On March 1st, Tom Engelhardt (TomDispatch) published an interview at MyFDL on Firedoglake of journalist Jonathan Schell by Andy Kroll. Nonviolent revolution was the subject matter of the interview. The article passed off the conveyor belt without comment, which I find remarkable. I do not believe it even made the recommended list, let alone being front-paged at MyFDL.

You can read the article here.

During the interview, Schell reviewed successful revolutions that defeated and in some cases toppled empires and totalitarian governments. In each case, beginning with our war for independence against Great Britain, he described how the outcome was assured by first winning the hearts and minds of the people through a variety of nonviolent means, including the power of the pen and nonviolent public demonstrations against authority. In many cases, for example the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution, the majority of the violence and killing happened during the scramble for power after the governments fell.

JS: . . . Usually the cliché is that the stage of overthrow is the violent part, and the stage of consolidation or of setting up a new government is post-violent or nonviolent. I discovered it to be just the other way around.

AK: On this subject, as your book makes clear, some re-teaching is in order. We’re so conditioned to think of overthrow as a physical act: knocking down the gates, storming the castle, killing the king, declaring the country yours.

JS: In a certain sense, overthrow is the wrong word. If you overthrow something, you pick it up and smash it down. In these cases, however, the government has lost legitimacy with the people and is spontaneously disintegrating from within.

AK: As you note [in your book, The Unconquerable World], the Hungarian writer György Konrád used the image of an iceberg melting from the inside to describe the process.

JS: He and actually the whole Solidarity movement had already noticed how Franco’s cryptofascist regime in Spain sort of melted away from within and finally handed over power in a formal process to democratic forces. That was one of their models.

Schell’s point is that in order to win a revolution, one must first win the hearts and minds of the people and one cannot accomplish that task at the point of a gun. He calls Ghandi the Einstein of Revolution because Ghandi was the first person to realize and intentionally use nonviolence as a strategy to bring down an empire. Ghandi used that tactic, in effect paralyzing the British, on September 11, 1906, at The Empire Theater in Johannesberg, South Africa. Here is Ben Kingsley as Ghandi recreating one of the greatest moments in people power and the history of revolution.

Spring is the time for new beginnings.

The American Empire is rotten to the core and cannot be saved.

Revolution is an idea whose time has come

Spread it

Demonstrate

And melt it from within.

Cross posted from my law blog.