How do ordinary people become revolutionaries?
In 2000, too-cool-to-care Belgrade rock kid Srdja Popovic found himself at the centre of a movement which was about to change the world.
Popovic was one of the unexpected leaders of the student movement Otpor! that overthrew dictator Slobodan Milosevic and established democracy in Serbia — all by avoiding violence and opting for something far more powerful: a sense of humour. In this inspiring and entertaining guide for would-be activists, he tells his story and those of other ‘ordinary revolutionaries’ who have created real social change using non-violent techniques.
Now the director of an organisation that helps to train pro-democracy activists, Popovic has worked with some of the most significant movements of our times, including the architects of the Arab Spring. Through examples such as a protest of Lego men in Siberia (when flesh-and-blood people would have been shot), and a boycott of cottage cheese in Israel to challenge price inflation, Popovic tells stories of the true and sometimes ingeniously clever ways in which non-violent resistance has achieved its means.
From Occupy Wall Street to Tahrir Square, and from Nelson Mandela to Harvey Milk, the tales Popovic tells are hilarious, accessible, inspiring, at times outrageous, and always about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.
‘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. But 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 humour to create a movement that not only succeeded in toppling the brutal dictator Slobodan Milosevic, but has become a blueprint for non-violent revolution around the world. Through his experiences, his organisation Canvas, and now, with this wonderful book, he is inspiring ordinary people facing injustice and oppression to use this toolkit to challenge their oppressors and create something much better. Srdja rules!’
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‘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? It’s not only funny, but seriously funny. No joke.’
Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties and Occupy Nation
‘Highly readable … combining an entertaining primer on the theory and practice of peaceful protest with a very personal account of [Popovic’s] own involvement with it.’
Jon Henley, Guardian
‘The title is no exaggeration … Popovic cheerfully blows up just about every idea most people hold about nonviolent struggle.’
Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times
‘An ideological starter kit for understanding how nonviolent movements can be effective against highly militarized regimes … [Popovic] offers a clear, well-constructed, and easily applicable set of principles for any David facing any Goliath (sans slingshot, of course).’
The Boston Globe
‘A worthwhile, funny, heartfelt and thought-provoking book … [Srdja Popovic’s] energised prose is sometimes convincing, always likeable and has the gusto of a young Iggy Pop.’
Jane Graham, Big Issue
'[D]oes much to demystify the daunting business of bringing about social change.' PICK OF THE WEEK
Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald
‘An inspiring guide for protest movements around the world … There is undoubtably an innate wisdom, a voice of hope and another of principles and practicalities in Popovic’s mission to show communities how to defeat the most wicked of despots.’
Gerald Isaaman, Camden New Journal
‘[S]hows how real people can use ingenious and sometimes bafflingly odd methods to bring down brutal rulers.’
James Belfield, Sunday Star Times
‘[F]ascinating and entertaining … Anyone with an appetite for change should find real value here.’
Jim Robinson, North and South
‘Required reading for all activists. You know who's going to change the world? You are.’