19 September 2010

Current Reading

Dissent is Essential to DemocracyI am currently reading From Dictatorship to Democracy, by Gene Sharp. This is an interesting book about nonviolent resistance and strategy for social change toward democracy, justice, equality, and human and ecological rights. Sharp defines nonviolent resistance to include the concept of political defiance. It's an interesting read. One thought it brings up for me is Cuba, and the dictatorship that exists there. Is it possible for conditions to improve under a dictatorship? My basic thinking is that the current dictatorship in Cuba is less oppressive, and even less of a "dictatorship" than the previous regime (under Bautista) which was corrupt and abusive, and overtly supported by the US government.

Obviously this is a highly simplified analysis of what is a complex situation. For example, my understanding is that conditions in Cuba for many people (probably most) have improved significantly since rebel forces led in part by Fidel Castro overthrew the former regime. Oh well, it's interesting topic of discussion for certain!

Here's an example passage that I like, and I think is important, from chapter 8, Applying Political Defiance:
Early in the liberation struggle a special strategy should be de-
veloped to communicate with the dictators’ troops and functionaries.
By words, symbols, and actions, the democratic forces can inform the
troops that the liberation struggle will be vigorous, determined, and
persistent. Troops should learn that the struggle will be of a special
character, designed to undermine the dictatorship but not to threaten
their lives. Such efforts would aim ultimately to undermine the morale
of the dictators’ troops and finally to subvert their loyalty and obedi-
ence in favor of the democratic movement. Similar strategies could
be aimed at the police and civil servants.
The book by Gene Sharp, Dictatorship to Democracy, is available online, either downloadable or for purchase at a very reasonable $6 US. I am also impressed, encouraged, and gladdened that it's available in a number of languages other than English (over 20!) Here's a link to the page where it is available from the Albert Einstein Institution: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations98ce.html

Dictator Types


  1. What hate looks like


    Tell us Berd: Are Jews terrorists?

  2. Dear anonymous commenter,

    I would ask you, also, are Jews incapable of committing acts of terrorism?

    Mr. Berd