Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Why does this diary not even attempt to address the points I made in mine?

I have no interest in Voltaire or in Stevesim's take on this. They're hardly relevant here.

But I don't need to reference them to find clear and unarguable evidence that Sharp is:

  1. Not a progressive, and not promoting progressive values. His links to the DOD and the content of his books make that clear. As far as he's concerned, tyranny is communism and socialism. It can't possibly come from the US.

  2. Pretending to be progressive to create a fake narrative that gives his work progressive support. We have Gandhi, we have Einstein, we have MLK, we have "democracy", and we have a dog-whistle title for a technique that hints at pacifism.

But where is Sharp's support for progressive causes in the West? What is he doing for the people of Wisconsin, or (potentially) Greece and Ireland who need democratic government that won't try to sell them like chattels to the IMF and ECB? Where is the persistent AEI support for the regimes taken over by the US and ruled by violent puppet dictators for decades?

Really, anyone who still thinks Sharp is any way a progressive needs to ask themselves why he and Helvey have done nothing for victims of US-sponsored torture gangs and death squads - and apparently have no interest in them, except on those rare occasions when the US decides that its old puppets are a liability and need to be replaced.

  1. Only promoting non-violence to the extent that his idea of violence is using civilians and PR methods for regime change rather than bullets and explosives. Which might seem appealing, if you like that kind of thing - except for point 4.

  2. Promoting methods that cannot work independently, and in fact only work at all with external-state support that is some mix of financial, strategic, and practical aid. (But which is also conveniently small-scale and deniable.)

  3. Lying about how his organisation is supported. E.g. he states regularly that he has never received government cash, when in fact AEI has been funded by the NED. (Which technically may not be a direct federal hand-out, but practically is as close as dammit when NED is funded directly by Congress.)

When I ask geezer for a factual rebuttal to some earlier comments, he ignored that request.

Now he's posted this diary which ignores further evidence and tries to imply that any factual criticism of Sharp is equivalent to a wacky conspiracy theory.

And this is "honest inquiry"?

Nice try, but no.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 01:42:52 PM EST
And what difference does this make? Let's say Sharp truly is a CIA toadie who has managed to abet U.S. sponsored regime change from Belgrade to (just maybe) Cairo, haven't the results been worth it? Or were these revolts more about moral superiority than power?
by Jace on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 01:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what difference does this make? Let's say Sharp truly is a CIA toadie who has managed to abet U.S. sponsored regime change from Belgrade to (just maybe) Cairo, haven't the results been worth it?

Serbia, probably. Egypt? Hopefully, but we can't tell for sure until the dust has settled and we know what sort of government emerges. It's not hard to imagine American puppets that could be worse then Mubarak. Fortunately, it seems that the Americans have played only a minor role here, with the main show being the labour unions, with a helping of coup d'etat on the side.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 02:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Jace on this.  Who cares if Sharpe fits your particular definition of a progressive? The important thing is that he has provided progressives with an alternative to violence with which to fight for social justice. If non-progressives want use his methods too, better still.

Mikhail Kalashnikov is by most definitions of political ideology, a leftist and a "progressive." That hasn't stopped people from using his invention -- the AK-47 --  in clearly anti-progressive activities. And just the fact of violence taints any claim of Mikhail Kalashnikov to he progressive label in ways that simply aren't there for Sharpe and his promotion of non-violence as a political method.

Nothing in Sharpe's work has anything to do with state support. A fact that some states may have financially supported work using his strategies in no way implies that state support is necessary or even helpful for most ways they might be employed.

Finally, if the US or any other government is financially supporting educational projects to teach non-violent political organizing methods, that's a progressive thing that progressives should support in general, even if we don't support other things that our governments do or the policy objectives which non-violent methods might achieve.  For example, we can all support elections as a progressive way of changing governments even if we don't support the election of a certain party to office.

by santiago on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 02:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
he articulated a method, not a political philosophy, a how, not a why.

who uses the method determines the consequences, however if it is used unscrupulously, it has a way of tainting the author of the method.

the justice of this is debatable, but it is the big bug in being a methodologist.

the only clear way to ascertain the ethic of the author would be if he came out unequivocally for a political philosophy.

it is interesting how this guy's profile is raising simultaneously with the old partisan at the top of the best sellers book list in france...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 02:39:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Stephane Hessel speaks of moral indignation. Gene Sharp leans toward the technology, the methodology of social change at the top.
A synergy there, and one which recurrs in history.
Still, Sharp has clear principles, and it's easy to ascertain what they are. Just read him.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 10:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"When I ask geezer for a factual rebuttal to some earlier comments, he ignored that request."

That's pretty rich, coming from you; when I put up an extensive rebuttal of your stuff, you blithely ignore it. But then that's your style, why bother with rebuttal yourself when you know you're right - so you just repeat yourself.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 02:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There comes a time when rebuttal is pissing to windward.
Life's too short for that.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 10:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Sharp is all you say, then events in Egypt and, possibly, Tunisia and Libya could be construed as blow-back, producing unwanted disruptions of regimes long loyal to the USA. But, still, the body of work he has produced remains a tool that may be more likely to benefit the average citizen in affected countries, with lower loss of life, than were the other tools on offer. I don't think you can try to have an effect without getting dirty. The basic rule seems to be: "Whatever you love will be used against you."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 04:53:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading between the lines Egypt was being set-up for regime change - Mubarak was old and becoming a liability, and the usual cadres were being flown in for training before being sent back to organise local efforts - but Washington didn't expect regime change to happen just yet. So there's no blowback, so much as surprise at the strength of popular feeling which could be channeled into overthrow.

As for the usefulness of the methods - a key point in the argument against Sharp is that there's no evidence they actually work as advertised. All of the "success stories" were funded and pushed externally, not created spontaneously.

And you can't take Egypt as evidence if the key planners were personally US-trained, rather than independently Sharp-inspired.

If the narrative is that all you have to do is hand out copies of Sharp's books and wait for freedom after an inevitable low body count - which was the implication of the original NYT piece - clearly, that's nonsense. That has never happened anywhere, and never will.

You can of course take the point that formal study of methods of civil disobedience and resistance with active practice and organisation can be powerful things.

But I don't think Sharp's supporters are going to pretend that he invented an idea that has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years.

So what is actually new here? It seems to me the only formal innovation is a catalogue of methods - which except for the Internet and media elements, wouldn't surprise anyone from the 19th century - and the suggestion that nation states can use these methods to support regime change on their own terms.

As I said in my diary, I think that idea has obvious appeal in Washington, for obvious reasons. What I'm less convinced by is its usefulness for independent dissent.

In fact that the idea that you can use these methods successfully could actually be dangerous, because it's likely to instill false confidence and minimise the messy reality of regime change.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 06:13:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given Mubarak's age I have little doubt that there has been ongoing discussions about the succession problem, or that the US Government has been involved. This might come out in Wikileaks. I personally doubt that this involved Gene Sharp or his work. Mubarak's military might discuss with the US contingency plans for dealing with the inevitable, but when the protests broke out I would expect that those plans involved the orderly transfer of power to Mubarak's son. I would think that no Egyptian officer would even discuss alternatives to the official plan except one on one with US officials, if then. Even to broach the subject of succession alternatives would likely have spooked them. Their first thought would likely have been: "Am I being set up?"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 11:39:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That said, it is known that the US Government was reaching out to "other representatives" in Egypt. It is not inconceivable that some of these might have been introduced to some of Gene Sharp's works. Such contact would more likely have been conducted by spooks working through the Agency for International Development or the State Department. They would likely have been represented as business development consultants, etc. Whether this involved Sharp or the AEI I have no idea.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 11:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TBG, in my case, the answer to your question is that, having read your point of view, I am not persuaded.
What to you is clear evidence of perfidy is to me unsupported but endlessly repeated assertion.
A cherry-picking job, from poor sources.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 10:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You think Helvey's own words are poor sources? As quoted in an interview to support a film put together by AEI's backers?

Or information about funding, and personal and corporate relationships collected from AEI's own documents?

You think these are poor sources?

Let us know when you find some better ones.

Actually having read a few more books, I'm tending more to the idea that Sharp's ideas are interesting, but naive, and easily co-opted.

To be fair to him he did suggest in 1975 that a civilan defence of Nicaragua against US military intervention would make an interesting case study - which answers one specific point, even though most of his early writing is still about possible anti-Soviet actions.

But otherwise he seems to trade in generalities and potentials. And since the only attempts at practical applications have been US-funded for expedient aims with the help of Col. Helvey - if you know better, point us to an example - more specific critiques of real-world effectiveness aren't difficult.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 11:54:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series