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How to Hack the Dictatorship.
February 17, 2011 7:11 PM   Subscribe

How to Hack the Dictatorship. "Gene Sharp is an American intellectual whose ideas can be fatal to the world's despots. For decades, Mr. Sharp's practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt." His fame is spreading.
posted by storybored (21 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fatal?
posted by ryanrs at 7:39 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was hoping someone would do a post about him after the current round of revolutions. Here's a 2007 interview with the Progressive I saw after that NYT piece:

Q: How have you been received in Russia?

Sharp: I’ve had five translations done of my work there. When the fifth translation went to a printing press in Moscow, the successor to the KGB, the FSB, raided the presses, ordered the presses to stop, took the text away. It finally had to be printed outside of Moscow. Two of the bookstores that were selling it in Moscow then burned down within two weeks. Of course, accidentally.

Q: When did this happen?

Sharp: About a year ago. Dictators don’t like us.


There's also a previously from 2006, but I hope this stays given Sharp's new prominence.
posted by mediareport at 7:41 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also a great hour-long documentary, Bringing Down a Dictator, about the Serbian resistance group Otpor's use of Sharp's ideas to take out Milosevic, if folks want an accessible overview of how it worked in practice in one situation. The film is narrated by Martin Sheen and is well-edited and totally inspirational. It aired on PBS years ago but for some reason the supporting site has been "retired." I think it's about time PBS brought it back.
posted by mediareport at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can we just do all Chuck Norris facts about this guy instead from now on?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can we just do all Chuck Norris facts about this guy instead from now on?

It's not as funny if they're true!
posted by JHarris at 8:59 PM on February 17, 2011


How long before he's targeted by the frothing hatedogs of the right? Or has he been already? They have a thing for targeting obscure academics. And they don't seem to mind showing off the huge boners they get at the thought of crushing democratic revolutions and killing off women or those who help them, as this month has shown. I'm sure trying to get an advocate of nonviolent overthrow of dicatators labeled as an enemy of America won't be a problem.
posted by emjaybee at 9:25 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


emjaybee, it might be hard for the frothing hatedogs to get worked up over stuff like this:

In 2007, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela denounced him...

In 2008, Iran featured Mr. Sharp, along with Senator John McCain of Arizona and the Democratic financier George Soros, in an animated propaganda video that accused Mr. Sharp of being the C.I.A. agent “in charge of America’s infiltration into other countries..."

posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on February 17, 2011


There is also an interview with Gene Sharp at SSRC's Immanent Frame.
posted by willF at 9:33 PM on February 17, 2011


This is fascinating.
Think I'll have to start forwarding that pdf far and wide.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:41 PM on February 17, 2011


Whoa, I didn't notice it at first, but the Gene Sharp Navigator on the right side of the article of the 1st Times story is great...

Thanks so much for this.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:51 PM on February 17, 2011


read "Social origins of Dictatorship and Democracy"
by B. Moore.

If Hugo thinks this guy is spook and his work gets wrecked and burned, won't his ideas have a backlash for the U.S. if they are tied in with the popular protest occuring around the world.
how could freedom be a C.I.A. plot?

thanks for the pointer artof.mulata, i would have missed that.
posted by clavdivs at 10:07 PM on February 17, 2011


I don't know, if there's one thing the American right can agree with the Iranian government on, it's bizarre guilt-by-association conspiracy theories about George Soros. Oh no, wait, actually they agree with each other about lots of things.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:09 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


So this is sort of the opposite of Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:54 AM on February 18, 2011


Quoting From Dictatorship to Democracy p. 56 [pdf]
... street demonstrations and parades against extreme dictatorships may be dramatic, but they may also risk thousands of dead demonstrators. The high cost to the demonstrators may not, however, actually apply more pressure on the dictatorship than would occur through everyone staying home, a strike, or massive acts of noncooperation from the civil servants.

p. 61
Initial symbolic protest actions have at times aroused major national and international attention — as the mass street demonstrations in Burma in 1988 or the student occupation and hunger strike in Tiananman Square in Beijing in 1989. The high casualties of demonstrators in both of these cases points to the great care strategists must exercise in planning campaigns. Although having a tremendous moral and psychological impact, such actions by themselves are unlikely to bring down a dictatorship, for they remain largely symbolic and do not alter the power position of the dictatorship.

I'm thinking of Lybia here. The uprising in Egypt seems to have been well organized and followed Sharp's advice pretty closely. I doubt if the copy-cat revolutions in the region inspied by their apparent success are as well organized or thought out.
posted by nangar at 6:59 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, I missed empath's post but I did see the recent article in the dead tree and was all about to go all New York Times filter in my mind at first glance, but, dang, storybored really added some right on links there. As did the some of the commentaters -- this quite turned out be an epitome of Gene Sharpery.
posted by y2karl at 7:07 AM on February 18, 2011


pdf;dnr

Now I wonder what of the methods applied to, oh say, the US government would get a reaction?

Standing silent with your back turned to the Secretary of State is enough to have a 71 year old beat up....
posted by rough ashlar at 8:22 AM on February 18, 2011


he is a goddamn superhero
posted by lslelel at 8:56 AM on February 18, 2011


There's also a great hour-long documentary, Bringing Down a Dictator, about the Serbian resistance group Otpor's use of Sharp's ideas to take out Milosevic, if folks want an accessible overview of how it worked in practice in one situation. The film is narrated by Martin Sheen and is well-edited and totally inspirational. It aired on PBS years ago but for some reason the supporting site has been "retired." I think it's about time PBS brought it back.

I just saw this movie last night! It was terrific. I'm not sure where my group found it - I checked Netflix (because I wanted to make my boyfriend watch it) but it wasn't there. I very highly recommend it, if folks are able to track it down somehow.
posted by naoko at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2011


Hopefully this gets spread around much as possible.
posted by upisdown at 10:21 PM on February 18, 2011


Revolution U: What Egypt learned from the students who overthrew Milosevic

Inside the April 6 Youth Movement
posted by homunculus at 10:31 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


March 9, 2011 FitzWalkerStan thread on Mefi.

And may a million flowers of Gene Sharp peaceful resistance bloom, come what come may....
posted by Skygazer at 12:25 AM on March 11, 2011


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