Blog Archives

Albert Einstein Institution Statement (Angola)

Press Release (Angola)

— For more background on events, read the following article from The Guardianhttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/angola-book-club-dos-santos-arrests.

— Download a PDF of this statement at http://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Press-Release-Angola.pdf.


Albert Einstein Institution Statement (China)

Press Release

 

— For more background on events, read the following press release from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/06/16/china-release-advocates-nonviolence.

— Download a PDF of this statement at http://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Press-Release1.pdf.


Bostonians Celebrate Life and Work of Gene Sharp

Dr. Sharp receives proclamation from Mayor's office representative Christopher Moore. Event photography courtesy of Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Dr. Sharp receives proclamation from Mayor’s office representative Christopher Moore. Event photography courtesy of Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Last Monday night, Bostonians gathered to recognize one of their own. Gene Sharp, who has lived on a quiet street in East Boston since 1968, is known to his neighbors as an unassuming intellectual with a love of gardening. To dictators around the globe, however, he is better known as a promoter of the dangerous idea that the real power in a society lies not with its rulers, but with its people.

Dr. Sharp, who has been called “the Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare,” has made his life’s work the study of strategic nonviolent action as a powerful alternative to both passivity and violence. He is the author of dozens of books, and his book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” has been translated into over forty languages while spreading among dissidents around the world. In 1983, Sharp founded the Albert Einstein Institution, which continues to promote the use and study of nonviolent action from offices in Boston’s South End today.

And so, this Monday night Bostonians filed into District Hall, a community space looking out over Boston Harbor and the city’s glittering skyline, to honor Gene Sharp. The reason for the event was a proclamation by Mayor Marty Walsh declaring April 27, 2015 to be “Gene Sharp Day” in the city of Boston.

After introductory remarks by Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition co-founder Kathleen Bitetti, whose hard work along with Tom Johnson’s in large part made the event possible, co-hosts Amit Dixit, founder of the South Asian Arts Council, and Malia Lazu, co-Founder of the Future Boston Alliance, took over for what would become a special night.

Speakers honor impact of Gene’s ideas

Following the formal presentation of the Mayor’s proclamation, Nam Pham, the Massachusetts Assistant Secretary of Business Development, presented a citation from the Governor’s office before speaking about what Gene’s ideas had meant to him over the years. Mr. Pham told the story of when he first read Gene’s work in a political science class as a student in Vietnam, and talked about the impact that Gene’s ideas on popular empowerment have had on him ever since. Thinking of all of the ways that Gene’s ideas have inspired people around the world “brings tears to my eyes,” Pham remarked as he pointed to the slideshow being projected onto the wall behind him as he spoke.

Throughout the event, photographs of Gene and iconic images of successful nonviolent struggles from countries all over the world provided a moving backdrop. Pictures of Gene included ones of him headed into the Burmese jungle to lead a nonviolent action training mission and meeting the Defense Minister of Norway. Photographs of world events ranged from historical cases such as the US Civil Rights Movement and the Color Revolutions to more current uses of nonviolent action like “Black Lives Matter” protesters in New York and umbrellas and tent cities in Hong Kong.

Following Mr. Pham, Albert Einstein Institution executive director Jamila Raqib talked about the privilege it has been for her to work with Gene over the years since she joined the Einstein institution in 2002. Ms. Raqib told the story of how Lithuanian Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius once remarked after reading one of Gene’s books:

“If I had to choose between the atom bomb and Gene’s book, I would choose this book.”

“I’ll ask you to reflect on that for a moment,” Ms. Raqib continued. “A person in charge of directing the defense of his country said that the power that he and his society could wield through the ideas contained in Gene’s book was more powerful than the atom bomb. The significance of such a statement is something that should give us pause, especially all those of us who would like to see a less violent, more just world.”

Poetry, Music and Art

Next, Charles Coe, a writer, poet and co-chair of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, read two of his poems in honor of Gene’s life and work. “If our society had it’s priorities in line, this event would be taking place in front of a full house at the Garden, with those who couldn’t get tickets watching on television from bars,” Mr. Coe told the crowd.

During the event, attendees actively participated through social media, sharing their experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #HonorSharp. The future Boston Alliance tweeted video of a musical performance by the String Quartet from the Grammy nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry. Music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg was chosen for the performance because the musicians had heard he was one of Gene’s favorite composers.

The event’s final speaker, Dr. Barbara Lewis, director of the William Trotter Institute at UMass Boston, energized the room with a passionate endorsement of the power of Gene’s ideas. “Dr. Sharp cut his own path, with an intellectual machete, into the future, ” Dr. Lewis said. “Dr. Gene Sharp is a living exemplar that Boston is more than yesterday. It is today and tomorrow too, and it resonates across the world,” she continued.

In addition to the mayor’s office, several other official citations honoring Gene Sharp and the impact of his work were also presented at the event. Jacob Bombard, Chief of Staff for Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, read a citation from the Massachusetts State Senate. Sam Miller, Neighborhood Liaison for Boston City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley, presented a citation on behalf of the Boston City Council.

Medicine Wheel Productions, a local public art group, also presented Dr. Sharp with several pieces of artwork made in his honor. Two beautiful painted paper lanterns and the “Spirit and Knowledge” statue now adorn the Albert Einstein Institution’s main offices in South Boston.

Closing Remarks

Event5

Gene Sharp delivers closing remarks. Event photography courtesy of Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Of course, the night was not over until the guest of honor, who had been taking everything in from the front row, said a few words himself. Greeted by a long standing ovation, Sharp spoke about the power of nonviolent action as an alternative to passivity and violence, and discussed lessons learned from both failed and successful nonviolent struggles, from the Russian Revolution of 1905 to the Syrian uprising in 2011. In his remarks, Sharp highlighted one quality at the heart of political defiance: stubbornness.

After the event, Dr. Sharp said he was greatly honored by this demonstration of strong support for his work, and views this recognition as another indication of the growing awareness of the power and relevance of nonviolent struggle as an alternative to violence and passivity in conflict.

Today, Dr. Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution continue to study and promote the power of strategic nonviolent action to undermine dictatorship, resist oppression, and defend freedoms and rights around the world. To connect with this work, find free downloads of publications, support the Institution’s activities, and much more, explore the Einstein Institution’s website. Boston has a rich history of nonviolent struggle, from the Boston Tea Party to civil rights protests today, and the Albert Einstein Institution is happy to call Boston home.


Boston Celebrates Gene Sharp Day

To honor a lifetime of study on strategic nonviolent action, the city of Boston has proclaimed that April 27 will henceforth be known as Gene Sharp Day! 

Click here to read more about the life and work of Dr. Sharp.

Proclamation


Dr. Mary Elizabeth King’s Exciting New Research on Gandhi, Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in India

Book Cover

Dr. Mary Elizabeth King, a board member at the Albert Einstein Institution, has written a new book that presents groundbreaking research on nonviolent struggle in India. The book’s back cover reads:

In the 1920s, in the south Indian village of Vykom, a nonviolent struggle sought to open to everyone the roads surrounding the Brahmin temple there. For centuries, any person or animal could walk those roads but not the so-called untouchable Hindus, whose use of the roads would “pollute” the high castes. From April 1924 to November 1925, Gandhi waged a satyagraha to put an end to this blatant discrimination.

Gandhi believed that the Vykom struggle would eliminate severe practices of untouchability, unapproachability, and unseeability, as the nonviolent activists would “convert” the high castes “by sheer force of character and suffering.” Within a decade of the Vykom campaign, a narrative emerged that corroborated Gandhi’s beliefs and cited the success of the satyagraha as testimony to his methods.

This mythic narrative has persisted to this day; yet fresh evidence presented by King shows that Gandhi’s confidence was misguided, and the volunteers’ suffering was ineffective in “converting” the upper-caste orthodoxy. This book for the first time explores what actually happened at Vykom, including its controversial settlement. Correcting misunderstandings, it addresses the rarity of conversion as a mechanism of change, and evaluates shortcomings of Gandhi’s leadership.

For more information on Dr. King’s new book, including how to purchase it, visit her website.


Nonviolent Struggle Monograph Series

The Albert Einstein Institution has now made its Nonviolent Struggle Monograph Series available for purchase as a complete set for $20. Buy the set directly from our bookstore or from Amazon.

For more information on each volume, or to purchase a volume individually, please visit our bookstore.

The complete monograph series includes the following volumes:

– Insurrectionary Civic Strikes in Latin America: 1931-1961 (Vol 1);

– Civilian Based Defense in a New Era (Vol 2);

– The Role of Power in Nonviolent Struggle (Vol 3);

– Civil Resistance in the East European and Soviet Revolutions (Vol 4);

– Nonviolent Action in the Liberation of Latvia (Vol 5);

– Nonviolent Struggle and the Revolution in East Germany (Vol 6);

– Toward Research and Theory Building in the Study of Nonviolent Action (Vol 7);

– Nonviolent Resistance in Lithuania: A Story of Peaceful Liberation (Vol 8).

A copy of Making the Abolition of War a Realistic Goal will also be included with the series.

Series Cover


Oslo Freedom Forum Talk Video

In October 2014, Albert Einstein Institution executive director Jamila Raqib spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) in Norway.

Each year since 2009, the Oslo Freedom Forum has brought together dissidents, activists, world leaders, journalists, policy makers, entrepreneurs, artists, philanthropists, and scholars to share their stories and discuss ideas for advancing human rights and defeating dictators.

The full video of Jamila’s talk, titled “The Success of Nonviolent Struggle,” has now been posted on the OFF website at https://oslofreedomforum.com/talks/the-success-of-nonviolent-struggle.

off

Jamila Raqib speaks at the Oslo Freedom Forum


Einstein Institution 2014 Newsletter and Appeal

Dear friend,                                                                                                                                             December 2014

In a world that often seems filled with violence and oppression, it is easy to understand why many people have lost grounds for hope in a different future.  At the Albert Einstein Institution we see powerful daily examples of why the conditions of war, oppression, and the rule of violence are not inevitable.  Around the world, people are refusing to accept that bleak future by using careful thinking, wise planning, and courageous action to conduct powerful struggles for freedom.

For more than thirty years, the Albert Einstein Institution has been promoting knowledge and understanding of nonviolent struggle as a powerful alternative to violent conflict through research, publications, translations, workshops, and consultations.  With your past support for our work, you have helped people facing difficult situations access the knowledge that has brought greater effectiveness to their struggles against dictatorships and other oppressive systems. As described in the 2014 edition of the Nonviolent Struggle newsletter, Hong Kong’s recent struggle for universal suffrage has revealed yet again the importance of advance preparation and access to knowledge in planning a struggle and how this planning can help to prepare people to act effectively in times of crisis.

In spite of its massive potential however, promoting the use of nonviolent struggle without providing the skills and knowledge required for success is dangerous for those who might use it against powerful opponents.  We must remember that as people conducting nonviolent struggles innovate and learn, so also do their opponents. That is why it is critical that we continue to help develop and share tools for nonviolent struggle for social and political change to the people who need them. 

To do this, we need your help.  Please join us in meeting this challenge and helping us to advance our unique mission.

Your contribution, whether it is $10, $25, $100, or $1000, is critical to the continued operation and expansion of the Albert Einstein Institution. Please give as generously as you can to help us promote greater freedom through nonviolent means. Your contribution can be made through the Network For Good.

Thank you,

Jamila Raqib

Executive Director


Internship Opportunity (Fall 2015)

The Albert Einstein Institution is currently seeking an Intern for September through December 2015. 

If interested, please read the full posting for the position and send a cover letter, resume, and one-page writing sample to jessica@aeinstein.org in an email titled “Internship.”


Jamila Raqib Speaking on Nonviolent Struggle in Maine, Nov 11-13

Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution, will be visiting Maine this week to talk about the power and potential of nonviolent struggle.

Her talks are scheduled as follows:

TUESDAY, Nov 11: Bates College at 4:15 pm, Curtis Library in Brunswick at 7pm

WEDNESDAY, Nov 12: Colby College (Given Auditorium) at 7:30 pm

THURSDAY, Nov 13: University of Maine (Bangor Room of the Memorial Union) at 12:30 PM

If you are interested in learning more about the Albert Einstein Institution’s work to advance freedom through nonviolent action around the world, you are welcome to attend any of these events.