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Cyril Foster Lecture 2024: On the Declining Success of Civil Resistance

Professor Erica Chenoweth will explore the puzzling decline in the success of civil resistance movements in the past decade, even as unarmed movements have become more popular worldwide. The findings have implications for the future of nonviolent alternatives to armed struggle, as well as to the ability of pro-democratic movements to defeat authoritarian challenges.

Erica Chenoweth is the Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement and the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard Kennedy School, Faculty Dean at Pforzheimer House at Harvard College, and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. They study political violence and its alternatives. At Harvard, Chenoweth directs the Nonviolent Action Lab, an innovation hub that provides empirical evidence in support of movement-led political transformation.

  • Creative messy thinking
  • Structured rigid thinking

Over the last 20 years we have moved from the first creative messy at Greenham Common Peace Camp and 1990’s road protests thought to the turn of the century anti globalisation movement.

Then this started to shift with the very affective protest movement Climate Camp, with pushing in process geeks ossifying the process and direction. To a hard shift of the occupy movement, process and organising on #dotcons social media.

As this lecture illustrates, the last ten years activism of all forms has been failing, likely due to in part to this shift.

Academic thinking is a part of this, giving rigid thinking strength to push on to messy activism.

Why is academic thinking so bad and irrelevant? “Getting it done people” have no time or interest to talk to academics, they are to focus on the hard mission of “getting things done”. Who the academics and journalist end up getting their data from is way to often wannabe #fashernistas do, in this academic knolage, and the journalism that feeds it, is “manurist” and not helping, and harming a lot of time.

Ideas on how to talk about this, please.

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