Liberation From Dictatorship
Defeating Dictators with Nonviolent Civil Disobedience
Library Guide for Citizen Resistance to Tyranny

Few Options

There are few options when living under violent oppressive dictatorship:
1) "non-violent protests" to provoke the dictator to make mistakes that causes change, or
2) violent revolution, or
3) do nothing. With each there is cost and risk.

Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Edmund Burke, an Irish political philosopher at the time of the American Revolution, said: "All the forces of darkness need to succeed is for the people to do nothing.” Or in French: “Les forces des ténèbres ne peuvent tout réussir que face à l’inaction des hommes de bien.” Why would anyone do the same thing over and over again, be unhappy with the results, but yet expect different results each time? Said another way, If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.”

Mohammed said: "Government is the guardian of those who have no guardian." (Not so in DR Congo). Plato 428 to 347 B.C said: "If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools." American philosopher George Santayana said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." USA President Franklin Roosevelt stated in a 1938 anniversary speech at Gettysburg: "the Nation was founded to preserve a people's government for the people's good." (Not so in DR Congo) USA President Abraham Lincoln said: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." (Not so in DR Congo) John Paul Jones said: "those who will not risk cannot win." Who will risk in the DRC to free 81 million Congolese from foreign tyranny?

There have been many revolutions in history that have overthrown dictatorships, such as the American Revolution – see Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution

Think of other examples and how leadership was critical to propel civilian protesters in the right direction at the right time: Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr in the USA, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and F.W. de Klerk in South Africa , Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Wangari Maathai in Kenya, leaders of the North African Arab Spring, Iranian Revolution, Ukrainian Revolution and many others.

For those interested in the ideas of nonviolent protests and how they can play critical roles in leading such against dictator tyrants, what should they do?

Many oppressed people have no money, no military leadership experience, no business leadership experience, never held elective office – thus have no society power. The choice is to do nothing, or something.

While some are too lazy to do the work digging through the science of nonviolent protests, leadership and democratic institutions and building networks, others are motivated to act. For these people, they should study like working on a university graduate degree – absorbing and thinking about ideas that have worked, and organizing the material to develop a realistic plan of action. Outline the material, make que cards, lesson plans, talk to trusted friends to build a network, design PowerPoint presentations and “how to” lectures to present to groups to build coalitions.

Who is Gene Sharp? How does nonviolent civil disobedience work?

Many revolutions to overthrow dictators during the last half century have been inspired by Dr. Gene Sharp. He was a professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he dedicated his life to research dictatorships and nonviolent protests – what works and what does not. He is viewed as perhaps the world expert on Gandhi and his methods. Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution have been mentors and catalysts for nonviolent struggle throughout the world. Sharp retired as a professor and is a Senior Scholar of the USA Albert Einstein Institution where he continues to share insights from his life study on how nonviolent struggle can work. For many decades he has published many bestselling books on the subject translated into more than 30 languages, and provides most of them for free on this website as a world public service to help liberate oppressed people around the world. It is not about profit, but about public service. He provides compelling examples what it takes to nurture successful nonviolent struggle to defeat tyranny. View Gene Sharp's staff at He was nominated 4 times for the Nobel Peace Prize since 2009 see and

Professor Sharp notes how essential aspects of nonviolent struggle include leaders' and followers' willingness to learn about the techniques of nonviolent protests that have worked elsewhere in case studies. They must maintain an open mind to understand what the country's population wants, and what the population will support.

He notes that dictatorial political power does not belong to rulers merely because they possess violent military power, but they possess power because there is a population willing to obey the tyrant. A dictator's power will disintegrate when people withdraw their obedience and support and no longer cooperate. This absence of cooperation brings the mechanisms of society to a halt making it impossible for a dictator to do business. Political power is derived from the authority of the people.

In some countries military power is the only way dictators can govern. A population opposed to such violent dictatorial rule that is devoid of human rights, can fight back with violence to defend themselves, if they have the ability. This option is problematic for a number of reasons. The oppressed may not have the tools or the skills or the leadership. It can lead to greater casualties, and a great danger is replacing one violent military dictator thug with another yielding no gain for the oppressed. The USA was lucky in 1776, as its violent revolution was the only alternative to end oppression, and those leading the revolution wanted real human rights, good government, and representative democracy, and they gave the people what they wanted crafted in a new constitution with human rights guarantees no country on earth had never seen in history.

Thus, if people do not choose violent revolution, or do not have the ability, their only remaining power is NONVIOLENT PEACEFUL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE and there are several hundred ways to make life hell for the dictator. If a totalitarian government uses excessive power against peacefully protesting civilians, then the dictator government loses power and legitimacy in the eyes of the world and this can force change. Professor Sharp and other experts cite evidence how nonviolent struggle can often be twice as successful as violent revolutions. USA Revolution patriot said: "Give me liberty or give me death." Sometimes people who have lost most everything, have little to lose by fighting back in a smart manner, and they have everything to gain by doing so to improve the lives of their family and countrymen.

But it takes a senior leadership structure - just like the military – with thoughtful planning and strategy, and discipline to carry out a detailed plan with many tactical options to counter a dictator’s various actions. It’s about a leadership structure respected by the people enough that they are willing to follow directions. It is about delegating responsibilities to responsible lower leadership to provide communications and supplies, and transportation, and being able to execute a leadership plan. It is about making alliances with many groups to defeat the enemy. The old saying is true and critical: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

It is about the ability to maintain discipline among protesters across a big country to prevent nonviolent protests becoming violent and causing the movement to lose legitimacy. There needs to be an excellent communications system between leadership and lower level leaders embedded among protesters in various cities to control the protest events. There is great danger of the nonviolent protesters losing direction and motivation or losing control, that permits the violent wing taking control – often followed by the dictator remaining in power by using brutal violence (like in Syria), or where one tyrant is replaced with another.

Think about what happened to the Egyptian "Arab Spring" protests, where public pressure was relaxed too soon so that a military dictatorship took control and the people were worse off. Thus, there was a lack of leadership and effective tactics and strategy and inadequate motivation of the protesters. There must be equal planning and attention to the end game. Once the people have over thrown the dictator regime, what do they do to prevent future dictators?

Study Professor Sharp's free resources

1) Free - view and study Gene Sharp’s You Tube video in French ( Ce video sur Gene Sharp decrie comment faire tomber une dictature ) “How to over throw dictators with nonviolent action”

Study other free You Tube videos about nonviolent protests. Here are 26 free Gene Sharp videos

These are good You Tube lectures by Gene Sharp "The Power and Potential of Nonviolent Struggle" - substitute for war and see You Tube Professor Sharp interview by BBC News

2) Free - view and study Gene Sharp's 198 methods of nonviolent action He and He provides detailed descriptions of these methods and historical examples in his book The Politics of Nonviolent Action Volume Two by Gene Sharp. (see below)

Listen to this FREE English audio book From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp – 3 hours 50 minutes at Published June 11, 2013

Read one of Professor Gene Sharp's free books in French in PDF format One needs the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software to view his on line books. Francais version: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC est la norme mondiale libre pour fiable, afficher et imprimer des documents PDF et d'obtenir, cliquez sur ce lien hypertexte English version: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software is the free global standard for reliably viewing and printing PDF documents and to obtain click on this hyperlink

View many of his other guidebooks on nonviolent revolution in French

Read/study every other book Sharp ever wrote, as they contain case studies and guidance on overthrowing dictators. (see French versions and ) Professor Sharp has written many books on nonviolent struggle, but the three most important ones each cost about $10 but you may find in libraries or free on line. They are: Power and Struggle (Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part 1) by Gene Sharp and Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part Two: The Methods of Nonviolent Action by Gene Sharp and Dynamics of Nonviolent Action (Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part 3) by Gene Sharp

Study leadership skills/techniques

Study library books on leadership techniques and skills and building coalitions that will be necessary to overcome dictator power.

TED Talks - You Tube

Listen to and study the following brief lectures relating to how nonviolent civil disobedience works.

Ted Talk: Dr. Erica Chenoweth discusses success of nonviolent civil resistance says only 3.5% of population needed to over throw dictator (4.3 million of 81 million in DRC)

Ted Talk: Julia Bacha discusses the power of nonviolent protest
TED Talk how Popovic led the nonviolent movement that took down Serbia dictator in 2000
TED Talk Jamila Raqib - The secret to effective nonviolent resistance
TED Talk: Elworthy discusses nonviolent fighting dictators is 3-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recipient of Niwano Peace Prize,
Ted Talk: Journalist Will Potter discusses governments around world moving to brand peaceful protest as terrorism

Study below Nobel Peace Prize winners -- How did they deal with tyranny?

These Nobel Peace Prize speeches provide DRC hope, ideas, and inspiration as models to begin healing in the DRC. Any opposed to future government that was won through violence, will feel justified to overthrow it with violence and the cycle will continue. Peaceful transition from one government to the next is a cornerstone of true democracy. Think about how each of the below Nobel Peace Prize winners was vilified at home and sometimes abroad, and how at times it seemed each was alone against the world because they were standing up for what is right. The author Mark Twain who fought against King Leopold II said: "Always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest." Listen and learn from these great men and women, as they give great speeches about oppression and non-violent conquering of dictators. While one has a legitimate right to defend against violence, non-violence is a powerful message symbolizing the character of a nation's people.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948). All other peace leaders since Gandhi, model their non-violent peace efforts on Mohandas Gandhi, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but never received it before he was murdered See Gandhi You Tube clip on the Salt March (teaching clip for non-violence and direct action) and see his actual speech This article analyzes why Gandhi won "There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no causes that I am prepared to kill for."- Mahatma Gandhi

Martin Luther King Jr., USA MLK Nobel acceptance speech and see Targeted by state and the federal governments as a communist and the enemy of America. Target for white supreme groups, who eventually assassinated him

Nelson Mandela, South Africa, Nobel acceptance speech and Imprisoned as the enemy of the state for much of his life. See various video interviews and see

Desmond Tutu South Africa Nobel acceptance speech A religious man caused him any enemies in society and with the government. Videos on leadership

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa Nobel acceptance speech and see; Viewed as a traitor to the white supremacy cause.

Wangari Maathai Kenya Nobel acceptance speech and see Beaten many times by the government, but she never stopped or lost faith in her cause. See and tribute to her and her Taking Roots documentary

Aung San Suu Kyi Burma Nobel acceptance speech and see For advocating human rights and democracy she was imprisoned and persecuted by government, and released only on house arrest.

14th Dalai Lama Tibet Nobel acceptance speech and see Persecuted by the Chinese since the days of Mao

Malala Yousafzai Pakistan and Reviled by men because she advocated education rights for girls and was shot and left for dead.

Elie Wiesel – German Nazi Holocaust survivor He stated: Neutrality helps the oppressor – never the victim."

President Obama USA White House text

Read these related news stories about nonviolent civil disobedience.

Atlantic magazine analyzes Sharp's "strategic nonviolent action" while this Atlantic article explores the psychology of effective protests

British BBC analysis of Professor Gene Sharp on his "strategic nonviolent action"
Catholic Church says nonviolence works
Frontline Club in London, UK 1 hour 26 minute 2012 Gene Sharp video interview Frontline Club is a London UK press association
New York Times article
Christian Science Monitor
Forbes Magazine article analyzes why nonviolent resistance is superior to violence

Foreign Policy magazine critique arguing that between 1900 and 2006, peaceful nonviolent resistance campaigns TWICE as successful as violent insurgencies
Harvard University
National Public Radio audio – how did a woman become president of Liberia? Liberia President Sirleaf traces her ancestry back to Congo. Why not a woman president of DR Congo?
New York Times article analyzes successful protests and Gene Sharp
Peace & Justice Center's Community Library has a variety of films on Nonviolence and Peace:

United States Institute of Peace works to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict around the world. USIP does this by engaging directly in conflict zones and by providing analysis, education, and resources to those working for peace. Created by Congress in 1984 as an independent, nonpartisan, federally funded organization. It teaches transition from violence to peace
This nonprofit analyzes why peaceful nonviolent protest works

Think about how a divided population aids dictators

Congo dictators past and present are strengthened when Congolese are divided. There are 200-250 separate tribes, 700 local languages, and in the 2011 elections, there were some 500 political parties fielding candidates.

Having too many tribes and too many political parties makes them each weak and divided – with little hope of overcoming the consolidated power of foreign and domestic dictators and their allies who are willing to use their weapons and corrupt system to destroy any in the opposition.

As long as Congolese are divided, authoritarian power wins. Every group wants to rule, but the reality is each cannot rule, unless they band together with other individuals and groups to be powerful enough to stand up to tyranny.

The great native American Indian Chief Tecumseh said that a twig is weak and easily broken, but when bundled together with many other twigs, it becomes strong and difficult to break. Some African chiefs, like Shaka, have successfully united tribes to be able to fight colonialism for short periods of time, but in the end failed because all the tribes did not join to be more powerful than the colonials.

Native Americans had been on the continent for 15,000 years before colonials came, and were much greater in numbers, and they would still be ruling America today had they united. The many Congolese tribes and individuals are divided like twigs, and each individually has been broken by more powerful predators, and they are constant victims of them.

Tribalism had purpose in history, such as banding together family groups in primitive times to provide needs incapable by the individual, such as community defense. Today it has lost its usefulness, as it is preventing Congolese from uniting as one to reach higher goals and objectives to maximize happiness, prosperity, and security for all Congolese.

On the “Great Seal of the United States,” above the mighty eagle with arrows in one talon and olive peace branch in the other, is the Latin phrase E pluribus unum which means “many uniting into one” or "out of many, one" – a phrase that elegantly captures the symbolism of uniting a melting pot of immigrant races and cultures with many different beliefs and attitudes from all over the earth. No country has more diversity than the USA or more spirited disagreements among individuals or interest groups. However, the way it unites these “tribes” and individuals for common purposes to be a world power is a grand achievable model for the DRC.

The United States Marine Corps takes recruits from all religions and races and it teaches them to work as a team. There are many team work exercises where Marines are assigned problems and are constantly evaluated how they work together. Leaders are identified and promoted over followers. Training is constant. There must be those professionals in society, like Marines, who are well trained as servants of the people – rather than oppressors of the people - tightly controlled with a dog choke collar and a very short leash held tightly by government leaders.

These professionals are necessary because there are predators who mean United States Americans grievous harm, and either we can be a nation of sheep, who cannot defend themselves and are preyed upon and slaughtered by the wolf pack anytime it wants, or we employ the brave sheep dogs to defend the herd. Not everyone is cut out to be a sheep dog or a United States Marine who does not run away at the sight of danger. The Marines are taught how they will only win battles by training together, working together, living together, fighting together, and dying together. Together. There is no individualism. It is a BIG tribe, but it works as a servant under the Constitution to serve its role, as part of a much bigger team.

Marines are powerful not because they are extraordinary individuals, although they are, but they are powerful because they work as a team. It is the most powerful “lawful” gang on the planet. During the China campaign Marines adopted its motto from the Chinese phrase "gōng hé" (工 合) which means work" and "together” or “work together” and Marines pronounce it Gung-ho. Marines are a brotherhood until death because of how they were trained and what they endued together. It is a bond you will see nowhere else.

The only close comparison are the ancient Greek Spartan warriors who lived and trained most every minute of life to work as a team. An example is 480 BC Battle of Thermopylae, when a Spartan army of just 300 fought bravely against a Xerxes led Persian army of 80,000. The only way the Spartans stood a chance is with their team work training that was a foundation of the "phalanx" formation that made it feared by all.

The role of the leader is to enhance, transform, coach, care, trust, and cheerlead. The activities of the leader are to educate, sponsor, coach, and counsel using appropriate timing, tone, consequences, and skills." Passion for Excellence, by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin

The point being made is that Congolese are divided. Until Congolese unite, the dictator and his corrupt allies win. In order to unite 81 million Congolese, it will take extraordinary leaders to inspire and train the people to play their parts on a team to guide the country down a new path of freedom, human rights, prosperity, and real lasting democracy.

To over throw a violent dictator with "nonviolent methods," it will take leadership, organization, training, commitment, discipline, and team work similar to a professional military to unite a nation.