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Fnurth U.5. EdItInn
Thc A!bcrt EInstcIn InstItutInn
AII maleriaI a¡¡earing in lhis
¡ubIicalion is in lhe ¡ubIic domain and
may be re¡roduced vilhoul
¡ermission from Gene Shar¡.
Cilalion of lhe source, and noli!calion lo lhe
AIberl Linslein Inslilulion for lhe re¡roduclion,
lransIalion, and re¡rinling of lhis ¡ubIicalion, are a¡¡recialed.
Iirsl Ldilion, May 2OO2
Second Ldilion, }une 2OO3
Third Ldilion, Iebruary 2OO8
Iourlh Ldilion, May 2O1O
From Dictatorship to Democracy vas originaIIy ¡ubIished in ßangkok
in 1993 by lhe Commillee for lhe Resloralion of Democracy in ßurma
in associalion vilh Khil Iyaing (The New Era Journal). Il has since
been lransIaled inlo al Ieasl lhirly-one olher Ianguages and has been
¡ubIished in Serbia, Indonesia, and ThaiIand, among olher counlries.
This is lhe fourlh Iniled Slales Ldilion.
Irinled in lhe Iniled Slales of America.
Irinled on RecycIed Ia¡er.
The AIberl Linslein Inslilulion
I.Ò. ßox 455
Lasl ßoslon, MA O2128, ISA
TeI: ISA +1 617-247-4882
Iax: ISA +1 617-247-4O35
TABLE OF CONTENT5
FACING DICTATOR5HIP5 REALI5TICALLY 1
A conlinuing ¡robIem 2
Ireedom lhrough vioIence` 4
Cou¡s, eIeclions, foreign saviors` 5
Iacing lhe hard lrulh 7
THE DANGER5 OF NEGOTIATION5 9
Merils and Iimilalions of negolialions 1O
Negolialed surrender` 1O
Iover and |uslice in negolialions 12
¨AgreeabIe¨ diclalors 13
Whal kind of ¡eace` 14
Reasons for ho¡e 14
WHENCE COME5 THE POWER? 17
The ¨Monkey Masler¨ fabIe 17
Necessary sources of ¡oIilicaI ¡over 18
Cenlers of democralic ¡over 21
DICTATOR5HIP5 HAVE WEAKNE55E5 25
Idenlifying lhe AchiIIes' heeI 25
Weaknesses of diclalorshi¡s 26
Allacking veaknesses of diclalorshi¡s 27
EXERCI5ING POWER 29
The vorkings of nonvioIenl slruggIe 3O
NonvioIenl vea¡ons and disci¡Iine 3O
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq t
Ò¡enness, secrecy, and high slandards 33
Shifling ¡over reIalionshi¡s 34
Iour mechanisms of change 35
Democralizing effecls of ¡oIilicaI de!ance 37
Com¡Iexily of nonvioIenl slruggIe 38
THE NEED FOR 5TRATEGIC PLANNING 39
ReaIislic ¡Ianning 39
HurdIes lo ¡Ianning 4O
Iour im¡orlanl lerms in slralegic ¡Ianning 43
PLANNING 5TRATEGY 47
Choice of means 48
IIanning for democracy 49
LxlernaI assislance 5O
IormuIaling a grand slralegy 5O
IIanning cam¡aign slralegies 53
S¡reading lhe idea of noncoo¡eralion 55
Re¡ression and counlermeasures 56
Adhering lo lhe slralegic ¡Ian 57
APPLYING POLITICAL DEFIANCE 59
SeIeclive resislance 59
SymboIic chaIIenge 6O
S¡reading res¡onsibiIily 61
Aiming al lhe diclalors' ¡over 62
Shifls in slralegy 64
DI5INTEGRATING THE DICTATOR5HIP 67
LscaIaling freedom 69
Disinlegraling lhe diclalorshi¡ 7O
HandIing success res¡onsibIy 71
ti Gcnc Sncrp
GROUNDWORK FOR DURABLE DEMOCRACY 73
Threals of a nev diclalorshi¡ 73
ßIocking cou¡s 74
Conslilulion drafling 75
A democralic defense ¡oIicy 76
A merilorious res¡onsibiIily 76
THE METHOD5 OF NONVIOLENT ACTION 79
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT5 AND NOTE5 ON
THE HI5TORY OF -678 9:#;!;76<=:> ;7 9?87#6!#@ 87
A NOTE ABOUT TRAN5LATION5 AND
REPRINTING OF THI5 PUBLICATION 91
FOR FURTHER READING 93
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq tii
Òne of my ma|or concerns for many years has been hov ¡eo¡Ie
couId ¡revenl and deslroy diclalorshi¡s. This has been nurlured in
¡arl because of a beIief lhal human beings shouId nol be dominaled
and deslroyed by such regimes. Thal beIief has been slrenglhened
by readings on lhe im¡orlance of human freedom, on lhe nalure of
diclalorshi¡s (from ArislolIe lo anaIysls of lolaIilarianism), and his-
lories of diclalorshi¡s (es¡eciaIIy lhe Nazi and SlaIinisl syslems).
Òver lhe years I have had occasion lo gel lo knov ¡eo¡Ie vho
Iived and suffered under Nazi ruIe, incIuding some vho survived
concenlralion cam¡s. In Norvay I mel ¡eo¡Ie vho had resisled
fascisl ruIe and survived, and heard of lhose vho ¡erished. I laIked
vilh }evs vho had esca¡ed lhe Nazi cIulches and vilh ¡ersons vho
had heI¡ed lo save lhem.
KnovIedge of lhe lerror of Communisl ruIe in various counlries
has been Iearned more from books lhan ¡ersonaI conlacls. The lerror
of lhese syslems a¡¡eared lo me lo be es¡eciaIIy ¡oignanl for lhese
diclalorshi¡s vere im¡osed in lhe name of Iiberalion from o¡¡res-
sion and ex¡Ioilalion.
In more recenl decades lhrough visils of ¡ersons from dicla-
loriaIIy ruIed counlries, such as Ianama, IoIand, ChiIe, Tibel, and
ßurma, lhe reaIilies of loday's diclalorshi¡s became more reaI. Irom
Tibelans vho had foughl againsl Chinese Communisl aggression,
Russians vho had defealed lhe Augusl 1991 hard-Iine cou¡, and
Thais vho had nonvioIenlIy bIocked a relurn lo miIilary ruIe, I
have gained oflen lroubIing ¡ers¡eclives on lhe insidious nalure of
The sense of ¡alhos and oulrage againsl lhe brulaIilies, aIong
vilh admiralion of lhe caIm heroism of unbeIievabIy brave men
and vomen, vere somelimes slrenglhened by visils lo ¡Iaces vhere
lhe dangers vere sliII greal, and yel de!ance by brave ¡eo¡Ie con-
linued. These incIuded Ianama under Noriega, ViInius, Lilhuania,
under conlinued Soviel re¡ression, Tiananmen Square, ßei|ing,
during bolh lhe feslive demonslralion of freedom and vhiIe lhe
!rsl armored ¡ersonneI carriers enlered lhal falefuI nighl, and lhe
|ungIe headquarlers of lhe democralic o¡¡osilion al Maner¡Iav in
Somelimes I visiled lhe siles of lhe faIIen, as lhe leIevision lover
and lhe cemelery in ViInius, lhe ¡ubIic ¡ark in Riga vhere ¡eo¡Ie
had been gunned dovn, lhe cenler of Ierrara in norlhern IlaIy vhere
lhe fascisls Iined u¡ and shol resislers, and a sim¡Ie cemelery in
Maner¡Iav !IIed vilh bodies of men vho had died much loo young.
Il is a sad reaIizalion lhal every diclalorshi¡ Ieaves such dealh and
deslruclion in ils vake.
Òul of lhese concerns and ex¡eriences grev a delermined
ho¡e lhal ¡revenlion of lyranny mighl be ¡ossibIe, lhal successfuI
slruggIes againsl diclalorshi¡s couId be vaged vilhoul mass mu-
luaI sIaughlers, lhal diclalorshi¡s couId be deslroyed and nev ones
¡revenled from rising oul of lhe ashes.
I have lried lo lhink carefuIIy aboul lhe mosl effeclive vays
in vhich diclalorshi¡s couId be successfuIIy disinlegraled vilh lhe
Ieasl ¡ossibIe cosl in suffering and Iives. In lhis I have dravn on my
sludies over many years of diclalorshi¡s, resislance movemenls,
revoIulions, ¡oIilicaI lhoughl, governmenlaI syslems, and es¡eciaIIy
reaIislic nonvioIenl slruggIe.
This ¡ubIicalion is lhe resuIl. I am cerlain il is far from ¡erfecl.
ßul, ¡erha¡s, il offers some guideIines lo assisl lhoughl and ¡Ian-
ning lo ¡roduce movemenls of Iiberalion lhal are more ¡overfuI
and effeclive lhan mighl olhervise be lhe case.
Òf necessily, and of deIiberale choice, lhe focus of lhis essay is
on lhe generic ¡robIem of hov lo deslroy a diclalorshi¡ and lo ¡re-
venl lhe rise of a nev one. I am nol com¡elenl lo ¡roduce a delaiIed
anaIysis and ¡rescri¡lion for a ¡arlicuIar counlry. Hovever, il is my
ho¡e lhal lhis generic anaIysis may be usefuI lo ¡eo¡Ie in, unforlu-
naleIy, loo many counlries vho nov face lhe reaIilies of diclaloriaI
ruIe. They viII need lo examine lhe vaIidily of lhis anaIysis for lheir
silualions and lhe exlenl lo vhich ils ma|or recommendalions are, or
can be made lo be, a¡¡IicabIe for lheir Iiberalion slruggIes.
Novhere in lhis anaIysis do I assume lhal defying diclalors viII
be an easy or cosl-free endeavor. AII forms of slruggIe have com¡Iica-
ix Gcnc Sncrp
lions and cosls. Iighling diclalors viII, of course, bring casuaIlies. Il
is my ho¡e, hovever, lhal lhis anaIysis viII s¡ur resislance Ieaders
lo consider slralegies lhal may increase lheir effeclive ¡over vhiIe
reducing lhe reIalive IeveI of casuaIlies.
Nor shouId lhis anaIysis be inler¡reled lo mean lhal vhen a
s¡eci!c diclalorshi¡ is ended, aII olher ¡robIems viII aIso disa¡¡ear.
The faII of one regime does nol bring in a ulo¡ia. Ralher, il o¡ens lhe
vay for hard vork and Iong efforls lo buiId more |usl sociaI, eco-
nomic, and ¡oIilicaI reIalionshi¡s and lhe eradicalion of olher forms
of in|uslices and o¡¡ression. Il is my ho¡e lhal lhis brief examina-
lion of hov a diclalorshi¡ can be disinlegraled may be found usefuI
vherever ¡eo¡Ie Iive under dominalion and desire lo be free.
6 Òclober 1993
AIberl Linslein Inslilulion
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq x
FACING DICTATOR5HIP5 REALI5TICALLY
In recenl years various diclalorshi¡s ÷ of bolh inlernaI and exlernaI
origin ÷ have coIIa¡sed or slumbIed vhen confronled by de!anl,
mobiIized ¡eo¡Ie. Òflen seen as !rmIy enlrenched and im¡regnabIe,
some of lhese diclalorshi¡s ¡roved unabIe lo vilhsland lhe concerled
¡oIilicaI, economic, and sociaI de!ance of lhe ¡eo¡Ie.
Since 198O diclalorshi¡s have coIIa¡sed before lhe ¡redominanl-
Iy nonvioIenl de!ance of ¡eo¡Ie in Lslonia, Lalvia, and Lilhuania,
IoIand, Lasl Germany, CzechosIovakia and SIovenia, Madagascar,
MaIi, ßoIivia, and lhe IhiIi¡¡ines. NonvioIenl resislance has fur-
lhered lhe movemenl lovard democralizalion in Ne¡aI, Zambia,
Soulh Korea, ChiIe, Argenlina, Haili, ßraziI, Iruguay, MaIavi, Thai-
Iand, ßuIgaria, Hungary, Nigeria, and various ¡arls of lhe former
Soviel Inion (¡Iaying a signi!canl roIe in lhe defeal of lhe Augusl
1991 allem¡led hard-Iine cou¡ d'ólal).
In addilion, mass ¡oIilicaI de!ance
has occurred in China,
ßurma, and Tibel in recenl years. AIlhough lhose slruggIes have
nol broughl an end lo lhe ruIing diclalorshi¡s or occu¡alions, lhey
have ex¡osed lhe brulaI nalure of lhose re¡ressive regimes lo lhe
vorId communily and have ¡rovided lhe ¡o¡uIalions vilh vaIuabIe
ex¡erience vilh lhis form of slruggIe.
The lerm used in lhis conlexl vas inlroduced by Roberl HeIvey. ¨IoIilicaI de!-
ance¨ is nonvioIenl slruggIe (¡rolesl, noncoo¡eralion, and inlervenlion) a¡¡Iied
de!anlIy and acliveIy for ¡oIilicaI ¡ur¡oses. The lerm originaled in res¡onse lo
lhe confusion and dislorlion crealed by equaling nonvioIenl slruggIe vilh ¡aci!sm
and moraI or reIigious ¨nonvioIence.¨ ¨De!ance¨ denoles a deIiberale chaIIenge lo
aulhorily by disobedience, aIIoving no room for submission. ¨IoIilicaI de!ance¨
describes lhe environmenl in vhich lhe aclion is em¡Ioyed (¡oIilicaI) as veII as
lhe ob|eclive (¡oIilicaI ¡over). The lerm is used ¡rinci¡aIIy lo describe aclion by
¡o¡uIalions lo regain from diclalorshi¡s conlroI over governmenlaI inslilulions
by reIenlIessIy allacking lheir sources of ¡over and deIiberaleIy using slralegic
¡Ianning and o¡eralions lo do so. In lhis ¡a¡er, ¡oIilicaI de!ance, nonvioIenl re-
sislance, and nonvioIenl slruggIe viII be used inlerchangeabIy, aIlhough lhe Ialler
lvo lerms generaIIy refer lo slruggIes vilh a broader range of ob|eclives (sociaI,
economic, ¡sychoIogicaI, elc.).
The coIIa¡se of diclalorshi¡s in lhe above named counlries cer-
lainIy has nol erased aII olher ¡robIems in lhose socielies: ¡overly,
crime, bureaucralic inef!ciency, and environmenlaI deslruclion are
oflen lhe Iegacy of brulaI regimes. Hovever, lhe dovnfaII of lhese
diclalorshi¡s has minimaIIy Iifled much of lhe suffering of lhe vic-
lims of o¡¡ression, and has o¡ened lhe vay for lhe rebuiIding of
lhese socielies vilh grealer ¡oIilicaI democracy, ¡ersonaI Iiberlies,
and sociaI |uslice.
A cnntInuIng prnb!cm
There has indeed been a lrend lovards grealer democralizalion and
freedom in lhe vorId in lhe ¡asl decades. According lo Ireedom
House, vhich com¡iIes a yearIy inlernalionaI survey of lhe slalus of
¡oIilicaI righls and civiI Iiberlies, lhe number of counlries around lhe
vorId cIassi!ed as ¨Iree¨ has grovn signi!canlIy in recenl years:
Frcc Part!y Frcc Nnt Frcc
1983 54 47 64
1993 75 73 38
2003 89 55 48
2009 89 62 42
Hovever, lhis ¡osilive lrend is lem¡ered by lhe Iarge numbers
of ¡eo¡Ie sliII Iiving under condilions of lyranny. As of 2OO8, 34/ of
lhe vorId's 6.68 biIIion ¡o¡uIalion Iived in counlries designaled as
lhal is, areas vilh exlremeIy reslricled ¡oIilicaI righls
and civiI Iiberlies. The 42 counlries in lhe ¨Nol Iree¨ calegory are
ruIed by a range of miIilary diclalorshi¡s (as in ßurma), lradilionaI
re¡ressive monarchies (as in Saudi Arabia and ßhulan), dominanl
¡oIilicaI ¡arlies (as in China and Norlh Korea), foreign occu¡iers (as
in Tibel and Weslern Sahara), or are in a slale of lransilion.
2 Gcnc Sncrp
Ireedom House, |rcc!cm in inc Wcr|!, hll¡:11vvv.freedomhouse.org.
Many counlries loday are in a slale of ra¡id economic, ¡oIilicaI,
and sociaI change. AIlhough lhe number of ¨Iree¨ counlries has in-
creased in recenl years, lhere is a greal risk lhal many nalions, in lhe
face of such ra¡id fundamenlaI changes, viII move in lhe o¡¡osile
direclion and ex¡erience nev forms of diclalorshi¡. MiIilary cIiques,
ambilious individuaIs, eIecled of!ciaIs, and doclrinaI ¡oIilicaI ¡arlies
viII re¡ealedIy seek lo im¡ose lheir viII. Cou¡s d'ólal are and viII
remain a common occurrence. ßasic human and ¡oIilicaI righls viII
conlinue lo be denied lo vasl numbers of ¡eo¡Ies.
InforlunaleIy, lhe ¡asl is sliII vilh us. The ¡robIem of diclalor-
shi¡s is dee¡. Ieo¡Ie in many counlries have ex¡erienced decades or
even cenluries of o¡¡ression, vhelher of domeslic or foreign origin.
IrequenlIy, unqueslioning submission lo aulhorily !gures and ruI-
ers has been Iong incuIcaled. In exlreme cases, lhe sociaI, ¡oIilicaI,
economic, and even reIigious inslilulions of lhe sociely ÷ oulside
of slale conlroI ÷ have been deIiberaleIy veakened, subordinaled,
or even re¡Iaced by nev regimenled inslilulions used by lhe slale
or ruIing ¡arly lo conlroI lhe sociely. The ¡o¡uIalion has oflen been
alomized (lurned inlo a mass of isoIaled individuaIs) unabIe lo vork
logelher lo achieve freedom, lo con!de in each olher, or even lo do
much of anylhing al lheir ovn inilialive.
The resuIl is ¡rediclabIe: lhe ¡o¡uIalion becomes veak, Iacks
seIf-con!dence, and is inca¡abIe of resislance. Ieo¡Ie are oflen loo
frighlened lo share lheir halred of lhe diclalorshi¡ and lheir hun-
ger for freedom even vilh famiIy and friends. Ieo¡Ie are oflen loo
lerri!ed lo lhink seriousIy of ¡ubIic resislance. In any case, vhal
vouId be lhe use` Inslead, lhey face suffering vilhoul ¡ur¡ose and
a fulure vilhoul ho¡e.
Currenl condilions in loday's diclalorshi¡s may be much vorse
lhan earIier. In lhe ¡asl, some ¡eo¡Ie may have allem¡led resislance.
Shorl-Iived mass ¡rolesls and demonslralions may have occurred.
Ierha¡s s¡irils soared lem¡orariIy. Al olher limes, individuaIs and
smaII grou¡s may have conducled brave bul im¡olenl geslures,
asserling some ¡rinci¡Ie or sim¡Iy lheir de!ance. Hovever nobIe
lhe molives, such ¡asl acls of resislance have oflen been insuf!cienl
lo overcome lhe ¡eo¡Ie's fear and habil of obedience, a necessary
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 3
¡rerequisile lo deslroy lhe diclalorshi¡. SadIy, lhose acls may have
broughl inslead onIy increased suffering and dealh, nol viclories or
Frccdnm thrnugh vIn!cncc?
Whal is lo be done in such circumslances` The obvious ¡ossibiIilies
seem useIess. ConslilulionaI and IegaI barriers, |udiciaI decisions,
and ¡ubIic o¡inion are normaIIy ignored by diclalors. Inder-
slandabIy, reacling lo lhe brulaIilies, lorlure, disa¡¡earances, and
kiIIings, ¡eo¡Ie oflen have concIuded lhal onIy vioIence can end a
diclalorshi¡. Angry viclims have somelimes organized lo !ghl lhe
brulaI diclalors vilh vhalever vioIenl and miIilary ca¡acily lhey
couId musler, des¡ile lhe odds being againsl lhem. These ¡eo¡Ie
have oflen foughl braveIy, al greal cosl in suffering and Iives. Their
accom¡Iishmenls have somelimes been remarkabIe, bul lhey rareIy
have von freedom. VioIenl rebeIIions can lrigger brulaI re¡ression
lhal frequenlIy Ieaves lhe ¡o¡uIace more heI¡Iess lhan before.
Whalever lhe merils of lhe vioIenl o¡lion, hovever, one ¡oinl
is cIear. Bq p|ccing ccn!!cncc in tic|cni mccns, cnc ncs cncscn inc tcrq
iqpc cj sirugg|c uiin unicn inc cpprcsscrs nccr|q c|ucqs nctc supcricr-
iiq. The diclalors are equi¡¡ed lo a¡¡Iy vioIence overvheImingIy.
Hovever Iong or brie"y lhese democrals can conlinue, evenluaIIy
lhe harsh miIilary reaIilies usuaIIy become inesca¡abIe. The diclalors
aImosl aIvays have su¡eriorily in miIilary hardvare, ammunilion,
lrans¡orlalion, and lhe size of miIilary forces. Des¡ile bravery, lhe
democrals are (aImosl aIvays) no malch.
When convenlionaI miIilary rebeIIion is recognized as unreaIis-
lic, some dissidenls lhen favor guerriIIa varfare. Hovever, guerriIIa
varfare rareIy, if ever, bene!ls lhe o¡¡ressed ¡o¡uIalion or ushers in
a democracy. GuerriIIa varfare is no obvious soIulion, ¡arlicuIarIy
given lhe very slrong lendency lovard immense casuaIlies among
one's ovn ¡eo¡Ie. The lechnique is no guaranlor againsl faiIure,
des¡ile su¡¡orling lheory and slralegic anaIyses, and somelimes
inlernalionaI backing. GuerriIIa slruggIes oflen Iasl a very Iong
lime. CiviIian ¡o¡uIalions are oflen dis¡Iaced by lhe ruIing gov-
4 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 5
ernmenl, vilh immense human suffering and sociaI disIocalion.
Lven vhen successfuI, guerriIIa slruggIes oflen have signi!-
canl Iong-lerm negalive slrucluraI consequences. ImmedialeIy, lhe
allacked regime becomes more diclaloriaI as a resuIl of ils coun-
lermeasures. If lhe guerriIIas shouId !naIIy succeed, lhe resuIling
nev regime is oflen more diclaloriaI lhan ils ¡redecessor due lo lhe
cenlraIizing im¡acl of lhe ex¡anded miIilary forces and lhe veaken-
ing or deslruclion of lhe sociely's inde¡endenl grou¡s and inslilu-
lions during lhe slruggIe ÷ bodies lhal are vilaI in eslabIishing and
mainlaining a democralic sociely. Iersons hosliIe lo diclalorshi¡s
shouId Iook for anolher o¡lion.
Cnups, c!cctInns, InrcIgn savInrs?
A miIilary cou¡ d'ólal againsl a diclalorshi¡ mighl a¡¡ear lo be
reIaliveIy one of lhe easiesl and quickesl vays lo remove a ¡arlicu-
IarIy re¡ugnanl regime. Hovever, lhere are very serious ¡robIems
vilh lhal lechnique. Mosl im¡orlanlIy, il Ieaves in ¡Iace lhe exisling
maIdislribulion of ¡over belveen lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe eIile in
conlroI of lhe governmenl and ils miIilary forces. The removaI of
¡arlicuIar ¡ersons and cIiques from lhe governing ¡osilions mosl
IikeIy viII mereIy make il ¡ossibIe for anolher grou¡ lo lake lheir
¡Iace. TheorelicaIIy, lhis grou¡ mighl be miIder in ils behavior and
be o¡en in Iimiled vays lo democralic reforms. Hovever, lhe o¡-
¡osile is as IikeIy lo be lhe case.
Afler consoIidaling ils ¡osilion, lhe nev cIique may lurn oul lo
be more rulhIess and more ambilious lhan lhe oId one. ConsequenlIy,
lhe nev cIique ÷ in vhich ho¡es may have been ¡Iaced ÷ viII be
abIe lo do vhalever il vanls vilhoul concern for democracy or
human righls. Thal is nol an acce¡labIe ansver lo lhe ¡robIem of
LIeclions are nol avaiIabIe under diclalorshi¡s as an inslru-
menl of signi!canl ¡oIilicaI change. Some diclaloriaI regimes,
such as lhose of lhe former Soviel-dominaled Laslern bIoc, venl
lhrough lhe molions in order lo a¡¡ear democralic. Those eIeclions,
hovever, vere mereIy rigidIy conlroIIed ¡Iebisciles lo gel ¡ubIic
endorsemenl of candidales aIready hand ¡icked by lhe diclalors.
Diclalors under ¡ressure may al limes agree lo nev eIeclions, bul
lhen rig lhem lo ¡Iace civiIian ¡u¡¡els in governmenl of!ces. If
o¡¡osilion candidales have been aIIoved lo run and vere acluaIIy
eIecled, as occurred in ßurma in 199O and Nigeria in 1993, resuIls
may sim¡Iy be ignored and lhe ¨viclors¨ sub|ecled lo inlimida-
lion, arresl, or even execulion. Diclalors are nol in lhe business
of aIIoving eIeclions lhal couId remove lhem from lheir lhrones.
Many ¡eo¡Ie nov suffering under a brulaI diclalorshi¡, or vho
have gone inlo exiIe lo esca¡e ils immediale gras¡, do nol beIieve lhal
lhe o¡¡ressed can Iiberale lhemseIves. They ex¡ecl lhal lheir ¡eo¡Ie
can onIy be saved by lhe aclions of olhers. These ¡eo¡Ie ¡Iace lheir
con!dence in exlernaI forces. They beIieve lhal onIy inlernalionaI
heI¡ can be slrong enough lo bring dovn lhe diclalors.
The viev lhal lhe o¡¡ressed are unabIe lo acl effecliveIy is
somelimes accurale for a cerlain lime ¡eriod. As noled, oflen o¡-
¡ressed ¡eo¡Ie are unviIIing and lem¡orariIy unabIe lo slruggIe
because lhey have no con!dence in lheir abiIily lo face lhe rulhIess
diclalorshi¡, and no knovn vay lo save lhemseIves. Il is lherefore
underslandabIe lhal many ¡eo¡Ie ¡Iace lheir ho¡e for Iiberalion in
olhers. This oulside force may be ¨¡ubIic o¡inion,¨ lhe Iniled Na-
lions, a ¡arlicuIar counlry, or inlernalionaI economic and ¡oIilicaI
Such a scenario may sound comforling, bul lhere are grave
¡robIems vilh lhis reIiance on an oulside savior. Such con!dence
may be lolaIIy mis¡Iaced. IsuaIIy no foreign saviors are coming, and
if a foreign slale does inlervene, il ¡robabIy shouId nol be lrusled.
A fev harsh reaIilies concerning reIiance on foreign inlervenlion
need lo be em¡hasized here:
ª IrequenlIy foreign slales viII loIerale, or even ¡osiliveIy as-
sisl, a diclalorshi¡ in order lo advance lheir ovn economic
or ¡oIilicaI inleresls.
ª Ioreign slales aIso may be viIIing lo seII oul an o¡¡ressed
¡eo¡Ie inslead of kee¡ing ¡Iedges lo assisl lheir Iiberalion
al lhe cosl of anolher ob|eclive.
6 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 7
ª Some foreign slales viII acl againsl a diclalorshi¡ onIy lo
gain lheir ovn economic, ¡oIilicaI, or miIilary conlroI over
ª The foreign slales may become acliveIy invoIved for ¡osi-
live ¡ur¡oses onIy if and vhen lhe inlernaI resislance move-
menl has aIready begun shaking lhe diclalorshi¡, having
lhereby focused inlernalionaI allenlion on lhe brulaI nalure
of lhe regime.
Diclalorshi¡s usuaIIy exisl ¡rimariIy because of lhe inlernaI
¡over dislribulion in lhe home counlry. The ¡o¡uIalion and sociely
are loo veak lo cause lhe diclalorshi¡ serious ¡robIems, veaIlh and
¡over are concenlraled in loo fev hands. AIlhough diclalorshi¡s
may bene!l from or be somevhal veakened by inlernalionaI aclions,
lheir conlinualion is de¡endenl ¡rimariIy on inlernaI faclors.
InlernalionaI ¡ressures can be very usefuI, hovever, vhen lhey
are su¡¡orling a ¡overfuI inlernaI resislance movemenl. Then, for
exam¡Ie, inlernalionaI economic boycolls, embargoes, lhe breaking
of di¡Iomalic reIalions, ex¡uIsion from inlernalionaI organizalions,
condemnalion by Iniled Nalions bodies, and lhe Iike can assisl
grealIy. Hovever, in lhe absence of a slrong inlernaI resislance
movemenl such aclions by olhers are unIikeIy lo ha¡¡en.
FacIng thc hard truth
The concIusion is a hard one. When one vanls lo bring dovn a
diclalorshi¡ mosl effecliveIy and vilh lhe Ieasl cosl lhen one has
four immediale lasks:
ª Òne musl slrenglhen lhe o¡¡ressed ¡o¡uIalion lhemseIves
in lheir delerminalion, seIf-con!dence, and resislance skiIIs,
ª Òne musl slrenglhen lhe inde¡endenl sociaI grou¡s and in-
slilulions of lhe o¡¡ressed ¡eo¡Ie,
ª Òne musl creale a ¡overfuI inlernaI resislance force, and
ª Òne musl deveIo¡ a vise grand slralegic ¡Ian for Iiberalion
and im¡Iemenl il skiIIfuIIy.
A Iiberalion slruggIe is a lime for seIf-reIiance and inlernaI
slrenglhening of lhe slruggIe grou¡. As CharIes Slevarl IarneII
caIIed oul during lhe Irish renl slrike cam¡aign in 1879 and 188O:
Il is no use reIying on lhe Governmenl . . . . You musl onIy
reIy u¡on your ovn delerminalion . . . . |HjeI¡ yourseIves
by slanding logelher . . . slrenglhen lhose amongsl your-
seIves vho are veak . . . , band yourseIves logelher, orga-
nize yourseIves . . . and you musl vin . . .
When you have made lhis queslion ri¡e for sellIemenl,
lhen and nol liII lhen viII il be sellIed.
Againsl a slrong seIf-reIianl force, given vise slralegy, disci-
¡Iined and courageous aclion, and genuine slrenglh, lhe diclalor-
shi¡ viII evenluaIIy crumbIe. MinimaIIy, hovever, lhe above four
requiremenls musl be fuI!IIed.
As lhe above discussion indicales, Iiberalion from diclalorshi¡s
uIlimaleIy de¡ends on lhe ¡eo¡Ie's abiIily lo Iiberale lhemseIves.
The cases of successfuI ¡oIilicaI de!ance ÷ or nonvioIenl slruggIe
for ¡oIilicaI ends ÷ ciled above indicale lhal lhe means do exisl
for ¡o¡uIalions lo free lhemseIves, bul lhal o¡lion has remained
undeveIo¡ed. We viII examine lhis o¡lion in delaiI in lhe foIIoving
cha¡lers. Hovever, ve shouId !rsl Iook al lhe issue of negolialions
as a means of dismanlIing diclalorshi¡s.
Ialrick Sars!eId Ò'Hegarly, A Hisicrq cj |rc|cn! Un!cr inc Unicn, 1880-1922 (London:
Melhuen, 1952), ¡¡. 49O-491.
8 Gcnc Sncrp
THE DANGER5 OF NEGOTIATION5
When faced vilh lhe severe ¡robIems of confronling a diclalor-
shi¡ (as surveyed in Cha¡ler Òne), some ¡eo¡Ie may Ia¡se back
inlo ¡assive submission. Òlhers, seeing no ¡ros¡ecl of achieving
democracy, may concIude lhey musl come lo lerms vilh lhe a¡¡ar-
enlIy ¡ermanenl diclalorshi¡, ho¡ing lhal lhrough ¨conciIialion,¨
¨com¡romise,¨ and ¨negolialions¨ lhey mighl be abIe lo saIvage
some ¡osilive eIemenls and lo end lhe brulaIilies. Òn lhe surface,
Iacking reaIislic o¡lions, lhere is a¡¡eaI in lhal Iine of lhinking.
Serious slruggIe againsl brulaI diclalorshi¡s is nol a ¡Ieasanl
¡ros¡ecl. Why is il necessary lo go lhal roule` Can'l everyone |usl
be reasonabIe and !nd vays lo laIk, lo negoliale lhe vay lo a graduaI
end lo lhe diclalorshi¡` Can'l lhe democrals a¡¡eaI lo lhe dicla-
lors' sense of common humanily and convince lhem lo reduce lheir
dominalion bil by bil, and ¡erha¡s !naIIy lo give vay com¡IeleIy
lo lhe eslabIishmenl of a democracy`
Il is somelimes argued lhal lhe lrulh is nol aII on one side. Ier-
ha¡s lhe democrals have misunderslood lhe diclalors, vho may have
acled from good molives in dif!cuIl circumslances` Òr ¡erha¡s some
may lhink, lhe diclalors vouId gIadIy remove lhemseIves from lhe
dif!cuIl silualion facing lhe counlry if onIy given some encourage-
menl and enlicemenls. Il may be argued lhal lhe diclalors couId be
offered a ¨vin-vin¨ soIulion, in vhich everyone gains somelhing.
The risks and ¡ain of furlher slruggIe couId be unnecessary, il may
be argued, if lhe democralic o¡¡osilion is onIy viIIing lo sellIe lhe
con"icl ¡eacefuIIy by negolialions (vhich may even ¡erha¡s be
assisled by some skiIIed individuaIs or even anolher governmenl).
WouId lhal nol be ¡referabIe lo a dif!cuIl slruggIe, even if il is one
conducled by nonvioIenl slruggIe ralher lhan by miIilary var`
McrIts and !ImItatInns nI ncgntIatInns
Negolialions are a very usefuI looI in resoIving cerlain ly¡es of is-
sues in con"icls and shouId nol be negIecled or re|ecled vhen lhey
In some silualions vhere no fundamenlaI issues are al slake,
and lherefore a com¡romise is acce¡labIe, negolialions can be an
im¡orlanl means lo sellIe a con"icl. A Iabor slrike for higher vages
is a good exam¡Ie of lhe a¡¡ro¡riale roIe of negolialions in a con"icl:
a negolialed sellIemenl may ¡rovide an increase somevhere belveen
lhe sums originaIIy ¡ro¡osed by each of lhe conlending sides. Labor
con"icls vilh IegaI lrade unions are, hovever, quile differenl lhan
lhe con"icls in vhich lhe conlinued exislence of a crueI diclalorshi¡
or lhe eslabIishmenl of ¡oIilicaI freedom are al slake.
When lhe issues al slake are fundamenlaI, affecling reIigious
¡rinci¡Ies, issues of human freedom, or lhe vhoIe fulure deveIo¡-
menl of lhe sociely, negolialions do nol ¡rovide a vay of reaching a
muluaIIy salisfaclory soIulion. Òn some basic issues lhere shouId
be no com¡romise. ÒnIy a shifl in ¡over reIalions in favor of lhe
democrals can adequaleIy safeguard lhe basic issues al slake. Such
a shifl viII occur lhrough slruggIe, nol negolialions. This is nol lo
say lhal negolialions oughl never lo be used. The ¡oinl here is lhal
negolialions are nol a reaIislic vay lo remove a slrong diclalorshi¡
in lhe absence of a ¡overfuI democralic o¡¡osilion.
Negolialions, of course, may nol be an o¡lion al aII. IirmIy
enlrenched diclalors vho feeI secure in lheir ¡osilion may refuse lo
negoliale vilh lheir democralic o¡¡onenls. Òr, vhen negolialions
have been inilialed, lhe democralic negolialors may disa¡¡ear and
never be heard from again.
IndividuaIs and grou¡s vho o¡¡ose diclalorshi¡ and favor nego-
lialions viII oflen have good molives. Ls¡eciaIIy vhen a miIilary
slruggIe has conlinued for years againsl a brulaI diclalorshi¡ vilhoul
!naI viclory, il is underslandabIe lhal aII lhe ¡eo¡Ie of vhalever
10 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 11
¡oIilicaI ¡ersuasion vouId vanl ¡eace. Negolialions are es¡eciaIIy
IikeIy lo become an issue among democrals vhere lhe diclalors have
cIear miIilary su¡eriorily and lhe deslruclion and casuaIlies among
one's ovn ¡eo¡Ie are no Ionger bearabIe. There viII lhen be a slrong
lem¡lalion lo ex¡Iore any olher roule lhal mighl saIvage some of lhe
democrals' ob|eclives vhiIe bringing an end lo lhe cycIe of vioIence
The offer by a diclalorshi¡ of ¨¡eace¨ lhrough negolialions vilh
lhe democralic o¡¡osilion is, of course, ralher disingenuous. The
vioIence couId be ended immedialeIy by lhe diclalors lhemseIves, if
onIy lhey vouId slo¡ vaging var on lheir ovn ¡eo¡Ie. They couId
al lheir ovn inilialive vilhoul any bargaining reslore res¡ecl for
human dignily and righls, free ¡oIilicaI ¡risoners, end lorlure, haIl
miIilary o¡eralions, vilhdrav from lhe governmenl, and a¡oIogize
lo lhe ¡eo¡Ie.
When lhe diclalorshi¡ is slrong bul an irrilaling resislance
exisls, lhe diclalors may vish lo negoliale lhe o¡¡osilion inlo sur-
render under lhe guise of making ¨¡eace.¨ The caII lo negoliale
can sound a¡¡eaIing, bul grave dangers can be Iurking vilhin lhe
Òn lhe olher hand, vhen lhe o¡¡osilion is exce¡lionaIIy slrong
and lhe diclalorshi¡ is genuineIy lhrealened, lhe diclalors may seek
negolialions in order lo saIvage as much of lheir conlroI or veaIlh
as ¡ossibIe. In neilher case shouId lhe democrals heI¡ lhe diclalors
achieve lheir goaIs.
Democrals shouId be vary of lhe lra¡s lhal may be deIiber-
aleIy buiIl inlo a negolialion ¡rocess by lhe diclalors. The caII for
negolialions vhen basic issues of ¡oIilicaI Iiberlies are invoIved may
be an efforl by lhe diclalors lo induce lhe democrals lo surrender
¡eacefuIIy vhiIe lhe vioIence of lhe diclalorshi¡ conlinues. In lhose
ly¡es of con"icls lhe onIy ¡ro¡er roIe of negolialions may occur al
lhe end of a decisive slruggIe in vhich lhe ¡over of lhe diclalors
has been effecliveIy deslroyed and lhey seek ¡ersonaI safe ¡assage
lo an inlernalionaI air¡orl.
Pnwcr and justIcc In ncgntIatInns
If lhis |udgmenl sounds loo harsh a commenlary on negolialions,
¡erha¡s some of lhe romanlicism associaled vilh lhem needs lo
be moderaled. CIear lhinking is required as lo hov negolialions
¨Negolialion¨ does nol mean lhal lhe lvo sides sil dovn lo-
gelher on a basis of equaIily and laIk lhrough and resoIve lhe dif-
ferences lhal ¡roduced lhe con"icl belveen lhem. Tvo facls musl
be remembered. Iirsl, in negolialions il is nol lhe reIalive |uslice of
lhe con"icling vievs and ob|eclives lhal delermines lhe conlenl of a
negolialed agreemenl. Second, lhe conlenl of a negolialed agreemenl
is IargeIy delermined by lhe ¡over ca¡acily of each side.
SeveraI dif!cuIl queslions musl be considered. Whal can each
side do al a Ialer dale lo gain ils ob|eclives if lhe olher side faiIs lo
come lo an agreemenl al lhe negolialing labIe` Whal can each side
do afler an agreemenl is reached if lhe olher side breaks ils vord
and uses ils avaiIabIe forces lo seize ils ob|eclives des¡ile lhe agree-
A sellIemenl is nol reached in negolialions lhrough an assess-
menl of lhe righls and vrongs of lhe issues al slake. WhiIe lhose
may be much discussed, lhe reaI resuIls in negolialions come from
an assessmenl of lhe absoIule and reIalive ¡over silualions of lhe
conlending grou¡s. Whal can lhe democrals do lo ensure lhal lheir
minimum cIaims cannol be denied` Whal can lhe diclalors do lo
slay in conlroI and neulraIize lhe democrals` In olher vords, if an
agreemenl comes, il is more IikeIy lhe resuIl of each side eslimal-
ing hov lhe ¡over ca¡acilies of lhe lvo sides com¡are, and lhen
caIcuIaling hov an o¡en slruggIe mighl end.
Allenlion musl aIso be given lo vhal each side is viIIing lo give
u¡ in order lo reach agreemenl. In successfuI negolialions lhere is
com¡romise, a s¡Iilling of differences. Lach side gels ¡arl of vhal
il vanls and gives u¡ ¡arl of ils ob|eclives.
In lhe case of exlreme diclalorshi¡s vhal are lhe ¡ro-democ-
racy forces lo give u¡ lo lhe diclalors` Whal ob|eclives of
lhe diclalors are lhe ¡ro-democracy forces lo acce¡l` Are lhe
12 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 13
democrals lo give lo lhe diclalors (vhelher a ¡oIilicaI ¡arly or
a miIilary cabaI) a conslilulionaIIy-eslabIished ¡ermanenl roIe
in lhe fulure governmenl` Where is lhe democracy in lhal`
Lven assuming lhal aII goes veII in negolialions, il is necessary
lo ask: Whal kind of ¡eace viII be lhe resuIl` WiII Iife lhen be bel-
ler or vorse lhan il vouId be if lhe democrals began or conlinued
Diclalors may have a variely of molives and ob|eclives underIying
lheir dominalion: ¡over, ¡osilion, veaIlh, resha¡ing lhe sociely, and
lhe Iike. Òne shouId remember lhal none of lhese viII be served if
lhey abandon lheir conlroI ¡osilions. In lhe evenl of negolialions
diclalors viII lry lo ¡reserve lheir goaIs.
Whalever ¡romises offered by diclalors in any negolialed
sellIemenl, no one shouId ever forgel lhal lhe diclalors may ¡romise
anylhing lo secure submission from lheir democralic o¡¡onenls, and
lhen brazenIy vioIale lhose same agreemenls.
If lhe democrals agree lo haIl resislance in order lo gain a re-
¡rieve from re¡ression, lhey may be very disa¡¡oinled. A haIl lo
resislance rareIy brings reduced re¡ression. Ònce lhe reslraining
force of inlernaI and inlernalionaI o¡¡osilion has been removed,
diclalors may even make lheir o¡¡ression and vioIence more brulaI
lhan before. The coIIa¡se of ¡o¡uIar resislance oflen removes lhe
counlervaiIing force lhal has Iimiled lhe conlroI and brulaIily of lhe
diclalorshi¡. The lyranls can lhen move ahead againsl vhomever
lhey vish. ¨Ior lhe lyranl has lhe ¡over lo in"icl onIy lhal vhich
ve Iack lhe slrenglh lo resisl,¨ vrole KrishnaIaI Shridharani.
Resislance, nol negolialions, is essenliaI for change in con"icls
vhere fundamenlaI issues are al slake. In nearIy aII cases, resislance
musl conlinue lo drive diclalors oul of ¡over. Success is mosl oflen
KrishnaIaI Shridharani, Wcr Wiincui Vic|cncc. A Siu!q cj Gcn!ni´s Mcinc! cn! |is
Acccmp|isnmcnis (Nev York: Harcourl, ßrace, 1939, and re¡rinl Nev York and
London: GarIand IubIishing, 1972), ¡. 26O.
delermined nol by negolialing a sellIemenl bul lhrough lhe vise use
of lhe mosl a¡¡ro¡riale and ¡overfuI means of resislance avaiIabIe.
Il is our conlenlion, lo be ex¡Iored Ialer in more delaiI, lhal ¡oIilicaI
de!ance, or nonvioIenl slruggIe, is lhe mosl ¡overfuI means avaiI-
abIe lo lhose slruggIing for freedom.
What kInd nI pcacc?
If diclalors and democrals are lo laIk aboul ¡eace al aII, exlremeIy
cIear lhinking is needed because of lhe dangers invoIved. Nol ev-
eryone vho uses lhe vord ¨¡eace¨ vanls ¡eace vilh freedom and
|uslice. Submission lo crueI o¡¡ression and ¡assive acquiescence lo
rulhIess diclalors vho have ¡er¡elraled alrocilies on hundreds of
lhousands of ¡eo¡Ie is no reaI ¡eace. HilIer oflen caIIed for ¡eace,
by vhich he meanl submission lo his viII. A diclalors' ¡eace is oflen
no more lhan lhe ¡eace of lhe ¡rison or of lhe grave.
There are olher dangers. WeII-inlended negolialors somelimes
confuse lhe ob|eclives of lhe negolialions and lhe negolialion ¡rocess
ilseIf. Iurlher, democralic negolialors, or foreign negolialion s¡eciaI-
isls acce¡led lo assisl in lhe negolialions, may in a singIe slroke ¡ro-
vide lhe diclalors vilh lhe domeslic and inlernalionaI Iegilimacy lhal
lhey had been ¡reviousIy denied because of lheir seizure of lhe slale,
human righls vioIalions, and brulaIilies. Wilhoul lhal des¡eraleIy
needed Iegilimacy, lhe diclalors cannol conlinue lo ruIe inde!nileIy.
Lx¡onenls of ¡eace shouId nol ¡rovide lhem Iegilimacy.
Rcasnns Inr hnpc
As slaled earIier, o¡¡osilion Ieaders may feeI forced lo ¡ursue ne-
golialions oul of a sense of ho¡eIessness of lhe democralic slruggIe.
Hovever, lhal sense of ¡overIessness can be changed. Diclalorshi¡s
are nol ¡ermanenl. Ieo¡Ie Iiving under diclalorshi¡s need nol re-
main veak, and diclalors need nol be aIIoved lo remain ¡overfuI
inde!nileIy. ArislolIe noled Iong ago, ¨. . . |ÒjIigarchy and lyranny
are shorler-Iived lhan any olher conslilulion. . . . |AjII round, lyran-
14 Gcnc Sncrp
ArislolIe, 1nc Pc|iiics, lransI. by T. A. SincIair (Harmondsvorlh, MiddIesex, Lng-
Iand and ßaIlimore, MaryIand: Ienguin ßooks 1976 |1962j), ßook V, Cha¡ler 12,
¡¡. 231 and 232.
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 15
nies have nol Iasled Iong.¨
Modern diclalorshi¡s are aIso vuInerabIe.
Their veaknesses can be aggravaled and lhe diclalors' ¡over can be
disinlegraled. (In Cha¡ler Iour ve viII examine lhese veaknesses
in more delaiI.)
Recenl hislory shovs lhe vuInerabiIily of diclalorshi¡s, and re-
veaIs lhal lhey can crumbIe in a reIaliveIy shorl lime s¡an: vhereas
len years ÷ 198O-199O ÷ vere required lo bring dovn lhe Commu-
nisl diclalorshi¡ in IoIand, in Lasl Germany and CzechosIovakia in
1989 il occurred vilhin veeks. In LI SaIvador and GualemaIa in 1944
lhe slruggIes againsl lhe enlrenched brulaI miIilary diclalors required
a¡¡roximaleIy lvo veeks each. The miIilariIy ¡overfuI regime of
lhe Shah in Iran vas undermined in a fev monlhs. The Marcos dic-
lalorshi¡ in lhe IhiIi¡¡ines feII before ¡eo¡Ie ¡over vilhin veeks
in 1986: lhe Iniled Slales governmenl quickIy abandoned Iresidenl
Marcos vhen lhe slrenglh of lhe o¡¡osilion became a¡¡arenl. The
allem¡led hard-Iine cou¡ in lhe Soviel Inion in Augusl 1991 vas
bIocked in days by ¡oIilicaI de!ance. Thereafler, many of ils Iong
dominaled consliluenl nalions in onIy days, veeks, and monlhs
regained lheir inde¡endence.
The oId ¡reconce¡lion lhal vioIenl means aIvays vork quickIy
and nonvioIenl means aIvays require vasl lime is cIearIy nol vaIid.
AIlhough much lime may be required for changes in lhe underIying
silualion and sociely, lhe acluaI !ghl againsl a diclalorshi¡ somelimes
occurs reIaliveIy quickIy by nonvioIenl slruggIe.
Negolialions are nol lhe onIy aIlernalive lo a conlinuing var
of annihiIalion on lhe one hand and ca¡iluIalion on lhe olher. The
exam¡Ies |usl ciled, as veII as lhose Iisled in Cha¡ler Òne, iIIuslrale
lhal anolher o¡lion exisls for lhose vho vanl bolh ¡eace cn! free-
dom: ¡oIilicaI de!ance.
WHENCE COME5 THE POWER?
Achieving a sociely vilh bolh freedom and ¡eace is of course no
sim¡Ie lask. Il viII require greal slralegic skiII, organizalion, and
¡Ianning. Above aII, il viII require ¡over. Democrals cannol ho¡e
lo bring dovn a diclalorshi¡ and eslabIish ¡oIilicaI freedom vilhoul
lhe abiIily lo a¡¡Iy lheir ovn ¡over effecliveIy.
ßul hov is lhis ¡ossibIe` Whal kind of ¡over can lhe democralic
o¡¡osilion mobiIize lhal viII be suf!cienl lo deslroy lhe diclalorshi¡
and ils vasl miIilary and ¡oIice nelvorks` The ansvers Iie in an ofl
ignored underslanding of ¡oIilicaI ¡over. Learning lhis insighl is
nol reaIIy so dif!cuIl a lask. Some basic lrulhs are quile sim¡Ie.
Thc °Mnnkcy Mastcr" Iab!c
A Iourleenlh Cenlury Chinese ¡arabIe by Liu-}i, for exam¡Ie, oul-
Iines lhis negIecled underslanding of ¡oIilicaI ¡over quile veII:
In lhe feudaI slale of Chu an oId man survived by kee¡ing
monkeys in his service. The ¡eo¡Ie of Chu caIIed him ¨|u
gong¨ (monkey masler).
Lach morning, lhe oId man vouId assembIe lhe monkeys
in his courlyard, and order lhe eIdesl one lo Iead lhe olhers
lo lhe mounlains lo galher fruils from bushes and lrees.
Il vas lhe ruIe lhal each monkey had lo give one-lenlh of
his coIIeclion lo lhe oId man. Those vho faiIed lo do so
vouId be rulhIessIy "ogged. AII lhe monkeys suffered
billerIy, bul dared nol com¡Iain.
This slory, originaIIy lilIed ¨RuIe by Tricks¨ is from Yu-|i-zi by Liu }i (1311-1375)
and has been lransIaled by Sidney Tai, aII righls reserved. Yu-Ii-zi is aIso lhe ¡seud-
onym of Liu }i. The lransIalion vas originaIIy ¡ubIished in Ncntic|cni Scnciicns.
Ncus jrcm inc A||cri |insicin |nsiiiuiicn (Cambridge, Mass.), VoI. IV, No. 3 (Winler
1992-1993), ¡. 3.
Òne day, a smaII monkey asked lhe olher monkeys: ¨Did
lhe oId man ¡Ianl aII lhe fruil lrees and bushes`¨ The olh-
ers said: ¨No, lhey grev naluraIIy.¨ The smaII monkey
furlher asked: ¨Can'l ve lake lhe fruils vilhoul lhe oId
man's ¡ermission`¨ The olhers re¡Iied: ¨Yes, ve aII can.¨
The smaII monkey conlinued: ¨Then, vhy shouId ve de-
¡end on lhe oId man, vhy musl ve aII serve him`¨
ßefore lhe smaII monkey vas abIe lo !nish his slalemenl,
aII lhe monkeys suddenIy became enIighlened and avak-
Òn lhe same nighl, valching lhal lhe oId man had faIIen
asIee¡, lhe monkeys lore dovn aII lhe barricades of lhe
slockade in vhich lhey vere con!ned, and deslroyed lhe
slockade enlireIy. They aIso look lhe fruils lhe oId man had
in slorage, broughl aII vilh lhem lo lhe voods, and never
relurned. The oId man !naIIy died of slarvalion.
Yu-Ii-zi says, ¨Some men in lhe vorId ruIe lheir ¡eo¡Ie by
lricks and nol by righleous ¡rinci¡Ies. Aren'l lhey |usl Iike
lhe monkey masler` They are nol avare of lheir muddIe-
headedness. As soon as lheir ¡eo¡Ie become enIighlened,
lheir lricks no Ionger vork.¨
Ncccssary snurccs nI pn!ItIca! pnwcr
The ¡rinci¡Ie is sim¡Ie. Diclalors require lhe assislance of lhe ¡eo¡Ie
lhey ruIe, vilhoul vhich lhey cannol secure and mainlain lhe sources
of ¡oIilicaI ¡over. These sources of ¡oIilicaI ¡over incIude:
ª Auincriiq, lhe beIief among lhe ¡eo¡Ie lhal lhe regime is Ie-
gilimale, and lhal lhey have a moraI duly lo obey il,
ª Humcn rcscurccs, lhe number and im¡orlance of lhe ¡ersons
and grou¡s vhich are obeying, coo¡eraling, or ¡roviding
assislance lo lhe ruIers,
18 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 19
ª S|i||s cn! |ncu|c!gc, needed by lhe regime lo ¡erform s¡e-
ci!c aclions and su¡¡Iied by lhe coo¡eraling ¡ersons and
ª |nicngi||c jccicrs, ¡sychoIogicaI and ideoIogicaI faclors lhal
may induce ¡eo¡Ie lo obey and assisl lhe ruIers,
ª Mcicric| rcscurccs, lhe degree lo vhich lhe ruIers conlroI or
have access lo ¡ro¡erly, naluraI resources, !nanciaI resources,
lhe economic syslem, and means of communicalion and
ª Scnciicns, ¡unishmenls, lhrealened or a¡¡Iied, againsl lhe
disobedienl and noncoo¡eralive lo ensure lhe submission
and coo¡eralion lhal are needed for lhe regime lo exisl and
carry oul ils ¡oIicies.
AII of lhese sources, hovever, de¡end on acce¡lance of lhe
regime, on lhe submission and obedience of lhe ¡o¡uIalion, and on
lhe coo¡eralion of innumerabIe ¡eo¡Ie and lhe many inslilulions of
lhe sociely. These are nol guaranleed.
IuII coo¡eralion, obedience, and su¡¡orl viII increase lhe avaiI-
abiIily of lhe needed sources of ¡over and, consequenlIy, ex¡and
lhe ¡over ca¡acily of any governmenl.
Òn lhe olher hand, vilhdravaI of ¡o¡uIar and inslilulionaI co-
o¡eralion vilh aggressors and diclalors diminishes, and may sever,
lhe avaiIabiIily of lhe sources of ¡over on vhich aII ruIers de¡end.
Wilhoul avaiIabiIily of lhose sources, lhe ruIers' ¡over veakens and
NaluraIIy, diclalors are sensilive lo aclions and ideas lhal lhreal-
en lheir ca¡acily lo do as lhey Iike. Diclalors are lherefore IikeIy lo
lhrealen and ¡unish lhose vho disobey, slrike, or faiI lo coo¡erale.
Hovever, lhal is nol lhe end of lhe slory. Re¡ression, even brulaIi-
lies, do nol aIvays ¡roduce a resum¡lion of lhe necessary degree of
submission and coo¡eralion for lhe regime lo funclion.
If, des¡ile re¡ression, lhe sources of ¡over can be reslricled or
severed for enough lime, lhe iniliaI resuIls may be uncerlainly and
confusion vilhin lhe diclalorshi¡. Thal is IikeIy lo be foIIoved by
a cIear veakening of lhe ¡over of lhe diclalorshi¡. Òver lime, lhe
vilhhoIding of lhe sources of ¡over can ¡roduce lhe ¡araIysis and
im¡olence of lhe regime, and in severe cases, ils disinlegralion. The
diclalors' ¡over viII die, sIovIy or ra¡idIy, from ¡oIilicaI slarva-
The degree of Iiberly or lyranny in any governmenl is, il foI-
Iovs, in Iarge degree a re"eclion of lhe reIalive delerminalion of lhe
sub|ecls lo be free and lheir viIIingness and abiIily lo resisl efforls
lo ensIave lhem.
Conlrary lo ¡o¡uIar o¡inion, even lolaIilarian diclalorshi¡s
are de¡endenl on lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe socielies lhey ruIe. As lhe
¡oIilicaI scienlisl KarI W. Deulsch noled in 1953:
TolaIilarian ¡over is slrong onIy if il does nol have lo be
used loo oflen. If lolaIilarian ¡over musl be used al aII
limes againsl lhe enlire ¡o¡uIalion, il is unIikeIy lo remain
¡overfuI for Iong. Since lolaIilarian regimes require more
¡over for deaIing vilh lheir sub|ecls lhan do olher ly¡es
of governmenl, such regimes sland in grealer need of
vides¡read and de¡endabIe com¡Iiance habils among
lheir ¡eo¡Ie, more lhan lhal lhey have lo be abIe lo counl
on lhe aclive su¡¡orl of al Ieasl signi!canl ¡arls of lhe
¡o¡uIalion in case of need.
The LngIish Nineleenlh Cenlury IegaI lheorisl }ohn Auslin
described lhe silualion of a diclalorshi¡ confronling a disaffecled
¡eo¡Ie. Auslin argued lhal if mosl of lhe ¡o¡uIalion vere deler-
mined lo deslroy lhe governmenl and vere viIIing lo endure re¡res-
sion lo do so, lhen lhe mighl of lhe governmenl, incIuding lhose
vho su¡¡orled il, couId nol ¡reserve lhe haled governmenl, even if
20 Gcnc Sncrp
KarI W. Deulsch, ¨Cracks in lhe MonoIilh,¨ in CarI }. Iriedrich, ed., 1cic|iicricnism
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Iniversily Iress, 1954), ¡¡. 313-314.
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 21
il received foreign assislance. The de!anl ¡eo¡Ie couId nol be forced
back inlo ¡ermanenl obedience and sub|eclion, Auslin concIuded.
NiccoIo MachiaveIIi had much earIier argued lhal lhe ¡rince
¨. . . vho has lhe ¡ubIic as a vhoIe for his enemy can never make
himseIf secure, and lhe grealer his crueIly, lhe veaker does his re-
The ¡raclicaI ¡oIilicaI a¡¡Iicalion of lhese insighls vas dem-
onslraled by lhe heroic Norvegian resislers againsl lhe Nazi occu-
¡alion, and as ciled in Cha¡ler Òne, by lhe brave IoIes, Germans,
Czechs, SIovaks, and many olhers vho resisled Communisl aggres-
sion and diclalorshi¡, and !naIIy heI¡ed ¡roduce lhe coIIa¡se of
Communisl ruIe in Luro¡e. This, of course, is no nev ¡henomenon:
cases of nonvioIenl resislance go back al Ieasl lo 494 ß.C. vhen ¡Ie-
beians vilhdrev coo¡eralion from lheir Roman ¡alrician maslers.
NonvioIenl slruggIe has been em¡Ioyed al various limes by ¡eo¡Ies
lhroughoul Asia, Africa, lhe Americas, AuslraIasia, and lhe Iaci!c
isIands, as veII as Luro¡e.
Three of lhe mosl im¡orlanl faclors in delermining lo vhal
degree a governmenl's ¡over viII be conlroIIed or unconlroIIed
lherefore are: (1) lhe reIalive !csirc of lhe ¡o¡uIace lo im¡ose Iimils
on lhe governmenl's ¡over, (2) lhe reIalive sircngin of lhe sub|ecls'
inde¡endenl organizalions and inslilulions lo vilhdrav coIIecliveIy
lhe sources of ¡over, and (3) lhe ¡o¡uIalion's reIalive c|i|iiq lo vilh-
hoId lheir consenl and assislance.
Ccntcrs nI dcmncratIc pnwcr
Òne characlerislic of a democralic sociely is lhal lhere exisl inde-
¡endenl of lhe slale a muIlilude of nongovernmenlaI grou¡s and
}ohn Auslin, Icciurcs cn jurispru!cncc cr inc Pni|cscpnq cj Pcsiiitc Icu (Iiflh edilion,
revised and ediled by Roberl Cam¡beII, 2 voI., London: }ohn Murray, 1911 |1861j),
VoI. I, ¡. 296.
NiccoIo MachiaveIIi, ¨The Discourses on lhe Iirsl Ten ßooks of Livy,¨ in 1nc
Disccurscs cj Niccc|c Mccnictc||i (London: RoulIedge and Kegan IauI, 195O), VoI.
I, ¡. 254.
See Gene Shar¡, 1nc Pc|iiics cj Ncntic|cni Aciicn (ßoslon: Iorler Sargenl, 1973), ¡.
75 and ¡assim for olher hisloricaI exam¡Ies.
inslilulions. These incIude, for exam¡Ie, famiIies, reIigious organiza-
lions, cuIluraI associalions, s¡orls cIubs, economic inslilulions, lrade
unions, sludenl associalions, ¡oIilicaI ¡arlies, viIIages, neighborhood
associalions, gardening cIubs, human righls organizalions, musicaI
grou¡s, Iilerary socielies, and olhers. These bodies are im¡orlanl
in serving lheir ovn ob|eclives and aIso in heI¡ing lo meel sociaI
AddilionaIIy, lhese bodies have greal ¡oIilicaI signi!cance.
They ¡rovide grou¡ and inslilulionaI bases by vhich ¡eo¡Ie can exerl
in"uence over lhe direclion of lheir sociely and resisl olher grou¡s
or lhe governmenl vhen lhey are seen lo im¡inge un|uslIy on lheir
inleresls, aclivilies, or ¡ur¡oses. IsoIaled individuaIs, nol members
of such grou¡s, usuaIIy are unabIe lo make a signi!canl im¡acl on
lhe resl of lhe sociely, much Iess a governmenl, and cerlainIy nol a
ConsequenlIy, if lhe aulonomy and freedom of such bodies
can be laken avay by lhe diclalors, lhe ¡o¡uIalion viII be reIaliveIy
heI¡Iess. AIso, if lhese inslilulions can lhemseIves be diclaloriaIIy
conlroIIed by lhe cenlraI regime or re¡Iaced by nev conlroIIed ones,
lhey can be used lo dominale bolh lhe individuaI members and aIso
lhose areas of lhe sociely.
Hovever, if lhe aulonomy and freedom of lhese inde¡endenl
civiI inslilulions (oulside of governmenl conlroI) can be mainlained
or regained lhey are highIy im¡orlanl for lhe a¡¡Iicalion of ¡oIili-
caI de!ance. The common fealure of lhe ciled exam¡Ies in vhich
diclalorshi¡s have been disinlegraled or veakened has been lhe
courageous mcss a¡¡Iicalion of ¡oIilicaI de!ance by lhe ¡o¡uIalion
and ils inslilulions.
As slaled, lhese cenlers of ¡over ¡rovide lhe inslilulionaI bases
from vhich lhe ¡o¡uIalion can exerl ¡ressure or can resisl diclalo-
riaI conlroIs. In lhe fulure, lhey viII be ¡arl of lhe indis¡ensabIe
slrucluraI base for a free sociely. Their conlinued inde¡endence
and grovlh lherefore is oflen a ¡rerequisile for lhe success of lhe
If lhe diclalorshi¡ has been IargeIy successfuI in deslroying or
conlroIIing lhe sociely's inde¡endenl bodies, il viII be im¡orlanl for
22 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 23
lhe resislers lo creale nev inde¡endenl sociaI grou¡s and inslilu-
lions, or lo reasserl democralic conlroI over surviving or ¡arliaIIy
conlroIIed bodies. During lhe Hungarian RevoIulion of 1956-1957
a muIlilude of direcl democracy counciIs emerged, even |oining
logelher lo eslabIish for some veeks a vhoIe federaled syslem of
inslilulions and governance. In IoIand during lhe Iale 198Os vork-
ers mainlained iIIegaI SoIidarily unions and, in some cases, look
over conlroI of lhe of!ciaI, Communisl-dominaled, lrade unions.
Such inslilulionaI deveIo¡menls can have very im¡orlanl ¡oIilicaI
Òf course, none of lhis means lhal veakening and deslroying
diclalorshi¡s is easy, nor lhal every allem¡l viII succeed. Il cerlainIy
does nol mean lhal lhe slruggIe viII be free of casuaIlies, for lhose
sliII serving lhe diclalors are IikeIy lo !ghl back in an efforl lo force
lhe ¡o¡uIace lo resume coo¡eralion and obedience.
1nc c|ctc insigni inic pcucr !ccs mccn, ncuctcr, inci inc !c|i|crcic
!isinicgrciicn cj !icicicrsnips is pcssi||c. Diclalorshi¡s in ¡arlicuIar
have s¡eci!c characlerislics lhal render lhem highIy vuInerabIe
lo skiIIfuIIy im¡Iemenled ¡oIilicaI de!ance. Lel us examine lhese
characlerislics in more delaiI.
DICTATOR5HIP5 HAVE WEAKNE55E5
Diclalorshi¡s oflen a¡¡ear invuInerabIe. InleIIigence agencies,
¡oIice, miIilary forces, ¡risons, concenlralion cam¡s, and execu-
lion squads are conlroIIed by a ¡overfuI fev. A counlry's !nances,
naluraI resources, and ¡roduclion ca¡acilies are oflen arbilrariIy
¡Iundered by diclalors and used lo su¡¡orl lhe diclalors' viII.
In com¡arison, democralic o¡¡osilion forces oflen a¡¡ear
exlremeIy veak, ineffeclive, and ¡overIess. Thal ¡erce¡lion of
invuInerabiIily againsl ¡overIessness makes effeclive o¡¡osilion
Thal is nol lhe vhoIe slory, hovever.
IdcntIIyIng thc AchI!!cs' hcc!
A mylh from CIassicaI Greece iIIuslrales veII lhe vuInerabiIily of
lhe su¡¡osedIy invuInerabIe. Againsl lhe varrior AchiIIes, no bIov
vouId in|ure and no svord vouId ¡enelrale his skin. When sliII a
baby, AchiIIes' molher had su¡¡osedIy di¡¡ed him inlo lhe valers
of lhe magicaI river Slyx, resuIling in lhe ¡roleclion of his body from
aII dangers. There vas, hovever, a ¡robIem. Since lhe baby vas
heId by his heeI so lhal he vouId nol be vashed avay, lhe magicaI
valer had nol covered lhal smaII ¡arl of his body. When AchiIIes
vas a grovn man he a¡¡eared lo aII lo be invuInerabIe lo lhe en-
emies' vea¡ons. Hovever, in lhe ballIe againsl Troy, inslrucled by
one vho knev lhe veakness, an enemy soIdier aimed his arrov al
AchiIIes' un¡rolecled heeI, lhe one s¡ol vhere he couId be in|ured.
The slrike ¡roved falaI. SliII loday, lhe ¡hrase ¨AchiIIes' heeI¨ refers
lo lhe vuInerabIe ¡arl of a ¡erson, a ¡Ian, or an inslilulion al vhich
if allacked lhere is no ¡roleclion.
The same ¡rinci¡Ie a¡¡Iies lo rulhIess diclalorshi¡s. They, loo,
can be conquered, bul mosl quickIy and vilh Ieasl cosl if lheir veak-
nesses can be idenli!ed and lhe allack concenlraled on lhem.
26 Gcnc Sncrp
Wcakncsscs nI dIctatnrshIps
Among lhe veaknesses of diclalorshi¡s are lhe foIIoving:
1. The coo¡eralion of a muIlilude of ¡eo¡Ie, grou¡s, and insli-
lulions needed lo o¡erale lhe syslem may be reslricled or
2. The requiremenls and effecls of lhe regime's ¡asl ¡oIicies
viII somevhal Iimil ils ¡resenl abiIily lo ado¡l and im¡Ie-
menl con"icling ¡oIicies.
3. The syslem may become rouline in ils o¡eralion, Iess abIe lo
ad|usl quickIy lo nev silualions.
4. IersonneI and resources aIready aIIocaled for exisling lasks
viII nol be easiIy avaiIabIe for nev needs.
5. Subordinales fearfuI of dis¡Ieasing lheir su¡eriors may nol
re¡orl accurale or com¡Iele informalion needed by lhe dic-
lalors lo make decisions.
6. The ideoIogy may erode, and mylhs and symboIs of lhe sys-
lem may become unslabIe.
7. If a slrong ideoIogy is ¡resenl lhal in"uences one's viev of
reaIily, !rm adherence lo il may cause inallenlion lo acluaI
condilions and needs.
8. Delerioraling ef!ciency and com¡elency of lhe bureaucracy,
or excessive conlroIs and reguIalions, may make lhe syslem's
¡oIicies and o¡eralion ineffeclive.
9. InlernaI inslilulionaI con"icls and ¡ersonaI rivaIries and hos-
liIilies may harm, and even disru¡l, lhe o¡eralion of lhe dic-
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 27
1O. InleIIecluaIs and sludenls may become reslIess in res¡onse
lo condilions, reslriclions, doclrinaIism, and re¡ression.
11. The generaI ¡ubIic may over lime become a¡alhelic, ske¡li-
caI, and even hosliIe lo lhe regime.
12. RegionaI, cIass, cuIluraI, or nalionaI differences may become
13. The ¡over hierarchy of lhe diclalorshi¡ is aIvays unslabIe
lo some degree, and al limes exlremeIy so. IndividuaIs do
nol onIy remain in lhe same ¡osilion in lhe ranking, bul may
rise or faII lo olher ranks or be removed enlireIy and re¡Iaced
by nev ¡ersons.
14. Seclions of lhe ¡oIice or miIilary forces may acl lo achieve
lheir ovn ob|eclives, even againsl lhe viII of eslabIished dic-
lalors, incIuding by cou¡ d'ólal.
15. If lhe diclalorshi¡ is nev, lime is required for il lo become
16. Wilh so many decisions made by so fev ¡eo¡Ie in lhe dicla-
lorshi¡, mislakes of |udgmenl, ¡oIicy, and aclion are IikeIy
17. If lhe regime seeks lo avoid lhese dangers and decenlraI-
izes conlroIs and decision making, ils conlroI over lhe cen-
lraI Ievers of ¡over may be furlher eroded.
AttackIng wcakncsscs nI dIctatnrshIps
Wilh knovIedge of such inherenl veaknesses, lhe democralic o¡-
¡osilion can seek lo aggravale lhese ¨AchiIIes' heeIs¨ deIiberaleIy
in order lo aIler lhe syslem draslicaIIy or lo disinlegrale il.
The concIusion is lhen cIear: des¡ile lhe a¡¡earances of slrenglh,
aII diclalorshi¡s have veaknesses, inlernaI inef!ciencies, ¡ersonaI
rivaIries, inslilulionaI inef!ciencies, and con"icls belveen organiza-
lions and de¡arlmenls. These veaknesses, over lime, lend lo make
lhe regime Iess effeclive and more vuInerabIe lo changing condilions
and deIiberale resislance. Nol everylhing lhe regime sels oul lo ac-
com¡Iish viII gel com¡Ieled. Al limes, for exam¡Ie, even HilIer's
direcl orders vere never im¡Iemenled because lhose benealh him in
lhe hierarchy refused lo carry lhem oul. The diclaloriaI regime may
al limes even faII a¡arl quickIy, as ve have aIready observed.
This does nol mean diclalorshi¡s can be deslroyed vilhoul risks
and casuaIlies. Lvery ¡ossibIe course of aclion for Iiberalion viII
invoIve risks and ¡olenliaI suffering, and viII lake lime lo o¡erale.
And, of course, no means of aclion can ensure ra¡id success in every
silualion. Hovever, ly¡es of slruggIe lhal largel lhe diclalorshi¡'s
idenli!abIe veaknesses have grealer chance of success lhan lhose
lhal seek lo !ghl lhe diclalorshi¡ vhere il is cIearIy slrongesl. The
queslion is ncu lhis slruggIe is lo be vaged.
28 Gcnc Sncrp
In Cha¡ler Òne ve noled lhal miIilary resislance againsl diclalor-
shi¡s does nol slrike lhem vhere lhey are veakesl, bul ralher vhere
lhey are slrongesl. ßy choosing lo com¡ele in lhe areas of miIilary
forces, su¡¡Iies of ammunilion, vea¡ons lechnoIogy, and lhe Iike,
resislance movemenls lend lo ¡ul lhemseIves al a dislincl disadvan-
lage. Diclalorshi¡s viII aImosl aIvays be abIe lo musler su¡erior
resources in lhese areas. The dangers of reIying on foreign ¡overs
for saIvalion vere aIso oulIined. In Cha¡ler Tvo ve examined lhe
¡robIems of reIying on negolialions as a means lo remove diclalor-
Whal means are lhen avaiIabIe lhal viII offer lhe democralic
resislance dislincl advanlages and viII lend lo aggravale lhe iden-
li!ed veaknesses of diclalorshi¡s` Whal lechnique of aclion viII
ca¡ilaIize on lhe lheory of ¡oIilicaI ¡over discussed in Cha¡ler
Three` The aIlernalive of choice is ¡oIilicaI de!ance.
IoIilicaI de!ance has lhe foIIoving characlerislics:
ª Il does nol acce¡l lhal lhe oulcome viII be decided by lhe
means of !ghling chosen by lhe diclalorshi¡.
ª Il is dif!cuIl for lhe regime lo combal.
ª Il can uniqueIy aggravale veaknesses of lhe diclalorshi¡ and
can sever ils sources of ¡over.
ª Il can in aclion be videIy dis¡ersed bul can aIso be concen-
lraled on a s¡eci!c ob|eclive.
ª Il Ieads lo errors of |udgmenl and aclion by lhe diclalors.
ª Il can effecliveIy uliIize lhe ¡o¡uIalion as a vhoIe and lhe
sociely's grou¡s and inslilulions in lhe slruggIe lo end lhe
brulaI dominalion of lhe fev.
ª Il heI¡s lo s¡read lhe dislribulion of effeclive ¡over in lhe
sociely, making lhe eslabIishmenl and mainlenance of a
democralic sociely more ¡ossibIe.
Thc wnrkIngs nI nnnvIn!cnt strugg!c
Like miIilary ca¡abiIilies, ¡oIilicaI de!ance can be em¡Ioyed for a
variely of ¡ur¡oses, ranging from efforls lo in"uence lhe o¡¡onenls
lo lake differenl aclions, lo creale condilions for a ¡eacefuI resoIu-
lion of con"icl, or lo disinlegrale lhe o¡¡onenls' regime. Hovever,
¡oIilicaI de!ance o¡erales in quile differenl vays from vioIence.
AIlhough bolh lechniques are means lo vage slruggIe, lhey do so
vilh very differenl means and vilh differenl consequences. The
vays and resuIls of vioIenl con"icl are veII knovn. IhysicaI vea¡-
ons are used lo inlimidale, in|ure, kiII, and deslroy.
NonvioIenl slruggIe is a much more com¡Iex and varied
means of slruggIe lhan is vioIence. Inslead, lhe slruggIe is foughl
by ¡sychoIogicaI, sociaI, economic, and ¡oIilicaI vea¡ons a¡¡Iied
by lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe inslilulions of lhe sociely. These have
been knovn under various names of ¡rolesls, slrikes, noncoo¡era-
lion, boycolls, disaffeclion, and ¡eo¡Ie ¡over. As noled earIier, aII
governmenls can ruIe onIy as Iong as lhey receive re¡Ienishmenl of
lhe needed sources of lheir ¡over from lhe coo¡eralion, submission,
and obedience of lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe inslilulions of lhe sociely.
IoIilicaI de!ance, unIike vioIence, is uniqueIy suiled lo severing
lhose sources of ¡over.
NnnvIn!cnt wcapnns and dIscIp!Inc
The common error of ¡asl im¡rovised ¡oIilicaI de!ance cam¡aigns
is lhe reIiance on onIy one or lvo melhods, such as slrikes and mass
demonslralions. In facl, a muIlilude of melhods exisl lhal aIIov
30 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 31
resislance slralegisls lo concenlrale and dis¡erse resislance as re-
Aboul lvo hundred s¡eci!c melhods of nonvioIenl aclion have
been idenli!ed, and lhere are cerlainIy scores more. These melhods
are cIassi!ed under lhree broad calegories: ¡rolesl and ¡ersuasion,
noncoo¡eralion, and inlervenlion. Melhods of nonvioIenl ¡rolesl
and ¡ersuasion are IargeIy symboIic demonslralions, incIuding ¡a-
rades, marches, and vigiIs (54 melhods). Noncoo¡eralion is divided
inlo lhree sub-calegories: (a) sociaI noncoo¡eralion (16 melhods),
(b) economic noncoo¡eralion, incIuding boycolls (26 melhods) and
slrikes (23 melhods), and (c) ¡oIilicaI noncoo¡eralion (38 melhods).
NonvioIenl inlervenlion, by ¡sychoIogicaI, ¡hysicaI, sociaI, econom-
ic, or ¡oIilicaI means, such as lhe fasl, nonvioIenl occu¡alion, and
¡araIIeI governmenl (41 melhods), is lhe !naI grou¡. A Iisl of 198 of
lhese melhods is incIuded as lhe A¡¡endix lo lhis ¡ubIicalion.
The use of a considerabIe number of lhese melhods ÷ carefuIIy
chosen, a¡¡Iied ¡ersislenlIy and on a Iarge scaIe, vieIded in lhe
conlexl of a vise slralegy and a¡¡ro¡riale laclics, by lrained civiI-
ians ÷ is IikeIy lo cause any iIIegilimale regime severe ¡robIems.
This a¡¡Iies lo aII diclalorshi¡s.
In conlrasl lo miIilary means, lhe melhods of nonvioIenl slrug-
gIe can be focused direclIy on lhe issues al slake. Ior exam¡Ie, since
lhe issue of diclalorshi¡ is ¡rimariIy ¡oIilicaI, lhen ¡oIilicaI forms of
nonvioIenl slruggIe vouId be cruciaI. These vouId incIude deniaI
of Iegilimacy lo lhe diclalors and noncoo¡eralion vilh lheir regime.
Noncoo¡eralion vouId aIso be a¡¡Iied againsl s¡eci!c ¡oIicies. Al
limes slaIIing and ¡rocraslinalion may be quielIy and even secrelIy
¡racliced, vhiIe al olher limes o¡en disobedience and de!anl ¡ubIic
demonslralions and slrikes may be visibIe lo aII.
Òn lhe olher hand, if lhe diclalorshi¡ is vuInerabIe lo economic
¡ressures or if many of lhe ¡o¡uIar grievances againsl il are eco-
nomic, lhen economic aclion, such as boycolls or slrikes, may be
a¡¡ro¡riale resislance melhods. The diclalors' efforls lo ex¡Ioil lhe
economic syslem mighl be mel vilh Iimiled generaI slrikes, sIov-
dovns, and refusaI of assislance by (or disa¡¡earance of) indis¡ens-
abIe ex¡erls. SeIeclive use of various ly¡es of slrikes may be con-
ducled al key ¡oinls in manufacluring, in lrans¡orl, in lhe su¡¡Iy
of rav maleriaIs, and in lhe dislribulion of ¡roducls.
Some melhods of nonvioIenl slruggIe require ¡eo¡Ie lo ¡erform
acls unreIaled lo lheir normaI Iives, such as dislribuling Iea"els,
o¡eraling an underground ¡ress, going on hunger slrike, or silling
dovn in lhe slreels. These melhods may be dif!cuIl for some ¡eo¡Ie
lo underlake exce¡l in very exlreme silualions.
Òlher melhods of nonvioIenl slruggIe inslead require ¡eo¡Ie
lo conlinue a¡¡roximaleIy lheir normaI Iives, lhough in somevhal
differenl vays. Ior exam¡Ie, ¡eo¡Ie may re¡orl for vork, inslead
of slriking, bul lhen deIiberaleIy vork more sIovIy or inef!cienlIy
lhan usuaI. ¨Mislakes¨ may be consciousIy made more frequenlIy.
Òne may become ¨sick¨ and ¨unabIe¨ lo vork al cerlain limes. Òr,
one may sim¡Iy refuse lo vork. Òne mighl go lo reIigious services
vhen lhe acl ex¡resses nol onIy reIigious bul aIso ¡oIilicaI convic-
lions. Òne may acl lo ¡rolecl chiIdren from lhe allackers' ¡ro¡aganda
by educalion al home or in iIIegaI cIasses. Òne mighl refuse lo |oin
cerlain ¨recommended¨ or required organizalions lhal one vouId
nol have |oined freeIy in earIier limes. The simiIarily of such ly¡es
of aclion lo ¡eo¡Ie's usuaI aclivilies and lhe Iimiled degree of de¡ar-
lure from lheir normaI Iives may make ¡arlici¡alion in lhe nalionaI
Iiberalion slruggIe much easier for many ¡eo¡Ie.
Since nonvioIenl slruggIe and vioIence o¡erale in fundamen-
laIIy differenl vays, even Iimiled resislance vioIence during a ¡o-
IilicaI de!ance cam¡aign viII be counler¡roduclive, for il viII shifl
lhe slruggIe lo one in vhich lhe diclalors have an overvheIming
advanlage (miIilary varfare). NonvioIenl disci¡Iine is a key lo suc-
cess and musl be mainlained des¡ile ¡rovocalions and brulaIilies
by lhe diclalors and lheir agenls.
The mainlenance of nonvioIenl disci¡Iine againsl vioIenl o¡-
¡onenls faciIilales lhe vorkings of lhe four mechanisms of change
in nonvioIenl slruggIe (discussed beIov). NonvioIenl disci¡Iine is
aIso exlremeIy im¡orlanl in lhe ¡rocess of ¡oIilicaI |iu-|ilsu. In lhis
¡rocess lhe slark brulaIily of lhe regime againsl lhe cIearIy nonvio-
Ienl aclionisls ¡oIilicaIIy rebounds againsl lhe diclalors' ¡osilion,
32 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 33
causing dissenlion in lheir ovn ranks as veII as fomenling su¡¡orl
for lhe resislers among lhe generaI ¡o¡uIalion, lhe regime's usuaI
su¡¡orlers, and lhird ¡arlies.
In some cases, hovever, Iimiled vioIence againsl lhe diclalor-
shi¡ may be inevilabIe. Iruslralion and halred of lhe regime may
ex¡Iode inlo vioIence. Òr, cerlain grou¡s may be unviIIing lo aban-
don vioIenl means even lhough lhey recognize lhe im¡orlanl roIe of
nonvioIenl slruggIe. In lhese cases, ¡oIilicaI de!ance does nol need lo
be abandoned. Hovever, il viII be necessary lo se¡arale lhe vioIenl
aclion as far as ¡ossibIe from lhe nonvioIenl aclion. This shouId be
done in lerms of geogra¡hy, ¡o¡uIalion grou¡s, liming, and issues.
Òlhervise lhe vioIence couId have a disaslrous effecl on lhe ¡olen-
liaIIy much more ¡overfuI and successfuI use of ¡oIilicaI de!ance.
The hisloricaI record indicales lhal vhiIe casuaIlies in dead
and vounded musl be ex¡ecled in ¡oIilicaI de!ance, lhey viII be
far fever lhan lhe casuaIlies in miIilary varfare. Iurlhermore, lhis
ly¡e of slruggIe does nol conlribule lo lhe endIess cycIe of kiIIing
NonvioIenl slruggIe bolh requires and lends lo ¡roduce a Ioss
(or grealer conlroI) of fear of lhe governmenl and ils vioIenl re¡res-
sion. Thal abandonmenl or conlroI of fear is a key eIemenl in deslroy-
ing lhe ¡over of lhe diclalors over lhe generaI ¡o¡uIalion.
Opcnncss, sccrccy, and hIgh standards
Secrecy, dece¡lion, and underground cons¡iracy ¡ose very dif!-
cuIl ¡robIems for a movemenl using nonvioIenl aclion. Il is oflen
im¡ossibIe lo kee¡ lhe ¡oIilicaI ¡oIice and inleIIigence agenls from
Iearning aboul inlenlions and ¡Ians. Irom lhe ¡ers¡eclive of lhe
movemenl, secrecy is nol onIy rooled in fear bul conlribules lo fear,
vhich dam¡ens lhe s¡iril of resislance and reduces lhe number of
¡eo¡Ie vho can ¡arlici¡ale in a given aclion. Il aIso can conlribule
lo sus¡icions and accusalions, oflen un|usli!ed, vilhin lhe move-
menl, concerning vho is an informer or agenl for lhe o¡¡onenls.
Secrecy may aIso affecl lhe abiIily of a movemenl lo remain nonvio-
Ienl. In conlrasl, o¡enness regarding inlenlions and ¡Ians viII nol
onIy have lhe o¡¡osile effecls, bul viII conlribule lo an image lhal
lhe resislance movemenl is in facl exlremeIy ¡overfuI. The ¡robIem
is of course more com¡Iex lhan lhis suggesls, and lhere are signi!-
canl as¡ecls of resislance aclivilies lhal may require secrecy. A veII-
informed assessmenl viII be required by lhose knovIedgeabIe aboul
bolh lhe dynamics of nonvioIenl slruggIe and aIso lhe diclalorshi¡'s
means of surveiIIance in lhe s¡eci!c silualion.
The ediling, ¡rinling, and dislribulion of underground ¡ubIica-
lions, lhe use of iIIegaI radio broadcasls from vilhin lhe counlry, and
lhe galhering of inleIIigence aboul lhe o¡eralions of lhe diclalorshi¡
are among lhe s¡eciaI Iimiled ly¡es of aclivilies vhere a high degree
of secrecy viII be required.
The mainlenance of high slandards of behavior in nonvioIenl
aclion is necessary al aII slages of lhe con"icl. Such faclors as fearIess-
ness and mainlaining nonvioIenl disci¡Iine are aIvays required. Il is
im¡orlanl lo remember lhal Iarge numbers of ¡eo¡Ie may frequenlIy
be necessary lo effecl ¡arlicuIar changes. Hovever, such numbers
can be oblained as reIiabIe ¡arlici¡anls onIy by mainlaining lhe high
slandards of lhe movemenl.
5hIItIng pnwcr rc!atInnshIps
Slralegisls need lo remember lhal lhe con"icl in vhich ¡oIilicaI de!-
ance is a¡¡Iied is a conslanlIy changing !eId of slruggIe vilh conlinu-
ing inler¡Iay of moves and counlermoves. Nolhing is slalic. Iover
reIalionshi¡s, bolh absoIule and reIalive, are sub|ecl lo conslanl and
ra¡id changes. This is made ¡ossibIe by lhe resislers conlinuing lheir
nonvioIenl ¡ersislence des¡ile re¡ression.
The varialions in lhe res¡eclive ¡over of lhe conlending sides
in lhis ly¡e of con"icl silualion are IikeIy lo be more exlreme lhan in
vioIenl con"icls, lo lake ¡Iace more quickIy, and lo have more diverse
and ¡oIilicaIIy signi!canl consequences. Due lo lhese varialions,
s¡eci!c aclions by lhe resislers are IikeIy lo have consequences far
beyond lhe ¡arlicuIar lime and ¡Iace in vhich lhey occur. These ef-
fecls viII rebound lo slrenglhen or veaken one grou¡ or anolher.
34 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 35
In addilion, lhe nonvioIenl grou¡ may, by ils aclions exerl in-
"uence over lhe increase or decrease in lhe reIalive slrenglh of inc
cppcncni grcup lo a greal exlenl. Ior exam¡Ie, disci¡Iined courageous
nonvioIenl resislance in face of lhe diclalors' brulaIilies may induce
unease, disaffeclion, unreIiabiIily, and in exlreme silualions even
muliny among lhe diclalors' ovn soIdiers and ¡o¡uIalion. This
resislance may aIso resuIl in increased inlernalionaI condemnalion
of lhe diclalorshi¡. In addilion, skiIIfuI, disci¡Iined, and ¡ersislenl
use of ¡oIilicaI de!ance may resuIl in more and more ¡arlici¡alion in
lhe resislance by ¡eo¡Ie vho normaIIy vouId give lheir lacil su¡¡orl
lo lhe diclalors or generaIIy remain neulraI in lhe con"icl.
Fnur mcchanIsms nI changc
NonvioIenl slruggIe ¡roduces change in four vays. The !rsl
mechanism is lhe Ieasl IikeIy, lhough il has occurred. When mem-
bers of lhe o¡¡onenl grou¡ are emolionaIIy moved by lhe suffering
of re¡ression im¡osed on courageous nonvioIenl resislers or are
ralionaIIy ¡ersuaded lhal lhe resislers' cause is |usl, lhey may come
lo acce¡l lhe resislers' aims. This mechanism is caIIed conversion.
Though cases of ccntcrsicn in nonvioIenl aclion do somelimes ha¡-
¡en, lhey are rare, and in mosl con"icls lhis does nol occur al aII or
al Ieasl nol on a signi!canl scaIe.
Iar more oflen, nonvioIenl slruggIe o¡erales by changing lhe
con"icl silualion and lhe sociely so lhal lhe o¡¡onenls sim¡Iy cannol
do as lhey Iike. Il is lhis change lhal ¡roduces lhe olher lhree mecha-
nisms: accommodalion, nonvioIenl coercion, and disinlegralion.
Which of lhese occurs de¡ends on lhe degree lo vhich lhe reIalive
and absoIule ¡over reIalions are shifled in favor of lhe democrals.
If lhe issues are nol fundamenlaI ones, lhe demands of lhe o¡-
¡osilion in a Iimiled cam¡aign are nol considered lhrealening, and
lhe conlesl of forces has aIlered lhe ¡over reIalionshi¡s lo some
degree, lhe immediale con"icl may be ended by reaching an agree-
menl, a s¡Iilling of differences or com¡romise. This mechanism is
caIIed ccccmmc!ciicn. Many slrikes are sellIed in lhis manner, for
exam¡Ie, vilh bolh sides allaining some of lheir ob|eclives bul nei-
lher achieving aII il vanled. A governmenl may ¡erceive such a
sellIemenl lo have some ¡osilive bene!ls, such as defusing lension,
crealing an im¡ression of ¨fairness,¨ or ¡oIishing lhe inlernalionaI
image of lhe regime. Il is im¡orlanl, lherefore, lhal greal care be
exercised in seIecling lhe issues on vhich a sellIemenl by accom-
modalion is acce¡labIe. A slruggIe lo bring dovn a diclalorshi¡ is
nol one of lhese.
NonvioIenl slruggIe can be much more ¡overfuI lhan indicaled
by lhe mechanisms of conversion or accommodalion. Mass nonco-
o¡eralion and de!ance can so change sociaI and ¡oIilicaI silualions,
es¡eciaIIy ¡over reIalionshi¡s, lhal lhe diclalors' abiIily lo conlroI
lhe economic, sociaI, and ¡oIilicaI ¡rocesses of governmenl and lhe
sociely is in facl laken avay. The o¡¡onenls' miIilary forces may be-
come so unreIiabIe lhal lhey no Ionger sim¡Iy obey orders lo re¡ress
resislers. AIlhough lhe o¡¡onenls' Ieaders remain in lheir ¡osilions,
and adhere lo lheir originaI goaIs, lheir abiIily lo acl effecliveIy has
been laken avay from lhem. Thal is caIIed ncntic|cni cccrcicn.
In some exlreme silualions, lhe condilions ¡roducing nonvioIenl
coercion are carried sliII furlher. The o¡¡onenls' Ieadershi¡ in facl
Ioses aII abiIily lo acl and lheir ovn slruclure of ¡over coIIa¡ses.
The resislers' seIf-direclion, noncoo¡eralion, and de!ance become so
com¡Iele lhal lhe o¡¡onenls nov Iack even a sembIance of conlroI
over lhem. The o¡¡onenls' bureaucracy refuses lo obey ils ovn Iead-
ershi¡. The o¡¡onenls' lroo¡s and ¡oIice muliny. The o¡¡onenls'
usuaI su¡¡orlers or ¡o¡uIalion re¡udiale lheir former Ieadershi¡,
denying lhal lhey have any righl lo ruIe al aII. Hence, lheir former
assislance and obedience faIIs avay. The fourlh mechanism of
change, !isinicgrciicn of lhe o¡¡onenls' syslem, is so com¡Iele lhal
lhey do nol even have suf!cienl ¡over lo surrender. The regime
sim¡Iy faIIs lo ¡ieces.
In ¡Ianning Iiberalion slralegies, lhese four mechanisms shouId
be ke¡l in mind. They somelimes o¡erale essenliaIIy by chance.
Hovever, lhe seIeclion of one or more of lhese as lhe inlended mecha-
36 Gcnc Sncrp
nism of change in a con"icl viII make il ¡ossibIe lo formuIale s¡e-
ci!c and muluaIIy reinforcing slralegies. Which mechanism (or
mechanisms) lo seIecl viII de¡end on numerous faclors, incIuding
lhe absoIule and reIalive ¡over of lhe conlending grou¡s and lhe
alliludes and ob|eclives of lhe nonvioIenl slruggIe grou¡.
DcmncratIzIng cIIccts nI pn!ItIca! dc!ancc
In conlrasl lo lhe cenlraIizing effecls of vioIenl sanclions, use of lhe
lechnique of nonvioIenl slruggIe conlribules lo democralizing lhe
¡oIilicaI sociely in severaI vays.
Òne ¡arl of lhe democralizing effecl is negalive. Thal is, in
conlrasl lo miIilary means, lhis lechnique does nol ¡rovide a means
of re¡ression under command of a ruIing eIile vhich can be lurned
againsl lhe ¡o¡uIalion lo eslabIish or mainlain a diclalorshi¡. Lead-
ers of a ¡oIilicaI de!ance movemenl can exerl in"uence and a¡¡Iy
¡ressures on lheir foIIovers, bul lhey cannol im¡rison or execule
lhem vhen lhey dissenl or choose olher Ieaders.
Anolher ¡arl of lhe democralizing effecl is ¡osilive. Thal is,
nonvioIenl slruggIe ¡rovides lhe ¡o¡uIalion vilh means of resislance
lhal can be used lo achieve and defend lheir Iiberlies againsl exisling
or vouId-be diclalors. ßeIov are severaI of lhe ¡osilive democraliz-
ing effecls nonvioIenl slruggIe may have:
ª Lx¡erience in a¡¡Iying nonvioIenl slruggIe may resuIl in lhe
¡o¡uIalion being more seIf-con!denl in chaIIenging lhe
regime's lhreals and ca¡acily for vioIenl re¡ression.
ª NonvioIenl slruggIe ¡rovides lhe means of noncoo¡eralion
and de!ance by vhich lhe ¡o¡uIalion can resisl undemo-
cralic conlroIs over lhem by any diclaloriaI grou¡.
ª NonvioIenl slruggIe can be used lo asserl lhe ¡raclice of
democralic freedoms, such as free s¡eech, free ¡ress, inde-
¡endenl organizalions, and free assembIy, in face of re¡res-
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 37
ª NonvioIenl slruggIe conlribules slrongIy lo lhe survivaI, re-
birlh, and slrenglhening of lhe inde¡endenl grou¡s and in-
slilulions of lhe sociely, as ¡reviousIy discussed. These are
im¡orlanl for democracy because of lheir ca¡acily lo mobi-
Iize lhe ¡over ca¡acily of lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lo im¡ose Iim-
ils on lhe effeclive ¡over of any vouId-be diclalors.
ª NonvioIenl slruggIe ¡rovides means by vhich lhe ¡o¡uIa-
lion can vieId ¡over againsl re¡ressive ¡oIice and miIilary
aclion by a diclaloriaI governmenl.
ª NonvioIenl slruggIe ¡rovides melhods by vhich lhe ¡o¡u-
Ialion and lhe inde¡endenl inslilulions can in lhe inleresls
of democracy reslricl or sever lhe sources of ¡over for lhe
ruIing eIile, lhereby lhrealening ils ca¡acily lo conlinue ils
Cnmp!cxIty nI nnnvIn!cnt strugg!c
As ve have seen from lhis discussion, nonvioIenl slruggIe is a com-
¡Iex lechnique of sociaI aclion, invoIving a muIlilude of melhods,
a range of mechanisms of change, and s¡eci!c behavioraI require-
menls. To be effeclive, es¡eciaIIy againsl a diclalorshi¡, ¡oIilicaI
de!ance requires carefuI ¡Ianning and ¡re¡aralion. Iros¡eclive
¡arlici¡anls viII need lo undersland vhal is required of lhem.
Resources viII need lo have been made avaiIabIe. And slralegisls
viII need lo have anaIyzed hov nonvioIenl slruggIe can be mosl
effecliveIy a¡¡Iied. We nov lurn our allenlion lo lhis Ialler cruciaI
eIemenl: lhe need for slralegic ¡Ianning.
38 Gcnc Sncrp
THE NEED FOR 5TRATEGIC PLANNING
IoIilicaI de!ance cam¡aigns againsl diclalorshi¡s may begin in a
variely of vays. In lhe ¡asl lhese slruggIes have aImosl aIvays been
un¡Ianned and essenliaIIy accidenlaI. S¡eci!c grievances lhal have
lriggered ¡asl iniliaI aclions have varied videIy, bul oflen incIuded
nev brulaIilies, lhe arresl or kiIIing of a highIy regarded ¡erson, a
nev re¡ressive ¡oIicy or order, food shorlages, disres¡ecl lovard
reIigious beIiefs, or an anniversary of an im¡orlanl reIaled evenl.
Somelimes, a ¡arlicuIar acl by lhe diclalorshi¡ has so enraged lhe
¡o¡uIace lhal lhey have Iaunched inlo aclion vilhoul having any
idea hov lhe rising mighl end. Al olher limes a courageous indi-
viduaI or a smaII grou¡ may have laken aclion vhich aroused su¡-
¡orl. A s¡eci!c grievance may be recognized by olhers as simiIar
lo vrongs lhey had ex¡erienced and lhey, loo, may lhus |oin lhe
slruggIe. Somelimes, a s¡eci!c caII for resislance from a smaII grou¡
or individuaI may meel an unex¡ecledIy Iarge res¡onse.
WhiIe s¡onlaneily has some ¡osilive quaIilies, il has oflen
had disadvanlages. IrequenlIy, lhe democralic resislers have nol
anlici¡aled lhe brulaIilies of lhe diclalorshi¡, so lhal lhey suffered
graveIy and lhe resislance has coIIa¡sed. Al limes lhe Iack of ¡Ian-
ning by democrals has Iefl cruciaI decisions lo chance, vilh disaslrous
resuIls. Lven vhen lhe o¡¡ressive syslem vas broughl dovn, Iack
of ¡Ianning on hov lo handIe lhe lransilion lo a democralic syslem
has conlribuled lo lhe emergence of a nev diclalorshi¡.
In lhe fulure, un¡Ianned ¡o¡uIar aclion viII undoubledIy ¡Iay sig-
ni!canl roIes in risings againsl diclalorshi¡s. Hovever, il is nov
¡ossibIe lo caIcuIale lhe mosl effeclive vays lo bring dovn a dicla-
lorshi¡, lo assess vhen lhe ¡oIilicaI silualion and ¡o¡uIar mood are
ri¡e, and lo choose hov lo iniliale a cam¡aign. Very carefuI lhoughl
|csc! cn c rcc|isiic csscssmcni of lhe silualion and lhe ca¡abiIilies of
lhe ¡o¡uIace is required in order lo seIecl effeclive vays lo achieve
freedom under such circumslances.
If one vishes lo accom¡Iish somelhing, il is vise lo ¡Ian hov lo
do il. The more im¡orlanl lhe goaI, or lhe graver lhe consequences
of faiIure, lhe more im¡orlanl ¡Ianning becomes. Slralegic ¡Ian-
ning increases lhe IikeIihood lhal aII avaiIabIe resources viII be
mobiIized and em¡Ioyed mosl effecliveIy. This is es¡eciaIIy lrue for
a democralic movemenl ÷ vhich has Iimiled maleriaI resources and
vhose su¡¡orlers viII be in danger ÷ lhal is lrying lo bring dovn
a ¡overfuI diclalorshi¡. In conlrasl, lhe diclalorshi¡ usuaIIy viII
have access lo vasl maleriaI resources, organizalionaI slrenglh, and
abiIily lo ¡er¡elrale brulaIilies.
¨To ¡Ian a slralegy¨ here means lo caIcuIale a course of aclion
lhal viII make il more IikeIy lo gel from lhe ¡resenl lo lhe desired
fulure silualion. In lerms of lhis discussion, il means from a dic-
lalorshi¡ lo a fulure democralic syslem. A ¡Ian lo achieve lhal
ob|eclive viII usuaIIy consisl of a ¡hased series of cam¡aigns and
olher organized aclivilies designed lo slrenglhen lhe o¡¡ressed
¡o¡uIalion and sociely and lo veaken lhe diclalorshi¡. Nole here
lhal lhe ob|eclive is nol sim¡Iy lo deslroy lhe currenl diclalorshi¡
bul lo em¡Iace a democralic syslem. A grand slralegy lhal Iimils
ils ob|eclive lo mereIy deslroying lhe incumbenl diclalorshi¡ runs
a greal risk of ¡roducing anolher lyranl.
Hurd!cs tn p!annIng
Some ex¡onenls of freedom in various ¡arls of lhe vorId do nol
bring lheir fuII ca¡acilies lo bear on lhe ¡robIem of hov lo achieve
Iiberalion. ÒnIy rareIy do lhese advocales fuIIy recognize lhe
exlreme im¡orlance of carefuI slralegic ¡Ianning before lhey acl.
ConsequenlIy, lhis is aImosl never done.
Why is il lhal lhe ¡eo¡Ie vho have lhe vision of bringing ¡o-
IilicaI freedom lo lheir ¡eo¡Ie shouId so rareIy ¡re¡are a com¡re-
hensive slralegic ¡Ian lo achieve lhal goaI` InforlunaleIy, oflen
mosl ¡eo¡Ie in democralic o¡¡osilion grou¡s do nol undersland
lhe need for slralegic ¡Ianning or are nol accuslomed or lrained lo
40 Gcnc Sncrp
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lhink slralegicaIIy. This is a dif!cuIl lask. ConslanlIy harassed by
lhe diclalorshi¡, and overvheImed by immediale res¡onsibiIilies,
resislance Ieaders oflen do nol have lhe safely or lime lo deveIo¡
slralegic lhinking skiIIs.
Inslead, il is a common ¡allern sim¡Iy lo reacl lo lhe inilialives
of lhe diclalorshi¡. The o¡¡osilion is lhen aIvays on lhe defensive,
seeking lo mainlain Iimiled Iiberlies or baslions of freedom, al besl
sIoving lhe advance of lhe diclaloriaI conlroIs or causing cerlain
¡robIems for lhe regime's nev ¡oIicies.
Some individuaIs and grou¡s, of course, may nol see lhe need
for broad Iong-lerm ¡Ianning of a Iiberalion movemenl. Inslead, lhey
may naïveIy lhink lhal if lhey sim¡Iy es¡ouse lheir goaI slrongIy,
!rmIy, and Iong enough, il viII somehov come lo ¡ass. Òlhers as-
sume lhal if lhey sim¡Iy Iive and vilness according lo lheir ¡rinci¡Ies
and ideaIs in face of dif!cuIlies, lhey are doing aII lhey can lo im¡Ie-
menl lhem. The es¡ousaI of humane goaIs and IoyaIly lo ideaIs are
admirabIe, bul are grossIy inadequale lo end a diclalorshi¡ and lo
Òlher o¡¡onenls of diclalorshi¡ may naïveIy lhink lhal if onIy
lhey use enough vioIence, freedom viII come. ßul, as noled earIier,
vioIence is no guaranlor of success. Inslead of Iiberalion, il can Iead
lo defeal, massive lragedy, or bolh. In mosl silualions lhe diclalor-
shi¡ is besl equi¡¡ed for vioIenl slruggIe and lhe miIilary reaIilies
rareIy, if ever, favor lhe democrals.
There are aIso aclivisls vho base lheir aclions on vhal lhey
¨feeI¨ lhey shouId do. These a¡¡roaches are, hovever, nol onIy
egocenlric bul lhey offer no guidance for deveIo¡ing a grand slral-
egy of Iiberalion.
Aclion based on a ¨brighl idea¨ lhal someone has had is aIso
Iimiled. Whal is needed inslead is aclion based on carefuI caIcuIa-
lion of lhe ¨nexl sle¡s¨ required lo lo¡¡Ie lhe diclalorshi¡. Wilhoul
slralegic anaIysis, resislance Ieaders viII oflen nol knov vhal lhal
¨nexl sle¡¨ shouId be, for lhey have nol lhoughl carefuIIy aboul lhe
successive s¡eci!c sle¡s required lo achieve viclory. Crealivily and
brighl ideas are very im¡orlanl, bul lhey need lo be uliIized in order
lo advance lhe slralegic silualion of lhe democralic forces.
AculeIy avare of lhe muIlilude of aclions lhal couId be laken
againsl lhe diclalorshi¡ and unabIe lo delermine vhere lo begin,
some ¡eo¡Ie counseI ¨Do everylhing simuIlaneousIy.¨ Thal mighl
be heI¡fuI bul, of course, is im¡ossibIe, es¡eciaIIy for reIaliveIy veak
movemenls. Iurlhermore, such an a¡¡roach ¡rovides no guidance
on vhere lo begin, on vhere lo concenlrale efforls, and hov lo use
oflen Iimiled resources.
Òlher ¡ersons and grou¡s may see lhe need for some ¡Ianning,
bul are onIy abIe lo lhink aboul il on a shorl-lerm or laclicaI basis.
They may nol see lhal Ionger-lerm ¡Ianning is necessary or ¡ossibIe.
They may al limes be unabIe lo lhink and anaIyze in slralegic lerms,
aIIoving lhemseIves lo be re¡ealedIy dislracled by reIaliveIy smaII
issues, oflen res¡onding lo lhe o¡¡onenls' aclions ralher lhan seiz-
ing lhe inilialive for lhe democralic resislance. Devoling so much
energy lo shorl-lerm aclivilies, lhese Ieaders oflen faiI lo ex¡Iore
severaI aIlernalive courses of aclion vhich couId guide lhe overaII
efforls so lhal lhe goaI is conslanlIy a¡¡roached.
Il is aIso |usl ¡ossibIe lhal some democralic movemenls do
nol ¡Ian a com¡rehensive slralegy lo bring dovn lhe diclalorshi¡,
concenlraling inslead onIy on immediale issues, for anolher reason.
Inside lhemseIves, lhey do nol reaIIy beIieve lhal lhe diclalorshi¡
can be ended by lheir ovn efforls. Therefore, ¡Ianning hov lo do
so is considered lo be a romanlic vasle of lime or an exercise in
fuliIily. Ieo¡Ie slruggIing for freedom againsl eslabIished brulaI
diclalorshi¡s are oflen confronled by such immense miIilary and
¡oIice ¡over lhal il a¡¡ears lhe diclalors can accom¡Iish vhalever
lhey viII. Lacking reaI ho¡e, lhese ¡eo¡Ie viII, neverlheIess, defy
lhe diclalorshi¡ for reasons of inlegrily and ¡erha¡s hislory. Though
lhey viII never admil il, ¡erha¡s never consciousIy recognize il, lheir
aclions a¡¡ear lo lhemseIves as ho¡eIess. Hence, for lhem, Iong-lerm
com¡rehensive slralegic ¡Ianning has no meril.
The resuIl of such faiIures lo ¡Ian slralegicaIIy is oflen draslic:
one's slrenglh is dissi¡aled, one's aclions are ineffeclive, energy is
vasled on minor issues, advanlages are nol uliIized, and sacri!ces
are for naughl. If democrals do nol ¡Ian slralegicaIIy lhey are IikeIy
lo faiI lo achieve lheir ob|eclives. A ¡oorIy ¡Ianned, odd mixlure of
42 Gcnc Sncrp
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aclivilies viII nol move a ma|or resislance efforl forvard. Inslead,
il viII more IikeIy aIIov lhe diclalorshi¡ lo increase ils conlroIs and
InforlunaleIy, because com¡rehensive slralegic ¡Ians for Iibera-
lion are rareIy, if ever, deveIo¡ed, diclalorshi¡s a¡¡ear much more
durabIe lhan lhey in facl are. They survive for years or decades
Ionger lhan need be lhe case.
Fnur Impnrtant tcrms In stratcgIc p!annIng
In order lo heI¡ us lo lhink slralegicaIIy, cIarily aboul lhe meanings
of four basic lerms is im¡orlanl.
Grcn! sircicgq is lhe conce¡lion lhal serves lo coordinale and
direcl lhe use of aII a¡¡ro¡riale and avaiIabIe resources (economic,
human, moraI, ¡oIilicaI, organizalionaI, elc.) of a grou¡ seeking lo
allain ils ob|eclives in a con"icl.
Grand slralegy, by focusing ¡rimary allenlion on lhe grou¡'s
ob|eclives and resources in lhe con"icl, delermines lhe mosl a¡¡ro-
¡riale lechnique of aclion (such as convenlionaI miIilary varfare or
nonvioIenl slruggIe) lo be em¡Ioyed in lhe con"icl. In ¡Ianning a
grand slralegy resislance Ieaders musl evaIuale and ¡Ian vhich ¡res-
sures and in"uences are lo be broughl lo bear u¡on lhe o¡¡onenls.
Iurlher, grand slralegy viII incIude decisions on lhe a¡¡ro¡riale
condilions and liming under vhich iniliaI and subsequenl resislance
cam¡aigns viII be Iaunched.
Grand slralegy sels lhe basic framevork for lhe seIeclion of
more Iimiled slralegies for vaging lhe slruggIe. Grand slralegy aIso
delermines lhe aIIocalion of generaI lasks lo ¡arlicuIar grou¡s and
lhe dislribulion of resources lo lhem for use in lhe slruggIe.
Sircicgq is lhe conce¡lion of hov besl lo achieve ¡arlicuIar ob-
|eclives in a con"icl, o¡eraling vilhin lhe sco¡e of lhe chosen grand
slralegy. Slralegy is concerned vilh vhelher, vhen, and hov lo !ghl,
as veII as hov lo achieve maximum effecliveness in slruggIing for
cerlain ends. A slralegy has been com¡ared lo lhe arlisl's conce¡l,
vhiIe a slralegic ¡Ian is lhe archilecl's bIue¡rinl.
Roberl HeIvey, ¡ersonaI communicalion, 15 Augusl 1993.
Slralegy may aIso incIude efforls lo deveIo¡ a slralegic silua-
lion lhal is so advanlageous lhal lhe o¡¡onenls are abIe lo foresee
lhal o¡en con"icl is IikeIy lo bring lheir cerlain defeal, and lhere-
fore ca¡iluIale vilhoul an o¡en slruggIe. Òr, if nol, lhe im¡roved
slralegic silualion viII make success of lhe chaIIengers cerlain in
slruggIe. Slralegy aIso invoIves hov lo acl lo make good use of
successes vhen gained.
A¡¡Iied lo lhe course of lhe slruggIe ilseIf, lhe slralegic ¡Ian is
lhe basic idea of hov a cam¡aign shaII deveIo¡, and hov ils se¡arale
com¡onenls shaII be !lled logelher lo conlribule mosl advanla-
geousIy lo achieve ils ob|eclives. Il invoIves lhe skiIIfuI de¡Ioymenl
of ¡arlicuIar aclion grou¡s in smaIIer o¡eralions. IIanning for a
vise slralegy musl lake inlo consideralion lhe requiremenls for suc-
cess in lhe o¡eralion of lhe chosen lechnique of slruggIe. Differenl
lechniques viII have differenl requiremenls. Òf course, |usl fuI!II-
ing ¨requiremenls¨ is nol suf!cienl lo ensure success. AddilionaI
faclors may aIso be needed.
In devising slralegies, lhe democrals musl cIearIy de!ne lheir
ob|eclives and delermine hov lo measure lhe effecliveness of efforls
lo achieve lhem. This de!nilion and anaIysis ¡ermils lhe slralegisl
lo idenlify lhe ¡recise requiremenls for securing each seIecled ob|ec-
live. This need for cIarily and de!nilion a¡¡Iies equaIIy lo laclicaI
Taclics and melhods of aclion are used lo im¡Iemenl lhe slral-
egy. 1cciics reIale lo lhe skiIIfuI use of one's forces lo lhe besl ad-
vanlage in a Iimiled silualion. A laclic is a Iimiled aclion, em¡Ioyed
lo achieve a reslricled ob|eclive. The choice of laclics is governed
by lhe conce¡lion of hov besl in a reslricled ¡hase of a con"icl lo
uliIize lhe avaiIabIe means of !ghling lo im¡Iemenl lhe slralegy. To
be mosl effeclive, laclics and melhods musl be chosen and a¡¡Iied
vilh conslanl allenlion lo lhe achievemenl of slralegic ob|eclives.
TaclicaI gains lhal do nol reinforce lhe allainmenl of slralegic ob|ec-
lives may in lhe end lurn oul lo be vasled energy.
A laclic is lhus concerned vilh a Iimiled course of aclion lhal
!ls vilhin lhe broad slralegy, |usl as a slralegy !ls vilhin lhe grand
slralegy. Taclics are aIvays concerned vilh !ghling, vhereas slral-
44 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 45
egy incIudes vider consideralions. A ¡arlicuIar laclic can onIy be
underslood as ¡arl of lhe overaII slralegy of a ballIe or a cam¡aign.
Taclics are a¡¡Iied for shorler ¡eriods of lime lhan slralegies, or in
smaIIer areas (geogra¡hicaI, inslilulionaI, elc.), or by a more Iimiled
number of ¡eo¡Ie, or for more Iimiled ob|eclives. In nonvioIenl
aclion lhe dislinclion belveen a laclicaI ob|eclive and a slralegic
ob|eclive may be ¡arlIy indicaled by vhelher lhe chosen ob|eclive
of lhe aclion is minor or ma|or.
Òffensive laclicaI engagemenls are seIecled lo su¡¡orl allain-
menl of slralegic ob|eclives. TaclicaI engagemenls are lhe looIs of lhe
slralegisl in crealing condilions favorabIe for deIivering decisive al-
lacks againsl an o¡¡onenl. Il is mosl im¡orlanl, lherefore, lhal lhose
given res¡onsibiIily for ¡Ianning and execuling laclicaI o¡eralions be
skiIIed in assessing lhe silualion, and seIecling lhe mosl a¡¡ro¡riale
melhods for il. Those ex¡ecled lo ¡arlici¡ale musl be lrained in lhe
use of lhe chosen lechnique and lhe s¡eci!c melhods.
Mcinc! refers lo lhe s¡eci!c vea¡ons or means of aclion. Wilhin
lhe lechnique of nonvioIenl slruggIe, lhese incIude lhe dozens of
¡arlicuIar forms of aclion (such as lhe many kinds of slrikes, boy-
colls, ¡oIilicaI noncoo¡eralion, and lhe Iike) ciled in Cha¡ler Iive.
(See aIso A¡¡endix.)
The deveIo¡menl of a res¡onsibIe and effeclive slralegic ¡Ian
for a nonvioIenl slruggIe de¡ends u¡on lhe carefuI formuIalion and
seIeclion of lhe grand slralegy, slralegies, laclics, and melhods.
The main Iesson of lhis discussion is lhal a caIcuIaled use of
one's inleIIecl is required in carefuI slralegic ¡Ianning for Iiberalion
from a diclalorshi¡. IaiIure lo ¡Ian inleIIigenlIy can conlribule lo
disaslers, vhiIe lhe effeclive use of one's inleIIecluaI ca¡acilies can
charl a slralegic course lhal viII |udiciousIy uliIize one's avaiIabIe
resources lo move lhe sociely lovard lhe goaI of Iiberly and democ-
In order lo increase lhe chances for success, resislance Ieaders
viII need lo formuIale a com¡rehensive ¡Ian of aclion ca¡abIe of
slrenglhening lhe suffering ¡eo¡Ie, veakening and lhen deslroy-
ing lhe diclalorshi¡, and buiIding a durabIe democracy. To achieve
such a ¡Ian of aclion, a carefuI assessmenl of lhe silualion and of lhe
o¡lions for effeclive aclion is needed. Òul of such a carefuI anaIysis
bolh a grand slralegy and lhe s¡eci!c cam¡aign slralegies for achiev-
ing freedom can be deveIo¡ed. Though reIaled, lhe deveIo¡menl of
grand slralegy and cam¡aign slralegies are lvo se¡arale ¡rocesses.
ÒnIy afler lhe grand slralegy has been deveIo¡ed can lhe s¡eci!c
cam¡aign slralegies be fuIIy deveIo¡ed. Cam¡aign slralegies viII
need lo be designed lo achieve and reinforce lhe grand slralegic
The deveIo¡menl of resislance slralegy requires allenlion lo
many queslions and lasks. Here ve shaII idenlify some of lhe im-
¡orlanl faclors lhal need lo be considered, bolh al lhe grand slrale-
gic IeveI and lhe IeveI of cam¡aign slralegy. AII slralegic ¡Ianning,
hovever, requires lhal lhe resislance ¡Ianners have a ¡rofound
underslanding of lhe enlire con"icl silualion, incIuding allenlion lo
¡hysicaI, hisloricaI, governmenlaI, miIilary, cuIluraI, sociaI, ¡oIilicaI,
¡sychoIogicaI, economic, and inlernalionaI faclors. Slralegies can
onIy be deveIo¡ed in lhe conlexl of lhe ¡arlicuIar slruggIe and ils
Òf ¡rimary im¡orlance, democralic Ieaders and slralegic ¡Ian-
ners viII vanl lo assess lhe ob|eclives and im¡orlance of lhe cause.
Are lhe ob|eclives vorlh a ma|or slruggIe, and vhy` Il is crilicaI lo
delermine lhe reaI ob|eclive of lhe slruggIe. We have argued here
lhal overlhrov of lhe diclalorshi¡ or removaI of lhe ¡resenl dicla-
lors is nci enough. The ob|eclive in lhese con"icls needs lo be lhe
eslabIishmenl of a free sociely vilh a democralic syslem of govern-
menl. CIarily on lhis ¡oinl viII in"uence lhe deveIo¡menl of a grand
slralegy and of lhe ensuing s¡eci!c slralegies.
IarlicuIarIy, slralegisls viII need lo ansver many fundamenlaI
queslions, such as lhese:
ª Whal are lhe main obslacIes lo achieving freedom`
ª Whal faclors viII faciIilale achieving freedom`
ª Whal are lhe main slrenglhs of lhe diclalorshi¡`
ª Whal are lhe various veaknesses of lhe diclalorshi¡`
ª To vhal degree are lhe sources of ¡over for lhe diclalorshi¡
ª Whal are lhe slrenglhs of lhe democralic forces and lhe gen-
ª Whal are lhe veaknesses of lhe democralic forces and hov
can lhey be correcled`
ª Whal is lhe slalus of lhird ¡arlies, nol immedialeIy invoIved
in lhe con"icl, vho aIready assisl or mighl assisl, eilher lhe
diclalorshi¡ or lhe democralic movemenl, and if so in vhal
ChnIcc nI mcans
Al lhe grand slralegic IeveI, ¡Ianners viII need lo choose lhe main
means of slruggIe lo be em¡Ioyed in lhe coming con"icl. The merils
and Iimilalions of severaI aIlernalive lechniques of slruggIe viII need
lo be evaIualed, such as convenlionaI miIilary varfare, guerriIIa
varfare, ¡oIilicaI de!ance, and olhers.
In making lhis choice lhe slralegisls viII need lo consider such
queslions as lhe foIIoving: Is lhe chosen ly¡e of slruggIe vilhin
lhe ca¡acilies of lhe democrals` Does lhe chosen lechnique uliIize
slrenglhs of lhe dominaled ¡o¡uIalion` Does lhis lechnique largel
48 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 49
lhe veaknesses of lhe diclalorshi¡, or does il slrike al ils slrongesl
¡oinls` Do lhe means heI¡ lhe democrals become more seIf-reIianl,
or do lhey require de¡endency on lhird ¡arlies or exlernaI su¡¡Iiers`
Whal is lhe record of lhe use of lhe chosen means in bringing dovn
diclalorshi¡s` Do lhey increase or Iimil lhe casuaIlies and deslruclion
lhal may be incurred in lhe coming con"icl` Assuming success in
ending lhe diclalorshi¡, vhal effecl vouId lhe seIecled means have
on lhe ly¡e of governmenl lhal vouId arise from lhe slruggIe` The
ly¡es of aclion delermined lo be counler¡roduclive viII need lo be
excIuded in lhe deveIo¡ed grand slralegy.
In ¡revious cha¡lers ve have argued lhal ¡oIilicaI de!ance
offers signi!canl com¡aralive advanlages lo olher lechniques of
slruggIe. Slralegisls viII need lo examine lheir ¡arlicuIar con"icl
silualion and delermine vhelher ¡oIilicaI de!ance ¡rovides af!rma-
live ansvers lo lhe above queslions.
P!annIng Inr dcmncracy
Il shouId be remembered lhal againsl a diclalorshi¡ lhe ob|eclive of
lhe grand slralegy is nol sim¡Iy lo bring dovn lhe diclalors bul lo
inslaII a democralic syslem and make lhe rise of a nev diclalorshi¡
im¡ossibIe. To accom¡Iish lhese ob|eclives, lhe chosen means of
slruggIe viII need lo conlribule lo a change in lhe dislribulion of
effeclive ¡over in lhe sociely. Inder lhe diclalorshi¡ lhe ¡o¡uIa-
lion and civiI inslilulions of lhe sociely have been loo veak, and lhe
governmenl loo slrong. Wilhoul a change in lhis imbaIance, a nev
sel of ruIers can, if lhey vish, be |usl as diclaloriaI as lhe oId ones.
A ¨¡aIace revoIulion¨ or a cou¡ d'ólal lherefore is nol veIcome.
IoIilicaI de!ance conlribules lo a more equilabIe dislribulion
of effeclive ¡over lhrough lhe mobiIizalion of lhe sociely againsl
lhe diclalorshi¡, as vas discussed in Cha¡ler Iive. This ¡rocess
occurs in severaI vays. The deveIo¡menl of a nonvioIenl slruggIe
ca¡acily means lhal lhe diclalorshi¡'s ca¡acily for vioIenl re¡ression
no Ionger as easiIy ¡roduces inlimidalion and submission among
lhe ¡o¡uIalion. The ¡o¡uIalion viII have al ils dis¡osaI ¡over-
fuI means lo counler and al limes bIock lhe exerlion of lhe dicla-
lors' ¡over. Iurlher, lhe mobiIizalion of ¡o¡uIar ¡over lhrough
¡oIilicaI de!ance viII slrenglhen lhe inde¡endenl inslilulions of
lhe sociely. The ex¡erience of once exercising effeclive ¡over is
nol quickIy forgol. The knovIedge and skiII gained in slruggIe viII
make lhe ¡o¡uIalion Iess IikeIy lo be easiIy dominaled by vouId-be
diclalors. This shifl in ¡over reIalionshi¡s vouId uIlimaleIy make
eslabIishmenl of a durabIe democralic sociely much more IikeIy.
As ¡arl of lhe ¡re¡aralion of a grand slralegy il is necessary lo as-
sess vhal viII be lhe reIalive roIes of inlernaI resislance and exlernaI
¡ressures for disinlegraling lhe diclalorshi¡. In lhis anaIysis ve have
argued lhal lhe main force of lhe slruggIe musl be borne from inside
lhe counlry ilseIf. To lhe degree lhal inlernalionaI assislance comes
al aII, il viII be slimuIaled by lhe inlernaI slruggIe.
As a modesl su¡¡Iemenl, efforls can be made lo mobiIize vorId
¡ubIic o¡inion againsl lhe diclalorshi¡, on humanilarian, moraI, and
reIigious grounds. Lfforls can be laken lo oblain di¡Iomalic, ¡oIilicaI,
and economic sanclions by governmenls and inlernalionaI organiza-
lions againsl lhe diclalorshi¡. These may lake lhe forms of economic
and miIilary vea¡ons embargoes, reduclion in IeveIs of di¡Iomalic
recognilion or lhe breaking of di¡Iomalic lies, banning of economic
assislance and ¡rohibilion of inveslmenls in lhe diclaloriaI counlry,
ex¡uIsion of lhe diclaloriaI governmenl from various inlernalionaI
organizalions and from Iniled Nalions bodies. Iurlher, inlernalionaI
assislance, such as lhe ¡rovision of !nanciaI and communicalions
su¡¡orl, can aIso be ¡rovided direclIy lo lhe democralic forces.
Fnrmu!atIng a grand stratcgy
IoIIoving an assessmenl of lhe silualion, lhe choice of means, and a
delerminalion of lhe roIe of exlernaI assislance, ¡Ianners of lhe grand
slralegy viII need lo skelch in broad slrokes hov lhe con"icl mighl
besl be conducled. This broad ¡Ian vouId slrelch from lhe ¡resenl
lo lhe fulure Iiberalion and lhe inslilulion of a democralic syslem.
50 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 51
In formuIaling a grand slralegy lhese ¡Ianners viII need lo ask
lhemseIves a variely of queslions. The foIIoving queslions ¡ose (in
a more s¡eci!c vay lhan earIier) lhe ly¡es of consideralions required
in devising a grand slralegy for a ¡oIilicaI de!ance slruggIe:
Hov mighl lhe Iong-lerm slruggIe besl begin` Hov can lhe
o¡¡ressed ¡o¡uIalion musler suf!cienl seIf-con!dence and slrenglh
lo acl lo chaIIenge lhe diclalorshi¡, even iniliaIIy in a Iimiled vay`
Hov couId lhe ¡o¡uIalion's ca¡acily lo a¡¡Iy noncoo¡eralion and
de!ance be increased vilh lime and ex¡erience` Whal mighl be
lhe ob|eclives of a series of Iimiled cam¡aigns lo regain democralic
conlroI over lhe sociely and Iimil lhe diclalorshi¡`
Are lhere inde¡endenl inslilulions lhal have survived lhe dic-
lalorshi¡ vhich mighl be used in lhe slruggIe lo eslabIish freedom`
Whal inslilulions of lhe sociely can be regained from lhe diclalors'
conlroI, or vhal inslilulions need lo be nevIy crealed by lhe demo-
crals lo meel lheir needs and eslabIish s¡heres of democracy even
vhiIe lhe diclalorshi¡ conlinues`
Hov can organizalionaI slrenglh in lhe resislance be deveIo¡ed`
Hov can ¡arlici¡anls be lrained` Whal resources (!nances, equi¡-
menl, elc.) viII be required lhroughoul lhe slruggIe` Whal ly¡es of
symboIism can be mosl effeclive in mobiIizing lhe ¡o¡uIalion`
ßy vhal kinds of aclion and in vhal slages couId lhe sources
of ¡over of lhe diclalors be incremenlaIIy veakened and severed`
Hov can lhe resisling ¡o¡uIalion simuIlaneousIy ¡ersisl in ils de!-
ance and aIso mainlain lhe necessary nonvioIenl disci¡Iine` Hov
can lhe sociely conlinue lo meel ils basic needs during lhe course of
lhe slruggIe` Hov can sociaI order be mainlained in lhe midsl of
lhe con"icl` As viclory a¡¡roaches, hov can lhe democralic resis-
lance conlinue lo buiId lhe inslilulionaI base of lhe ¡osl-diclalorshi¡
sociely lo make lhe lransilion as smoolh as ¡ossibIe`
Il musl be remembered lhal no singIe bIue¡rinl exisls or can be
crealed lo ¡Ian slralegy for every Iiberalion movemenl againsl dic-
lalorshi¡s. Lach slruggIe lo bring dovn a diclalorshi¡ and eslabIish
a democralic syslem viII be somevhal differenl. No lvo silualions
viII be exaclIy aIike, each diclalorshi¡ viII have some individuaI
characlerislics, and lhe ca¡acilies of lhe freedom-seeking ¡o¡uIalion
viII vary. IIanners of grand slralegy for a ¡oIilicaI de!ance slruggIe
viII require a ¡rofound underslanding nol onIy of lheir s¡eci!c
con"icl silualion, bul of lheir chosen means of slruggIe as veII.
When lhe grand slralegy of lhe slruggIe has been carefuIIy
¡Ianned lhere are sound reasons for making il videIy knovn. The
Iarge numbers of ¡eo¡Ie required lo ¡arlici¡ale may be more viIIing
and abIe lo acl if lhey undersland lhe generaI conce¡lion, as veII
as s¡eci!c inslruclions. This knovIedge couId ¡olenliaIIy have a
very ¡osilive effecl on lheir moraIe, lheir viIIingness lo ¡arlici¡ale,
and lo acl a¡¡ro¡rialeIy. The generaI oulIines of lhe grand slralegy
vouId become knovn lo lhe diclalors in any case and knovIedge
of ils fealures ¡olenliaIIy couId Iead lhem lo be Iess brulaI in lheir
re¡ression, knoving lhal il couId rebound ¡oIilicaIIy againsl lhem-
seIves. Avareness of lhe s¡eciaI characlerislics of lhe grand slralegy
couId ¡olenliaIIy aIso conlribule lo dissension and defeclions from
lhe diclalors' ovn cam¡.
Ònce a grand slralegic ¡Ian for bringing dovn lhe diclalor-
shi¡ and eslabIishing a democralic syslem has been ado¡led, il is
im¡orlanl for lhe ¡ro-democracy grou¡s lo ¡ersisl in a¡¡Iying il.
ÒnIy in very rare circumslances shouId lhe slruggIe de¡arl from
lhe iniliaI grand slralegy. When lhere is abundanl evidence lhal lhe
chosen grand slralegy vas misconceived, or lhal lhe circumslances
of lhe slruggIe have fundamenlaIIy changed, ¡Ianners may need lo
aIler lhe grand slralegy. Lven lhen, lhis shouId be done onIy afler a
basic reassessmenl has been made and a nev more adequale grand
slralegic ¡Ian has been deveIo¡ed and ado¡led.
52 Gcnc Sncrp
Recommended fuII Ienglh sludies are Gene Shar¡, 1nc Pc|iiics cj Ncntic|cni Aciicn
cj Ncntic|cni Aciicn, (ßoslon, Massachusells: Iorler Sargenl, 1973) and Ieler Acker-
man and Chrislo¡her KruegIer, Sircicgic Ncntic|cni Ccn"ici, (Wesl¡orl, Conneclicul:
Iraeger, 1994). AIso see Gene Shar¡, Waging Nonviolent Stuggle: Twentieth Century
Practice and Twenty-First Century Potential. ßoslon: Iorler Sargenl, 2OO5.
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 53
P!annIng campaIgn stratcgIcs
Hovever vise and ¡romising lhe deveIo¡ed grand slralegy lo end
lhe diclalorshi¡ and lo inslilule democracy may be, a grand slral-
egy does nol im¡Iemenl ilseIf. IarlicuIar slralegies viII need lo be
deveIo¡ed lo guide lhe ma|or cam¡aigns aimed al undermining lhe
diclalors' ¡over. These slralegies, in lurn, viII incor¡orale and guide
a range of laclicaI engagemenls lhal viII aim lo slrike decisive bIovs
againsl lhe diclalors' regime. The laclics and lhe s¡eci!c melhods of
aclion musl be chosen carefuIIy so lhal lhey conlribule lo achieving
lhe goaIs of each ¡arlicuIar slralegy. The discussion here focuses
excIusiveIy on lhe IeveI of slralegy.
Slralegisls ¡Ianning lhe ma|or cam¡aigns viII, Iike lhose vho
¡Ianned lhe grand slralegy, require a lhorough underslanding of lhe
nalure and modes of o¡eralion of lheir chosen lechnique of slruggIe.
}usl as miIilary of!cers musl undersland force slruclures, laclics,
Iogislics, munilions, lhe effecls of geogra¡hy, and lhe Iike in order
lo ¡Iol miIilary slralegy, ¡oIilicaI de!ance ¡Ianners musl undersland
lhe nalure and slralegic ¡rinci¡Ies of nonvioIenl slruggIe. Lven lhen,
hovever, knovIedge of nonvioIenl slruggIe, allenlion lo recommen-
dalions in lhis essay, and ansvers lo lhe queslions ¡osed here viII
nol lhemseIves ¡roduce slralegies. The formuIalion of slralegies for
lhe slruggIe sliII requires an informed crealivily.
In ¡Ianning lhe slralegies for lhe s¡eci!c seIeclive resislance
cam¡aigns and for lhe Ionger lerm deveIo¡menl of lhe Iiberalion
slruggIe, lhe ¡oIilicaI de!ance slralegisls viII need lo consider vari-
ous issues and ¡robIems. The foIIoving are among lhese:
ª Delerminalion of lhe s¡eci!c ob|eclives of lhe cam¡aign and
lheir conlribulions lo im¡Iemenling lhe grand slralegy.
ª Consideralion of lhe s¡eci!c melhods, or ¡oIilicaI vea¡ons,
lhal can besl be used lo im¡Iemenl lhe chosen slralegies.
Wilhin each overaII ¡Ian for a ¡arlicuIar slralegic cam¡aign
il viII be necessary lo delermine vhal smaIIer, laclicaI ¡Ians
and vhich s¡eci!c melhods of aclion shouId be used lo im-
¡ose ¡ressures and reslriclions againsl lhe diclalorshi¡'s
sources of ¡over. Il shouId be remembered lhal lhe achieve-
menl of ma|or ob|eclives viII come as a resuIl of carefuIIy
chosen and im¡Iemenled s¡eci!c smaIIer sle¡s.
ª Delerminalion vhelher, or hov, economic issues shouId be
reIaled lo lhe overaII essenliaIIy ¡oIilicaI slruggIe. If eco-
nomic issues are lo be ¡rominenl in lhe slruggIe, care viII be
needed lhal lhe economic grievances can acluaIIy be rem-
edied afler lhe diclalorshi¡ is ended. Òlhervise, disiIIusion-
menl and disaffeclion may sel in if quick soIulions are nol
¡rovided during lhe lransilion ¡eriod lo a democralic soci-
ely. Such disiIIusionmenl couId faciIilale lhe rise of diclalo-
riaI forces ¡romising an end lo economic voes.
ª Delerminalion in advance of vhal kind of Ieadershi¡ slruc-
lure and communicalions syslem viII vork besl for inilial-
ing lhe resislance slruggIe. Whal means of decision-making
and communicalion viII be ¡ossibIe during lhe course of lhe
slruggIe lo give conlinuing guidance lo lhe resislers and lhe
ª Communicalion of lhe resislance nevs lo lhe generaI ¡o¡u-
Ialion, lo lhe diclalors' forces, and lhe inlernalionaI ¡ress.
CIaims and re¡orling shouId aIvays be slriclIy facluaI. Lx-
aggeralions and unfounded cIaims viII undermine lhe cred-
ibiIily of lhe resislance.
ª IIans for seIf-reIianl conslruclive sociaI, educalionaI, eco-
nomic, and ¡oIilicaI aclivilies lo meel lhe needs of one's ovn
¡eo¡Ie during lhe coming con"icl. Such ¡ro|ecls can be con-
ducled by ¡ersons nol direclIy invoIved in lhe resislance ac-
ª Delerminalion of vhal kind of exlernaI assislance is desir-
abIe in su¡¡orl of lhe s¡eci!c cam¡aign or lhe generaI Iib-
eralion slruggIe. Hov can exlernaI heI¡ be besl mobiIized
54 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 55
and used vilhoul making lhe inlernaI slruggIe de¡endenl
on uncerlain exlernaI faclors` Allenlion viII need lo be given
lo vhich exlernaI grou¡s are mosl IikeIy, and mosl a¡¡ro-
¡riale, lo assisl, such as non-governmenlaI organizalions (so-
ciaI movemenls, reIigious or ¡oIilicaI grou¡s, Iabor unions,
elc.), governmenls, and1or lhe Iniled Nalions and ils vari-
Iurlhermore, lhe resislance ¡Ianners viII need lo lake measures
lo ¡reserve order and lo meel sociaI needs by one's ovn forces during
mass resislance againsl diclaloriaI conlroIs. This viII nol onIy creale
aIlernalive inde¡endenl democralic slruclures and meel genuine
needs, bul aIso viII reduce credibiIily for any cIaims lhal rulhIess
re¡ression is required lo haIl disorder and IavIessness.
5prcadIng thc Idca nI nnncnnpcratInn
Ior successfuI ¡oIilicaI de!ance againsl a diclalorshi¡, il is essenliaI
lhal lhe ¡o¡uIalion gras¡ lhe idea of noncoo¡eralion. As iIIuslraled
by lhe ¨Monkey Masler¨ slory (see Cha¡ler Three), lhe basic idea is
sim¡Ie: if enough of lhe subordinales refuse lo conlinue lheir coo¡-
eralion Iong enough des¡ile re¡ression, lhe o¡¡ressive syslem viII
be veakened and !naIIy coIIa¡se.
Ieo¡Ie Iiving under lhe diclalorshi¡ may be aIready famiIiar
vilh lhis conce¡l from a variely of sources. Lven so, lhe demo-
cralic forces shouId deIiberaleIy s¡read and ¡o¡uIarize lhe idea
of noncoo¡eralion. The ¨Monkey Masler¨ slory, or a simiIar one,
couId be disseminaled lhroughoul lhe sociely. Such a slory couId
be easiIy underslood. Ònce lhe generaI conce¡l of noncoo¡eralion
is gras¡ed, ¡eo¡Ie viII be abIe lo undersland lhe reIevance of fulure
caIIs lo ¡raclice noncoo¡eralion vilh lhe diclalorshi¡. They viII
aIso be abIe on lheir ovn lo im¡rovise a myriad of s¡eci!c forms of
noncoo¡eralion in nev silualions.
Des¡ile lhe dif!cuIlies and dangers in allem¡ls lo commu-
nicale ideas, nevs, and resislance inslruclions vhiIe Iiving under
diclalorshi¡s, democrals have frequenlIy ¡roved lhis lo be ¡ossibIe.
Lven under Nazi and Communisl ruIe il vas ¡ossibIe for resislers
lo communicale nol onIy vilh olher individuaIs bul even vilh Iarge
¡ubIic audiences lhrough lhe ¡roduclion of iIIegaI nevs¡a¡ers,
Iea"els, books, and in Ialer years vilh audio and video casselles.
Wilh lhe advanlage of ¡rior slralegic ¡Ianning, generaI guide-
Iines for resislance can be ¡re¡ared and disseminaled. These can
indicale lhe issues and circumslances under vhich lhe ¡o¡uIalion
shouId ¡rolesl and vilhhoId coo¡eralion, and hov lhis mighl be
done. Then, even if communicalions from lhe democralic Ieader-
shi¡ are severed, and s¡eci!c inslruclions have nol been issued or
received, lhe ¡o¡uIalion viII knov hov lo acl on cerlain im¡orlanl
issues. Such guideIines vouId aIso ¡rovide a lesl lo idenlify counler-
feil ¨resislance inslruclions¨ issued by lhe ¡oIilicaI ¡oIice designed
lo ¡rovoke discrediling aclion.
RcprcssInn and cnuntcrmcasurcs
Slralegic ¡Ianners viII need lo assess lhe IikeIy res¡onses and re-
¡ression, es¡eciaIIy lhe lhreshoId of vioIence, of lhe diclalorshi¡
lo lhe aclions of lhe democralic resislance. Il viII be necessary lo
delermine hov lo vilhsland, counleracl, or avoid lhis ¡ossibIe
increased re¡ression vilhoul submission. TaclicaIIy, for s¡eci!c
occasions, a¡¡ro¡riale varnings lo lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe resislers
aboul ex¡ecled re¡ression vouId be in order, so lhal lhey viII knov
lhe risks of ¡arlici¡alion. If re¡ression may be serious, ¡re¡aralions
for medicaI assislance for vounded resislers shouId be made.
Anlici¡aling re¡ression, lhe slralegisls viII do veII lo consider
in advance lhe use of laclics and melhods lhal viII conlribule lo
achieving lhe s¡eci!c goaI of a cam¡aign, or Iiberalion, bul lhal viII
make brulaI re¡ression Iess IikeIy or Iess ¡ossibIe. Ior exam¡Ie, slreel
demonslralions and ¡arades againsl exlreme diclalorshi¡s may be
dramalic, bul lhey may aIso risk lhousands of dead demonslralors.
The high cosl lo lhe demonslralors may nol, hovever, acluaIIy a¡-
¡Iy more ¡ressure on lhe diclalorshi¡ lhan vouId occur lhrough
everyone slaying home, a slrike, or massive acls of noncoo¡eralion
from lhe civiI servanls.
56 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 57
If il has been ¡ro¡osed lhal ¡rovocalive resislance aclion
risking high casuaIlies viII be required for a slralegic ¡ur¡ose,
lhen one shouId very carefuIIy consider lhe ¡ro¡osaI's cosls and
¡ossibIe gains. WiII lhe ¡o¡uIalion and lhe resislers be IikeIy lo
behave in a disci¡Iined and nonvioIenl manner during lhe course
of lhe slruggIe` Can lhey resisl ¡rovocalions lo vioIence` IIanners
musl consider vhal measures may be laken lo kee¡ nonvioIenl
disci¡Iine and mainlain lhe resislance des¡ile brulaIilies. WiII such
measures as ¡Iedges, ¡oIicy slalemenls, disci¡Iine Iea"els, marshaIs
for demonslralions, and boycolls of ¡ro-vioIence ¡ersons and grou¡s
be ¡ossibIe and effeclive` Leaders shouId aIvays be aIerl for lhe
¡resence of cgcnis prctcccicurs vhose mission viII be lo incile lhe
demonslralors lo vioIence.
AdhcrIng tn thc stratcgIc p!an
Ònce a sound slralegic ¡Ian is in ¡Iace, lhe democralic forces
shouId nol be dislracled by minor moves of lhe diclalors lhal may
lem¡l lhem lo de¡arl from lhe grand slralegy and lhe slralegy for a
¡arlicuIar cam¡aign, causing lhem lo focus ma|or aclivilies on unim-
¡orlanl issues. Nor shouId lhe emolions of lhe momenl ÷ ¡erha¡s
in res¡onse lo nev brulaIilies by lhe diclalorshi¡ ÷ be aIIoved lo
diverl lhe democralic resislance from ils grand slralegy or lhe cam-
¡aign slralegy. The brulaIilies may have been ¡er¡elraled ¡reciseIy
in order lo ¡rovoke lhe democralic forces lo abandon lheir veII-Iaid
¡Ian and even lo commil vioIenl acls in order lhal lhe diclalors couId
more easiIy defeal lhem.
As Iong as lhe basic anaIysis is |udged lo be sound, lhe lask of lhe
¡ro-democracy forces is lo ¡ress forvard slage by slage. Òf course,
changes in laclics and inlermediale ob|eclives viII occur and good
Ieaders viII aIvays be ready lo ex¡Ioil o¡¡orlunilies. These ad|usl-
menls shouId nol be confused vilh ob|eclives of lhe grand slralegy
or lhe ob|eclives of lhe s¡eci!c cam¡aign. CarefuI im¡Iemenlalion of
lhe chosen grand slralegy and of slralegies for ¡arlicuIar cam¡aigns
viII grealIy conlribule lo success.
APPLYING POLITICAL DEFIANCE
In silualions in vhich lhe ¡o¡uIalion feeIs ¡overIess and frighlened,
il is im¡orlanl lhal iniliaI lasks for lhe ¡ubIic be Iov-risk, con!dence-
buiIding aclions. These ly¡es of aclions ÷ such as vearing one's
cIolhes in an unusuaI vay ÷ may ¡ubIicIy regisler a dissenling
o¡inion and ¡rovide an o¡¡orlunily for lhe ¡ubIic lo ¡arlici¡ale
signi!canlIy in acls of dissenl. In olher cases a reIaliveIy minor (on
lhe surface) non¡oIilicaI issue (such as securing a safe valer su¡¡Iy)
mighl be made lhe focus for grou¡ aclion. Slralegisls shouId choose
an issue lhe merils of vhich viII be videIy recognized and dif!cuIl
lo re|ecl. Success in such Iimiled cam¡aigns couId nol onIy correcl
s¡eci!c grievances bul aIso convince lhe ¡o¡uIalion lhal il indeed
has ¡over ¡olenliaI.
Mosl of lhe slralegies of cam¡aigns in lhe Iong-lerm slruggIe
shouId not aim for lhe immediale com¡Iele dovnfaII of lhe diclalor-
shi¡, bul inslead for gaining Iimiled ob|eclives. Nor does every cam-
¡aign require lhe ¡arlici¡alion of aII seclions of lhe ¡o¡uIalion.
In conlem¡Ialing a series of s¡eci!c cam¡aigns lo im¡Iemenl
lhe grand slralegy, lhe de!ance slralegisls need lo consider hov lhe
cam¡aigns al lhe beginning, lhe middIe, and near lhe concIusion of
lhe Iong-lerm slruggIe viII differ from each olher.
In lhe iniliaI slages of lhe slruggIe, se¡arale cam¡aigns vilh differ-
enl s¡eci!c ob|eclives can be very usefuI. Such seIeclive cam¡aigns
may foIIov one afler lhe olher. ÒccasionaIIy, lvo or lhree mighl
overIa¡ in lime.
In ¡Ianning a slralegy for ¨seIeclive resislance¨ il is necessary
lo idenlify s¡eci!c Iimiled issues or grievances lhal symboIize lhe
generaI o¡¡ression of lhe diclalorshi¡. Such issues may be lhe a¡-
¡ro¡riale largels for conducling cam¡aigns lo gain inlermediary
slralegic ob|eclives vilhin lhe overaII grand slralegy.
These inlermediary slralegic ob|eclives need lo be allainabIe
by lhe currenl or ¡ro|ecled ¡over ca¡acily of lhe democralic forces.
This heI¡s lo ensure a series of viclories, vhich are good for moraIe,
and aIso conlribule lo advanlageous incremenlaI shifls in ¡over
reIalions for lhe Iong-lerm slruggIe.
SeIeclive resislance slralegies shouId concenlrale ¡rimariIy on
s¡eci!c sociaI, economic, or ¡oIilicaI issues. These may be chosen in
order lo kee¡ some ¡arl of lhe sociaI and ¡oIilicaI syslem oul of lhe
diclalors' conlroI, lo regain conlroI of some ¡arl currenlIy conlroIIed
by lhe diclalors, or lo deny lhe diclalors a ¡arlicuIar ob|eclive. If
¡ossibIe, lhe cam¡aign of seIeclive resislance shouId aIso slrike al
one veakness or more of lhe diclalorshi¡, as aIready discussed.
Thereby, democrals can make lhe grealesl ¡ossibIe im¡acl vilh lheir
avaiIabIe ¡over ca¡acily.
Very earIy lhe slralegisls need lo ¡Ian al Ieasl lhe slralegy for lhe
!rsl cam¡aign. Whal are lo be ils Iimiled ob|eclives` Hov viII il heI¡
fuI!II lhe chosen grand slralegy` If ¡ossibIe, il is vise lo formuIale
al Ieasl lhe generaI oulIines of slralegies for a second and ¡ossibIy
a lhird cam¡aign. AII such slralegies viII need lo im¡Iemenl lhe
chosen grand slralegy and o¡erale vilhin ils generaI guideIines.
Al lhe beginning of a nev cam¡aign lo undermine lhe diclalorshi¡,
lhe !rsl more s¡eci!caIIy ¡oIilicaI aclions may be Iimiled in sco¡e.
They shouId be designed in ¡arl lo lesl and in"uence lhe mood of
lhe ¡o¡uIalion, and lo ¡re¡are lhem for conlinuing slruggIe lhrough
noncoo¡eralion and ¡oIilicaI de!ance.
The iniliaI aclion is IikeIy lo lake lhe form of symboIic ¡rolesl
or may be a symboIic acl of Iimiled or lem¡orary noncoo¡eralion.
If lhe number of ¡ersons viIIing lo acl is smaII, lhen lhe iniliaI acl
mighl, for exam¡Ie, invoIve ¡Iacing "overs al a ¡Iace of symboIic
im¡orlance. Òn lhe olher hand, if lhe number of ¡ersons viIIing lo
acl is very Iarge, lhen a !ve minule haIl lo aII aclivilies or severaI
minules of siIence mighl be used. In olher silualions, a fev indi-
60 Gcnc Sncrp
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viduaIs mighl underlake a hunger slrike, a vigiI al a ¡Iace of symboIic
im¡orlance, a brief sludenl boycoll of cIasses, or a lem¡orary sil-in
al an im¡orlanl of!ce. Inder a diclalorshi¡ lhese more aggressive
aclions vouId mosl IikeIy be mel vilh harsh re¡ression.
Cerlain symboIic acls, such as a ¡hysicaI occu¡alion in fronl
of lhe diclalor's ¡aIace or ¡oIilicaI ¡oIice headquarlers may invoIve
high risk and are lherefore nol advisabIe for inilialing a cam¡aign.
IniliaI symboIic ¡rolesl aclions have al limes aroused ma|or
nalionaI and inlernalionaI allenlion ÷ as lhe mass slreel demonslra-
lions in ßurma in 1988 or lhe sludenl occu¡alion and hunger slrike
in Tiananman Square in ßei|ing in 1989. The high casuaIlies of dem-
onslralors in bolh of lhese cases ¡oinls lo lhe greal care slralegisls
musl exercise in ¡Ianning cam¡aigns. AIlhough having a lremen-
dous moraI and ¡sychoIogicaI im¡acl, such aclions by lhemseIves
are unIikeIy lo bring dovn a diclalorshi¡, for lhey remain IargeIy
symboIic and do nol aIler lhe ¡over ¡osilion of lhe diclalorshi¡.
Il usuaIIy is nol ¡ossibIe lo sever lhe avaiIabiIily of lhe sources
of ¡over lo lhe diclalors com¡IeleIy and ra¡idIy al lhe beginning of
a slruggIe. Thal vouId require virluaIIy lhe vhoIe ¡o¡uIalion and
aImosl aII lhe inslilulions of lhe sociely ÷ vhich had ¡reviousIy been
IargeIy submissive ÷ lo re|ecl absoIuleIy lhe regime and suddenIy defy
il by massive and slrong noncoo¡eralion. Thal has nol yel occurred
and vouId be mosl dif!cuIl lo achieve. In mosl cases, lherefore, a
quick cam¡aign of fuII noncoo¡eralion and de!ance is an unreaIislic
slralegy for an earIy cam¡aign againsl lhe diclalorshi¡.
During a seIeclive resislance cam¡aign lhe brunl of lhe slruggIe is
for a lime usuaIIy borne by one seclion or more of lhe ¡o¡uIalion.
In a Ialer cam¡aign vilh a differenl ob|eclive, lhe burden of lhe
slruggIe vouId be shifled lo olher ¡o¡uIalion grou¡s. Ior exam¡Ie,
sludenls mighl conducl slrikes on an educalionaI issue, reIigious
Ieaders and beIievers mighl concenlrale on a freedom of reIigion
issue, raiI vorkers mighl melicuIousIy obey safely reguIalions so as
lo sIov dovn lhe raiI lrans¡orl syslem, |ournaIisls mighl chaIIenge
censorshi¡ by ¡ubIishing ¡a¡ers vilh bIank s¡aces in vhich ¡rohib-
iled arlicIes vouId have a¡¡eared, or ¡oIice mighl re¡ealedIy faiI
lo Iocale and arresl vanled members of lhe democralic o¡¡osilion.
Ihasing resislance cam¡aigns by issue and ¡o¡uIalion grou¡ viII
aIIov cerlain segmenls of lhe ¡o¡uIalion lo resl vhiIe resislance
SeIeclive resislance is es¡eciaIIy im¡orlanl ic !cjcn! lhe exis-
lence and aulonomy of inde¡endenl sociaI, economic, and ¡oIilicaI
grou¡s and inslilulions oulside lhe conlroI of lhe diclalorshi¡, vhich
vere brie"y discussed earIier. These cenlers of ¡over ¡rovide lhe
inslilulionaI bases from vhich lhe ¡o¡uIalion can exerl ¡ressure or
can resisl diclaloriaI conlroIs. In lhe slruggIe, lhey are IikeIy lo be
among lhe !rsl largels of lhe diclalorshi¡.
AImIng at thc dIctatnrs' pnwcr
As lhe Iong-lerm slruggIe deveIo¡s beyond lhe iniliaI slralegies inlo
more ambilious and advanced ¡hases, lhe slralegisls viII need lo
caIcuIale hov lhe diclalors' sources of ¡over can be furlher reslricled.
The aim vouId be lo use ¡o¡uIar noncoo¡eralion lo creale a nev
more advanlageous slralegic silualion for lhe democralic forces.
As lhe democralic resislance forces gained slrenglh, slralegisls
vouId ¡Iol more ambilious noncoo¡eralion and de!ance lo sever
lhe diclalorshi¡s' sources of ¡over, vilh lhe goaI of ¡roducing in-
creasing ¡oIilicaI ¡araIysis, and in lhe end lhe disinlegralion of lhe
Il viII be necessary lo ¡Ian carefuIIy hov lhe democralic forces
can veaken lhe su¡¡orl lhal ¡eo¡Ie and grou¡s have ¡reviousIy of-
fered lo lhe diclalorshi¡. WiII lheir su¡¡orl be veakened by reveIa-
lions of lhe brulaIilies ¡er¡elraled by lhe regime, by ex¡osure of lhe
disaslrous economic consequences of lhe diclalors' ¡oIicies, or by a
nev underslanding lhal lhe diclalorshi¡ can be ended` The diclalors'
su¡¡orlers shouId al Ieasl be induced lo become ¨neulraI¨ in lheir
aclivilies (¨fence sillers¨) or ¡referabIy lo become aclive su¡¡orlers
of lhe movemenl for democracy.
During lhe ¡Ianning and im¡Iemenlalion of ¡oIilicaI de!ance
62 Gcnc Sncrp
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and noncoo¡eralion, il is highIy im¡orlanl lo ¡ay cIose allenlion
lo aII of lhe diclalors' main su¡¡orlers and aides, incIuding lheir
inner cIique, ¡oIilicaI ¡arly, ¡oIice, and bureaucrals, bul es¡eciaIIy
The degree of IoyaIly of lhe miIilary forces, bolh soIdiers and
of!cers, lo lhe diclalorshi¡ needs lo be carefuIIy assessed and a
delerminalion shouId be made as lo vhelher lhe miIilary is o¡en
lo in"uence by lhe democralic forces. Mighl many of lhe ordinary
soIdiers be unha¡¡y and frighlened conscri¡ls` Mighl many of lhe
soIdiers and of!cers be aIienaled from lhe regime for ¡ersonaI, fam-
iIy, or ¡oIilicaI reasons` Whal olher faclors mighl make soIdiers and
of!cers vuInerabIe lo democralic subversion`
LarIy in lhe Iiberalion slruggIe a s¡eciaI slralegy shouId be de-
veIo¡ed lo communicale vilh lhe diclalors' lroo¡s and funclionaries.
ßy vords, symboIs, and aclions, lhe democralic forces can inform lhe
lroo¡s lhal lhe Iiberalion slruggIe viII be vigorous, delermined, and
¡ersislenl. Troo¡s shouId Iearn lhal lhe slruggIe viII be of a s¡eciaI
characler, designed lo undermine lhe diclalorshi¡ bul nol lo lhrealen
lheir Iives. Such efforls vouId aim uIlimaleIy lo undermine lhe moraIe
of lhe diclalors' lroo¡s and !naIIy lo subverl lheir IoyaIly and obedi-
ence in favor of lhe democralic movemenl. SimiIar slralegies couId
be aimed al lhe ¡oIice and civiI servanls.
The allem¡l lo garner sym¡alhy from and, evenluaIIy, induce
disobedience among lhe diclalors' forces oughl nol lo be inler¡reled,
hovever, lo mean encouragemenl of lhe miIilary forces lo make a
quick end lo lhe currenl diclalorshi¡ lhrough miIilary aclion. Such
a scenario is nol IikeIy lo inslaII a vorking democracy, for (as ve
have discussed) a cou¡ d'ólal does IillIe lo redress lhe imbaIance of
¡over reIalions belveen lhe ¡o¡uIace and lhe ruIers. Therefore, il
viII be necessary lo ¡Ian hov sym¡alhelic miIilary of!cers can be
broughl lo undersland lhal neilher a miIilary cou¡ nor a civiI var
againsl lhe diclalorshi¡ is required or desirabIe.
Sym¡alhelic of!cers can ¡Iay vilaI roIes in lhe democralic
slruggIe, such as s¡reading disaffeclion and noncoo¡eralion in lhe
miIilary forces, encouraging deIiberale inef!ciencies and lhe quiel
ignoring of orders, and su¡¡orling lhe refusaI lo carry oul re¡res-
sion. MiIilary ¡ersonneI may aIso offer various modes of ¡osilive
nonvioIenl assislance lo lhe democracy movemenl, incIuding safe
¡assage, informalion, food, medicaI su¡¡Iies, and lhe Iike.
The army is one of lhe mosl im¡orlanl sources of lhe ¡over of
diclalors because il can use ils disci¡Iined miIilary unils and vea¡-
onry direclIy lo allack and lo ¡unish lhe disobedienl ¡o¡uIalion.
Dc!cncc sircicgisis sncu|! rcmcm|cr inci ii ui|| |c cxccpiicnc||q !ij!cu|i,
cr impcssi||c, ic !isinicgrcic inc !icicicrsnip ij inc pc|icc, |urccucrcis, cn!
mi|iicrq jcrccs rcmcin ju||q suppcriitc cj inc !icicicrsnip cn! c|c!icni in
ccrrqing cui iis ccmmcn!s. Slralegies aimed al subverling lhe IoyaIly
of lhe diclalors' forces shouId lherefore be given a high ¡riorily by
The democralic forces shouId remember lhal disaffeclion and
disobedience among lhe miIilary forces and ¡oIice can be highIy
dangerous for lhe members of lhose grou¡s. SoIdiers and ¡oIice
couId ex¡ecl severe ¡enaIlies for any acl of disobedience and execu-
lion for acls of muliny. The democralic forces shouId nol ask lhe
soIdiers and of!cers lhal lhey immedialeIy muliny. Inslead, vhere
communicalion is ¡ossibIe, il shouId be made cIear lhal lhere are a
muIlilude of reIaliveIy safe forms of ¨disguised disobedience¨ lhal
lhey can lake iniliaIIy. Ior exam¡Ie, ¡oIice and lroo¡s can carry oul
inslruclions for re¡ression inef!cienlIy, faiI lo Iocale vanled ¡ersons,
varn resislers of im¡ending re¡ression, arresls, or de¡orlalions, and
faiI lo re¡orl im¡orlanl informalion lo lheir su¡erior of!cers. Disaf-
fecled of!cers in lurn can negIecl lo reIay commands for re¡ression
dovn lhe chain of command. SoIdiers may shool over lhe heads of
demonslralors. SimiIarIy, for lheir ¡arl, civiI servanls can Iose !Ies
and inslruclions, vork inef!cienlIy, and become ¨iII¨ so lhal lhey
need lo slay home unliI lhey ¨recover.¨
5hIIts In stratcgy
The ¡oIilicaI de!ance slralegisls viII need conslanlIy lo assess hov
lhe grand slralegy and lhe s¡eci!c cam¡aign slralegies are being
im¡Iemenled. Il is ¡ossibIe, for exam¡Ie, lhal lhe slruggIe may nol
go as veII as ex¡ecled. In lhal case il viII be necessary lo caIcuIale
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vhal shifls in slralegy mighl be required. Whal can be done lo in-
crease lhe movemenl's slrenglh and regain lhe inilialive` In such
a silualion, il viII be necessary lo idenlify lhe ¡robIem, make a
slralegic reassessmenl, ¡ossibIy shifl slruggIe res¡onsibiIilies lo a
differenl ¡o¡uIalion grou¡, mobiIize addilionaI sources of ¡over,
and deveIo¡ aIlernalive courses of aclion. When lhal is done, lhe
nev ¡Ian shouId be im¡Iemenled immedialeIy.
ConverseIy, if lhe slruggIe has gone much beller lhan ex¡ecled
and lhe diclalorshi¡ is coIIa¡sing earIier lhan ¡reviousIy caIcuIaled,
hov can lhe democralic forces ca¡ilaIize on unex¡ecled gains and
move lovard ¡araIyzing lhe diclalorshi¡` We viII ex¡Iore lhis ques-
lion in lhe foIIoving cha¡ler.
DI5INTEGRATING THE DICTATOR5HIP
The cumuIalive effecl of veII-conducled and successfuI ¡oIilicaI
de!ance cam¡aigns is lo slrenglhen lhe resislance and lo eslabIish
and ex¡and areas of lhe sociely vhere lhe diclalorshi¡ faces Iimils
on ils effeclive conlroI. These cam¡aigns aIso ¡rovide im¡orlanl
ex¡erience in hov lo refuse coo¡eralion and hov lo offer ¡oIilicaI
de!ance. Thal ex¡erience viII be of greal assislance vhen lhe lime
comes for noncoo¡eralion and de!ance on a mass scaIe.
As vas discussed in Cha¡ler Three, obedience, coo¡eralion,
and submission are essenliaI if diclalors are lo be ¡overfuI. Wilh-
oul access lo lhe sources of ¡oIilicaI ¡over, lhe diclalors' ¡over
veakens and !naIIy dissoIves. WilhdravaI of su¡¡orl is lherefore
lhe ma|or required aclion lo disinlegrale a diclalorshi¡. Il may be
usefuI lo reviev hov lhe sources of ¡over can be affecled by ¡oIili-
Acls of symboIic re¡udialion and de!ance are among lhe avaiI-
abIe means lo undermine lhe regime's moraI and ¡oIilicaI cuincr-
iiq ÷ ils Iegilimacy. The grealer lhe regime's aulhorily, lhe grealer
and more reIiabIe is lhe obedience and coo¡eralion vhich il viII
receive. MoraI disa¡¡rovaI needs lo be ex¡ressed in aclion in order
lo seriousIy lhrealen lhe exislence of lhe diclalorshi¡. WilhdravaI
of coo¡eralion and obedience are needed lo sever lhe avaiIabiIily of
olher sources of lhe regime's ¡over.
A second im¡orlanl such source of ¡over is numcn rcscurccs,
lhe number and im¡orlance of lhe ¡ersons and grou¡s lhal obey,
coo¡erale vilh, or assisl lhe ruIers. If noncoo¡eralion is ¡racliced by
Iarge ¡arls of lhe ¡o¡uIalion, lhe regime viII be in serious lroubIe.
Ior exam¡Ie, if lhe civiI servanls no Ionger funclion vilh lheir normaI
ef!ciency or even slay al home, lhe adminislralive a¡¡aralus viII
be graveIy affecled.
SimiIarIy, if lhe noncoo¡eraling ¡ersons and grou¡s incIude
lhose lhal have ¡reviousIy su¡¡Iied s¡eciaIized s|i||s cn! |ncu|-
c!gc, lhen lhe diclalors viII see lheir ca¡acily lo im¡Iemenl lheir
viII graveIy veakened. Lven lheir abiIily lo make veII-informed
decisions and deveIo¡ effeclive ¡oIicies may be seriousIy reduced.
If ¡sychoIogicaI and ideoIogicaI in"uences ÷ caIIed inicngi||c
jccicrs ÷ lhal usuaIIy induce ¡eo¡Ie lo obey and assisl lhe ruIers
are veakened or reversed, lhe ¡o¡uIalion viII be more incIined lo
disobey and lo noncoo¡erale.
The diclalors' access lo mcicric| rcscurccs aIso direclIy affecls
lheir ¡over. Wilh conlroI of !nanciaI resources, lhe economic
syslem, ¡ro¡erly, naluraI resources, lrans¡orlalion, and means of
communicalion in lhe hands of acluaI or ¡olenliaI o¡¡onenls of
lhe regime, anolher ma|or source of lheir ¡over is vuInerabIe or re-
moved. Slrikes, boycolls, and increasing aulonomy in lhe economy,
communicalions, and lrans¡orlalion viII veaken lhe regime.
As ¡reviousIy discussed, lhe diclalors' abiIily lo lhrealen or
a¡¡Iy scnciicns ÷ ¡unishmenls againsl lhe reslive, disobedienl, and
noncoo¡eralive seclions of lhe ¡o¡uIalion ÷ is a cenlraI source of
lhe ¡over of diclalors. This source of ¡over can be veakened in
lvo vays. Iirsl, if lhe ¡o¡uIalion is ¡re¡ared, as in a var, lo risk
serious consequences as lhe ¡rice of de!ance, lhe effecliveness of lhe
avaiIabIe sanclions viII be draslicaIIy reduced (lhal is, lhe diclalors'
re¡ression viII nol secure lhe desired submission). Second, if lhe
¡oIice and lhe miIilary forces lhemseIves become disaffecled, lhey
may on an individuaI or mass basis evade or oulrighl defy orders lo
arresl, beal, or shool resislers. If lhe diclalors can no Ionger reIy on
lhe ¡oIice and miIilary forces lo carry oul re¡ression, lhe diclalorshi¡
is graveIy lhrealened.
In summary, success againsl an enlrenched diclalorshi¡ requires
lhal noncoo¡eralion and de!ance reduce and remove lhe sources of
lhe regime's ¡over. Wilhoul conslanl re¡Ienishmenl of lhe necessary
sources of ¡over lhe diclalorshi¡ viII veaken and !naIIy disinle-
grale. Com¡elenl slralegic ¡Ianning of ¡oIilicaI de!ance againsl
diclalorshi¡s lherefore needs lo largel lhe diclalors' mosl im¡orlanl
sources of ¡over.
68 Gcnc Sncrp
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Combined vilh ¡oIilicaI de!ance during lhe ¡hase of seIeclive re-
sislance, lhe grovlh of aulonomous sociaI, economic, cuIluraI, and
¡oIilicaI inslilulions ¡rogressiveIy ex¡ands lhe ¨democralic s¡ace¨
of lhe sociely and shrinks lhe conlroI of lhe diclalorshi¡. As lhe civiI
inslilulions of lhe sociely become slronger vis-à-vis lhe diclalorshi¡,
lhen, vhalever lhe diclalors may vish, lhe ¡o¡uIalion is incremen-
laIIy buiIding an inde¡endenl sociely oulside of lheir conlroI. If and
vhen lhe diclalorshi¡ inlervenes lo haIl lhis ¨escaIaling freedom,¨
nonvioIenl slruggIe can be a¡¡Iied in defense of lhis nevIy von
s¡ace and lhe diclalorshi¡ viII be faced vilh yel anolher ¨fronl¨ in
In lime, lhis combinalion of resislance and inslilulion buiIding
can Iead lo !c jccic freedom, making lhe coIIa¡se of lhe diclalor-
shi¡ and lhe formaI inslaIIalion of a democralic syslem undeniabIe
because lhe ¡over reIalionshi¡s vilhin lhe sociely have been fun-
IoIand in lhe 197Os and 198Os ¡rovides a cIear exam¡Ie of lhe
¡rogressive recIaiming of a sociely's funclions and inslilulions by
lhe resislance. The CalhoIic church had been ¡erseculed bul never
broughl under fuII Communisl conlroI. In 1976 cerlain inleIIecluaIs
and vorkers formed smaII grou¡s such as K.Ò.R. (Workers Defense
Commillee) lo advance lheir ¡oIilicaI ideas. The organizalion of
lhe SoIidarily lrade union vilh ils ¡over lo vieId effeclive slrikes
forced ils ovn IegaIizalion in 198O. Ieasanls, sludenls, and many
olher grou¡s aIso formed lheir ovn inde¡endenl organizalions.
When lhe Communisls reaIized lhal lhese grou¡s had changed lhe
¡over reaIilies, SoIidarily vas again banned and lhe Communisls
resorled lo miIilary ruIe.
Lven under marliaI Iav, vilh many im¡risonmenls and harsh
¡erseculion, lhe nev inde¡endenl inslilulions of lhe sociely con-
linued lo funclion. Ior exam¡Ie, dozens of iIIegaI nevs¡a¡ers and
magazines conlinued lo be ¡ubIished. IIIegaI ¡ubIishing houses an-
nuaIIy issued hundreds of books, vhiIe veII-knovn vrilers boycol-
led Communisl ¡ubIicalions and governmenl ¡ubIishing houses.
SimiIar aclivilies conlinued in olher ¡arls of lhe sociely.
Inder lhe }aruseIski miIilary regime, lhe miIilary-Communisl
governmenl vas al one ¡oinl described as bouncing around on lhe
lo¡ of lhe sociely. The of!ciaIs sliII occu¡ied governmenl of!ces and
buiIdings. The regime couId sliII slrike dovn inlo lhe sociely, vilh
¡unishmenls, arresls, im¡risonmenl, seizure of ¡rinling ¡resses, and
lhe Iike. The diclalorshi¡, hovever, couId nol conlroI lhe sociely.
Irom lhal ¡oinl, il vas onIy a maller of lime unliI lhe sociely vas
abIe lo bring dovn lhe regime com¡IeleIy.
Lven vhiIe a diclalorshi¡ sliII occu¡ies governmenl ¡osilions
il is somelimes ¡ossibIe lo organize a democralic ¨¡araIIeI govern-
menl.¨ This vouId increasingIy o¡erale as a rivaI governmenl lo
vhich IoyaIly, com¡Iiance, and coo¡eralion are given by lhe ¡o¡u-
Ialion and lhe sociely's inslilulions. The diclalorshi¡ vouId lhen
consequenlIy, on an increasing basis, be de¡rived of lhese characler-
islics of governmenl. LvenluaIIy, lhe democralic ¡araIIeI governmenl
may fuIIy re¡Iace lhe diclaloriaI regime as ¡arl of lhe lransilion lo
a democralic syslem. In due course lhen a conslilulion vouId be
ado¡led and eIeclions heId as ¡arl of lhe lransilion.
DIsIntcgratIng thc dIctatnrshIp
WhiIe lhe inslilulionaI lransformalion of lhe sociely is laking ¡Iace,
lhe de!ance and noncoo¡eralion movemenl may escaIale. Slralegisls
of lhe democralic forces shouId conlem¡Iale earIy lhal lhere viII
come a lime vhen lhe democralic forces can move beyond seIeclive
resislance and Iaunch mass de!ance. In mosl cases, lime viII be
required for crealing, buiIding, or ex¡anding resislance ca¡acilies,
and lhe deveIo¡menl of mass de!ance may occur onIy afler severaI
years. During lhis inlerim ¡eriod cam¡aigns of seIeclive resislance
shouId be Iaunched vilh increasingIy im¡orlanl ¡oIilicaI ob|eclives.
Larger ¡arls of lhe ¡o¡uIalion al aII IeveIs of lhe sociely shouId be-
come invoIved. Given delermined and disci¡Iined ¡oIilicaI de!ance
during lhis escaIalion of aclivilies, lhe inlernaI veaknesses of lhe
diclalorshi¡ are IikeIy lo become increasingIy obvious.
70 Gcnc Sncrp
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The combinalion of slrong ¡oIilicaI de!ance and lhe buiIding
of inde¡endenl inslilulions is IikeIy in lime lo ¡roduce vides¡read
inlernalionaI allenlion favorabIe lo lhe democralic forces. Il may aIso
¡roduce inlernalionaI di¡Iomalic condemnalions, boycolls, and em-
bargoes in su¡¡orl of lhe democralic forces (as il did for IoIand).
Slralegisls shouId be avare lhal in some silualions lhe coIIa¡se
of lhe diclalorshi¡ may occur exlremeIy ra¡idIy, as in Lasl Germany
in 1989. This can ha¡¡en vhen lhe sources of ¡over are massiveIy
severed as a resuIl of lhe vhoIe ¡o¡uIalion's revuIsion againsl lhe
diclalorshi¡. This ¡allern is nol usuaI, hovever, and il is beller lo
¡Ian for a Iong-lerm slruggIe (bul lo be ¡re¡ared for a shorl one).
During lhe course of lhe Iiberalion slruggIe, viclories, even on
Iimiled issues, shouId be ceIebraled. Those vho have earned lhe
viclory shouId be recognized. CeIebralions vilh vigiIance shouId
aIso heI¡ lo kee¡ u¡ lhe moraIe needed for fulure slages of lhe
Hand!Ing succcss rcspnnsIb!y
IIanners of lhe grand slralegy shouId caIcuIale in advance lhe ¡os-
sibIe and ¡referred vays in vhich a successfuI slruggIe mighl besl
be concIuded in order lo ¡revenl lhe rise of a nev diclalorshi¡ and lo
ensure lhe graduaI eslabIishmenl of a durabIe democralic syslem.
The democrals shouId caIcuIale hov lhe lransilion from lhe
diclalorshi¡ lo lhe inlerim governmenl shaII be handIed al lhe end
of lhe slruggIe. Il is desirabIe al lhal lime lo eslabIish quickIy a nev
funclioning governmenl. Hovever, il musl nol be mereIy lhe oId
one vilh nev ¡ersonneI. Il is necessary lo caIcuIale vhal seclions of
lhe oId governmenlaI slruclure (as lhe ¡oIilicaI ¡oIice) are lo be com-
¡IeleIy aboIished because of lheir inherenl anli-democralic characler
and vhich seclions relained lo be sub|ecled lo Ialer democralizalion
efforls. A com¡Iele governmenlaI void couId o¡en lhe vay lo chaos
or a nev diclalorshi¡.
Thoughl shouId be given in advance lo delermine vhal is lo be
lhe ¡oIicy lovard high of!ciaIs of lhe diclalorshi¡ vhen ils ¡over
disinlegrales. Ior exam¡Ie, are lhe diclalors lo be broughl lo lriaI in
a courl` Are lhey lo be ¡ermilled lo Ieave lhe counlry ¡ermanenlIy`
Whal olher o¡lions may lhere be lhal are consislenl vilh ¡oIilicaI
de!ance, lhe need for reconslrucling lhe counlry, and buiIding a
democracy foIIoving lhe viclory` A bIood balh musl be avoided
vhich couId have draslic consequences on lhe ¡ossibiIily of a fulure
S¡eci!c ¡Ians for lhe lransilion lo democracy shouId be ready
for a¡¡Iicalion vhen lhe diclalorshi¡ is veakening or coIIa¡ses.
Such ¡Ians viII heI¡ lo ¡revenl anolher grou¡ from seizing slale
¡over lhrough a cou¡ d'ólal. IIans for lhe inslilulion of democralic
conslilulionaI governmenl vilh fuII ¡oIilicaI and ¡ersonaI Iiberlies
viII aIso be required. The changes von al a greal ¡rice shouId nol
be Iosl lhrough Iack of ¡Ianning.
When confronled vilh lhe increasingIy em¡overed ¡o¡uIalion
and lhe grovlh of inde¡endenl democralic grou¡s and inslilulions ÷
bolh of vhich lhe diclalorshi¡ is unabIe lo conlroI ÷ lhe diclalors viII
!nd lhal lheir vhoIe venlure is unraveIIing. Massive shul-dovns of
lhe sociely, generaI slrikes, mass slay-al-homes, de!anl marches, or
olher aclivilies viII increasingIy undermine lhe diclalors' ovn orga-
nizalion and reIaled inslilulions. As a consequence of such de!ance
and noncoo¡eralion, execuled viseIy and vilh mass ¡arlici¡alion
over lime, lhe diclalors vouId become ¡overIess and lhe democralic
defenders vouId, vilhoul vioIence, lrium¡h. The diclalorshi¡ vouId
disinlegrale before lhe de!anl ¡o¡uIalion.
Nol every such efforl viII succeed, es¡eciaIIy nol easiIy, and
rareIy quickIy. Il shouId be remembered lhal as many miIilary vars
are Iosl as are von. Hovever, ¡oIilicaI de!ance offers a reaI ¡ossibiIi-
ly of viclory. As slaled earIier, lhal ¡ossibiIily can be grealIy increased
lhrough lhe deveIo¡menl of a vise grand slralegy, carefuI slralegic
¡Ianning, hard vork, and disci¡Iined courageous slruggIe.
72 Gcnc Sncrp
GROUNDWORK FOR DURABLE DEMOCRACY
The disinlegralion of lhe diclalorshi¡ is of course a cause for ma|or
ceIebralion. Ieo¡Ie vho have suffered for so Iong and slruggIed
al greal ¡rice meril a lime of |oy, reIaxalion, and recognilion. They
shouId feeI ¡roud of lhemseIves and of aII vho slruggIed vilh lhem
lo vin ¡oIilicaI freedom. Nol aII viII have Iived lo see lhis day. The
Iiving and lhe dead viII be remembered as heroes vho heI¡ed lo
sha¡e lhe hislory of freedom in lheir counlry.
InforlunaleIy, lhis is nol a lime for a reduclion in vigiIance.
Lven in lhe evenl of a successfuI disinlegralion of lhe diclalorshi¡
by ¡oIilicaI de!ance, carefuI ¡recaulions musl be laken lo ¡revenl
lhe rise of a nev o¡¡ressive regime oul of lhe confusion foIIoving
lhe coIIa¡se of lhe oId one. The Ieaders of lhe ¡ro-democracy forces
shouId have ¡re¡ared in advance for an orderIy lransilion lo a de-
mocracy. The diclaloriaI slruclures viII need lo be dismanlIed. The
conslilulionaI and IegaI bases and slandards of behavior of a durabIe
democracy viII need lo be buiIl.
No one shouId beIieve lhal vilh lhe dovnfaII of lhe diclalorshi¡
an ideaI sociely viII immedialeIy a¡¡ear. The disinlegralion of lhe
diclalorshi¡ sim¡Iy ¡rovides lhe beginning ¡oinl, under condilions
of enhanced freedom, for Iong-lerm efforls lo im¡rove lhe sociely and
meel human needs more adequaleIy. Serious ¡oIilicaI, economic, and
sociaI ¡robIems viII conlinue for years, requiring lhe coo¡eralion of
many ¡eo¡Ie and grou¡s in seeking lheir resoIulion. The nev ¡oIili-
caI syslem shouId ¡rovide lhe o¡¡orlunilies for ¡eo¡Ie vilh varying
oulIooks and favored measures lo conlinue conslruclive vork and
¡oIicy deveIo¡menl lo deaI vilh ¡robIems in lhe fulure.
Thrcats nI a ncw dIctatnrshIp
ArislolIe varned Iong ago lhal ¨. . . lyranny can aIso change inlo
lyranny. . .¨
There is am¡Ie hisloricaI evidence from Irance (lhe
ArislolIe, 1nc Pc|iiics, ßook V, Cha¡ler 12, ¡. 233.
}acobins and Na¡oIeon), Russia (lhe ßoIsheviks), Iran (lhe AyaloI-
Iah), ßurma (SLÒRC), and eIsevhere lhal lhe coIIa¡se of an o¡¡res-
sive regime viII be seen by some ¡ersons and grou¡s as mereIy lhe
o¡¡orlunily for lhem lo sle¡ in as lhe nev maslers. Their molives
may vary, bul lhe resuIls are oflen a¡¡roximaleIy lhe same. The
nev diclalorshi¡ may even be more crueI and lolaI in ils conlroI
lhan lhe oId one.
Lven before lhe coIIa¡se of lhe diclalorshi¡, members of lhe oId
regime may allem¡l lo cul shorl lhe de!ance slruggIe for democracy
by slaging a cou¡ d'ólal designed lo ¡reem¡l viclory by lhe ¡o¡uIar
resislance. Il may cIaim lo ousl lhe diclalorshi¡, bul in facl seek onIy
lo im¡ose a nev refurbished modeI of lhe oId one.
There are vays in vhich cou¡s againsl nevIy Iiberaled socielies can
be defealed. Advance knovIedge of lhal defense ca¡acily may al
limes be suf!cienl lo deler lhe allem¡l. Ire¡aralion can ¡roduce
ImmedialeIy afler a cou¡ is slarled, lhe ¡ulschisls require Ie-
gilimacy, lhal is, acce¡lance of lheir moraI and ¡oIilicaI righl lo ruIe.
The !rsl basic ¡rinci¡Ie of anli-cou¡ defense is lherefore lo deny
Iegilimacy lo lhe ¡ulschisls.
The ¡ulschisls aIso require lhal lhe civiIian Ieaders and ¡o¡uIa-
lion be su¡¡orlive, confused, or |usl ¡assive. The ¡ulschisls require
lhe coo¡eralion of s¡eciaIisls and advisors, bureaucrals and civiI
servanls, adminislralors and |udges in order lo consoIidale lheir
conlroI over lhe affecled sociely. The ¡ulschisls aIso require lhal lhe
muIlilude of ¡eo¡Ie vho o¡erale lhe ¡oIilicaI syslem, lhe sociely's
inslilulions, lhe economy, lhe ¡oIice, and lhe miIilary forces viII
¡assiveIy submil and carry oul lheir usuaI funclions as modi!ed by
lhe ¡ulschisls' orders and ¡oIicies.
The second basic ¡rinci¡Ie of anli-cou¡ defense is lo resisl lhe
¡ulschisls vilh noncoo¡eralion and de!ance. The needed coo¡era-
lion and assislance musl be denied. LssenliaIIy lhe same means of
slruggIe lhal vas used againsl lhe diclalorshi¡ can be used againsl
74 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 75
lhe nev lhreal, bul a¡¡Iied immedialeIy. If bolh Iegilimacy and
coo¡eralion are denied, lhe cou¡ may die of ¡oIilicaI slarvalion and
lhe chance lo buiId a democralic sociely reslored.
The nev democralic syslem viII require a conslilulion lhal eslab-
Iishes lhe desired framevork of lhe democralic governmenl. The
conslilulion shouId sel lhe ¡ur¡oses of governmenl, Iimils on
governmenlaI ¡overs, lhe means and liming of eIeclions by vhich
governmenlaI of!ciaIs and IegisIalors viII be chosen, lhe inherenl
righls of lhe ¡eo¡Ie, and lhe reIalion of lhe nalionaI governmenl lo
olher Iover IeveIs of governmenl.
Wilhin lhe cenlraI governmenl, if il is lo remain democralic,
a cIear division of aulhorily shouId be eslabIished belveen lhe
IegisIalive, execulive, and |udiciaI branches of governmenl. Slrong
reslriclions shouId be incIuded on aclivilies of lhe ¡oIice, inleIIigence
services, and miIilary forces lo ¡rohibil any IegaI ¡oIilicaI inlerfer-
In lhe inleresls of ¡reserving lhe democralic syslem and im-
¡eding diclaloriaI lrends and measures, lhe conslilulion shouId
¡referabIy be one lhal eslabIishes a federaI syslem vilh signi!canl
¡rerogalives reserved for lhe regionaI, slale, and IocaI IeveIs of gov-
ernmenl. In some silualions lhe Sviss syslem of canlons mighl be
considered in vhich reIaliveIy smaII areas relain ma|or ¡rerogalives,
vhiIe remaining a ¡arl of lhe vhoIe counlry.
If a conslilulion vilh many of lhese fealures exisled earIier in
lhe nevIy Iiberaled counlry's hislory, il may be vise sim¡Iy lo reslore
il lo o¡eralion, amending il as deemed necessary and desirabIe. If
a suilabIe oIder conslilulion is nol ¡resenl, il may be necessary lo
o¡erale vilh an inlerim conslilulion. Òlhervise, a nev conslilu-
lion viII need lo be ¡re¡ared. Ire¡aring a nev conslilulion viII
lake considerabIe lime and lhoughl. Io¡uIar ¡arlici¡alion in lhis
¡rocess is desirabIe and required for rali!calion of a nev lexl or
amendmenls. Òne shouId be very caulious aboul incIuding in lhe
conslilulion ¡romises lhal Ialer mighl ¡rove im¡ossibIe lo im¡Ie-
menl or ¡rovisions lhal vouId require a highIy cenlraIized govern-
menl, for bolh can faciIilale a nev diclalorshi¡.
The vording of lhe conslilulion shouId be easiIy underslood
by lhe ma|orily of lhe ¡o¡uIalion. A conslilulion shouId nol be so
com¡Iex or ambiguous lhal onIy Iavyers or olher eIiles can cIaim
lo undersland il.
A dcmncratIc dcIcnsc pn!Icy
The Iiberaled counlry may aIso face foreign lhreals for vhich a
defense ca¡acily vouId be required. The counlry mighl aIso be
lhrealened by foreign allem¡ls lo eslabIish economic, ¡oIilicaI, or
In lhe inleresls of mainlaining inlernaI democracy, serious
consideralion shouId be given lo a¡¡Iying lhe basic ¡rinci¡Ies of
¡oIilicaI de!ance lo lhe needs of nalionaI defense.
ßy ¡Iacing resis-
lance ca¡acily direclIy in lhe hands of lhe cilizenry, nevIy Iiberaled
counlries couId avoid lhe need lo eslabIish a slrong miIilary ca¡ac-
ily vhich couId ilseIf lhrealen democracy or require vasl economic
resources much needed for olher ¡ur¡oses.
Il musl be remembered lhal some grou¡s viII ignore any con-
slilulionaI ¡rovision in lheir aim lo eslabIish lhemseIves as nev
diclalors. Therefore, a ¡ermanenl roIe viII exisl for lhe ¡o¡uIalion lo
a¡¡Iy ¡oIilicaI de!ance and noncoo¡eralion againsl vouId-be dicla-
lors and lo ¡reserve democralic slruclures, righls, and ¡rocedures.
A mcrItnrInus rcspnnsIbI!Ity
The effecl of nonvioIenl slruggIe is nol onIy lo veaken and remove
lhe diclalors bul aIso lo em¡over lhe o¡¡ressed. This lechnique
enabIes ¡eo¡Ie vho formerIy feIl lhemseIves lo be onIy ¡avns or
viclims lo vieId ¡over direclIy in order lo gain by lheir ovn efforls
grealer freedom and |uslice. This ex¡erience of slruggIe has im¡or-
76 Gcnc Sncrp
See Gene Shar¡, Citi|icn-Bcsc! Dcjcnsc. A Pcsi-Mi|iicrq Wccpcns Sqsicm (Irinc-
elon, Nev }ersey: Irincelon Iniversily Iress, 199O).
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 77
lanl ¡sychoIogicaI consequences, conlribuling lo increased seIf-es-
leem and seIf-con!dence among lhe formerIy ¡overIess.
Òne im¡orlanl Iong-lerm bene!ciaI consequence of lhe use of
nonvioIenl slruggIe for eslabIishing democralic governmenl is lhal
lhe sociely viII be more ca¡abIe of deaIing vilh conlinuing and
fulure ¡robIems. These mighl incIude fulure governmenlaI abuse
and corru¡lion, maIlrealmenl of any grou¡, economic in|uslices, and
Iimilalions on lhe democralic quaIilies of lhe ¡oIilicaI syslem. The
¡o¡uIalion ex¡erienced in lhe use of ¡oIilicaI de!ance is Iess IikeIy
lo be vuInerabIe lo fulure diclalorshi¡s.
Afler Iiberalion, famiIiarily vilh nonvioIenl slruggIe viII ¡ro-
vide vays lo defend democracy, civiI Iiberlies, minorily righls, and
¡rerogalives of regionaI, slale, and IocaI governmenls and nongov-
ernmenlaI inslilulions. Such means aIso ¡rovide vays by vhich
¡eo¡Ie and grou¡s can ex¡ress exlreme dissenl ¡eacefuIIy on issues
seen as so im¡orlanl lhal o¡¡osilion grou¡s have somelimes resorled
lo lerrorism or guerriIIa varfare.
The lhoughls in lhis examinalion of ¡oIilicaI de!ance or non-
vioIenl slruggIe are inlended lo be heI¡fuI lo aII ¡ersons and grou¡s
vho seek lo Iifl diclaloriaI o¡¡ression from lheir ¡eo¡Ie and lo es-
labIish a durabIe democralic syslem lhal res¡ecls human freedoms
and ¡o¡uIar aclion lo im¡rove lhe sociely.
There are lhree ma|or concIusions lo lhe ideas skelched here:
ª Liberalion from diclalorshi¡s is ¡ossibIe,
ª Very carefuI lhoughl and slralegic ¡Ianning viII be required
lo achieve il, and
ª VigiIance, hard vork, and disci¡Iined slruggIe, oflen al greal
cosl, viII be needed.
The ofl quoled ¡hrase ¨Ireedom is nol free¨ is lrue. No oulside
force is coming lo give o¡¡ressed ¡eo¡Ie lhe freedom lhey so much
vanl. Ieo¡Ie viII have lo Iearn hov lo lake lhal freedom lhemseIves.
Lasy il cannol be.
If ¡eo¡Ie can gras¡ vhal is required for lheir ovn Iiberalion,
lhey can charl courses of aclion vhich, lhrough much lravaiI, can
evenluaIIy bring lhem lheir freedom. Then, vilh diIigence lhey
can conslrucl a nev democralic order and ¡re¡are for ils defense.
Ireedom von by slruggIe of lhis ly¡e can be durabIe. Il can be
mainlained by a lenacious ¡eo¡Ie commilled lo ils ¡reservalion
78 Gcnc Sncrp
THE METHOD5 OF NONVIOLENT ACTION
THE METHOD5 OF NONVIOLENT PROTE5T AND
1. IubIic s¡eeches
2. Lellers of o¡¡osilion or su¡¡orl
3. DecIaralions by organizalions and inslilulions
4. Signed ¡ubIic slalemenls
5. DecIaralions of indiclmenl and inlenlion
6. Grou¡ or mass ¡elilions
CnmmunIcatInns wIth a wIdcr audIcncc
7. SIogans, caricalures, and symboIs
8. ßanners, ¡oslers, and dis¡Iayed communicalions
9. Lea"els, ¡am¡hIels, and books
1O. Nevs¡a¡ers and |ournaIs
11. Records, radio, and leIevision
12. Skyvriling and earlhvriling
14. Mock avards
15. Grou¡ Iobbying
17. Mock eIeclions
5ymbn!Ic pub!Ic acts
18. Dis¡Iay of "ags and symboIic coIors
19. Wearing of symboIs
This Iisl, vilh de!nilions and hisloricaI exam¡Ies, is laken from Gene Shar¡,
The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Iarl Tvo, The Methods of Nonviolent Action.
2O. Irayer and vorshi¡
21. DeIivering symboIic ob|ecls
22. Irolesl disrobings
23. Deslruclion of ovn ¡ro¡erly
24. SymboIic Iighls
25. Dis¡Iays of ¡orlrails
26. Iainl as ¡rolesl
27. Nev signs and names
28. SymboIic sounds
29. SymboIic recIamalions
3O. Rude geslures
Prcssurcs nn IndIvIdua!s
31. ¨Haunling¨ of!ciaIs
32. Taunling of!ciaIs
Drama and musIc
35. Humorous skils and ¡ranks
36. Ierformance of ¡Iays and music
4O. ReIigious ¡rocessions
HnnnrIng thc dcad
43. IoIilicaI mourning
44. Mock funeraIs
45. Demonslralive funeraIs
46. Homage al buriaI ¡Iaces
80 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 81
47. AssembIies of ¡rolesl or su¡¡orl
48. Irolesl meelings
49. Camou"aged meelings of ¡rolesl
WIthdrawa! and rcnuncIatInn
53. Renouncing honors
54. Turning one's back
THE METHOD5 OF 5OCIAL NONCOOPERATION
OstracIsm nI pcrsnns
55. SociaI boycoll
56. SeIeclive sociaI boycoll
57. Lysislralic nonaclion
NnncnnpcratInn wIth sncIa! cvcnts, custnms, and InstItutInns
6O. Sus¡ension of sociaI and s¡orls aclivilies
61. ßoycoll of sociaI affairs
62. Sludenl slrike
63. SociaI disobedience
64. WilhdravaI from sociaI inslilulions
WIthdrawa! Irnm thc sncIa! systcm
66. TolaI ¡ersonaI noncoo¡eralion
67. IIighl of vorkers
69. CoIIeclive disa¡¡earance
7O. Irolesl emigralion (hijrat)
THE METHOD5 OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION:
(1) ECONOMIC BOYCOTT5
ActInn by cnnsumcrs
71. Consumers' boycoll
72. Nonconsum¡lion of boycolled goods
73. IoIicy of auslerily
74. Renl vilhhoIding
75. RefusaI lo renl
76. NalionaI consumers' boycoll
77. InlernalionaI consumers' boycoll
ActInn by wnrkcrs and prnduccrs
78. Workmen's boycoll
79. Iroducers' boycoll
ActInn by mIdd!cmcn
8O. Su¡¡Iiers' and handIers' boycoll
ActInn by nwncrs and managcmcnt
81. Traders' boycoll
82. RefusaI lo Iel or seII ¡ro¡erly
84. RefusaI of induslriaI assislance
85. Merchanls' ¨generaI slrike¨
ActInn by hn!dcrs nI !nancIa! rcsnurccs
86. WilhdravaI of bank de¡osils
87. RefusaI lo ¡ay fees, dues, and assessmenls
88. RefusaI lo ¡ay debls or inleresl
89. Severance of funds and credil
9O. Revenue refusaI
91. RefusaI of a governmenl's money
ActInn by gnvcrnmcnts
92. Domeslic embargo
93. ßIackIisling of lraders
94. InlernalionaI seIIers' embargo
95. InlernalionaI buyers' embargo
96. InlernalionaI lrade embargo
82 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 83
THE METHOD5 OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION:
(2) THE 5TRIKE
97. Irolesl slrike
98. Quickie vaIkoul (Iighlning slrike)
99. Ieasanl slrike
1OO. Iarm vorkers' slrike
5trIkcs by spccIa! grnups
1O1. RefusaI of im¡ressed Iabor
1O2. Irisoners' slrike
1O3. Crafl slrike
1O4. IrofessionaI slrike
OrdInary IndustrIa! strIkcs
1O5. LslabIishmenl slrike
1O6. Induslry slrike
1O7. Sym¡alhelic slrike
1O8. DelaiIed slrike
1O9. ßum¡er slrike
11O. SIovdovn slrike
111. Working-lo-ruIe slrike
112. Re¡orling ¨sick¨ (sick-in)
113. Slrike by resignalion
114. Limiled slrike
115. SeIeclive slrike
116. GeneraIized slrike
117. GeneraI slrike
CnmbInatInns nI strIkcs and ccnnnmIc c!nsurcs
119. Lconomic shuldovn
THE METHOD5 OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION
RcjcctInn nI authnrIty
12O. WilhhoIding or vilhdravaI of aIIegiance
121. RefusaI of ¡ubIic su¡¡orl
122. Lileralure and s¡eeches advocaling resislance
CItIzcns' nnncnnpcratInn wIth gnvcrnmcnt
123. ßoycoll of IegisIalive bodies
124. ßoycoll of eIeclions
125. ßoycoll of governmenl em¡Ioymenl and ¡osilions
126. ßoycoll of governmenl de¡arlmenls, agencies and
127. WilhdravaI from governmenl educalionaI inslilulions
128. ßoycoll of governmenl-su¡¡orled organizalions
129. RefusaI of assislance lo enforcemenl agenls
13O. RemovaI of ovn signs and ¡Iacemarks
131. RefusaI lo acce¡l a¡¡oinled of!ciaIs
132. RefusaI lo dissoIve exisling inslilulions
CItIzcns' a!tcrnatIvcs tn nbcdIcncc
133. ReIuclanl and sIov com¡Iiance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direcl su¡ervision
135. Io¡uIar nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. RefusaI of an assembIage or meeling lo dis¡erse
139. Noncoo¡eralion vilh conscri¡lion and de¡orlalion
14O. Hiding, esca¡e and faIse idenlilies
141. CiviI disobedience of ¨iIIegilimale¨ Iavs
ActInn by gnvcrnmcnt pcrsnnnc!
142. SeIeclive refusaI of assislance by governmenl aides
143. ßIocking of Iines of command and informalion
144. SlaIIing and obslruclion
145. GeneraI adminislralive noncoo¡eralion
84 Gcnc Sncrp
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 85
146. }udiciaI noncoo¡eralion
147. DeIiberale inef!ciency and seIeclive noncoo¡eralion by
DnmcstIc gnvcrnmcnta! actInn
149. Quasi-IegaI evasions and deIays
15O. Noncoo¡eralion by consliluenl governmenlaI unils
IntcrnatInna! gnvcrnmcnta! actInn
151. Changes in di¡Iomalic and olher re¡resenlalion
152. DeIay and canceIIalion of di¡Iomalic evenls
153. WilhhoIding of di¡Iomalic recognilion
154. Severance of di¡Iomalic reIalions
155. WilhdravaI from inlernalionaI organizalions
156. RefusaI of membershi¡ in inlernalionaI bodies
157. Lx¡uIsion from inlernalionaI organizalions
THE METHOD5 OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION
158. SeIf-ex¡osure lo lhe eIemenls
159. The fasl
(a) Iasl of moraI ¡ressure
(b) Hunger slrike
(c) Salyagrahic fasl
16O. Reverse lriaI
161. NonvioIenl harassmenl
168. NonvioIenl raids
169. NonvioIenl air raids
17O. NonvioIenl invasion
171. NonvioIenl inler|eclion
172. NonvioIenl obslruclion
173. NonvioIenl occu¡alion
174. LslabIishing nev sociaI ¡allerns
175. ÒverIoading of faciIilies
178. GuerriIIa lhealer
179. AIlernalive sociaI inslilulions
18O. AIlernalive communicalion syslem
181. Reverse slrike
182. Slay-in slrike
183. NonvioIenl Iand seizure
184. De!ance of bIockades
185. IoIilicaIIy molivaled counlerfeiling
186. IrecIusive ¡urchasing
187. Seizure of assels
189. SeIeclive ¡alronage
19O. AIlernalive markels
191. AIlernalive lrans¡orlalion syslems
192. AIlernalive economic inslilulions
193. ÒverIoading of adminislralive syslems
194. DiscIosing idenlilies of secrel agenls
195. Seeking im¡risonmenl
196. CiviI disobedience of ¨neulraI¨ Iavs
197. Work-on vilhoul coIIaboralion
198. DuaI sovereignly and ¡araIIeI governmenl
86 Gcnc Sncrp
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT5 AND NOTE5 ON
THE HI5TORY OF FROM DICTATOR5HIP
I have incurred severaI debls of gralilude vhiIe vriling lhe
originaI edilion of lhis essay. ßruce }enkins, my S¡eciaI Assislanl
in 1993, made an ineslimabIe conlribulion by his idenli!calion of
¡robIems in conlenl and ¡resenlalion. He aIso made incisive recom-
mendalions for more rigorous and cIearer ¡resenlalions of dif!cuIl
ideas (es¡eciaIIy concerning slralegy), slrucluraI reorganizalion, and
I am aIso gralefuI for lhe ediloriaI assislance of Sle¡hen Coady.
Dr. Chrislo¡her KruegIer and Roberl HeIvey offered very im¡orlanl
crilicisms and advice. Dr. HazeI McIerson and Dr. Ialricia Iarkman
¡rovided informalion on slruggIes in Africa and Lalin America, re-
s¡ecliveIy. Hovever, lhe anaIysis and concIusions conlained lherein
are soIeIy my res¡onsibiIily.
In recenl years s¡eciaI guideIines for lransIalions have been
deveIo¡ed, ¡rimariIy due lo }amiIa Raqib's guidance and lo lhe
Iessons Iearned from earIier years. This has been necessary in order
lo ensure accuracy in Ianguages in vhich lhere has earIier been no
eslabIished cIear lerminoIogy for lhis !eId.
¨Irom Diclalorshi¡ lo Democracy¨ vas vrillen al lhe requesl
of lhe Iale I Tin Maung Win, a ¡rominenl exiIe ßurmese democral
vho vas lhen edilor of Knii Pqcing (1nc Ncu |rc jcurnc|).
The ¡re¡aralion of lhis lexl vas based over forly years of re-
search and vriling on nonvioIenl slruggIe, diclalorshi¡s, lolaIilarian
syslems, resislance movemenls, ¡oIilicaI lheory, socioIogicaI anaIysis,
and olher !eIds.
I couId nol vrile an anaIysis lhal had a focus onIy on ßurma,
as I did nol knov ßurma veII. Therefore, I had lo vrile a generic
The essay vas originaIIy ¡ubIished in inslaIImenls in Knii Pqcing
in ßurmese and LngIish in ßangkok, ThaiIand in 1993. Aflervards
il vas issued as a bookIel in bolh Ianguages (1994) and in ßurmese
again (1996 and 1997). The originaI bookIel edilions from ßangkok
vere issued vilh lhe assislance of lhe Commillee for lhe Resloralion
of Democracy in ßurma.
Il vas circuIaled bolh surre¡liliousIy inside ßurma and among
exiIes and sym¡alhizers eIsevhere. This anaIysis vas inlended onIy
for use by ßurmese democrals and various elhnic grou¡s in ßurma
lhal vanled inde¡endence from lhe ßurman-dominaled cenlraI
governmenl in Rangoon. (ßurmans are lhe dominanl elhnic grou¡
I did nol lhen envisage lhal lhe generic focus vouId make lhe
anaIysis ¡olenliaIIy reIevanl in any counlry vilh an aulhorilarian
or diclaloriaI governmenl. Hovever, lhal a¡¡ears lo have been lhe
¡erce¡lion by ¡eo¡Ie vho in recenl years have soughl lo lransIale
and dislribule il in lheir Ianguages for lheir counlries. SeveraI ¡er-
sons have re¡orled lhal il reads as lhough il vas vrillen for lheir
The SLÒRC miIilary diclalorshi¡ in Rangoon vasled no lime
in denouncing lhis ¡ubIicalion. Heavy allacks vere made in 1995
and 1996, and re¡orledIy conlinued in Ialer years in nevs¡a¡ers,
radio, and leIevision. As Iale as 2OO5, ¡ersons vere senlenced lo
seven-year ¡rison lerms mereIy for being in ¡ossession of lhe banned
AIlhough no efforls vere made lo ¡romole lhe ¡ubIicalion for
use in olher counlries, lransIalions and dislribulion of lhe ¡ubIica-
lion began lo s¡read on lheir ovn. A co¡y of lhe LngIish Ianguage
edilion vas seen on dis¡Iay in lhe vindov of a bookslore in ßangkok
by a sludenl from Indonesia, vas ¡urchased, and laken back home.
There, il vas lransIaled inlo Indonesian, and ¡ubIished in 1997 by a
ma|or Indonesian ¡ubIisher vilh an inlroduclion by Abdurrahman
Wahid. He vas lhen head of NadhIaluI IIama, lhe Iargesl MusIim
organizalion in lhe vorId vilh lhirly-!ve miIIion members, and Ialer
88 Gcnc Sncrp
Iresidenl of Indonesia.
During lhis lime, al my of!ce al lhe AIberl Linslein Inslilulion
ve onIy had a handfuI of ¡holoco¡ies from lhe ßangkok LngIish
Ianguage bookIel. Ior a fev years ve had lo make co¡ies of il vhen
ve had enquiries for vhich il vas reIevanl. Laler, Marek ZeIaskievz,
from CaIifornia, look one of lhose co¡ies lo ßeIgrade during MiIoso-
vic's lime and gave il lo lhe organizalion Civic Inilialives. They
lransIaled il inlo Serbian and ¡ubIished il. When ve visiled Serbia
afler lhe coIIa¡se of lhe MiIosevic regime ve vere loId lhal lhe book-
Iel had been quile in"uenliaI in lhe o¡¡osilion movemenl.
AIso im¡orlanl had been lhe vorksho¡ on nonvioIenl slruggIe
lhal Roberl HeIvey, a relired IS Army coIoneI, had given in ßuda¡esl,
Hungary, for aboul lvenly Serbian young ¡eo¡Ie on lhe nalure and
¡olenliaI of nonvioIenl slruggIe. HeIvey aIso gave lhem co¡ies of
lhe com¡Iele 1nc Pc|iiics cj Ncntic|cni Aciicn. These vere lhe ¡eo¡Ie
vho became lhe Òl¡or organizalion lhal Ied lhe nonvioIenl slruggIe
lhal broughl dovn MiIosevic.
We usuaIIy do nol knov hov avareness of lhis ¡ubIicalion has
s¡read from counlry lo counlry. Ils avaiIabiIily on our veb sile in
recenl years has been im¡orlanl, bul cIearIy lhal is nol lhe onIy faclor.
Tracing lhese conneclions vouId be a ma|or research ¡ro|ecl.
¨Irom Diclalorshi¡ lo Democracy¨ is a heavy anaIysis and is nol
easy reading. Yel il has been deemed lo be im¡orlanl enough for al
Ieasl lvenly-eighl lransIalions (as of }anuary 2OO8) lo be ¡re¡ared,
aIlhough lhey required ma|or vork and ex¡ense.
TransIalions of lhis ¡ubIicalion in ¡rinl or on a veb sile incIude
lhe foIIoving Ianguages: Amharic (Llhio¡ia), Arabic, Azeri (Azerbai-
|an), ßahasa Indonesia, ßeIarusian, ßurmese, Chin (ßurma), Chinese
(sim¡Ii!ed and lradilionaI Mandarin), Dhivehi (MaIdives), Iarsi
(Iran), Irench, Georgian, German, }ing Iav (ßurma), Karen (ßurma),
Khmer (Cambodia), Kurdish, Kyrgyz (Kyrgyzslan), Ne¡aIi, Iashlo
(Afghanislan and Iakislan), Russian, Serbian, S¡anish, Tibelan,
Tigrinya (Lrilrea), Ikrainian, Izbek (Izbekislan), and Vielnamese.
SeveraI olhers are in ¡re¡aralion.
ßelveen 1993 and 2OO2 lhere vere six lransIalions. ßelveen
2OO3 and 2OO8 lhere have been lvenly-lvo.
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 89
The greal diversily of lhe socielies and Ianguages inlo vhich
lransIalions have s¡read su¡¡orl lhe ¡rovisionaI concIusion lhal lhe
¡ersons vho iniliaIIy encounler lhis documenl have seen ils anaIysis
lo be reIevanl lo lheir sociely.
AIberl Linslein Inslilulion
90 Gcnc Sncrp
A Nntc Abnut Trans!atInns
and RcprIntIng nI thIs Pub!IcatInn
To faciIilale disseminalion of lhis ¡ubIicalion il has been ¡Iaced in
lhe ¡ubIic domain. Thal means lhal anyone is free lo re¡roduce il
or disseminale il.
The aulhor, hovever, does have severaI requesls lhal he vouId
Iike lo make, aIlhough individuaIs are under no IegaI obIigalion lo
foIIov such requesls.
ª The aulhor requesls lhal no changes be made in lhe lexl, eilher
addilions or deIelions, if il is re¡roduced.
ª The aulhor requesls noli!calion from individuaIs vho inlend
lo re¡roduce lhis documenl. Noli!calion can be given lo lhe
AIberl Linslein Inslilulion (conlacl informalion a¡¡ears in lhe
beginning of lhis ¡ubIicalion immedialeIy before lhe TabIe of
ª The aulhor requesls lhal if lhis documenl is going lo be lrans-
Ialed, greal care musl be laken lo ¡reserve lhe originaI meaning
of lhe lexl. Some of lhe lerms in lhis ¡ubIicalion viII nol lrans-
Iale readiIy inlo olher Ianguages, as direcl equivaIenls for ¨non-
vioIenl slruggIe¨ and reIaled lerms may nol be avaiIabIe. Thus,
carefuI consideralion musl be given lo hov lhese lerms and
conce¡ls are lo be lransIaled so as lo be underslood accuraleIy
by nev readers.
Ior individuaIs and grou¡s lhal vish lo lransIale lhis vork,
lhe AIberl Linslein Inslilulion has deveIo¡ed a slandard sel of lrans-
Ialion ¡rocedures lhal may assisl lhem. They are as foIIovs:
ª A seIeclion ¡rocess lakes ¡Iace lo seIecl a lransIalor. Candi-
dales are evaIualed on lheir "uency in bolh LngIish and lhe
Ianguage inlo vhich lhe vork viII be lransIaled. Candidales
are aIso evaIualed on lheir generaI knovIedge surrounding lhe
sub|ecl area and lheir underslanding of lhe lerms and conce¡ls
¡resenl in lhe lexl.
ª An evaIualor is seIecled by a simiIar ¡rocess. The evaIualor's
|ob is lo lhoroughIy reviev lhe lransIalion and lo ¡rovide feed-
back and crilicism lo lhe lransIalor. Il is oflen beller if lhe lrans-
Ialor and evaIualor do nol knov lhe idenlilies of each olher.
ª Ònce lhe lransIalor and evaIualor are seIecled, lhe lransIalor
submils a sam¡Ie lransIalion of lvo or lhree ¡ages of lhe lexl,
as veII as a Iisl of a number of signi!canl key lerms lhal are
¡resenl in lhe lexl.
ª The evaIualor evaIuales lhis sam¡Ie lransIalion and ¡resenls
feedback lo lhe lransIalor.
ª If ma|or ¡robIems exisl belveen lhe lransIalor's sam¡Ie lrans-
Ialion and lhe evaIualor's evaIualion of lhal lransIalion, lhen
eilher lhe lransIalor or lhe evaIualor may be re¡Iaced, de¡end-
ing u¡on lhe |udgemenl of lhe individuaI or grou¡ lhal is s¡on-
soring lhe lransIalion. If minor ¡robIems exisl, lhe lransIa-
lor ¡roceeds vilh lhe fuII lransIalion of lhe lexl, kee¡ing in mind
lhe commenls of lhe evaIualor.
ª Ònce lhe enlire lexl is lransIaled, lhe evaIualor evaIuales lhe
enlire lexl and gives feedback lo lhe lransIalor.
ª Ònce lhe lransIalor has considered lhis feedback and made
any necessary changes, lhe !naI version of lhe lexl is com¡Iele and
lhe lransIaled book is ready lo be ¡rinled and dislribuled.
92 Gcnc Sncrp
Fnr Furthcr RcadIng
1. 1nc Anii-Ccup by Gene Shar¡ and ßruce }enkins. ßoslon: The
AIberl Linslein Inslilulion, 2OO3.
2. Diciicncrq cj Citi|icn Sirugg|c. 1ccnnicc| 1crminc|cgq cj Ncntic-
|cni Aciicn cn! inc Ccnirc| cj Pc|iiicc| Pcucr by Gene Shar¡.
3. On Sircicgic Ncntic|cni Ccnj|ici. 1nin|ing A|cui inc |un!c-
mcnic|s by Roberl L. HeIvey. ßoslon: The AIberl Linslein Inslilu-
4. 1nc Pc|iiics cj Ncntic|cni Aciicn (3 voIs.) by Gene Shar¡. ßoslon:
Lxlending Horizons ßooks, Iorler Sargenl IubIishers, 1973.
5. Sc|j-Ii|crciicn by Gene Shar¡ vilh lhe assislance of }amiIa
Raqib. ßoslon: The AIberl Linslein Inslilulion, 2O1O.
6. Sccic| Pcucr cn! Pc|iiicc| |rcc!cm by Gene Shar¡. ßoslon: Lxlend-
ing Horizons ßooks, Iorler Sargenl IubIishers, 198O.
7. 1ncrc Arc Rcc|isiic A|icrnciitcs by Gene Shar¡. ßoslon: The AIberl
Linslein Inslilulion, 2OO3.
8. Wcging Ncntic|cni Sirugg|c. 20in Ccniurq Prcciicc cn! 21si Ccniurq
Pcicniic| by Gene Shar¡. ßoslon: Lxlending Horizons ßooks, Iorler
Sargenl IubIishers, 2OO5.
Ior order informalion, ¡Iease conlacl:
The AIberl Linslein Inslilulion
I.Ò. ßox 455
Lasl ßoslon, MA O2128, ISA
TeI: ISA +1 617-247-4882
Iax: ISA +1 617-247-4O35
|rcm Dicicicrsnip ic Dcmccrccq 93
All material appearing in this publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission from Gene Sharp. Citation of the source, and notication to the Albert Einstein Institution for the reproduction, translation, and reprinting of this publication, are appreciated. First Edition, May 2002 Second Edition, June 2003 Third Edition, February 2008 Fourth Edition, May 2010 From Dictatorship to Democracy was originally published in Bangkok in 1993 by the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma in association with Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal). It has since been translated into at least thirty-one other languages and has been published in Serbia, Indonesia, and Thailand, among other countries. This is the fourth United States Edition. Printed in the United States of America. Printed on Recycled Paper. The Albert Einstein Institution P.O. Box 455 East Boston, MA 02128, USA Tel: USA +1 617-247-4882 Fax: USA +1 617-247-4035 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.aeinstein.org ISBN 1-880813-09-2
From Dictatorship to Democracy
TABLE OF CONTENTS PREFACE ONE FACING DICTATORSHIPS REALISTICALLY A continuing problem Freedom through violence? Coups, elections, foreign saviors? Facing the hard truth TWO THE DANGERS OF NEGOTIATIONS Merits and limitations of negotiations Negotiated surrender? Power and justice in negotiations “Agreeable” dictators What kind of peace? Reasons for hope THREE WHENCE COMES THE POWER? The “Monkey Master” fable Necessary sources of political power Centers of democratic power FOUR DICTATORSHIPS HAVE WEAKNESSES Identifying the Achilles’ heel Weaknesses of dictatorships Attacking weaknesses of dictatorships FIVE EXERCISING POWER The workings of nonviolent struggle Nonviolent weapons and discipline viii
1 2 4 5 7
9 10 10 12 13 14 14
17 17 18 21
25 25 26 27
29 30 30
and high standards Shifting power relationships Four mechanisms of change Democratizing effects of political deance Complexity of nonviolent struggle SIX THE NEED FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING Realistic planning Hurdles to planning Four important terms in strategic planning SEVEN PLANNING STRATEGY Choice of means Planning for democracy External assistance Formulating a grand strategy Planning campaign strategies Spreading the idea of noncooperation Repression and countermeasures Adhering to the strategic plan EIGHT APPLYING POLITICAL DEFIANCE Selective resistance Symbolic challenge Spreading responsibility Aiming at the dictators’ power Shifts in strategy NINE DISINTEGRATING THE DICTATORSHIP Escalating freedom Disintegrating the dictatorship Handling success responsibly 33 34 35 37 38 39 39 40 43 47 48 49 50 50 53 55 56 57 59 59 60 61 62 64 67 69 70 71 . secrecy.vi Gene Sharp Openness.
From Dictatorship to Democracy vii TEN GROUNDWORK FOR DURABLE DEMOCRACY Threats of a new dictatorship Blocking coups Constitution drafting A democratic defense policy A meritorious responsibility 73 73 74 75 76 76 APPENDIX ONE THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION APPENDIX TWO ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY APPENDIX THREE A NOTE ABOUT TRANSLATIONS AND REPRINTING OF THIS PUBLICATION FOR FURTHER READING 79 87 91 93 .
during both the festive demonstration of freedom and while the viii . Chile. I have gained often troubling perspectives on the insidious nature of dictatorships. From Tibetans who had fought against Chinese Communist aggression. including some who survived concentration camps. The terror of these systems appeared to me to be especially poignant for these dictatorships were imposed in the name of liberation from oppression and exploitation. and Thais who had nonviolently blocked a return to military rule. Poland. Russians who had defeated the August 1991 hard-line coup. Lithuania. Over the years I have had occasion to get to know people who lived and suffered under Nazi rule. In more recent decades through visits of persons from dictatorially ruled countries. Beijing.PREFACE One of my major concerns for many years has been how people could prevent and destroy dictatorships. The sense of pathos and outrage against the brutalities. and Burma. Tiananmen Square. and histories of dictatorships (especially the Nazi and Stalinist systems). I talked with Jews who had escaped the Nazi clutches and with persons who had helped to save them. the realities of today’s dictatorships became more real. and heard of those who perished. That belief has been strengthened by readings on the importance of human freedom. In Norway I met people who had resisted fascist rule and survived. These included Panama under Noriega. on the nature of dictatorships (from Aristotle to analysts of totalitarianism). Tibet. under continued Soviet repression. This has been nurtured in part because of a belief that human beings should not be dominated and destroyed by such regimes. along with admiration of the calm heroism of unbelievably brave men and women. Knowledge of the terror of Communist rule in various countries has been learned more from books than personal contacts. such as Panama. were sometimes strengthened by visits to places where the dangers were still great. and yet deance by brave people continued. Vilnius.
All forms of struggle have complica- . governmental systems. It is a sad realization that every dictatorship leaves such death and destruction in its wake. perhaps.” Sometimes I visited the sites of the fallen. However. Out of these concerns and experiences grew a determined hope that prevention of tyranny might be possible. Of necessity. unfortunately. the center of Ferrara in northern Italy where the fascists lined up and shot resisters. resistance movements. or can be made to be. I am certain it is far from perfect. Nowhere in this analysis do I assume that defying dictators will be an easy or cost-free endeavor. political thought. it is my hope that this generic analysis may be useful to people in. too many countries who now face the realities of dictatorial rule. revolutions. the public park in Riga where people had been gunned down. and a simple cemetery in Manerplaw lled with bodies of men who had died much too young. They will need to examine the validity of this analysis for their situations and the extent to which its major recommendations are. I am not competent to produce a detailed analysis and prescription for a particular country. applicable for their liberation struggles. But. that dictatorships could be destroyed and new ones prevented from rising out of the ashes. the focus of this essay is on the generic problem of how to destroy a dictatorship and to prevent the rise of a new one. and of deliberate choice. I have tried to think carefully about the most effective ways in which dictatorships could be successfully disintegrated with the least possible cost in suffering and lives. it offers some guidelines to assist thought and planning to produce movements of liberation that are more powerful and effective than might otherwise be the case. as the television tower and the cemetery in Vilnius. This publication is the result. that successful struggles against dictatorships could be waged without mass mutual slaughters. and the jungle headquarters of the democratic opposition at Manerplaw in “liberated Burma. In this I have drawn on my studies over many years of dictatorships.ix Gene Sharp rst armored personnel carriers entered that fateful night. and especially realistic nonviolent struggle.
that this analysis will spur resistance leaders to consider strategies that may increase their effective power while reducing the relative level of casualties. Rather. it opens the way for hard work and long efforts to build more just social. bring casualties. economic. all other problems will also disappear. of course. Fighting dictators will. Massachusetts . It is my hope. Gene Sharp 6 October 1993 Albert Einstein Institution Boston. however.From Dictatorship to Democracy x tions and costs. Nor should this analysis be interpreted to mean that when a specic dictatorship is ended. and political relationships and the eradication of other forms of injustices and oppression. The fall of one regime does not bring in a utopia. It is my hope that this brief examination of how a dictatorship can be disintegrated may be found useful wherever people live under domination and desire to be free.
Czechoslovakia and Slovenia. noncooperation. In addition. and the Philippines. In this paper. allowing no room for submission. Hungary. psychological. Poland. and various parts of the former Soviet Union (playing a signicant role in the defeat of the August 1991 attempted hard-line coup d’état). political deance. The term is used principally to describe action by populations to regain from dictatorships control over governmental institutions by relentlessly attacking their sources of power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do so. Although those struggles have not brought an end to the ruling dictatorships or occupations. South Korea. Nonviolent resistance has furthered the movement toward democratization in Nepal. some of these dictatorships proved unable to withstand the concerted political.ONE FACING DICTATORSHIPS REALISTICALLY In recent years various dictatorships — of both internal and external origin — have collapsed or stumbled when confronted by deant. nonviolent resistance. Madagascar. East Germany. Since 1980 dictatorships have collapsed before the predominantly nonviolent deance of people in Estonia. Zambia. and Lithuania. although the latter two terms generally refer to struggles with a broader range of objectives (social. economic. Mali. and intervention) applied deantly and actively for political purposes. Malawi. economic. 1 . The term originated in response to the confusion and distortion created by equating nonviolent struggle with pacism and moral or religious “nonviolence. Bolivia. they have exposed the brutal nature of those repressive regimes to the world community and have provided the populations with valuable experience with this form of struggle. Thailand.” “Deance” denotes a deliberate challenge to authority by disobedience. Uruguay. 1 The term used in this context was introduced by Robert Helvey. “Political deance” is nonviolent struggle (protest. mobilized people. etc. Bulgaria. and nonviolent struggle will be used interchangeably. and Tibet in recent years. Brazil. Burma. and social deance of the people. “Political deance” describes the environment in which the action is employed (political) as well as the objective (political power). mass political deance1 has occurred in China. Haiti. Often seen as rmly entrenched and impregnable. Argentina. Latvia.). Chile. Nigeria.
this positive trend is tempered by the large numbers of people still living under conditions of tyranny. Ibid. and has opened the way for the rebuilding of these societies with greater political democracy. traditional repressive monarchies (as in Saudi Arabia and Bhutan). or are in a state of transition.”3 that is. Freedom in the World.68 billion population lived in countries designated as “Not Free. bureaucratic inefciency. which compiles a yearly international survey of the status of political rights and civil liberties. personal liberties. 34% of the world’s 6. crime. and social justice. The 42 countries in the “Not Free” category are ruled by a range of military dictatorships (as in Burma). the number of countries around the world classied as “Free” has grown signicantly in recent years:2 Free 54 75 89 89 Partly Free 47 73 55 62 Not Free 64 38 48 42 1983 1993 2003 2009 However. foreign occupiers (as in Tibet and Western Sahara). 2 3 Freedom House. http://www. As of 2008. and environmental destruction are often the legacy of brutal regimes. areas with extremely restricted political rights and civil liberties.freedomhouse. dominant political parties (as in China and North Korea).org. the downfall of these dictatorships has minimally lifted much of the suffering of the victims of oppression.2 Gene Sharp The collapse of dictatorships in the above named countries certainly has not erased all other problems in those societies: poverty. . A continuing problem There has indeed been a trend towards greater democratization and freedom in the world in the past decades. According to Freedom House. However.
Short-lived mass protests and demonstrations may have occurred. the past is still with us. subordinated. there is a great risk that many nations. or even replaced by new regimented institutions used by the state or ruling party to control the society. The result is predictable: the population becomes weak. will move in the opposite direction and experience new forms of dictatorship. Military cliques. Although the number of “Free” countries has increased in recent years. However noble the motives. a necessary . In any case. ambitious individuals. what would be the use? Instead. In extreme cases. People are often too frightened to share their hatred of the dictatorship and their hunger for freedom even with family and friends. elected ofcials. asserting some principle or simply their deance. Frequently. political. At other times. People in many countries have experienced decades or even centuries of oppression. unquestioning submission to authority gures and rulers has been long inculcated. some people may have attempted resistance. and is incapable of resistance. in the face of such rapid fundamental changes.From Dictatorship to Democracy 3 Many countries today are in a state of rapid economic. such past acts of resistance have often been insufcient to overcome the people’s fear and habit of obedience. lacks self-condence. they face suffering without purpose and a future without hope. and social change. individuals and small groups may have conducted brave but impotent gestures. and even religious institutions of the society — outside of state control — have been deliberately weakened. Basic human and political rights will continue to be denied to vast numbers of peoples. economic. Coups d’état are and will remain a common occurrence. In the past. Current conditions in today’s dictatorships may be much worse than earlier. whether of domestic or foreign origin. to conde in each other. The problem of dictatorships is deep. or even to do much of anything at their own initiative. Perhaps spirits soared temporarily. The population has often been atomized (turned into a mass of isolated individuals) unable to work together to achieve freedom. political. Unfortunately. the social. People are often too terried to think seriously of public resistance. and doctrinal political parties will repeatedly seek to impose their will.
Constitutional and legal barriers. one point is clear. and public opinion are normally ignored by dictators. Freedom through violence? What is to be done in such circumstances? The obvious possibilities seem useless. Angry victims have sometimes organized to ght the brutal dictators with whatever violent and military capacity they could muster. transportation. Civilian populations are often displaced by the ruling gov- . and sometimes international backing. The dictators are equipped to apply violence overwhelmingly. The dictators almost always have superiority in military hardware. Whatever the merits of the violent option. Guerrilla struggles often last a very long time. particularly given the very strong tendency toward immense casualties among one’s own people. The technique is no guarantor against failure. however. When conventional military rebellion is recognized as unrealistic. ammunition. and the size of military forces. reacting to the brutalities. despite the odds being against them. not victories or even hope. Understandably. if ever.4 Gene Sharp prerequisite to destroy the dictatorship. Sadly. one has chosen the very type of struggle with which the oppressors nearly always have superiority. despite supporting theory and strategic analyses. people often have concluded that only violence can end a dictatorship. guerrilla warfare rarely. and killings. These people have often fought bravely. However long or briey these democrats can continue. By placing condence in violent means. Despite bravery. but they rarely have won freedom. torture. some dissidents then favor guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare is no obvious solution. However. the democrats are (almost always) no match. Violent rebellions can trigger brutal repression that frequently leaves the populace more helpless than before. benets the oppressed population or ushers in a democracy. Their accomplishments have sometimes been remarkable. those acts may have brought instead only increased suffering and death. disappearances. eventually the harsh military realities usually become inescapable. at great cost in suffering and lives. judicial decisions.
If the guerrillas should nally succeed. however. the attacked regime becomes more dictatorial as a result of its countermeasures. this group might be milder in its behavior and be open in limited ways to democratic reforms.From Dictatorship to Democracy 5 ernment. it leaves in place the existing maldistribution of power between the population and the elite in control of the government and its military forces. went through the motions in order to appear democratic. there are very serious problems with that technique. the resulting new regime is often more dictatorial than its predecessor due to the centralizing impact of the expanded military forces and the weakening or destruction of the society’s independent groups and institutions during the struggle — bodies that are vital in establishing and maintaining a democratic society. However. such as those of the former Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc. Most importantly. Elections are not available under dictatorships as an instrument of signicant political change. Theoretically. elections. The removal of particular persons and cliques from the governing positions most likely will merely make it possible for another group to take their place. the new clique may turn out to be more ruthless and more ambitious than the old one. were merely rigidly controlled plebiscites to get public . That is not an acceptable answer to the problem of dictatorship. with immense human suffering and social dislocation. Those elections. However. guerrilla struggles often have signicant long-term negative structural consequences. the opposite is as likely to be the case. Even when successful. Some dictatorial regimes. foreign saviors? A military coup d’état against a dictatorship might appear to be relatively one of the easiest and quickest ways to remove a particularly repugnant regime. Immediately. the new clique — in which hopes may have been placed — will be able to do whatever it wants without concern for democracy or human rights. After consolidating its position. Persons hostile to dictatorships should look for another option. Consequently. Coups.
it probably should not be trusted. Dictators under pressure may at times agree to new elections. These people place their condence in external forces. but then rig them to place civilian puppets in government ofces. or international economic and political sanctions. A few harsh realities concerning reliance on foreign intervention need to be emphasized here: • Frequently foreign states will tolerate. a particular country. or who have gone into exile to escape its immediate grasp.6 Gene Sharp endorsement of candidates already hand picked by the dictators. Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones. Such a scenario may sound comforting. If opposition candidates have been allowed to run and were actually elected. results may simply be ignored and the “victors” subjected to intimidation. but there are grave problems with this reliance on an outside savior. This outside force may be “public opinion. They believe that only international help can be strong enough to bring down the dictators. . or even positively assist.” the United Nations. often oppressed people are unwilling and temporarily unable to struggle because they have no condence in their ability to face the ruthless dictatorship. Many people now suffering under a brutal dictatorship. do not believe that the oppressed can liberate themselves. arrest. Usually no foreign saviors are coming. As noted. • Foreign states also may be willing to sell out an oppressed people instead of keeping pledges to assist their liberation at the cost of another objective. It is therefore understandable that many people place their hope for liberation in others. The view that the oppressed are unable to act effectively is sometimes accurate for a certain time period. Such condence may be totally misplaced. and if a foreign state does intervene. as occurred in Burma in 1990 and Nigeria in 1993. or even execution. a dictatorship in order to advance their own economic or political interests. They expect that their people can only be saved by the actions of others. and no known way to save themselves.
From Dictatorship to Democracy
• Some foreign states will act against a dictatorship only to gain their own economic, political, or military control over the country. • The foreign states may become actively involved for positive purposes only if and when the internal resistance movement has already begun shaking the dictatorship, having thereby focused international attention on the brutal nature of the regime. Dictatorships usually exist primarily because of the internal power distribution in the home country. The population and society are too weak to cause the dictatorship serious problems, wealth and power are concentrated in too few hands. Although dictatorships may benet from or be somewhat weakened by international actions, their continuation is dependent primarily on internal factors. International pressures can be very useful, however, when they are supporting a powerful internal resistance movement. Then, for example, international economic boycotts, embargoes, the breaking of diplomatic relations, expulsion from international organizations, condemnation by United Nations bodies, and the like can assist greatly. However, in the absence of a strong internal resistance movement such actions by others are unlikely to happen. Facing the hard truth The conclusion is a hard one. When one wants to bring down a dictatorship most effectively and with the least cost then one has four immediate tasks: • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination, self-condence, and resistance skills; • One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people; • One must create a powerful internal resistance force; and
• One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully. A liberation struggle is a time for self-reliance and internal strengthening of the struggle group. As Charles Stewart Parnell called out during the Irish rent strike campaign in 1879 and 1880: It is no use relying on the Government . . . . You must only rely upon your own determination . . . . [H]elp yourselves by standing together . . . strengthen those amongst yourselves who are weak . . . , band yourselves together, organize yourselves . . . and you must win . . . When you have made this question ripe for settlement, then and not till then will it be settled.4 Against a strong self-reliant force, given wise strategy, disciplined and courageous action, and genuine strength, the dictatorship will eventually crumble. Minimally, however, the above four requirements must be fullled. As the above discussion indicates, liberation from dictatorships ultimately depends on the people’s ability to liberate themselves. The cases of successful political deance — or nonviolent struggle for political ends — cited above indicate that the means do exist for populations to free themselves, but that option has remained undeveloped. We will examine this option in detail in the following chapters. However, we should rst look at the issue of negotiations as a means of dismantling dictatorships.
4 Patrick Sarseld O’Hegarty, A History of Ireland Under the Union, 1880-1922 (London: Methuen, 1952), pp. 490-491.
THE DANGERS OF NEGOTIATIONS
When faced with the severe problems of confronting a dictatorship (as surveyed in Chapter One), some people may lapse back into passive submission. Others, seeing no prospect of achieving democracy, may conclude they must come to terms with the apparently permanent dictatorship, hoping that through “conciliation,” “compromise,” and “negotiations” they might be able to salvage some positive elements and to end the brutalities. On the surface, lacking realistic options, there is appeal in that line of thinking. Serious struggle against brutal dictatorships is not a pleasant prospect. Why is it necessary to go that route? Can’t everyone just be reasonable and nd ways to talk, to negotiate the way to a gradual end to the dictatorship? Can’t the democrats appeal to the dictators’ sense of common humanity and convince them to reduce their domination bit by bit, and perhaps nally to give way completely to the establishment of a democracy? It is sometimes argued that the truth is not all on one side. Perhaps the democrats have misunderstood the dictators, who may have acted from good motives in difcult circumstances? Or perhaps some may think, the dictators would gladly remove themselves from the difcult situation facing the country if only given some encouragement and enticements. It may be argued that the dictators could be offered a “win-win” solution, in which everyone gains something. The risks and pain of further struggle could be unnecessary, it may be argued, if the democratic opposition is only willing to settle the conict peacefully by negotiations (which may even perhaps be assisted by some skilled individuals or even another government). Would that not be preferable to a difcult struggle, even if it is one conducted by nonviolent struggle rather than by military war?
the democratic negotiators may disappear and never be heard from again. Negotiated surrender? Individuals and groups who oppose dictatorship and favor negotiations will often have good motives. Negotiations. affecting religious principles. not negotiations. issues of human freedom. it is understandable that all the people of whatever . Only a shift in power relations in favor of the democrats can adequately safeguard the basic issues at stake. When the issues at stake are fundamental. may not be an option at all. or the whole future development of the society. of course.10 Gene Sharp Merits and limitations of negotiations Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving certain types of issues in conicts and should not be neglected or rejected when they are appropriate. negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution. Firmly entrenched dictators who feel secure in their position may refuse to negotiate with their democratic opponents. Labor conicts with legal trade unions are. Or. This is not to say that negotiations ought never to be used. In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake. however. The point here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic opposition. Such a shift will occur through struggle. and therefore a compromise is acceptable. when negotiations have been initiated. negotiations can be an important means to settle a conict. quite different than the conicts in which the continued existence of a cruel dictatorship or the establishment of political freedom are at stake. On some basic issues there should be no compromise. A labor strike for higher wages is a good example of the appropriate role of negotiations in a conict: a negotiated settlement may provide an increase somewhere between the sums originally proposed by each of the contending sides. Especially when a military struggle has continued for years against a brutal dictatorship without nal victory.
Democrats should be wary of the traps that may be deliberately built into a negotiation process by the dictators. when the opposition is exceptionally strong and the dictatorship is genuinely threatened. of course. . and apologize to the people.” The call to negotiate can sound appealing. withdraw from the government. rather disingenuous.From Dictatorship to Democracy 11 political persuasion would want peace. In those types of conicts the only proper role of negotiations may occur at the end of a decisive struggle in which the power of the dictators has been effectively destroyed and they seek personal safe passage to an international airport. In neither case should the democrats help the dictators achieve their goals. On the other hand. Negotiations are especially likely to become an issue among democrats where the dictators have clear military superiority and the destruction and casualties among one’s own people are no longer bearable. the dictators may wish to negotiate the opposition into surrender under the guise of making “peace. There will then be a strong temptation to explore any other route that might salvage some of the democrats’ objectives while bringing an end to the cycle of violence and counter-violence. the dictators may seek negotiations in order to salvage as much of their control or wealth as possible. The violence could be ended immediately by the dictators themselves. The call for negotiations when basic issues of political liberties are involved may be an effort by the dictators to induce the democrats to surrender peacefully while the violence of the dictatorship continues. free political prisoners. halt military operations. but grave dangers can be lurking within the negotiating room. end torture. The offer by a dictatorship of “peace” through negotiations with the democratic opposition is. They could at their own initiative without any bargaining restore respect for human dignity and rights. When the dictatorship is strong but an irritating resistance exists. if only they would stop waging war on their own people.
Attention must also be given to what each side is willing to give up in order to reach agreement. In the case of extreme dictatorships what are the pro-democracy forces to give up to the dictators? What objectives of the dictators are the pro-democracy forces to accept? Are the . While those may be much discussed. In successful negotiations there is compromise. “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 conict between them. the content of a negotiated agreement is largely determined by the power capacity of each side. What can each side do at a later date to gain its objectives if the other side fails to come to an agreement at the negotiating table? What can each side do after an agreement is reached if the other side breaks its word and uses its available forces to seize its objectives despite the agreement? A settlement is not reached in negotiations through an assessment of the rights and wrongs of the issues at stake. Two facts must be remembered. What can the democrats do to ensure that their minimum claims cannot be denied? What can the dictators do to stay in control and neutralize the democrats? In other words.12 Gene Sharp Power and justice in negotiations If this judgment sounds too harsh a commentary on negotiations. Second. and then calculating how an open struggle might end. Clear thinking is required as to how negotiations operate. a splitting of differences. if an agreement comes. perhaps some of the romanticism associated with them needs to be moderated. in negotiations it is not the relative justice of the conicting views and objectives that determines the content of a negotiated agreement. the real results in negotiations come from an assessment of the absolute and relative power situations of the contending groups. Each side gets part of what it wants and gives up part of its objectives. Several difcult questions must be considered. it is more likely the result of each side estimating how the power capacities of the two sides compare. First.
If the democrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve from repression. dictators may even make their oppression and violence more brutal than before. War Without Violence: A Study of Gandhi’s Method and Its Accomplishments (New York: Harcourt. and then brazenly violate those same agreements. and reprint New York and London: Garland Publishing. One should remember that none of these will be served if they abandon their control positions. 1939. resistance must continue to drive dictators out of power. 1972). reshaping the society. “For the tyrant has the power to inict only that which we lack the strength to resist. wealth. In the event of negotiations dictators will try to preserve their goals.” wrote Krishnalal Shridharani. The tyrants can then move ahead against whomever they wish. is essential for change in conicts where fundamental issues are at stake. they may be very disappointed. Once the restraining force of internal and international opposition has been removed.5 Resistance. not negotiations. no one should ever forget that the dictators may promise anything to secure submission from their democratic opponents. it is necessary to ask: What kind of peace will be the result? Will life then be better or worse than it would be if the democrats began or continued to struggle? “Agreeable” dictators Dictators may have a variety of motives and objectives underlying their domination: power. p. Success is most often 5 Krishnalal Shridharani. The collapse of popular resistance often removes the countervailing force that has limited the control and brutality of the dictatorship. Brace. A halt to resistance rarely brings reduced repression. Whatever promises offered by dictators in any negotiated settlement.From Dictatorship to Democracy 13 democrats to give to the dictators (whether a political party or a military cabal) a constitutionally-established permanent role in the future government? Where is the democracy in that? Even assuming that all goes well in negotiations. position. . In nearly all cases. 260. and the like.
People living under dictatorships need not remain weak. . A dictators’ peace is often no more than the peace of the prison or of the grave. by which he meant submission to his will. to be explored later in more detail. “. is the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom. Hitler often called for peace. that sense of powerlessness can be changed. may in a single stroke provide the dictators with the domestic and international legitimacy that they had been previously denied because of their seizure of the state. extremely clear thinking is needed because of the dangers involved. or foreign negotiation specialists accepted to assist in the negotiations. Reasons for hope As stated earlier. . Submission to cruel oppression and passive acquiescence to ruthless dictators who have perpetrated atrocities on hundreds of thousands of people is no real peace. the dictators cannot continue to rule indenitely. Well-intended negotiators sometimes confuse the objectives of the negotiations and the negotiation process itself. . [O]ligarchy and tyranny are shorter-lived than any other constitution. What kind of peace? If dictators and democrats are to talk about peace at all. [A]ll round. democratic negotiators. Not everyone who uses the word “peace” wants peace with freedom and justice. Aristotle noted long ago. or nonviolent struggle. Further. human rights violations. There are other dangers. Exponents of peace should not provide them legitimacy. and dictators need not be allowed to remain powerful indenitely. Without that desperately needed legitimacy. . However. that political deance.14 Gene Sharp determined not by negotiating a settlement but through the wise use of the most appropriate and powerful means of resistance available. opposition leaders may feel forced to pursue negotiations out of a sense of hopelessness of the democratic struggle. tyran- . and brutalities. . It is our contention. Dictatorships are not permanent.
England and Baltimore. transl. pp. as well as those listed in Chapter One. Negotiations are not the only alternative to a continuing war of annihilation on the one hand and capitulation on the other. The old preconception that violent means always work quickly and nonviolent means always require vast time is clearly not valid. Middlesex. Book V. in East Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1989 it occurred within weeks. A. 231 and 232. weeks. Although much time may be required for changes in the underlying situation and society. Maryland: Penguin Books 1976 ). 6 .) Recent history shows the vulnerability of dictatorships. by T. the actual ght against a dictatorship sometimes occurs relatively quickly by nonviolent struggle. The Politics. The militarily powerful regime of the Shah in Iran was undermined in a few months. The attempted hard-line coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991 was blocked in days by political deance. illustrate that another option exists for those who want both peace and freedom: political deance. Thereafter. and months regained their independence. In El Salvador and Guatemala in 1944 the struggles against the entrenched brutal military dictators required approximately two weeks each. Aristotle. Sinclair (Harmondsworth. Chapter 12. Their weaknesses can be aggravated and the dictators’ power can be disintegrated.”6 Modern dictatorships are also vulnerable.From Dictatorship to Democracy 15 nies have not lasted long. and reveals that they can crumble in a relatively short time span: whereas ten years — 1980-1990 — were required to bring down the Communist dictatorship in Poland. many of its long dominated constituent nations in only days. The examples just cited. The Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines fell before people power within weeks in 1986: the United States government quickly abandoned President Marcos when the strength of the opposition became apparent. (In Chapter Four we will examine these weaknesses in more detail.
Yu-li-zi is also the pseudonym of Liu Ji. Some basic truths are quite simple. Learning this insight is not really so difcult a task. the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. It will require great strategic skill. The translation was originally published in Nonviolent Sanctions: News from the Albert Einstein Institution (Cambridge. outlines this neglected understanding of political power quite well:7 In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. IV. The “Monkey Master” fable A Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji. 3. all rights reserved. Above all. Mass. 7 This story. organization. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master). No. and planning. 3 (Winter 1992-1993). and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. 17 . for example.THREE WHENCE COMES THE POWER? Achieving a society with both freedom and peace is of course no simple task. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly ogged. Each morning. but dared not complain. Vol. Democrats cannot hope to bring down a dictatorship and establish political freedom without the ability to apply their own power effectively. originally titled “Rule by Tricks” is from Yu-li-zi by Liu Ji (1311-1375) and has been translated by Sidney Tai. But how is this possible? What kind of power can the democratic opposition mobilize that will be sufcient to destroy the dictatorship and its vast military and police networks? The answers lie in an oft ignored understanding of political power. it will require power. p.). All the monkeys suffered bitterly.
brought all with them to the woods. why should we depend on the old man. their tricks no longer work. we all can. • Human resources. or providing assistance to the rulers. the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were conned. and that they have a moral duty to obey it. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage. without which they cannot secure and maintain the sources of political power. and destroyed the stockade entirely. they grew naturally. Dictators require the assistance of the people they rule.” The small monkey continued: “Then.18 Gene Sharp One day. cooperating. the belief among the people that the regime is legitimate. Yu-li-zi says.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes. . all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened. On the same night. “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No. the number and importance of the persons and groups which are obeying. why must we all serve him?” Before the small monkey was able to nish his statement. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. These sources of political power include: • Authority. watching that the old man had fallen asleep. The old man nally died of starvation. As soon as their people become enlightened. and never returned.” Necessary sources of political power The principle is simple.
do not always produce a resumption of the necessary degree of submission and cooperation for the regime to function. psychological and ideological factors that may induce people to obey and assist the rulers. On the other hand. the degree to which the rulers control or have access to property. . depend on acceptance of the regime. on the submission and obedience of the population. Naturally. Full cooperation. the rulers’ power weakens and nally dissolves. However. natural resources. or fail to cooperate. obedience. strike. against the disobedient and noncooperative to ensure the submission and cooperation that are needed for the regime to exist and carry out its policies. and • Sanctions. All of these sources. Without availability of those sources. Repression. even brutalities. dictators are sensitive to actions and ideas that threaten their capacity to do as they like. withdrawal of popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and dictators diminishes. and support will increase the availability of the needed sources of power and. threatened or applied. • Intangible factors. and means of communication and transportation. punishments. These are not guaranteed. and may sever. needed by the regime to perform specic actions and supplied by the cooperating persons and groups. the availability of the sources of power on which all rulers depend. nancial resources. expand the power capacity of any government. and on the cooperation of innumerable people and the many institutions of the society. however. that is not the end of the story. Dictators are therefore likely to threaten and punish those who disobey. • Material resources.From Dictatorship to Democracy 19 • Skills and knowledge. consequently. the economic system.
. then the might of the government. The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is. more than that they have to be able to count on the active support of at least signicant parts of the population in case of need.: Harvard University Press. Austin argued that if most of the population were determined to destroy the government and were willing to endure repression to do so. Deutsch. it is unlikely to remain powerful for long. such regimes stand in greater need of widespread and dependable compliance habits among their people. Mass. 1954). That is likely to be followed by a clear weakening of the power of the dictatorship. Over time. even totalitarian dictatorships are dependent on the population and the societies they rule. pp. The dictators’ power will die. Totalitarianism (Cambridge. the initial results may be uncertainty and confusion within the dictatorship. As the political scientist Karl W. Friedrich. Contrary to popular opinion. 313-314.20 Gene Sharp If. its disintegration. Since totalitarian regimes require more power for dealing with their subjects than do other types of government. could not preserve the hated government. including those who supported it.” in Carl J. the sources of power can be restricted or severed for enough time. and in severe cases. slowly or rapidly. Deutsch noted in 1953: Totalitarian power is strong only if it does not have to be used too often. . it follows.8 The English Nineteenth Century legal theorist John Austin described the situation of a dictatorship confronting a disaffected people. even if 8 Karl W. despite repression. ed. “Cracks in the Monolith. in large degree a reection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them. from political starvation. If totalitarian power must be used at all times against the entire population. the withholding of the sources of power can produce the paralysis and impotence of the regime.
London: John Murray. as well as Europe.9 Niccolo Machiavelli had much earlier argued that the prince “. I. who has the public as a whole for his enemy can never make himself secure. This. Germans. 254. Slovaks. . by the brave Poles. 1911 ). Vol.”10 The practical political application of these insights was demonstrated by the heroic Norwegian resisters against the Nazi occupation.C. Lectures on Jurisprudence or the Philosophy of Positive Law (Fifth edition. 2 vol. p. 75 and passim for other historical examples.From Dictatorship to Democracy 21 it received foreign assistance. Australasia. Vol. revised and edited by Robert Campbell. Africa.11 Nonviolent struggle has been employed at various times by peoples throughout Asia. 11 See Gene Sharp. the Americas. 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. I. The deant people could not be forced back into permanent obedience and subjection. and as cited in Chapter One. and (3) the population’s relative ability to withhold their consent and assistance. and the Pacic islands. 9 . 296. Austin concluded. (2) the relative strength of the subjects’ independent organizations and institutions to withdraw collectively the sources of power.. “The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy. 1973). the weaker does his regime become. 1950). . and nally helped produce the collapse of Communist rule in Europe. Czechs. p. and the greater his cruelty. p.” in The Discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. is no new phenomenon: cases of nonviolent resistance go back at least to 494 B. of course. Centers of democratic power One characteristic of a democratic society is that there exist independent of the state a multitude of nongovernmental groups and John Austin. when plebeians withdrew cooperation from their Roman patrician masters. and many others who resisted Communist aggression and dictatorship. 10 Niccolo Machiavelli. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent.
Isolated individuals. student associations. As stated. these centers of power provide the institutional bases from which the population can exert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls. If the dictatorship has been largely successful in destroying or controlling the society’s independent bodies. Additionally. Also. These bodies are important in serving their own objectives and also in helping to meet social needs. musical groups. much less a government. or purposes. economic institutions. for example. they will be part of the indispensable structural base for a free society. it will be important for . They provide group and institutional bases by which people can exert inuence over the direction of their society and resist other groups or the government when they are seen to impinge unjustly on their interests. and others. villages. political parties. Their continued independence and growth therefore is often a prerequisite for the success of the liberation struggle. literary societies. human rights organizations. These include. not members of such groups. sports clubs. The common feature of the cited examples in which dictatorships have been disintegrated or weakened has been the courageous mass application of political deance by the population and its institutions. and certainly not a dictatorship. the population will be relatively helpless.22 Gene Sharp institutions. trade unions. religious organizations. However. if these institutions can themselves be dictatorially controlled by the central regime or replaced by new controlled ones. gardening clubs. they can be used to dominate both the individual members and also those areas of the society. these bodies have great political signicance. if the autonomy and freedom of these independent civil institutions (outside of government control) can be maintained or regained they are highly important for the application of political deance. Consequently. usually are unable to make a signicant impact on the rest of the society. activities. In the future. if the autonomy and freedom of such bodies can be taken away by the dictators. families. cultural associations. neighborhood associations.
In Poland during the late 1980s workers maintained illegal Solidarity unions and. that the deliberate disintegration of dictatorships is possible. in some cases. even joining together to establish for some weeks a whole federated system of institutions and governance. for those still serving the dictators are likely to ght back in an effort to force the populace to resume cooperation and obedience. It certainly does not mean that the struggle will be free of casualties. Such institutional developments can have very important political consequences. The above insight into power does mean. Communist-dominated. . During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956-1957 a multitude of direct democracy councils emerged. took over control of the ofcial. Dictatorships in particular have specic characteristics that render them highly vulnerable to skillfully implemented political deance. or to reassert democratic control over surviving or partially controlled bodies. however. Of course.From Dictatorship to Democracy 23 the resisters to create new independent social groups and institutions. trade unions. Let us examine these characteristics in more detail. nor that every attempt will succeed. none of this means that weakening and destroying dictatorships is easy.
ineffective. When Achilles was a grown man he appeared to all to be invulnerable to the enemies’ weapons. Against the warrior Achilles. concentration camps. The strike proved fatal. a problem. military forces. The same principle applies to ruthless dictatorships.FOUR DICTATORSHIPS HAVE WEAKNESSES Dictatorships often appear invulnerable. and production capacities are often arbitrarily plundered by dictators and used to support the dictators’ will. the one spot where he could be injured. Still today. no blow would injure and no sword would penetrate his skin. and execution squads are controlled by a powerful few. police. In comparison. however. That perception of invulnerability against powerlessness makes effective opposition unlikely. Identifying the Achilles’ heel A myth from Classical Greece illustrates well the vulnerability of the supposedly invulnerable. When still a baby. and powerless. in the battle against Troy. natural resources. however. a plan. instructed by one who knew the weakness. the phrase “Achilles’ heel” refers to the vulnerable part of a person. 25 . but most quickly and with least cost if their weaknesses can be identied and the attack concentrated on them. prisons. They. Achilles’ mother had supposedly dipped him into the waters of the magical river Styx. can be conquered. That is not the whole story. However. too. or an institution at which if attacked there is no protection. democratic opposition forces often appear extremely weak. Intelligence agencies. There was. Since the baby was held by his heel so that he would not be washed away. resulting in the protection of his body from all dangers. A country’s nances. an enemy soldier aimed his arrow at Achilles’ unprotected heel. the magical water had not covered that small part of his body.
9. 8. or excessive controls and regulations. may make the system’s policies and operation ineffective. 4. . If a strong ideology is present that inuences one’s view of reality. groups. 6.26 Gene Sharp Weaknesses of dictatorships Among the weaknesses of dictatorships are the following: 1. rm adherence to it may cause inattention to actual conditions and needs. The cooperation of a multitude of people. The requirements and effects of the regime’s past policies will somewhat limit its present ability to adopt and implement conicting policies. Personnel and resources already allocated for existing tasks will not be easily available for new needs. Subordinates fearful of displeasing their superiors may not report accurate or complete information needed by the dictators to make decisions. The system may become routine in its operation. 7. and myths and symbols of the system may become unstable. 5. and institutions needed to operate the system may be restricted or withdrawn. 3. 2. The ideology may erode. the operation of the dictatorship. Deteriorating efciency and competency of the bureaucracy. less able to adjust quickly to new situations. Internal institutional conicts and personal rivalries and hostilities may harm. and even disrupt.
but may rise or fall to other ranks or be removed entirely and replaced by new persons. and at times extremely so. policy. even against the will of established dictators. If the dictatorship is new. The conclusion is then clear: despite the appearances of strength. skeptical. 14. time is required for it to become well established. the democratic opposition can seek to aggravate these “Achilles’ heels” deliberately in order to alter the system drastically or to disintegrate it. mistakes of judgment. Sections of the police or military forces may act to achieve their own objectives. its control over the central levers of power may be further eroded. 15. 17. 13. The power hierarchy of the dictatorship is always unstable to some degree. or national differences may become acute. The general public may over time become apathetic.From Dictatorship to Democracy 27 10. Individuals do not only remain in the same position in the ranking. Regional. including by coup d’état. Attacking weaknesses of dictatorships With knowledge of such inherent weaknesses. 16. Intellectuals and students may become restless in response to conditions. restrictions. cultural. and even hostile to the regime. If the regime seeks to avoid these dangers and decentralizes controls and decision making. doctrinalism. . and repression. class. 12. 11. With so many decisions made by so few people in the dictatorship. and action are likely to occur.
no means of action can ensure rapid success in every situation. of course. and conicts between organizations and departments. This does not mean dictatorships can be destroyed without risks and casualties. institutional inefciencies. . for example. The dictatorial regime may at times even fall apart quickly. The question is how this struggle is to be waged. tend to make the regime less effective and more vulnerable to changing conditions and deliberate resistance. Every possible course of action for liberation will involve risks and potential suffering.28 Gene Sharp all dictatorships have weaknesses. as we have already observed. and will take time to operate. These weaknesses. types of struggle that target the dictatorship’s identiable weaknesses have greater chance of success than those that seek to ght the dictatorship where it is clearly strongest. internal inefciencies. personal rivalries. At times. even Hitler’s direct orders were never implemented because those beneath him in the hierarchy refused to carry them out. And. over time. Not everything the regime sets out to accomplish will get completed. However.
29 . but rather where they are strongest. • It is difcult for the regime to combat. • It can in action be widely dispersed but can also be concentrated on a specic objective. • It can uniquely aggravate weaknesses of the dictatorship and can sever its sources of power.FIVE EXERCISING POWER In Chapter One we noted that military resistance against dictatorships does not strike them where they are weakest. • It leads to errors of judgment and action by the dictators. supplies of ammunition. In Chapter Two we examined the problems of relying on negotiations as a means to remove dictatorships. weapons technology. and the like. By choosing to compete in the areas of military forces. What means are then available that will offer the democratic resistance distinct advantages and will tend to aggravate the identied weaknesses of dictatorships? What technique of action will capitalize on the theory of political power discussed in Chapter Three? The alternative of choice is political deance. resistance movements tend to put themselves at a distinct disadvantage. The dangers of relying on foreign powers for salvation were also outlined. Political deance has the following characteristics: • It does not accept that the outcome will be decided by the means of ghting chosen by the dictatorship. Dictatorships will almost always be able to muster superior resources in these areas.
such as strikes and mass demonstrations. Nonviolent struggle is a much more complex and varied means of struggle than is violence. strikes. The workings of nonviolent struggle Like military capabilities. Although both techniques are means to wage struggle. making the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society more possible. disaffection. and destroy. all governments can rule only as long as they receive replenishment of the needed sources of their power from the cooperation. and obedience of the population and the institutions of the society.30 Gene Sharp • It can effectively utilize the population as a whole and the society’s groups and institutions in the struggle to end the brutal domination of the few. the struggle is fought by psychological. and political weapons applied by the population and the institutions of the society. economic. noncooperation. social. and people power. political deance can be employed for a variety of purposes. ranging from efforts to inuence the opponents to take different actions. to create conditions for a peaceful resolution of conict. In fact. submission. or to disintegrate the opponents’ regime. As noted earlier. However. unlike violence. injure. Nonviolent weapons and discipline The common error of past improvised political deance campaigns is the reliance on only one or two methods. is uniquely suited to severing those sources of power. Physical weapons are used to intimidate. Instead. • It helps to spread the distribution of effective power in the society. a multitude of methods exist that allow . These have been known under various names of protests. kill. political deance operates in quite different ways from violence. Political deance. The ways and results of violent conict are well known. boycotts. they do so with very different means and with different consequences.
is the nal group. Nonviolent intervention. by psychological. and (c) political noncooperation (38 methods). Noncooperation is divided into three sub-categories: (a) social noncooperation (16 methods).From Dictatorship to Democracy 31 resistance strategists to concentrate and disperse resistance as required. and refusal of assistance by (or disappearance of) indispens- . and parallel government (41 methods). In contrast to military means. if the dictatorship is vulnerable to economic pressures or if many of the popular grievances against it are economic. noncooperation. At times stalling and procrastination may be quietly and even secretly practiced. the methods of nonviolent struggle can be focused directly on the issues at stake. (b) economic noncooperation. On the other hand. applied persistently and on a large scale. These methods are classied under three broad categories: protest and persuasion. then political forms of nonviolent struggle would be crucial. These would include denial of legitimacy to the dictators and noncooperation with their regime. while at other times open disobedience and deant public demonstrations and strikes may be visible to all. nonviolent occupation. or political means. About two hundred specic methods of nonviolent action have been identied. may be appropriate resistance methods. since the issue of dictatorship is primarily political. and vigils (54 methods). A list of 198 of these methods is included as the Appendix to this publication. This applies to all dictatorships. The use of a considerable number of these methods — carefully chosen. such as boycotts or strikes. physical. and intervention. including parades. marches. such as the fast. and there are certainly scores more. wielded in the context of a wise strategy and appropriate tactics. slowdowns. then economic action. Noncooperation would also be applied against specic policies. economic. by trained civilians — is likely to cause any illegitimate regime severe problems. Methods of nonviolent protest and persuasion are largely symbolic demonstrations. The dictators’ efforts to exploit the economic system might be met with limited general strikes. For example. social. including boycotts (26 methods) and strikes (23 methods).
going on hunger strike.32 Gene Sharp able experts. For example. In this process the stark brutality of the regime against the clearly nonviolent actionists politically rebounds against the dictators’ position. Nonviolent discipline is a key to success and must be maintained despite provocations and brutalities by the dictators and their agents. One might refuse to join certain “recommended” or required organizations that one would not have joined freely in earlier times. Or. but then deliberately work more slowly or inefciently than usual. Nonviolent discipline is also extremely important in the process of political jiu-jitsu. Other methods of nonviolent struggle instead require people to continue approximately their normal lives. One might go to religious services when the act expresses not only religious but also political convictions. Some methods of nonviolent struggle require people to perform acts unrelated to their normal lives. people may report for work. . even limited resistance violence during a political deance campaign will be counterproductive. “Mistakes” may be consciously made more frequently. The maintenance of nonviolent discipline against violent opponents facilitates the workings of the four mechanisms of change in nonviolent struggle (discussed below). in the supply of raw materials. and in the distribution of products. such as distributing leaets. or sitting down in the streets. instead of striking. One may become “sick” and “unable” to work at certain times. Since nonviolent struggle and violence operate in fundamentally different ways. in transport. These methods may be difcult for some people to undertake except in very extreme situations. One may act to protect children from the attackers’ propaganda by education at home or in illegal classes. for it will shift the struggle to one in which the dictators have an overwhelming advantage (military warfare). The similarity of such types of action to people’s usual activities and the limited degree of departure from their normal lives may make participation in the national liberation struggle much easier for many people. one may simply refuse to work. operating an underground press. Selective use of various types of strikes may be conducted at key points in manufacturing. though in somewhat different ways.
which dampens the spirit of resistance and reduces the number of people who can participate in a given action. however. timing. deception. In some cases. Furthermore. and underground conspiracy pose very difcult problems for a movement using nonviolent action. certain groups may be unwilling to abandon violent means even though they recognize the important role of nonviolent struggle. That abandonment or control of fear is a key element in destroying the power of the dictators over the general population. population groups. secrecy is not only rooted in fear but contributes to fear. However. they will be far fewer than the casualties in military warfare. The historical record indicates that while casualties in dead and wounded must be expected in political deance. it will be necessary to separate the violent action as far as possible from the nonviolent action. Openness. Secrecy may also affect the ability of a movement to remain nonvio- . this type of struggle does not contribute to the endless cycle of killing and brutality. often unjustied. political deance does not need to be abandoned. In these cases. concerning who is an informer or agent for the opponents. Or. and third parties. Otherwise the violence could have a disastrous effect on the potentially much more powerful and successful use of political deance. It is often impossible to keep the political police and intelligence agents from learning about intentions and plans. Nonviolent struggle both requires and tends to produce a loss (or greater control) of fear of the government and its violent repression. secrecy. and issues. This should be done in terms of geography. and high standards Secrecy. within the movement. Frustration and hatred of the regime may explode into violence.From Dictatorship to Democracy 33 causing dissention in their own ranks as well as fomenting support for the resisters among the general population. From the perspective of the movement. It also can contribute to suspicions and accusations. limited violence against the dictatorship may be inevitable. the regime’s usual supporters.
These effects will rebound to strengthen or weaken one group or another. and there are signicant aspects of resistance activities that may require secrecy. the use of illegal radio broadcasts from within the country. Power relationships. and distribution of underground publications. Shifting power relationships Strategists need to remember that the conict in which political deance is applied is a constantly changing eld of struggle with continuing interplay of moves and countermoves. Such factors as fearlessness and maintaining nonviolent discipline are always required. A wellinformed assessment will be required by those knowledgeable about both the dynamics of nonviolent struggle and also the dictatorship’s means of surveillance in the specic situation. both absolute and relative. The problem is of course more complex than this suggests. to take place more quickly. but will contribute to an image that the resistance movement is in fact extremely powerful. The maintenance of high standards of behavior in nonviolent action is necessary at all stages of the conict. Nothing is static. The editing. Due to these variations. and the gathering of intelligence about the operations of the dictatorship are among the special limited types of activities where a high degree of secrecy will be required. However. . such numbers can be obtained as reliable participants only by maintaining the high standards of the movement. are subject to constant and rapid changes. The variations in the respective power of the contending sides in this type of conict situation are likely to be more extreme than in violent conicts. This is made possible by the resisters continuing their nonviolent persistence despite repression. openness regarding intentions and plans will not only have the opposite effects.34 Gene Sharp lent. In contrast. and to have more diverse and politically signicant consequences. specic actions by the resisters are likely to have consequences far beyond the particular time and place in which they occur. It is important to remember that large numbers of people may frequently be necessary to effect particular changes. printing.
Four mechanisms of change Nonviolent struggle produces change in four ways. a splitting of differences or compromise. Far more often. nonviolent struggle operates by changing the conict situation and the society so that the opponents simply cannot do as they like. In addition. they may come to accept the resisters’ aims. and the contest of forces has altered the power relationships to some degree.From Dictatorship to Democracy 35 In addition. though it has occurred. For example. nonviolent coercion. It is this change that produces the other three mechanisms: accommodation. This mechanism is . the nonviolent group may. This mechanism is called conversion. the immediate conict may be ended by reaching an agreement. Which of these occurs depends on the degree to which the relative and absolute power relations are shifted in favor of the democrats. they are rare. When members of the opponent group are emotionally moved by the suffering of repression imposed on courageous nonviolent resisters or are rationally persuaded that the resisters’ cause is just. This resistance may also result in increased international condemnation of the dictatorship. by its actions exert inuence over the increase or decrease in the relative strength of the opponent group to a great extent. skillful. unreliability. and disintegration. The rst mechanism is the least likely. disaffection. the demands of the opposition in a limited campaign are not considered threatening. and in most conicts this does not occur at all or at least not on a signicant scale. and persistent use of political deance may result in more and more participation in the resistance by people who normally would give their tacit support to the dictators or generally remain neutral in the conict. disciplined courageous nonviolent resistance in face of the dictators’ brutalities may induce unease. If the issues are not fundamental ones. Though cases of conversion in nonviolent action do sometimes happen. and in extreme situations even mutiny among the dictators’ own soldiers and population. disciplined.
that great care be exercised in selecting the issues on which a settlement by accommodation is acceptable. creating an impression of “fairness. these four mechanisms should be kept in mind.36 Gene Sharp called accommodation. Mass noncooperation and deance can so change social and political situations. the conditions producing nonviolent coercion are carried still further. The resisters’ self-direction. Many strikes are settled in this manner. The opponents’ troops and police mutiny. In some extreme situations. The opponents’ usual supporters or population repudiate their former leadership. especially power relationships. The opponents’ leadership in fact loses all ability to act and their own structure of power collapses. The regime simply falls to pieces. therefore. that the dictators’ ability to control the economic. They sometimes operate essentially by chance. and adhere to their original goals. disintegration of the opponents’ system. Hence. such as defusing tension. That is called nonviolent coercion. A struggle to bring down a dictatorship is not one of these. for example. In planning liberation strategies. the selection of one or more of these as the intended mecha- . The opponents’ bureaucracy refuses to obey its own leadership. The opponents’ military forces may become so unreliable that they no longer simply obey orders to repress resisters. It is important. A government may perceive such a settlement to have some positive benets. their ability to act effectively has been taken away from them. social. noncooperation. and deance become so complete that the opponents now lack even a semblance of control over them. Although the opponents’ leaders remain in their positions.” or polishing the international image of the regime. The fourth mechanism of change. and political processes of government and the society is in fact taken away. their former assistance and obedience falls away. is so complete that they do not even have sufcient power to surrender. Nonviolent struggle can be much more powerful than indicated by the mechanisms of conversion or accommodation. with both sides attaining some of their objectives but neither achieving all it wanted. However. denying that they have any right to rule at all.
• Nonviolent struggle can be used to assert the practice of democratic freedoms. independent organizations. . in face of repressive controls. use of the technique of nonviolent struggle contributes to democratizing the political society in several ways. Democratizing effects of political deance In contrast to the centralizing effects of violent sanctions. Which mechanism (or mechanisms) to select will depend on numerous factors. • Nonviolent struggle provides the means of noncooperation and deance by which the population can resist undemocratic controls over them by any dictatorial group. That is. including the absolute and relative power of the contending groups and the attitudes and objectives of the nonviolent struggle group. That is. in contrast to military means. and free assembly. One part of the democratizing effect is negative. Below are several of the positive democratizing effects nonviolent struggle may have: • Experience in applying nonviolent struggle may result in the population being more self-condent in challenging the regime’s threats and capacity for violent repression. this technique does not provide a means of repression under command of a ruling elite which can be turned against the population to establish or maintain a dictatorship. Another part of the democratizing effect is positive. free press.From Dictatorship to Democracy 37 nism of change in a conict will make it possible to formulate specic and mutually reinforcing strategies. such as free speech. nonviolent struggle provides the population with means of resistance that can be used to achieve and defend their liberties against existing or would-be dictators. but they cannot imprison or execute them when they dissent or choose other leaders. Leaders of a political deance movement can exert inuence and apply pressures on their followers.
nonviolent struggle is a complex technique of social action. and strengthening of the independent groups and institutions of the society. and specic behavioral requirements. rebirth. And strategists will need to have analyzed how nonviolent struggle can be most effectively applied. • Nonviolent struggle provides means by which the population can wield power against repressive police and military action by a dictatorial government. Complexity of nonviolent struggle As we have seen from this discussion. political deance requires careful planning and preparation. a range of mechanisms of change.38 Gene Sharp • Nonviolent struggle contributes strongly to the survival. Prospective participants will need to understand what is required of them. involving a multitude of methods. as previously discussed. These are important for democracy because of their capacity to mobilize the power capacity of the population and to impose limits on the effective power of any would-be dictators. We now turn our attention to this latter crucial element: the need for strategic planning. To be effective. Resources will need to have been made available. especially against a dictatorship. • Nonviolent struggle provides methods by which the population and the independent institutions can in the interests of democracy restrict or sever the sources of power for the ruling elite. thereby threatening its capacity to continue its domination. .
so that they suffered gravely and the resistance has collapsed. At other times a courageous individual or a small group may have taken action which aroused support. disrespect toward religious beliefs. with disastrous results. a specic call for resistance from a small group or individual may meet an unexpectedly large response. may thus join the struggle. it is now possible to calculate the most effective ways to bring down a dictatorship. Specic grievances that have triggered past initial actions have varied widely. food shortages. a new repressive policy or order. Very careful thought based on a realistic assessment of the situation and the capabilities of 39 . Sometimes.SIX THE NEED FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING Political deance campaigns against dictatorships may begin in a variety of ways. While spontaneity has some positive qualities. a particular act by the dictatorship has so enraged the populace that they have launched into action without having any idea how the rising might end. However. the arrest or killing of a highly regarded person. In the past these struggles have almost always been unplanned and essentially accidental. to assess when the political situation and popular mood are ripe. lack of planning on how to handle the transition to a democratic system has contributed to the emergence of a new dictatorship. A specic grievance may be recognized by others as similar to wrongs they had experienced and they. At times the lack of planning by democrats has left crucial decisions to chance. Frequently. the democratic resisters have not anticipated the brutalities of the dictatorship. or an anniversary of an important related event. Even when the oppressive system was brought down. Realistic planning In the future. too. and to choose how to initiate a campaign. but often included new brutalities. it has often had disadvantages. Sometimes. unplanned popular action will undoubtedly play signicant roles in risings against dictatorships.
this is almost never done. The more important the goal. In contrast. This is especially true for a democratic movement – which has limited material resources and whose supporters will be in danger – that is trying to bring down a powerful dictatorship. Note here that the objective is not simply to destroy the current dictatorship but to emplace a democratic system. Only rarely do these advocates fully recognize the extreme importance of careful strategic planning before they act. In terms of this discussion. “To plan a strategy” here means to calculate a course of action that will make it more likely to get from the present to the desired future situation. or the graver the consequences of failure. A grand strategy that limits its objective to merely destroying the incumbent dictatorship runs a great risk of producing another tyrant. organizational strength. Hurdles to planning Some exponents of freedom in various parts of the world do not bring their full capacities to bear on the problem of how to achieve liberation. it is wise to plan how to do it.40 Gene Sharp the populace is required in order to select effective ways to achieve freedom under such circumstances. Consequently. Strategic planning increases the likelihood that all available resources will be mobilized and employed most effectively. If one wishes to accomplish something. A plan to achieve that objective will usually consist of a phased series of campaigns and other organized activities designed to strengthen the oppressed population and society and to weaken the dictatorship. and ability to perpetrate brutalities. often most people in democratic opposition groups do not understand the need for strategic planning or are not accustomed or trained to . the dictatorship usually will have access to vast material resources. Why is it that the people who have the vision of bringing political freedom to their people should so rarely prepare a comprehensive strategic plan to achieve that goal? Unfortunately. it means from a dictatorship to a future democratic system. the more important planning becomes.
The opposition is then always on the defensive. as noted earlier. Creativity and bright ideas are very important. but are grossly inadequate to end a dictatorship and to achieve freedom. seeking to maintain limited liberties or bastions of freedom. or both. not only egocentric but they offer no guidance for developing a grand strategy of liberation. What is needed instead is action based on careful calculation of the “next steps” required to topple the dictatorship. and long enough. The espousal of humane goals and loyalty to ideals are admirable. it will somehow come to pass. Instead of liberation. but they need to be utilized in order to advance the strategic situation of the democratic forces. for they have not thought carefully about the successive specic steps required to achieve victory. Constantly harassed by the dictatorship. In most situations the dictatorship is best equipped for violent struggle and the military realities rarely. Action based on a “bright idea” that someone has had is also limited. violence is no guarantor of success. resistance leaders often do not have the safety or time to develop strategic thinking skills. it can lead to defeat. Some individuals and groups. they are doing all they can to implement them. Without strategic analysis. freedom will come. if ever. But. There are also activists who base their actions on what they “feel” they should do. they may naïvely think that if they simply espouse their goal strongly. Other opponents of dictatorship may naïvely think that if only they use enough violence. Instead. resistance leaders will often not know what that “next step” should be. These approaches are. . it is a common pattern simply to react to the initiatives of the dictatorship. Others assume that if they simply live and witness according to their principles and ideals in face of difculties. Instead.From Dictatorship to Democracy 41 think strategically. and overwhelmed by immediate responsibilities. This is a difcult task. favor the democrats. massive tragedy. at best slowing the advance of the dictatorial controls or causing certain problems for the regime’s new policies. rmly. of course. may not see the need for broad long-term planning of a liberation movement. however.
on where to concentrate efforts. Therefore. odd mixture of . advantages are not utilized. Lacking real hope. People struggling for freedom against established brutal dictatorships are often confronted by such immense military and police power that it appears the dictators can accomplish whatever they will.” That might be helpful but.42 Gene Sharp Acutely aware of the multitude of actions that could be taken against the dictatorship and unable to determine where to begin. planning how to do so is considered to be a romantic waste of time or an exercise in futility. is impossible. and how to use often limited resources. especially for relatively weak movements. Though they will never admit it. perhaps never consciously recognize it. these people will. allowing themselves to be repeatedly distracted by relatively small issues. such an approach provides no guidance on where to begin. nevertheless. They may not see that longer-term planning is necessary or possible. concentrating instead only on immediate issues. A poorly planned. for them. The result of such failures to plan strategically is often drastic: one’s strength is dissipated. one’s actions are ineffective. for another reason. It is also just possible that some democratic movements do not plan a comprehensive strategy to bring down the dictatorship. these leaders often fail to explore several alternative courses of action which could guide the overall efforts so that the goal is constantly approached. They may at times be unable to think and analyze in strategic terms. they do not really believe that the dictatorship can be ended by their own efforts. long-term comprehensive strategic planning has no merit. If democrats do not plan strategically they are likely to fail to achieve their objectives. energy is wasted on minor issues. of course. their actions appear to themselves as hopeless. defy the dictatorship for reasons of integrity and perhaps history. Inside themselves. and sacrices are for naught. Hence. but are only able to think about it on a short-term or tactical basis. Furthermore. some people counsel “Do everything simultaneously. Other persons and groups may see the need for some planning. often responding to the opponents’ actions rather than seizing the initiative for the democratic resistance. Devoting so much energy to short-term activities.
From Dictatorship to Democracy 43 activities will not move a major resistance effort forward. if ever. Grand strategy sets the basic framework for the selection of more limited strategies for waging the struggle. grand strategy will include decisions on the appropriate conditions and timing under which initial and subsequent resistance campaigns will be launched. dictatorships appear much more durable than they in fact are.12 12 Robert Helvey. Instead. Four important terms in strategic planning In order to help us to think strategically. operating within the scope of the chosen grand strategy. Strategy is the conception of how best to achieve particular objectives in a conict. political. Unfortunately. when.) of a group seeking to attain its objectives in a conict. Grand strategy. and how to ght. Further. They survive for years or decades longer than need be the case. human. . A strategy has been compared to the artist’s concept. etc. because comprehensive strategic plans for liberation are rarely. Grand strategy also determines the allocation of general tasks to particular groups and the distribution of resources to them for use in the struggle. as well as how to achieve maximum effectiveness in struggling for certain ends. Grand strategy is the conception that serves to coordinate and direct the use of all appropriate and available resources (economic. it will more likely allow the dictatorship to increase its controls and power. clarity about the meanings of four basic terms is important. by focusing primary attention on the group’s objectives and resources in the conict. 15 August 1993. In planning a grand strategy resistance leaders must evaluate and plan which pressures and inuences are to be brought to bear upon the opponents. personal communication. moral. Strategy is concerned with whether. developed. organizational. determines the most appropriate technique of action (such as conventional military warfare or nonviolent struggle) to be employed in the conict. while a strategic plan is the architect’s blueprint.
44 Gene Sharp Strategy may also include efforts to develop a strategic situation that is so advantageous that the opponents are able to foresee that open conict is likely to bring their certain defeat. To be most effective. Tactics relate to the skillful use of one’s forces to the best advantage in a limited situation. and how its separate components shall be tted together to contribute most advantageously to achieve its objectives. Or. just fullling “requirements” is not sufcient to ensure success. Tactics and methods of action are used to implement the strategy. Of course. Planning for a wise strategy must take into consideration the requirements for success in the operation of the chosen technique of struggle. This denition and analysis permits the strategist to identify the precise requirements for securing each selected objective. the democrats must clearly dene their objectives and determine how to measure the effectiveness of efforts to achieve them. and therefore capitulate without an open struggle. tactics and methods must be chosen and applied with constant attention to the achievement of strategic objectives. In devising strategies. The choice of tactics is governed by the conception of how best in a restricted phase of a conict to utilize the available means of ghting to implement the strategy. the improved strategic situation will make success of the challengers certain in struggle. Applied to the course of the struggle itself. It involves the skillful deployment of particular action groups in smaller operations. employed to achieve a restricted objective. just as a strategy ts within the grand strategy. Additional factors may also be needed. A tactic is a limited action. A tactic is thus concerned with a limited course of action that ts within the broad strategy. if not. This need for clarity and denition applies equally to tactical planning. Tactical gains that do not reinforce the attainment of strategic objectives may in the end turn out to be wasted energy. the strategic plan is the basic idea of how a campaign shall develop. Different techniques will have different requirements. Strategy also involves how to act to make good use of successes when gained. whereas strat- . Tactics are always concerned with ghting.
Tactical engagements are the tools of the strategist in creating conditions favorable for delivering decisive attacks against an opponent. Within the technique of nonviolent struggle.From Dictatorship to Democracy 45 egy includes wider considerations. political noncooperation. that those given responsibility for planning and executing tactical operations be skilled in assessing the situation. It is most important. and methods. A particular tactic can only be understood as part of the overall strategy of a battle or a campaign. therefore. Method refers to the specic weapons or means of action.) The development of a responsible and effective strategic plan for a nonviolent struggle depends upon the careful formulation and selection of the grand strategy.). Offensive tactical engagements are selected to support attainment of strategic objectives. while the effective use of one’s intellectual capacities can chart a strategic course that will judiciously utilize one’s available resources to move the society toward the goal of liberty and democracy. and selecting the most appropriate methods for it. The main lesson of this discussion is that a calculated use of one’s intellect is required in careful strategic planning for liberation from a dictatorship. or by a more limited number of people. strategies. or for more limited objectives. (See also Appendix. Tactics are applied for shorter periods of time than strategies. and the like) cited in Chapter Five. In nonviolent action the distinction between a tactical objective and a strategic objective may be partly indicated by whether the chosen objective of the action is minor or major. or in smaller areas (geographical. Failure to plan intelligently can contribute to disasters. . tactics. boycotts. etc. institutional. these include the dozens of particular forms of action (such as the many kinds of strikes. Those expected to participate must be trained in the use of the chosen technique and the specic methods.
democratic leaders and strategic planners will want to assess the objectives and importance of the cause. Though related. and international factors. 47 . Here we shall identify some of the important factors that need to be considered. All strategic planning. The objective in these conicts needs to be the establishment of a free society with a democratic system of government. To achieve such a plan of action. Of primary importance. political. however. Strategies can only be developed in the context of the particular struggle and its background. cultural. Out of such a careful analysis both a grand strategy and the specic campaign strategies for achieving freedom can be developed. social.SEVEN PLANNING STRATEGY In order to increase the chances for success. economic. a careful assessment of the situation and of the options for effective action is needed. requires that the resistance planners have a profound understanding of the entire conict situation. including attention to physical. Campaign strategies will need to be designed to achieve and reinforce the grand strategic objectives. historical. weakening and then destroying the dictatorship. We have argued here that overthrow of the dictatorship or removal of the present dictators is not enough. and building a durable democracy. military. Clarity on this point will inuence the development of a grand strategy and of the ensuing specic strategies. resistance leaders will need to formulate a comprehensive plan of action capable of strengthening the suffering people. The development of resistance strategy requires attention to many questions and tasks. the development of grand strategy and campaign strategies are two separate processes. and why? It is critical to determine the real objective of the struggle. both at the grand strategic level and the level of campaign strategy. governmental. psychological. Only after the grand strategy has been developed can the specic campaign strategies be fully developed. Are the objectives worth a major struggle.
and others. not immediately involved in the conict. In making this choice the strategists will need to consider such questions as the following: Is the chosen type of struggle within the capacities of the democrats? Does the chosen technique utilize strengths of the dominated population? Does this technique target . The merits and limitations of several alternative techniques of struggle will need to be evaluated. such as these: • What are the main obstacles to achieving freedom? • What factors will facilitate achieving freedom? • What are the main strengths of the dictatorship? • What are the various weaknesses of the dictatorship? • To what degree are the sources of power for the dictatorship vulnerable? • What are the strengths of the democratic forces and the general population? • What are the weaknesses of the democratic forces and how can they be corrected? • What is the status of third parties. either the dictatorship or the democratic movement. who already assist or might assist. such as conventional military warfare. strategists will need to answer many fundamental questions. planners will need to choose the main means of struggle to be employed in the coming conict.48 Gene Sharp Particularly. political deance. and if so in what ways? Choice of means At the grand strategic level. guerrilla warfare.
This process occurs in several ways. or do they require dependency on third parties or external suppliers? What is the record of the use of the chosen means in bringing down dictatorships? Do they increase or limit the casualties and destruction that may be incurred in the coming conict? Assuming success in ending the dictatorship. if they wish. as was discussed in Chapter Five. what effect would the selected means have on the type of government that would arise from the struggle? The types of action determined to be counterproductive will need to be excluded in the developed grand strategy. Planning for democracy It should be remembered that against a dictatorship the objective of the grand strategy is not simply to bring down the dictators but to install a democratic system and make the rise of a new dictatorship impossible. Under the dictatorship the population and civil institutions of the society have been too weak.From Dictatorship to Democracy 49 the weaknesses of the dictatorship. Strategists will need to examine their particular conict situation and determine whether political deance provides afrmative answers to the above questions. A “palace revolution” or a coup d’état therefore is not welcome. The development of a nonviolent struggle capacity means that the dictatorship’s capacity for violent repression no longer as easily produces intimidation and submission among the population. To accomplish these objectives. Without a change in this imbalance. or does it strike at its strongest points? Do the means help the democrats become more self-reliant. the chosen means of struggle will need to contribute to a change in the distribution of effective power in the society. a new set of rulers can. Political deance contributes to a more equitable distribution of effective power through the mobilization of the society against the dictatorship. The population will have at its disposal powerful means to counter and at times block the exertion of the dicta- . and the government too strong. be just as dictatorial as the old ones. In previous chapters we have argued that political deance offers signicant comparative advantages to other techniques of struggle.
50 Gene Sharp tors’ power. the choice of means. The knowledge and skill gained in struggle will make the population less likely to be easily dominated by would-be dictators. reduction in levels of diplomatic recognition or the breaking of diplomatic ties. and a determination of the role of external assistance. Further. Further. can also be provided directly to the democratic forces. and economic sanctions by governments and international organizations against the dictatorship. efforts can be made to mobilize world public opinion against the dictatorship. on humanitarian. it will be stimulated by the internal struggle. Efforts can be taken to obtain diplomatic. international assistance. expulsion of the dictatorial government from various international organizations and from United Nations bodies. political. In this analysis we have argued that the main force of the struggle must be borne from inside the country itself. such as the provision of nancial and communications support. These may take the forms of economic and military weapons embargoes. As a modest supplement. banning of economic assistance and prohibition of investments in the dictatorial country. To the degree that international assistance comes at all. This shift in power relationships would ultimately make establishment of a durable democratic society much more likely. moral. and religious grounds. . the mobilization of popular power through political deance will strengthen the independent institutions of the society. The experience of once exercising effective power is not quickly forgot. External assistance As part of the preparation of a grand strategy it is necessary to assess what will be the relative roles of internal resistance and external pressures for disintegrating the dictatorship. Formulating a grand strategy Following an assessment of the situation. planners of the grand strategy will need to sketch in broad strokes how the conict might best be conducted. This broad plan would stretch from the present to the future liberation and the institution of a democratic system.
equipment. or what institutions need to be newly created by the democrats to meet their needs and establish spheres of democracy even while the dictatorship continues? How can organizational strength in the resistance be developed? How can participants be trained? What resources (nances. No two situations will be exactly alike. even initially in a limited way? How could the population’s capacity to apply noncooperation and deance be increased with time and experience? What might be the objectives of a series of limited campaigns to regain democratic control over the society and limit the dictatorship? Are there independent institutions that have survived the dictatorship which might be used in the struggle to establish freedom? What institutions of the society can be regained from the dictators’ control.From Dictatorship to Democracy 51 In formulating a grand strategy these planners will need to ask themselves a variety of questions. The following questions pose (in a more specic way than earlier) the types of considerations required in devising a grand strategy for a political deance struggle: How might the long-term struggle best begin? How can the oppressed population muster sufcient self-condence and strength to act to challenge the dictatorship. each dictatorship will have some individual characteristics. etc. and the capacities of the freedom-seeking population .) will be required throughout the struggle? What types of symbolism can be most effective in mobilizing the population? By what kinds of action and in what stages could the sources of power of the dictators be incrementally weakened and severed? How can the resisting population simultaneously persist in its deance and also maintain the necessary nonviolent discipline? How can the society continue to meet its basic needs during the course of the struggle? How can social order be maintained in the midst of the conict? As victory approaches. Each struggle to bring down a dictatorship and establish a democratic system will be somewhat different. how can the democratic resistance continue to build the institutional base of the post-dictatorship society to make the transition as smooth as possible? It must be remembered that no single blueprint exists or can be created to plan strategy for every liberation movement against dictatorships.
Once a grand strategic plan for bringing down the dictatorship and establishing a democratic system has been adopted. The Politics of Nonviolent Action of Nonviolent Action. Massachusetts: Porter Sargent. 1973) and Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler. Awareness of the special characteristics of the grand strategy could potentially also contribute to dissension and defections from the dictators’ own camp. The general outlines of the grand strategy would become known to the dictators in any case and knowledge of its features potentially could lead them to be less brutal in their repression. and to act appropriately. Only in very rare circumstances should the struggle depart from the initial grand strategy. When there is abundant evidence that the chosen grand strategy was misconceived. 13 . or that the circumstances of the struggle have fundamentally changed. (Boston. Also see Gene Sharp.52 Gene Sharp will vary. this should be done only after a basic reassessment has been made and a new more adequate grand strategic plan has been developed and adopted. planners may need to alter the grand strategy. but of their chosen means of struggle as well.13 When the grand strategy of the struggle has been carefully planned there are sound reasons for making it widely known. Connecticut: Praeger. 2005. Planners of grand strategy for a political deance struggle will require a profound understanding not only of their specic conict situation. Waging Nonviolent Stuggle: Twentieth Century Practice and Twenty-First Century Potential. Even then. This knowledge could potentially have a very positive effect on their morale. Boston: Porter Sargent. 1994). Recommended full length studies are Gene Sharp. (Westport. it is important for the pro-democracy groups to persist in applying it. The large numbers of people required to participate may be more willing and able to act if they understand the general conception. their willingness to participate. as well as specic instructions. Strategic Nonviolent Conict. knowing that it could rebound politically against themselves.
The discussion here focuses exclusively on the level of strategy. require a thorough understanding of the nature and modes of operation of their chosen technique of struggle. a grand strategy does not implement itself. that can best be used to implement the chosen strategies. tactical plans and which specic methods of action should be used to im- . and answers to the questions posed here will not themselves produce strategies. In planning the strategies for the specic selective resistance campaigns and for the longer term development of the liberation struggle. tactics. and the like in order to plot military strategy. Particular strategies will need to be developed to guide the major campaigns aimed at undermining the dictators’ power. Within each overall plan for a particular strategic campaign it will be necessary to determine what smaller. munitions. The following are among these: • Determination of the specic objectives of the campaign and their contributions to implementing the grand strategy. the political deance strategists will need to consider various issues and problems. Just as military ofcers must understand force structures. logistics. the effects of geography. like those who planned the grand strategy. Even then. knowledge of nonviolent struggle. These strategies.From Dictatorship to Democracy 53 Planning campaign strategies However wise and promising the developed grand strategy to end the dictatorship and to institute democracy may be. in turn. political deance planners must understand the nature and strategic principles of nonviolent struggle. attention to recommendations in this essay. or political weapons. The tactics and the specic methods of action must be chosen carefully so that they contribute to achieving the goals of each particular strategy. • Consideration of the specic methods. The formulation of strategies for the struggle still requires an informed creativity. however. will incorporate and guide a range of tactical engagements that will aim to strike decisive blows against the dictators’ regime. Strategists planning the major campaigns will.
care will be needed that the economic grievances can actually be remedied after the dictatorship is ended. Such disillusionment could facilitate the rise of dictatorial forces promising an end to economic woes. If economic issues are to be prominent in the struggle. Exaggerations and unfounded claims will undermine the credibility of the resistance. Claims and reporting should always be strictly factual.54 Gene Sharp pose pressures and restrictions against the dictatorship’s sources of power. Such projects can be conducted by persons not directly involved in the resistance activities. economic. disillusionment and disaffection may set in if quick solutions are not provided during the transition period to a democratic society. It should be remembered that the achievement of major objectives will come as a result of carefully chosen and implemented specic smaller steps. and political activities to meet the needs of one’s own people during the coming conict. • Plans for self-reliant constructive social. • Determination in advance of what kind of leadership structure and communications system will work best for initiating the resistance struggle. and the international press. Otherwise. to the dictators’ forces. What means of decision-making and communication will be possible during the course of the struggle to give continuing guidance to the resisters and the general population? • Communication of the resistance news to the general population. • Determination of what kind of external assistance is desirable in support of the specic campaign or the general liberation struggle. How can external help be best mobilized . or how. economic issues should be related to the overall essentially political struggle. • Determination whether. educational.
. such as non-governmental organizations (social movements. As illustrated by the “Monkey Master” story (see Chapter Three). Spreading the idea of noncooperation For successful political deance against a dictatorship. the oppressive system will be weakened and nally collapse. Such a story could be easily understood. or a similar one. People living under the dictatorship may be already familiar with this concept from a variety of sources. labor unions. democrats have frequently proved this to be possible. Even so. and most appropriate. it is essential that the population grasp the idea of noncooperation. Furthermore. This will not only create alternative independent democratic structures and meet genuine needs. The “Monkey Master” story. could be disseminated throughout the society. the basic idea is simple: if enough of the subordinates refuse to continue their cooperation long enough despite repression. religious or political groups. to assist. and/or the United Nations and its various bodies. Once the general concept of noncooperation is grasped. the democratic forces should deliberately spread and popularize the idea of noncooperation. They will also be able on their own to improvise a myriad of specic forms of noncooperation in new situations.). people will be able to understand the relevance of future calls to practice noncooperation with the dictatorship. news. and resistance instructions while living under dictatorships. the resistance planners will need to take measures to preserve order and to meet social needs by one’s own forces during mass resistance against dictatorial controls. but also will reduce credibility for any claims that ruthless repression is required to halt disorder and lawlessness. governments. etc. Despite the difculties and dangers in attempts to communicate ideas.From Dictatorship to Democracy 55 and used without making the internal struggle dependent on uncertain external factors? Attention will need to be given to which external groups are most likely.
or avoid this possible increased repression without submission. Tactically. counteract. but they may also risk thousands of dead demonstrators. preparations for medical assistance for wounded resisters should be made. the strategists will do well to consider in advance the use of tactics and methods that will contribute to achieving the specic goal of a campaign. street demonstrations and parades against extreme dictatorships may be dramatic. so that they will know the risks of participation. The high cost to the demonstrators may not. or liberation. or massive acts of noncooperation from the civil servants. It will be necessary to determine how to withstand. If repression may be serious. leaets. appropriate warnings to the population and the resisters about expected repression would be in order. Anticipating repression. and how this might be done. For example. Then. of the dictatorship to the actions of the democratic resistance. actually apply more pressure on the dictatorship than would occur through everyone staying home. books. but that will make brutal repression less likely or less possible. the population will know how to act on certain important issues. Repression and countermeasures Strategic planners will need to assess the likely responses and repression. These can indicate the issues and circumstances under which the population should protest and withhold cooperation. a strike. however.56 Gene Sharp Even under Nazi and Communist rule it was possible for resisters to communicate not only with other individuals but even with large public audiences through the production of illegal newspapers. even if communications from the democratic leadership are severed. and in later years with audio and video cassettes. general guidelines for resistance can be prepared and disseminated. and specic instructions have not been issued or received. With the advantage of prior strategic planning. for specic occasions. . Such guidelines would also provide a test to identify counterfeit “resistance instructions” issued by the political police designed to provoke discrediting action. especially the threshold of violence.
Careful implementation of the chosen grand strategy and of strategies for particular campaigns will greatly contribute to success. These adjustments should not be confused with objectives of the grand strategy or the objectives of the specic campaign. marshals for demonstrations. Nor should the emotions of the moment — perhaps in response to new brutalities by the dictatorship — be allowed to divert the democratic resistance from its grand strategy or the campaign strategy. then one should very carefully consider the proposal’s costs and possible gains. As long as the basic analysis is judged to be sound. discipline leaets. the task of the pro-democracy forces is to press forward stage by stage. causing them to focus major activities on unimportant issues. Of course. changes in tactics and intermediate objectives will occur and good leaders will always be ready to exploit opportunities. Will such measures as pledges. the democratic forces should not be distracted by minor moves of the dictators that may tempt them to depart from the grand strategy and the strategy for a particular campaign.From Dictatorship to Democracy 57 If it has been proposed that provocative resistance action risking high casualties will be required for a strategic purpose. policy statements. and boycotts of pro-violence persons and groups be possible and effective? Leaders should always be alert for the presence of agents provocateurs whose mission will be to incite the demonstrators to violence. Adhering to the strategic plan Once a sound strategic plan is in place. . The brutalities may have been perpetrated precisely in order to provoke the democratic forces to abandon their well-laid plan and even to commit violent acts in order that the dictators could more easily defeat them. Will the population and the resisters be likely to behave in a disciplined and nonviolent manner during the course of the struggle? Can they resist provocations to violence? Planners must consider what measures may be taken to keep nonviolent discipline and maintain the resistance despite brutalities.
59 . separate campaigns with different specic objectives can be very useful. Selective resistance In the initial stages of the struggle. These types of actions — such as wearing one’s clothes in an unusual way — may publicly register a dissenting opinion and provide an opportunity for the public to participate signicantly in acts of dissent. Occasionally. Success in such limited campaigns could not only correct specic grievances but also convince the population that it indeed has power potential. In other cases a relatively minor (on the surface) nonpolitical issue (such as securing a safe water supply) might be made the focus for group action. condencebuilding actions. Such issues may be the appropriate targets for conducting campaigns to gain intermediary strategic objectives within the overall grand strategy. two or three might overlap in time. Nor does every campaign require the participation of all sections of the population. the deance strategists need to consider how the campaigns at the beginning. In planning a strategy for “selective resistance” it is necessary to identify specic limited issues or grievances that symbolize the general oppression of the dictatorship. Such selective campaigns may follow one after the other. Strategists should choose an issue the merits of which will be widely recognized and difcult to reject. Most of the strategies of campaigns in the long-term struggle should not aim for the immediate complete downfall of the dictatorship. and near the conclusion of the long-term struggle will differ from each other. In contemplating a series of specic campaigns to implement the grand strategy. but instead for gaining limited objectives. it is important that initial tasks for the public be low-risk.EIGHT APPLYING POLITICAL DEFIANCE In situations in which the population feels powerless and frightened. the middle.
then a ve minute halt to all activities or several minutes of silence might be used. On the other hand. involve placing owers at a place of symbolic importance. and also contribute to advantageous incremental shifts in power relations for the long-term struggle. then the initial act might. or to deny the dictators a particular objective. it is wise to formulate at least the general outlines of strategies for a second and possibly a third campaign.60 Gene Sharp These intermediary strategic objectives need to be attainable by the current or projected power capacity of the democratic forces. or political issues. the campaign of selective resistance should also strike at one weakness or more of the dictatorship. If the number of persons willing to act is small. All such strategies will need to implement the chosen grand strategy and operate within its general guidelines. These may be chosen in order to keep some part of the social and political system out of the dictators’ control. democrats can make the greatest possible impact with their available power capacity. which are good for morale. If possible. They should be designed in part to test and inuence the mood of the population. In other situations. and to prepare them for continuing struggle through noncooperation and political deance. economic. the rst more specically political actions may be limited in scope. if the number of persons willing to act is very large. a few indi- . What are to be its limited objectives? How will it help fulll the chosen grand strategy? If possible. for example. Very early the strategists need to plan at least the strategy for the rst campaign. The initial action is likely to take the form of symbolic protest or may be a symbolic act of limited or temporary noncooperation. Symbolic challenge At the beginning of a new campaign to undermine the dictatorship. This helps to ensure a series of victories. as already discussed. Thereby. to regain control of some part currently controlled by the dictators. Selective resistance strategies should concentrate primarily on specic social.
a vigil at a place of symbolic importance. It usually is not possible to sever the availability of the sources of power to the dictators completely and rapidly at the beginning of a struggle. therefore. In most cases. For example.From Dictatorship to Democracy 61 viduals might undertake a hunger strike. journalists might challenge . such as a physical occupation in front of the dictator’s palace or political police headquarters may involve high risk and are therefore not advisable for initiating a campaign. a brief student boycott of classes. a quick campaign of full noncooperation and deance is an unrealistic strategy for an early campaign against the dictatorship. Spreading responsibility During a selective resistance campaign the brunt of the struggle is for a time usually borne by one section or more of the population. In a later campaign with a different objective. rail workers might meticulously obey safety regulations so as to slow down the rail transport system. Initial symbolic protest actions have at times aroused major national and international attention — as the mass street demonstrations in Burma in 1988 or the student occupation and hunger strike in Tiananman Square in Beijing in 1989. students might conduct strikes on an educational issue. or a temporary sit-in at an important ofce. Although having a tremendous moral and psychological impact. That would require virtually the whole population and almost all the institutions of the society — which had previously been largely submissive — to reject absolutely the regime and suddenly defy it by massive and strong noncooperation. Under a dictatorship these more aggressive actions would most likely be met with harsh repression. the burden of the struggle would be shifted to other population groups. The high casualties of demonstrators in both of these cases points to the great care strategists must exercise in planning campaigns. That has not yet occurred and would be most difcult to achieve. such actions by themselves are unlikely to bring down a dictatorship. religious leaders and believers might concentrate on a freedom of religion issue. Certain symbolic acts. for they remain largely symbolic and do not alter the power position of the dictatorship.
they are likely to be among the rst targets of the dictatorship. strategists would plot more ambitious noncooperation and deance to sever the dictatorships’ sources of power. It will be necessary to plan carefully how the democratic forces can weaken the support that people and groups have previously offered to the dictatorship. by exposure of the disastrous economic consequences of the dictators’ policies. In the struggle. with the goal of producing increasing political paralysis. Phasing resistance campaigns by issue and population group will allow certain segments of the population to rest while resistance continues. These centers of power provide the institutional bases from which the population can exert pressure or can resist dictatorial controls. which were briey discussed earlier. Will their support be weakened by revelations of the brutalities perpetrated by the regime. The aim would be to use popular noncooperation to create a new more advantageous strategic situation for the democratic forces. and in the end the disintegration of the dictatorship itself. Selective resistance is especially important to defend the existence and autonomy of independent social. the strategists will need to calculate how the dictators’ sources of power can be further restricted. or police might repeatedly fail to locate and arrest wanted members of the democratic opposition. Aiming at the dictators’ power As the long-term struggle develops beyond the initial strategies into more ambitious and advanced phases. and political groups and institutions outside the control of the dictatorship. As the democratic resistance forces gained strength. economic. or by a new understanding that the dictatorship can be ended? The dictators’ supporters should at least be induced to become “neutral” in their activities (“fence sitters”) or preferably to become active supporters of the movement for democracy. During the planning and implementation of political deance .62 Gene Sharp censorship by publishing papers with blank spaces in which prohibited articles would have appeared.
it is highly important to pay close attention to all of the dictators’ main supporters and aides. both soldiers and ofcers. Therefore. however. Similar strategies could be aimed at the police and civil servants. The attempt to garner sympathy from and. family. and bureaucrats. By words. or political reasons? What other factors might make soldiers and ofcers vulnerable to democratic subversion? Early in the liberation struggle a special strategy should be developed to communicate with the dictators’ troops and functionaries. the democratic forces can inform the troops that the liberation struggle will be vigorous. including their inner clique. The degree of loyalty of the military forces. but especially their army. police. and supporting the refusal to carry out repres- . Such efforts would aim ultimately to undermine the morale of the dictators’ troops and nally to subvert their loyalty and obedience in favor of the democratic movement. induce disobedience among the dictators’ forces ought not to be interpreted. and actions. eventually. designed to undermine the dictatorship but not to threaten their lives.From Dictatorship to Democracy 63 and noncooperation. it will be necessary to plan how sympathetic military ofcers can be brought to understand that neither a military coup nor a civil war against the dictatorship is required or desirable. political party. for (as we have discussed) a coup d’état does little to redress the imbalance of power relations between the populace and the rulers. Such a scenario is not likely to install a working democracy. Sympathetic ofcers can play vital roles in the democratic struggle. symbols. to the dictatorship needs to be carefully assessed and a determination should be made as to whether the military is open to inuence by the democratic forces. Might many of the ordinary soldiers be unhappy and frightened conscripts? Might many of the soldiers and ofcers be alienated from the regime for personal. such as spreading disaffection and noncooperation in the military forces. to mean encouragement of the military forces to make a quick end to the current dictatorship through military action. Troops should learn that the struggle will be of a special character. encouraging deliberate inefciencies and the quiet ignoring of orders. and persistent. determined.
or deportations. to disintegrate the dictatorship if the police. it should be made clear that there are a multitude of relatively safe forms of “disguised disobedience” that they can take initially. for their part. The democratic forces should not ask the soldiers and ofcers that they immediately mutiny. The army is one of the most important sources of the power of dictators because it can use its disciplined military units and weaponry directly to attack and to punish the disobedient population. arrests. where communication is possible. Similarly. In that case it will be necessary to calculate . It is possible. including safe passage. Military personnel may also offer various modes of positive nonviolent assistance to the democracy movement. food. Soldiers may shoot over the heads of demonstrators. and fail to report important information to their superior ofcers. and become “ill” so that they need to stay home until they “recover. The democratic forces should remember that disaffection and disobedience among the military forces and police can be highly dangerous for the members of those groups.64 Gene Sharp sion. For example. bureaucrats. for example. that the struggle may not go as well as expected. Instead. and military forces remain fully supportive of the dictatorship and obedient in carrying out its commands. Deance strategists should remember that it will be exceptionally difcult. information. police and troops can carry out instructions for repression inefciently. Disaffected ofcers in turn can neglect to relay commands for repression down the chain of command. work inefciently. fail to locate wanted persons. warn resisters of impending repression.” Shifts in strategy The political deance strategists will need constantly to assess how the grand strategy and the specic campaign strategies are being implemented. Strategies aimed at subverting the loyalty of the dictators’ forces should therefore be given a high priority by democratic strategists. medical supplies. or impossible. civil servants can lose les and instructions. and the like. Soldiers and police could expect severe penalties for any act of disobedience and execution for acts of mutiny.
make a strategic reassessment. how can the democratic forces capitalize on unexpected gains and move toward paralyzing the dictatorship? We will explore this question in the following chapter. What can be done to increase the movement’s strength and regain the initiative? In such a situation. and develop alternative courses of action. .From Dictatorship to Democracy 65 what shifts in strategy might be required. the new plan should be implemented immediately. it will be necessary to identify the problem. possibly shift struggle responsibilities to a different population group. Conversely. When that is done. mobilize additional sources of power. if the struggle has gone much better than expected and the dictatorship is collapsing earlier than previously calculated.
cooperate with.NINE DISINTEGRATING THE DICTATORSHIP The cumulative effect of well-conducted and successful political deance campaigns is to strengthen the resistance and to establish and expand areas of the society where the dictatorship faces limits on its effective control. Withdrawal of cooperation and obedience are needed to sever the availability of other sources of the regime’s power. or assist the rulers. The greater the regime’s authority. As was discussed in Chapter Three. if the civil servants no longer function with their normal efciency or even stay at home. and submission are essential if dictators are to be powerful. Withdrawal of support is therefore the major required action to disintegrate a dictatorship. the greater and more reliable is the obedience and cooperation which it will receive. the dictators’ power weakens and nally dissolves. These campaigns also provide important experience in how to refuse cooperation and how to offer political deance. obedience. That experience will be of great assistance when the time comes for noncooperation and deance on a mass scale. then the dictators will see their capacity to implement their 67 . Without access to the sources of political power. For example. If noncooperation is practiced by large parts of the population. Acts of symbolic repudiation and deance are among the available means to undermine the regime’s moral and political authority — its legitimacy. cooperation. the regime will be in serious trouble. Similarly. if the noncooperating persons and groups include those that have previously supplied specialized skills and knowledge. the administrative apparatus will be gravely affected. A second important such source of power is human resources. It may be useful to review how the sources of power can be affected by political deance. the number and importance of the persons and groups that obey. Moral disapproval needs to be expressed in action in order to seriously threaten the existence of the dictatorship.
68 Gene Sharp will gravely weakened. As previously discussed. transportation. the economic system. and increasing autonomy in the economy. and noncooperative sections of the population — is a central source of the power of dictators. and transportation will weaken the regime. In summary. natural resources. the effectiveness of the available sanctions will be drastically reduced (that is. disobedient. the dictators’ repression will not secure the desired submission). beat. the dictatorship is gravely threatened. Without constant replenishment of the necessary sources of power the dictatorship will weaken and nally disintegrate. boycotts. communications. the dictators’ ability to threaten or apply sanctions — punishments against the restive. If psychological and ideological inuences — called intangible factors — that usually induce people to obey and assist the rulers are weakened or reversed. First. . Competent strategic planning of political deance against dictatorships therefore needs to target the dictators’ most important sources of power. success against an entrenched dictatorship requires that noncooperation and deance reduce and remove the sources of the regime’s power. they may on an individual or mass basis evade or outright defy orders to arrest. if the police and the military forces themselves become disaffected. another major source of their power is vulnerable or removed. as in a war. the population will be more inclined to disobey and to noncooperate. If the dictators can no longer rely on the police and military forces to carry out repression. The dictators’ access to material resources also directly affects their power. and means of communication in the hands of actual or potential opponents of the regime. property. Strikes. This source of power can be weakened in two ways. With control of nancial resources. or shoot resisters. Even their ability to make well-informed decisions and develop effective policies may be seriously reduced. to risk serious consequences as the price of deance. Second. if the population is prepared.
and political institutions progressively expands the “democratic space” of the society and shrinks the control of the dictatorship. (Workers Defense Committee) to advance their political ideas.O. the new independent institutions of the society continued to function. then. If and when the dictatorship intervenes to halt this “escalating freedom. Illegal publishing houses annually issued hundreds of books. For example.” nonviolent struggle can be applied in defense of this newly won space and the dictatorship will be faced with yet another “front” in the struggle. students. The organization of the Solidarity trade union with its power to wield effective strikes forced its own legalization in 1980. with many imprisonments and harsh persecution. making the collapse of the dictatorship and the formal installation of a democratic system undeniable because the power relationships within the society have been fundamentally altered.R. whatever the dictators may wish. In time. Solidarity was again banned and the Communists resorted to military rule. and many other groups also formed their own independent organizations. In 1976 certain intellectuals and workers formed small groups such as K. Poland in the 1970s and 1980s provides a clear example of the progressive reclaiming of a society’s functions and institutions by the resistance. the population is incrementally building an independent society outside of their control. Even under martial law. this combination of resistance and institution building can lead to de facto freedom. . The Catholic church had been persecuted but never brought under full Communist control. As the civil institutions of the society become stronger vis-à-vis the dictatorship. dozens of illegal newspapers and magazines continued to be published. while well-known writers boycotted Communist publications and government publishing houses. cultural. Peasants. the growth of autonomous social.From Dictatorship to Democracy 69 Escalating freedom Combined with political deance during the phase of selective resistance. economic. When the Communists realized that these groups had changed the power realities.
70 Gene Sharp Similar activities continued in other parts of the society. The dictatorship. the democratic parallel government may fully replace the dictatorial regime as part of the transition to a democratic system. time will be required for creating. it was only a matter of time until the society was able to bring down the regime completely. compliance. arrests. with punishments. Eventually. The dictatorship would then consequently.” This would increasingly operate as a rival government to which loyalty. In due course then a constitution would be adopted and elections held as part of the transition. and the development of mass deance may occur only after several years. could not control the society. In most cases. or expanding resistance capacities. seizure of printing presses. During this interim period campaigns of selective resistance should be launched with increasingly important political objectives. on an increasing basis. be deprived of these characteristics of government. the military-Communist government was at one point described as bouncing around on the top of the society. From that point. however. The ofcials still occupied government ofces and buildings. Larger parts of the population at all levels of the society should become involved. Even while a dictatorship still occupies government positions it is sometimes possible to organize a democratic “parallel government. and the like. Given determined and disciplined political deance during this escalation of activities. imprisonment. . The regime could still strike down into the society. the internal weaknesses of the dictatorship are likely to become increasingly obvious. the deance and noncooperation movement may escalate. Strategists of the democratic forces should contemplate early that there will come a time when the democratic forces can move beyond selective resistance and launch mass deance. and cooperation are given by the population and the society’s institutions. Under the Jaruselski military regime. Disintegrating the dictatorship While the institutional transformation of the society is taking place. building.
however. It is desirable at that time to establish quickly a new functioning government. and it is better to plan for a long-term struggle (but to be prepared for a short one).From Dictatorship to Democracy 71 The combination of strong political deance and the building of independent institutions is likely in time to produce widespread international attention favorable to the democratic forces. This can happen when the sources of power are massively severed as a result of the whole population’s revulsion against the dictatorship. The democrats should calculate how the transition from the dictatorship to the interim government shall be handled at the end of the struggle. as in East Germany in 1989. Thought should be given in advance to determine what is to be the policy toward high ofcials of the dictatorship when its power . it must not be merely the old one with new personnel. It may also produce international diplomatic condemnations. This pattern is not usual. Those who have earned the victory should be recognized. Celebrations with vigilance should also help to keep up the morale needed for future stages of the struggle. During the course of the liberation struggle. Handling success responsibly Planners of the grand strategy should calculate in advance the possible and preferred ways in which a successful struggle might best be concluded in order to prevent the rise of a new dictatorship and to ensure the gradual establishment of a durable democratic system. should be celebrated. However. It is necessary to calculate what sections of the old governmental structure (as the political police) are to be completely abolished because of their inherent anti-democratic character and which sections retained to be subjected to later democratization efforts. boycotts. victories. A complete governmental void could open the way to chaos or a new dictatorship. even on limited issues. Strategists should be aware that in some situations the collapse of the dictatorship may occur extremely rapidly. and embargoes in support of the democratic forces (as it did for Poland).
hard work. For example. and rarely quickly. Plans for the institution of democratic constitutional government with full political and personal liberties will also be required. When confronted with the increasingly empowered population and the growth of independent democratic groups and institutions — both of which the dictatorship is unable to control — the dictators will nd that their whole venture is unravelling. careful strategic planning. mass stay-at-homes. and building a democracy following the victory? A blood bath must be avoided which could have drastic consequences on the possibility of a future democratic system. However.72 Gene Sharp disintegrates. The dictatorship would disintegrate before the deant population. Such plans will help to prevent another group from seizing state power through a coup d’état. or other activities will increasingly undermine the dictators’ own organization and related institutions. and disciplined courageous struggle. are the dictators to be brought to trial in a court? Are they to be permitted to leave the country permanently? What other options may there be that are consistent with political deance. without violence. the need for reconstructing the country. executed wisely and with mass participation over time. Massive shut-downs of the society. general strikes. political deance offers a real possibility of victory. that possibility can be greatly increased through the development of a wise grand strategy. Not every such effort will succeed. the dictators would become powerless and the democratic defenders would. It should be remembered that as many military wars are lost as are won. As stated earlier. . The changes won at a great price should not be lost through lack of planning. deant marches. Specic plans for the transition to democracy should be ready for application when the dictatorship is weakening or collapses. triumph. As a consequence of such deance and noncooperation. especially not easily.
. . The Politics. . Chapter 12. Book V. and recognition. The constitutional and legal bases and standards of behavior of a durable democracy will need to be built. tyranny can also change into tyranny. Even in the event of a successful disintegration of the dictatorship by political deance. for long-term efforts to improve the society and meet human needs more adequately. The disintegration of the dictatorship simply provides the beginning point. this is not a time for a reduction in vigilance. Serious political. under conditions of enhanced freedom.TEN GROUNDWORK FOR DURABLE DEMOCRACY The disintegration of the dictatorship is of course a cause for major celebration. 73 . They should feel proud of themselves and of all who struggled with them to win political freedom. The new political system should provide the opportunities for people with varying outlooks and favored measures to continue constructive work and policy development to deal with problems in the future.”14 There is ample historical evidence from France (the 14 Aristotle. No one should believe that with the downfall of the dictatorship an ideal society will immediately appear. The living and the dead will be remembered as heroes who helped to shape the history of freedom in their country. The leaders of the pro-democracy forces should have prepared in advance for an orderly transition to a democracy. requiring the cooperation of many people and groups in seeking their resolution. relaxation. . careful precautions must be taken to prevent the rise of a new oppressive regime out of the confusion following the collapse of the old one. The dictatorial structures will need to be dismantled. economic. and social problems will continue for years. Not all will have lived to see this day. 233. p. Unfortunately. People who have suffered for so long and struggled at great price merit a time of joy. Threats of a new dictatorship Aristotle warned long ago that “.
Burma (SLORC). acceptance of their moral and political right to rule. Preparation can produce prevention. Even before the collapse of the dictatorship. The rst basic principle of anti-coup defense is therefore to deny legitimacy to the putschists. The putschists also require that the multitude of people who operate the political system. Iran (the Ayatollah). administrators and judges in order to consolidate their control over the affected society. the society’s institutions. but the results are often approximately the same. that is. Blocking coups There are ways in which coups against newly liberated societies can be defeated. It may claim to oust the dictatorship. bureaucrats and civil servants. the police. Russia (the Bolsheviks).74 Gene Sharp Jacobins and Napoleon). Essentially the same means of struggle that was used against the dictatorship can be used against . and elsewhere that the collapse of an oppressive regime will be seen by some persons and groups as merely the opportunity for them to step in as the new masters. members of the old regime may attempt to cut short the deance struggle for democracy by staging a coup d’état designed to preempt victory by the popular resistance. or just passive. the economy. Immediately after a coup is started. but in fact seek only to impose a new refurbished model of the old one. confused. and the military forces will passively submit and carry out their usual functions as modied by the putschists’ orders and policies. the putschists require legitimacy. Their motives may vary. The second basic principle of anti-coup defense is to resist the putschists with noncooperation and deance. The putschists also require that the civilian leaders and population be supportive. The new dictatorship may even be more cruel and total in its control than the old one. Advance knowledge of that defense capacity may at times be sufcient to deter the attempt. The putschists require the cooperation of specialists and advisors. The needed cooperation and assistance must be denied.
In the interests of preserving the democratic system and impeding dictatorial trends and measures. a clear division of authority should be established between the legislative. One should be very cautious about including in the constitution promises that later might prove impossible to imple- . Within the central government. Strong restrictions should be included on activities of the police. while remaining a part of the whole country.From Dictatorship to Democracy 75 the new threat. the means and timing of elections by which governmental ofcials and legislators will be chosen. If both legitimacy and cooperation are denied. if it is to remain democratic. Otherwise. intelligence services. limits on governmental powers. and the relation of the national government to other lower levels of government. and judicial branches of government. If a suitable older constitution is not present. Preparing a new constitution will take considerable time and thought. executive. Popular participation in this process is desirable and required for ratication of a new text or amendments. If a constitution with many of these features existed earlier in the newly liberated country’s history. the constitution should preferably be one that establishes a federal system with signicant prerogatives reserved for the regional. it may be necessary to operate with an interim constitution. a new constitution will need to be prepared. and local levels of government. Constitution drafting The new democratic system will require a constitution that establishes the desired framework of the democratic government. The constitution should set the purposes of government. state. but applied immediately. and military forces to prohibit any legal political interference. In some situations the Swiss system of cantons might be considered in which relatively small areas retain major prerogatives. amending it as deemed necessary and desirable. it may be wise simply to restore it to operation. the inherent rights of the people. the coup may die of political starvation and the chance to build a democratic society restored.
1990). It must be remembered that some groups will ignore any constitutional provision in their aim to establish themselves as new dictators. The wording of the constitution should be easily understood by the majority of the population. serious consideration should be given to applying the basic principles of political deance to the needs of national defense. or military domination. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. a permanent role will exist for the population to apply political deance and noncooperation against would-be dictators and to preserve democratic structures. The country might also be threatened by foreign attempts to establish economic. Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System (Princeton. A democratic defense policy The liberated country may also face foreign threats for which a defense capacity would be required. 15 . A constitution should not be so complex or ambiguous that only lawyers or other elites can claim to understand it. In the interests of maintaining internal democracy. newly liberated countries could avoid the need to establish a strong military capacity which could itself threaten democracy or require vast economic resources much needed for other purposes. and procedures. political. This technique enables people who formerly felt themselves to be only pawns or victims to wield power directly in order to gain by their own efforts greater freedom and justice.15 By placing resistance capacity directly in the hands of the citizenry. Therefore. for both can facilitate a new dictatorship. rights.76 Gene Sharp ment or provisions that would require a highly centralized government. This experience of struggle has imporSee Gene Sharp. A meritorious responsibility The effect of nonviolent struggle is not only to weaken and remove the dictators but also to empower the oppressed.
From Dictatorship to Democracy
tant psychological consequences, contributing to increased self-esteem and self-condence among the formerly powerless. One important long-term benecial consequence of the use of nonviolent struggle for establishing democratic government is that the society will be more capable of dealing with continuing and future problems. These might include future governmental abuse and corruption, maltreatment of any group, economic injustices, and limitations on the democratic qualities of the political system. The population experienced in the use of political deance is less likely to be vulnerable to future dictatorships. After liberation, familiarity with nonviolent struggle will provide ways to defend democracy, civil liberties, minority rights, and prerogatives of regional, state, and local governments and nongovernmental institutions. Such means also provide ways by which people and groups can express extreme dissent peacefully on issues seen as so important that opposition groups have sometimes resorted to terrorism or guerrilla warfare. The thoughts in this examination of political deance or nonviolent struggle are intended to be helpful to all persons and groups who seek to lift dictatorial oppression from their people and to establish a durable democratic system that respects human freedoms and popular action to improve the society. There are three major conclusions to the ideas sketched here: • Liberation from dictatorships is possible; • Very careful thought and strategic planning will be required to achieve it; and • Vigilance, hard work, and disciplined struggle, often at great cost, will be needed.
The oft quoted phrase “Freedom is not free” is true. No outside force is coming to give oppressed people the freedom they so much want. People will have to learn how to take that freedom themselves. Easy it cannot be. If people can grasp what is required for their own liberation, they can chart courses of action which, through much travail, can eventually bring them their freedom. Then, with diligence they can construct a new democratic order and prepare for its defense. Freedom won by struggle of this type can be durable. It can be maintained by a tenacious people committed to its preservation and enrichment.
THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION16
THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION Formal statements 1. Public speeches 2. Letters of opposition or support 3. Declarations by organizations and institutions 4. Signed public statements 5. Declarations of indictment and intention 6. Group or mass petitions Communications with a wider audience 7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols 8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications 9. Leaets, pamphlets, and books 10. Newspapers and journals 11. Records, radio, and television 12. Skywriting and earthwriting Group representations 13. Deputations 14. Mock awards 15. Group lobbying 16. Picketing 17. Mock elections Symbolic public acts 18. Display of ags and symbolic colors 19. Wearing of symbols
This list, with denitions and historical examples, is taken from Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part Two, The Methods of Nonviolent Action.
Religious processions 41. Humorous skits and pranks 36. Marches 39. Parades 40. Symbolic reclamations 30. Performance of plays and music 37. Mock funerals 45.80 Gene Sharp 20. Singing Processions 38. Protest disrobings 23. Symbolic sounds 29. Pilgrimages 42. Destruction of own property 24. Motorcades Honoring the dead 43. Delivering symbolic objects 22. Paint as protest 27. Demonstrative funerals 46. Rude gestures Pressures on individuals 31. Homage at burial places . Political mourning 44. Displays of portraits 26. Prayer and worship 21. New signs and names 28. Vigils Drama and music 35. “Haunting” ofcials 32. Symbolic lights 25. Taunting ofcials 33. Fraternization 34.
Walk-outs 52. Excommunication 59. Total personal noncooperation 67. Withdrawal from social institutions Withdrawal from the social system 65. Selective social boycott 57. Flight of workers 68. and institutions 60. Turning one’s back THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION Ostracism of persons 55. Protest meetings 49. Suspension of social and sports activities 61. Student strike 63. Collective disappearance 70. Assemblies of protest or support 48. Sanctuary 69. customs. Stay-at-home 66. Boycott of social affairs 62. Camouaged meetings of protest 50. Interdict Noncooperation with social events.From Dictatorship to Democracy 81 Public assemblies 47. Social disobedience 64. Lysistratic nonaction 58. Renouncing honors 54. Silence 53. Teach-ins Withdrawal and renunciation 51. Social boycott 56. Protest emigration (hijrat) .
Withdrawal of bank deposits 87. Refusal to pay fees. Rent withholding 75. International buyers’ embargo 96. Domestic embargo 93. Merchants’ “general strike” Action by holders of nancial resources 86. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott Action by owners and management 81. Refusal to let or sell property 83. Producers’ boycott Action by middlemen 80. Traders’ boycott 82. National consumers’ boycott 77.82 Gene Sharp THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: (1) ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS Action by consumers 71. Blacklisting of traders 94. dues. Workmen’s boycott 79. Severance of funds and credit 90. Refusal to pay debts or interest 89. Refusal of industrial assistance 85. International trade embargo . and assessments 88. Lockout 84. International sellers’ embargo 95. Policy of austerity 74. Refusal to rent 76. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods 73. Refusal of a government’s money Action by governments 92. International consumers’ boycott Action by workers and producers 78. Revenue refusal 91. Consumers’ boycott 72.
Working-to-rule strike 112. Professional strike Ordinary industrial strikes 105. Quickie walkout (lightning strike) Agricultural strikes 99. Limited strike 115. Hartal 119. Craft strike 104. Refusal of impressed labor 102. General strike Combinations of strikes and economic closures 118. Protest strike 98. Sympathetic strike Restricted strikes 108.From Dictatorship to Democracy 83 THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: (2) THE STRIKE Symbolic strikes 97. Reporting “sick” (sick-in) 113. Detailed strike 109. Economic shutdown . Selective strike Multi-industry strikes 116. Bumper strike 110. Slowdown strike 111. Generalized strike 117. Establishment strike 106. Industry strike 107. Peasant strike 100. Farm workers’ strike Strikes by special groups 101. Prisoners’ strike 103. Strike by resignation 114.
Disguised disobedience 137. General administrative noncooperation . Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents 130. Sitdown 139. Blocking of lines of command and information 144. Reluctant and slow compliance 134. Removal of own signs and placemarks 131. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision 135. Stalling and obstruction 145. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse 138. Boycott of government employment and positions 126. Refusal of public support 122. Boycott of legislative bodies 124. Refusal to accept appointed ofcials 132. Literature and speeches advocating resistance Citizens’ noncooperation with government 123.84 Gene Sharp THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION Rejection of authority 120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance 121. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides 143. Hiding. agencies and other bodies 127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions 128. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation 140. Boycott of government departments. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions Citizens’ alternatives to obedience 133. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws Action by government personnel 142. Boycott of elections 125. Boycott of government-supported organizations 129. escape and false identities 141. Popular nonobedience 136.
Stand-in 164. Self-exposure to the elements 159. Mutiny Domestic governmental action 149. Refusal of membership in international bodies 157. Sit-in 163. Reverse trial 161. Ride-in 165. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units International governmental action 151. Pray-in 168. Withdrawal from international organizations 156. Withholding of diplomatic recognition 154. Mill-in 167. Quasi-legal evasions and delays 150. Wade-in 166. Nonviolent raids . Nonviolent harassment Physical intervention 162. Expulsion from international organizations THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION Psychological intervention 158. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events 153. Changes in diplomatic and other representation 152. Severance of diplomatic relations 155. Judicial noncooperation 147. Deliberate inefciency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents 148.From Dictatorship to Democracy 85 146. The fast (a) Fast of moral pressure (b) Hunger strike (c) Satyagrahic fast 160.
Alternative social institutions 180. Alternative economic institutions Political intervention 193.86 Gene Sharp 169. Nonviolent occupation Social intervention 174. Nonviolent air raids 170. Preclusive purchasing 187. Selective patronage 190. Nonviolent land seizure 184. Seeking imprisonment 196. Politically motivated counterfeiting 186. Reverse strike 182. Nonviolent obstruction 173. Disclosing identities of secret agents 195. Nonviolent interjection 172. Seizure of assets 188. Guerrilla theater 179. Establishing new social patterns 175. Dual sovereignty and parallel government . Alternative communication system Economic intervention 181. Stall-in 177. Dumping 189. Stay-in strike 183. Work-on without collaboration 198. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws 197. Overloading of administrative systems 194. Alternative markets 191. Deance of blockades 185. Overloading of facilities 176. Speak-in 178. Alternative transportation systems 192. Nonviolent invasion 171.
sociological analysis. Dr. the analysis and conclusions contained therein are solely my responsibility. This has been necessary in order to ensure accuracy in languages in which there has earlier been no established clear terminology for this eld. a prominent exile Burmese democrat who was then editor of Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal). Dr. structural reorganization. and editorial improvements. In recent years special guidelines for translations have been developed. totalitarian systems. I am also grateful for the editorial assistance of Stephen Coady. political theory. The preparation of this text was based over forty years of research and writing on nonviolent struggle. He also made incisive recommendations for more rigorous and clearer presentations of difcult ideas (especially concerning strategy). “From Dictatorship to Democracy” was written at the request of the late U Tin Maung Win.APPENDIX TWO ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY I have incurred several debts of gratitude while writing the original edition of this essay. my Special Assistant in 1993. dictatorships. I could not write an analysis that had a focus only on Burma. respectively. Bruce Jenkins. made an inestimable contribution by his identication of problems in content and presentation. resistance movements. Hazel McFerson and Dr. Christopher Kruegler and Robert Helvey offered very important criticisms and advice. 87 . Patricia Parkman provided information on struggles in Africa and Latin America. and other elds. However. primarily due to Jamila Raqib’s guidance and to the lessons learned from earlier years.
As late as 2005. the largest Muslim organization in the world with thirty-ve million members. and later . He was then head of Nadhlatul Ulama. Although no efforts were made to promote the publication for use in other countries. (Burmans are the dominant ethnic group in Burma. it was translated into Indonesian. Heavy attacks were made in 1995 and 1996. and published in 1997 by a major Indonesian publisher with an introduction by Abdurrahman Wahid. However. radio. There. This analysis was intended only for use by Burmese democrats and various ethnic groups in Burma that wanted independence from the Burman-dominated central government in Rangoon. I had to write a generic analysis. and taken back home. It was circulated both surreptitiously inside Burma and among exiles and sympathizers elsewhere. persons were sentenced to seven-year prison terms merely for being in possession of the banned publication. Therefore. Thailand in 1993. translations and distribution of the publication began to spread on their own. The essay was originally published in installments in Khit Pyaing in Burmese and English in Bangkok. A copy of the English language edition was seen on display in the window of a bookstore in Bangkok by a student from Indonesia. Afterwards it was issued as a booklet in both languages (1994) and in Burmese again (1996 and 1997). The original booklet editions from Bangkok were issued with the assistance of the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma. that appears to have been the perception by people who in recent years have sought to translate and distribute it in their languages for their countries. Several persons have reported that it reads as though it was written for their country. and television.88 Gene Sharp as I did not know Burma well. The SLORC military dictatorship in Rangoon wasted no time in denouncing this publication. and reportedly continued in later years in newspapers. was purchased.) I did not then envisage that the generic focus would make the analysis potentially relevant in any country with an authoritarian or dictatorial government.
German. These were the people who became the Otpor organization that led the nonviolent struggle that brought down Milosevic. Kurdish. a retired US Army colonel. took one of those copies to Belgrade during Milosovic’s time and gave it to the organization Civic Initiatives. Later. . Chin (Burma). Its availability on our web site in recent years has been important. but clearly that is not the only factor. They translated it into Serbian and published it. Kyrgyz (Kyrgyzstan). For a few years we had to make copies of it when we had enquiries for which it was relevant. Belarusian. During this time. Several others are in preparation. “From Dictatorship to Democracy” is a heavy analysis and is not easy reading. Georgian. Translations of this publication in print or on a web site include the following languages: Amharic (Ethiopia). When we visited Serbia after the collapse of the Milosevic regime we were told that the booklet had been quite inuential in the opposition movement. Between 2003 and 2008 there have been twenty-two. Marek Zelaskiewz. for about twenty Serbian young people on the nature and potential of nonviolent struggle. Serbian. Ukrainian. Russian. Arabic. at my ofce at the Albert Einstein Institution we only had a handful of photocopies from the Bangkok English language booklet. Khmer (Cambodia). Nepali. Yet it has been deemed to be important enough for at least twenty-eight translations (as of January 2008) to be prepared. Helvey also gave them copies of the complete The Politics of Nonviolent Action. although they required major work and expense. Hungary. French. Tracing these connections would be a major research project. Uzbek (Uzbekistan). had given in Budapest. and Vietnamese. Azeri (Azerbaijan). Between 1993 and 2002 there were six translations. from California. Jing Paw (Burma). Also important had been the workshop on nonviolent struggle that Robert Helvey. Farsi (Iran). Tibetan. Dhivehi (Maldives). Chinese (simplied and traditional Mandarin). Tigrinya (Eritrea). We usually do not know how awareness of this publication has spread from country to country. Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan).From Dictatorship to Democracy 89 President of Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia. Spanish. Karen (Burma). Burmese.
90 Gene Sharp The great diversity of the societies and languages into which translations have spread support the provisional conclusion that the persons who initially encounter this document have seen its analysis to be relevant to their society. Gene Sharp January 2008 Albert Einstein Institution Boston. Massachusetts .
Notication can be given to the Albert Einstein Institution (contact information appears in the beginning of this publication immediately before the Table of Contents). Candi91 . The author. That means that anyone is free to reproduce it or disseminate it. careful consideration must be given to how these terms and concepts are to be translated so as to be understood accurately by new readers. For individuals and groups that wish to translate this work. if it is reproduced. either additions or deletions. although individuals are under no legal obligation to follow such requests.APPENDIX THREE A Note About Translations and Reprinting of this Publication To facilitate dissemination of this publication it has been placed in the public domain. as direct equivalents for “nonviolent struggle” and related terms may not be available. Some of the terms in this publication will not translate readily into other languages. Thus. • The author requests notication from individuals who intend to reproduce this document. They are as follows: • A selection process takes place to select a translator. • The author requests that no changes be made in the text. • The author requests that if this document is going to be translated. the Albert Einstein Institution has developed a standard set of translation procedures that may assist them. does have several requests that he would like to make. however. great care must be taken to preserve the original meaning of the text.
It is often better if the translator and evaluator do not know the identities of each other. then either the translator or the evaluator may be replaced. keeping in mind the comments of the evaluator. the translator submits a sample translation of two or three pages of the text.92 Gene Sharp dates are evaluated on their uency in both English and the language into which the work will be translated. depending upon the judgement of the individual or group that is sponsoring the translation. • Once the translator and evaluator are selected. The evaluator’s job is to thoroughly review the translation and to provide feedback and criticism to the translator. • The evaluator evaluates this sample translation and presents feedback to the translator. as well as a list of a number of signicant key terms that are present in the text. If minor problems exist. Candidates are also evaluated on their general knowledge surrounding the subject area and their understanding of the terms and concepts present in the text. . the evaluator evaluates the entire text and gives feedback to the translator. • If major problems exist between the translator’s sample translation and the evaluator’s evaluation of that translation. • An evaluator is selected by a similar process. the nal version of the text is complete and the translated book is ready to be printed and distributed. • Once the entire text is translated. • Once the translator has considered this feedback and made any necessary changes. the translator proceeds with the full translation of the text.
6. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution. USA Tel: USA +1 617-247-4882 Fax: USA +1 617-247-4035 E-mail: einstein@igc.) by Gene Sharp. 1973. Boston: Extending Horizons Books. On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About the Fundamentals by Robert L. Boston: Extending Horizons Books. 2. 5. Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential by Gene Sharp. 7. 2010. Porter Sargent Publishers. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (3 vols. 2003. Boston: Extending Horizons Books. Social Power and Political Freedom by Gene Sharp. Dictionary of Civilian Struggle: Technical Terminology of Nonviolent Action and the Control of Political Power by Gene Sharp. 4. Helvey. For order information.org Website: www. 3. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution. Box 455 East Boston.From Dictatorship to Democracy 93 For Further Reading 1.aeinstein. 8.O. Self-Liberation by Gene Sharp with the assistance of Jamila Raqib. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution. Publication forthcoming. There Are Realistic Alternatives by Gene Sharp. 2003. The Anti-Coup by Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins. Porter Sargent Publishers.org . MA 02128. please contact: The Albert Einstein Institution P. 2005. Porter Sargent Publishers. Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution. 1980. 2002.
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