Political Defiance - There Are Fundamental Issues At Stake

The other day, I linked to Gene Sharp’s pamphlet From Dictatorship to Democracy - A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (pdf of 102 pgs), which is freely available to all individuals of the world courtesy of the Albert Einstein Institution.

I finally had an opportunity to read through this work of Sharp’s, and though the pamphlet was written as a framework for liberation from dictatorship, in reading Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy I have come away with the conviction that the ideas Sharp outlines for political defiance can be put to good and effective use here in the United States to regain the freedom and liberty lost since its founding.  I cannot recommend, highly enough, Sharp’s From Democracy to Dictatorship, especially in light of developments currently happening here in the United States.  Here are some quotes which I thought pertinent to today, in no particular order, for your consideration.  Substitute the words political elites for dictator/dictatorship.

Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake… (bold by ed.)

When the issues at stake are fundamental, affecting religious principles, issues of human freedom, or the whole future development of the society, negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution… (bold by ed.)

On the other hand, when the opposition is exceptionally strong and the dictatorship is genuinely threatened, the dictators may seek negotiations in order to salvage as much of their control or wealth as possible. In neither case should the democrats help the dictators achieve their goals…

“Negotiation” does not mean that the two sides sit down together on a basis of equality and talk through and resolve the differences that produced the conflict between them. Two facts must be remembered. First, in negotiations it is not the relative justice of the conflicting views and objectives that determines the content of a negotiated agreement. Second, the content of a negotiated agreement is largely determined by the power capacity of each side…

The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is, it follows, in large degree a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them…

Three of the most important factors in determining to what degree a government’s power will be controlled or uncontrolled therefore are: (1) the relative desire of the populace to impose limits on the government’s power; (2) the relative strength of the subjects’ independent organizations and institutions to withdraw collectively the sources of power; and (3) the population’s relative ability to withhold their consent and assistance…

The maintenance of high standards of behavior in nonviolent action is necessary at all stages of the conflict. Such factors as fearlessness and maintaining nonviolent discipline are always required. It is important to remember that large numbers of people may frequently be necessary to effect particular changes. However, such numbers can be obtained as reliable participants only by maintaining the high standards of the movement… (bold by ed.)

Download or bookmark Sharp’s pamphlet and read it through.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/21 at 03:33 PM
  1. The underlying theme seems to be that there are always more people wanting to tell other people what to do, than not. Until that human flaw is corrected no large scale human communion is possible - they will always come to blows.

    Most people don’t like to be told what to do, but most people like to tell others what to do. A human mobius strip wrought with failure.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/21  at  05:35 PM
  2. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they
    —Frederick Douglas

    Posted by jed  on  01/21  at  07:24 PM
  3. What an actual opposition looks like.

    Posted by Erin O'Brien  on  01/28  at  08:04 AM






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