The Applicability of Nonviolent Struggle in Armenia: Part 6.2

mlk-nonviolence

As we have already noted in the previous publications, each part of the article series concerning the applicability of nonviolent struggle in Armenia will discuss in detail the applicability of possible options of political/civil disobedience in our country, as well as the reasons of failure of the means has been chosen by political forces so far.

The article series is based on the study of international practice, as well as the scientific literature available. For Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five and the first section of the Sixth part of the current article you can follow the shown links.

Important Conceptions Necessary for Developing a Strategy for an Effective Political Process

As it has already been mentioned in different parts of the article series, the basis of the latter is workings by Gene Sharp who is the author of contemporary theories of nonviolent struggle. In his book ”From Dictatorship to Democracy” professor Sharp quite thoroughly addresses the need for a strategy developed in nonviolent struggle completing all the general features of nonviolent civic disobedience movements happened in the world heretofore. Thus, professor Sharp distinguishes four key conceptions for developing a strategy for nonviolent disobedience. These are:

  1. Grand strategy
  2. Strategy
  3. Tactics
  4. Methods

Mastering the four key conceptions for developing a strategy all the individuals as well as groups that plan the nonviolent struggle will gain the opportunity to develop strategic thinking and replace the established political status quo with their desired option.

In this section each of the above mentioned conceptions will be discussed in detail.

Grand strategy

According to professor Sharp, grand strategy is the conception that serves to coordinate and direct the use of all appropriate and available resources (economic, human, moral, political, organizational, etc.) of a group seeking to attain its objectives in a conflict (Gene Sharp, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, page 43).

The grand strategy defines the main framework for selection of more limited strategic methods for waging the struggle. It also determines the allocation of general tasks to particular groups and the distribution of resources to them for use in the struggle.

Strategy

Strategy is the conception of how best to achieve particular objectives in a conflict, operating within the scope of the chosen grand strategy (Gene Sharp, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, page 43). Strategy is concerned with whether, when, and how to fight, as well as how to achieve maximum effectiveness in struggling for certain ends. It can also include such a designed situation that will entail a sequence of actions that can force the opponent to be as restrained as possible and refrain from the use of repressive methods taking into account all the adverse consequences of such developments. Developed strategic plan is the main idea of how a campaign shall develop, and how its separate components shall be fitted together to contribute most advantageously to achieve its objectives. Strategic planning also involves the skillful deployment of particular action groups in smaller operations. In Armenian reality this part of strategic planning is fairly known as a “network struggle” principle, which is often used by much progressive civil society activists. In the course of strategic planning it should be paid attention to the requirements for succeeding in the operation of the chosen technique of struggle. One should always bear in mind that different techniques will have different requirements and while assessing them one should be as objective as possible. In devising a more realistic and effective strategy, the organizers of the struggle must clearly define their objectives and determine what sequence of actions can lead to effectively fulfilling them. The need of clearly defining the objectives and analyzing all the possible ways to effectively implement them applies equally to tactical planning.  

Tactics

The strategy becomes complete only through strategy planning and clearly developed methods. According to professor Sharp, tactics relate to the skillful use of one’s forces to the best advantage in a limited situation. (Gene Sharp, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, page 44). That is to say, a tactic should combine all those limited actions which are necessary for achieving a restricted objective. In other words, tactics includes all those marches and demonstrations which target a concrete and short-term issue (such as the march organized from the Liberty square to Baghramyan Avenue during the sit-ins held in the framework of the civic movement organized in Armenia against the increase in electricity tariffs or temporary blocking the main streets of Yerevan during the latter civic movement).

The choice of tactics depends on the conception of how best in a restricted phase of a conflict to utilize the available means of fighting to implement the strategy. All the actions included in the notion of tactics are applied for a shorter period of time in much smaller geographical, institutional areas and by more limited number of people involved seeking fulfillment of more limited objectives. We can state that the tactics concerns limited actions being a part of the strategy, likewise the strategy concerns the grand strategy. In general, all the four conceptions necessary for strategy planning are interrelated and interdependent.

Methods

By methods professor Sharp describes the specific means of action. Within the technique of nonviolent struggle, these include the dozens of particular forms of action. Moreover, Gene Sharp singled out 198 of it. We will publish them after the final part of this article-series. We should also note that while developing a comprehensive action plan there is a need to focus on the choice of effective means for accomplishing all the strategic and tactical objectives. For the development implementation of a responsible and effective strategic plan for a nonviolent struggle there is a need to carefully formulate and select the grand strategy, the ensuing strategy, tactics, and methods. This implies that the intellectual capabilities of the organizers of any civic movement having a political or civic objective have the greater impact on the effectiveness of civil disobedience movements. Generally speaking, political processes have much in common with a military art. These processes need to be viewed from that angle. The more detailed and objectively assessed a planned civic or political process is, the more likely its ultimate success is secured. The only guarantee of all failures faced in our country while holding political or civic processes has long been the absence of precisely planned strategy.

 

Narek Samsonyan