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From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation Pamphlet – Student Calendar, 2010

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Product Details

  • Pamphlet: 93 pages
  • Publisher: The Albert Einstein Institution; 4th edition (2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880813092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880813096
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By freebird in Paradise on September 13, 2008
Format: Pamphlet
This book is a great work in its own right. In terms of real-world impact, it measures above Thomas Paine's writings, having been used by non-violent movements in dictatorships around the world.

It is also a good introduction to study of nonviolent movements, before diving into all 902 pages of "Politics of Nonviolent Action"

Excerpts below are from an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal, 9/13/2008:

Mr. Sharp's writings on nonviolent resistance have been studied by opposition activists in Zimbabwe, Burma, Russia, Venezuela and Iran, among others. His 1993 guide to unseating despots, "From Dictatorship to Democracy," has been translated into at least 28 languages and was used by movements that toppled governments in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

Although nonviolent struggle has played a major role throughout history, Mr. Sharp was among the first modern scholars to take a comprehensive look at all the various movements, from the civil-rights struggle in the U.S. to uprisings in Eastern Europe.
In his writings, Mr. Sharp teased out common principles that make nonviolent resistance successful, creating a broad road map for activists looking to destabilize authoritarian regimes. Mr. Sharp's magnum opus, the 902-page "Politics of Nonviolent Action," was published in 1973. But the main source of his success is his 90-page "From Dictatorship to Democracy."

This slim volume offers concise advice on how to plan a successful opposition campaign, along with a list of historically tested tactics for rattling a dictatorial regime. Aimed at no particular country, and easily downloadable from the Internet, the booklet has found universal appeal among opposition activists around the globe.

Though he warns readers that resistance may provoke violent crackdowns and will take careful planning to succeed, Mr. Sharp writes that any dictatorship will eventually collapse if its subjects refuse to obey.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on January 2, 2010
Format: Pamphlet
Gene Sharp is mostly successful in his essay of how to bring down a dictatorship and how to prevent the emergence of a new one. Readers should note that Mr. Sharp does not aim to tailor his analysis to a specific country living under dictatorship. To his credit, the author does not downplay the costs associated with defying a dictatorship. Freedom is not free as he reminds his audience repeatedly.

After weighing the pros and cons of options such as violence, guerrilla warfare, military coups, foreign intervention, elections, negotiations, legal/judicial challenges, and public opinion, Mr. Sharp comes to the conclusion that political defiance is the best option for those who want peace and freedom. As the descendant of political prisoners of Nazi Germany, I cannot subscribe blindly to this recommendation. It depends on how ruthlessly the target dictatorship deals with its opponents. To his credit, Mr. Sharp acknowledges that a high priority for democratic strategists is to subvert the loyalty and obedience of military forces and police to their dictators.

To weaken and then destroy dictatorships, democratic resisters have to be cognizant of the dictators' constantly replenished sources of power. Contrary to popular wisdom, even totalitarian dictatorships rely on the population and the societies they rule. Mr. Sharp explores the important sources of power such as moral and political authority, human and material resources, access to specialized skills and knowledge, psychological and ideological influences, and last but not least, punishment. The author observes on this subject that abandonment or control of fear is critical to ending the power of the dictators over their subjects.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Rasmusen on September 13, 2008
Format: Pamphlet
I would like to buy this book. I know it is in the public domain but I rather buy and support the Einstein Institute and not print 90 pages.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gloops on February 21, 2011
Format: Pamphlet
Originally written with Burma in mind, this work explores the non-violent means by which any dictatorship can be disintegrated. It may well have been a guiding star for what is happening today in several of the Arab states.

It comes as a free download from [...] but is currently still unavailable in print. Yet many would prefer the option, surely, of a bound volume rather than 88 loose sheets.

Its own author calls it "a heavy analysis and not easy reading". Too self-deprecating: his analysis is searching and comprehensive, certainly, but his language is direct, matter-of-fact and unambiguous. He addresses every issue head-on. Nothing is glossed over. Every sentence matters.

His ten chapter titles reveal the ground he covers: Facing dictatorships realistically; The dangers of negotiation; Whence comes the power?; Dictatorships have weaknesses; Exercising power; The need for strategic planning; Planning strategy; Applying political defiance; Disintegrating the dictatorship; Groundwork for a durable democracy.

Above all, his approach is pragmatic: "Military resistance against dictatorships does not strike them where they are weakest, but rather where they are strongest", so the more effective way is through non-violence. The attitude of the state's armed forces towards the protesters is often crucial and non-violence is likely to win more hearts and save more lives.

He quotes an ancient Chinese parable - the "Monkey Master" fable - in which a group of monkeys gather fruits every day for their cruel and tyrannical master, without ever daring to question or complain. One day, a young monkey asks why they should all depend upon and serve the old man.
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