A Force More Powerful

23 May 2007

The brainchild of Peter Ackerman and Steve York, AFMP is actually more of a training tool than a game, as an idea it developed out of the series of peaceful revolutions that have taken place in former communist countries. These colour revolutions, from Ukraine (orange) to Kyrgyzstan (tulip), so called because the demonstrators adopted a near uniform colour for their movement, are held up as examples of the power that civil society groups can play in the political process.

Your dedicated team of revolutionaries

AFMP aims to continue and expand these movements. It is intended primarily to serve budding civil society groups, who have the will to challenge an authoritarian regime, but not necessarily the know how. As I’ve mentioned above, it will certainly leave them in no doubt of the scope of their challenge.

The debate over the merits of civil society is still raging in academia, and some maintain that it has its dark side. Certainly the prospect of a right wing, reactionary or racist group using the tool to further their own ends does seem to be a concern. The moral issues even for well intentioned groups are also complex, as there is certainly no guarantee that a non violent protest will be met with a non violent response. But the developers are at pains to emphasise that the game is intended only as a general tool, and that specific circumstances might not be applicable in the real world.

Despite these issues, the scope of this project is impressive, and of course its aims must be considered laudable. A training manual for civil society might not topple every dictator in the world, but it certainly can’t hurt. Still, if it does take off, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a lawsuit or two...

Jon Bright

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