Human action is a powerful force and not to be underestimated, but to be maximized requires knowledge, strategic planning and courage. It also requires an understanding of the real nature of political power. Last month on January 28th, the anniversary of Jose Marti's birth, non-violent resistance theoretician Gene Sharp passed away at the age of ninety. Professor Sharp in his book, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential, recognized that political power is "the totality of influences and pressures available for use to implement, change, or oppose official policies for a society." This means that political power "may be wielded by the institutions of government, or in opposition to the government by dissident groups and organizations."
Mao Zedong was wrong. Political power does not grow out of the barrel of a gun. According to Gene Sharp the sources of political power include "authority, human resources, skills and knowledge, intangible factors, material resources, and sanctions."
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