Small Wars Journal

Callwell, Mao, Galula, Sharp?

This article (NY Times login required) about

Gene Sharp, already included in

today's SWJ Roundup, probably warrants a special look  by our

community.  It provides a brief intro to his body of work on the practical

application of nonviolent revolution (basically Mao meets MLK/Gandhi) and how it

touched the wave of change in Tunisia, Egypt, et al.  Well worth the

sign-in hassle if you're not already registered with the old Grey Lady.  Be

sure to look at "From

Dictatorship to Democracy"  (more info, languages, formats

here) and his

other works at the Albert Einstein



Geoffrey Demarest

Sun, 12/04/2011 - 7:33pm

Hey I'm in the middle of writing a small piece mashing Jomini/Alinsky/Frederick/Hobsbawm/Clausewitz/Sharp. My timing might be a little late and, frankly, I'm struggling a tad. If any of you are aware of a worthy item on a similar topic please let me know. I think the Gene Sharp material is important, especially if taken in light of some other strategic theory. Sharp is suble and comprehensive (obsessive/compulsive?), recognizing that 'non-violent'requires some definitional liquidity, and that the non-violent stuff works its way into violence often. It's a good thing he indexes and paragraphs like mad, since I would never have the strength to read all of one of his books.

Fair enough, Renascent. A cavalier comment that, as you pointed out, is imperfect. But certainly Mao's revolutionary concepts, albeit violent, were packaged up and made portable, expanding his already great influence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi are premier examples of leaders of non-violent movements, albeit not particularly packaged and portable. Add ice, shake it twice.

Renascent (not verified)

Thu, 02/17/2011 - 12:52pm

I'm not sure how we arrive at MAO meets MLK/Gandhi? Gene Sharp is to non-violent strategies as Clausewitz was to Napolean: a theorist who studies the practitioners, generating and synthesizing the underlying insights.

I remember when the book linked in the article above about the author Gene Sharp came out. I remember discussions with people who say that Unconventional Warfare in the classic sense of overthrowing a government, particularly a despotic or totalitarian regime, was a romantic notion of the past and no longer relevant, particularly in the post Cold War and post 9-11 world. Just like COIN after Vietnam, classic UW was no longer of value. Add this book to Hoffer's and Gurr's works and I think you have the basis for an Unconventional Warfare curriculum that has stood and will stand the test of time.