Gene Sharp
Non-Violent Resistance Icon

On January 28th, scholar and global icon Gene Sharp died at the age of 90. Sharp was a scholar who wrote and taught extensively about non-violent resistance, including From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation — practically a bible for grassroots campaigns.

Sharp’s greatest message was that non-violent resistance is not passive resistance, but rather the most effective way to take down a regime. In 1983, Sharp founded the Albert Einstein Institute in Boston. The goal of the nonprofit organization is to “advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action in conflicts throughout the world.” Sharp named the institute after the infamous Albert Einstein with whom Sharp corresponded in the early 1950s. Einstein even wrote the foreword to Sharps’ 1953 book Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power.

Sharp’s research and writing has been translated in dozens of languages, including a list of 198 non-violent weapons of resistance. His non-violent strategies were most famously used during the Arab Spring by insurgents in the Baltics, Serbia, Ukraine, Burma (Myanmar), and Egypt. They were also referenced during Occupy Wall Street in 2011 when thousands protested economic inequality in the United States.

Sharp’s message is summed up best with his own words: “Dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are, and people are never as weak as they think they are.”

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