Strategic Nonviolent Power
The Science of Satyagraha
History indicates that there are powerful routes to liberation fromoppression that do not involve violence. Mohandas Gandhi called for ascience of nonviolent action, one based on satyagraha, or the“insistence on truth.” As Gandhi understood, nonviolentresistance is not passive, nor is it weak; rather, such action is anexercise of power. Despite the success of Gandhi’s“Quit India” movement, the resources dedicated to theapplication of rigorous science to nonviolent struggle have beenvanishingly small. By contrast, almost unimaginable levels of financialand human resources have been devoted to the science and technologiesof killing, war, and collective violence. Mark Mattaini reviews thehistory and theory of nonviolent struggles against oppression anddiscusses recent research that indicates the substantial need for andadvantage of nonviolent alternatives. He then offers a detailedexploration of principles of behavioral systems science that appear tounderlie effective strategic civil resistance and “peoplepower.”
Strategic Nonviolent Power proposes that the route to whatGandhi described as the “undreamt of and seemingly impossiblediscoveries” of nonviolent resistance is the application ofrigorous science. Although not a simple science, Mattaini’sapplication of ecological science grounded in the science of behaviourbrings exceptional power to the struggle for justice and liberation. Ata time when civil resistance is actively reshaping global politicalrealities, the science of nonviolent struggle deserves the attention ofthe scientific, activist, strategic, military, spiritual, anddiplomatic communities, as well as the informed public.
Strategic Nonviolent Power is a unique and important contribution to a field that is flourishing in the current global milieu. Mattaini demonstrates a sweeping knowledge of the field of resistance studies as well as systems theory. I don’t know of another study that does what this one does—apply a new theoretical framework to nonviolent resistance, synthesize existing material, and provide numerous illuminating examples from history—in a single book.
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