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January 28, 2021

Editorial – Nonviolent activist of the week

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US academic Gene Sharp (1928–2018). Photo supplied.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

While Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela and Gandhi may be known for their nonviolent activism, there’s others who have advanced the cause.

The writings on civilian-based defence by US academic Gene Sharp (1928–2018) have been used around the globe, and not just by activists against tyrannical regimes.

The Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian governments all drew upon his ideas during their separation from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. As founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, Sharp was a student of Mahatma Gandhi’s struggles against the British for independence.

The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer recently penned a piece on Sharp that gives hope that there is a way to defeat the noxious tyrannical weeds that invariably emerge and try to take over democracy.

‘Sharp wanted to understand the weaknesses of authoritarian regimes’, Mr Foer wrote, ‘and how nonviolent movements could exploit them.

‘Sharp distilled what he learned into a 93-page handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy. A Conceptual Framework for Liberation’.

Mr Foer’s observation is that the 45th US president’s authority may finally be on the decline to illegitimacy.

‘Sharp’s foundational insight is embedded in an aphorism: “Obedience is at the heart of political power.” A dictator doesn’t maintain power on his own; he relies on individuals and institutions to carry out his orders. A successful democratic revolution prods these enablers to stop obeying. It makes them ashamed of their complicity and fearful of the social and economic costs of continued collaboration’. 

And since the BLM protests, that appears to be unfolding at a rapid pace for the 45th president.

‘As each group of elites refuses [the 45th President], it becomes harder for the next to comply in good conscience’.

So kryptonite to a tyrant like the 45th President – and indeed any similar wannabes like him – is to encourage those key supporters of the system to gain the confidence to speak up.

In the case of the Australian government, there are a plethora of scandals that continue to plague the ethically bereft Morrison cabinet. Just a few that the public know about include: Paladin, Fraudband (NBN), Watergate, HelloWorld, SportsRorts, Robodebt and the Ruby Princess. It’s never too late for those who are associated with these scandals to speak up. A return to political resignations for poor performance and corrupt behaviour is sorely needed to restore some trust in the system.

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  1. Nonviolent activism is a tough call these days. The
    lies, secret deals & underbelly of what Australia
    stands for is one hell of a summons. We are caught
    up with dithering parliamentary followers …….[sleep
    -walkers] following the Murdoch trail of Rand-ism &
    cluelessly believing they are defending what they
    see as the old ‘motherland’. Meanwhile, the goose
    that laid the golden egg is a long time gone. Sure,
    we need to return, once again, to our comrade
    spirit of equality/ trust/ & give a friend a helping hand.
    However, justice is a noxious weed. The scandals
    that surround our government are pitiful. If we are to
    be responsible for their dictatorship we’d best accept
    our lot & shake ‘the money tree’ fleeced from an
    un-acceptable accountant. If our country is going to
    grow again we must listen to the students & science.
    Liberty’s been away too long. We must bring it back
    to all colours & creeds & re-seed the lands’ tomorrow.


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