Sunday, February 16, 2014

[Book] From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp

I originally found out about this book from two rather remarkable individuals who pointed it out at an anachrocon two years ago at a rather fascinating class about Sacred Geometry, however I wrote it down as "101 non violent tactics."  I kept googling it and couldn't find it, but somehow I ended up searching until I found the right book, this one.  The 'article' in this case I was looking for is an appendix to the book, and still useful, but the book itself is excellent in ways I had not even considered upon initially looking at it.

This book is a tactical text book or instruction manual on how to take down dictatorships.  It helps the reader analyze them structurally, see that they do have weaknesses and can and have been dealt with.  But this is no Polyanna pie in the sky thing that is unrealistic.  One of the things I like about Mr. Sharp's position is that he points out the futility of negotiating with a dictatorship, and particularly what you need to expect going in if you are not negotiating from a position of strength.

It also explains a lot about why China, for example, is obsessed with controlling NGO's as is Russia.  It isn't just because foreign intelligence agencies use these to cause trouble (and they do) but also because one of the secrets to bringing down a dictatorship is non governmental civil institutions like religions, parties, clubs, etc.  It is why they are obsessed with Fulan Gong.  It is why the arab spring soiled in many areas because the strongest non governmental entities were Islamist institutions that could completely out compete all secular institutions and why the military eventually took over.

It talks about in great detail about the need for a democracy to have a plan for taking down the dictatorship and the aftermath and the need to stick with that plan.  It is, quite frankly, a most excellent book and very well thought out.  And I think its something we can use.

(Politics below)

I can see how this book influence Occupy, especially the true reformers of Occupy who have moved on to form various loosely affiliated groups such as Occupy XYZ.  Though there were items in the book that might have gone differently had they read it.  But after seeing the treatment of Occupy...

I can't help but feel that some of the same tactics are needed to reform our system.  Non violent tactics, but the kind that cause the government based on the constitution of 1792 to come apart.  Our government no longer serves the people.  The vast majority of the populace agrees on it.  I'm not talking about violent overthrow.  I mean we have many freedoms left, otherwise I wouldn't write this...but the US constitution does not serve the people it was written to protect, and can only be amended so much when at its fundamental core it does what it does for the elite.

We need to start thinking of regime change, of a government that works for the majority, even if that also means a parting of ways with regions of the country that make a governable majority in reality a functional impossibility.  This is a book that lets you actually feel like you can DO something, even if that something is scary.

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