There is a lot that has been written about nonviolence as a set of tactics and as a strategy for bringing about changes in a society. Many people believe that nonviolence won't work against a ruthless opponent. However, nonviolence is like ju-jitsu where the opponent's strength is used against him. The better one understands the tactics and strategy of nonviolence, the better one will be able to know when and how to apply it. Good starting points for anyone who wants to learn more are the wikipedia article on nonviolence and the Albert Einstein Institution web site:
People who have studied or lived through one or more nonviolent revolutions have a lot of well thought out ideas on the subject. For example, two possible of aims of nonviolent struggles can be separating a regime from its means of exercising power, and delegitimizing a regime in the eyes of its subjects and the rest of the world by forcing it to demonstrate it's repressive nature.
You also have to understand the shortcomings of violent means to understand the benefits of nonviolent action. For example: Violent tactics will put the revolutionaries and the regime on identical moral ground which may reduce internal and external support. Violent means may also increase the risk replacing the regime with an equally repressive one.
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