Founder of Otpor! and CANVAS
“Blueprint for Revolution is not only a spirited guide to changing the world but a breakthrough in the annals of advice for those who seek justice and democracy. It asks (and not heavy-handedly): As long as you want to change the world, why not do it joyfully?”—Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties and Occupy Nation
In 1998, Srdja Popovic and his friends formed Otpor! (“Resistance” in Serbian)—a youth movement that grew to 70,000 members, and which displaced Serbia's dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. For Otpor!, Popovic and his friends drew on their love of Monty Python, using street theater, pranks, and simple yet powerful messages as their chosen (and inspired) form of protest. With an understanding of how peaceful revolutions worked, Popovic and his friend Slobodan Djinovic next created the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action & Strategies—or CANVAS.
Popovic is determined to spread the models and messages of Otpor! and CANVAS worldwide—and from the looks of it, he's achieving his goal. Otpor! was the inspiration for the Arab Spring protestors: Otpor!’s symbol—a clenched fist—would be used in their logo (as in other revolutions around the world), and they passed around subtitled copies of the Otpor! documentary, Bringing Down a Dictator. CANVAS is now taught as a graduate study in a university in Belgrade, where Popovic is a regular lecturer. Popovic is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and lectures at Rutgers and Northwestern.
Before Otpor! and before CANVAS, in 1996, Srdja Popovic joined the liberal opposition Democratic Party as the youngest member of the Belgrade City Parliament. When his leader became prime minister two years later, Popovic (by then an MP) was appointed as an adviser on environmental issues.
The Power of the People: How Nonviolent Revolutions Work
How do you start, build, and complete a peaceful revolution? In this powerfully illustrative talk, Srdja Popovic draws on his firsthand experience to lay out a set of skills that can be—and have been—followed through to sweeping social and political change worldwide. “There are things you need to avoid if you don't want your movement to be doomed,” he says. “One is violence." With a sure command of the topic, Popovic looks at how past youth movements have successfully toppled dictatorships, pointing to the importance of unity, planning, and discipline, and explaining the difference between “complete” and “incomplete” revolutions. Some starting points: Use the internet, but use it wisely. Rely on humor and slogans, and pick the battles you know you can win. With wit and charisma, Popovic uses unforgettable imagery and still-fresh case studies to make his point: when we are all on the same (nonviolent) page, the power of the people can, and will, win.
Blueprint for Revolution
How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World
Tipped for a Nobel Peace Prize and hailed as a world-changer by everyone from the Foreign Policy Magazine, World Economic Forum to Wired magazine, fifteen years ago Srdja Popovic was just a Belgrade rock kid looking for a party.
How he become one of the leaders of Otpor!—the movement which overthrew dictator Slobodan Milosevic—and went on to help pro-democracy activists behind the Arab Spring, Occupy, and many other movements is the extraordinary story he tells in Blueprint for Revolution.
In this inspiring and entertaining guide for would-be activists, he tells his tale and those of other ‘ordinary revolutionaries’ who have created social change by avoiding violence and opting for something far more powerful: a sense of humor.
Through examples such as a protest of Lego men in Siberia (when flesh-and-blood people would have been shot), and a cheese boycott in Israel to challenge price inflation, Popovic tells stories of the ingeniously clever ways in which non-violent resistance has achieved its means. From Occupy Wall Street to Tahrir Square, from Nelson Mandela to Harvey Milk, the tales Popovic tells are hilarious, accessible, at times outrageous, and always about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.
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