Here’s the trailer of a documentary-in-the-making, How To Start A Revolution, about the revolutions of the past decades and the influence on them of Gene Sharp: the “Von Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare“.
Sharp is a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, who in 1973 published a book about methods of non-violent revolution called The Politics of Nonviolent Action. In the book (which I didn’t read), Sharp presents an analysis of the state as a power complex designed to keep citizens subservient, through a variety of political and administrative institutions (courts, policy, regulatory bodies) and cultural norms (religion, leadership cult, moral norms).
If that doesn’t sound too original (think Foucault and every theorist concerned with despotism and state power since Hobbes), what’s special about Sharp is that he presents a whole list of possible methods of nonviolent resistance. From boycotts to strikes, to using colors, to sit-ins, to empowering women and children, to employing peaceful symbols, Sharp seems to draw on methods and techniques of protest and revolution from Louis Blanqui to Gandhi to the New Left.
Sharp’s work (which includes way more titles, check his bibliography here), in turn, seems to have influenced to some extent the Eastern European revolutions of the late 1980s, the color (almost-)revolutions of Ukraine and Iran, to the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia. Check the trailer to see how that plays out.
Now, I’m a bit hesitant to say that this person was “the brain” behind all those complex revolutions, and have the idea that Sharp’s influence is exaggerated a bit much by Western commentators (like as usual at the NYT). Yet, his ideas have been denounced by dictators ranging from Hugo Chavez to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sharp’s other important book From Dictatorship to Democracy, moreover, seems to have influenced civic youth movements from Serbia (during the overthrow of Milosevic) to Ukraine to Belarus, who again are said to have taught nonviolent revolutionary skills to each other and to the Arab youth protesters.
So anyway, check the trailer below, interesting stuff!
HOW TO START A REVOLUTION is a new documentary film revealing how one man’s work has helped millions of people achieve freedom in the face of oppression and tyranny.
Gene Sharp is a shy, modest and little-known man. But his work has inspired a generation of people to challenge dictators through non-violent action in a tidal wave of revolutionary spirit and reform that has swept from Eastern Europe, though Asia and to the Middle East and North Africa.
18 months ago we started work on this feature-length documentary. Through the candid and intimate testimony of the people responsible for non-violent revolutions our film seeks to tell the story of how people power can be used topple dictators.
To make this film our director (Ruaridh Arrow pictured above) slept overnight in Tahrir Square in Cairo at the height of the February revolution. He’s met the leaders of the Syrian pro-democracy movement and the people responsible for overthrowing dictators in Serbia and Ukraine. He has spent time with Gene and his colleagues as they spread their message of effective non-violent revolution.
The film reveals how the leaders of an uprising in one country train the participants in the next and how social media now threatens dictators and tyrants around the world in ways that were unimaginable just a decade ago.
Not only is this documentary an important film of record of the civil uprisings that have shaken the world in the last decade but we also hope it will help inspire future pro-democracy movements develop their strategies for non-violent revolution in the face of apparently overwhelming odds.
Allright, NRC en RTL hebben de goods online. Zie ook Cable Search.
Nieuwsbericht: Beatrix sprak over missie Afghanistan.
Nieuwbericht: Bos enige tegenstander verlenging.
- Update: Nieuwe cable over bezoek Balkenende aan Obama. Waarin o.m. staat dat Verhagen bang was dat opname van Guantánamo-gevangenen in Nederland de populariteit van Wilders zou doen vergroten; dat Nederland harder roept dan handelt over klimaatverandering; en dat Beatrix waarschijnlijk binnen een jaar zou aftreden.
- Update: Absurd eigenlijk hoe veel die kabinetsleden de Amerikanen vertellen. Van Middelkoop noemt de besluitvorming in het kabinet tegen de ambassadeur ”frustrerend”. Classy.
- Update: Belangrijkste nieuws is ongetwijfeld Beatrix die een voorstander blijkt van de Afghanistan-missie (net als het merendeel van de Nederlandse elite, de ‘senior body politic’). Edit: De Volkskrant houdt er een andere interpretatie van de term “finding a way forward” op na.
Verder schijnt Wouter Bos nogal alleen te hebben gestaan in het kabinet én de PvdA-Kamerfractie met zijn verzet. Amerikanen hadden ook enorm de pik op Bos en de PvdA.
Opmerkelijk vind ik (maar daar heb ik verder nog niemand over gehoord) dat Bos wel in vertrouwen tegen de Amerikaanse ambassadeur heeft gezegd dat Nederland na 2010 nog wel in Afghanistan zal blijven, alleen niet in Uruzgan.
Ook aardig is dat de relatie tussen Verhagen en Koenders omschreven wordt als “gespannen, maar niet vijandig”. Van Middelkoop wordt beschreven als ‘het derde wiel aan de wagen’.
Authentieke cables te bekijken hier: codeberichten 1150 (15 juni 2000), 114457 (5 juli 2007), 222211 (25 augustus 2009) en 241007 (21 december 2009)
Codebericht 241007 (21 december 2009), over kabinetsberaad:
1. (S) SUMMARY: Dutch cabinet deliberations on Afghanistan are stalled going into the holiday break, with no clear indication when the impasse will be broken. Dutch post-2010 commitments to Afghanistan are being held hostage to the Labor Party´s (PvdA) uncompromising stance. Ambassador´s engagement with key leaders reveals few new assessments: Dutch will likely stay in Afghanistan focusing on training, enablers and development – outside of Uruzgan. END SUMMARY
4. (S) PvdA – Bos has completely shunned the diplomatic corps, relegating Afghanistan discussions to Koenders who has categorically said the Dutch will not be in Uruzgan after 2010 except for development efforts. The Australian Ambassador met with PvdA Foreign Affairs spokesperson Martijn van Dam who was even more unyielding on the Uruzgan departure. He stated that if Dutch security was needed in Uruzgan for development efforts after 2010, then the Dutch would simply stop those efforts as well. The PvdA defense spokesperson opined that it would not be of any benefit for U.S. leaders to engage either Bos or van Dam as they were not “open-minded” on Afghanistan. The PvdA is a party in disarray; their December 12 party congress was very mixed. Although there was no formal party statement made on Afghanistan, Labor´s position remained clear – it was standing firm on withdrawal of all troops from Uruzgan in 2010. Bos has stated he wants a Cabinet decision around January 8, before the Davids Commission issues it report about the political support the Dutch Government gave the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in 2003. Press commentary after the party congress heavily criticized Labor for failing to recognize: (1) any positive developments in Uruzgan over the past two years; (2) the importance for the Dutch to support the new NATO strategy and mission; and (3) the lives lost Qthe new NATO strategy and mission; and (3) the lives lost needlessly and effort wasted if the Dutch withdrew from Uruzgan
Codebericht 222211 (25 augustus 2009), o.m. over Beatrix:
1. (C) This cable continues reporting on post´s efforts to get the Dutch to “yes” on a post-2010 deployment in Afghanistan (reftels).
2. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Labor Party leader Bos told the Ambassador in confidence (STRICTLY PROTECT) the Dutch will likely stay in Afghanistan post-2010 but not in Uruzgan. The cabinet will probably not take that decision until the end of the year. Post recommends next steps in our engagement (para 7). END SUMMARY.
4. (S/NF) Bos then said the Government, with Labor Party support, will be able to stay in Afghanistan after its current mandate expires, but not in Uruzgan. The Ambassador pressed Bos that it was more logical for the Dutch to remain in Uruzgan where they had developed important contacts with local tribes and leaders as well as funded numerous projects. Bos admitted this was true, but did not know if staying in Uruzgan would fly with his party.
6. (S/NF) COMMENT: Queen Beatrix commented to the Ambassador during her credentialing ceremony on August 19 that finding a way forward on Afghanistan “would be difficult,” but must be done. It appears the senior leadership of the body politic agrees. We had heard from other Cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Verhagen, that Bos and the Labor Party would likely agree to extending the Dutch mission in Afghanistan past 2010. Bos´s statement, however, was the first time any senior Labor Party leader had made that clear. Although appearing to draw a line in the sand about leaving Uruzgan, Qappearing to draw a line in the sand about leaving Uruzgan, Bos did not seem categorical about that issue. In our engagement, we need to continue to stress the Alliance need for the Dutch to remain in Afghanistan and in Uruzgan, in particular; the progress the Dutch have made in Uruzgan and the need to build upon their stability and development efforts there; the increased U.S. contribution in military and civilian personnel and resources in Afghanistan; and the enhanced contributions of NATO and other partners. A word of caution – the Dutch are concerned Jan Mohammed, the former governor and local warlord, might be re-appointed governor of Uruzgan if Pres. Karzai is re-elected. If that were to happen, everyone, including our strongest supporters, says the Dutch will not/not return to Uruzgan under any circumstances. END COMMENT.
Codebericht 114457 (5 juli 2007), over relaties binnen het kabinet:
1. (C) Summary: The GONL sent a letter to the Dutch Parliament on June 30 noting it will decide this summer whether to extend its ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The decision will follow an exhaustive review of all options, including staying in the mission´s current capacity, reducing its contribution or moving to another location, or even withdrawing altogether. Cabinet officials have stressed that “all options are on the table,” while public statements by Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop in favor of remaining in some capacity may have tipped the hand of the GONL and temporarily unsettled the political process. Dutch officials are cautiously optimistic that the conditions are in place to arrive at a positive extension decision, but stress that sequencing is vital: first the review of options, then consultations with Allies, followed by a decision and subsequent debate with Parliament. End summary.
19. (S//NOFORN) Working level contacts describe the relationship between Verhagen and Koenders as “contentious but not outright hostile.” Instead of direct confrontation, the two often wage battles through their staffs at the working level, said MFA Security Affairs Chief Robert de Groot. That said, when the two ministers agree, the resulting decision has added weight and is often “ironclad.” Van Middelkoop is described as “the third wheel,” or the “inexperienced junior partner” by working level contacts. While substantively knowledgeable, his inexperience in the government is obvious, and he often defers to Verhagen and Koenders.
Codebericht 1150 (15 juni 2000), over Servië:
1.(C) SUMMARY: THE DUTCH ARE PLEASED THAT THE 6/13-14 EU GAC ENDORSED MORE FREQUENT UPDATES OF THE EU SERBIA VISA BAN LIST. THEY THINK THEY NOW HAVE A POLITICALLY RESPONSIVE TOOL TO PRESSURE MILOSEVIC AND HIS REGIME. THEY STILL SUPPORT CLOSER EU COORDINATION WITH NON-EU STATES ON FINANCIAL SANCTIONS, BUT SEE LITTLE PROSPECT OF AN EU CONSENSUS ON THIS POINT. THEY SUGGEST MORE AD HOC APPROACHES TO THIS PROBLEM AND WELCOME FURTHER BILATERAL CONSULTATION WITH THE U.S. FINALLY, THE DUTCH SAY THAT THE UK AND THE NETHERLANDS ARE “BRAINSTORMING” ON HOW TO MANAGE ANTICIPATED AUGUST CALLS TO DROP OUTRIGHT THE EU SERBIA FLIGHT BAN. END SUMMARY.