Ming the Mechanic:
Civil Defense

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Civil Defense2003-12-01 06:16
15 comments
by Flemming Funch

John Abbe mentions an article from the mid-80s: Nonviolent Warfare: Alternative to Armageddon?
The year is 2010. Russian tanks swarm into a small country in Western Europe, spearheading an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. But this invasion is unusual because no shots are fired. Instead, the Communist soldiers are greeted by shuttered windows and deserted streets. The nation being overrun phased out its military years ago and now relies on a carefully planned program of civilian nonviolent resistance to deter its enemies. Immediately, clandestine government radio stations broadcast a call for a general strike to oppose the invaders. Factories close down, key machine parts are "lost," industrial experts go into exile, and normal channels of communication and transportation within the country are disrupted.

In an effort to get the country moving again, the Soviets round up government officials and tell them to end the strike or face execution. The few leaders that collaborate are socially ostracized. Meanwhile, an underground leadership begins to function and the economic shutdown continues unabated. Frustrated, the Soviets blunder by ordering troops to shoot at nonviolent demonstrators. As a result, the troops become restless, morale problems develop, and desertions begin to occur. Finally, realizing that the costs of continued occupation outweigh any possible benefits, the Soviets withdraw.
OK, its premises are a bit outdated, but you get the point. It is based on the book "The Politics of Nonviolent Action". Essentially it is like "What if there were a war and nobody showed up?". Or rather, what if nobody cooperated with any invading force, but instead provided concerted non-violent resistance. Of course that doesn't stop bombs and tanks, but it might remove the incentive for trying to take over another country. You wouldn't steal a car if you knew it would impossible to drive it. It is not all stupid, since the majority of wars have an economic incentive. Somebody wants to get their hands on some other people's stuff and want to control those people. If they can't, there would be that much less point to it.

Of course, if nobody cooperated in being an army in the first place, and there were nobody willing to make bombs, the whole thing wouldn't happen at all.


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15 comments

1 Dec 2003 @ 15:54 by David Weisman @68.195.13.53 : A powerful thought
The achilles heel of this defense would be against an army like that of Ghengis Khan willing to kill civilians without compunction. It might work in a world without starvation poverty, where everyone had something to lose.  


1 Dec 2003 @ 16:42 by Natalie @82.35.43.4 : nonviolent resistance
The details may not apply to our time but the concept is perfectly valid and worth examining from a new perspective.
What if a NonViolence think-tank was established , a sort of alternative UN, to work out practical and feasible strategies which could be adopted by any nation or group under threat from violent agressors/invaders etc.?

These stategies would need to be worked out as meticulously as any military and intelligence strategies. And then, when a complete Strategy of NonViolence was ready, it could be given legal status and any country could subscribe to it. So instead of terrorists plotting ever more deadly and counterproductive deeds, you'd have all those with grievances sitting around a common table, deciding on which nonviolent strategy they would adopt.
OK, I realize it wouldn't be that easy. Some would get hurt and it might take a long time for such a scheme to be adopted universally. But it's still worth thinking seriously about.
Not so long ago, it was only sandal-wearing hippies who were vegetarian and wanted to eat organic food. Now organic food, cosmetics, clothes etc. are big business and to be found almost everywhere. It's become fashionable. Why not a PR campaign to make nonviolence fashionable?  



8 Dec 2003 @ 05:58 by John Abbe @67.101.101.102 : Long view, creativity & efforts underway
David, part of the point for many people is of course that they believe they are doing the right thing, without regard to outcome. For the pragmatists, one might consider the impact on the world of a really well-known story about a city or even culture wiped out by invaders not sufficiently moved in time to stop themselves. Of course, the more creative and active the nonviolent resistance, the less likely that the invaders will fail to be moved.

Natalie, there are efforts underway that reflect these ideas, from the Global Nonviolent Peacekeeping Force which just began "operations" in Sri Lanka to the various Citizen Deliberative Councils that Tom Atlee's always talking about. I completely agree about the "working out". We've spent so much time & energy developing various arts of war, it will take at least some serious effort to withstand that -- by connecting with it, by evolved nonviolent strategies. In some ways we are partway to the vision you describe, but i think there's a deep appreciation of it that only a fraction of even the people who profess it grok explicitly. Well, maybe it can't be grokked explicitly :) p.s. Your art brought smiles to my face.  



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