Nonviolent Resistance in Europe

Nonviolent Resistance in Europe

1.   Hungary: Nonviolent Resistance against Austria, 1850s-1860s — Tamás Csapody and Thomas Weber
2.   Poland: Forging the Polish Nation Nonviolently, 1860s-1900s — Maciej J. Bartkowski
3.   Kosovo:  Civil Resistance in Defence of the Nation, 1990s — Howard Clark

1. Hungary: Nonviolent Resistance against Austria, 1850s-1860s — Tamás Csapody and Thomas Weber

This chapter looks at the role of the nonviolent advocate Ferenc Deák and analyzes Hungarian civil resistance against Austrian oppression in the 1850s and 1860s. Despite general neglect in recent national historiography, Hungarian civil resistance was an inspiration to other independence movements and political organizers, mainly in Ireland, Finland and India. Enthused by the steadfastness and opposition of Deák, Hungarians engaged in spontaneous creative nonviolent actions against the Habsburgs, which laid down the foundation for winning equal political rights and an eventual compromise in the form of a dual, Austro-Hungarian monarchy.


2. Poland: Forging the Polish Nation Nonviolently, 1860s-1900s — Maciej J. Bartkowski

In Poland, a thick veil of glorified armed resistance obscures important and no less heroic stories of nonviolent defiance. This chapter argues that the role and impact of civil resistance for the Polish nation can no longer be underplayed or ignored. Collective nonviolent action in the second half of the nineteenth century not only strengthened the civic and economic fabric of Polish society but it also essentially re-imagined a Polish nation. Through distinctive forms of nonviolent resistance such as organic work, mass commemorations, parallel institution building, and direct nonviolent actions, Poles successfully managed to resist oppression and de-polonization policies unleashed by partitioning powers.  Importantly, civil resistance enabled the development of a collective Polish identity that shaped national consciousness and formed a nation –  by no means a certain or predetermined outcome. A century later, Poles drew inspiration from their nineteenth century nonviolent progenitors in their own resistance against a foreign-backed communist regime.


3. Kosovo:  Civil Resistance in Defence of the Nation, 1990s — Howard Clark

In the early 1990s the majority-Albanian population of Kosovo united in a nonviolent struggle. In the face of mass sackings, police and paramilitary brutality, and discriminatory measures that they perceived as tantamount to occupation, they refused to be provoked to take up arms.  Instead, they enhanced their own community by organizing schools, a voluntary taxation system, and a rudimentary healthcare network. A vital part of this nonviolent struggle was a shift towards a "European" identity, rooted in civil society and a democratic culture. The Kosovo Albanians succeeded in educating international powers about Serbian aggression in Kosovo, while trying to convince them that they were worthy of independence. Eventually, the Kosova Liberation Army emerged, and Serbian atrocities triggered NATO military intervention. However, from its inception the independent state has been vitiated by a high level of corruption, intimidation and crime, and falls far short of the ideals of a modern European nation that the nonviolent activists struggled for in the first half of the 1990s.

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