Gene Sharp: a dictator's Worst Nightmare

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ARTICLE 41, Page 166
"Gene Sharp: A Dictator's Worst Nightmare"
summarized by Matthew Martinez


Article is a character bio of Gene Sharp and is itself a summary of his ideas around nonviolent conflict as they relate to revolutions and rebellions worldwide, including Arab Spring.


"198 methods of nonviolent action"(no regime can survive without the support of its people)

#18 Displays of flags and symbolic colors

#7 Slogans, caricatures, and symbols

#20 Prayer and Worship

#37 Singing

#47 Assembling to protest


Life facts from article:

  • 84 yrs old as of June 25th, 2012

  • Graduated college in 1951

  • Arrested by FBI in 1953 for draft evasion during Korean War

  • Approx 1953: wrote book on Gandhi with forward by Albert Einstein

  • Joined Institute of Social Research in Oslo, where he studied Non-Violent Conflict, rather than Peace Studies

  • Studied Political Science at The University of Oxford under Alan Bullock

  • Wrote "The Politics of Non-Violence" in 1973

  • Runs "Albert Einstein Institution", founded in 1983, out of home in Boston, with intent to spread non-violence as a means to democracy

  • Wrote "From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework from Liberation" in the 80's

  • Director of Program for Nonviolent Sanctions at Center for International Affairs at Harvard, 1987

  • Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2009

  • Has written 30 books and has 900-page guide to "self-liberation: on his website

  • Gives speeches and lectures and workshops dedicated to his mission


World Events:
Ukraine: 2004 Orange Revolution propelled opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to triumph, then flooded Kiev's Independence Square with orange flags
Serbia: 2000 presidential elections. "Gotov Je!" "He's Finished!" stickers/t-shirts/posters ousted President Slobodan Milosevic

Egypt: 2011 Thousands sing, dance, pray at Tahrir Square, Cairo

Myanmar: Burmese stunned that there were alternatives to 20 yrs of killing, requested book
"From Dictatorship to Democracy" spread from Myanmar, to Indonesia, to Serbia. Translated into over 30 languages.


Important Names:
The Frontline Club- London's journalism hub
Albert Einstein- in addition to being a leading figure in science, was a strong proponent of Non-violence and wrote to Gene Sharp. Strong influence on Sharp.
Arne Næss- philosopher who invited Sharp to join Institute of Social Research in Oslo
Alan Bullock- Taught Sharp Political Science at Oxford. First biographer of Adolf Hitler
Ruaridh Arrow- Journalist/filmmaker who made documentary "How to Start a Revolution" about Sharp's work. In Egypt during Arab Spring.
Robert Helvey- Met sharp in 1987, Korean War Vet, sympathetic to rebel groups in Myanmar, helped connect Sharp to Burmese rebels.
Jamila Raqib- Executive Director of Albert Einstein Institute, "organizing influence, watchdog, second brain when Sharp's memory fails him."


1. How have his ideas changed world, helped various uprisings?
2. Is non-violent conflict better than violent?
3. Is there a real distinction between research on non-violent conflict and peace research?
4. Why is a bio included in this collection? is it to inspire? Or just for background info?

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