CIVIL RESISTANCE


CIVIC EDUCATION   . . .

Where I go for AGGREGATED news on Cambodia, plus...   . . .           On Dec 26-29, 1979 [by now, Cambodia under one full year of Vietnamese occupation], the musician Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim, the Secre [ ... ]


CIVIC EDUCATION


Has Science Discovered God?     Click to watch this FASCINATING, MIND-BLOGGING video with breathtaking images and you learn science in the process!   Read transcript             God in the Cosmos
Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]



I remember being struck by author and peace activist Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institution a couple of years back upon reading a review of his book "From Dictatorship to Democracy". It is only now--in light of recent events surrounding the conviction in absentia of opposition democracy leader Sam Rainsy and the re-awakening of my own conscience to re-evaluate my duties and responsibilities as a Cambodian, as a human rights advocate, as a human being deeply distraught by the plunge toward an autocracy all-too familiar with all the danger signs reverberating prophetically of a blood-drenched Cambodia not yet in the distant past--that I am reminded of him again and reading his work.

"From Dictatorship to Democracy" is available in its complete updated version at:

 http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/FDTD.pdf.

A Khmer version should be made available soon. The interview of Gene Sharp by The New York Times Magazine gives a telling glimpse into the man and the mission.

- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, 28 Sept. 2010

. . . . .

 

Questions for Gene Sharp 

Give Peace a Chance

Interview by DAVID WALLIS
Published: November 24, 2002, The New York Times
 

Q:  You're the president of the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit organization that promotes nonviolent struggle. With war in Iraq looming, why has the antiwar movement in America failed to generate much public support?

A:  The peace movements, with a few exceptions, focus on what not to do rather than what to do instead. They do not answer the question, What do you do if you have a Saddam Hussein, a Hitler, a Stalin?


Q:  What do you do when faced with a Saddam?

A:  What would most likely oust Hussein is noncooperation. He and his entourage at the top of the pyramid can't function if the bottom of the pyramid doesn't function.


If soldiers don't obey orders, if communication shorts out, if the transportation system suddenly does not work, then nothing happens after dictators give orders.


Q:
  Which philosopher or statesman most influenced you?

A:  Gandhi, but not ''Mahatma.'' Gandhi as a calculating political operator.


Q:  Should George Bush read Gandhi?

A:  No. Gandhi did not write systematically. Bush needs to read the political scientist Karl W. Deutsch, who points out the weaknesses of dictatorships and that these weaknesses over time can cause the regime to liberalize or fall apart.


Q:
  How vital is it to have a charismatic leader like Gandhi leading a nonviolent struggle?

A:  You don't need them. If you have one, O.K., but be careful, because charismatic leaders can sometimes take unwise actions. In the 1930-31 struggle for independence from Britain, Gandhi gave away more than he had to. During the Nazi invasion of Norway, teachers refused to join a fascist organization and indoctrinate children. They did not need a saint or prophet. That makes a resistance movement more powerful, because opponents can't halt the resistance just by arresting or killing a few people.


Q:
  In your book ''From Dictatorship to Democracy,'' you argue that it may ''politically rebound'' against dictators when they violently crack down on dissent. Why did the Tiananmen slaughter fail to bring down the Chinese regime?

A:  The students were very close to bringing down the Chinese government, but they had no strategy. When civil servants were throwing money out the window to the students, why not call on those civil servants to go on strike? Why not paralyze the transportation system?


The Tiananmen Square occupation was a symbolic protest. Symbolism is only a help.


You must paralyze the dictatorship.


Q:  The Serbian opposition movement used your work as a guide to help topple Slobodan Milosevic. Predict the location of the next popular uprising.

A:  It's very close in Iran, where thousands of students have been protesting. I've been asked to supply one of my writings in Farsi. It's also somewhat possible in Belarus.


Q:
  Is force ever justified? How would you tell the administration to deal with Al Qaeda?

A:  They mean well, but there is a lack of deep thought in the administration. When you talk in terms of a ''war on terrorism,'' that teaches the terrorists that they have not been brutal enough.


Q:
  Do you agree with William Bennett that film and TV violence spurs real-life carnage?

A:  Hollywood shares some of the blame for not highlighting the fact that nonviolent struggle can be an equally dramatic alternative to violence. Have we had a film about the Polish Solidarity movement or the Czechoslovak uprisings in 1968 and 1989?


Q:
  One last bit of advice for the peaceniks?

A:  Think. You have to use your head if you want to succeed. If the issue is only how to express yourself, that's irrelevant and selfish. People do not make the distinction between expressing themselves and doing something that can win.

 

 

 

Theary's BLOG

BBC's Asean Way online; Anti-Sam Rainsy Law; Em Theay; "Yuon" again; Post turns 25; Canada turns 150; Strawman Speaks Fluff

Now available online: The ASEAN Way: Part 1 The ASEAN Way: Part 4
The BBC Global Questions at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN had me pose the first question and gave me the last words to close the hour-long program.   ...     Why "in sp [ ... ]


Pinyin; The New Yorker Comma Queen Series; You're already appropriating punctuation marks; now use them properly

Johnson: The story of pinyin   One country, two systems
The coexistence of pinyin and Chinese characters highlights the role of emotion in language decisions   The Economist | January 2017 [excerpts]   Pinyin has not, of course, replaced the  [ ... ]


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