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Globe Editorial

Sharp: The man who changed the world

Gene Sharp’s writings on nonviolent protests have helped oust Slobodan Milosevic and Hosni Mubarak. Gene Sharp’s writings on nonviolent protests have helped oust Slobodan Milosevic and Hosni Mubarak. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2009)
February 22, 2011

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Gene Sharp, an 83-year-old East Boston resident, has struck fear into some of the world’s worst dictatorships. The former professor’s writings on nonviolent protests found their way to the young Tunisians and Egyptians who stunned the world by overturning regimes that seemed immovable. Sharp, who taught courses on nonviolence at UMass Dartmouth and Harvard, embraces the principles of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Dalai Lama. Young Egyptians reportedly were inspired to learn that his prescriptions for nonviolent action had been adopted by the Serbian student movement that overcame the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic.

The protesters in Tunisia and Egypt took history into their hands. But Sharp, too, has made a mark. He has been reviled as a CIA agent by the Iranian regime, castigated by the military despots of Burma, and denounced by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.

Their vitriol can be taken as further proof of the cresting power of revolutionary nonviolence.