Non-violent action may be a realistic alternative to institutional violence as the ultimate sanction of social systems, Gene Sharp, a research fellow for the Center for International Studies, told a group of about 40 people at Science Center B yesterday.
Sharp's talk was the third in a series of four speeches commemorating the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Violence is widely seen as so natural and essential that serious consideration is rarely given to the possibly harmful structural consequences, nor to the possibility of alternative effective sanctions," Sharp said.
Institutionalized violence can lead to war, genocide, dictatorship and social repression, Sharp added.
Sharp gave many examples of non-violent actions, including the Hungarian resistance to the Soviet invasion of 1958. Non-violent resistance enabled the Hungarians to withstand Soviet domination for eight months, Sharp said, adding the Soviets would have defeated armed Hungarian resistance in a few days.