Gene Sharp's book From Dictatorship to Democracy has inspired numerous non-violent uprisings against dictatorships around the world.
Half a world away from Cairo's Tahrir Square, an ageing American intellectual shuffles around his cluttered terrace house in a working-class Boston neighbourhood. His name is Gene Sharp. White-haired and now in his mid-eighties, he grows orchids, he has yet to master the internet and he hardly seems like a dangerous man. But for the world's dictators his ideas can be the catalyst for the end of their regime.
Few people outside the world of academia have ever heard his name, but his writings on nonviolent revolution (most notably 'From Dictatorship to Democracy', a 93-page, 198-step guide to toppling dictators, available free for download in 40 languages) have inspired a new generation of protesters living under authoritarian regimes who yearn for democratic freedom.
His ideas have taken root in places as far apart as Burma, Thailand, Bosnia, Estonia, Iran, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and now in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East as old orders crumble amidst the protests of their disgruntled citizens.
This new film HOW TO START A REVOLUTION reveals how Gene's ideas work in action. The film uses extended interviews with Gene himself, his assistant, his followers and leaders of revolutionary movements worldwide, as well as user-generated content from around the globe, to reveal the power of nonviolent revolution on the streets.
About the film
Country: Great Britain
Director: Ruaridh Arrow
Gene Sharp - How to Start a Revolution Trailer
Uploaded by genesharpfilm on Sep 29, 2011
http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Start-Revolution-Ruaridh-Arrow/dp/B0073DLYSE/ref=... book available http://www.amazon.com/dictatorship-democracy-conceptual-framework-liberation/... A documentary following the life and work of revolutionary academic Gene Sharp who wrote "From Dictatorship to Democracy" the book used to topple dictatorships all over the world.
Director Ruaridh Arrow
Director of Photography Philip Bloom
Released Fall 2011
Gene Sharp – nonviolence strategist number one
by Kristian Berg Harpviken, (written for Human Rights Human Wrongs)
The Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO
The last year has been a renaissance for nonviolent activism. When the Arab Spring in a few years will be assessed,
I believe we will find that nonviolence trumped armed rebellion as the most efficient means of promoting democracy –
while limiting violence. The nonviolent activists in the Arab streets are inspired by Gene Sharp. They have read local
translations of his works and have taken to the streets armed with nothing but scruffy home-printed versions of his list
of nonviolent methods. Nonviolence advocacy characterizes Sharp's life: From his protests against the Korean War in the
early fifties, via his later stay in Oslo studying Norwegian teachers' resistance against the Nazi occupation during
World War II, to his current role as an inspiration in the revolts in Egypt, Syria and Yemen.
Nevertheless, Gene Sharp is an unknown figure to most of us. As citizens of stable democracies, who by and large trust
politicians to serve our interests, we cannot fully comprehend the everyday lives under oppressive and violent regimes.
To those who want – or need – to stand up against the oppression, however, Sharp's systematic thinking on the merits and
methods of nonviolence is a central source of inspiration. Where Machiavelli, Clausewitz and Sun Tzu focus on the
instruments of power and warfare, Sharp gives us the opposite: the art of confronting an opponent without resorting to violence.
Born in 1928 and growing up in Ohio, USA, Sharp's childhood and adolescent years were marked by global conflict: the interwar period,
the Second World War, the introduction of the atomic bomb and the onset of the Cold War. Already as a young man, he was convinced of
the precedence of nonviolence over war and was even jailed for nine months in 1953-54 for protesting against the conscription of
soldiers for the Korean War. Shortly after, he published a book on Mahatma Gandhi, probably the best known nonviolence advocate to date.
Unlike most other authors on Gandhi, Sharp was more concerned with his strategic thinking and tactical means rather than his moral virtues.
This line of thinking has been a guiding principle in Sharp's work: Not only is nonviolence morally superior to violence;
it is first and foremost an efficient way of promoting political change. Fighting the bigger power of the state and its security
forces using their own weapons of choice, on their own arena, is doomed to fail. By defining and using its own means and playing on
its advantages, however, the weaker part can succeed in dethroning even the mightiest despot. Sharp has systematically collected
such methods of nonviolent resistance, and his list of about 200 items is frequently employed by activists globally.
In fact, Sharp begun working on this list while in Oslo, where he spent two and a half year in the late 1950s invited by philosopher and
fellow nonviolence advocate Arne Næss. He was first affiliated with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oslo and later with
the Institute for Social Research, where he also met the pioneers of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), established in 1959.
One of them, Mari Holmboe Ruge, was the daughter of Haakon Holmboe, who was central in the teachers' protest against Nazification of
the Norwegian schools. Holmboe was arrested in spring of 1942 along with about 1000 other teachers and became an important informant
for Sharp's later research spurred by a fascination for this targeted, nonviolent campaign.
Today's Arab Spring activists have frequently pointed to Sharp. In a comment to the documentary 'How to Start a Revolution',
which details the role of Sharp's works in the Arab revolts, he states that he is 'bashful', 'not used to all this personal attention',
and that the true heroes in this story are the people that actually take part in the struggle. There is no doubt that Sharp's writings
have been important to many of the protesters in the Arab countries, however. Core to his work is that dictatorships depend upon
the (sometimes tacit) submission and cooperation of the people: Remove the submission, and the regime will fall. Effective nonviolence
requires a joining of ranks and a strong discipline. Above all, a principled nonviolent stance comes with a moral standing that
appeals to the people. The more violence from the oppressor, the more nonviolence from the oppressed, is Sharp's formula. And this is
where his list of methods enters the picture. For motivation to be kept high and the activists to be kept within the realm of nonviolence,
concrete methods of nonviolent action are required, methods that will further the larger audience's support. New communication technology
such as Internet and mobile phones are important tools precisely because they provide avenues of effective communication outside of
the authorities' control.
Although Sharp does not figure prominently in the headlines of the global media, he has influenced multiple revolts and revolutions all
over the world. He is frequently cited as an inspiration for the Baltic secession from Soviet and the Otpor! movement in Serbia. He was
present in Beijing just days before the protests on Tiananmen Square, conducting activist workshops. He has been read in civil society
circles from Iran to Tibet, from Ukraine to Venezuela. And just as he is popular among protesters, he is perceived of as threatening
by power holders. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, for instance, accused him of working for US intelligence services aiming to overthrow
his and other regimes that are not working with the USA, an allegation that has been forcefully rebutted.
Unlike other nonviolence advocates, Sharp is not a principled pacifist. To him, the mere efficiency of nonviolence is what matters.
He expresses scepticism toward the view that nonviolence is effective only under certain circumstances; that violence is the only means
to fight the most repressive regimes. The Libyan resistance did not resort to violence because it was the only way, Sharp finds,
but because they did not truly consider available nonviolent means.
Not much research has been conducted on nonviolence, and the little that has been done has been preoccupied with the moral foundation.
A new research agenda takes Sharp's strategic framework seriously, however. Here, the basic question concerns which protest movements
are more effective in bringing about change; the nonviolent or the violent ones? Preliminary findings suggest that nonviolent movements
indeed are more successful. Erica Chenoweth at Wesleyan College in Connecticut has been spearheading this research. She is now collaborating
with researchers at PRIO – including Kristian Skrede Gleditsch and Scott Gates – on a new project funded by the Research Council of Norway.
It is a major event when Gene Sharp comes to Oslo to attend the viewing of 'How to Start a Revolution'. For my 2010 annual Nobel Peace
Prize speculations I suggested Gene Sharp as a candidate. He responded pleasantly in writing, telling me about his stay in Norway some
50 years ago and what he picked up then. Although Sharp himself does not promote his candidacy, I still think he would make a worthy
laureate and hope that the Nobel Committee will listen. At 84 years of age, Sharp's health is not what it used to be and he limits his travelling.
He says, however, that he wants to visit Norway as a token of appreciation for what he learnt during his stay, which he sees as the
start of his analytic line of work on nonviolent protest. All those involved in peace and conflict issues should seize this opportunity
to collect inspiration and wisdom from the world's greatest thinker on nonviolence.
Gene Sharp 的纪录片：如何发起一场革命 挪威奥斯陆 人权和人权罪 纪录片电影节 http://lihlii.posterous.com/gene-sharp