The Roots of Nonviolent Revolutions

Regarding the opinion-page column "Two Revolutions: 1776 and 1991," Sept. 6: It was more than "the triumph of the ideas of the American Revolution" that brought about "the collapse of communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe and now the USSR." It was the triumph of nonviolence, which American colonists also used successfully.Although the American Revolution ended in war, it began with three major nonviolent resistance campaigns against British rule (against the Stamp Acts of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767, and the Coercive Acts of 1774). Similarly, Eastern Europeans and Soviets undermined illegitimate rulers through street blockades, demonstrations, strikes, and mass noncooperation. Clearly the American tradition of nonviolent struggle has as much to do with recent events as does the influence of American democratic ideals. Roger S. Powers, Cambridge, Mass., The Albert Einstein Institution

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