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A life in nonviolent resistance:
remembering Howard Clark

Howard ClarkHoward Clark (1950-2013) was not only a pacifist, he was a leader in the worldwide effort to replace violent struggle with nonviolent conflict. For Howard, nonviolent action was a feasible alternative, and so he devoted himself to teaching and training people in the strategy and the art of nonviolent action. He believed that achieving success in this required unity among participants in a campaign or movement, a solid understanding of group dynamics and thinking, an effective decision-making process, clear and attainable goals, and commitment to nonviolent discipline. He promoted his convictions through the extensive transnational work he pursued and the longstanding people-to-people solidarity to which he committed. But above all, Howard did all this work with passion, with vital concern for those he was helping and teaching, and with love for his partner, family and friends, who loved him for what he stood for as well as who he was.

We bring together writings and videos from across his career, together with contributions from Washington's International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and some of his closest colleagues, in a celebration of his work.

Introducing Howard Clark:


In memory of Howard Clark

This video was prepared in Howard Clark’s memory for his posthumous receipt of the James Lawson Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict, presented to his family on June 18, 2014, at the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict at Tufts University. (Video, 4 mins)

Remembering Howard Clark

Michael Randle charts the course of Howard Clark’s life and career in peace activism and research, including his time working with Clark on the Alternative Defence Commission during the 1980s. In his politics and personality, Clark committed himself to building networks and coalitions.

Howard Clark’s scholarship: commitment and contribution

April Carter explores Howard Clark’s academic contribution to the study of nonviolent action. Clark had special expertise on the civil resistance in Kosovo against Serbian oppression from 1988 to 1998. But his writing and knowledge of many struggles was internationalist in breadth.

Be realistic, demand the impossible

In 2001, Howard Clark authored this piece for War Resisters’ International on the dangers inherent in extending the degree of social mobilisation. A common tendency for many of us is to mistake militancy for empowerment. Such militancy, however, has its price.

Land for the people!

Writing in 2012 for War Resisters’ International, Howard Clark sketches the situation facing nonviolent movements against land grab and militarism. For Clark, campaigns that combined attachment to land with opposition to war and militarism carried a special appeal.

“Someone is making a killing from war”

In this 2005 note for War Resisters’ International, Howard Clark explains why the campaign against war profiteering is integral to WRI’s broader promotion of nonviolence. Taking action against those who profit from war involves facing a powerful lobby in favour of military expenditure.

Choosing nonviolent action

In this 2007 piece, written for War Resisters’ International, Howard Clark explains why pacifists are required to develop nonviolent alternatives to organised violence. Nonviolence does not offer a ‘quick fix’, but it can set processes of fundamental change in motion.

Standing up to repression

In this 2012 essay, originally written for War Resisters’ International, Howard Clark reflects on the relationship between nonviolent strategy and dealing with fear. Social movements require solidarity and a spirit of learning in order to channel their defiance.

Unarmed resistance, ‘people power’ and nonviolent struggle

This is the first of two extracts that openDemocracy is republishing from Howard Clark’s introduction to People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity, originally published in 2009. It summarises Clark’s distinctive perspectives on the field of civil resistance.

People power: transnational activism

This is the second of two extracts that openDemocracy is republishing from Howard Clark’s introduction to People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity, originally published in 2009. It maps out Clark’s particular approach to the field of civil resistance.

The limits of prudence: civil resistance in Kosovo 1990-98

Howard Clark’s 2009 article “The Limits of Prudence” is a clear summary of his research into the civil resistance in Kosovo in the late 1980s and early 1990s and his particular perspectives on its limitations. It was written in the aftermath of the outbreak of guerilla warfare and NATO intervention.

In commemoration of Howard Clark’s work with the ICNC

Maciej Bartkowski, senior director of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, remembers Howard Clark as an effective collaborator and a scholar-practitioner with a distinct and nuanced approach to the field of nonviolent conflict.

Video: Howard Clark on overcoming fear

Howard Clark reflects on Spain’s 15-M Movement, explores civil resistance and external actors, and discusses nonviolent movements and overcoming fear, at an ICNC Academic Seminar at Central European University in Budapest, 2011.

Civil resistance in Kosovo: leader syndromes

This is one of two extracts from Howard Clark’s major study Civil Resistance in Kosovo (the other can be read here). Both are important reflections of Howard’s particular perspectives. They merit close reading alongside his article “The limits of prudence” (republished here).

Video: Howard Clark on the cultural aspects of civil resistance

Howard Clark discusses the cultural aspects of civil resistance, explores the relationship between civil resistance movements and violent radicals, and considers the civil resistance against Hitler, at an ICNC Academic Seminar at the Euro-Mediterranean University, 2010.

Video: Howard Clark on concepts of civil resistance

Howard Clark discusses concepts of civil resistance and the misconceptions about strategic nonviolent action at an International Center for Nonviolent Conflict workshop in Istanbul, 2010.

Civil resistance in Kosovo: goals and transitions

Howard Clark’s seminal work Civil Resistance in Kosovo, published in 2000, further refined his distinctive approach to nonviolent strategy, and his groundbreaking research into civil resistance in Kosovo: “Nonviolence in Kosovo was a strategic commitment.”

Nonviolent struggle in Kosovo

At a meeting of the Nonviolent Action Research Project on Thursday 13 March, 1997, Howard Clark talked about the campaign for self-determination in Kosovo/a. The issues raised in this talk were to be critical to his seminal work, Civil Resistance in Kosovo, published in 2000.

De-developing nukes

Howard Clark’s ideas on nonviolent strategy from 1978: how can the local victories of the anti-nuclear movement be strengthened in order to mount a serious structural challenge to the state’s commitment to nuclear power? Nonviolent anarchists must remind themselves of the failure of the civil disobedience against the Bomb.

Non-violence: past, present, future

An informative guide to non-violent activism worldwide offers a valuable, positive resource through difficult times. It is also a tribute to the lifelong work of its co-editor, Howard Clark.

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