February 19, 2013

5 Ways to Topple a Dictatorship.

Freedom is a basic need for all just like water and air.

For those of you curious to understand how to topple a dictatorship (even a localized personal one) in a nonviolent effective manner, I have stumbled upon a book which is a must read for you!

The book is titled From Dictatorship to Democracy and is known to have played a role in the recent Arab Spring. It has also been likened to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Mao Tse Tung’s Little Red Book.

It was written by Gene Sharp at the request of an exiled Burmese democrat. Gene is a senior scholar at the Albert Einstein Institution in Boston, Massachusetts and the book is based on over 40 years of research and writing on nonviolent struggles, dictatorships, totalitarian systems, resistance movements, political theory, sociological analysis and other areas.

The most inspirational learning for me in its pages was that contrary to what most believe, the best way to end a tyranny is for the people of the country to do it. Not a neighboring or external force.

This struck a deep cord with me as I have spent countless hours talking to the Tibetan community in exile and asking them how can we help. The same answer always came up: “Please put pressure on your government to take action.”

Photo by epicnom

Since I read this little gem, I now have a different answer. Getting this list of the weaknesses of a dictatorship out into the cyber world may reach Chinese citizens who are traveling abroad or any other people suffering a similar fate, and inspire them to read and take action on the learnings of this book.

It has now been translated into over 30 different languages, including both simplified and traditional Mandarin, and Tibetan.

It stipulates that a government can only maintain power for as long as its people feed it. In essence, they need cooperation, submission and obedience from both people and institutions.

“Political defiance, unlike violence, is uniquely suited to severing those sources of power.”

There is a long list of weaknesses for a dictatorship, which can be found in the book. Here I have listed five, which demonstrates the power can indeed come from within to end the destructive rule of tyranny.

  1. The cooperation of a multitude of people, groups and institutions needed to operate the system may be restricted or withdrawn.
  2. Subordinates fearful of displeasing their superiors may not report accurate or complete information needed by the dictators to make decisions.
  3. Internal institutional conflicts and personal rivalries and hostilities may harm and even disrupt the operation of the dictatorship.
  4. The general public may over time become apathetic, skeptical and even hostile to the regime.
  5. Sections of the police or military force may act to achieve their own objectives, even against the will of established dictators, including by coup d’etat.

A military resistance against a dictatorship, rather than striking them where they are weakest, strikes them where they are strongest. Therefore, a non-violent struggle that focuses on hitting the dictatorship’s weaknesses has a much higher chance of success.

Together let’s spread the word on this book of freedom many people in the world so desperately need today.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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