So we’re at the end of 2013, and it’s that period where most people sort out their pledges and donations. Personally I don’t have a lot of money, but I try to support Doctors Without Borders and the American Friends Service Committee, as well as the local Unitarian Universalist congregation.
But I’d like to make a pitch for the Albert Einstein Institution , a tiny non-profit based in Boston that serves to create and publish works about nonviolent forms of struggle. Gene Sharp, the founder and main author, is best known for the pamphlet From Dictatorship to Democracy, written for Burmese rebels at their request. It’s been translated into at least 34 other languages and played a role in nonviolent revolutions in Serbia, the Ukraine, and Egypt. Much what has been published is available for free online.
Sharp has gained quite a bit of recognition since the Arab Spring, in both news outlets and from NGOs and other organizations. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, and last year won the Right Livelihood Award, an alternative to the Nobel. His work was the subject of a 2011 documentary, How to Start a Revolution (available online here).
Let’s get to the point. If you’re in the situation where you have moral or practical opposition to both pure pacifism and violent revolution, Gene Sharp is the most important person to examine and propose an alternative. As he says, nonviolent struggle is combat, just using weapons beyond guns and bombs. And it works.
The Albert Einstein Institution is run on a shoestring- it presently lists five employees and operates out of Sharp’s house. The time-intensive work they do is then published for free, and they do not collect royalties. But if there is hope for a world filled with democratic societies, in which the revolution does not in time become the dictatorship, then nonviolent struggle is the path that needs to be taken. And there needs to be a guide. The Albert Einstein Institution writes these guides, refines them, improves them. Give them some money.
You can through PayPal on the front page of their website.