Think before you do anything. You need a lot of knowledge first.
April 14, 2017 8:10 AM Subscribe
Until now, [Gene] Sharp’s ideas have largely been applied in authoritarian contexts abroad, whether in the Middle East, post-Communist Europe, or elsewhere. But under Trump, Sharp’s ideas have become all too relevant to the contemporary United States. What insights could American activists today glean from his work about the possibility of resisting the Trump administration? How to Bring Down a Dictator: Reading Gene Sharp in Trump’s America (Dissent Magazine)
A longtime and prolific theorist of nonviolent direct action, Sharp first came to international prominence in 2000, when Serbian democratic activists inspired by his ideas helped to depose Slobodan Milosevic, as portrayed in the powerful documentary Bringing Down a Dictator. Sharp’s name resurfaced in 2011, when the activists of the Arab Spring found inspiration (previously) in his books and pamphlets, and CNN referred to him as “a dictator’s worst nightmare.”How to Stand Up to Trump and Win (New York Times)
Compliance is key to the legitimacy of any regime, and Sharp offers a handbook for how to effectively withhold it. His compendium of 198 Methods for Nonviolent Action presents a wide range of techniques—from letters and speak-outs to boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, blockades, and slowdowns—that citizens can employ to refuse an illegitimate authority. When coupled with more traditional forms of protest, these tactical disruptions of the normal functioning of the system can place immense pressure on dictators. Sharp treats authoritarian regimes as fragmented coalitions held together by a tenuous obedience to authority. Once the perception of invincibility is removed, such regimes can rapidly disintegrate.
Today Sharp is 89 and in fading health. But his longtime collaborator, Jamila Raqib, has been holding workshops for anti-Trump activists, and there have even been similar sessions for civil servants in Washington exploring how they should serve under a leader they distrust.Gene Sharp is the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action. The Institution's publications are free online, and translated into dozens of languages, along with more free resources on their website (previously).
The main message Sharp and Raqib offered is that effectiveness does not come from pouring out into the street in symbolic protests. It requires meticulous research, networking and preparation.
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments