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From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation

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Twenty-one years ago, at a friend’s request, a Massachusetts professor sketched out a blueprint for nonviolent resistance to repressive regimes. It would go on to be translated, photocopied, and handed from one activist to another, traveling from country to country across the globe: from Iran to Venezuela—where both countries consider Gene Sharp to be an enemy of the state—to Serbia; Afghanistan; Vietnam; the former Soviet Union; China; Nepal; and, more recently and notably, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and ...
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From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation

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Overview


Twenty-one years ago, at a friend’s request, a Massachusetts professor sketched out a blueprint for nonviolent resistance to repressive regimes. It would go on to be translated, photocopied, and handed from one activist to another, traveling from country to country across the globe: from Iran to Venezuela—where both countries consider Gene Sharp to be an enemy of the state—to Serbia; Afghanistan; Vietnam; the former Soviet Union; China; Nepal; and, more recently and notably, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, where it has served as a guiding light of the Arab Spring.

This short, pithy, inspiring, and extraordinarily clear guide to overthrowing a dictatorship by nonviolent means lists 198 specific methods to consider, depending on the circumstances: sit-ins, popular nonobedience, selective strikes, withdrawal of bank deposits, revenue refusal, walkouts, silence, and hunger strikes. From Dictatorship to Democracy is the remarkable work that has made the little-known Sharp into the world’s most effective and sought-after analyst of resistance to authoritarian regimes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“That's the power of Sharp's work and this nonviolent struggle, it doesn't matter who you are—black, white, Muslim, Christian, gay, straight, or oppressed minority—it's useable. If they study it, anybody can do this.”  —Srdja Popovic, director, Center for Applied Non Violent Action & Stretegies
Kirkus Reviews
First U.S. publication of a handbook on fighting dictators, first published in the early 1990s at the request of an exiled Burmese diplomat. In this slim book, which has been translated into at least 28 different languages, Sharp (Political Science Emeritus/Univ. of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Waging Nonviolent Struggle, 2005, etc.) synthesizes his years of research on nonviolent struggle. He explains that his general focus "make[s] the analysis potentially relevant in any country with an authoritarian or dictatorial government." The author opposes the use of violence unconditionally, insisting that to choose violence is to choose a means of struggle in which oppressors nearly always have superiority. Sharp claims that overthrowing a dictatorship is a matter of identifying how the dictatorship's internal structure works and adopting a strategic design to identify weaknesses and change the balance. The author provides a list of "Achilles' heels," which can be targeted through psychological, economic, social and political action; in an appendix, he briefly discusses 198 such tactics. Sharp stresses the importance of cutting off a dictatorship from its sources of power and support and building up mass defiance and resistance. His generic format, however, presents problems since dictatorships, like political situations, offer particular challenges that are not easily addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach. Sharp insists that resistance, not negotiations, will be the key to change, but the longevity of Burma's SLORC dictatorship raises questions about the author's approach. Includes some interesting theoretical points, but the generalities limit the book's effectiveness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880813096
  • Publisher: Albert Einstein Institution, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 76
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author


Gene Sharp advises governments and resistance movements around the world and is considered the most influential living promoter of nonviolent resistance to autocratic governments. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He currently resides in East Boston.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Straight forward without the weepy emotionalism common to too many of it's ilk.

    Gene Sharp has succeeded in laying out a usable, sensible and sensitive enough document to make it an essential read for anyone interested in confronting authoritarian power structures. He makes no emotional pleas, no over arching vlaue prescriptions and lays out a convincing case for how and why a non-violent movement can win power back for a people seeking liberty. This isn't going to be a page turner for anyone who isn't already fundamentally interested in the subject, but those who are will find it thought provoking, well organized and with well thought out proposals.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Excellent breakdown

    Really clear and easy to understand, an excellent, essential
    resource for any movement

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    highly recommended

    was a really good book love reading it gary jodrey

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A powerful short essay on strategically defeating dictators

    Political scientist Gene Sharp wrote this powerful essay in 1993 to support the resistance movement in Burma, where the government sentenced people who owned this booklet to seven years in jail. Since then, opponents of oppression - most notably in the Arab uprisings of 2011 - have distributed this text widely to political and social activists who want to apply Sharp's 40 years of research, experience and writing about nonviolent struggles, dictatorships and resistance movements. Sharp distills his work on political theory and sociology into a readable, tight, practical volume. Its appendix lists dozens of specific tactics for organizers who want to mount peaceful campaigns against established oppressive forces. getAbstract recommends this influential pamphlet to everybody interested in understanding how peaceful revolutions work.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted July 12, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2011

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    Posted March 2, 2011

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    Posted June 7, 2011

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    Posted February 21, 2011

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