Violence and the End of Revolution After 1989

Thesis Eleven 97 (1):6-25 (2009)
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The series of Velvet revolutions in 1989, which brought about the collapse of communism in Europe, seem to have vindicated those political theorists and activists who believed in the possibility of non-violent power. The relative success of the 1989 revolutions has validated a new paradigm of revolutionary change based on the assumption that radical changes were attainable through moderate means. Yet the legacy of these non-violent revolutions also points towards the limits of political strategies fundamentally opposed to violence. The article shows that the key architects of non-violent revolutions in 1989 were well aware of the contingent nature of all political actions, and were thus willing to take risks in their pursuit of freedom



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