Coercion vs. Persuasion

Coercion vs. persuasion is a term used to compare tactics. It is the description of two possible means to an end. Ideally, nonviolence works by opening the heart of the opponent, in other words, by persuading them to voluntarily change their belief or action. Coercion on the other hand, employs threat power so that one person feels they have no option but to surrender. Although the process of persuasion may take more time, it is less likely to lead to a cycle of retaliation or revenge. By using persuasive means instead of coercive ones, the positive effects of a nonviolent action are much more durable. When bullied into submission, it is human nature to fight back at the earliest opportunity.
There are times in a nonviolent campaign, however, when it is not realistically possible to persuade because the perpetrator has been unmoved by persuasive appeals. This was the case in the struggle against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. It is unlikely that he would have ever been persuaded to voluntarily give up power. In the end, it was through the popular demand for elections that the Chilean people were finally able to oust Pinochet and end the junta in 1988.