Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World
a book by Srdja Popovic and Matthew Miller
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that the book is an urgent and accessible handbook for peaceful protesters, activists, and community organizers—anyone trying to defend their rights, hold their government accountable, or change the world.
Blueprint for Revolution will teach you how to:
- make oppression backfire by playing your opponents’ strongest card against them
- identify the “almighty pillars of power” in order to shift the balance of control
- dream big, but start small: learn how to pick battles you can win
- listen to what people actually care about in order to incorporate their needs into your revolutionary vision
- master the art of compromise to bring together even the most disparate groups
- recognize your allies and view your enemies as potential partners
- use humor to make yourself heard, defuse potentially violent situations, and “laugh your way to victory”
Blueprint for Revolution is a clear, well-constructed, and easily applicable set of principles for any David facing any Goliath
“A clear, well-constructed, and easily applicable set of principles for any David facing any Goliath (sans slingshot, of course) . . . By the end of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World, the idea that a punch is no match for a punch line feels like anything but a joke.”—The Boston Globe
“An entertaining primer on the theory and practice of peaceful protest.”—The Guardian
“With this wonderful book, Srdja Popovic is inspiring ordinary people facing injustice and oppression to use this tool kit to challenge their oppressors and create something much better. When I was growing up, we dreamed that young people could bring down those who misused their power and create a more just and democratic society. For Srdja Popovic, living in Belgrade in 1998, this same dream was potentially a much more dangerous idea. But with an extraordinarily courageous group of students that formed Otpor!, Srdja used imagination, invention, cunning, and lots of humor to create a movement that not only succeeded in toppling the brutal dictator Slobodan Miloševic but has become a blueprint for nonviolent revolution around the world. Srdja rules!”—Peter Gabriel
“Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World 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? It’s not just funny. It’s seriously funny. No joke.”—Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties and Occupy Nation
The famous April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square in Baghdad shortly after the Iraq War invasion
Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World teaches you by way of real life anecdotes how to create a successful movement, what works and what doesn't work, when it comes to nonviolent movements for social and political change. In this insightful, inspiring, and empowering book, Srdja Popovic and Matthew Miller show why the struggle doesn't end right after your dictator is topled. In fact, your struggle continues by enforcing and securing those changes in the long term.
Srdja Popovic masterminded the nonviolence movement that eventually toppled the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. This is powerful writing. It is a manual for both the suburban mom trying to stop the megamall they want to build next door, and the brave activists aiming to topple a ruthless dictator. Read it, and then live it, and then get out there and get good things happening. The writing style is effective and fun—their ideas are beautiful in their ingenuity.
Srdja Popovic masterminded the nonviolence movement that eventually toppled the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic who later died in prison
"Non-violent activism is often portrayed as a moral choice, and sacrifice as its inevitable corollary. The lesson is, martyrdom never wins friends from the oppressors. Popovic and King each present a more hard-headed take on non-violence, aimed at incremental wins and long-term persuasion. Gandhi is credited with saying: 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' It seems his grandson, Arun Gandhi, is the source of the quote, but the truth holds: the appeal of non-violent activism is that it imagines a working civil society, and uses tools which have the best chance of bringing it into reality." (Source: How to use rice pudding, lego and laughter to overthrow dictators, Nicholas Blincoe, the Telegraph)
How to Use Rice Pudding to Overthrow Dictators—here Hitler drowns in the stuff: Yaaaaaay!
As Popovic says, “The Hitlers or Assads of this world cannot personally collect taxes, torture citizens, shoot into crowds of protesters, operate public transport or fix roads by themselves. They need obedience and co-operation to do so. And if enough people deny obedience and withhold their cooperation—even after credible threats—rulers simply cannot rule.” (Source: A velvet fist: If you want to start a peaceful revolution, call Srdja Popovic, Emma Williams, 1843 magazine)
Once we make an oppressive situation a subject of attention for influential foreigners, rock musicians, poets, and celebrities, and, as a consequence, international pressure has been imposed against those bad politics, then nonviolent revolution begins to take place. Shining a light in dark places is a key strategy.
Shining a light in dark places is a key strategy of rebellion against oppression
Another strategy is laughtivism—mocking the oppressor. If the oppressor ignores it he looks weak but if he cracks down he looks desperate and/or stupid. Very often when faced with acts of “laughtivism” oppressors don't know how to respond, and they end up responding in a way that makes them look even more ridiculous than the “laughtivism” activity itself.
Another strategy is laughtivism—mocking the oppressor, and they end up responding in a way that makes them look even more ridiculous than the laughtivism activity itself
T-shirts, posters, and stickers were often stuck all over the place on walls and poles and placards and it was a successful part of the strategy of opposition to oppression.
T-shirts, posters, and stickers were often stuck all over the place on walls and poles and placards and it was a successful part of the strategy of opposition to oppression
This poster encourages resistance against fascist forces attempting to scrap democracy, free assembly, and free speech, and it says it with one simple word: Resist!
These posters cut through the pretense and tell it like it is: fascism, a form of government which is a type of one-party dictatorship. Fascists are against democracy. They work for a totalitarian one-party state. ... Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a demagogue (Trump). And, yes, as Chomsky says, we've a one-party state—the corporatocracy (the parties are smoke and mirrors). See Democracy—an American Delusion and This is how fascism comes to America.
This poster takes the fraudulent pretense of a campaign of lies and reveals the truth in the Make America Great Again slogan
"I’ve just read the new book by Srjdja Popovic, one of the Serbian protestors who overthrew Slobodan Milosevic and then went on to train protest movements around the world, and it’s brilliant. . . . Although it’s called a blueprint, he shows respect for national roots and difference, building his case on his huge collection of experiences from Serbia, and his subsequent career with CANVAS*, training activists in some of the hottest political struggles around (Burma, Syria, Egypt)." (Source: Review: Blueprint for Revolution, a fantastically readable and useful handbook for activists , Duncan Green, the Guardian)
Today, in addition to their revolution-consulting and training activities through CANVAS that according to one report take up a third of their year, Popovic is active on the speaking engagement circuit throughout various Western countries where they're frequently hired by universities, institutes, and think-tanks to give lectures and hold workshops on strategy and organization of nonviolent struggle. The problem here is that, like A-bomb plans, the information they furnish can be used by the bad guys as well as the good guys. The strategies of nonviolent struggle intrinsically suggest counter-strategies. Most think-tanks workers that hear him lecture are going to lay the groundwork for undermining the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance even if not intentionally. Think-tanks do not represent the oppressed masses—they represent the oppressing government. Of course, the oppressed really need this book and we cannot control who gets access to the book. We just need to be aware that every book on creating revolution is a book on creating counter-revolution.
Popovic speaks at think-tanks. Think-tanks do not represent the oppressed masses—they represent the oppressing government
*Headquartered in Belgrade, CANVAS was founded by Popovic and Slobodan Dinovic and it is run by Djinovic and Popovic. It operates a network of international trainers and consultants with experience of successful democratic movements. CANVAS is a non-profit institution which relies solely on private funding; there is no charge for workshops and revolutionary know-how can be downloaded for free on the Internet. CANVAS was founded in 2003 by Srdja Popovic and Slobodan Dinovic as an organization that advocates for the use of nonviolence resistance to promote human rights and democracy. CANVAS has worked with pro-democracy activists from more than 50 countries, including Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, Venezuela, Ukraine, Georgia, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua, Eritrea, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Tonga, Tunisia and Egypt. CANVAS works only in response to requests for assistance and offers free trainings to activists.
The citizens were very angry at the 1%ers robbing the 99%ers, so they launched the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and were ignored by Wall Street and by shadow-government-controlled press as well. Those in charge didn't give a damn about the feelings of the exploited masses. But they also needed to ensure that the citizens didn't get any bright ideas about doing something about all this corruption of government and democracy. They did not want any of the sheep turning into wolves. So what did they do? They launched obscenely expanded U.S. intelligence operations, and they raised the levels of spying on innocent U.S. citizens by the NSA. See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
What changed after the heartfelt, sincere Occupy Wall Street protests where we were telling the powers-that-be that their transference of wealth from the 99% to the 1% was getting sickeningly unfair? Nothing. Who listened? Only others of us 99%ers. Not a single 1%er even bothered to glance in the protesters direction.
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
It turned out that even though the government has told us all the NSA spying was to protect us and prevent "terrorism," the citizens were getting suspicious—about everything. About 9/11 and how that led to a trumped-up War on Terror which then led to the oligarchs creating a national security state to "protect us," although the evidence shows the NSA hasn't protected anyone or caught any terrorist plots. But it has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution too. See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.
The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution
"Five years after Occupy Wall Street's eviction from a small Manhattan park, the movement that shined the spotlight on the 99% has spread its seeds across America. From the shade of honey locust trees in Zuccotti Park near the New York Stock Exchange, the group's creed against income inequality, corporate greed and the influence of money in politics helped spawn a variety of causes—from Black Lives Matter to the ascent of Bernie Sanders to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's quiet protest against institutional racism. . . . The new wave of protests that you're seeing ... are testament to the enduring power of the movement's message." (Source: Occupy Wall Street: 5 years later, Ray Sanchez, cnn.com) See also Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street.
Beginning on September 17, 2011, Zuccotti Park was occupied by protesters during Occupy Wall Street
In our opinion, however much it makes blacks and liberals feel good inside with little quivers of political correctness ecstasy, the Occupy movement became marginalized and deflected from their purpose of trying but failing to confront Wall Street oligarchs who merely laughed at their David and Goliath tactics. The Occupy movement needed wiser leadership. Its purpose and intentions were good and reasonable and laudable and above reproach and we support its purposes 100%, but its methods were simplistic, reductionistic, chaotic, and ignorant.
The leaders needed to have respected the goal enough so that they knew Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by heart, employed its proven strategies, and controlled the message. They needed to do what Noam Chomsky calls manufacturing consent, which gets results by means of the propaganda model of communication. See Manufacturing Consent. Chomsky says that all changes in history have come because people build a foundation for change at the grassroots level. A chaotic protest is not a foundation. It is hopes and dreams. It is building castles in air. Good start, but needing a foundation.
'If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.' —Henry David Thoreau
Occupy Wall Street was against income inequality, corporate greed and the influence of money in politics
"The book walks the readers through many tactics of organizing social movements. Popovic suggests that revolutionaries start with winning small victories, always have a vision in mind, understand the opponent’s support network, employ humor to absorb force, make oppression backfire, unite different kinds of people, plan every small step, avoid falling into the trap of violence and, finally, declare themselves winners at the right time. . . . Although dictators may first capitalize upon the advice of the book and gain even more advantage over dissidents, activists and revolutionaries are more creative, more resourceful, and more resilient. With the guide of Blueprint and sufficient practice, the oppressed might hope to prevail in the long run." (Source: A DIY Guide for Overthrowing Dictators, Yifu Dong, the Politic)
Our take on this book is that it is a wise and brave guide to confronting oppression, organizing resistance, and sometimes even overthrowing the scum that rise to the top by out-scumming other scum. Popovic shows the kind of character and wisdom we need in leaders and planners. It's too bad such people rarely get to leadership positions before burning out or being offed by flunkies of the scum. The exception is the illustrious Lech Walesa, Solidarity leader and later president of Poland. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and surely deserved it. Popovic is cut from the same cloth. He is brave, inspiring, and a very creative leader. The opposite of the devious opportunists that normally get elected: both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, Trump. (If you doubt these attributes, read up on them on this website or in Chomsky books.)
It is true that the Occupy Wall Street movement did not create big changes in Wall Street. For one thing, the propaganda-laced mainstream media (a different type of fake news than the Trump kind) worked against the protesters, so the lack of real investigative reporting or truth telling stopped the message from getting out there, and so did the fact that relatively few citizens availed themselves of the honest truth which only alternative sites like alternet.org and this website publishes. To achieve change AND OVERCOME THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PROPAGANDA MODEL (which we all experience daily), Chomsky says we need to rely in part on activism and alternative media (and his books and this website).