Varieties of revolution

March 30, 2011

When Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth studied revolutions that
had occurred over a period of more than 100 years and across the globe, they found
that nonviolent revolutions are twice as likely as violent ones to succeed.
Chenoweth explains
that nonviolent revolutions attract a greater range of the population and
create a higher likelihood of defection among supporters of a particular
regime.

Researchers will be studying the dynamics and outcomes of
the revolutions in the Middle East for a long time to come. They will have the
stark contrast between the choices of Egyptian and Tunisian protestors and
those of Libyan protestors to use as a case study. If Chenoweth is right,
Libyan protestors greatly reduced their chances of succeeding when they turned
to armed insurrection.

Protestors in Egypt and Tunisia pored over Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual
Framework for Democracy
to generate ideas and hone their skills. An excellent profile of Sharp can be
found here.