VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
Part of a series discussing tactics & strategies of social change
Not that there are any genuine or harmless gurus, of course. Still, governments are unlikely to mourn the recent passing of Gene Sharp, widely reputed to be the father of the tumultuous “color revolutions” of recent memory. Nor is his departure likely to be regretted by the world’s huddled masses, who were cynically deluded by the false promises of this mediatically generated guru and his zealous and corrupt local acolytes. They have no reason to be thankful for being callously instrumentalized to merely exchange one yoke for another, the later often more insufferable than the preceding one.
Curiously, it was the establishment’s own mouthpiece, “The New York Times,” which disingenuously mourned the “rebel” Sharp as “a preacher’s son whose own gospel of nonviolent struggle inspired velvet revolutions that toppled dictators on four continents, [who] died Jan. 28 at his home in Boston. He was 90.”
Things are, of course, considerably more complex than that.
He was systematically misrepresented to the public as a shy, modest, kind-hearted academic passionately attached to the laudable humanist agenda of guiding the oppressed to raise the banner of democracy and topple loathsome dictators world-wide. But on the broad stage, Sharp was, in fact, a key institutional player in laying the theoretical groundwork for a wave of “color revolutions” over the last two decades. Together with his side-kick, Col. Robert Helvey, an intelligence operative turned “academic” just like Sharp, he worked out the “template” for an avalanche of successful political subversion operations on at least “four continents,” just as in its funerary puff piece “The New York Times” said. So far, the template they pioneered has been applied in over a dozen successful and several failed coups.
Gene Sharp and Col. Robert Helvey are the principal theoreticians of these pseudo-democratic revolutions directed from above, but professionally packaged to mislead the untrained eye into imagining it was seeing a spontaneous rebellions erupting from below. Their popular dissertations on this subject, such as “Self-liberation” and “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” can easily be located on the internet by anyone wishing to read them. Just like the bogus “revolutions” that they championed, Sharp and Helvey also rather audaciously misrepresented themselves. They dissimulated benign figures ensconced in arcane niches of the academic world, passionately committed to the cause of pure democracy. In fact, however, they belonged to and operated out of the entirely different milieu of intelligence agency driven political conspiracies.
As the French political analyst Thierry Meyssan astutely noted, “Sharp has always been present everywhere American interests are put at risk.” What a coincidence! His Engels-like collaborator Helvey had once served as the American military attaché in Burma and, also coincidentally no doubt, that was at a time when a domestic “pro-democracy” movement was being set up in that country. Its task was to seize power and realign Burma’s policies by moving it within the West’s political orbit. None of that is any secret and it can be verified easily with a few clicks on the internet.
The first and fundamental postulate of Sharp’s doctrine is that “change” (always understood exclusively as readjusting the policies of the targeted state to conform to the requirements and dictates of the Atlanticist Alliance) is not achieved by just encouraging the population to recognize that it is living in misery and to merely protest about it. Change – according to Sharp – is to be achieved by means of “strategic planning [which] can contribute in major ways to making the application of non-violent struggle significantly more effective than protests and resistance without strategic planning.” What appears to be a commonplace thought is actually pregnant with profound practical implications. It foreshadows a serious operation, which is neither spontaneous nor emotional, but rather carefully prepared, measured, and calculated. Potential targets, instruments, and victims of this operation would be wise to disregard Sharp’s anodyne rhetoric and pay heed instead to the ruthless substance of his project.
The next point on which Sharp insisted, which also merits careful attention on the part of (as Paul Craig Roberts would put it, “insouciant”) victims, usually inclined as they are to underestimate their “non-violent” opponents, is something that Sharp called “strategic thinking.” According to Sharp, that refers to the “ability to make realistic assessments of what should be done for the situation to be changed and to achieve the desired goal (…) These plans will need to include how the long-term conflict will begin, how the activities are to develop, and how sub-strategies and individual campaigns for limited issues should contribute to achieving finally the main goal.”
Students who, before they discovered Sharp, studied Lenin, will unfailingly recognize in the reflections of the ideologue of “non-violent democratic revolution” the influence of the Leninist concept of the “minimal and maximal program.” Continuing on in the same Leninist spirit, Sharp stressed that “a major factor in formulating a grand strategy needs to be the test of whether each resistance campaign will weaken or strengthen the opponent’s power.” Specifically in that regard “acts of social, economic, and political noncooperation (also called boycotts) constitute major classes of the available methods of nonviolent struggle.” In other words, the goal of the pseudo-revolutionary political engineering operation is to achieve the paralysis of the defense assets and institutions of the targeted system, which then greatly facilitates the task of demolishing it.
As far as the spontaneity of the process is concerned, Sharp taught that “the early steps of a long-term struggle intended to end the dictatorship will therefore need to be highly limited and carefully staged.” The word “staged” gives the game away. It is derived from theatrical terminology. A good political synonym would be “contrived.”
Sharp is now ready to administer the death blow to the targeted government. The weakened regime’s “pillars of support” (there are six main ones, according to him) are swarmed by the concentrated assault of the local NGO infantry assembled – according to Russian television Channel One commentator Mikhail Leontyev – by “banal recruiting – a complicated amalgam of egoism, careerism, intimidation, and blackmail.” Once the job is done, with very few exceptions, the rebellious rabble are demobilized and shoved away ad acta. That is exactly what happened to all but a few of the cynically utilized members of Serbia’s “Otpor” movement after in 2000, with Sharp as its godfather, they successfully executed the anti-Milosevic coup for the benefit of their Western controllers and paymasters. Most of their rank and file were never heard from again, with identical encores in the Ukraine and other similar places.
Studiously avoiding any comparative analysis of the actual conditions in the imperialist countries sponsoring them, professionally trained demagogues and agitators acting under Sharp’s inspiration are taught to skillfully utilize local difficulties and deficiencies in their home countries. The goal is to gain control over the energy of discontentment in order to channel it destructively, exactly as the playbook prescribes. That is the gist of the Sharp Technology of Political Change.
To sum up. The phony idealist Gene Sharp had painted a rosy picture of a “new political order [that] can allow progressive improvements to grow and succeed, as may be required by society’s needs and popular decisions. The way will have been opened for building a durable, free, democratic and participatory system.”
However, and not that anyone ever asked him to do it, but if anyone had, Sharp would have been unable to cite in evidence a single example of a country that was “liberated” due to the application of the “template” laid out in the subversive handbooks that he had written. Utterly unknown is the happy land where, after being subjected to the application of Sharp’s liberation doctrines, any “progressive improvements” whatsoever were detected or where anything at all resembling popular decision-making has been observed.
Students who are still considering enrolling in his democracy school should be reminded that Gene Sharp during his lifetime may have been a charlatan but, for all that, his teachings have not remained entirely barren. They indeed have yielded certain fruits, albeit not those which the mentors promised or hare-brained acolytes expected. The actual results range from the economically, socially, and politically devastated lands such as Serbia and the Ukraine, which slowly but surely are sliding into ruin and South American-style dictatorships, to the general breakdown in Georgia under the leadership of the imbalanced pro-Western puppet Saakashvili, to mention just a few of the more conspicuous examples.
The fate of these and other unlucky countries [Czechoslovakia's is another example] selected for the Sharp treatment and subjected to the incessant blows of his local mercenary NGO condottieri (financed mostly by G. Soros, be it noted) has surely been dismal. For fairness’ sake, however, it needs to be pointed out that in terms of the end result, which is the destruction of non-conformist anti-imperialist regimes, the application by itself of Sharp’s subversive technology is not all its cracked up to be. It is just a component of a larger menu of offense mechanisms which are used in concerted fashion to achieve the overthrow or implosion of a recalcitrant government. Without ample supplies of Soros cash to fuel the enthusiasm (and the avarice) of Sharp’s street infantry, international media satanization and isolation of the targeted country’s leadership, financial and economic destabilization and pressure brought about from abroad, as well as patient long-term intelligence recruitment and corruption of key domestic figures and institutions well in advance of the official launching of the “color revolution,” little would have been accomplished just by following Sharp’s supposedly brilliant strategic injunctions.
Without state sponsorship, Gene Sharp’s “Albert Einstein Institute” and its inspired teachings would have gotten exactly nowhere.
Sharp is a fraud. His vaunted political action manuals have turned out to be not a new or independent instrument of political action, but in retrospect just another illusionist propaganda operation to provide cover and serve as a distraction for all the classical methods of imperialist intervention.
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