Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sharp's Dictionary of Power and Struggle

Wisdom Quarterly; Gene Sharp and Adam Roberts, Oxford University Press, 2011
Police violence during their brutal Battle of Seattle (; Occupy Movement activists arrested without strategy for nonviolent success (

One would not guess that useful instructions on how to wage nonviolent struggle are coming from an American academic.

But Sharp's books have been spotted throughout Burma during the Saffron Revolution led by Buddhist monks against an Orwellian military dictatorship, Tibet for indigenous Himalayan Buddhists resisting Chinese invasions, the Middle East during the Arab Spring, and on Wall Street at the nascent Occupy Movement.

The Saffron Revolution, Theravada Buddhist monastics and citizens rise up against General Than Shwe's totalitarian government in 2007.

Now comes Sharp's Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts, a reference book for nonviolent activists.

From the 494 BC plebeians' march out of [patrician-ruled] Rome to gain improved status, to Gandhi's nonviolent campaigns in India [to oust British colonizers], to the liberation of Poland and the Baltic nations, and the revolutions in North Africa, nonviolent struggles have played pivotal roles in world events for centuries.

Sharp's Dictionary of Power and Struggle is a groundbreaking reference work by the "godfather of nonviolent resistance." In nearly 1,000 entries, Sharp's dictionary defines those ideologies, political systems, strategies, methods, and concepts that form the core of nonviolent action as it has occurred throughout history across the globe.

It provides much-needed clarification of language that is often mired in confusion. Entries discuss everything from militarization to censorship, guerrilla theater, pacifism, secret agents [planted provocateurs], and protest songs.

In addition, the dictionary features... case studies of conflicts in Serbia and Tunisia; and a guide for further reading. It is an invaluable resource for activists, educators, and anyone else curious about nonviolent alternatives to both passivity and violent conflict. More

Agitation and ahimsa (nonharming or nonviolence) in India still works long after Gandhi used it to win (
  • "Gene Sharp is perhaps the most influential proponent of nonviolent action alive." - The Progressive
  • "Sharp has had broad influence on international events over the past two decades, helping to advance a global democratic awakening." - Wall Street Journal
  • "[Sharp's] work has served as the template for taking on authoritarian regimes from Burma to Belgrade." - Christian Science Monitor
  • Resistance may take very undramatic forms, micro resistance, defiance, and noncooperation... - Tibet Space
Wall Street bankers don't want you to read this book.

No comments: