How to change the world

If you’re involved in your community as a school governor or in a local campaign, or if you’re planning a revolution, I can’t recommend Srdja Popovic’s [amazon_link id=”1922247871″ target=”_blank” ]Blueprint for Revolution [/amazon_link]highly enough. Popovic was a founder of Otpor!, the Serbian anti-Milosevic movement, and of CANVAS, the organisation passing on the lessons of that success to others around the world.

[amazon_image id=”B00RYGKVAW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Blueprint for Revolution: how to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other non-violent techniques to galvanise communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world[/amazon_image]

[amazon_link id=”1922247871″ target=”_blank” ]Blueprint for Revolution [/amazon_link]does not at all gloss over the fact that every situation is different, and some are much harder to change, so the book is not a detailed ‘how to’ guide for all occasions. But the principles it describes are surely universal: above all, non-violence is vital because (a) if you choose violence you’re taking on your strongman where he is strongest and (b) most people are not violent so you have to choose that route if you want most people on your side. There is also a particular emphasis on using humour as the most effective and universal way of dissipating fear.

I also particularly like just the sheer pragmatism of the book. Start with small issues that lots of people care about – Popovic quotes the immortal line of Liz Lemon, saying most people want a quiet place to sit to eat their sandwich. Go step by step towards a clear ultimate goal (democracy, say) and have a strategy to get there but also be flexible about tactics. Identify the pillars on which your target regime rests and go after them. Plan, plan, plan. Build coalitions: a huge¬†[amazon_link id=”0261103253″ target=”_blank” ]Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link] fan, he notes that while it was the hobbits that won it in the end, it took a group of squabbling elves/dwarves/wizards/humans/hobbits together to ensure victory. Be prepared for the long haul, and don’t think things are over when you topple your dictator (i.e. if your ultimate goal is democracy, there is much further to go after the Tahrir Square moment….)

The book tells the stories of a number of revolutions but makes it clear that the practical lessons apply to any kind of activism from this largest scale to the smallest. Read, digest, and start thinking about the practical jokes.

4 thoughts on “How to change the world

  1. As J.G. Ballard, the greatest post-war English novelist wrote in “Millennium People” (one of my all time favourite books, about a revolution in England that starts in south west London), when the revolution comes it will be about parking.

  2. Pingback: How to change the world | Homines Economici

  3. Pingback: The working of non-violence | thenextwave

  4. Pingback: The Working of Non-violence | Equities Canada

Comments are closed.