Posted 5 years ago on Nov. 27, 2011, 4:24 p.m. EST by thrasymaqwe
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n an old townhouse in East Boston an elderly stooped man is tending rare orchids in his shabby office. His Labrador Sally lies on the floor between stacks of academic papers watching him as he shuffles past.
This is Dr Gene Sharp the man now credited with the strategy behind the toppling of the Egyptian government.
Gene Sharp is the world's foremost expert on non-violent revolution. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages, his books slipped across borders and hidden from secret policemen all over the world. Continue reading the main story Key Steps on the Path to Revolution Gene Sharp book
* Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want * Overcome fear by small acts of resistance * Use colours and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance * Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements * Use non-violent "weapons" * Identify the dictatorship's pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each * Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement * Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence
As Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine fell to the colour revolutions which swept across Eastern Europe, each of the democratic movements paid tribute to Sharp's contribution, yet he remained largely unknown to the public.
Despite these successes and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2009 he has faced almost constant financial hardship and wild accusations of being a CIA front organisation. The Albert Einstein Institution based on the ground floor of his home is kept running by sheer force of personality and his fiercely loyal Executive Director, Jamila Raqib.
In 2009 I began filming a documentary following the impact of Sharp's work from his tranquil rooftop orchid house, across four continents and eventually to Tahrir square where I slept alongside protesters who read his work by torchlight in the shadow of tanks.
Gene Sharp is no Che Guevara but he may have had more influence than any other political theorist of his generation.
His central message is that the power of dictatorships comes from the willing obedience of the people they govern - and that if the people can develop techniques of withholding their consent, a regime will crumble.
For decades now, people living under authoritarian regimes have made a pilgrimage to Gene Sharp for advice. His writing has helped millions of people around the world achieve their freedom without violence. "As soon as you choose to fight with violence you're choosing to fight against your opponents best weapons and you have to be smarter than that," he insists.
"People might be a little surprised when they come here, I don't tell them what to do. They've got to learn how this non-violent struggle works so they can do it for themselves."