The Instigator
Beverlee
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
Kumquatodor
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Is the pen mightier than the sword?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Beverlee
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/9/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,726 times Debate No: 38703
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (5)

 

Beverlee

Pro

What is the best way for an oppressed group to gain meaningful and lasting political goals? Is nonviolent resistance more effective? Or is violent revolt? I want to debate here in order to voice support for nonviolent political actions that eschew armed political actions.

This is an important question, as we see nations such as Syria choosing violent uprisings, while nations such s Egypt choose nonviolent resistance in order to create sweeping political change. Which strategy works better?

The United States has a long tradition of nonviolent resistance, a tradition that has inspired movements as diverse as Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's. "Freedom Marches" and Tea Party rallies. Americans have typically not seen much success with violent political campaigns by citizens, although they have occurred. Some examples of this might include the response of some Native American groups that followed massacres of unarmed tribespeople. [1] Another example might be Nat Turner's slave rebellion. [2] There are other examples of civil unrest in the US that can be considered [Ibid]

I want to argue that nonviolent strategies work better than violent attempts to create political change in a society. (Particularly with regards to oppressed people and dictatorships. I hope to find someone who will argue that violent revolt is more effective.

"Nonviolent resistance" does not mean violence-free, since these strategies often use violent attacks against them as a way to discredit their oppressors. It also does not mean "peaceful" since a major requirement of nonviolent resistance is that it must be disruptive in some way.

Nonviolent resistance includes marches, boycotts, deny-use campaigns, work slowdowns and stoppages, protest artwork such as films, music and other creative media, and other attention-getting actions.

"Armed revolts" means to describe events such as the slave revolts in Haiti, the KKK actions following the Civil War, the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and other violent actions that are intended to create political change.

"More effective" is meant to indicate which strategy is more likely to create the intended type of political change. For this debate, I am not concerned with time-frames.

When you accept, just use the first round for an overview of your argument, so that we can have the same number of rounds to debate.

Thanks!!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...


Kumquatodor

Con

I accept!

If the pen is mightier than the sword, then why do actions speak louder than words?
Debate Round No. 1
Beverlee

Pro

Thank you to Con for debating this with me. The phrases mentioned, "If the pen is mightier than the sword, then why do actions speak louder than words?" Combines two unconnected colloquialisms. I chose to title this debate "Is the pen mightier than the sword" as a way to ask if people can outwit a military using nonviolent resistance. The phrase, "actions speak louder than words" is intended to indicate an example where a person is behaving in a dishonest way, saying one thing yet doing another. Combining these meanings produces a statement such as: "If reason can defeat militarism and fear, then why do people behave hypocritically?"

In this round, I will lay out a few arguments that support nonviolent theory.

Nonviolence
The developing doctrine of "nonviolent" resistance has yet to form universally agreed upon definitions, and so the strategy is somewhat amorphous. As the etymology implies, it presents itself as an imprecise description of any particular tactic or strategy, but rather a rejection of violence as a means of political influence. Nonviolence, therefore can best be understood not as a set of hard and fast rules for fomenting social and governmental change, but as an argument against terrorism, violent extremism, and political militarism.
While the many forms of public resistance that can be classified as "nonviolent" are extremely diverse, the common factor among them all is this rejection of violence. The best tool for easing oppression and legalized injustice may vary from case to case, but he critical need to avoid violence does not. This need should be studied and understood by all oppressed people, because nonviolent theory offers the best possible opportunity for success in a struggle between a well armed and oppressive government and an oppressed population.
What can be called "Nonviolent" resistance?
Nonviolence is not a specific set of strategies or actions, but a set of arguments against militarist political action. Nonviolence does not eschew all violent actions, such as vandalism and the destruction of computer files. The exact boundaries between what is permissible under nonviolent theory and what is not is an area of disagreement between various activists. Some groups may consider the use of human shields to be an example of nonviolent resistance, while others may not. Some groups may consider nonviolence to be a strategic and pragmatic tactic, while others may consider it to be a moral and inviolate imperative.
How does nonviolence work?
As a developing political theory, nonviolence requires additional study to determine the precise mechanical impacts that it triggers. However, we know that nonviolent resistance and mass disobedience are far more effective than violent uprisings in winning a political victory for an oppressed people. These strategies strike the greatest weakness of anti-democratic, authoritarian and hierarchical systems - which is the extent to which these systems depend on the masses for their success. This dependency represents the soft underbelly of totalitarian regimes. Justice, fairness, peace, reason, love and mercy are strong weapons that are easily found amongst the people, pitted against the weakest point in the armor of the tyrant. No population will support the destruction of these qualities by a government for very long, even if they may support the oppression of a minority group that they are told to hate and fear. If the oppressed minority can intentionally cause their tormentors to deny them justice, fairness, peace, reason, love and mercy, then the larger population will eventually feel imperilled as well, because these are universal needs. If a frightened population becomes angry, it may no longer sustain the requisite levels of fear that are required for enforced obedience. No oppressive dictator can survive in the face of a disobedient public - no matter how overwhelming his military assets may be. [*]

An oppressed people must avoid frightening the population
It is extremely counterproductive for an oppressed and possibly feared and hated minority to act out violently at all. Although the anti-democratic state, courts, police and military can deny justice, fairness, peace, reason, love and mercy for a time and get away with it... an oppressed minority that is already feared and hated cannot. Yet these actions are impossible to avoid in violent, armed revolts. It is not possible for widespread violent actions to avoid terrifying the public, who will in turn demand ever greater levels of oppression to be directed at the groups that frighten them. This is true for any group that causes public fear - drug addicts and other criminals; angry gun owners; alien foreign populations and religious, racial, political and ethnic minorities.

Violent attempts to gain favorable treatment, or even to end legalized injustice and oppression, require either martial superiority, the infliction of destabilizing levels of fear, and the willingness of military powers (that have been fielded by the oppressed groups) to step down once they have achieved military control. None of these expectations are reasonable or likely to be achieved. They are also not desirable from a strategic perspective. Even in the unlikely event that a particular oppressor is removed from power, the result of military conquest is likely to be military rule, and a shifting of oppression to new victims, from new oppressors. Injustice itself is not removed, it is only changed.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
In the unlikely event that a violent uprising can cause a military takeover of a political system, the result is still not likely to be an end to oppression. Successful military efforts always require strong, anti-democratic leadership. These military commanders tend to be the natural choice for political leadership following a successful military campaign to overthrow an oppressive regime.

This choice obviously replaces the oppressive regime with the military commanders that overthrew that regime. These military commanders may, or may not relinquish their newfound power and authority once they have achieved it, but there is nothing that the people can do to enforce this decision.

The people have not won a victory, military weapons have. The argument for democracy is irrelevant. The freedom from oppression that the people crave remains entirely subject to the whims of a powerful and autocratic government.

Conclusion:
Nonviolence is not a clean form of pacifism. It is a rejection of political violence as a means for changing policy.

Nonviolence argues against the use of violence for many reasons.

1. Violent actions invite brutal retribution, and alienate the larger population.
2. Effective military actions by an oppressed population requires military commanders who are likely to e oppressive themselves, and to acquire political leadership in the unlikely event of a successful campaign.
3. Civilian groups cannot normally defeat a professional military, militaries are poor political innovators
4. Nonviolence makes possible widespread conversion to the side of the oppressed groups. This popular sentiment is the only way to enforce a lasting end to injustice.

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[*] For proof of this, consider the case of the collapsing Soviet Union, which saw a brief military coup take place, This military command had easy access to massive military assets, including nuclear weapons and massed armor. These commanders also had near infinite power to conduct mass arrests and indefinite detentions and public executions, yet was unable to bring any of these terrors to bear. In the face of overwhelming and near-universal popular will, the Soviet hardliners witnessed the disintegration of their military empire within days. In this extreme example the most fearsome military on earth was destabilized and overthrown by simple public pressure.
Kumquatodor

Con

REBUTTALS!

The United States has a long tradition of nonviolent resistance, a tradition that has inspired movements as diverse as Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's. "Freedom Marches" and Tea Party rallies.

WHAT LONG TRADITION TRADITION?!?!

As George Carlin once said: "This country was founded by a group of slave owners who wanted to be. Am I right? A group of slave owners who wanted to be free! So they killed a lot of white English people in order to continue owning their black African people, so they could wipe out the rest of the red Indian people, in order to move west and steal the rest of the land from the brown Mexican people, giving them a place to take off and drop their nuclear weapons on the yellow Japanese people. You know what the motto for this country ought to be? 'You give us a color, we'll wipe it out.'"

THAT'S OUR "TRADITION"!

Let's go through these "nonviolent" revolutions


It is funny you mention the Tea Party.

Do you remember the American Tea Party? If not, let me jog your memory. A group of colonists dressed up like Indians (British retribution might be distributed on innocent Indians), broke into a harbor, STOLE atleast $1,000,000 worth of tea, DESTROYED it, almost rioted when the harbor was closed, and broke into a war over taxes.

Non-violence? I THINK NOT!



Well, OK. We screwed up once. I'm suuuureee it only happened once.

Well, as it happens, this happened many times. Do you remember the Texas?

Texas wanted its freedom. It asked. It tried peacefully. Then, when that failed, it created a CIVIL WAR! Mexico wanted them back, the Indians wanted to keep the Texans in Texas, and America wanted Texas. 1000s died.




Well, I'm suuurrrrreeeee it only happened twice.


Boom! Another civil war! This time, the South is rebelling. Over states rights. They do what they can, but, ultimately, 100,000s end up killed. The Confederacy lost, but then, Abe Lincoln rubbed salt in the wound. He took away the Southerners' rights to own slaves (while never ammending the right for Northerners), so the Southern economy crashed hard.




Mine eyes hath seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, .............

Do you remember that song? Well, it is actually a repainting of an older song. A black guy and his friends were sick of how they were treated, and there 0was no way anyone was going to listen to them! They had one option: revolt. They stole ssome guns and went on a riot. They lost painfully.

This was inspiration for the next generation, believe it or not.



I think I'll skip over other examples of needed violence such as: the Arab Springs, Isreal, Guy Fawkes, Spartacus, the Roman Christians, the Mideavil Atheists, the India Riots, the Native American revolt, the response to the crusades, and (maybe) the entire Middle East.

And now I'm thinking:

We didn't start the Fire,
It was alwatys burnin',
Since the Worlds been turnin'

___________________________


Nonviolence failed at Woodstock, Rome, England, the Middle East, the crusades, witch-burnings, vampire hunts, the Native American revolts, and almost every other time it was tried.

________________________________________

Now, I know I have ignored two very important events: Martin Luthor King Jr. and Gandhi.


I'll simply say this: if you have an army of literally 1000,000s of people, you to can change the paradime.
Debate Round No. 2
Beverlee

Pro

I thank Con for continuing the debate.

The New Revolutionary
The modern veteran of a resistance movement bears little resemblance to the freedom fighters of the past. Far from the battle-scarred paramilitary ve soldier with an AK-47, those modern veteran freedom fighters who have been effective in overthrowing dictators and fighting for oppressed peoples around the world are often bookish young men and women who often seem patently unsuited for tankfighting. These 21st Century underground resistance movements enlist armies that tend to facebook the locations of their bases, and check text messages between strategy sessions.

However, in regime after regime, war after war, these students, artists, and activists have learned an important lesson: it is much more difficult to destroy one tank than it is to destroy them all. In resistance movement after resistance movement, protesters have learned that they can, through the awesome power of well-planned mass protest, destroy entire armies of oppression, topple regimes and gain freedoms much easier than their revolutionary forefathers could win a single battle.

These polyglot groups of conspirators have begun to master the delicate alchemy that is required to not only survive repeated conflicts, but to win their victories on a mass scale. Formerly, the loss of a skillful ship-captain or fighter pilot meant that all of the experience that that veteran has obtained throughout his battles was also lost. The modern street-fighter does not carry a weapon, but a camera. She does not lose her experience when she leaves a conflict, but shares what she learns with social networking sites and text messages.

Our generation has seen dictatorships fail at an incredible rate, often on live television and YouTube. The protesters, activists, writers, thinkers and provocateurs have developed a set of strategies that have become collectively known as "nonviolent resistance." Nonviolent resistance does not guarantee that a protest movement will be successful, and does not ensure that democracy and freedom will result from the end of oppression. It does, however, offer the best chance of success. Failures to gain freedom following what had initially begun as nonviolent movements, such as the French Revolution and the Iranian Revolution, became bloodbaths. Preventing this violent seizure of power should be a necessary component of any regime change - and almost requires nonviolent values. Moreover, the failure of the American Revolution to gain freedom for most Americans was largely a result of the disenfranchising quality of the militant wing of the revolutionaries.


http://www.debate.org...


21st Century Resistance
It is often thought that the only way to overthrow a tyrannical regime or end oppression is through a violent uprising. History insists that we rethink this assumption.


The journal International Security analyzed 323 major insurrections and nonviolent resistance efforts around the globe since 1900. The study determined that violent insurrections were successful only 23 percent of the time, while nonviolent campaigns succeeded in their goals at a rate of 53 percent. [1]



According to a 2005 study by Freedom House, only a tiny fraction of the 70 nations that have attempted to transition from a non-democratic state to a democracy over the study period have done so using violent means. [2] The vast majority of such transitions have been achieved by patient and persistent effort, careful planning, luck and sheer force of popular will. The Soviet Union did not collapse as a result of massed armies, but thanks to the efforts of social resistance.

What follows is a photo essay that helps to showcase the almost omnipotent power of the people. I need to repeat that nonviolent mass protest can't win every battle, or completely remove the occasional need for agressive self-defense. But, it does offer the best chance for the successful winning of freedom - when compared to violent extremism and fear.


Bosnia

Slobodan Milosevic, the "Butcher of the Balkans," was the dictator of Bosnia from 1989 until 2000, and was responsible for the killings of an estimated quarter million people. [3] During his bloody reign, Milosevic was able to survive repeated military coups, and NATO bombing campaigns intended to unseat him. All such attempts failed in the face of bloody and inhuman reprisals from the Milosevic regime.


Bosnian Concentration Campshttp://www.debate.org...


In 1999 a US-led NATO attack was launched against the Milosevic regime that lasted 78 days. Although the attacks forced Milosevic to agree to allow UN peacekeepers to enter Bosnia, he retained his hold on power and responded with a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that saw at least 10,000 citizens murdered and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes.

In the end, Milosevic was never forced from power with military attacks. The student group "Otpor" and coal miner unions organized mass demonstrations, nation wide boycotts and labor strikes against the Milosevic regime, which succeed in bringing the country to a standstill. An October 4th mass demonstration in Belgrade saw protesters storm into the Parliament building, and security forces refuse orders to massacre them. In the face of such overwhelming, carefully planned, and sustained mass action, Milosevic stepped down and was arrested.

The Storming of Parliament in Belgradehttp://www.debate.org...



In Bosnia, students, union workers, and unarmed citizens did what nuclear-armed militaries could not do in unseating Slobodan Milosevic. This nonviolent action has also set the stage for increased democratization of the region.



Romania

In 1989 the oppressive autocrat of Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu was literally chased from office by a series of well planned, persistent mass protests that culminated in his being shouted down from a speech in December of that year. His troops ran down the protesters, but Nicolae Ceaucescu himself was forced by the crowds to hide until he could escape. After ordering mass executions of the nonviolent protesters, the soldiers defected en masse, and arrested Ceau57;escu and his wife instead. [4]

Ceausescu's Final Speech (crowd)

http://www.debate.org...

(Above) The crowd of nonviolent protesters that chased Nicolae Ceau57;escu from power during a speech in December of 1989.

Ukraine

Known as the "Orange Revolution" the Ukraine became one of a series of nonviolent "Rainbow Revolutions" that swept through Eastern Europe since 2000. After massive political corruption was discovered by the public, protesters demonstrated daily in the capitol, and nationwide strikes paralyzed the nation. The result was a round of new elections and new constitutional powers for democratic principles. [5]

The Orange Revolution in the Ukraine



Tunisia

Mass protests following the suicide of a street vendor who set himself on fire after having his wares confiscated by police helped trigger the Arab Spring.

Tunisia - mass protests following the suicide of a street vendor who set himself on fire after having his wares confiscated by police helped trigger the Arab Spring.


http://www.debate.org...


Philippines
The Dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos was able to survive repeated military challenges, and often enjoyed the active support of US assistance. However, a mass nonviolent protest movement was able to topple the regime in a matter of months. A protest action by nuns helped to spark the mass movement against Marcos.

(Below: Nuns preventing Filipino troops loyal to Ferdinand Marcos from carrying out orders as part of the "People Power" movement in Manilla. The effort forced Marcos from power.)


Nuns preventing Filipino troops loyal to Ferdinand Marcos from carrying out orders as part of the "People Power" movement in Manilla. The effort forced Marcos from power.http://www.debate.org...


Lebanon

For a generation, the Lebanese were forced to obey Syrian military forces that had occupied their nation. Violent attacks against these troops only led to violent reprisals and the killing of civilians in retaliation. None of these attacks were successful. However, Lebanese mass demonstrations not only forced Syrian troops out of Lebanon in 2011, but also destroyed most Syrian political influence in Beirut.

Lebanese mass demonstrations not only forced Syrian troops out of Lebanon in 2011, but also destroyed most Syrian political influence in Beirut. http://www.debate.org...



Unable to force the Syrian troops from Lebanon with military force, the entire occupying military was kicked out of Lebanon in a matter of weeks thanks to mass protests.http://www.debate.org...

(Above: Unable to force the Syrian troops from Lebanon with military force, the entire occupying military was kicked out of Lebanon in a matter of weeks thanks to mass protests.)

(Below: A promising nonviolent protest movement began in Baghdad, only to be derailed by a violent insurgency and American troop atrocities. What might have happened if the Baghdad citizens had remained nonviolent?)

A promising nonviolent protest movement began in Baghdad, only to be derailed by a violent insurgency and American troop atrocities. What might have happened if the Baghdad citizens had remained nonviolent?

An Obvious Conclusion:


The combined masses form an overwhelming force when correctly focused and inspired. The energy, enthusiasm and vision that is required to harness this all powerful force is difficult to generate, and most efforts to do so fail. Perhaps the most lethal of obstacles for these mass movements is a climate of fear and hatred. Violence, terrorism bloodlust and anger simply do not inspire the great mass of citizens that are needed to end oppression or topple a dictator. The failure of many past violent uprisings proves this point.

The USSR
Soviet Union mass protests following attempted hardliner takeover
http://www.debate.org...

East Germany



http://www.debate.org...

South Africa
Nelson Mandala, after being released from prison, helped end the Apartheid government in South Africahttp://www.debate.org...

Georgia

The Rose Revolution in Georgiahttp://www.debate.org...


[1]
http://ijpc-cincinnati.org...
[2] http://www.freedomhouse.org...
[3] http://www.moreorless.net.au...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Kumquatodor

Con

Kumquatodor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Beverlee

Pro

I want to thank everyone for reading my debate. Here is a link to a free E-book by Gene Sharp that I used to help me form most of my arguments. "From Dictatorship to Democracy" is a conceptual framework for nonviolent resistance, and is a step-by-step guide for how to start and win a revolution. http://www.aeinstein.org...


True, This! — Beneath the rule of men entirely great The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! — But taking sorcery from the master-hand To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword — States can be saved without it! -Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Kumquatodor

Con

I'M SO SORRY! I hate it when people forfeit. Sorry.


Conceded.
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jebediah-Kerman 2 years ago
Jebediah-Kerman
Well, the pen is not always mightier that the sword. Imagine WW3 breaking out, will people peacefully protesting in the streets prevent the armies of what ever enemy country to come in and invade? I think not. Really, only a armed resistance could realistically stop this hypothetical situation.
Sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword, sometimes the sword is mightier than the pen.
Posted by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
Don't worry about the concession! I am still practicing anyway. I'm not going to start "counting" until I actually get my presentations right. This is only my second try at posting pictures, and I am glitching real bad/
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
sigh. Too many forfeits on this website, sadly. Good job by PRO on keeping up and posting sources.
Posted by Cermank 3 years ago
Cermank
Posting a comment so I get notifications regarding the debate.

Interesting debate as of now :-)
Posted by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
I COULD NOT format this!!

No matter what I did, the fonts, text colors, spacing and line breaks can out all random. I tried to post it about twenty times, before I finally gave up and just posted it like this, cuz this is about as good as it gets.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Hmmm...let's see where this goes.
Posted by Sitara 3 years ago
Sitara
Wars begins with ideas. I support the pro position.
Posted by LoopsEye 3 years ago
LoopsEye
Actions are not Necessary to Carry a Sword in Hand.. and Writing with Pen is Mightier action then overpowering someone on the point of Sword...

Its an intersting debate i would be reading...
Posted by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
Another side effect of violent uprisings from Native American states in America was that their culture militarized. Military commanders rose to the top of Indian politics, and became leaders in Native society. Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Crazy Horse are very famous Indian leaders who were also very frightening to the American settlers and military.

The problem was that these men made fighting and violence seem glorious, and because they were such successful military fighters, it made it seem like they might could possibly win militarily.

But they could not. Indian military leadership just made the problem of sticking to a nonviolent strategy impossible, and trying to win battles was suicidal for the entire native population. Even Native Nations that were mortal enemies of each other were wiped out by the US Army - which made no distinctions. The Native leadership thought they could fight and win... and so they fought against an enemy that was nearly invincible.

I am convinced that the few Native American populations that survived this genocide were spared because they were NOT violent, NOT scary, and NOT part of the fighting.
Posted by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
I'm glad that you mentioned how nonviolent resistance has parallels in Islamic society, because I was thinking about mentioning either the example of the Native American uprisings, OR the Palestinian "al-Aqsa" Intifada. I felt that both of these were relevant to the question - does violence work to release a group from oppression? I ended up going with the Native American Wars because the intifada has not really worked itself out just yet. Also, here in America, it is not very well known, and there is a lot of fear here. I was worried that the Palestinian example might become a distraction.

I am not sure how much you know about American history. But there are VERY close storylines between how some Native American nations reacted to severe oppression including massacres of unarmed Native women and children conducted by the US Military and American settlers... and how some Palestinians have reacted to Israeli massacres and oppression. Some of these people have chosen peace and dialog and nonviolent resistance... but too many chose violent uprisings. In my view, these people gave legitimacy to the oppression, and invited far greater levels of oppression and violence towards their society.

The end of the story in America is that one attack by Native Americans would be used to justify hundreds of reprisal attacks by the US military, and was used to scare the non-Native public into supporting even more military attacks on the Natives. (We call Native Americans "Indians" here. It's a long story.) Eventually, this led to intolerable reprisals and oppression... which inspired desperate but violent acts by the Natives... which were used to justify more overwhelming attacks on them.... until the result was the genocide of almost all Native American nations in the US.

I think the same fate could be in store for the Palestinians if things don't change. My hope is that nonviolent theory could help to change things....
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STALIN
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