Paul’s Perambulations

April 14, 2008

Civil disobedience and peaceful protest can change nations

Filed under: Peace,Politics — admin @ 11:25 am

The first two links below relate directly to the public protest on Rosenstrasse Street in 1943 Nazi Berlin. Nathan Stoltzfus has written a book about the demonstration, and it was also the subject of a recent movie.  There are also links below to material that describe another successful instance of peaceful resistance to the Nazi regime in WWII.  This relates to the unsuccessful attempt to organize the Norwegian educational system along Nazi lines.  There was mass non-cooperation and the Nazi government gave in.  Gene Sharp has written extensively about nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation as a practical approach for civilian defense.  In the way that he envisions this, it has never been tried.  Instances have always been quite spontaneous and poorly organized.  He suggests that we would need to spend billions of dollars (but still much less than we pay for war) and that many lives might well be lost (but still many fewer lives than would be lost in the war alternative) for the full implementation of such a plan.  So it is an imperfect solution, but so is war.


Public demonstration to successfully save Jewish husbands:

Material about successful resistance to Nazi plans for Norway’s school system is particularly relevant:    More instances of successful peace actions are in the links that follow:

There are no guarantees with this peaceful approach, but neither are their guarantees with war.  And wars are getting progressively more destructive over the centuries.  People sometimes think I’m an optimist, but the opposite is more accurate.  If things continue as they are, WWIII would be inevitable at some point in time. I hardly expect to get a sudden influx of pacifists in this country or any other country (that’s neither a realistic hope for me nor a realistic fear for critics of this approach).  But if we could encourage a gradual de-escalation and recognize that peaceful people exist in all parts of the world (my parents had anti-Nazi peace-seeking German friends when they lived in Germany during my father’s graduate work there– that is a long and separate story), true peace might be achieved gradually.  This is not a certainty, but it is a possibility.  And I feel a certainty of WWIII as the eventual alternative, so I must pursue this possibility as the only hope.  We (or our offspring in the future) will see. 


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