Friday, 1 April 2011

Like many old peaceniks, I've got a battered old copy of the Gene Sharp trilogy The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Suddenly the world has discovered Sharp is hot. Here's an article about him on the Beeb: In short, his From Dictatorship to Democracy is being widely used, samizdat style, to give people ideas on how to overthrow real live dictatorships. His book has been circulated in thirty languages. Who knew? Housmans Bookshop in London has just rush-released the book. It's not even on Amazon yet so you had best get copies from, or News from Nowhere in Liverpool. The reader may or may not agree with the obvious and topical conclusion in Sharp's prescient section on foreign support to overthrow dictators when he says "some foreign states will act against a dictatorship only to gain their own economic, political or military control over the country. The foreign states may become involved for positive purposes only if and when the internal resistance movement has already begun to shaking the dictatorship..." concluding "...there are grave problems with this reliance on an outside saviour."

Sharp also lists 198 forms of unarmed resistance - ideas lapped up in some Arab states - though how they managed to translate "bumper strike" or "nonviolent air raids" into Arabic is beyond me since it seems hard to translate them into English. There is a minor and invisible Five Leaves' fingerprint on the production, but I'm really pleased to see Housmans returning to publishing with this important book.

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