"On Nonviolent Civil Resistance" SwatTalk
with Associate Professor of Sociology Lee Smithey and Thomas McGovern ’17
Recorded on February 26, 2019
Jeff Klein: The Alumni Council will serve as one of the host for this evening's SWAT Talk. Joining me is fellow council member Charles Bailey. Charles, can you introduce yourself?
Charles Bailey: Good evening, everyone. I'm Charles Bailey. And greetings from Lummi Island, Washington. I'll be handling the questions later in the talk.
Jeff Klein: Great. Well, let me take just a few minutes to give you a brief introduction to Swat Talks. Swat talks is an Alumni Council initiative created to engage the broader Swarthmore community in seminars, featuring professors, students, and alumni excelling in their fields and sharing knowledge and experience. Tonight's seminar is the second in a series focused on peace and conflict studies.
Jeff Klein: A little background on the program at Swarthmore. It has a rich history, began in 1888. Swarthmore offered the first peace studies course in the world. And last year, about 10% of the class of 2020 joined the program. The program's multidisciplinary curriculum examines the causes, practices, and consequences of violence, as well as peaceful or nonviolent methods of conflict management, resolution, and transformation.
Jeff Klein: Let me now introduce tonight's speakers. Professor Lee Smithy is a peace and conflict studies faculty member. And Lee will be discussing his recently published co-edited book The Paradox of Oppression and Nonviolent Movements.
Jeff Klein: He will be joined by Tom McGovern, class of '17, a former teaching assistant for the global nonviolent action database research seminar. Tom will share this online resource of over 1,100 cases of non-violent civil resistance created by Swarthmore students.
Jeff Klein: One additional note before we get started, the SWAT Talks, including tonight's seminar, will be recorded and are available for future viewing on the college's website. So now, without any further delay, let me turn things over to Professor Smithy.
Lee Smithy: Thank you so much Jeff. I appreciate the introduction. And I'm so glad that Tom is able to join us tonight, and we want to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this new webinar series. It's a real privilege for us in peace and conflict studies to get to help kick it off. So, there's a little bit of method to our madness here overall. Last week, you heard from Professor [inaudible 00:02:32] and[inaudible 00:02:33] about experiential teaching and learning in our program. And this week, Tom and I want to present a bit about faculty and student research in our program.
Lee Smithy: And then, you will hear from Professor Denise Crosson and Zack Lash on March 26th about Praxis, and their work on social entrepreneurship. So, all faculty at Swarthmore are engaged in research in their various fields and disciplines. And peace and conflict studies is no exception. And my two primary research tracks tend to focus around peace building in Northern Ireland and in nonviolent civil resistance.
Lee Smithy: And as part of that second track, I recently published an edited book with Lester Kurtz, titled the Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements. And so, I thought that sharing about that book would be a way of introducing faculty research in peace and conflict studies. And I also have the privilege of directing the global nonviolent action database, which is housed here in our program.
Lee Smithy: It was established by a former peace and conflict studies and lame Professor George Lakey, in the fall of 2009. So, we're actually starting our 10th anniversary this year. And George and I had similar interests in strategic nonviolent action. And so, when he left the college, I inherited the database and the research seminar, that in fact, I'm teaching this semester, and in which students write up the cases that go into the database.
Lee Smithy: Happily, Tom McGovern is here with us tonight to share a bit about the database. He has both authored cases as a student in the research seminar and he also served as a TA for the course. Sheila Smith, who is currently the TA, had to travel unexpectedly. She wished she could be here. We miss her. But again, really glad that that Tom could join us.
Lee Smithy: So, time is short. So, I will really only be able to have the opportunity to introduce you to the broad outlines of the topic of the Paradox of Repression, and invite you to read more yourself at some point.
Lee Smithy: The Paradox of Oppression is really one of the most fundamental concepts in nonviolent civil resistance or strategic nonviolent action. And actually there are many other terms that have been used to describe it. Gene Sharp called it political jujitsu. Richard Gregg called it moral jujitsu. Francisco called it backlash. Brian Marden, who actually wrote a preface to our book, calls it backfire. And I'd like to start just by reading three or four sentences from the very beginning of the book. It's on page two. It's right up front.
Lee Smithy: "In an asymmetrical conflict, when actors representing the status quo use force: psychological, physical, to repress their opponents, especially those engaged in nonviolent movements, the use of coercion often backfires. As civil rights activist, clergyman, and author Will Campbell writes, 'Of one thing I am certain, the Civil Rights Movement was not destroyed by hooded vigilantes and flaming crosses. Nor by chains used on schoolchildren, dynamiting of churches and homes, and mass jailings. All those things were an impetus to the movement and brought determination to the victims.'" End quote, for Will Campbell.
Lee Smithy: "Repressive coercion can weaken a regime's authority, turning public opinion against it." So, let me draw your attention to these two photographs. I hope everybody can see the slide show. The photo on the left was taken on May 3rd, 1963 during The Children's March in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States.
Lee Smithy: And the photo on the right is of Aisha Evans. It was taken on July 9th, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, just a few days after the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Photos like these have become iconic in part because they provoke a sense of shock by presenting a sharp contrast between the violent actions of agents of repression and the discipline of non-violence activists. The photo on the right, I think in particular, reveals another major concept in this book, that I'll return to in just a few minutes.
Lee Smithy: It's called repression management. Because we argued that the strategic choices that activists make matter, not just to survive repression, but to influence the outcomes of repression. And they can essentially shift the thresholds in which backfire happens. The choreography, so to speak, of confrontations that involve repression matter, and often these moments are highly symbolic and dramatize injustices about which people are often already, at least somewhat, aware.
Lee Smithy: And both of these photos draw attention to systemic discrimination and violence against people of color in the United States. Also, Miss Evan's posture and composure signals resolve, and yet makes it clear to us, the viewers, that she's not a threat and that the police charging at her represent a disproportionate force. And in both of these cases, the battlefield, to use a violent metaphor I suppose, is one of legitimacy. When the state is seen to use disproportionate force, its legitimacy is often called into question.
Lee Smithy: In some situations, the mere brutality and the asymmetry of repression can essentially violate norms about, say, bullying. And thus, undermine the legitimacy or reputation of authorities and elites. And so, the cognitive dissonance that results from these very public asymmetrical confrontations can manifest in a number of different ways.
Lee Smithy: Within movement organizations, it can galvanize participants and it can enhance recruitment and third-party support as well. And at the same time, it can lead third parties to withdraw support for authorities, through for example sanctions or denouncing authorities or elites, and thus further undermining their legitimacy.
Lee Smithy: But repression also comes at a cost for the agents of repression. The cognitive dissonance can influence them as well, and lead them to question their own actions, to question their leadership, and to question whether or not to obey orders. And sometimes, they even defect and join the movements that they are originally tasked with repressing in the first place.
Lee Smithy: One of the most rewarding parts of this project was designing and developing it with the wonderful contributors that wrote chapters for the book. In the interest of time, I won't get to dwell on that whole dimension of the project, but I wanted to share a couple of pictures of folks who contributed chapters to the book.
Lee Smithy: Instead, I'll just share the table of contents with you. That includes chapters on a range of topics, that include how events involving repression can be pivotal moments in campaigns, because they reframe struggles in dramatic new ways. Or as I mentioned just a moment ago, Rachel McNair, a psychologist wrote her chapter on the cost of repression to agents of repression. George Lakey and Jenny Williams contributed chapters on how to overcome fear of repression through building strong movement organizations and storytelling and improper training in advance of repressive events.
Lee Smithy: And also, we have a chapter actually that Les and I wrote on what we call smart repression, about how authorities try to avoid invoking the Paradox of Repression. So, the other main concept in the book that I wanted to share is repression management, which is related to the relational nature of conflict. We argue that repression is an interaction. It's not just something that's done to nonviolent activists. They can also make strategic choices about how they engage with the public, how they engage with the agents of repression, in order to influence the outcome of the repression.
Lee Smithy: And sometimes, managing repression is about avoiding repression. If one's organization is not ready for a repression, perhaps because the organization doesn't have a deep enough leadership structure to be resilient, if leaders are arrested, or perhaps there's a great deal of fear among members, then those groups can choose to avoid repression until they're more ready. They can choose to use other methods that are perhaps more persuasive than confrontational. They can try to raise awareness through online activism, or maybe they use tactics of dispersion, like stay-at-home strikes.
Lee Smithy: Speaking of overcoming fear, George Lakey, who I spoke about a moment ago, writes in his chapter about anticipating repression. And he talks about the important work of storytelling within resistance groups. He argues that the stories that group members tell each other about their goals, their visions of their future, and the traditions that they come from, can help activists feel grounded, feel more confident, and committed to withstanding repression and importantly maintaining their own nonviolent discipline.
Lee Smithy: We also argue that strategic nonviolent activists can cultivate the Paradox of Repression and make it more likely that if repression takes place, it's significantly more likely to backfire on the repressors, and this may involve explicitly drawing that contrast between violent repression and nonviolent action. In her chapter in the book on overcoming fear, Jenny Williams, who is pictured here in the green shirt in the photograph, she talks about the way in which beatings and arbitrary arrests by police serving the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. She talks about those beatings and arrests, but she also describes how protesters in the organization women of Zimbabwe arised that she helped co-found made their commitment to non-violence very clear.
Lee Smithy: So, when they would have a march to a police station, they would stop at every intersection, street intersection or set of lights and they would all sit down and publicly recite their pledge of non-violence. Jenny also describes how women of Zimbabwe embraced what they called tough love, and they've held for many years annual protests on Valentine's Day to make that connection with love and to make that point.
Lee Smithy: So, they draw important cultural values in Zimbabwe, and thus make it more difficult for police to engage in public repression of people, who also hold an important status in their society, as mothers. Mothers practicing that tough love. And I might add that their identity as fellow mothers also served as an important source of strength within their organization in the face of repression. And finally, creative actions can break the normal sort of law and order scripts that often work to criminalize nonviolent activists.
Lee Smithy: The second image on this slide shows German [inaudible 00:16:47] activists, protesters being arrested while reading books, to signal that they are thoughtful and informed nonviolent citizens. One of our colleagues [inaudible 00:17:00] writes in his chapter about the red shirt movement in Thailand, and they used these whimsical flash mobs that signaled fun and playfulness instead of criminality and threat. And therefore, didn't play into the kinds of scripts that the authorities would much prefer them to have played into, as threats to the general public or threats to the police themselves.
Lee Smithy: So, that's my brief overview of the topics of the book. We would invite you to visit our website at Paradox.swarthmore.edu, where you can learn more about the book and its authors. You can find a link there. There's also one here on the screen, if you'd like to purchase a copy or you can ask your public library to purchase a copy, and then you can check it out. And there's also a link there to cases in the global nonviolent action database that include the Paradox of Repression in some way.
Lee Smithy: And I'll use that as a segue to hand over to Tom to talk about student research and the global nonviolent action database. Thanks again for being here and thanks for listening.
Tom McGovern: Thank you so much for the warm introduction, Professor Smithy.
Tom McGovern: If you wouldn't mind hitting the next slide for me, that would be wonderful. Great. Thank you so much. So, I'm going to start off just by giving an overview of the database before I really jump into the research seminar constructed around it, because I think it's important to really define what the database is actually composed of. As Professor Smithy mentioned earlier, the global nonviolent action database began as the brainchild of Professor George Lakey. And then, has kind of built on that idea over the last 10 or so years, with contributions from Swarthmore students and students from a number of other universities as well, and under Professor Smithy's management.
Tom McGovern: So, what the global nonviolent action database is, is a resource both for activists and for scholars, categorizing, sorting, and describing nonviolent action campaigns. So, a campaign is defined as a finite group of people doing discrete actions over a period of time to achieve finite goals. For a campaign to be present in the database, it has to have both a beginning and an end, at which point it can be measured whether or not the goals were successful.
Tom McGovern: So, it mentions on the slide that there are over 1100 campaigns currently in the database. Those are the active campaigns that have been published. There are several hundred campaigns in the database that are not active, and that is because they either have not ended, they are currently ongoing, or no conclusion was reached, or they morphed into another campaign.
Tom McGovern: And so, it is a limited tool in that way, but those campaigns are very discrete entities. As it also mentions on the slide, these campaigns are categorized in a variety of ways, which we'll be able to talk about a little bit more in a few minutes. And so, they are coded based on the types of actors in them, where they are, if they are part of a larger wave of movements, the type of methods used. And they're also described in narrative form, so that readers, activists, scholars can go through and really understand who did what, in what order, and how the course of the campaign unfolded.
Tom McGovern: And they typically focus on a number of issues important to the peace and conflict studies program, and important to the Swarthmore student body. So, the database really is a reflection of the issues and campaigns that students and community members are passionate about and the program is passionate about.
Tom McGovern: So, most of the cases in the database were added over the course of the strategy and nonviolent struggle research seminar, which Professor Smithy teaches. I was a student in the seminar in the spring of 2014, and I actually took the seminar I believe the last year that Professor Lakey taught it. So, I was in the seminar with Professor Lakey and then I got to be the first teaching assistant under Professor Smithy.
Tom McGovern: So, that was a really exciting transition to see and be a part of. When I was a student, the seminar was essentially two weeks of reading to prepare, and then the next 12 weeks, every week, we each had to develop a full case and publish it in the database. So, it is a very hands-on immersive experience. The goal of the seminar is for students to go out and find campaigns that are not currently in the database and put them in the database. So, it's very interdisciplinary social science research, looking at archives, looking at interviews, looking at other types of secondary and primary sources.
Tom McGovern: The internet and the kind of proliferation of blogs by activists and other social actors has really broadened that as well as kind of publicly identify, email information, Facebook information, which students will use to get in touch with people who participated in campaigns directly. Those are certainly really useful tools, when I was involved with the database. So, it is a very immersive research experience and students oversee a research project from start to finish more or less every week, which is exciting for students who haven't had the opportunity to participate in that type of research before.
Tom McGovern: I'm going to move on from talking about the seminar now and cover a couple more things about the database before I move on to questions. Professor Smithy, if you could hit the slide for me. Thank you.
Tom McGovern: So as I mentioned, the database is a tool really for people who are interested in creating social change or people who are interested in creating scholarship on that social change. So, it's searchable in a lot of different ways. It's searchable by keyword, as you can see here. So, there are several examples of different social movements at Swarthmore, as well as citations, but really any type of keyword can be searched and it can also be searched by waves of campaigns, which are clusters.
Tom McGovern: So for example, the Civil Rights Movement wouldn't count as a campaign. I believe there are 70 to 80 different campaigns associated with it in the database. The database can also be searched by tags, which there's a visual for later on if you all are interested. Those are a series of different types of categorizations that we've developed over the course of the years. They can be searched by location and there are a number of other modifiers that the cases in the database to search by. Next slide. Thank you.
Tom McGovern: So, we track the number of users that come in and are looking at cases in the database. As you can see in 2016 and 2017, that's roughly 400,000 users per year. So, pretty heavy traffic. That number drops a little bit in 2018. Although, Professor Smithy tells me that may be because there was not research seminar offered in 2018. And so, the number of new cases being added to the database dropped pretty significantly in that year.
Tom McGovern: The course is being offered again this year. So hopefully, that number will rise again as more and more new cases are being put in to the database. Next slide. And you can also see here, as I mentioned, scholars are using this quite a bit. So, this is a page of just Google hits for people that are citing the global nonviolent action database and different cases in their own work. So, it's exciting to see people taking the work that our students are doing and using it to say something about the social world in a variety of different disciplines.
Tom McGovern: Next slide. Here are some links if you're interested in learning more. There's the link to the database. The Facebook presence of the Swarthmore peace and conflict studies program and the Twitter handle for the database are available there as well. So, thank you all so much for coming. That concludes my formal portion of the presentation.
Tom McGovern: So, I do want to open it for questions and answers at this time.
Charles Bailey: Thank you both very much. And Lee, congratulations on the publication of your book. And Tom, thank you for joining us and also as a fellow alum. Welcome to the Alumni Association. We're going to have some questions and people can submit questions through the chat. I am looking for questions.
Charles Bailey: I will begin with the question that I had, and that has to do with social media as a means for political disruption. On the one hand, we have small groups that challenge the state, like WikiLeaks. And on the other, we have large corporations and state actors whom we understand can and do distract, divide, exclude ideas and identities as you say in your book. And what is the future of the phrase we all heard at Swarthmore, "Speak truth to power?" What does this mean in the 21st century?
Lee Smithy: So, in particular in relation to social media, is that what you're looking for?
Charles Bailey: Yeah.
Lee Smithy: Well clearly, I think social media has opened all sorts of new opportunities for movement organizing, just because people can communicate with other groups of people instantaneously. And that of course allows for ... All activism involves tons of meetings and planning and it allows for a lot of that really basic logistical organizing, but it also allows for the coordination of nonviolent actions, in a live sort of situation. But I think your question is about does persuasion work, essentially? Is persuasion an important part of nonviolent civil resistance? I think that's part of your question.
Lee Smithy: And in fact, Gene Sharp, who's often considered the father or the grandfather of the study or the field of nonviolent civil resistance and who we just lost within the past year actually, sadly. He divides nonviolent methods into three different categories, symbolic protest and persuasion, nonviolent intervention, and nonviolent non-cooperation.
Lee Smithy: In that first category, I mentioned symbolic protest and persuasion, is about trying to get your movement organizations argument out there, trying to frame issues in ways that are compelling, that allow you to recruit people into your movement. And there's actually, for folks who are interested in this, and Charles, you might be interested. There's a new book by Mark Engler and his brother, whose name is escaping me right at the moment. I'll pull his book off the shelf here in the moment. Paul Engler. It's called This Is An Uprising and they've introduced just within the past two or three years a new theory about how movements and nonviolent action works.
Lee Smithy: And they argue that changing public opinion is one of the most important dimensions, that you create momentum for movements by essentially slowly and sometimes abruptly but changing public opinion, instead of just thinking about bringing down an authoritarian regime or trying to press for some kind of reform policy. By knocking over the pillars that prop up the regime, you actually shift the ground on which those pillars stand. And I think that's in part the speaking truth to power that you were asking about.
Charles Bailey: Thank you. We have a question for Tom from Robert. I can't see your last name, Robert, but he writes, "Tom, does the database provide a suggested criterion for users? When I directed a data center, we and other users found that useful."
Tom McGovern: Hi Robert. Yes, so I as far as I know, I don't believe the database provides a suggested citation. Unfortunately, unless that's something that's changed since I was a student, I can certainly see how that would be really helpful. And I imagine that's something that we will probably want to fix. I know for us, when we were citing cases internally, we typically would use Chicago style for web sources, was our preferred modus operandi.
Tom McGovern: But I'm sure that that's something that could be added to the database by the current iteration of users.
Lee Smithy: I will check into it. But I seem to remember that somewhere in there, there actually is a suggested ways to cite individual cases. And often, if you do a Google Scholar search like you saw up on the screen just a few minutes ago, you'll see how scholars are citing our students cases individually. If someone's interested in a campaign in the Ukraine, they'll cite that students work using that citation format.
Lee Smithy: And if you want to look me up on the peace and conflict studies page and email me, I'll try and find that link and send it to you.
Charles Bailey: Thank you. We have a follow-up question from Paul Cohen. Do you think the disaggregation of information sources on social media will impact the power of the paradox? If people only get information from sources that support their existing frame, it seems this might weaken the [inaudible 00:33:21]?
Lee Smithy: Well, I mean, that seems like a question about sort of movement organizing in general, as opposed to the Paradox of Repression, in particular perhaps. I think one of the things that a lot of movement trainers that I come across, they increasingly I think would say and understand that most organizing for strategic nonviolent action actually happens person to person, even in today's social media age.
Lee Smithy: Social media can serve that organizing function. The internal communication function that I was talking about earlier. But for people to actually engage together in nonviolent non-cooperation, sometimes civil disobedience, breaking unjust laws and that sort of thing, requires more trust building, relationship building among those activists. So, especially when facing repression. So, I don't think that's going to go away anytime soon. And yeah, I hope that answers your question or addresses it at least somewhat, even if obliquely.
Charles Bailey: Yeah, we have a similar question from Doug Perkins, class of '80, who turns out to be Tom's dad's Swarthmore roommate, he says. Anyway, he says, "I've used the database in my own research and found it very valuable. But the avoidance of current unresolved action campaigns seems like a limitation, as I am especially interested in the latest comparative climate and culture of activism in each country. Can you explain why you don't try to include ongoing campaigns? And is there any way to somehow include them?" And if you'll just hold with that question, and I want to pair it with one from Mike Dennis, "What are you observing with the ante [inaudible 00:35:37] protests in Venezuela and is the interaction, interchange between repression and nonviolence following patterns you've seen before?"
Charles Bailey: So, two questions here.
Lee Smithy: Tom, do you want to answer that first one and I'll take the second one?
Tom McGovern: Yeah, absolutely. So, I believe the answer to the first one is that one of the, I think, primary purpose of the database, especially in its inception, was to create something that could be analyzed in terms of effectiveness.
Tom McGovern: So, something where activists and scholars could go in and look at different campaigns and map out how effective different methods were, how effective different methods were at different points in time. Does the duration of the campaign affect how effective it is? Does the types of actors that enter and when they enter effect how effective the campaign is? But there was a goal of being able to evaluate how effective a campaign is based on those different types of variables, or at least be able to map it from campaign to campaign.
Tom McGovern: And so, because ongoing campaigns can't really be evaluated for how effective they are, because their goals have not yet been met or they have not yet failed, those were really excluded from the focus of the database.
Tom McGovern: I don't know if there's any efforts currently ongoing to change that, but that was I think the rationale behind it at the time I was a student working on it.
Lee Smithy: That's exactly right. It's the comparative case study method, so that you're comparing all cases that are completed, so that they can be compared with one another. But I would also suggest that if you're interested in cases that are new, that are ongoing, you might want to visit wagingnonviolence.org. It's wagingnonviolence.org. And also, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict on an almost daily basis aggregates news about nonviolent civil resistance campaigns around the world. So, that second one was the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
Lee Smithy: The second question was about Venezuela. And yes, and I'll reflect on that in the context of the Paradox of Oppression, that there are some themes that you can see going on there that are relevant. I'm not a regional specialists in Latin America or Venezuela. So, I'll comment from essentially a strategic nonviolent action perspective, and say that you may recall at the beginning of my presentation, I said that legitimacy is key here. That the battle is for legitimacy in the hearts and minds of the population.
Lee Smithy: And on the one hand, it seems that the majority of the population seems to support [inaudible 00:39:05] and have made that support visible through mass demonstrations. But the intervention of third parties also raises questions about legitimacy, and that's a theme that we see happening in other campaigns around the world, where when movements get large enough and begin to attract third party support from outside of their borders, it provides an opening or provides a way for the opponents to say you don't represent the people, you represent the third parties who are providing you some funding, for example.
Lee Smithy: And this whole standoff at the border over the aid is a very important dance that's going on at the moment. And when Maduro fires tear gas at hungry Venezuelans, he risks triggering that Paradox of Repression. But likewise, when there's clashes between the protesters attacking security forces, then that possibility of the Paradox of Repression getting triggered probably diminishes a bit.
Lee Smithy: But clearly, this is a really difficult situation. I mean, people who are starving or very hungry are right there near that aid. You can understand how it might be difficult to maintain nonviolent discipline under those kinds of circumstances. And the other thing is that ... I mentioned a little bit in my presentation about defections among agents of repression. And in fact, we see members of the National Guard leaving their posts and crossing the border into Columbia. An interesting study related to the Paradox of Repression would be the find out to what extent are those defections being cultivated there on the border by activists.
Lee Smithy: Of course, if they're throwing rocks and stones and Molotov cocktails and that sort of thing at the National Guard at the same time, that sends mixed messages and that's something that nonviolent activists are always having to think about.
Charles Bailey: Thank you.
Charles Bailey: We have two more questions, which I like to pair. A lot of the strategies you've mentioned, such as planning for repression, feel like they could also be used in a manipulative way to destroy the integrity of the movement or to lend power to authoritarian agents who are on the rise. Do you have any suggestions or observations on reducing the probability of having a campaign be overwritten based on the movements you've researched? And are you aware of particular instances, where the repressors study the database, become more effective in their repression?
Lee Smithy: Okay, for a minute there I didn't understand the question. But now I think that I do. And I think the question was particularly about the database. Is that right?
Charles Bailey: That's correct. And the use of it by repressors or potential repressors.
Lee Smithy: Got it, right. I can take a stab at that. Tom, is there anything you want to say about it?
Tom McGovern: Yeah, so I will just talk briefly about the first one. Actually, one of the things that I was really lucky to be able to do at my time in Swarthmore is under Professor Smithy, I conducted an honors preparation during my senior year on kind of integrating theories of violent and nonviolent insurgency. And one of the themes that tends to come up in most conflicts, whether they're violent or nonviolent, on both sides actors are thinking very much about how this framing occurs.
Tom McGovern: And so, while these ideas are theorized by scholars at Swarthmore and other places around how to be successful in nonviolent campaigns, these are certainly not new ideas. These are certainly things that oppressors are also thinking about. But that's all I have to say. So, I'm going to turn it over.
Lee Smithy: Well, I think this has to do with ... I mentioned during my presentation the fact that we have a chapter on smart regression. And I think the fact of the matter is that the authorities and elites, one, they understand that the Paradox of Repression exists. There's a political Instinct that sort of realizes that while policing ... If you go back to Max [inaudible 00:44:12], right, the famous German sociologist who said that what distinguishes the state is its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force.
Lee Smithy: So, the state claims for itself the use of physical force. That's why we have armed police officers and military and that sort of thing. They realize however that they can't just go around ... Any regime can't just go around all the time using physical force and violent policing to control its population, because that will backfire. They have to modulate and come up with the right mixture of both political persuasion and policing and social services, and that sort of thing, to encourage populations to go along to get along, essentially.
Lee Smithy: So, that's a particular instinct. And the fact of the matter is that nonviolent civil resistance, particularly when we're talking about authoritarian regimes, it's a constant sort of chess game back and forth, and each side is trying to understand how the other side is strategizing and that sort of thing.
Lee Smithy: So, I think you're absolutely right, that there may well be security forces around the world reading the database. But I think those of us who study nonviolent civil resistance basically think that the greater benefit for marginalized populations around the world, freedom and liberation movements, their having access to the data outweighs that concern that you've raised.
Charles Bailey: Well, thank you. I'd like to change the subject slightly. You mentioned in your introduction that one of your areas of research is peace building in Northern Ireland. And this is also like Venezuela very much on our minds these days. Does Brexit threaten the Easter Sunday Accords in Ireland?
Lee Smithy: Right. Yeah, so it is a big question. And as everybody who's following it knows that the Brexit negotiations are revolving in part around the fact that ... For those of you who are less familiar out there, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom on the island of Ireland. And of course, England, Scotland, and Wales are on their own islands to the East.
Lee Smithy: And so, if the United Kingdom actually leaves the EU, then Northern Ireland just became the land border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU. If you were to have asked me 10 years ago, what's one of the things that could be most problematic or what could destabilize the Good Friday Agreement, or the Belfast Agreement as it's sometimes called? I might have said rebuilding the border, because getting rid of that border was an important part of the peace process.
Lee Smithy: And I've been at the border before the cease-fires were called, and it was a hardened military security border. Today, if you're driving back and forth between Belfast and Dublin, you can't tell when you've crossed the border, except that your phone usually beeps because you switch from the cell phone towers in Northern Ireland and the UK, to the Republic of Ireland cell phone towers, and that's really kind of the only way, except the fact that Republic of Ireland signs are also written in Irish.
Lee Smithy: The idea of recreating that border, even if it's just a tariff border, has real symbolic valence that will concern Nationalists and Republicans. On the other hand. I will note that Northern Ireland as a whole, the majority voted not to leave the EU. They were part of the remain crowd. And so, they're not real happy about this.
Lee Smithy: I imagine that there are some Nationalists and Republicans who probably are hoping that if the United Kingdom leaves the EU, that all of a sudden remaining part of the EU by becoming part of the United Ireland might be a more attractive option than it has been in the past.
Lee Smithy: Did that answer your question, Charles?
Charles Bailey: Thank you. And thank you for the correction. It was the Good Friday Accords. I got that wrong.
Lee Smithy: You were really close, really close.
Charles Bailey: Well, we're getting close to the end of our of our time. And I'd like to close with one question, which is could use tell us what students who major in peace and conflict studies, what do they typically do when they graduate? We have one example here, Tom McGovern. But in general, how do they use that degree as they launch themselves into their careers?
Lee Smithy: We get all sorts of ... As you would imagine, from around most Swarthmore departments. In the liberal arts model, our students go off and do all sorts of things. We have a number of students going into Finance at the moment. I have a student who I'm working with right now who's a senior, who is going to be going into maternal health care. We have students who go on and get their PHDs in peace and conflict studies. I think, in fact, Sarah [inaudible 00:50:35] may be listening in> She's an alum who is a peace and conflict studies professor at Kent State University.
Lee Smithy: Amy Capet, one of our alums who was a minor in peace and conflict studies, went on to study education and conflict and peace education as a graduate student now with a PhD, so we get some academics as well. And we have students who become movement organizers. We have students who have gone into social entrepreneurship. You're going to hear more about Professor Crosson's social entrepreneurship courses on the 26th of March. So, we get a whole variety.
Charles Bailey: Okay. Well, thank you very much. I think it's time to-
Lee Smithy: Human right law. Sorry, I'm just throwing in. Human rights law is another one that comes to mind, that some of our students, and law in general. Yeah. Sorry, go ahead. I interrupted you there, Charles.
Charles Bailey: Well, we've come close to the end of our hour and we want to, first of all, on behalf of the alumni council, thank you Professor Smithy and Tom McGovern for your time and for preparing these excellent talks, and to the participants.
Lee Smithy: Thank you.
Charles Bailey: And we've gotten a lot of questions from our participants, who also join me in thanking you. And very important subject. I think that Jeff Klein, I don't see him online. So, on behalf of Jeff and myself and ... Oh, there he is.
Jeff Klein: Here I am.
Charles Bailey: Okay. Jeff, want to make a closing remark?
Jeff Klein: No, I think that that wraps it up. And again as I mentioned, this was recorded this evening. So, if you'd like to go back or share it with other alumni or other friends, please pass that along. And thank you to both of our panelists for participating and thanks for all the alumni who joined us, and the parents, and we look forward to our next Swat Talk.
Jeff Klein: As Professor Smithy mentioned, coming up ... Is it next week, correct?
Lee Smithy: Actually, I think ... No, it's later.
Jeff Klein: It's later. Yeah, sorry. I don't have my dates right, but thank you.
Charles Bailey: Okay.
Lee Smithy: And we also just want to say thanks to everybody who attended. Thanks for the interest in the peace and conflict studies program. We're in very exciting times right now in our program. And on the slide, there's a number of links to our social media accounts and our blog. And we just invite everybody to follow along.
Charles Bailey: Great. Okay. Thank you very much.
Lee Smithy: Yeah. Thanks, Charles.