Gene Sharp (1928-2018) drew on the lives and words of Martin Luther King Jr., Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi, for his groundbreaking book, From Dictatorship to Democracy (1994), a guide for nonviolent resistance movements of the last three decades. Sharp’s work has been a source of education and inspiration for the brave individuals initiating nonviolent revolutions and resistance movements across the world.
His books, including the three-volume The Politics Of Nonviolent Action (1973), have been translated into dozens of languages. Sharp advised using specific actions such as sit-ins, hunger strikes, protest disrobing, disruption and mockery of authoritarian leaders for anti-government resistance movements, yet he felt that conflict was often preordained and necessary. He wrote that peaceful protest is best, not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. Sharp:
”If you fight with violence, you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.”
Sharp was the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action, and a professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Sharp left this world in February 2018 at his home in Boston.