From Dictatorship to Democracy
May 16, 2006 10:27 AM   Subscribe

From Dictatorship to Democracy. This guide to non-violent revolution by Gene Sharp was the handbook for turning over dictatorial regimes in Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine. you know... just for future reference.
posted by empath (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This topic has been coming up a lot lately. Interesting.
posted by SaintCynr at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2006

The actual recipe for a "Color Revolution":

1. Have tons of aid from US-funded NGOs.
2. Set up a flashy, telegenic "youth movement" aimed at non-specific pro-Western "reforms" using Madison Avenue-style advertising.
3. Hold an election between an incumbent or the incumbent's favorite, who is labelled a "dictator" in the Western media, and a telegenic pro-West "reformer."
(3a. Links to neo-nazis optional.)
4. Accuse the incumbent or the incumbent's favorite of fixing the vote. (It is irrelevant whether or not vote-fixing actually occurs.)
5. Have your "youth movement" rally for several days or weeks in a public square, triggering a new election.
6. Instant "democracy"!

(Actual democracy not guaranteed. And if you pay attention to Serbia, Georgia, or Ukraine, it's not much better since.)
posted by graymouser at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2006

From the book:

In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him "ju gong" (monkey master).

Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: "Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?" The others said: "No, they grew naturally." The small monkey further asked: "Can't we take the fruits without the old man's permission?" The others replied: "Yes, we all can." The small monkey continued: "Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?"

Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Yu-li-zi says, "Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren't they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work."

posted by empath at 10:48 AM on May 16, 2006

Is there a version of the story where one of the monkeys informs on the troublemaker, who is never heard from again?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:52 AM on May 16, 2006

Graymouser: Surely funding non-violent revolution is a better method of regime-change than invasion.
posted by empath at 10:52 AM on May 16, 2006

What if the monkey master has a pen full of bears? (And they get out.)
posted by beth at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2006


I'm making two distinct salient points here. One, the "Color Revolutions" are not about national liberation or democracy. The Eastern European affairs were primarily about turning Russian satellites into US/European satellites. Two (which follows from the previous point), this is not actually a model of revolution, but of regime change, and would be invalid for a peaceful revolution in the United States or Western Europe.

Certainly it's better to fund a faux "revolution" than to bomb a country into submission. It's also better to pick someone's pocket than to shoot him and take his wallet, but neither is good.
posted by graymouser at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2006

I don't see why regime change wouldn't be a valid model in the United States. The rest of the world would surely have a stake in over-turning a genuine American dictatorship, should we slide into that.

If you have some 'behind-the-scenes' articles supporting that those were genuinely 'faux' revolutions, I'd be interested in reading them. My impression has always been that the foreign NGO's supported a resistance movement that already existed.
posted by empath at 11:02 AM on May 16, 2006

In totalitarian China, monkey flogs you!

/sorry, really
posted by StephenV at 11:23 AM on May 16, 2006


There's some good reading on Ukraine here. It's a good overview, with links for deeper reading, of what was going on in Ukraine in late 2004. (The site also has the neo-Nazi article I linked to earlier. I don't endorse the site's point of view, but this is actually a solid amalgamation of articles examining the roots of the "Orange Revolution.") The bulk of what's been happening in these events is a Western-sponsored movement, based primarily among well-heeled young college students. It has little or no mass rooting in the countries; a fact proven by the fact that Nasha Ukraina ("Our Ukraine," Yushchenko's party) lost badly in this year's parliamentary elections.
posted by graymouser at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2006

The book _The Search for a Nonviolent Future_ by Michael Nagler has a lot of great information on nonviolent action, and refers to these revolutions. I would recommend it.
posted by edheil at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2006

Ukraine slipped back. In Belarus, the movement failed.
posted by 3.2.3 at 12:33 PM on May 16, 2006

So I guess we are going to do nothing about this NSA domestic spying huh? Then when one of your neighbors disappears one day and is held in an unknown detention center without a trial we'll all just hope it wasn't just a case of mistaken identity. What will be your alternative then? To stand up and scream for justice? Just one person? Then you'll also be under suspicion. Better to believe that the guy you knew all those years to be an upstanding member of our society was secretly funneling money to a terrorist organization, get back in line and watch what you say. As Ari Fleischer once said: this is not the time to be criticizing the government...
posted by any major dude at 1:11 PM on May 16, 2006

I think its a bit disingenuous to say the Orange Revolution was the product of western marketing. Product of ethnic rivalries rather then tyranny perhaps, but def. organic. Certainly supported by the West - but is there something wrong with that? The then ruling party was certainly supported by the Russians to a much much greater level then our support for the parties centered on the ethincally Ukranian parts of the country.

Also graymouser I was under the impression that the reason for Yushchenko's loss had more to do with splintering in his support post his dismissal of the PM then any repudiation of the revolution.

In the most recent election I believe nearly all of the ethnic Russian parties funding came from Russians, and Putin cut off the flow of subsidized gas as a sort of shot across the bow to vote for his guy or else.

The NGO that got too involved in Georgia is financed by Soros. There is certainly no love lost between Soros and current US government if you remember his comments around the last US elections. Everything I've read on the results of that change seem to be very positive. At least in economic terms. Also even before that revolution I think it would be difficult to call Georgia a client state of Russia - especially given the support of the Abkhazians and Ossetian rebels by Moscow.
posted by JPD at 1:24 PM on May 16, 2006

any major dude:

Who are you accusing of inaction? If it's me, you're barking up the wrong tree. I just think that those who look at the "Orange Revolution" for a model are looking at the wrong Slavic revolution.
posted by graymouser at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2006

And what, pray tell, would be the "right" Slavic revolution? We're all so anxious to hear.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:40 PM on May 16, 2006

The dictatorship in Serbia was ended by an American bombing campaign. It was plenty violent, too.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:03 PM on May 16, 2006

Ok, a few points:

a. no "dictatorship" in Serbia was ended by any bombing campaign. If one takes a look now the "democratic" successors of Milosevic one notes that a. the quite fascist Radicals are on the verge of scoring an electoral victory. The fact of the matter is that Milosevic fell despite expressing the virtually unanimous position of the Serbs on the Kosovo issue. The bombing - if anything - made his departure more difficult and gave his electoral base to the extreme right (compared to which Milosevic was a moderate on national issues).

b. In the Ukraine, while the people that actually demonstrated were obviously hoping for something better than what they had, the attempt to portray the two sides there as "dictatorial" versus "pro-democracy" is laughable. I can't see anything but competing oligarch mobs fighting for power. I remind everybody that Kuchma at the beggining of his carreer, was hearalded as a pro-Western reformer. The man later was almost certainly involved in the murder (decapitation actually) of an opposition journalist.

c. In Georgia while the Saakashvili government is quite probably still popular, "democratic" would not be among the words to accurately describe it.
posted by talos at 5:02 PM on May 16, 2006

Greymouse - clap!
posted by k8t at 12:20 AM on May 17, 2006

« Older New 9/11 Footage to Show Pentagon Plane Hit   |   Beta Is SO Passe Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments