Seeing as I have already written a good bit on nonviolence below, I will not rehash those thoughts here. I merely wanted to share a couple of my favorite quotations from Walter Wink’s Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, which I recently read and highly recommend to anarchists, Christians, Christian anarchists, pacifists, and human beings in general.
Speaking to the problem of efficacy, Wink writes:
We need to be very clear that it is in the interest of the Powers to make people believe that nonviolence doesn’t work. To that end they create a double standard. If a single case can be shown where nonviolence doesn’t work, nonviolence as a whole can then be discredited. No such rigorous standard is applied to violence, however, which regularly fails to achieve its goals. Close to two-thirds of all governments that assume power by means of coups d’etat are ousted by the same means; only 1 in 20 post-coup governments give way to civil government.
The issue, however, is not just which works better, but which fails better. While a nonviolent strategy also does not always “work” in terms of preset goals–though in another sense it always “works”–at least the casualties and destruction are far less severe. (53-54)
Violent struggles are necessarily hierarchical; all warfare inevitably is. This pattern of centralized power-holding is not easily renounced after victory is won. After assuming power, ideological differences are dealt with by the same methods used to gain power: exterminations, purges, torture, and mass arrests. Revolutions must, in the nature of things, depend on men and women who have exercised their critical faculties. But insofar as the revolution’s ideal is to create a society unanimous in its beliefs and wholly free from internal conflict, it must, if successful, destroy the very critical tendencies that made its success possible. (69-70)
I could go on and quote the entire book, but I suppose that would defeat the purpose of recommending it.
Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.