The subject doesn't really reflect my own most deep-seated convictions, but I wanted to throw it on the table in something like 'debate' format. Just speculating: it does seem possible that our modern day world provides a much different setting than that in which leaders such as Gandhi and MLK operated. And with the protests going on in Iran, and with Tiananmen Square not quite completely forgotten, it does seem a timely time to ask the question. So, is nonviolent resistance as much an option as it ever was? Or, are there unique qualities about our here and now that make it likely nonviolent resistance will go the way of the dinosaur? I'd be interesting to hear Pros/Cons/Alternatives and reasons why. Or if someone wants to moderate and build a consensus on more structured rules for debate, or more clear-cut questions to encourage debate, fine by me.
I think this really belongs in politics?
I disagree with the premise that our 'modern world' is indeed that much different (although obviously in some respects, given the rise of technology and incidence of terrorism as a 'valid' form of warfare, it is) than that of the recent past.
Also, I believe people don't fully understand what passive resistance entails. It certainly isn't 'passive' in any way, and in all reality means that instead of striking out in violence, a passive resister will stand before violence and take the consequences of action upon himself. It is one of valiant self sacrifice.
And the deal is--this kind of movement takes a while to get rooted, but once it does, there is no stopping it. One might call Jesus Christ one of the first proponents of passive resistance. Now the story of his dying on the cross for our sins has been widely, widely spread. MLK, too, among many, has virtually been canonized. Same principle can be found in the story underlying the movie "Braveheart." It's very hard to do battle with martyr....lol... Now, I'm being a little sarcastic here and making light of it, but the fact remains that human beings are not naturally given to violence, and legends/stories/literature and their history shows that these kinds of narrative works in shaping us culturally and politically and provides necessary social change.
I don't really want to get in to a major debate on it, but I suspect that like most circumstances in life it will come and go depending on the times and the individuals involved.
Perhaps what it needs is another Gandhi or King to give it focus and create a following.
It's not obsolete. If enough peaceful people come together for enough of a peaceful cause with enough of a peaceful leader, anything can happen. Boycotts are strong, if they are on a united front.
"Violence is American as apple pie."
So you don't agree with them? Neither do I. Do you know of a leader who has shown peace and got something done?
I think that if there was two thousand or two million i beleive a tyranical government will adjust the number of tanks accordingly.
A civil rights leader?
No, actually. I would think gays would be the major civil rights movement right now but they don't have a clear figurehead. just a group fighting for a cause.
Even if that leaderless group resorted to violence, nothing would be done (except maybe more hate and a possible gayocide [excuse my crude speech])
Enough Chinese are happy to support their government for it to secure at the moment. Also majority nationalist sentiment is so strong it gives the government carte blanche to crush minority protests.
I get the feeling the same is true in Iran, though the situation is more finely balanced.
When I was in Thailand I got to see first hand how a popular grass roots movement could unseat a government that was not only democratically elected but supported by the majority of the population.
The grass roots movement was supported by business enemies of the then premier and the army and police refused to defend the government for their own reasons. If there was an election tomorrow the ousted government would be back.
Popular movements aren't always right, pure or worthy of support.
I think like all things in history is cyclical. It is intresting to note that almost no major political change has come about through peaceful means. I beleive the exception could be considered the civil rights movement in America, but that being one of the few exceptions. Im not calling anyone to violence but rather adding historical perspective. I think you must diferentiate between what kind of political change you are asking for. If you are asking to change the definition of marrige for a special intrest group then yes its possible for non violent means to prevail. But to change a country from its highest held beleifs (constitution) it would probably take violence.
You missed out the biggest peaceful revolution by Gandhi mobilizing millions in India.... even our civil rights movement would be dwarfed by there sheer numbers.... but you're right the same peaceful movement by the students or Tibetan Buddhists has no effect on the Chinese .... have no clue why peaceful resistance doesn't work in every case.
Thats what I was going to say. Non-violence does not always get you what you're fighting for. It depends on the 'cause'. Gandhi might have achieved his objectives but can we forget the massacre it lead to. Millions of people lost their lives, homes, properties and all that they possessed. Was it really non-violent? How can we forget all that 'hate' it gave rise to, between people of two countries? Repurcussions of those (so-called) non-violent means are still being faced by the present generations. So I can't say for sure if Gandhi was able to achieve freedom from British totally through non-violent means. Again, speaking of Twin Tower catastrophe in NY, what was the Government supposed to do? Follow Gandhian policy? (If someone slaps you on one cheek offer him your other cheek). Funny. Huh?
From my understanding right up to the point of independence it was peaceful... India/Pakistan partition lead to those violent clashes... correct me if I'm wrong.... thanks for the fan letter... I will try writing more... gotta go now.
If you call one sided onslaught on innocent people, a peaceful movement, then it was like that before independence. I don't know if it makes any sense to tolerate brutality only for the purpose of sticking to 'non-violence' principles. And even if you do, I'm sure it cannot be completely free of violence. There is so much always going on at the high level which common man does not even come to know. We know about these events from the books or from some verbal information which might have passed on to us from our ancestors. People at our level do not even get to know the real reason behind any mass movements. Those vested interests of the policy makers always remain concealed from general public. If you want to cut roads through mountains....'Dynamite is the only solution.
OK, I don't pretend to know everything about Ghandi, but I did write a series of lesson plans for an educational company as a freelance job... And from my research, I do not think he was to blame for the Pakastani/India things and religious nuts. Quite the opposite, as I recall, he was so upset with the situation he went on a hunger strike.
Passive resistance is certainly NOT about tolerating brutality. As a philosophy, it is the opposite thing. It is about bravery.....daring to speak out, protesting, etc., etc., while not tolerating the brutality of the state or religion or what ever it is that is enacting violence against nonviolent citizens. What is happening in Iran is a good example.
And I somewhat disagree about the "real reasons behind mass movements" and the inferred idea that we are all somewhat controlled by higher up 'power brokers.' While some of this exists, absolutely, it is a mistake to think free will does not exist and your own ability to make a difference does not exist. It's too much of a reason to accept the status quo if/when living under certain conditions. And that's dangerous...that kind of thinking, I believe, in worst case scenarios can lead to situations of conferred consent, such as in Nazi Germany.
I'm not saying passive resistance as a method is perfect, nor do I look at the idea as an innocent. I'm just saying it absolutely has its place in civil rights.
Passive resistance in regard to the current financial mess would mean actively refusing to participate in all things financial--that means no 'jobs' per se, no loans, no payments on loans you already have, no spending at corporate owned retail establishments... etc.
It would be devastating and very effective if done in huge numbers but Americans won't do it, they're too addicted to comfort and the illusion of security, and too busy fighting the pretend culture wars--going at each other instead of paying attention to what's actually happening.
True, Pam, true. But many have embraced some form of 'voluntary simplicity,' as well.
Here we come back to, sigh...the one contrary American philosopher that I can never remember the name of...oh, yeah, Charles Sanders Peirce (googled 'contrary philosopher' and he popped up, lol) who stated that homo sapiens may be the dominant life form on the planet, but true human beings are a much rarer things.
Lita I agree with you about the voluntary simplicity trend. I do not think people are going to go charging back into consumerism the minute things look up. I think the 'consumer economy' is dead in the water and will not be revived. That's why it strikes me as so crazy that they keep talking about 'the first green shoots of the recovery' in the media. Everyone keeps talking like there will be a period of distress, and then we'll be right back to business as usual. I think we won't. People will cut way back, some will drop out altogether.
I hope so too, Pam - it is the way to go. We have far less stuff and far less money, yet we are truly rich. Sun, nature, good food, good conversation - you can keep your flat screen TV!
Going to drop a link to Paraglider's excellent Hub - it fits this thread perfectly
Passive resistance is sometimes about taking a sideways step and meeting things on your terms.
Why did India gain its (much deserved) independence?
George Orwell believed that empires fall when the rulers lose the will to maintain them. Britain, he felt, lost the will as a result of self doubt about the morality of its position (all those socialists complaining about the exploitation of the colonized).
I think it was more a case of not making money any more. The US demanded the UK open all its colonies to US trade as part of helping during World War 2. That meant there was no economic benefit in keeping them.
Gandhi pushed in an open door.
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