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Investigating New Options in Conflict and Defense

by Gene Sharp - 1982

Institutionalized political violence underlies world problems such as war, genocide, dictatorship, and social oppression. Alternatives to political violence should be evaluated to determine their applicability. Educational institutions can contribute through research and through educational activities ranging from public awareness campaigns to curriculum reform. (Source: ERIC)

I am grateful to Robert Irwin and Gregory Bates for suggestions and criticisms for this article. This article is being published jointly by the Teachers College Record and Social Alternatives (Australia).


Severe dangers still face humanity. Efforts to improve the human condition have often failed. Specifically, we must face the fact that we have failed to solve the four problems of dictatorship, genocide, war, and systems of social oppression. Strong forces work to create a world very different from that which most people want.

In our century we have seen the development of the most extreme forms of dictatorship, including the Nazi and Stalinist varieties. We have seen the rise of modern war with the most destructive forms of weaponry yet to be developed. We have experienced a widespread sense of personal and political powerlessness. We have seen the efforts of social reformers to achieve justice produce very limited results, or even disaster, as they created societies which were (as in Russia) more tyrannical than the old ones. We have seen genocide, which had happened before, conducted massively by a supposedly civilized country. We have seen terror used both to maintain systems and to change them. We have observed and experienced increasing attacks and restrictions on anything that approximates freedom.

Many attempts based upon established political assumptions and policies to solve these problems have been made. Nevertheless, we have not moved significantly toward their resolution. The future prospects in these areas can give us little comfort. The dangers are likely to continue to increase in the coming years. What is happening to the technological capacity of modern weaponry is scarcely imaginable. Future dictators will have far greater means at their disposal for controlling human societies and individuals than did Hitler and Stalin, for example. The technical capacity to kill off people en masse is even now much more developed than the means that Hitler’s henchmen had.1

These problems have become even more serious as the institutionalized and technical capacities for such violence and controls have increased. Yet the means at the disposal of governments to wield violence and to dominate continue to be developed to an extreme degree. As the perception that improvements are possible recedes, individuals and whole societies increasingly see such problems as insoluble and perceive themselves as powerless to shape their futures. Their resulting inaction passes as apathy.

These problems are, however, human problems, created and continued by human beings. Therefore it is within our capacities to reverse direction and to solve them. New thought, greater knowledge, and increased understanding about such problems are needed to help us develop policies and chart a course of action to change this situation.


Our task is at least two-fold: first, to find out what is the nature of those problems and what may be required to face all of them collectively (because they may mutually reinforce each other), and then, to learn what are the steps to chart a strategy for change in the face of these four problems. The development of strategies for change for the coming decades will be determined by our view of the basic causes of those problems and therefore what is required to correct them. There are, of course, other grave problems—including those of environment, water, food, population, and destruction of nonliterate cultures—which lie outside this discussion but require attention and action as well, and whose solution would be aided by resolution of the four problems on which attention is focused here.

Those four problems can be viewed as possessing two broad characteristics. One is the capacity for the large-scale use of political violence by relatively small groups of people in command of political machines of internal and international violence. The other characteristic is that much of the population in these countries, and most clearly the victims of this violence and domination, have experienced a widespread and deep sense of powerlessness. Two key parts of the problem are therefore how to remove that violence, or keep it controlled, and how to empower people so that they will be able to gain and maintain control of their own lives and destinies, despite severe threats.

These four problems—dictatorship, genocide, war, and systems of social oppression—are perhaps not separate problems for which separate solutions are required, or even possible, as we have usually assumed. It may be that they are tied together, that they are four expressions of a single problem: the use of organized violence for political purposes.

Political violence here means physical violence used or threatened for political purposes. That includes imprisonment, war, torture, assassinations, coups d’ etat, terrorism, guerrilla war, beatings, riots, and other forms. The capacity for such violence becomes institutionalized in such forms as prison systems, concentration camps, military forces, militia, political police, and assassination squads.

Without institutionalized political violence, dictatorship, genocide, war, and systems of social oppression could not exist. How could one maintain an oppressive social system without the capacity to arrest the discontented, without facilities to imprison them, or ability to send in troops to put down unrest? How could one have a dictatorship without capacity for internal violence to hold down the enslaved population? Without political violence, major international conflicts would take other forms than modern war. One could not commit genocide without the capacity to kill large numbers of people.

As institutionalized political violence, this violence is not the spontaneous outburst of “aggression” or “frustration.” It is the systematic, deliberate organized use of violence by institutions which have been established deliberately to be able to apply that violence. That creates a severe danger which has gone largely unrecognized: when an institution is set up to use political violence for one purpose—even a good one—that same institution can be used for a different purpose. For example, an army organized to defend a country from foreign attack can attack its own government and replace it by a coup d’ etat, or be shifted to suppress movements for greater internal freedoms or social justice. The institutions of political violence are not tied to a particular purpose, even to their original designated task. Their capacity may be shifted to other uncontemplated or unwanted purposes, sometimes under orders and sometimes autonomously.2

Violent sanctions for political objectives are, therefore, integral to some of the most serious problems of our time. At the same time, however, they are intrinsic to modern governments and the State apparatus as requirements for enforcing rule and law internally and for maintaining sovereignty and interests internationally. Violent sanctions are believed to be needed because of the perception that they are the most powerful means of action available.

At the same time, however, grounds for dissatisfaction with violence as the ultimate sanction exist: (1) the destructive capacity of violence has reached unacceptable levels; (2) satisfactory ways to deal with certain types of political violence—such as terrorism, genocide, and nuclear weapons—have not been found; (3) reliance on violence to struggle against an opponent with continued superior capacity for violence tends to force submission, self-destruction, or defeat by attrition; and (4) there are undesirable long-term structural consequences of political violence as the society’s ultimate sanction, related in part to the interchangeability of the purposes for which it may be used but rooted also in other factors.3


If modern political systems depend on political violence to maintain themselves, is it not then impossible to lift this reliance on political violence, and hence impossible to eliminate those four problems?

Clearly, sanctions cannot simply be abolished or renounced. Any society requires some kind of final sanctions. (Sanctions are understood here as means of applying punishment or reprisals for failure to behave in the desired manner.) Within a society people, groups, and the society as a whole require some final sanction to deal with acute conflicts, to enforce certain minimal standards of human behavior, some means of dealing with very destructive and violent acts within a society, and to prevent internal usurpations and suppression. Internationally, a society faces conflicts in which important issues are at stake. The dangers are often very real. Countries do get invaded, even small “innocent” ones striving to be neutral in a wider conflict, and people who were no provocation to anybody have been oppressed, enslaved, and exterminated by foreign attackers.

Sanctions are relied upon either to hold in reserve to facilitate the successful operation of more routine procedures, or to wield directly in face of opposition when regular procedures have failed, are closed, or are inappropriate. Sanctions are used by States to help enforce the obedience of the populace, by the citizenry against the State, by certain nongovernmental groups against others, and by States against each other. Sanctions in domestic and international politics are usually a key element in political power. Most violent sanctions are applied basically as punishments for disobedience or violation of expectations and not primarily to achieve the aim of the original command or wish. But some violent sanctions and more often nonviolent sanctions may be used with the primary intent of achieving the original objective which has been withheld or refused. In many situations simply the capacity to wield, or the threat to apply, sanctions may induce the desired behavior.

Serious issues are often involved in acute domestic and international conflicts. Failures to wage conflicts, or failures to do so successfully, are often of lasting and fundamental significance, as much of the history of the twentieth century demonstrates. When large groups of people and whole countries lack adequate sanctions, they are unable to resist domination by foreign aggressors, internal dictators, or economic oppressors.

There is, then, a legitimate need for some kind of sanctions, some means of protecting against external dangers and of meeting certain internal needs. This need is widely recognized and underlies the support for institutionalized political violence including war. The need for sanctions for at least certain minimal purposes—on which opinions may differ—is such a basic societal need that it cannot be simply removed or renounced. This applies irrespective of the type of social, economic, or political system.4

Most people and regimes are confident that in extreme situations in domestic and international politics, political violence—threatened or applied—provides the only available realistic sanction, the ultimate sanction offering reasonable chances of effectiveness. This does not mean that political violence has always been welcomed as a positive good. Mostly it has been accepted only as a necessary evil. Recognition of its dangers has led in liberal democracies to legal and constitutional restrictions or prohibitions on the use of political violence. That has not, however, solved the problem since the institutions of political violence can always ignore or defy the restrictions or prohibitions. We have assumed that we had to rely on violence as the only available ultimate sanction, although we did not always like it, although we tried to modify it and make it just, although we tried to restrict it in various ways. People and societies have thus placed their confidence in the very phenomenon which has contributed to such tragic and fundamental consequences.

But is it true that political violence is the only available set of sanctions capable of effectiveness in crises?


Contrary to the common assumption, a very different type of sanctions also exists which have been widely applied instead of violent sanctions, both domestically and internationally by individuals, groups, social movements, whole societies, and governments in diverse conflict situations. Internationally, nonviolent sanctions have included noncooperation, economic embargoes, diplomatic boycotts, and even nonviolent invasions. Domestically, they have included civilian insurrections, civil disobedience campaigns, strikes, economic boycotts, civil liberties struggles, minority rights campaigns, mutinies, and even nonviolent sanctions for law enforcement. These nonviolent sanctions have been used in widely differing periods of history, cultures, and political conditions, and also for a wide variety of purposes.5

This group of sanctions is called the technique of nonviolent action. It includes many types of nonviolent “weapons,” or penalties and other pressures, used to oppose or to achieve given objectives. At least 198 specific methods of action have been identified. Actions included in the technique range from methods of mild symbolic protest, through the potentially paralytic forms of social, economic, and political noncooperation, to the large group of diverse disruptive forms of nonviolent physical, psychological, social, economic, and political intervention.6

The methods of nonviolent noncooperation include diverse forms of economic boycotts, strikes, and political noncooperation which, when applied with other methods under appropriate circumstances, can produce paralysis of the institutions against which they are directed. These methods can make it impossible for a hostile regime to achieve its objectives. This type of struggle does not, and must not, use violence, for a major part of its working is produced by political jiu-jitsu in which violent repression operates to undermine support for the opponent and to increase that for the nonviolent side.

This type of action is based on the view that political power derives from cooperation and assistance of people and institutions. This help may be provided, restricted, or refused to any given institution, policy, or regime. Contrary to popular assumptions, people using the nonviolent technique can operate successfully against a violent, repressive regime without needing to shift to violence. The technique has defeated and even destroyed dictatorial systems. Nonviolent action can at times not only alter people’s beliefs and opinions, but also gain objectives by the mechanisms of accommodation and nonviolent coercion.7

Nonviolent sanctions using noncooperation operate by directly cutting off the sources of power of the opponent. This is possible because all regimes, including the most dictatorial ones, are dependent for the sources of their power upon the people they rule; when obedience and cooperation are withheld or withdrawn, those sources of power are restricted or severed, and in time the regime is thereby disintegrated. Change by accommodation and nonviolent coercion can be achieved because with this technique the population is able to mobilize its own sources of social, economic, and political power and also to undermine the availability of the sources of power of hostile regimes and oppressive rulers. These means, when developed and applied skillfully, can be more effective for social and political goals compatible with popular participation and freedom than is political violence.

These nonviolent means have in particular instances, defeated Nazis, frustrated Communist rulers, undermined dictators, disintegrated empires, battled foreign invaders, and dissolved coups d’ etat. These nonviolent sanctions and forms of struggle have been applied in many cultures and parts of the world by people who never were, and never became, believers in “nonviolence.” Yet, these “common” people were capable not only of great courage but also great power to determine their own present and future.

Therefore, despite the violence of our age, we are not without resources for developing alternatives to political violence. There is a vast history of people and institutions applying nonviolent sanctions on which we can draw as our heritage. This we ought not simply to imitate. We can regard past nonviolent struggles as primitive prototypes of what could be. These have been cases of actions carried out by people drawing upon inspiration, intuition, and improvisation. With the benefit of what they have accomplished, we can if we want apply our selves to learn how to multiply the effectiveness of this type of struggle. We would then have revealed before us a power capacity which is not merely equal to political violence but far greater.

Nonviolent sanctions have the potential to be applied as substitute sanctions in place of political violence. This could enable us simultaneously to oppose major political oppression and international aggression, and in the long run reduce the total quantum of institutionalized political violence. That could have highly beneficial consequences.

In order to develop and evaluate the potential of nonviolent sanctions, two important tasks are required: (1) research and policy studies and (2) educational work. These will differ in significant ways from established “peace research” and “peace studies.“ The focus in these would be primarily (1) on the nature and potential of nonviolent sanctions, as compared to violent ones, and (2) on the four problems which require institutionalized political violence for their existence and which nonviolent sanctions would be intended to remove.


In the past, the concern that research should be used to help prevent war and other violence has been expressed in peace research programs and institutes and even national peace research institutes or academies. Whether such research efforts are highly useful, only moderately so, a waste of resources, or actually harmful is to a large degree determined by their orientation and the tasks which they are given. The choice of orientation and tasks is therefore crucial and will require careful thought.8

Such programs ought to avoid two dangers: (1) acceptance of military assumptions, and (2) acceptance of the assumptions of a variety of peace groups. If military assumptions are accepted, not only would one be duplicating much existing work but also would be building on assumptions that have failed to bring world peace and contributed to the present extreme dangers. If peace group assumptions are accepted, one would also be building on approaches which have failed to abolish war, at least in part because of failure to face fully the need for effective means to wage acute conflicts and resist hostile forces.

Research and policy studies are urgently needed which do not fall into the trap of accepting either set of assumptions but which do face fully the reality of conflict, the need for sanctions, and the gravity of domestic and international dangers of aggression, usurpations, dictatorships, genocide, systems of social oppression, terrorism, and political violence in general.

Various other approaches to peaceful resolution of conflicts—such as negotiation, arbitration, conciliation, mediation, and similar means involving compromise—have certain merits and utility; these comments are not intended to belittle them. Many of these can make important future contributions to resolving those conflicts in which the issues are not fundamental to the direction of the society or to its moral principles, and in which one is not facing an opponent ready to apply organized violence to achieve an objective. Issues exist, however, on which compromise is properly morally and politically unacceptable. In such cases those approaches to conflict resolution which rely on willingness to compromise (such as arbitration and conciliation) are inappropriate. Resort has commonly been had to violence in these situations. Almost without exception, the traditional approaches to peace have failed to address the need for sanctions by which to struggle on issues which are not suitable for compromise. Peace proposals which ignore the need for sanctions suffer from a fatal flaw. Similarly, researchers who accept the assumption that violent sanctions are required without rigorous investigation of alternatives irresponsibly help to perpetuate the grave problems, including war, which follow inextricably from that assumption.

Therefore, a responsible approach to research and education on the problems of conflict and peace needs to face the most important and difficult issue blocking the way to the abolition of war: the need for sanctions in conflicts in which compromise is unacceptable or impossible. Prime attention is then needed to alternative nonviolent means of waging conflict.9

We do not know enough about these alternative nonviolent sanctions, including their problems and potentials in extreme conflicts—such as defending against foreign invasion or internal usurpation. Such knowledge is vital in order to wage such struggles most effectively, and confidence in the potential for effectiveness is essential for widespread, permanent, adoption of nonviolent sanctions. Such limitations on knowledge, effectiveness, and confidence have a predictable result: few people are willing to give up reliance on political violence (including war) for facing attacks on the society’s constitutional system and independence. The consequent resort to political violence threatens in such internal conflicts widespread civil disorder and even civil war, while in international conflicts it brings the danger of massive war and annihilation.

Other conflicts, in which lesser issues are at stake on which compromise is possible and acceptable, are also important; efforts to resolve them peacefully are also needed. However, the acute conflicts are by far more serious. Therefore, it is crucial that financial, institutional, and intellectual resources be primarily concentrated on those acute conflicts, rather than on the lesser ones which can be resolved by better skills in negotiation and similar means involving compromise. It is in the acute conflicts in which people and governments believe military action and other political violence are required that we lack sufficient knowledge of nonviolent sanctions and adequate alternative policies based upon them to enable skeptics to accept alternative nonviolent sanctions. Therefore, the primary task of studies aimed to prevent war and ensure peace and to remove political violence should be on research and policy studies about nonviolent sanctions.

As in other fields, we can gain greater knowledge of nonviolent sanctions by basic research into their practice and workings. We can help make them more effective than in the past by applying the results of problem-solving research, policy studies, and by preparations and training. We can expand their future utility in place of military means by policy studies designed to adapt deliberate and prepared nonviolent struggle to destroy dictatorships, defeat coups d’ etat, and defend against international aggressors. This advance development of viable nonviolent alternatives would make possible a choice to use them instead of war and other political violence.

The broad areas for basic research include:

● the nature and dynamics of nonviolent struggle;

● its requirements for effectiveness;

● its mechanisms of change;

● principles of strategy and tactics;

● case studies of past nonviolent struggles;

● weaknesses of dictatorships; and

● requirements for establishing and preventing control by usurpers,

Problem-solving research is required into these and other areas:

● how best to mobilize, prepare, and train a population for using nonviolent sanctions rather than military ones;

● how to increase the effectiveness of nonviolent sanctions;

● how people can better persist in their nonviolent resistance despite violent repression;

● how the problems of leadership and diffusion of responsibility among all participants can be solved;

● how weaknesses in the usurper’s regime and society may best be utilized to help bring success to the nonviolent defenders;

● how temporary defeats can be prevented from producing demoralization; and

● how a series of successes can be transformed into full victory against the attack.

Policy studies need to deal with such tasks as these:

● the degree of adequacy or inadequacy of policies relying upon nonviolent sanctions in place of violent ones for national defense against foreign invaders and internal usurpers;

● the potential of such civilian means of defense to meet the defense needs of present U.S. allies so that they would become more self-reliant without contributing to dangerous military arms races and nuclear proliferation;

● how these nonmilitary means can best be used to liberalize or disintegrate established dictatorships by actions of their own populations;

● how people living under extreme social oppression can use nonviolent sanctions to establish a more just social system instead of using guerrilla warfare and single-party dictatorship;

● how a society can structure its institutions in order best to be able to use civilian-based defense against hostile attacks while maximizing the humane qualities of its own society;10

● how attempts to commit genocide can best be prevented and if launched defeated;

● how the general population and the independent institutions of the society can best become willing and able to apply these alternative means of national defense in place of military means; and

● how such a program of transarmament—the transition to the new policy—can be carried out with maximum economic benefit to the society.

These examples illustrate a wider range of topics which need investigation.11 Institutions established to conduct such studies ought to communicate relevant results of research and policy studies on alternatives to military preparations and action to both nongovernmental bodies and to governmental ones—legislative, executive, military, and others—which will make decisions whether in crises to resort to military action or to nonviolent sanctions. Research centers with this orientation and these projects could make major contributions to the resolution of the great problems of our time.


In addition to research and policy studies, deliberate educational efforts are urgently required on alternative nonviolent sanctions and the four identified problems. This focus differs from “peace studies.” “Peace studies” or “nonviolent studies” seem generally to be far more diffuse. They often give major attention to the evils of war and the merits of conciliation, arbitration, compromise, and social change, while largely neglecting nonviolent struggle. They almost always exclude or give minimal attention to dictatorships, genocide, internal usurpations, and international aggression. Instead, a focus on nonviolent sanctions in the context of the four identified problems is more directly relevant to major crises and to the decision how to wage struggle in acute conflicts.

A widespread interest now exists in alternatives to violence generally, and a much greater interest than ever before in learning specifically about nonviolent sanctions and their potential for defense and other purposes. Yet there are grossly inadequate educational opportunities and resources available to meet this need. Development of new educational opportunities and resources and improvements in existing ones, are therefore urgently needed in this field throughout the whole range from popularized forms to rigorous academic approaches. These will include efforts within formal educational institutions from grade school through universities, adult education programs, and informal study groups. Additional efforts are needed by the media of public communication.

It is highly important that such educational efforts be as unbiased and as high in quality as is achievable; the purpose is to provide knowledge and understanding to assist thought and fair evaluation, not to indoctrinate people to accept a particular view or policy.

We need a general public education program on the nature of civilian struggle and nonviolent forms of action so that people come to understand what it really is, instead of all the misconceptions which are common. This program could include such means as books, newspaper articles, fiction, historical novels, adult education courses, television drama series, radio programs, videotapes, magazine features, and the like.

Study groups on nonviolent sanctions and their potential can be a very useful educational format. They can be used by small numbers of people, or the groups can multiply so that very large numbers of people participate. There is flexibility in their scheduling and timing, and, with adequate literature, videotapes, and the like, “experts” are not required as leaders. Study groups can be completely independent, or can be associated with other such groups, or with an organization with broader or different interests. There are now indications that a remarkable number of people are ready to join study groups on nonviolent sanctions. Development and dissemination of good educational resources and knowledge of how to organize and conduct such groups are therefore highly important.

In schools and colleges, we need curriculum changes to introduce into regular courses and disciplines specific information of a suitable academic type about nonviolent forms of struggle. For example, this information may include the role it has played in various historical situations, how it operates, its psychological dynamics, and other dimensions. In colleges, on the high school level, and perhaps even earlier, we need specific courses on nonviolent struggle. This means developing curriculum materials, textbooks, videotapes, films, and other resources.12

Where courses on nonviolent sanctions are already offered, there is usually room for improvement. For example, efforts might be made to improve the variety and quality of such courses, to increase their academic rigor, to add new resources, to deepen the understanding and knowledge offered and sought, to improve the balance and fairness of presentations, and to expand the offerings of those and related courses.

In colleges and universities special programs of study may be launched. Normally a specific phenomenon such as nonviolent sanctions would not be the focus of a special department or program. It would instead be examined repeatedly in the context of the studies of the regular departments and programs. We face here, however, an unusual situation: a vast and highly significant field of human experience, in many countries, societies, and historical periods, has usually been left out of our historical studies and our research and teaching in social psychology, sociology, political science, and the like. With unusual exceptions, nonviolent struggle is not among the phenomena studied in those fields, and their faculties are inadequately familiar with this specific subject matter. The problem is compounded by a whole series of gross misunderstandings and erroneous assumptions which are part of the popular perceptions of “nonviolence.”

Therefore, special attention is required which can only be provided by special programs with trained faculty. Such special programs, however, must collaborate closely with existing departments and disciplines, and students will need to undertake major studies in them.

Such steps as the following can be taken to improve education about nonviolent alternatives in schools and colleges:

● preparation for grade schools and high schools of courses and curriculum materials on alternative sanctions and the problems of dictatorship, genocide, war, and systems of social oppression;

● preparation of guides and suggestions for instructors in courses in this field at various educational levels, including both recommendations which could be implemented directly, and also encouragement to modify them, or to create new courses and approaches;

● selection and development of historical studies which provide corrective treatment to the past relative neglect of nonviolent struggle;

● preparation of new texts, study guides, and other printed curriculum materials focusing on alternative sanctions and the four selected problems, and their opposite positive conditions, providing sound informational backgrounds and balanced presentations, and raising new questions about all of these;

● development of table games for home and classroom use as learning and problem-solving tools in the evaluation and use of nonviolent sanctions in acute conflicts;

● preparation of new films, dramatized and documentary television programs, videotapes, and the like about these phenomena and problems;

● exploration of participatory educational methods for possible use in courses on nonviolent alternatives designed to stimulate and facilitate the learners’ active involvement in their own educations;

establishment of grants to provide (1) aid to educational institutions to develop and expand undergraduate and graduate programs in these fields; (2) scholarships and grants to graduate students wishing to specialize in this field including support for writing their doctoral dissertations; and (3) support for researchers and educators to prepare educational resources—textbooks, syllabi, films, video programs, and others—and to make educators aware of their availability;

● development of interdisciplinary programs of undergraduate studies on nonviolent sanctions and the four identified problems;

● offering of individual graduate courses, seminars, and dissertation supervision, and the like, on nonviolent sanctions and the four problems within established departments and programs;

● development of interdisciplinary graduate studies, courses, seminars, dissertation supervision, and the like in this area in cooperation with established departments and programs;

● offering special summer courses on alternative sanctions and the identified problems for (1) visiting students from other universities, (2) high school teachers leading courses in this field, and (3) college and university faculty from other institutions leading courses on these phenomena and problems (courses (2) and (3) may focus both on substance and on educational methods and approaches);

● assistance in the establishment of quality M.A. and Ph.D. programs to train future researchers, policy analysts, and educators in the study of alternative sanctions and the four related problems:

● encouragement of the expansion or development of small and large libraries focused on the whole area or on specific phenomena and problems; and

● development of formal and informal networks through which educators, students, and researchers working in this field in various institutions may consult with each other and share their problems, experiences, and insights.


A great variety of opportunities and tasks lie before us in learning more about the nature and potential of nonviolent sanctions for resolving some of our most serious problems. These tasks require the assistance of a great variety of people and institutions. This work will help provide the knowledge and understanding needed to evaluate the potential contribution of alternative nonviolent sanctions. These studies may help us better to understand our world, our problems, and our options, and may also help us to deal with and

resolve some of our most serious problems. The effort is needed.



Sharp, Gene, The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973). Available in paperback in three volumes: Power and Struggle, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, and The Dynamics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent, 11 Beacon St., Boston, Ma. 02108, 1974).


Atkeson, Edward B., “The Relevance of Civilian-based Defense to U.S. Security Interests,” Military Review 56, no. 5 (May 1976): 24-32, and no. 6 (June 1976): 45-55.

Boserup, Anders, and Andrew Mack, War Without Weapons (New York: Schocken, 1975; London: Francis Pinter, 1974).

Roberts, Adam, ed., Civilian Resistance as a National Defense (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1968. Also published as The Strategy of Civilian Defense (London: Faber, 1967).

Sharp, Gene, “Civilian-based Defense: A New Deterrence and Defense Policy,” in Strategic Doctrines and Their Alternatives, ed. Yoshikazu Sakamoto and J. Saxe-Fernandez (Paris: UNESCO, forthcoming). Includes an extensive multilanguage bibliography.

-----, Exploring Nonviolent Alternatives (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1970). Out of print, but can be found in libraries. See especially, “Research Areas on Nonviolent Alternatives,” pp. 73-113.

-----, “Making Europe Unconquerable: Civilian-based Deterrence and Defense.” Booklet. (New York: Institute for World Order, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017, 1982). Includes an extensive multilanguage bibliography.

----- “Making the Abolition of War a Realistic Goal.” Pamphlet. Wallach Award Essay. (New York: Institute for World Order, 1981).

-----, National Security Through Civilian-based Defense, forthcoming. Information about it may be obtained from the Association for Transarmament Studies, 3636 Lafayette Avenue, Omaha, Ne. 68131. This group has opened its membership to persons outside of Nebraska, and will be issuing a newsletter on civilian-based defense from September 1982.

-----, Post-Military Defense (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, forthcoming).

-----, Social Power and Political Freedom (Boston: Porter Sargent), especially “‘The Political Equivalent of War’-Civilian-based Defense” and “Seeking a Solution to the Problem of War,” pp. 195-261 and 263-84.


Sharp, Gene, Social Power and Political Freedom (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1980).


Sharp, Gene, Gandhi as a Political Strategist, with Essays on Ethics and Politics (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1979), especially Part Two, “Essays on Ethics and Politics,” pp. 201-309.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 84 Number 1, 1982, p. 50-64
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 797, Date Accessed: 1/20/2022 3:18:19 PM

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