Saturday, February 23, 2013

Revolution all over the world

From Dictatorship to Democacy is a handbook with 198 points about how to peacefully overthrow a tyrant and move toward democracy.  The book is online and can be downloaded by anyone; its author is Gene Sharp a man in his 80s who is the senior scholar  at the Albert Einstein Foundation -- a fine title and fine foundation which actually consists of Mr. Sharp and an assistant in two rooms of Mr. Sharp's modest home in Boston where he has built a greenhouse to contain his hobby of growing orchids. He is a former professor at U.Mass-Dartmouth.

Sharp. a quiet, reasonable man whose book has been translated into at least three dozen language, was the subject of the documentary film I saw yesterday.  His handbook wasa used with great success by the revolutionaries in Serbia and those more recently in Egypt, also Ukraine, (Soviet) Georgia, Kazhakstan and with less obvious and immediate success in many, many other revolutions around the world, including Burma/Myanmar, China (Tienneman Square and many other cities), Indonesia .. on and on.

While I was watching the film and the first thing I mentioned in the discussion was that this man deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.  The first thing I noticed when I went to Wikipedia was that he has been nominated but so far not given the prize.  Mr. Sharp is an example of how one individual can have an enormous impact on a global scale.  His methods are entirely nonviolent, his 198 points can't all be implemented at all times in all places and the degrees of success can't always be measured -- it took Burma 25 years to have social change -- but then, think about it, Ghandi's nonviolence resulted in freeing India but they have been struggling since 1948 -- but struggling democratically.

We had a long discussion after this movie. Many brought up the Occupy movement here which used some of Sharp's techniques. Many thought it had been unsuccessful, but others pointed out that it put the 1%/99% idea on the front pages and it's very possible that idea was responsible for the last election when most of the Big Money was behind Romney --ordinary 99% voted against all the big money weilded by the 1%.

The great message of the film and of the class discussion is that change happens slowly - and sometimes suddenly - and sometimes two steps forward, one step back (as in Russia today), but it can happen without war.  Change  by nonviolent means may eventually replace war as a way to make civil society actually civil. It will have to be a nonviolent revolution againt the military-indusrial complex and Truman warned us to beware of, they have tyranized much of the world.



Thank you for introducing Gene Sharp. I downloaded his book and was impressed although I have not finished it. found him also on some YouTube lectures. Thanks -- barbara

June Calender said...

I'm glad you find him interesting, Barbara. He seems to me someone everyone ought to know about.