Portrait of engaging scientist Dr. Gene Sharp from Boston. When his handbook From Dictatorship to Democracy was published back in 1993, this political scientist could never have imagined what impact his ideas would have on modern history. The book has served as a guideline for peaceful resistance for nearly twenty years, including last year’s uprisings in the Middle East.
On the ground floor of his humble abode in Boston, 83-year-old political scientist and author Dr. Gene Sharp runs the ‘Albert Einstein Institution’ together with his only colleague Jamila Raqib. The care this pioneer devotes to growing rare orchids is only equalled by the devoted way in which Sharp supports oppressed citizens’ non-violent resistance against dictators. Few people know his name, but many have implemented his ideas, either consciously or unconsciously. His handbook contains 198 methods for nonviolent action, and has been a source of inspiration for various peaceful revolutions that have unfolded in the past decades. From Bosnia to Syria and from Burma to Egypt, Sharp’s practical methods and insights have been put to use to drive away tyrants and dictators. The scientist himself is not the kind of person who boasts about his contribution to a better world and underlines that he does not have a monopoly on wisdom. Sharp believes, however, that a strategy and a certain amount of perseverance are indispensable: ‘As long as you don’t surrender, you never lose.’