In this study from 2008 by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, which XR quote for proof, a “nonviolent” protest movement is defined as one in which fewer than 1,000 people were killed. Let that sink in. I could go out tomorrow and murder 999 people in the name of any given cause and this study would still classify me as a nonviolent protester. Glib hypotheticals aside, this has led to some serious rewriting of history by XR. They frequently claim to draw inspiration from nonviolent movements such as the suffragettes. Let us be clear: the suffragettes were arsonists. They undertook a bombing campaign. They learned martial arts to fight the police. They were not nonviolent, they used a diversity of tactics and to claim otherwise is damaging to the collective memory of struggle. This misreading of history is something which seems to happen regularly with XR as they also claim to draw inspiration from the anti-apartheid movement which they say was nonviolent. I imagine this will come as a surprise to the families of the thousands of people who died during that armed struggle. Furthermore, the paper that is frequently referenced by XR clearly states that it does not include campaigns such as the civil rights movement because it looks specifically at regime change or ending foreign occupations and not “social and economic campaigns”. Unless I have misread the objectives of XR, it does not advocate regime change and so falls into this category. It seems odd to generalize the results of a study that states that it specifically does not apply to your movement’s objectives, unless of course you are searching for data to justify the opinion you always held. Sadly, the quoting of statistics from this paper adds an air of scientific rigor to XR’s claims which has convinced a lot of people of their validity. These statistics are treated as gospel despite the paper acknowledging that their dataset on nonviolent campaigns is biased towards success because campaigns crushed through repression in their infancy are not reported.
John Warwick in No, Extinction Rebels, nonviolence is not the only way (Roarmag)