Conflicts can be both productive and counterproductive, depending on the goals the opposing sides pursue and the methods they choose to utilize. Generally speaking, productive conflicts demonstrate a greater degree of flexibility, while counterproductive ones focus exclusively on defeating the opposing side (Folger, Poole, & Stutman, 2021). This is why a nonviolent approach is usually more conducive to better results. When applied to current conflicts in London and the Middle East, it could take the form of peaceful political dialogue and civil resistance, respectfully.
An example of recent conflict in London is the controversy over the nation’s racist legacies actualized by the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests over destroying or keeping certain monuments included physical clashes between far-right activists and the police (“London protests,” 2020). Folger et al. (2021) would have classified this conflict as inflexible to do narrowly defined goals, as both sides sought to physically suppress the opposition. A nonviolent approach would require political dialogue between left and right to discuss the appropriateness of each given monument in a contemporary context. It would be a better option due to addressing the principal cause behind the disagreement.
Violent conflicts in the Middle East take more extreme forms, but nonviolent strategies can also be viable there. When faced with the threat of armed violence, denizens of Middle Eastern cities proved able to organize for nonviolent civil resistance, such as strikes, boycotts, and the creation of alternative economic networks (Stanley, 2017). These measures have demonstrated some success even against such a notoriously violent organization as ISIS (Stanley, 2017). Thus, one may consider them as a feasible option when analyzing the conflicts in the contemporary Middle East.
To summarize, a nonviolent approach to conflicts is an actual possibility in many contemporary contexts because it offers greater flexibility and pursues broader goals than the immediate defeat of the opponent. London would have benefited from channeling the conflict about controversial monuments into political dialogue rather than street clashes. Similarly, the harsh conflicts of the Middle East also demonstrate the possibility for peaceful strategies of civil resistance.
Folger, G. P., Poole, M. S., & Stutman, R. K. (2021). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. London: Routledge.
London protests: Demonstrators clash with police. (2020). Web.
Stanley, B. (2017). The city-logic of resistance: Subverting urbicide in the Middle East city. Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, 12(3), 10-24.