Last week we discussed the question: when is violence appropriate in a protest? That got us thinking about violent protests and whether they are ever successful. According to a BBC article, nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. We found this statistic quite shocking! Another article stated that, between 2000 and 2006, 70% of nonviolent campaigns succeeded. This was five times the success rate for violent ones. When put in the context of Hong Kong, where the protests seem to be becoming more and more violent, this only points to one outcome: that of failure.
This made us start to think about why this might be the case. Why might violent protests not succeed in their goals? Our initial thought was that, if people are out on the streets being violent, the government won’t listen to them or take them seriously. If there is violence, the government will need to spend most of their time responding to this by deploying police to put people in jail. They simply won’t have the time to listen to the demands of the people and put together a solution.
In addition, unfortunately violent people can be seen as less reasonable that non-violent people. This might make the government less likely to listen to them, as they may think they haven’t thought of the reasons behind their opinions. People that protest calmly, by giving speeches or writing letters often provide evidence for their thoughts, which is more likely to make people stop and take notice.
What do you think? Are the protests in Hong Kong going to succeed or are there more effective ways for the people to express their anger and get what they want?