Want to predict if your non-violent movement will succeed? Ask Isaac Newton

Want to predict if your non-violent movement will succeed? Ask Isaac Newton.
Credit: Brunel University

When Isaac Newton first attempted to describe momentum in his 1687 work Principia, he hit upon an eloquent formula—an object's momentum is its mass times its velocity. Or P=MV.

Now, scientists from Brunel University London and Harvard University have demonstrated how the same formula can be used to help predict whether a non-violent political movement will be successful.

It's hoped the findings, published in Nature Human Behaviour, can help dissidents involved in non-violent resistance assess their power.

"As we've seen recently in Sudan and Algeria, you only need to mobilise a small number of people to effect sweeping political change," said Dr. Margherita Belgioioso, a lecturer in and international security at Brunel.

"In both those instances, about one million people—only about 2.5% of the population—were mobilised for non-violent protests, and yet both were effective in driving leadership change. When you start looking into how these movements succeeded, you see that the important thing wasn't just how many people were mobilised, but how often. They may have been small in number, but they gathered often—they generated momentum.

"Of course, amassing 2.5% of the population isn't easy—that'd be 1.65 million people in the UK, or just over 8 million people in the U.S.."

Using SCAD—the Social Conflict in Africa Database—the researchers trawled through instances of protests, riots, strikes, and other forms of unrest in 47 African nations between 1990 and 2014 to determine what factors were key in driving 'irregular leadership exit.'

They determined that whilst getting large numbers of people of your side is important, it's a political movement's 'momentum' that determines its success.

"Newton's theory of momentum serves as a really useful metaphor—if we consider the number of people mobilised as the 'mass', and the frequency at which they gather as the 'velocity', we can start to quantify how much 'momentum' a given movement has," said Dr. Belgioioso, who published the research alongside her colleague Dr. Erica Chenoweth of Harvard University.

"By doing this, we've demonstrated a clear positive correlation between a movement's momentum and its probability of successfully overthrowing a country's leadership."

Having plotted historical non-violent movements on a chart, the researchers say that if you can attract 20% of the national population to 60 events help over the course a week, the probability of 'irregular leadership exit' theoretically reaches 100%.

Meanwhile, if you can mobilise 10% of the population, just 81 events per week will result in leadership change, whilst at 5% of the population, 121 events per week are required.

Interestingly, if you are only able to arrange 20 events per week, an increase in mass—the number of people involved—no longer has any effect on momentum.

"It's a common misconception that non-violent resistance can only succeed if you 'melt the heart' of your opposition," said Dr. Belgioioso. "That implies that dissidents can only succeed where a leader is soft hearted—which clearly isn't the case. I don't think anyone would accuse Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir of being soft-hearted or overly sympathetic, and yet in the last few weeks his grip on power was finally loosened by non-violent protest.

"We've demonstrated with this paper that what is usually required to succeed is getting people mobilised, and getting them mobilised often. The more often you can get people mobilised, the fewer people you require to build momentum. That's why a well organised, enthusiastic movement like the one were recently witnessed in Sudan can succeed, despite only a small number of people taking part."

However, as the researchers point out: "Irregular leadership change does not necessarily result in equitable, peaceful or stable outcomes."


Explore further

Researchers develop a new quantum-mechanical model

More information: Erica Chenoweth et al. The physics of dissent and the effects of movement momentum, Nature Human Behaviour (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0665-8
Journal information: Nature Human Behaviour

Provided by Brunel University
Citation: Want to predict if your non-violent movement will succeed? Ask Isaac Newton (2019, August 12) retrieved 23 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-non-violent-movement-isaac-newton.html
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Aug 12, 2019
Let's see if this applies to the Hong Kong protests...

Aug 12, 2019
Hong Kong has 7.39 million people. 2M hit the streets. That's 27%.
On the other hand, 2M is only .1% of mainland China's population.
So which percentage applies, I wonder? Guess we'll find out.

Aug 13, 2019
My guess is, 27% means they can make sweeping changes in local government. 0.1% means that it will be extremely difficult to make any changes to the national government.

Aug 13, 2019
French Yellow Vest Momentum Calculation:

Date, Attendance
17 Nov, 300K
24 Nov, 106K
1 Dec, ?
8 Dec, ?
15 Dec, 72K
22 Dec, 38.6K
29 Dec, ?
5 Jan, 50K
12 Jan, 107K
19 Jan, 107.5K
26 Jan, 73K
2 Feb, 23.8K
16 Feb, 41.5K
16 Mar, ?
- - -
14 events listed, multiple locations, complete attendance unknown ...
Insufficient data available from Wikipedia, calculation requires more research ...
But they're meeting only once per week ...
Interestingly, if you are only able to arrange 20 events per week, an increase in mass—the number of people involved—no longer has any effect on momentum.
. . .
Using SCAD—the Social Conflict in Africa Database—the researchers trawled through instances of protests, riots, strikes, and other forms of unrest in 47 African nations between 1990 and 2014 to determine what factors were key in driving 'irregular leadership exit.'
There is no "Social Conflict in France Database"...


Aug 13, 2019
Hong Kong has 7.39 million people. 2M hit the streets. That's 27%.
On the other hand, 2M is only .1% of mainland China's population.
So which percentage applies, I wonder? Guess we'll find out.


I'm rooting for the protesters in Hong Kong and their quest for freedom from Communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been financially stable and successful. No need to change now.

Aug 13, 2019
I'm rooting for the protesters in Hong Kong and their quest for freedom from Communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been financially stable and successful. No need to change now.
You mean quest for freedom from western imperial aggression, subjugation, and domination? Somebody's been reading some fake news propaganda again instead of the writing on the wall...

Aug 13, 2019
My guess is, 27% means they can make sweeping changes in local government.


The problem is that the "local" government is no longer locally managed, that is what they want to change back to. At a guess then, too late.

You mean quest for freedom from western imperial aggression, subjugation, and domination? Somebody's been reading some fake news propaganda again instead of the writing on the wall...


Should this be read as sarcasm? The Wall/Walls of China is/are damn large, by the way.

If not, imperialism is no longer much in evidence (give or take Russia/China ambitions). Hong Kong is seeing to its own, and if they lived in a democracy there would be no problem...

Aug 13, 2019
When you have never had it so good
Hong Kong has 7.39 million people. 2M hit the streets. That's 27%.
On the other hand, 2M is only .1% of mainland China's population.
So which percentage applies, I wonder? Guess we'll find out.


I'm rooting for the protesters in Hong Kong and their quest for freedom from Communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been financially stable and successful. No need to change now.

Do not rock the boat
As you know
All your hard won freedoms
Will be surreptitiously taken from you
Leaving you worse off than before
Foreth
The moral is
Do not try to get today
That the Communist government
Is planning to give you tomorrow
The basic rule of thumb
Is
Not to let anyone lose face

Especially a communistic government

Aug 14, 2019
I'm rooting for the protesters in Hong Kong and their quest for freedom from Communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been financially stable and successful. No need to change now.
You mean quest for freedom from western imperial aggression, subjugation, and domination? Somebody's been reading some fake news propaganda again instead of the writing on the wall...
says Protoplasmix

I have seen no domination of Hong Kong and its people by the USA. Nor has there ever been any aggression or subjugation toward the people of that region. They want to ensure their democracy and rule of their own laws, not the rule by the Communists in Beijing.
Just the fact alone that Beijing has sent soldiers to Hong Kong to confront the protesters there, means that the Commies wish to SUPPRESS FREE ASSEMBLY of Hong Kong citizens.
Sadly, it is uncertain whether President Trump will send a contingent or delegation to Hong Kong to convince the soldiers and Beijing to stand down.

Aug 14, 2019
When you have never had it so good
Hong Kong has 7.39 million people. 2M hit the streets. That's 27%.
On the other hand, 2M is only .1% of mainland China's population.
So which percentage applies, I wonder? Guess we'll find out.


I'm rooting for the protesters in Hong Kong and their quest for freedom from Communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been financially stable and successful. No need to change now.

Do not rock the boat
As you know
All your hard won freedoms
Will be surreptitiously taken from you
Leaving you worse off than before
Foreth
The moral is
Do not try to get today
That the Communist government
Is planning to give you tomorrow
The basic rule of thumb
Is
Not to let anyone lose face

Especially a communistic government


The Communist government in Beijing is a ruthless and murderous bunch. Tibet and regions of China are still suffering from years of overbearing political savagery against them by the Commies.

Aug 14, 2019
Communism is what the Leftist Socialists in the USA want. As they have never lived under true Communism or even Socialism, they are ALL IN FOR A RUDE AWAKENING IF it comes about anywhere in the 50 States. The punks think that Communism is superiour to the present political system. IF they get what they want, there is bound to be civil war. That could happen if a Leftist Socialist is elected to the Presidency in 2020 and then throws out the US Constitution in favour of Chinese or Russian-style Communism.
The old Chinese curse that says: "May you live in interesting times".
These crazy Americans don't know what they're in for if they think that their lives will improve under that system.
It's almost laughable.

Aug 14, 2019
Remember, Remember Tiananmen Square

These deluded students
Pushed
This communistic government
In their paternalistic wisdom and goodness of heart
Gave these students unheard of freedoms of expression
Unheard of by a communistic government
These students basked in these freedoms
Were these students grateful
Not on your Nelly were they satisfied
In 1989
These students started protesting on the 15 April
Where
This benevolent communistic government held their nerve
For 19 whole days did this communistic government stand idly by
Hoping against hope
These Stupid Students would see they had won their point
Leave this Square in peace
But no
These students wanted more
So
Were forcibly ejected on 4 June
When the government declared martial law
Sending the military to occupy Tiananmen Square
Consequently
These Stupid Students
Deprived Everyone Of These Newly Hard One Freedoms

Foreth
The Moral Is
Do Not Try To Get Today
That The Communist Government
Is Planning To Give You Tomorrow

Aug 16, 2019
@granville
It was a great experiment - to give the students the freedoms that no one else had outside of Tiananman Square. The youngsters were heady with the excitement of having a say in what they wanted, wished for, with stars in their eyes as thoughts of a future in which they would be allowed to do as they pleased - with little opposition. But there was one thing that they had forgotten:
they were still in Beijing.

Aug 16, 2019
Communism is what the Leftist Socialists in the USA want. As they have never lived under true Communism or even Socialism, they are ALL IN FOR A RUDE AWAKENING IF it comes about anywhere in the 50 States. The punks think that Communism is superiour to the present political system. IF they get what they want, there is bound to be civil war. That could happen if a Leftist Socialist is elected to the Presidency in 2020 and then throws out the US Constitution in favour of Chinese or Russian-style Communism.

I find it very funny that if someone is even slightly left the Americans are shouting communism all over. We have many left wing parties in Finland and the Social Democratic Party is currently in power but it does not mean communism in any way. They have abandoned the idea long ago.

Aug 16, 2019
@Cortezz
I was referring to the Leftist Socialists IN the USA where there is a largely diverse population. In Finland, it is largely Finns; in Norway and Sweden, it is largely Norwegians and largely Swedes, respectively. There may be some who are not indigenous in those countries but the vast voting majority are White northern Europeans.
It is not like that in the US. As a transplanted American citizen I can see what is going on behind the lines each day. So that when I complain that the Leftist Socialists are hoping to overthrow the US Constitution and remake the nation into their own liking, I see a revolution coming, and it isn't going to be won by Communists who claim American birthright.
There are also many kinds of political and social parties that are vying for control here in the US. And they are free to leave the country to go to live in Beijing if they so desire. But they are NOT free to make such changes that go against the original goal of the Founders of America.

Aug 16, 2019
Why the diversity of the population has anything to do with this? Yes, I'm not very familiar with the political system there but every time something leftist is mentioned someone is yelling communism. It's just funny how deeply that is rooted to you. I just cannot imagine that the left politicians there would really want communism. I will just remind you now that social welfare etc. left stuff are not communism.

Aug 16, 2019
Heady with Freedom of Expression
@granville
It was a great experiment - to give the students the freedoms that no one else had outside of Tiananmen Square. The youngsters were heady with the excitement of having a say in what they wanted, wished for, with stars in their eyes as thoughts of a future in which they would be allowed to do as they pleased - with little opposition. But there was one thing that they had forgotten:
they were still in Beijing.

SEU, you certainly have to blissfully ignorant of your government
As in between lectures studying for your degree to a better life
Go out into Tiananmen Square
Then lie down under the tracks of a Chinese Tank

p.s. for if this tank commander erred in his vigilance, he could not tell if his 40 ton tank had run you down – as for your communistic government, well you're a student so you have no excuse for not knowing the consequences!

Aug 16, 2019
WhatsApping does not work in China

Various aspects of the internet do not work in China
The list goes on
Foreth
It is most certainly
Associated
With these hard won freedoms
That
Made these students giddy with expression
Give their lives
So
That this communistic government
Could take these freedoms away from a billion Chinese citizens
For
As sure as eggs are eggs, SEU
These Chinese students gave their lives so others could live forever under oppression

Because
The very freedom they were allowed "freedom of expression"
Allowed unheard of demonstrations not allowed in China
Which resulted in removal of these "expressions"

Aug 16, 2019
Foreth the moral of these Moonchinians
Is
That they are only communistic in name only
For these Moonchinians hopes and aspirations
Whether
In
Civilian life
Military life
Governmental life
Are the same as you and I
Which is why?
In those days of yore
This Moonchinian government, in those mellowing years before Tiananmen Square
Benevolently gave their citizens, the same freedoms you and I have experienced since time immortal

Unfortunately, the government did not take into account errant students

Aug 16, 2019
Why the diversity of the population has anything to do with this? Yes, I'm not very familiar with the political system there but every time something leftist is mentioned someone is yelling communism. It's just funny how deeply that is rooted to you. I just cannot imagine that the left politicians there would really want communism. I will just remind you now that social welfare etc. left stuff are not communism.
says Cortezz

The diversity means various cultures, languages, political leanings, and financial and social status. In a country like the US, such differences makes for envy and resentment from those who aren't as successful toward those who are. Success can be in anything, not just in finance.
But for decades, young Americans have been indoctrinated by public school teachers and professors in the joys and equalisation for all if only the Socialist system could be employed in governmental control over every aspect of American life. It is to this goal that
-contd-

Aug 16, 2019
-contd-
@Cortezz
It is to this goal to achieve a Socialist government control of every aspect of American life that many young Americans (and other age groups) are going out to demonstrate against perceived governmental abuses, such as the police and other departments that are governed by the "Laws of the Land". Laws are made to protect American citizens. But such Laws are seen by some as stifling their freedoms to do what they please. So they throw bottles and rocks at the cops and laugh at them, thinking that it will result in their social freedom to harm other Americans and to destroy property.
These groups of young heavily indoctrinated Americans are working toward a Communist system, but they don't know it. Some of them have said that "real Communism has never been tried", which means that THEY want to try it. They are openly defiant of the Law.
We have friends who lived under the Communist system in their own birth countries, and they FEAR what they see going on here.

Aug 16, 2019
@Cortezz
Do you speak Suomi? Your English is very good, which leads me to believe that perhaps you may have been educated in an English-speaking country, such as the US or Great Britain.

Oh, and for your further edification:
The Communist Party USA, officially the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA),[5] is a communist party in the United States established in 1919.

Aug 16, 2019
@granville
I often wonder what happened to those students of Tiananmen Square. There was no further news of them and their fate after their demonstration was over. News media had no longer covered it. It was apparent that they were no threat to their Communist government, and I believe that the soldiers sent to quell them were secretly on the students' side.
But the poor young things of Communist China got some sense knocked into them, and would not buck the system again. Unlike here in the US where the young things know no fear of governmental backlash, and now not even the Police have much control over the stupids in the big inner cities.
Most Americans adore their children and believe that they can do no wrong. And most don't do wrong. But then there are the natural-born troublemakers, the psychotics who believe it is their 'right' to commit crimes and destroy property. THAT is what we have to deal with here in the US.

Aug 16, 2019
SEU, this list of trail of destruction and lawlessness in American cities

Is exactly what these Chinese students used their newly won freedoms to enact
But
Unlike the paltry few millions of Americans
China has a serious problem of law and order
China has to think of a billion people
Behaving as those lawless students
This is why China is so heavy handed
They cannot let a billion people run riot on the streets
For China is one of the most stable advanced civilisation on earth
Not to be spoilt by some silly naughty students
If they had demonstrated in Tiananmen Square till tea time
Then gone home and never done it again
The Chinese government would have turned a blind eye

Even better, SEU
Never demonstrated in the first place, and now these students, who's where a bouts are unknown,
would be out on the street WhatsApping with the rest of the population
But thanks to these errant students, no one in China is WhatsApping

So SEU, it is best not to dwell on these students where a bouts

Aug 16, 2019
@SEU, for all of your comments.

Seriously, dude. You are the one who has been indoctrinated. Please understand that what is preserved in the United States Constitution is the right of the citizenry to decide what form of government and economic system they choose to have. If the citizens want to throw out what the Founding Fathers established they are free to do so. That is what democracy is about.

But you do have a talent. FoxNews and its cohort of right-wing, platitude speaking, protect the wealthy and ignore the rest "commentators" would welcome you. Heck, you could probably even argue that detaining migrant children and forcing them to sleep on concrete floors without mattresses and not providing them with even toothbrushes and toothpastes was "safe and sanitary" without even blushing - just like the DOJ attorneys did a while back (of course, the judge - who had a heart and soul - didn't buy it; another embarrassment for the once proud US DOJ.)

Aug 16, 2019
Sir Isaac Newton was a genius, so me thinks he would have called bullshit.

Aug 17, 2019
Sir Isaac Newton was a genius, so me thinks he would have called bullshit.


He was also politically Conservative, and an all around good guy.

Aug 17, 2019
@SEU, for all of your comments.

Seriously, dude. You are the one who has been indoctrinated. . . .

But you do have a talent. FoxNews and its cohort of right-wing, platitude speaking, protect the wealthy and ignore the rest "commentators" would welcome you. Heck, you could probably even argue that detaining migrant children and forcing them to sleep on concrete floors without mattresses and not providing them with even toothbrushes and toothpastes was "safe and sanitary" without even blushing - just like the DOJ attorneys did a while back (of course, the judge - who had a heart and soul - didn't buy it; another embarrassment for the once proud US DOJ.)
The right hates science and the likes of SEU is pretty much all they have...

Aug 17, 2019
@SEU, for all of your comments.

Seriously, dude. You are the one who has been indoctrinated. Please understand that what is preserved in the United States Constitution is the right of the citizenry to decide what form of government and economic system they choose to have. If the citizens want to throw out what the Founding Fathers established they are free to do so. That is what democracy is about.
says Ophelia

Nope. I don't indoctrinate well. This is due to my penchant for requiring observation and good evidence for all things in science and politics.
What is preserved in the US Constitution is the right of every American citizen to VOTE for their favourite candidate. Citizens don't have the right to OVERTHROW the legitimately elected leaders such as the President and the US Congress. The form of government remains the same as it was in the days of America's founding. If you and others prefer a totalitarian government, then you are free to find another country to live


Aug 17, 2019
But you do have a talent. FoxNews and its cohort of right-wing, platitude speaking, protect the wealthy and ignore the rest "commentators" would welcome you. Heck, you could probably even argue that detaining migrant children and forcing them to sleep on concrete floors without mattresses and not providing them with even toothbrushes and toothpastes was "safe and sanitary" without even blushing - just like the DOJ attorneys did a while back (of course, the judge - who had a heart and soul - didn't buy it; another embarrassment for the once proud US DOJ.)

says Ophelia

Why, thank you for the compliment. I was already here in the states when Obama was elected. It was Obama who had children in cages while the parents were in separate custody. The photos showed them behind bars and I recall thinking how awful that was for them. Throughout the Obama admin there were those pitiful children separated from their mums. It was pretty bleak. But I don't suppose that you would remember?

Aug 17, 2019
Citizens don't have the right to OVERTHROW the legitimately elected leaders such as the President and the US Congress.
Key word is 'legitimate.' And patriotic citizens, in addition to standard rights, have obligations ...

Aug 17, 2019
I see that you are very selective with whom you trust to run the country. Everyone KNOWS that the US has been doing very well since Trump was elected, while Obama tried to sell to American citizens that 'the good times were a thing of the past" and "the US was never that great anyway".
So you see, it all depends on your OWN MINDSET and your powers of observation and, indeed, the way that YOU were indoctrinated in your turn.
I can see that the US had turned sour when Obama was the leader. Mainly because he is a Socialist. One of his main favourite books was written by his former professor, Saul Alinsky "Rules for Radicals". Very interesting rule book for Leftists, Socialists/Communists and street thugs who are coming out of the woodwork now, so it seems.

Aug 17, 2019
Citizens don't have the right to OVERTHROW the legitimately elected leaders such as the President and the US Congress.
Key word is 'legitimate.' And patriotic citizens, in addition to standard rights, have obligations ...
says Proto

You reveal your inner sanctimonious Left-leaning requirement for the thuggery that is Bill and Hillary Clinton. She would have made a fine Socialist POTUS, and her husband Bill would have been free to chase after 14 year old schoolgirls and sexually assault them in the Oval Office.
Perhaps you missed all that happening while Bill was POTUS and wished it be so again. That would be a great driving force for hating President Trump because he is squeaky clean and has no interest in cigars. Be that as it may, he will have 4 more years in the White House, so I can only suggest that you keep a stiff upper lip and grin and bear it.
But you are also free to move to Cuba if you like where you will be welcomed with open arms.

Aug 17, 2019
Very interesting rule book for Leftists, Socialists/Communists and street thugs who are coming out of the woodwork now, so it seems.

https://www.youtu...Qu5K8lp8

SEU you can be on the wrong side of history if you want.

Aug 17, 2019
But you are also free to move to Cuba if you like where you will be welcomed with open arms.
SEU you're about as good at history and politics as you are at science. Are you oblivious to the Hoover memo? See http://paulkangas...kennedy/

Aug 17, 2019
As far as "protecting the wealthy" I have no intention of protecting Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Socialist-leaning Bill Gates, and all of the rich and famous Liberal/Leftists in Hollywood, as well as Socialist and rich presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Perhaps it is because I was not American-born that I am better at observing what is really going on in the USA and how the "pretend Americans" will do their best to overthrow the best political system the world has ever known.
As far as I can tell, it is mostly the wealthy who provide the jobs that keep Americans working and earning a good salary that many citizens of other countries would die for.
I have a suggestion for Ophelia and Protoplasmix:
Fly to Hong Kong and stand with the protesters there. Give them your full support. Tell the Chinese Army soldiers to back off and get out of Hong Kong forthwith.
Come on, ladies. You can do it.

Aug 17, 2019
But you are also free to move to Cuba if you like where you will be welcomed with open arms.
SEU you're about as good at history and politics as you are at science. Are you oblivious to the Hoover memo? See http://paulkangas...kennedy/


As far as science, everybody KNOWS that I am but a mere scholar and interested observer. I am still learning, although I KNOW for a fact that 'time' doesn't exist. Why, even Castrovagina doesn't know what 'time' is made of. And it has to be made of SOMETHING.

Aug 17, 2019
As far as science, everybody KNOWS that I am but a mere scholar and interested observer. I am still learning, although I KNOW for a fact that 'time' doesn't exist. Why, even Castrovagina doesn't know what 'time' is made of. And it has to be made of SOMETHING.
Don't change the subject. Do what's right by humanity or gtfo. And don't ever invite me to leave the country i love, was born in, and swore to defend against all enemies, including fascists and nazis. You know-nothing puke.

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