Friday, November 11, 2011

The Book Is On The Table

Imagine a group of financiers taking their seats around a board room table. They are not Goldman Sachs. Before each of them is a copy of a 70 page book, From Dictatorship To Democracy *.

Used in several recent revolutions, this book is a handbook of revolution. It is careful and convincing. It shows that non-violent strategies can and in fact do succeed much better than violent ones. It is the most dangerous book in the world.

The non-violent can overthrow the violent because the power of rulers comes only from the people letting them rule. The power of rulers comes from weakness of the people. Not a weakness in weapons or money, but the weakness of lacking confidence in themselves and each other. When people recover their confidence, they withdraw their cooperation from their opponents.

The book advises study of many hundreds of different strategies to restore confidence: making public statements, non-cooperation with institutions, disruptions in the order of daily life. Choice of which strategy, performed by which part of society, and in what order all have to be carefully considered and adapted to the particular time and place.

This time around the situation is special.

This time around the enemy has the book too. They are not blinded by ideology, they are not made deaf by depending on advisers who are afraid to speak the truth to them. They cooperate well with each other, the only idea they worship is efficiency. Their eyes stay open to use their power.

Their goal is to make sure the country does not move From Dictatorship To Democracy.

The book is on the table. What will they do with it?

1. Convince the people that the government continues to deserve their consent. Distract attention from the institutions as a poorly functioning tool, draw attention to the country as the people's only home. Home like family must not be changed, not be abandoned. It is under attack.

2. Disrupt means of communication to avoid the "paradox of violence". Protesters once attacked often gain in support, unity, and strength as a consequence.

3. Convince people that the intention of the protesters is not good. Discredit their alternative as motivated by selfishness, weakness, or conspiracy.

4. Act fast. Some protesters will allow themselves to practice violence in self defense when it is clear that the intention of self defense is good: that is, no harm is intended against the adversary.

Clarity of intention has to be proven over time. What was wanted and what not of the results of any one action is always uncertain. With time people can show a consistent policy of unselfishness and generosity in both actions and words. Once that happens, their authority to use violence in self defense may deter the government's violence. Time works against the government.