In his thesis, Stellan Vinthagen describes how non-violence creates a combination of resistance to violence and the skill to live together without violence (non-violent resistance and non-violent construction). This is expressed in four main forms of action: dialog facilitation, normative regulation, power busting, and utopian formation. With methods that promote dialog, the construction of non-violent social institutions and ‘non-violence training,’ combined with disobedience to power relations and practical dramatic stagings of an attractive society, non-violent movements combat violence and oppression.
The research project depicts how non-violent movements-like the Civil Rights Movement under Martin Luther King and the Indian anti-colonial liberation movement under Mohandas K. Gandhi-“attempt to combat war and oppression with peaceful and freedom-based methods.” The study uniquely highlights how non-violent movements themselves exercise manipulation and oppression. However, despite the inherent contradictions of these movements, it is nevertheless asserted that they offer potential for a struggle for liberation from organized violence and oppression.
In a historical chapter it is also shown that non-violent movements occurred long before Gandhi, the person who has long been credited with ‘creating’ non-violence. The dissertation helps provide a social scientific perspective on the phenomenon of ‘non-violent actions’ and, unlike earlier research, applies modern sociological theories.
Current and historical examples of movements using non-violent actions-including the Brazilian farm workers’ movement MST and anti-nuclear weapons movements-are used to illustrate the social scientific conceptual apparatus.
Civil disobedience is relatively unknown in Sweden, and politicians often call it ‘undemocratic’ or ‘irresponsible.’ Stellan Vinthagen maintains, on the other hand, that the method is characterized by a willingness to enter into dialog and an attempt to reach consensus, even in conflicts marked by enemy imaging, dogmatism, power relations, and legal use of violence.
Stellan Vinthagen is personally active in popular movements based on non-violence, and, alongside his university teaching, he leads courses in Sweden and abroad. He is one of the founders of the Plowbill Movement in Europe-the movement that employs civil disobedience to disarm weapons at military factories and bases-and was active in the movement for 15 years. Stellan has been sent to prison several times for his actions, most recently in England in 1999.
“I hope my dissertation will both promote critical research into non-violent movements and serve as a tool for non-violent activists wishing to develop effective actions,” says Stellan.
Non-Violent Action -A Social Practice of Resistance and Construction
Author: Stellan Vinthagen, cell phone: +46 704-763 789