A Timeline of Passive Resistance

So I asserted the other day that Pacifism was a weapon, when deployed properly, against which there is no defence.  Allow me to illustrate what to my mind is the typical timeline of passive resistance.

Phase 1: Invasion/Takeover – A strong army invades or otherwise takes over the territory of a weaker party.

Phase 2: Victory/Defeat – Due to their superiority the invading army achieves rapid and decisive victory and moves to…

Phase 3: Domination/Subjugation – The invading party establishes its power base by setting up institutions it can control; government, business etc.  At this point it is no longer prudent to kill or torture innocent civilians because they need them in order to run those institutions.  The dominated party is now a quasi-slave to its new master.

Phase 4: Resistance – The pacifist at this point slowly begins to erode the power base of the aggressor through passive and subversive acts such as avoiding work that helps the aggressor, refusing to purchase goods and services from the aggressor and even direct sabotage.  The aggressor’s only hope in defeating the pacifist is in recognizing the power of this resistance early and negotiating a settlement.  If the aggressor responds with more violence and oppression they will only drive the pacifist further underground and prolong the process.

Phase 5: Critical Mass – Sooner or later the pacifist cause will begin to be seen as a viable alternative for the oppressed masses and more and more people will be won over.  By now it is too late for the aggressor; any attempt to suppress the pacifist opposition will be seen as bullying.  If a pacifist leader is arrested or killed at this stage they will instantly become a martyr.  I don’t have scientific data to back this up but my best guess is that critical mass is achieved when the pacifist cause attracts somewhere between 20-30% of the population leading to…

Phase 6: Uprising – With roughly a quarter of the population rallying to the cause protests erupt spontaneously throughout the country.  At this point it is critical for the pacifist leader to keep his followers on message and prevent violence from erupting within his ranks.  It is critical to remember that even with a large number of followers you are still the weaker party in terms of fire power and entering into violent conflict will likely send you all the way back to phase one.  The aggressor will likely try to bait you into a violent encounter but if you have done a good job in phases 4 and 5 this will fail.  Your support will swell to well over 50% of the general population and finally lead to…

Phase 7: Overthrow – As the aggressor realizes they can no longer control the population through intimidation and the time to negotiate from a position of strength was three phases ago they will have no choice but to cede to your demands or leave the country altogether.

Now the real work begins, criticism and resistance is the easy part, governing is hard.


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