Posted 3 years ago on April 11, 2012, 8:06 p.m. EST by jlindstrom
from South Gate, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I'm over in Occupy Los Angeles and involved with the InterOccupy National Strategy group and just wanted to post links to a couple summaries I did of Gene Sharp's works. I'm sure many of you have already heard of these, but just in case, the summaries are of From Dictatorship to Democracy, which is considered THE how-to book on nonviolent strategy (not just for literal dictatorships, but any form of oppression) and was supposedly instrumental in the Arab Spring, and Self-Liberation, which is basically an expansion on the topics touched on in From Dictatorship to Democracy.
Here are the links:
Summary of From Dictatorship to Democracy (2.5 pages): https://docs.google.com/document/d/12ZIIyf5q4RkFheCyXiQbJk_KOSPZLU7cfDwqej4qe6I/edit?pli=1
Summary of Self-Liberation (13 pages): https://docs.google.com/document/d/19D4Fn66BPYSrAh0VRFGLSQ7Hll1rqn8bhzcUiNO9W4c/edit
The reason I'm posting this here is this: Sharp says the leaders of the resistance movement must become experts in nonviolent struggle. So if this is a "leader-ful" movement, then that suggests that it behooves all of us to become experts in nonviolent struggle.
I want to assure you that I'm not posting this as some sort of passive-aggressive commentary on OWS, e.g. that it needs more strategy or whatever. Although I have my own opinions on that, because I'm not yet an expert on strategy myself, what you guys are doing may be perfect; what do I know? I'm only posting these because I personally found these books to be extremely enlightening and because others may also find them helpful. I'm very new to the whole social movement thing, and so really had no idea how they worked, and when I went to marches and such, I would just feel like, is this really going to accomplish anything? These works really, imo, gave answers and context to those sorts of questions.
The reason I summarized them instead of just posting the links to the works themselves (which are available in full online) is because a) Self-Liberation and all its recommended readings total up to 900 pages, b) not everyone has the time or inclination to do such copious reading, c) in the case of From Dictatorship to Democracy, to entice people to read the full work themselves (it's only about 90pp), and d) to organize all the salient points of these works, since in the full texts, I find that they kind of repeat themselves and blur together such that I found it helpful to distill it all down to better grasp all the major points.
As for the idea that a movement should not "go by the book", Sharp has some stern words about that notion, but I won't fight anyone on this. I feel that the evidence is overwhelmingly in the favor of careful planning. If you disagree, just ignore this thread!
If any of you end up reading the summaries, please let me know if you have any comments or questions. I hope to keep revising them based on feedback.
Thanks, Jack Lindstrom