Dictionary for Revolutionaries

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gene Sharp, professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit organization promoting the study and use of strategic nonviolent action, and author of Sharp's Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts, talks about a lifetime of advocating nonviolent resistance, and the language of revolution. 


Gene Sharp

Comments [3]

Paul Roden from Yardley, PA

OWS is a social movement that we have never seen before. Is it perfect? No, what human endeavor is perfect and doesn't make mistakes. It has shifted the public debate. I think it should continue and be replicated all over the planet until the corporations and the governments no longer have any legitimacy or power. As it says in the US Declaration of Independence, "it is the inherent right of the people to alter or abolish their government." OWS is the birth of a nonviolent revolution.

Nov. 14 2011 11:28 AM
RJ from prospect hts

The word "anarchy" has been among the most misused in political/social language.

Nov. 14 2011 10:51 AM
gary from queens

Nixon's popularity went up in the polls following anti war demonstrations. And today, the polls show that the public is as angry as the students at OWS, but they dislike the method of protest.

You must ask WHY. In the case of OWS, i think there are several inherent problems relating to nonviolent demonstrations. (Albeit, in this case, at least one group has voted to be violent with police.)

1. the only way OWS exists and functions is to violate the public spaces. it literally occupies spaces intended to serve the public. The fact that they are not arrested does not mean that what OWS is doing is legal. it is illegal.

2. The violation is not limited to displacing the public from the commons. The violation involves the act of forcing one to pay attention to the demonstration. That is the purpose of a demonstration----to force youself on others. One reason protest rallies and such are tolerated at all is because they're restricted by time and place. You need a permit to use the public space for a few hours. That's how it works. Whereas OWS is non stop and multiple locations.

3. Unlike a homeless person who might occupy a public space solely for his personal use, OWS forces the public to pay attention to them. This constitutes an additional public nuisance. No, I will not cite the rapes or assaults again (And I do not believe the Daily News ever since it went liberal), which is bad enough, and would have terminated the tea party movement had ONE instance of violence could be proven. No, I'm just talking about the community board complaints of the drum noise, and garbage, and drug use, and passersby being accosted and criticized for going to work, or wearing a yamakah (still lots of anti semitic anti israel sentiment), or looking wealthy, blocking traffic, etc. Local businesses are suffering too. OWS therefore cannot exist without destroying quality of life for the larger public that legally resides there.

4. Given that OWS is breaking the law, the students at OWS obviously didnt read Henry Thoreau. The PURPOSE of illegal nonviolent protest is to get arrested. MLK walked into all white dinners in the South EXPECTING to get arrested. The purpose is to demonstrate your willingness to endure hardship from an unjust law. You don't fight the police. You don't complain about the arrest. You complain about an existing law, and offer an alternative. OWS has not offered either. They refuse to even admit that they are breaking any laws. They just allege that others are (the "one percent").

Nov. 14 2011 10:46 AM

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