How to Start a Revolution (2011) - full transcript

HOW TO START A REVOLUTION is the remarkable untold story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gene Sharp, the world's leading expert on non-violent revolution. This new film (from first time director Ruaridh Arrow) reveals how Gene's work has given a new generation of revolutionary leaders the weapons needed to overthrow dictators. It shows how his 198 steps to non-violent regime change have inspired uprisings from Serbia to Ukraine and from Egypt to Syria and how his work has spread across the globe in an unstoppable wave of profound democratic change. How To Start A Revolution is the story of the power of people to change their world, the modern revolution and the man behind it all.

In 2011, the Arab Spring Revolutions
swept across the Middle East;

From Tunisia to Egypt,
Bahrain, and Syria.

For more than 50 years, a
quiet American scholar

has been helping people
bring down their dictators.

His tactics of nonviolent
resistance have been used

in revolutions from Serbia
to Ukraine and Iran.

To be counted as a threat to a tyrant
is a matter of pride, I would say.

It means we're effective.
It means we're relevant.

This is the story of the power
of people to change their world,

the modern revolution,
and the man behind it all.

Gene Sharp's tactics
and theories are being

practiced on the streets
of Syria as we speak now.

My name is Gene Sharp,
and this is the work I do.

How To Start A Revolution

Boston, Massachusetts.

- What do you do?
How would you describe your work?

- Oh, that's always a problem,
describing my work.

Primarily, I try to understand

the nature and potential of
nonviolent forms of struggle

to undermine dictatorships.

This is a technique of combat.

It is a substitute for war,
and other violence.

His handbook to revolution
–From Dictatorship to Democracy–

has been smuggled across borders and

downloaded hundreds of
thousands of times.

We don't know quite how it's read,

but it certainly did
into 30 some languages

in different parts of the world,

on all continents except Antarctica.

The hallmarks of Gene
Sharp's work can be

seen in revolutions
all over the world.

Colors and symbols

signs in English

civil disobedience

and commitment to nonviolent action.

Gene's books contain a list of 198
nonviolent methods of resistance.

Oh, the famous 198 methods.

There seems to have been
an extraordinary response.

That's simply the 198 specific methods.

These specific forms of
abstract are economic boycott,

are civil disobedience, are protests.

Exactly the counterpart of military,

different kinds of
military guns or bombs,

any military struggle.

Unless they have something
instead of violence and war,

they will go back with violence and war
every time.

In 1983, Gene Sharp founded the
Albert Einstein Institution

to spread the knowledge
of nonviolent struggle.

For years, people living
under dictatorships

have been coming here to
East Boston for help.

Jamila Raqib has worked for
Gene for more than 10 years.

I began learning about the
work at a very basic level.

I did most of my reading
and learning as

soon as I started working
at the institution

and I was hooked.

I didn't start out to do this.

I had a religious background that

led me to want to leave
the world in a bit

of a better place and better condition

than when I came here,

and how to do that was always a problem.

Korean war, 1950-1953.

In 1953, Gene was sent
to jail for refusing

conscription to fight
in the Korean War.

I had a two-year sentence.
I did nine months and ten days.

In those days you counted the
days as well as the month,

but I don't think that my action
there did any good whatsoever.

It was just to keep my
sense of my own integrity

so I would carry on in the work that
I thought was really important.

I never met Einstein,

but I wrote to him.
I don't know how I got his address.

I said: “Well, I'm about to do
such and such and go to prison,

but by the way I've written
this book on Gandhi

three quite different
cases from each other

about Gandhi's using nonviolent
struggle for a greater freedom

through just nonviolent means.”

And he wrote back that he was very
much hoped, but couldn't know

that he would have made
the same decision I did

and he would be willing
to look at the manuscript

which I had sent to
him, and he did so and

wrote a very kind
introduction to the book.

Oxford University.

While studying at Oxford,
Gene had his Eureka moment

a new analysis of the power of
people to bring down a tyrant.

If you can identify the sources
of a government's power,

such as legitimacy,

such as popular support,

such as the institutional support,

and then you know on what that
dictatorship depends for its existence.

And since all those sources of power
are dependent upon the good will

co-operation, obedience, and
help of people and institutions,

then your job becomes fairly simple.

All you have to do is
shrink that support,

and that legitimacy,
that co-operation, that obedience,

and the regime will be weakened,

and if you can take those sources
far away, the regime will fall.

- And how did you feel at that point?

- At the point, that Eureka point?

- Yeah.

- Oh, greatly relieved.

- Greatly relieved,
because that's what made it all reality.

Harvard University.

While teaching his theories
at Harvard, Gene was

about to meet an unlikely
champion of his work

Vietnam War hero, Colonel Bob Helvey.

I first met Gene Sharp
at Harvard University.

I was an Army Senior Fellow
up there for a year,

and one day I saw a notice
on the bulletin board

about a program for nonviolent sanctions
at two o'clock this afternoon.

So I had nothing to do, so I went
to see who these peace necks were

and to confirm my preconceived notion

that they probably had rings
in their noses and ears

and dirty.

And so I went up there just to see them

and surprisingly they weren't there.

I saw regular looking people there.

And a few minutes after we all sat down

this little short, soft-spoken gentleman
comes to the front of the room and says:

"My name is Gene Sharp

and we're here today to discuss
how to seize political power

and deny it to others.”

I say nonviolent struggle
is armed struggle,

and we have to take back that term
from those advocates of violence

who try to justify with pretty words

that kind of combat.

Only with this type of struggle,
one fights with psychological weapons,

social weapons, economic weapons,

and political weapons,

and this is ultimately more
powerful against oppression,

injustice, and tyranny than is violence.

That got my attention.

This is the flag of the 5th Battalion,
7th United States Cavalry.

The 7th Cav, as you know, was the
Regiment of General Armstrong Custer,

who fought and died at the
battle of Little Big Horn.

That's me in my younger days.

A full head of hair.

This is the award for the Distinguished
Service Cross, that I got in Vietnam.

Vietnam, 1968.

In 1968, Bob was deployed in Vietnam.

He was decorated for bravery
during a Vietcong ambush.

But his experiences
there would change his

views on the way conflicts
should be waged.

I think Vietnam influenced my view about
the importance of nonviolent struggle,

and particularly the
importance of getting Gene

Sharp's ideas out to
the rest of the world,

because we must have an alternative.

Vietnam convinced me that we need to
have an alternative to killing people.

Burma, 1992.

As a US defense official in Burma,

Bob had seen the military dictatorship

there, persecute the
minority Karen people.

After leaving the army,

Bob traveled back to the
rebel camps to teach the

Karen Gene's lessons in
nonviolent resistance.

I was talking to one
of the Karen Commandos

and he says: “Where in the hell
has this information been?

We've been fighting and
killing people for 20 years.

How come we didn't know this?”.

Some of the Burmese came
up to him and asked

if he would write something
for the Burmese on

how to move from a
dictatorship to a democracy.

That's the origin of why
the book was written:

The Burmese.

I couldn't write about Burma honestly,
because I didn't know Burma well,

and he said not to write about something
you don't know anything about,

so I had to write generically.

If there was a movement that wanted
to bring a dictatorship to an end,

how could they do it?

And so I wrote those theories,

and they were serialized there,

and published in English and in Burmese,

and I thought that was it.

In 1989, Gene traveled
to China at the height

of the demonstrations
in Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Square, 1989.

It would shape his views about the
importance of planning and strategy.

Lesson 1: Plan a Strategy.

I'd gone to Beijing

after the Tiananmen Square
protests were well underway.

That whole event, which it should be
remembered, was not just in Beijing

but reportedly in 350
other cities of China,

similar protests were going on.

But they were not planned.
They were not prepared.

There was no strategic decision.

There was no advanced
decision how long you

stay in the square and when you leave.

The students had no plan.

They were improvising
all the way through,

and later on we know
that many of those

Chinese people who were
out on the streets,

in another day, were shot and killed.

The attitude that you simply improvise

and improvisation will bring you
greater success is nonsense.

Exactly the opposite.

That if you don't know
what you're doing,

you're likely to get into big trouble.

Serbia, 2000.

The government of Slobodan
Milosevic, in Serbia,

presided over years of crimes against
humanity and brutal internal repression.

The regime fueled the
creation of new democracy

groups in the country
fighting, for his removal.

I went to Budapest at the request of the
International Republican Institute,

which was providing support to
the Serbian Opposition Movement,

and one particular part of that
opposition movement was Otpor.

That's a Serbian word for resistance.

He's a retired colonel, and he has
this type of military approach,

and the way he speaks is
really something that

creates a strange impression
with a bunch of student leaders.

We talked for a while, and I said:
“Well, there's something missing here.

We haven't talked about who's
leader of this organization.

Who is the leader?”.

And then one guy said: “We
don't have a leader.”

And I said: “Well, wait a minute guys.
I did not

fall off the turnip
truck coming over here.

Somebody has to lead
an organization that

has mobilized the entire
Serbian society.”

So we spent probably one hour
fooling him about some stuff,

and the reason for this
was that we were not

very comfortable about
giving the details

about the organization to the foreigner.

And then they explained to me,
why there's no quote “leader”.

To keep it away from the government. The
government doesn't know who's in charge.

And I later found out I was
talking to the leader,

Srdja Popovic.


Bob began teaching Gene Sharp's lessons
to the new Serbian revolutionaries.

When Bob Helvey gave us
the Gene Sharp's politics

of nonviolent action,
we were quite amazed.

Partly I was ashamed that I didn't
know about such a book before,

even if there was a translation of From
Dictatorship to Democracy in Serbian,

but I had never seen it.

And seeing the knowledge
of how power operates,

and pillars of the support operates,

and all this stuff, we needed to learn
the hard way throughout our experience

written systematically on one place
was quite an amazing thing.

One of Otpor's first
tasks was to create a

symbol of resistance to
help unify the people.

It's obvious that we are a majority.

If we can just recognize all of
those who are against Milosevic

by saluting each other with a fist, he

would probably be over
within a few years.

Lesson 2: Overcome "Atomisation"

“Atomisation” is

when a regime attempts to make
every individual in this society

an isolated unit.

It's one of the main ways
that took over their

systems, seek to control
their populations,

make them all fear each other, fearing
to speak out and to act together,

never telling your
neighbor or even sometimes

a family member what you really think.

By seeing the example
of the demonstration

and bravery by other people:

Now it's "we", now it's "we", and we can
do something that I alone could not.

During the 96-97, we were walking
day after day after day,

and the police was walking streets,
and our numbers would start falling

because it was obviously
too boring for the

people to demonstrate every
day in harsh winter.

So we said: “Okay, why
won't we go home and

try to make noise from our balconies.”

We were doing it from 7:30 until 8:00
pm, as a response to the state TV news.

That was the answer...
we don't watch your crap.

We do our own thing.

From the pots and pans
to doing the stickers,

so the stickers can be
doing in every building,

and also the things like,

“Will you go and prosecute the
kids for wearing Otpor t-shirts

when there is not one single law which
bans wearing anything on a t-shirt?”.

So for the policemen,
getting inside high schools

and arresting high school kids only
because they were wearing the t-shirt,

and then going home and
talking to their wife

whose friend was complaining
because her son was arrested.

Getting a dialogue of your kids
was coming now from his school

where nobody wants to spend
time with him or her

because their father is now beating
kids from my neighborhood.

And now, this systemic
oppression doesn't work.

Lesson 3: Pillars of Support.

These pillars are holding
up the government,

like my fingers are
holding up this book,

and I developed a strategy to
undermine each of those pillars:

The police,

the [???], the religious
institutions, the workers,

whatever, every organization.

And as they weaken and start to
collapse, the government will collapse

when those pillars are broken.

Ideally we want those
pillars not destroyed,

but transferred over to
the democratic movement.

If you want these pillars to shift
sides, you need to co-opt people.

It's exactly what Otpor has done.

We were telling the police that we
are both victims of the same system.

There is no reason to have war
between victims and victims.

One of the victims wear blue uniforms,
Other victims wear blue jeans,

but there is no reason
for this conflict.

And this worked, really worked.

And it worked in Georgia.
It worked in Ukraine.

It worked in many other
places in the world.

This is the way you do.

You go and co-opt from
this course of pillars.

You don't throw stones at the police.

Lesson 4: Resist Violence.

The many people in conflict situations
that would like to use violence,

but their opponents really have more

military weapons and
weapons of violence,

usually physical weapons,

than the potential resistors have,

the resistors choose to
fight with violence.

Their opponent has all
the advantages in that

situation because you're
choosing to fight

with your opponent's best weapons.

But you can choose to fight
with a totally different

kind of weapon in these
nonviolent forms,

which are much more difficult
for the opponent to counteract.

Big concentration tactics are
very difficult to control.

You have 20,000 peaceful demonstrators

and one idiot breaking out a window.

These people got all the media.

So this is the message which can
efficiently undermine your movement.

You would go on a march and there is a
risk of the people getting arrested,

so what would you normally do?

Instead of putting the
big guys in front,

you will put the girls in front,

you will put the grandmas in front,

you will put the military
veterans in front.

So the police is now faced
with the friendly faces.

And these people are actually carrying
the flowers and the banners and smiling,

so you make the situation
less threatening,

so you make the possibility of
a violent outcome very small.

October the 5th should be seen in the
context of successful strategy,

and that was not the day like many
spectators or media, like CNN.

They just see it as a
big bunch of people,

revolution, boom, and it's all over.

It was, first of all, ten years
of attempts and failures,

and two years of resistance of
Otpor, five different campaigns,

and we were setting the
victory on the elections.

Serbian National Election
September 2000.

In September 2000, Serbia
went to the polls.

But Otpor expected Milosevic
would fix the election.

We knew that Milosevic will lose,

and we knew that he will not
accept the fact that he has lost.

So around 3 pm, you hear like two
to 300,000 people on the square,

and there was a nonviolent takeover
of the physically of this building.

And this is where the people who broke
into the building, on October the 5th,

found many leaflets
pre-marked for Milosevic.

So this is where, actually
the physical cheat was

taking place on the second
floor of this building.

It was more like a symbolic takeover,

because what was the real takeover was
that Milosevic lost power that day,

because police disobeyed,

because he ordered the
military to get through

the barracks after 3
pm and they disobeyed.

This is where he lost the power.

What you are looking at on the TV and
physical overtaking of the building,

was just a symbol of him,
losing authority that day.

I think what we learned
from Bob and what comes

and derives from Gene Sharp
thinking and writing,

influenced the way we think,

and also made our struggle more
efficient in a very important point

when we were preparing for
a resistive struggle.

And yes, I think what Bob and Gene are
doing are precious around the world,

and we strongly believe
that the nonviolent

revolutions cannot be
exported or imported,

but the knowledge on how to successfully
implement nonviolent struggle

can and is transferred from one
group to another as we speak.

Well, I felt good that here was a
revolution that occurred non-violently.

There was no violence on the part
of the democratic opposition,

and it shows that what Gene was talking
a bout year after year after year,

There are realistic alternatives
to violent conflict.

Well, I mean, after Serbia,
we were working with

Georgians and Ukrainians and
Lebanese and Maldivians

and Iranians and
Zimbabweans and Colombians

and Guatemalans and West Papuans

and the groups from places in the world
I couldn't literally find on a map.

Georgia, 2003.

Then, from Serbia, the
news spread to Georgia,

which was under a very
repressive regime,

and then to Ukraine, which again had
problems, and it spread there,

and then to a series of
other countries in the

southern tier of the
former Soviet Union.

Ukraine, 2004.

Vlodymyr Viatrovich was a leader
of Ukraine's Orange Revolution.

He used Gene's book to
convince activists that

there was a powerful
alternative to violence.

The protester community had
various schools of thought.

In particular, there were people
ready to use some kind of force.

The book in question

is Gene sharp's book, From
Dictatorship to Democracy.

The central concept of that book,

fighting dictators non-violently,
was very pertinent for us.

That was the idea that pretty
much shaped the protest

that led to the Orange
Revolution of 2004.

We're united, we're many...

I think that tens of thousands
of people, no more,

ever received Sharp's ideas
directly from his book.

But the ideas themselves,
no longer linked to Gene Sharp,

reached hundreds of thousands of
people in the Orange Revolution.

We're united, we're many,
we won't be conquered!

So if we're to speak of his ideas,

even if the people didn't
know they were Sharp's,

they were still widespread
and influential.

Yushchenko! Yushchenko!

On the top floor of Gene's
home is his orchid house,

a refuge from the work below.

They take quite a bit of work.

They became very important because
it was something I could treat,

as they needed to be treated,

and not expecting miracles,

but if you don't treat
orchids right or anything

else in life, then it's
not going to thrive.

- How did it feel watching
your work spread?

- Oh, that spread was really quite
remarkable, I always think.

I'm still amazed.

I'm still amazed.

To have this piece that I
regarded as very introductory,

I think it's maybe 70 or 80 pages,

to take off like that
was a confirmation

that the analysis was
more or less accurate.

It didn't spread because
of good propaganda,

or some sales pitch.

It spread because
people found it usable.

They found it important.

The books are there.
The literature is there.

It's online. It's in people's homes
and people's hard-drives,

and it's being disseminated
at a level where

that cannot stop, and
it cannot be stopped.

People go to great lengths
to discredit this work,

and there was one case where President
Chavez had referred to our staff as

“the bunch of gringos
at the Albert Einstein

Institution don't
understand Venezuela,”

and I thought: “Well,
it's true that we may not

fully understand the
situation in Venezuela.

It's probably quite complex,
but I'm not a gringo.”

Gene Sharp, George Bush,

and the ideologues of this
soft coup with a slow fuse…

Gentlemen, you can forget this
plan of yours in Venezuela.

In 2008, the Iranian government
broadcast a propaganda video

accusing Gene of working for the CIA.

The White House,
Washington D.C.

Gene Sharp, the theoretician
of civil disobedience

and velvet revolutions,

who has published treatises
on this subject.

He is one of the CIA agents

in charge of America's
infiltration of other countries.

Well, you've seen our office.
You can see how well funded we are.

In a way, I was impressed
that we were on the radar,

that they had Gene Sharp sitting at the
White House, and in a way, I thought

I wish those in the White
House would listen to

us, I wish they would
request a meeting with us,

but they don't.

We sit here.
We operate out of our Tourem office.

We have no connection
with the White House.

It just didn't happen.

We don't do that.

We are absolutely not a
CIA front organization,

and it's really ironic because
we see this charge in the press

and among various groups quite often,

and we always wonder, where
is this coming from?

After the Iranian elections in 2009,

opposition groups declared
the result was a fix.

Iran, 2009.

There are thousands upon
thousands of people

streaming down through
the main boulevard,

all heading in the same direction.

It's quite something.
They're waving green flags.

People are hanging out of cars
giving the 'V' for victory sign.

I was not sure people would
turn up given the warning,

and I'm wrong.

Thousands of protesters exploded
onto the streets of Tehran.

The government response was brutal.

During the uprising, a young
Iranian student, Neda

Agha-Soltan, was shot
by a government sniper.

Her image would become a
rallying call for the opposition.

Lesson 5: Political Ju-Jitsu.

When people are slaughtered,
when they are beaten,

this produces a process
I call 'Political Ju -Jitsu, '

in which the opponent's
supposed strength

is used to undermine the opponent

by alienating more people
from supporting that regime,

mobilizing more people into
the act of resistance.

It's a kind of backlash effect.

If the regime is so
brutal, and instead of

intimidating people which
the regime intends,

it causes other population
groups and institutions

to withdraw their cooperation
and their obedience

and that loss of power and control that
more people are joining the resistance.

Iason Athanasiadis was
arrested by Iranian

Intelligence while reporting
the Green uprising.

When I went to see the Chief Prosecutor
on the second day that I was in prison,

he looked at me when I took off my
blindfold, sitting in his office,

and he said: “Do you
know why you're here?”.

And I said: “No, I mean, I've no idea.
I've just been arrested two nights ago”,

and he said: “Well, there's a very
serious accusation against you.”

And I said: “What is that?” And he
said: “Are you sure you don't know?"


The interrogator kind of
patted his laptop and said:

“You know, this laptop contains
a Persian language translation

of Gene Sharp's "From
Dictatorship To Democracy"

which is a handbook
for insurrectionists,

and it gives them several
dozen easy ways by which,

if they only follow these ways,
they can overthrow a government

a legitimate government,
any kind of government.

And I have read this book,
and so have my colleagues."

When the organizers of the
uprising were arrested,

they were charged with using over
100 of Gene Sharp's 198 methods.

What this work does is
show people that they

themselves can be responsible
for their own future,

for their own liberation.

People are beginning to
liberate themselves,

They don't have to depend
on an outside power.

This is Srdja, my cat,

named after Srdja Popovic.

But they don't have to
depend on an outside power.

They can do it themselves.

And can you imagine how good
that makes a country feel?

That we did it ourselves.

And that's why it's so important that
we transfer this skill and knowledge.

There's no reason for the United
States to be occupying anybody.

We're not good at occupying anybody.

Neither was the Soviet Union
good at occupying people.

Let the people alone.

Give them the power to change their
government if they want it changed.

To be counted as a threat to a tyrant
is a matter of pride, I would say.

It means we're effective.
It means we're relevant.

It means, out of this very small office,
we produce work that threatens regimes,

and I think that's pretty cool.


Tahrir Square, Cairo, 2011.

This was the beginning of
the Egyptian Revolution.

The uprising was spontaneous,
but Egyptian democracy

groups had been working on
the strategy for years.

Egyptian democracy group Kefaya first
visited Gene in Boston in 2006.

Five years later, former
Serbian revolutionaries

were training new groups
on the outskirts of Cairo.

Egypt's Muslim brotherhood posted
Gene's work in Arabic on their website.

When the moment came, these groups
were ready to guide the revolution.

Well, let's go live to
Tahrir Liberation Square.

We can speak to a freelance journalist
who joins us on the line now,

Ruaridh, we were hearing
about those heightened

security measures today
around Tahrir Square.

Is there a different
atmosphere here compared

with say yesterday and the day before?

Ah, yes. It's an incredible
atmosphere today.

That cross section of
Egyptian society that left

Tahrir Square yesterday
is back in force now.

They've managed to
re-energize the protesters.

There's very young children,
women, older men here.

People are singing and dancing. There
are many instruments in the square,

and it's more full here
than it has been in days.

Ahmed Maher was a leader of Egypt's
April 6th democracy group.

We waited for an incident, the spark,

that would move all the people.

There were many reasons to act,
but we were waiting for the spark.

And that was Tunisia.

Tunisia, 2011.

In fact it was...

There has always been rivalry in soccer

between Egypt and Tunisia.

So maybe we started before Tunisia

but Tunisia beat us and started
the revolution, so why not us?

People saw on the web
"The answer is Tunisia".

Leave! Leave!

Of course there was a strong influence

from Gene Sharp's writings
articles and books.

We got them from the internet, read them

and we learned quickly

and understood the
essence of non-violence.

We also saw many documentaries
on the internet

about the experiences of
people applying non-violence.

The idea itself was very inspiring

whether it came from the
documentaries or the books.

As the peaceful protest
grew in Tahrir Square,

President Hosni Mubarak intimidated
them with weapons of war.

Our experience may be
slightly different to Otpor.

Before the revolution, they won the
army and police over to their side.

It was different with us.

We had a very big battle with the police

and the army was always neutral

but eventually intervened on our side.

The experience is different to an extent

between us and Otpor in Serbia.

Even after violent
clashes with police, the

revolutionary leaders restored
nonviolent discipline

in the face of overwhelming force.

The protesters faced brutal attacks
from police and security forces,

but they held their ground.

Of course, technology played a big role

in faster communication,

in delivering the message to the
people and mobilizing them.

Also, technology played a role

in the internal organization.

You have groups in various governments

and need to be in constant
contact with them

so instead of holding a
meeting every fortnight

you can, through a secret
group on Facebook,

via conference on yahoo,
Skype or Abouttalk

via any program, constantly communicate.

All those helped so much
in spreading ideas.

As Muslims and Christians guarded
each other while they prayed,

the leaders of the
revolution were persuading

the army to support the protesters.

I believe the army eventually helped us

because the army is of the people.

The army conscripts
come from the people,

and the army has a big patriotic role.

The police may have fixed
elections, protected the corrupt,

they've been involved for many years

and were protecting their
interests and existence.

I was returning to Tahrir Square,

just entering the square through
the permanent search gate.

There was a cafe which
had the TV on very loud.

In the name of God the Merciful.


in these difficult circumstances

that the country is going through.

President Mohamed Hosni
Mubarak has decided

to step down as President
of the Republic.

It took him a while to step down.

I just went crazy when
I heard the speech.

I started crying, thinking that at last

the dream we've had for years
and endured so much for

has come true.

It was a really tough moment.

I then ran screaming into the square.

Everyone was just crying, screaming,

laughing, dancing, singing...

It was a historic moment.

I just couldn't believe it.

For a few days I wondered
if it was possible.

But somebody knew what they were doing,

and we don't need anyone claiming
credit for us or me or anyone,

if it's not deserved and
if it's not documented.

Syria, 2011.

Massacre in Juma, 15 so far killed.

Ausama Monajed is a
communications expert and

one of the leaders of
the Syrian Uprising.

This is a video of a kid
that'd been shot at.

One boy was shouting: “My
brother, my brother!”.

He co-ordinates a network of secret
cameras all over the country.

It's just a basic HD camera
linked to a satellite modem,

and we upload it on streaming websites
where we can get the live feed,

and we managed to get
this Al Jazeera today.

Gene Sharp's tactics
and theories are being

practiced on the streets
of Syria as we speak now.

What we did is promote these
tactics and explain them

to people through the
Facebook pages that we have

and also the YouTube channels.

This is how they're applied,
from putting flowers on the spots

where fallen heroes
fell and frustrations

from the campaign while you marched,

from cleaning streets and
making it nicer and better

because we can do something
even better than the

regime can do in terms
of services, so yeah.

From Dictatorship To Democracy gives
you the inspiration, the assurances

that this could really be achieved
and this can really happen.

In Summer 2011, after a brutal
onslaught by the Syrian military,

Ausama traveled to Boston to meet Gene.

- When were you last here?

- I can't remember exactly.
Was it 2007 or 2006?

Yeah, years ago,

when it was only a few
people thinking about

nonviolent resistance
scenario in Syria,

and only quite a few believed this can
really happen in a country like Syria.

Ok. All set.

- Gene.
- Hello.

- Hi.
- How are you?

- Hi, good to see you again.
Good to see you. Good to see you.

- Good to see you.

- Good to see you too.
How are you doing?

- Not too bad.

- I'm happy to see you.
It was so good you have

time in your schedule to
come to say, “Hello.”

- Well, the pleasure is mine.

I was really delighted, and I can
tell you there's a lot to talk about.

- This is new territory for us.

- Yeah.

- We've never been there personally. The
cases we've studied don't exactly match.

He's so humble and down to earth to a
limit that you feel how amazing this is,

like all these great
writings coming from

a very tiny little
office in Old Boston.

It's rather interesting.

Maybe there's one thing
that's been “learned”

in quotation mark, may
become Tunisia and Egypt

which I think is a
mistake, a major mistake.

And that is that the existing
ruler has to resign.

He doesn't have to resign.

You take all the supports from
out from under him, he falls,

no matter what he wants to do.

This is the distinction in the
analyses between nonviolent coercion,

in which he has to resign
but he's forced into it,

and disintegration, when the
regime simply falls apart.

There's nobody left with
enough power to resign.

If Einstein was the genius in physics,
so Gene Sharp is the genius in freedoms,

and how to achieve freedoms.

Lesson 6: Don't Give Up

I feel good in a way
that we're spreading the

word, and if people
follow Gene's advice

on how to think about waging
an unbalanced struggle,

sooner or later they'll win.

See, the advantage that
we have using this form

of struggle, the people
against the tyrant.

As long as we don't
surrender, we never lose,

and that's a key.

As long as you haven't given
up, you haven't lost.

I think, in the long term,
Gene Sharp will be a household name.

I think his books will be in
every library in the world,

and they will be translated
into most languages.

Can we survive until then?
Can this institution survive until then?

Well, we certainly hope so.

Politically significant
nonviolent action has

occurred in at least the
following countries:

Guatemala, Australia, Thailand,
Burma, China, Japan, …

…Georgia, Iran, Kurdistan, Russia,

Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela,
Vietnam, Zimbabwe,

and there's bound to be a couple more.

I think there's the father-daughter
relationship developing there.

They can sit down and talk,
and they're on the same wavelength.

She protects him,

and I think she loves him as a
daughter who loves a father.

Gene Sharp is someone who is,
of course, my personal mentor,

but I think he has served as that
role for multitudes of people.

He is someone who has dedicated his life

to providing the means
by which oppressed

people can self-reliantly
gain liberation,

and that is something which I
believe has changed the world

and will continue to do
so in dramatic ways,

It's really personal stuff.

Sometimes people ask
me what I really want.

Do I have a dream?

And I do.

I dream that the oppressed
people of the world

will be able to learn from
the available records

and new experiences that this
type of nonviolent struggle

can be used to liberate
all oppression and

replace military and
violent conflicts,

so that you won't have to carry on
struggles against terrorism anymore

because the people who might
have become terrorists

have instead chosen
to use this kind of

struggle to help out
the oppressed people.

This can change the local
systems throughout the world.

My name is Gene Sharp,

and that is my dream.