Abstract of the results

The aim
of the study is to help answer the question: How can nonviolent action, which can be a significant factor especially in social and political conflicts, be defined in general terms?

Method:
The answer is sought by the hermeneutic study of successfully applied theories of nonviolent action, theories that have been developed by three outstanding protagonists with widely differing worldviews.
(1) The theories of three protagonists of active nonviolence, a Christian (H. Goss-Mayr), a Hindu (M. K. Gandhi) and an atheist (B. de Ligt), are described in the context of their respective worldviews.

(2) The observations of these protagonists as regards how their approaches work are reconstructed systematically (parts 2-4).

(3) The analyses of the reconstructed models are brought together (part 5). They are compared, i.e. the similarities and differences are investigated, and conclusions are drawn from the results.

Hypothesis: A common approach can be found in spite of the many differences in ideological underpinning and forms of action.

Conclusions:

(1) First conclusion: The power-of-goodness model

(a) The comparative study provides the basis for the synthesis of an ideal typical model of how nonviolent action works: The working hypothesis is confirmed.

(b) This model of how the power-of-goodness works is independent of prior assumptions or attitudes arising from a particular worldview or religion. It is founded on basic convictions, shared by all the protagonists, which are largely independent of preconditions.

(c) It describes in general terms the power that is used effectively in nonviolent action (as described by the protagonists) to overcome social evils: power-of-goodness. It is the core of a theory of action which aims to improve social conditions, is oriented towards creating „fullness of life for all“, is effective especially in conflicts, and can be characterised by the shorthand „The destiny is the path“. This result shows how the protagonists understand the functioning of this process at six levels. These levels are defined according to the degree of difficulty typically involved in removing abuses,  up to the sixth level of ending the reign of a brutal dictator, who has consistently ignored appeals, by a change of government.

(2) Second conclusion: A broader framework

(a) The first conclusion (the power-of-goodness model) applies generally to the removal of social evils, which means that it also applies when no one works against it, when there is no opponent and no conflict.

(b) This broadening of the framework from conflict management to the removal of social evils in general is key to the way in which power-of-goodness operates in conflicts. This implies a re-framing: conflicts appear in a new framework or context with the consequence that the general perception is no longer „This is a conflict“, but „This is a social evil which stakeholders want to dismantle“.

(3) Third conclusion: power-of-goodness brings about a reorientation towards a relationship-centred self-image.

(a) The theory of power-of-goodness as a way of removing social evils includes basic elements of a theory of constructive, nonviolent conflict management. This is shown by a basic element of power-of-goodness action (not restricted to conflict situations): reorientation to more power-of-goodness. This means giving up the naive view that sees the individual or collective self at the centre of everything. The self is acknowlegded in a comprehensive sense (grounding), identified in relation to other people and other phenomena (relating), and recognized as being conditional (relativizing).

(b) This is the transition to the relationship-centred self-image. It overcomes egocentric naivety and is significant (beyond the field of constructive conflict management) in relation to human coexistence and the humanities in general.

(4) New terminology is introduced (see Glossary).

 

Gütekraft-Forschung