Friday, February 18, 2011

Scientific American: Egypt's revolution vindicates the philosopher Gene Sharp's theory of nonviolent activism

Cairo demonstrators and militaryWhereas most pundits have focused on the role of social media in Egypt's revolution, what impressed me most was that one of the most powerful, entrenched regimes in the world was toppled by a nonviolent uprising. Does anyone doubt that if the protesters had resorted to violence, they would have been violently crushed by Mubarak?

Egypt represents an extraordinary vindication of the philosophy of Gene Sharp, a political scientist whose work I described here last July. For decades, Sharp has argued that nonviolence is the best means of overthrowing corrupt, violent, repressive regimes. He disseminates his ideas through books such as From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (1993), which has been translated into 24 languages, including Arabic, and can be downloaded from the Web site of The Albert Einstein Institution, a tiny nonprofit founded by Sharp in 1983.

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