Adonis Diaries

One-sided Non-violent revolution: Even in “democratic” systems?

Posted on: December 6, 2011

One-sided Non-violent revolution: Even in “democratic” systems?

Claiming to be in revolt connote a change in political system.  Any political party claiming to be against a political system is tantalizing to think of as a “revolutionary” party.  For example, an extremist Islamic party abhorring a communist system can claim to be “revolutionary”.  Consequently, being a revolutionary does not necessarily lead to any kind of association with programs targeted to be for the well-being of communities…

It is the social and economic programs, detailed and engaged among communities, that project the necessity for reforms, based on the deficiencies of the current system from recreating and revising programs which are demonstrating to be short of breath for any significant improvement and development.

Apparently, the documentary “How to Start a Revolution” by Ruaridh Arrow was screened at the Zionist Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.  It comes at a time when Foreign Policy magazine has decided that Gene Sharp “has inspired Arab spring protesters.”

The New York Times decided—without any evidence whatsoever—that Gene Sharp has inspired a non-violent revolution throughout the Arab world. Can anyone claim that governments in any of the revolutions, anywhere, never used and abused of violence against mass demonstrators, marchers, extended sit-ins…?  Do thousands of revolted citizens who were killed, injured, humiliated, rounded up and put in jails, teargazed…didn’t submit to violence?

Can anyone who joined “Occupy Wall Street” protest in the scores of US cities claim that violence was not their daily staple by police forces?  Can we claim that a revolt was non-violent simply because the masses of political disobedience were the only party refraining from using arms, clubs, teargas, camels…?

No, the Arab uprisings have not been non-violent at all: the Egyptian people revolted violently in Suez and other places, and attacked government buildings,offices of Hosni Mubarak’s party. police stations throughout the country, and offices of Hosni Mubarak’s party…

The Libyan uprising degenerated, with NATO intervention, into multiple wars inside Libya, and is turning more vicious after Qadhafi assassination, though the news media refrain from covering this insidious tacit civil war…

In Tunisia, the rebels also attacked government buildings…and the violence has not subsided yet…

In Yemen, the killing and violence from both sides didn’t subside and has turned to an ugly civil war…

What about Bahrain were the Gulf Arab “States” and Western medias are doing their best to not cover the continuing atrocities committed by these self-appointed absolute monarchs…?

In Syria, the situation is now regularly labeled a “civil war.”

Changing a political system is not the same as gradually reforming a system, through unbiased election laws, and unbiased media coverage that usually favor the power-to-be system…Even lukewarm reform demands are confronted with blood and flesh by the system in order to sending “strong messages” that law and order is the sin-qua of any dominant system…

 As’ad AbuKhalil, in his blog “Angry Corner”, wrote on Dec. 2, under “The Delusions of Gene Sharp How to Start a Revolution”:

“Sharp disturbingly has no problem promoting his influence. He starts the movie by talking about the oft-used evidence of the spread of his ideas: that his books have been translated into more than 30 languages. He keeps talking about the translation of one of his books (prominently featured in the film) into Arabic.

This claim is dishonest: Sharp knows that his books were not translated through the initiative of Arab fans. They were translated by his own Einstein Institution, through external funding provided to his organization.

Jamila Raqib (who was featured in the film as his devotee) contacted me a few years ago when the Institution funded the translation of the books. They asked me to supervise the translation process and verify the accuracy. The books were too uninteresting for me, and I turned down the job and I referred them to a friend.

How could Sharp convince himself that the translation of his work into multiple languages is evidence of his influence when he knows that he himself commissioned the translation of his own work?

Politically speaking, Sharp has been working largely in sync with US foreign policy goals. He promoted his non-violent agenda against the communist governments during the Cold War, and his partner (a former US army General) talked about his work under the tutelage of the Republican International Institute.

If Sharp is keen on promoting non-violence, why does he not preach non-violence to the US government which practices more violence than most countries of the world? And why has Sharp preached non-violence to Palestinians but not to Israelis? His project of non-violence seems in the interest of the most violent governments in the world today.”

Can we dismiss the theory of Gene Sharp’s so-called inspiration the non-violent nature of the “Arab spring” uprising? What does the documentary “How to Start A Revolution” say?

AbuKhalil resumes: “It is not easy to finish the movie: there is no story, really. It focuses on Gene Sharp in his old age, in his house in Massachusetts. In the basement of the house works the executive director of his Albert Einstein Institution.  Director Sharp struggles to make his case, and the movie has the feel of a promotional movie of a cult.

The movie could not provide any evidence of Sharp’s influence. Consequently, it invites four men to confirm that Sharp has inspired revolution. One man is from Serbia, and another from Georgia, and one is from Egypt, and the fourth, a Syrian from London.

Each one of the four was tasked with providing a testimonial (clearly under prodding from the interviewer behind the camera) to the effect that “yes, Sharp inspired the revolution”.  That was it. The film was crude in contrasting images of revolutions and protests with a close up of Gene Sharp’s face in his house.

And the movie claimed falsely that governments around the world have been attacking Gene Sharp’s works due to his influence. Sharp himself, without any evidence, claimed that the Russian government set on fire two printing presses because they carried his books. The film claimed that protesters in Iran were convicted on following the instructions of Sharp — and again no evidence was presented.

The second part of the movie focuses on the Egyptian and Syrian cases.

In the Egyptian case, the movie brings in a guy and introduces him to us as “a leader of the Egyptian revolution.” I personally have never heard of the guy, but you had to believe that he is the leader of the revolution. This Egyptian “leader” said: “yes, Sharp inspired the Egyptian revolution”.

The Syrian guy, Ussama Munajjid, was even funnier. He lives in London but the film introduced him as a  “leader” of the Syrian revolution. We saw him in his office uploading footage from cameras that he “had placed” all over the country, as the film alleges. If this guy’s testimonial was not enough, he was flown to Boston to be filmed while listening to Sharp’s advice.

It is not difficult to mock the writings of Sharp. His instructions for revolution are too basic and common-sensical to be credited to Sharp. The film even suggests that he was behind the idea of beating pots and pans in Serbia, when Latin Americans have engaged in this form of protests for decades, long before Sharp’s books were translated (at his own initiative) to Spanish.

Sharp suggests that protesters should wave flags, as if they did not think of that prior to the publication of Sharp’s books!

The message of Sharp in the film is condescending and patronizing, although his firm belief in his own international influence has a tinge of self-delusion. He believes that he — the White Man — alone knows what is the best course of action for people around the world. He preaches to Arabs that they were wrong in insisting on the resignation of the leader: he urges that the downfall of the government be stressed instead, as if Arab popular chants did not aim at that.

Sharp (or his one Egyptian fan in the film) may have not heard of the nine bombings of the Egyptian pipeline to Israel. That was not in any of Sharp’s books.” End of quote

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December 2011

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