Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The Angry Arab had a few comments about Gene Sharp, and would be livid if he read this diary.

I tend to agree-  there is no way he can take credit for "toppling" Mubarak.  Sorry, but people giving credit to anyone who didn't put their lives on the line the way the Egyptian protesters did gets me angry too.

by stevesim on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 12:37:42 PM EST
Why "get angry" just because someone gives SOME credit to Gene Sharp for the fact that his IDEAS had some influence - which is not to claim that they were decisive. People who put their lives on the line do so for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways and they may draw on a variety of sources for ideas - including how to function most effectively in such a situation based on historical precedents. It seems that some of the people involved in the revolution in Egypt, especially those who seem to have played an important organisational role, clearly did draw on his ideas and valued them:

When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago to conduct a workshop, among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp's "198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,"a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to "protest disrobing" to "disclosing identities of secret agents."

Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop and later organized similar sessions on her own, said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp's work into Arabic, and that his message of "attacking weaknesses of dictators" stuck with them.


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 05:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Angry Arab:

It seems that Sharp now wants to claim credit for the uprisings simply because his book was translated by an AMERICAN foundation into Arabic.


This is rubbish, from the NYT story he's apparently referring to:

Mr. Sharp, hard-nosed yet exceedingly shy, has been careful not to take credit. He is more thinker than revolutionary, though as a young man he participated in lunch-counter sit-ins and spent nine months in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., as a conscientious objector during the Korean War. He has had no contact with the Egyptian protesters, he said, although he recently learned that the Muslim Brotherhood had "From Dictatorship to Democracy" posted on its Web site.


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 05:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to be on the side of Prof Abu Khalil on this one.  Few in the Arab world would have heard or have read of Gene Sharp.

Just another case of the white man trying to claim moral superiority, in my opinion.

by stevesim on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 06:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Just another case of the white man trying to claim moral superiority, in my opinion."

I don't find such racist statements acceptable, nor intelligent; I assume you would avoid making statements about "the black man".

You might also try to supporting this - if you must endorse it - rather than simply repeating it.

I don't suppose most Egyptians know the names of the small group of Egyptians who organised the revolution - so what ?

... as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role.

There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement's most potent spokesman.

Yet they brought a sophistication and professionalism to their cause -- exploiting the anonymity of the Internet to elude the secret police, planting false rumors to fool police spies, staging "field tests" in Cairo slums before laying out their battle plans, then planning a weekly protest schedule to save their firepower -- that helps explain the surprising resilience of the uprising they began.
Most of the group are liberals or leftists, and all, including the Brotherhood members among them, say they aspire to a Western-style constitutional democracy where civic institutions are stronger than individuals.


 The organisers included the Muslim brotherhood which "had (Gene Sharp's) "From Dictatorship to Democracy" posted on its Web site." So they knew about him and they have been an important oppositional force. But anyway, ideas usually filter down slowly and can be effective long before most people are conscious of them:

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

 John Maynard Keynes

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 07:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
racist?  what's racist is assuming that Egyptians have to import their revolutionary ideas.
by stevesim on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 07:06:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nor was Nelson Mandela, or MLK.

Steve, I just think you're being a little bit too race-conscious here. I don't see a race issue here at all.

I don't find anything extraordinary about "importing" ideas from people of different nations or different races (I'm neither nationalist nor racist).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 07:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steve, I just think you might be concern trolling here.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 20th, 2011 at 11:06:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, it isn't because others, who are more knowledgeable, have also expressed the same opinion.

I think you don't accept criticism of your ideas very well.

by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be sad if they were so racist or xenophobic as to refuse to benefit from the ideas of an excellent thinker just because he was not Egyptian, or was white.
Clearly, that's not the case.
Good for them.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:51:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, but that makes no sense.  just because someone is not known in your culture does not make that a xenophobic culture or act...
by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 03:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More racist that claiming they relied on Facebook and Google, both of which come from America?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody's "assuming" they have to import their revolutionary ideas, reference is being made to what some some Egyptians, ones central to the organisation of the revolution, have said or done, e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood publishing one of Sharp's books on their site, as I've already pointed out. Intelligent people learn from a variety of sources and ideas cross national and cultural boundaries all the time. Angry Arab himself draws on European ideas when it suits him, he describes himself as a "former Marxist-Leninist",



AbuKhalil is suspicious of all religious movements, whether Islamic, Jewish or otherwise. "During the French revolution, the Jacobins wanted to erect a statue to reason in place of a statue to religion," he said. "That's an attitude that would be useful today, especially with all the religious fervor and fanaticism we are seeing."


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 05:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry.  still not convinced.

Islam has a long history of non-violence among believers, for example.  As I recall, that is what was being shouted in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria and Suez -  violence is non-Islamic.

by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 05:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Islam has a long history of non-violence among believers

Are you serious? I would rather say that Islam, like Christianity, has a long history of violence among believers.

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet

by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 09:53:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree.  One of the central tenets(?) of Islam is non-violence against believers.

Against non-believers, it's a different story.

by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:26:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't mean it doesn't get violated with abandon or hasn't been throughout history.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:30:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the central tenets of all the Abrahamaic faiths is "Thou shalt not kill".

Can we laugh hysterically now?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:49:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and 99% of people abide by it.
by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In modern Hebrew "thou shalt not murder". In biblical Hebrew, I suspect the closest is "thou shalt not commit manslaughter". But that just makes Judaism a little less hypocritical than the others.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, seriously, it's a fucking religion. They find the justification they need for the violence they want to commit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm.  Level of violence varies with religion even within a country like the USA, so I tend to disagree.  
by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 10:57:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, the relationship is the other way around: More religious areas have elevated levels of violent crime, substance abuse and a couple of other things generally considered dysfunctional. But religion (at least as it is measured in these surveys) correlates with poverty and poor education, which are known risk factors for all these things. I am not aware of any body of studies that has stripped out those confounders, nor established which way(s) the cause-and-effect relationship runs between an excess of piety and a lack of wealth and education.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 22nd, 2011 at 05:59:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may disagree, but it would be better if you substantiated your claim.

One of the central rules of Christianity is non-violence against anybody, believer or not (remember "turn the other cheek"?). That didn't prevent them to kill numerous Christians as well as non-Christians...

As for Islam, it started with the assassination of caliph Uthman in 656, shortly followed by the Battle of Bassorah, the Battle of Siffin and the Battle of Nahrawan, where tens of thousands of Muslims were killed by other Muslims...

Do you want me to list all the killings of believers by believers?

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet

by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 12:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a sweet little snippet from one of his small books that helps to illustrate how ideas well presented can go viral: "From Dictatorship to Democracy":

Although no efforts were made to promote the publication for use in other countries, translations and distribution of the publication began to spread on their own. A copy of the English language edition was seen on display in the window of a bookstore in Bangkok by a student from Indonesia, was purchased, and taken back home. There, it was translated into Indonesian, and published in 1997 by a major Indonesian publisher with an introduction by Abdurrahman Wahid. He was then head of Nadhlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in the world with thirty-five million members, and later President of Indonesia.

During this time, at my office at the Albert Einstein Institution we only had a handful of photocopies from the Bangkok English language booklet. For a few years we had to make copies of it when we had enquiries for which it was relevant. Later, Marek Zelaskiewz, from California, took one of those copies to Belgrade during Milosovic's time and gave it to the organization Civic Initiatives. They translated it into Serbian and published it.

When we visited Serbia after the collapse of the Milosevic regime we were told that the booklet had been quite influential in the opposition movement. Also important had been the workshop on nonviolent struggle that Robert Helvey, a retired US Army colonel, had given in Budapest, Hungary, for about twenty Serbian young people on the nature and potential of nonviolent struggle. Helvey also gave them copies of the complete The Politics of Nonviolent Action. These were the people who became the Otpor organization that led the nonviolent struggle that brought down Milosevic.

We usually do not know how awareness of this publication has spread from country to country. Its availability on our web site in recent years has been important, but clearly that is not the only factor. Tracing these connections would be a major research project. "From Dictatorship to Democracy" is a heavy analysis and is not easy reading. Yet it has been deemed to be important enough for at least twenty-eight translations (as of January 2008) to be prepared, although they required major work and expense.

Dowenload the original HERE

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might find it interesting to read the links. Or at least the blockquotes. He took no credit but that which was offered, and that was taken with grace. Even humility.
Sharp says he hasn't been directly in touch with anyone in Egypt since the uprising began late last month. But he says he is happy to know that his ideas may have had some influence.

"I'm very pleased," he says. "I've been studying this question of dictatorships for many decades. It is a lonely struggle. To get this kind of recognition is very important."

His influence in Egypt and Tunisia has been referenced not by him, but by the participants and organizers themselves.
The quotes I did are a sample of many similar.

There is, among the deeply self-important, a powerful tendency to piss on anything done by a competing authority or competitor in an often self-perceived game of influence.
To suggest that an 83-year old has no right to admiration because he only supplied the ideas and
none of the blood is, it seems to me, quite unfair.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 01:47:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only it were that simple.

Debate on the Albert Einstein Institution and its Involvement in Venezuela

Venezuelans opposed to Chávez met with Gene Sharp and other AEI staff to talk about the deteriorating political situation in their country. They also discussed options for opposition groups to further their cause effectively without violence. These visits led to an in-country consultation in April 2003. The nine-day consultation was held by consultants Robert Helvey and Chris Miller in Caracas for members of the Venezuelan democratic opposition. The objective of the consultation was to provide them with the capacity to develop a nonviolent strategy to restore democracy to Venezuela. Participants included members of political parties and unions, nongovernmental organization leaders, and unaffiliated activists. Helvey presented a course of instruction on the theory, applications and planning for a strategic nonviolent struggle. Through this, the participants realized the importance of strategic planning to overcome existing shortcomings in the opposition's campaign against Chávez. Ofensiva Ciudadana, a pro-democracy group in Venezuela, requested and organized the workshop. This workshop has led to continued contact with Venezuelans and renewed requests for additional consultations (AEI Annual Report, 2000-2004, pp. 20-21).

Lest we fail to realize who attended the consultation, the meeting was also covered by Reuters on April 30th 2003, in an article noting that it took place in the utmost secrecy at an elite private Venezuelan university in eastern Caracas, with a sign on the door reading only "Seminar on Strategic Marketing." The article continues: "The attendees included representatives of Venezuela's broad-based but fragmented opposition, who are struggling to regroup after failing to force Chavez from office in an anti-government strike in December and January." And, we could add, a murderous and anti-democratic (if botched) coup.

Anyone familiar with recent Venezuelan history will immediately spot a number of politically-motivated distortions of history, most egregiously the claim of Chávez's authoritarianism, the claim of waning popularity, the claim that the government was responsible for the violence of April 11th 2002 (when it has been decisively demonstrated that it was the very same opposition supported by the "nonviolent" AEI that massacred dozens on that day), the revealing absence of any mention of the subsequent anti-democratic coup whatsoever, and the claim that far-right opposition group Ofensiva Ciudadana (whose members were associated with that coup) is "pro-democracy."

Could there remain any doubt that the AEI indeed has taken a political position on Venezuela, and that Sharp's claim to be "neither pro-Chávez nor anti-Chávez" is utterly farcical? On the surface, perhaps, but a more subtle view would see how the vague nature of AEI's consultation policy allows the institution to follow a more winding and sinister path: from nominal neutrality through tacit judgment, through fake history, and on to the very reversal of reality. And once we reach this point, all traces of the "distribution of rights and wrongs" that would favor the Venezuelan left have been erased. We don't need to explain the circularity of this path: the AEI's intervention is justified by the history it re-writes.

More links at the end of that article.

And more debate here.

For those who don't want to wade through the back and forth, the counter-argument is that the AEI's (why the grandiose name?) history seems to be ambiguous at best, and its support of non-violence may not be as non-partisan as it pretends to be.

It's SOP for US rhetoric to promote non-violent Democracy Lite™ - a bit of voting, a bit of a middle class handout, but as little policy access and business disruption as possible - as a fall-back position when favoured tyrants are deposed.

Suspicion is natural. Gene Evans may not be trying to co-opt the Egyptian revolution - but he doesn't need to, when the US media seem to be trying so hard to do it for him.

And worryingly, some people associated with the AEI do seem to have a somewhat relaxed approach to basic honesty.

Meanwhile - how non-violent can a revolution be when there's such a significant body count?

The proof will be the shape of future political culture in Egypt and Tunisia, and whether or not the non-violent protestors who were injured are significantly better off a year or two from now than they are today.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 03:30:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, when I saw "AEI" disapprovingly mentioned by Angry Arab I immediately thought it was the American Enterprise Institute...
"According to an analysis published by Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), Venezuelan student leaders traveled to Belgrade in 2005 to meet representatives of the AEI-trained opposition movement OTPOR-CANVAS, before later traveling to Boston to consult directly with Gene Sharp himself. When these allegedly non-partisan students hit the streets in 2007, their logo was exactly the same as that used by OTPOR and which appears in AEI literature.  Nowhere does Sharp bother contesting these facts regarding AEI's role in Venezuela."  Now, to believe that Sharp or OTPOR had anything to do with the eruption of the Egyptian uprising is to give credit to Bush for latest scientific discoveries. (thanks William)

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 03:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]


by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 08:06:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For those who don't want to wade through the back and forth,---

Please. Everyone,  Wade. It's an education of value, in disinformation, calmly deconstructed by VA.
I find it incredible that you could post this link,- quite a good one- then cherry-pick it to present a position utterly at odds with it's intent.
It is a tribute to Venezuela Analysis that they will print crap from well-known and widely disliked  propagandists like Golinger. If you read VA often, you must be familiar with her stuff. I'd rather quote Donald Rumsfeld as an expert on humanitarianism than Golinger on anything at all.

Why the Einstein name?
Some things ARE really simple.
Because Einstein wrote the introduction to one of his books.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 12:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Einstein is well-known for being an advocate of nonviolence.

He even refused to become Israel's second President. Albert Einstein's political views - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a 1938 speech, "Our Debt to Zionism", he said: "I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain--especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state. ... If external necessity should after all compel us to assume this burden, let us bear it with tact and patience."

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 01:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Einstein was wrong about a lot of things as I recall so do we get to call him inaccurate too? ;-)
by stevesim on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 02:30:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with this:
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Search results for gene sharp
That story is still bothering me (see yesterday).  I have received many links and articles from colleagues and people in Latin America in particular about the role of Gene Sharp or AEI or the Einstein Foundation.  But all this is so irrelevant.  Even if US foundations brought youths from Egypt and even if they distributed translated works about non-violence, and even if some attended workshops all this affect a dozen or so of those youths.  This is a movement by hundreds of thousands of people and would not have succeeded if people who are NOT facebook or twitter generation did not join in.

Or rather, I tend to view a revolution as a consequence of a lot of factors. In Egypt we have as fundamental factors at least demographical change, a US-backed brutal dictatorship, food prices driven up by environmental destruction and liquidity booms, IMF-induced poverty and labor conflicts. Adding up, you have a lot of desperate people.

We also have local factors relating to the particular uprising, like the revolution in Tunisia, innovative leadership to get that first big group onto Tahrir, the unwillingness of the tank commanders at Tahrir to commit massmurder, Mubarak's inability to understand what was going on, and a bunch more that might emerge in the aftermath.

The factors I call fundamental explains why there was a potential for uprising, the local are why it succeeds or fails.

Since western press can hardly start to write any of the fundamental factors, except possibly demographics (as in lots of youths), they have to focus on local factors. Essentially doing liberal history, focusing on the few individuals that are supposed to run the world. This is the standard narrative of the Western press all the time anyway. And these individuals tend to have very little pigmentation and have a Y chromosome.

A history could be written about the woman who - inspired by islamic teachings on non-violence - convinced his husband not to fire, thus saving the crowd and the revolution (has to be at least one). Or any other individual whos actions added up to a succesfull revolution. But that is more likely to be featured on Oprah. Any single-person analysis is going to leave most of the history aside to shoehorn it into the liberal tradition of history-writing.

So without an opinion about Sharp, I understand the frustration at the narrative.

("Liberal history" as a technical term among historians, should be seen in contrast with the conservative history it challenged were history was a morality play run by God, and the Marxist tradition that eventually mostly displaced the liberal one. Liberal history was a huge advance at its time, but is by now seen as hopelessly reductionist.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 21st, 2011 at 03:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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