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Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World Paperback – February 3, 2015
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“A clear, well-constructed, and easily applicable set of principles for any David facing any Goliath (sans slingshot, of course) . . . By the end of Blueprint, the idea that a punch is no match for a punch line feels like anything but a joke.”—The Boston Globe
“An entertaining primer on the theory and practice of peaceful protest.”—The Guardian
“With this wonderful book, Srdja Popovic is inspiring ordinary people facing injustice and oppression to use this tool kit to challenge their oppressors and create something much better. When I was growing up, we dreamed that young people could bring down those who misused their power and create a more just and democratic society. For Srdja Popovic, living in Belgrade in 1998, this same dream was potentially a much more dangerous idea. But with an extraordinarily courageous group of students that formed Otpor!, Srdja used imagination, invention, cunning, and lots of humor to create a movement that not only succeeded in toppling the brutal dictator Slobodan Milošević but has become a blueprint for nonviolent revolution around the world. Srdja rules!”—Peter Gabriel
“Blueprint for Revolution is not only a spirited guide to changing the world but a breakthrough in the annals of advice for those who seek justice and democracy. It asks (and not heavy-handedly): As long as you want to change the world, why not do it joyfully? It’s not just funny. It’s seriously funny. No joke.”—Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties and Occupy Nation
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I believe I heard about this book from Arnold Schwarzenegger, on his second Tim Ferriss podcast appearance. He proposed that climate activists focus on air pollution rather than "climate change." The gist being that air pollution is currently killing 7 million people per year, and you can actually see the pollution in many places – outside my window included. It's easier to persuade people to fix something currently happening to them, rather than by getting them to worry about some unknown thing that might happen at an unknown point in the future.
This book is written by Srdja Popovic, who was a founder of Otpor!, an opposition group that helped engineer the overthrow of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević. It's easy to by inspired by the Egyptian revolution happening in Tahir Square, and ignore the years of small victories, coalition-building, and careful branding that preceded it. This, Popovic argues, is probably why the Occupy movement (which Popovic suggests should have been called a more inclusive "99%" movement) fizzled out in the U.S..
It's an engaging read, with stories of him and his team coaching activists from places like Ukraine, Egypt, and Syria. He illustrates how to create change through humorous pranks, or by focusing strategically on something that affects a wide swath of people. For example, Otpor! released turkeys costumed as Milošević's wife so that news outlets would cover Milošević's police chasing them and looking ridiculous.
He also tells stories of how focusing on cottage cheese helped fight wealth inequality in Israel, how Harvey Milk used dog poop to get people to care about gay rights, and how, as the subtitle suggests, rice pudding was used to launch a revolution in the Maldives.
If the above sounds dull, it's the reviewer's fault. In fact this is one of those books that, once started, you can't put down...
Though the author does not say so, the fact is that these same non-violent stratgegies and tactics can also help win elections,
Nonviolent techniques are always superior to violence, if democracy is your goal - not just morally, but strategically and tactically as well. The book explains why, if you have any doubts (I never have).
But as Popovic explains, it's not enough to commit to nonviolence. You need a goal (pick ONE - and choose wisely!), a strategy to achieve that goal, and tactics that are aligned with that strategy. Oh, and a brand, too.
In this framework the failures of the Occupy movement, the movement for Egyptian democracy, and other democracy movements that didn't quite work out are thoroughly explained.
And it's a great filter to apply as you watch the movements being formed now.
Useful quote: "A mass demonstration,as anyone who has ever organized any successful campaign will tell you, is the last step you take, not the first... The big rally isn't the spark that launches your movement. It's actually the victory lap..."
Top international reviews
Inspiring read that needs more exposure.
Get off your bum and change the world, there's nothing stopping you (or me!!)
Worth the read.