by Robert Wilkinson
Most have never heard of this force of nature who has given the blueprint to thousands of revolutionaries over the past 50 years. Make no mistake – he IS Da Man! Without his written works, there very well might have been no Eastern European color revolutions, no Arab Spring, and perhaps even no Occupy movement.
Gene Sharp (January 21, 1928) has a bio that’s remarkable. Three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, his masterwork From Dictatorship to Democracy has had a profound influence on liberation struggles around the world. In 1983 he founded the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization devoted to studies and promotion of the use of nonviolent action in conflicts worldwide. By all means, go over to Wikipedia and check this guy out. His bonafides are solid gold! Here’s a little from that source:
Sharp's contributions to the theory of nonviolent resistance
Gene Sharp described the sources of his ideas as in-depth studies of Mohandas K. Gandhi, A.J. Muste, Henry David Thoreau to a minor degree, and other sources footnoted in his 1973 book The Politics of Nonviolent Action, which was based on his 1968 PhD thesis. In the book, a "three-volume classic on civil disobedience,” he provides a pragmatic political analysis of nonviolent action as a method for applying power in a conflict.
Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. For Sharp, political power, the power of any state - regardless of its particular structural organization - ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects' obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). If subjects do not obey, rulers have no power.
In Sharp's view, all effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from their subjects. States have particularly complex systems for keeping subjects obedient. These systems include specific institutions (police, courts, regulatory bodies), but may also involve cultural dimensions that inspire obedience by implying that power is monolithic (the god cult of the Egyptian pharaohs, the dignity of the office of the President, moral or ethical norms and taboos). Through these systems, subjects are presented with a system of sanctions (imprisonment, fines, ostracism) and rewards (titles, wealth, fame) which influence the extent of their obedience.
Sharp identifies this hidden structure as providing a window of opportunity for a population to cause significant change in a state. Sharp cites the insight of Etienne de La Boetie (1530 – 1563), that if the subjects of a particular state recognize that they are the source of the state's power, they can refuse their obedience and their leader(s) will be left without power.
Sharp published Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential in 2005. It builds on his earlier written works by documenting case studies where nonviolent action has been applied, and the lessons learned from those applications, and contains information on planning nonviolent struggle to make it more effective.
From later in the entry:
Sharp's 1993 handbook From Dictatorship to Democracy was first published in Burma, fourth edition in 2010. It has since been translated into at least 31 other languages. It has served as a basis for the campaigns of Serbia’s Otpor (who were also directly trained by the Albert Einstein Institute), Georgia’s Kmara, Ukraine’s Pora, Kyrgyzstan’s KelKel, and Belarus’ Zubr. Pora’s Oleh Kyriyenko said in a 2004 interview with Radio Netherlands,Here’s a 4 minute promo clip for the documentary “How To Start A Revolution” which is one remarkable piece of work."The bible of Pora has been the book of Gene Sharp, also used by Otpor, it's called: From Dictatorship to Democracy. Pora activists have translated it by themselves. We have written to Mr Sharp and to the Albert Einstein Institute in the United States, and he became very sympathetic towards our initiative, and the Institution provided funding to print over 12,000 copies of this book for free.”
Sharp's writings on "Civilian-Based Defense" were used by the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments during their separation from the Soviet Union in 1991. Lithuanian Defence Minister Audrius Butkevicius declared at the time, "I would rather have this book than the nuclear bomb".
Here’s the whole 52 minutes, so please do yourself a huge favor and watch it. Your life could change forever. “How To Start A Revolution”
For those who would rather listen in Spanish, here it is. (I thought some of you might appreciate this!) Documental - Cómo empezar una revolución - Gene Sharp
From January 2012, here’s a great 90 minute Frontline interview! Insight with Gene Sharp- From Dictatorship to Democracy
Here's the official Gene Sharp site: Gene Sharp - How To Start A Revolution
Here’s the Wikipedia entry for Gene Sharp At the bottom there are a lot of great links to interviews and other things about him, as well as what he's written.
For those who want to know more: Albert Einstein Institution
This one man has done more to help our world to peace, justice, and freedom than anyone alive today. And he wrote it all down so we all can learn from his insights and experience! So a huge happy to you, Gene Sharp, for making our world a better place for your life and work. May you live to see the overthrow of ALL dictatorships, as well as crypto-dictatorships. Every one.
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson