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Abstract

The Northern Ireland struggle has enlisted or given birth to a great many social welfare organizations allegedly dedicated to the nonviolent solution of the area’s problems. These consist principally of three types: (1) agencies of religious denominations or groups of denominations, (2) voluntary social work, demonstration, and protest societies, and (3) political actionist bodies. Those of the first two types face the pitfalls of the ready middleclass recourse to conscience-soothing rituals and to compromise at the expense of lowerclass and ethnic outgroup interests. Those of the third type include ones that are effective, but some tend to fall into lowerclass dependence in frustration upon violence, a counterproductive procedure. The first two types apply “band-aids” to painful symptoms or create a kind of social anesthesia. Despite noble intent, they both leave the exploitative social structure intact. At this time, only such cross-class organizations as the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, the Association for Legal Justice, and Amnesty International appear to have made substantial nonviolent contributions to the movement of Northern Ireland toward a just settlement of differences, a settlement that is still far in the future.

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