the captains had offered better benefits and wages, they still would have
found a way to get back some of your money. Many people at this time were
illiterate, which made it easier to scheme. The captains could have had
them sign forms or contracts that stated the employee would have to pay for
certain benefits or programs. I think that many of the immigrants and poor
people working in the industries, felt that once they started working they
would instantly achieve the collective "American Dream." Once they realized
that the ideal is basically a myth, they used someone else's good fortune as
a scapegoat for their unhappiness. I don't think that some of the
complaints were unjustified, but I do think that the complaints of child
labor were unjustified. I feel that the parents of the children were to
blame. The parents were the ones who encouraged the children to work. I
can only assume that they were hoping to draw in more money. However, why
should the captain be to blame for the parent's greed? The captains do not
care who works for them, just as long as the work gets down. The parents
are the ones who should have realized or been told by the social workers
trying to stop child labor, that in fact the parents were perpetuating the
cycle. If the parents had realized that the only way to rise above their
current level was education, then more children could have gone to school.
Their education might have provided them with better jobs thus increasing
their status. In ending, I think that the fight of the workers went a long
in increasing benefits for those of us today who have worked in factories.
However, I don't think that they realized that they were a part of the
problem in the beginning.
"More than half of all women experience some form of violence from their spouse during marriage, and twenty-five percent of all couples experience repetitive abuse" (Juhnke & Hunter158). This is the equivalent of one out of every four women involved in romantic relationships. One in four experiences this continual abuse. The statistic is horrifyingly high.
Why does this abuse occur? I suppose that no clear-cut answer is available, but historical trends seem to lay a nice framework for the realities faced today. Myths have effectively been created in the United States as well as in other countries of the world. Men have been encouraged to be tough, aggressive decision-makers since the very formation of the United States. They were called on to bravely fight first in the Revolutionary War and then in the Civil War. Oddly enough, the government was able to lure women into the industrial workforce during World War II with assurance that the work would not affect their feminine qualities and that day care was extremely beneficial to their children. This ideal, of course, only existed until the end of the war when women were not needed in the industries and were therefore fed convenient new propaganda that showed that "children of mothers who worked outside the home were more likely to become juvenile delinquents" (Juhnke and Hunter 169). Hence, the role of meek housewife should once again be accepted as the men returned to their authoritative provider roles. Based on this situation alone, it is apparent that the government could step in and attempt to sway the myths that have long since been created. Yet, this does not seem in their best interest. Is it their goal, then, to pacify us with legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act? Clearly, while these legislative edicts are appreciated, they are definitely not the solution to the problem, but merely a small band aide attempting to cover a very severe wound. In fact, this band aide doesn't even seem to effectively protect women from potential violence. Take, for instance, a court case ending in a judge's declaration that a man's right to possess a gun overrides a women's right to enforce a restraining order (Juhnke and Hunter 172). Whose best interests were protected here? All must agree that is surely was not the woman's.
In short, the mythological framework as accepting men as stronger and more able has lent itself to a system of abuse in the past. While feminist movements urging for equality have greatly changed the reality women face today, it is still a harsh reality that "in the 1990s, family violence killed as many women every five years as the total number of Americans who died in the thirteen years of U.S. troop involvement in the Vietnam War" (Juhnke and Hunter 157). Yes, it is somewhat of a relief that in the United States men are also encouraged to be doting husbands and fathers along with being aggressive and competitive. Yet, one in four women are affected by domestic violence. Personally, this is just a little to close to home for me.
* The following website provides information and support services to those affected in any way by domestic violence or for those just interested in becoming more aware of this issue: http://www.ncadv.org/.
I found this interesting web site on the class of 1992 ring from M.I.T.,
apperently there's a symbol of Columbus on their class ring, for his
adventourous and pioneering spirit, but some native American student there
has become upset with this man who has oppressed native since the begining
of exploration in the new world being represented on the class ring. So he
wants recognition of this wrong-doing and therefore wants it removed from
the ring. He states that many great innovators in history were also evil
people (Hitler, Many persons who oppressed African Americans etc.) and so he
says that if he were A jew at M.I.T., they would never insult him by putting
Hitler on their Class Ring, and it is only because the Native Americans at
MIT are such a small group, that they are unable to be recognized if they
would voice their opinion.
I thought it was interesting, take it as food for thought if you like.
responding to the reading I did on the Missing Peace, I want to first comment
on this contrast the authors bring out between slavery in the south and slavery
in the north. I get the sense that the authors are trying to down play the
injustice in the south and play up the injustices in the north. Granted the
“wage slavery” that was going on in the north was wrong. Also the battles that
were fought by the WORKERS were monumental in the advancement of our modern day
capitalism. However, the slavery in the south cannot be left untouched. In the
north there were a total of 23,000 strikes because of the working conditions
were so terrible. I can only think of one slave rebellion because of working
conditions. In this rebellion the slaves died as well as Nat Turner their
leader. In the 23,000 strikes there was only a handful of deaths. This is not
because the southern slaves had better conditions, no. They simply were not
The missing peace also addresses the issue of gender. Why is it that traditionally men feel woman are inferior? There is an unequal power issue between men and woman. Woman or wives are subjected to spousal abuse very often. The authors quote Abigail Adams, “Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of Husbands.” This power struggle needs to be shared. For a solution we need to move to eliminate the imbalances between the sexes, where ever one sex is in control of the other they can control the outcomes and choices of the other.
The authors do admit their thoughts on a change like this happening. Since people ultimately resist change and feel it as threatening, it probably would not happen.
Some Recent Commentaries on Iraq
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/12/opinion/12VIOR.html Imagining the Worst-Case Scenario in Iraq By MILTON VIORST
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/13/opinion/13ALBR.html Where Iraq Fits in the War on Terror By Madeline Albright
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/18/opinion/18FRIE.html Friedman essay on Iraq, regime change, building democracies, and “undeterrables.”
H e a r t s & M i n d s
Sept. 11: Ten Lessons to Learn
by Jim Wallis
In a SojoMail column last fall, I wrote that Sept. 11 could either become a teachable moment and a doorway to transformation - or an excuse for our worst instincts and habits. It all depends on whether we learn the right lessons and make the right choices. One year later, here are 10 lessons we must learn if real change is ever to come.
1. Treat the threat of terrorism as very real. Don’t underestimate it or politicize it. Cells of terrorists around the world are trained and ready to strike again. To prevent further terrorist violence is a worthy cause. The question is not whether, but how. I live with my wife and four-year old son on a terrorist target, only 20 blocks from the White House. I want to stop potential terrorist threats against my family and other innocents with all my being - but not in ways that risk and kill other people’s four-year-olds.
2. Avoid bad theology. The American Bush theology sees a struggle between good and evil - we are good, they are evil. And everyone else is either with us or against us. If we can’t see the face of evil in the events of Sept. 11, we have been corrupted by the post-modern world of moral relativism. But we are not the good. That’s bad theology. Jesus teaches us to see the beam in our own eye, and not just the mote in our adversary’s eye. George Bush is a Methodist, but he sees no beams in the American eye. But there is also a bad anti-American theology that suggests that evil resides only in Washington, D.C. Bin Laden is not a freedom fighter. He cares nothing for the have-nots of the world. He’s only recently become interested in the Palestinians. His is a twisted ideology and pathology of hate, vengeance, and lust for power. And he would turn Islam into a religion of violence against innocents. We must act so that the world will not be remade in the image of the terrorists; and we deny the terrorists their victory
when we refuse to be changed into people God has not called us to be.
3. Listen to the different perceptions of Sept. 11 around the world. Random, senseless violence, which can take loved ones at a moment’s notice, is not a new experience for most of the world’s people in places like Sarajevo, San Salvador, Johannesburg, or Jerusalem. Even
the inner-city youth of Washington, D.C., were not as traumatized by Sept. 11 as their suburban counterparts. Our illusions of invulnerability must be shattered - so we can join the rest of the world.
4. Let’s define terrorism the right way, and allow no double standards. Terrorism is the deliberate taking of innocent lives. It applies to individuals, groups, and nations alike - all of which can and have supported and committed acts of terrorism. Those who turn airplanes into missiles to attack skyscrapers full of people, those who become suicide bombers, and those who order military strikes against apartment buildings full of civilians and children are all terrorists, not religious devotees, martyrs, or defenders of national security.
5. Attack not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of terrorism. Poverty is not the cause of terrorism, but impoverishment and hopelessness are among terrorism’s best recruiters. We must drain the swamp of injustice in which the mosquitoes of terrorism breed. Justice really is the best path to peace, and there is no security but common security.
6. The solutions to terrorism are not primarily military. Drying up the financial resources of terrorism, coordinating international intelligence, and multi-national policing are much more effective weapons against terrorism than bombing Iraq. Dealing with root causes is the best strategy of all.
7. It’s time to move beyond the old debates of pacifism vs. just war, and focus on the promising common ground of conflict resolution. We must ask what are the transforming initiatives and practices that will actually prevent, reduce, contain, and, ultimately overcome the inevitable eruptions of violence in our world.
8. It is time to end the era of unilateral action by any nation, even the world’s last remaining superpower - no matter how strong it seems to be. Nobody can go it alone. No victory over terrorism is possible without a whole new level of international judicial, political, and financial collaboration. Only a real world court to weigh facts and
make judgments, with effective multinational law enforcement, will be able to protect us.
9. This is not a time for peace-loving, but rather for peacemaking, which is much more demanding. And peacemaking is, finally, less a position than a path - the path Jesus has clearly instructed us to take. That path cost him dearly, and no doubt will us too. But the alternatives are both impractical and frightening.
10. Finally, the fight against terrorism is a spiritual struggle, not just a political one. It causes us to ask what is really important, what our closest relationships really mean to us, and what we are really doing with our lives and the gifts God has given us. Like firefighters who make pilgrimages to Ground Zero, we are all pilgrims now.
Saddam Hussein has brutalized and repressed the Iraqi people for more than 20 years and more recently has sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction that would never be useful to him inside Iraq. So President Bush is right to call him an international threat. Given these realities, anyone who opposes U.S. military action to dethrone him has a responsibility to suggest how he might otherwise be ushered out the backdoor of Baghdad. Fortunately there is an answer: civilian-based, nonviolent resistance by the Iraqi people, developed and applied in accordance with a strategy to undermine Saddam's basis of power.
Unfortunately, when this suggestion is made publicly, hard-nosed policymakers and most commentators dismiss the idea out of hand, saying that nonviolence won't work against a tyrant as pathological as Saddam. That is because they don't know how to distinguish between what has popularly been regarded as "nonviolence" and the strategic nonviolent action that has hammered authoritarian regimes to the point of defenestrating dictators and liberating people from many forms of subjugation.
The reality is that history-making nonviolent resistance is not usually undertaken as an act of moral display; it does not typically begin by putting flowers in gun barrels and it does not end when protesters disperse to go home. It involves the use of a panoply of forceful sanctions—strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, disrupting the functions of government, even nonviolent sabotage—in accordance with a strategy for undermining an oppressor's pillars of support. It is not about making a point, it's about taking power.
Another misconception about nonviolent resistance that policymakers and the media entertain is that there is some sort of inverse relationship between the degree of severity of a regime's repressive instincts and the likelihood of a civilian-based movement's success in overturning it. Three cases come to mind in illustrating that repression is not typically the decisive factor in the dynamics of these struggles.
First, during World War II the Danes gradually developed a broad popular nonviolent resistance to their German occupiers and—through actions such as cultural protests in the beginning and later general strikes—managed both to create the space in which to operate and to impose substantial costs on the Nazi regime for its decision to occupy the country. Even though the Germans were capable of more severe repression in Denmark than they chose to apply, the point is that there was a transactional relationship between the Germans and the Danes, and the Danes discovered that fact—and from that they derived the leverage to press their resistance.
An authoritarian ruler or military occupier wants certain services or benefits from the population, and those benefits can be withheld, albeit at a cost to those resisting. Ratcheting up repression does not necessarily work as a strategy to quell resisters, since when repression increases, more people are antagonized and join the resistance, and business as usual for the regime or occupier becomes even more costly to maintain. It's essential to understand that unless a regime wants to murder the entire population, its ability repressively to compel a population's compliance is not infinitely elastic.
This was illustrated in another case during World War II: the nonviolent public resistance of the Rosenstrasse wives in February-March 1943. Reacting to the internment of their Jewish husbands, hundreds of these non-Jewish wives and other civilians who supported them started daily sit-ins in front of the building at Rosenstrasse 2-4 where their husbands had been taken initially (many were soon shipped to the camps). SS soldiers shot into the air over their heads, shut down the nearest streetcar station, and tried to frighten them off, but they kept coming, their ranks swelling to a thousand. The Nazis were faced with a dilemma: To stop the protest, they could drag these women away and arrest them, or brutalize them in the streets—but the regime was concerned that that would inflame other Berliners, who would surely hear about what had happened. In a week Goebbels decided it was easier just to give them their husbands back, and he did so, transporting many back from the camps; 1,700 were set free.
Nonviolent resistance often confounds the assumption that the next degree of repressive pressure will somehow neutralize further resistance, because conflicts in which strategic nonviolent action is applied are not necessarily contests of physical force in all of their phases. The Nazis could have ended the Rosenstrasse protest on its first day, but they did not—they realized it was not really a physical problem. There was a political context: Killing Jews was one thing, but killing or even injuring non-Jewish German citizens, especially women, was quite another—it would tarnish their image (which is to say, potentially jeopardize the legitimacy of their domestic rule) at a vulnerable time, right after the German defeat at Stalingrad. The lesson: Their latitude for decision making was not automatically enlarged by their capacity for repression.
Another case that illustrates the importance of this question of legitimacy is that of Chile. No one doubted the willingness of Pinochet's regime, in the 1970s and early 1980s, to use terror as an instrument of repression in order to assure the regime's control: Disappearances, brutal killings of dissidents, and arbitrary arrests had silenced most dissenters. But once that silence was broken in 1983 in a way that the regime could not immediately suppress—through a one-day nationwide slow-down, followed by a nighttime city-wide banging of pots and pans in Santiago—the regime was no longer able to re-establish the same degree of fear in the population, and mammoth monthly protests were soon under way.
After it was clear that a broad cross-section of the population opposed the regime, Pinochet felt compelled to reassert its legitimacy, and so he went ahead with a scheduled referendum on his continued rule which, thanks to internationally supported poll watching and extraordinary grass roots organizing, he lost. Then his impulse to crack down was blocked when his senior military chiefs made it clear that they would refuse his orders to do so. What had happened? A seemingly innocuous protest had compromised the regime's ability to rule by intimidation, allowing the democratic opposition to organize and eventually capture a higher legitimacy, splitting the ranks of the dictator's supporters.
WHILE IT MAY well be true that Saddam's rule has been as brutal as that of any dictator since Stalin, he is not, unlike the Russian tyrant, supported by an entrenched party system that can claim a higher ideological purpose. His hold on power is even more reliant on personal loyalties and their reinforcement by material rewards and mortal penalties. As such, the frequent reports of his repression should be seen not only as a sign of his brutality, but as evidence of the disaffection that his capricious, personal style continues to breed: He would not have to crack down if there were no one who might be disloyal.
If a military invading force attempts to shoot its way to Saddam, it must necessarily shoot first at all those military and security units deployed around him—and, if they are threatened with death, they will shoot back. Thus the horrendous fighting in or around Baghdad that we know the Joint Chiefs has advised the president would be extremely costly in the event of U.S. military invasion.
But if instead a campaign against Saddam began with civilian-based incidents of disruption that were dispersed around the country and that did not offer convenient targets to shoot at, any attempt to crack down would have to depend on the outermost, least reliable members of Saddam's repressive apparatus. If the resistance made it clear to police and soldiers that they were not viewed as the enemy, and even if resisters were at first only a nuisance—mosquitoes that could not all be swatted—the realization that Saddam was being opposed openly would begin almost immediately to lessen the fear of engaging in further, more systematic acts of resistance. As opposition became more serious or visible, this would offer to dissenting elements within the regime a place to which to defect, once events reached a crescendo.
A few years ago, in the holy city of Karbala, when tens of thousands of Muslims gathered for an annual religious occasion, the regime sent in troops because it feared disorder or an uprising. But they were so badly outnumbered by the civilians who came that they were effectively encircled—a graphic display of the limitations on Saddam's repressive apparatus if it were constrained to respond to incidents in all directions from Baghdad.
Earlier this year, a leading nonviolent Iraqi oppositionist expressed exasperation that the Bush administration appeared to be considering every possible military strategy for regime change without realizing "that 22 million Iraqis detest Saddam Hussein" and that they represent an enormous potential resource in ungluing critical levers of his control. At a recent conference on the future of democracy, another Iraqi oppositionist stood up and reminded other, more skeptical Iraqis in the room that Saddam's regime cannot function without oil revenues, and there is a limited number of civilian oil workers who, if they were to abandon their jobs, could create a crisis by themselves. If Saddam starts shooting oil workers or workers at electrical utility installations, how would that keep the oil fields running or the power flowing to his palaces and prisons?
AT THE MOMENT a nonviolent movement begins, most observers think that success is impossible, because most people can only see the costs of resisting instead of the costs that resisters can impose on those who maintain the existing system. The oppressive rulers who have been brought down by nonviolent movements—whether they were generals in Latin America, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, or Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia—did not tolerate a degree of dissent or refrain from murdering all opponents because they were softer adversaries than Stalin would have been or Saddam is now. These were all dictatorial regimes, meaning that openness was tolerated only as necessary to maintain the facade of internal or external legitimacy, or because suppressing it would have been too costly. And the Raj in India was not the exception that proves the rule, unless you think that the massacre at Amritsar or the killings at Dharasana were merely unfortunate lapses in English manners.
The reflexive assumption that nonviolent action has structural limitations related to a regime's character is in part the product of three generations of stereotyping this strategy as a moral preference or a form of ethical behavior. Most preachers of "nonviolence"—by insisting that nonviolent action triumphs when the opponent witnesses the suffering or hears resisters' messages and is persuaded to relent—have unwittingly reinforced the belief that power cannot be taken from rulers who are willing to use superior military force. That isn't the way nonviolent resistance has usually worked.
Regimes have been overthrown that had no compunction about brutalizing their opponents and denying them the right to speak their minds. How? By first demonstrating that opposition is possible, peeling away the regime's residual public and outside support, quashing its legitimacy, driving up the costs of maintaining control, and overextending its repressive apparatus. Strategic nonviolent action is not about being nice to your oppressor, much less having to rely on his niceness. It's about dissolving the foundations of his power and forcing him out. It is possible in Iraq.
Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall are co-authors of A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, the companion book to the PBS documentary of the same name, of which DuVall was executive producer. Ackerman is chair of the board of overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and DuVall is director of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.