"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gene Sharp turns down Mexican activists' request for help (sort of)

Study, planning, and thinking takes time. 
Defeat can come quickly. 
Success may come when it has been earned.

From Narco News (July 19, 2012)

Narco News' Publisher's note: ". . . [A] recent documentary about Sharp’s work, 'How to Start a Revolution,' that appears in Spanish on the Internet has suddenly jumped from a few thousand to more than 500,000 views, most of them from Mexico. . . . The online petition drive, with more than 800 signatures in a few days, asks AEI and Sharp to 'support our revolutionary movement.'"

Sharp's reply to the petition:
. . . I regret that you are unaware that both my personal policy, and that of the Albert Einstein Institution, prohibits our giving instructions for action in other countries and becoming participants in such conflicts. We cannot know the situation in-depth in such conflicts, and our instructions would very likely be in error. We therefore could unintentionally help to defeat the struggle to which we might be sympathetic.

At least equally seriously, in case of that movement being successful, the credit might wrongly be given us. The credit for successes is deserved by the brave participants in the nonviolent struggle, not outsiders. The participants will have earned the victory by their courage and disciplined struggle, despite casualties and suffering.  We believe that it would be an injustice for us to claim credit for
their victories.

Therefore, we do not tell people how to conduct their struggle.

We help in an other way. We share knowledge about the power and potential of nonviolent struggle. We share information of how people in political need can become competent to plan their own strategies for necessary struggles. See for my publication “Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression,” which is freely downloadable, along with all the required readings.

We refuse to tell people in conflicts what to do. We try to help those people to plan their own struggles competently. When they plan competently and struggle skillfully, they will deserve the victory and credit.

Study, planning, and thinking takes time. Defeat can come quickly. Success may come when it has been earned.


Gene Sharp

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