Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Gandhi on Nonviolence, 1920 Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

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Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

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Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


In his leadership of the great national liberation struggle of India against British imperialism, Gandhi established the methodology of nonviolence, which is essential to a culture of peace. To Gandhi, there must be no enemy - only an adversary or opponent who has not yet been convinced of the truth.

Fundamental to his philosophy was the distinction between man and his deed. As he says in under Ahimsa and Search for Truth, page 86 in his autobiography, "Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. 'Hate the sin and not the sinner' ... It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator."

As he described in 1920 before a court of law in India, he called his methodology Satyagraha: "The term 'Satyagraha' was coined by me in South Africa ... Its root meaning is holding on to truth, hence truth-force. I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one's opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one's own self.

"But in the political field, the struggle on behalf of the people mostly consists in opposing error in the shape of unjust laws. When you have failed to bring the error home to the lawgiver by way of petitions and the like, the only remedy open to you, if you do not wish to submit to error, is to compel him by physical force to yield to you or by suffering in your own person by inviting the penalty for the breach of the law ... In my opinion, the beauty and efficacy of Satyagraha are so great and the doctrine so simple that it can be preached even to children.

Speaking later that year to the Congress considering Non-Cooperation, Gandhi explained that passing a resolution was not enough but each individual must put make it work by harnessing the power of anger into the practice of nonviolence: "For non-co-operation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice and it demands patience and respect for opposite views. And unless we are able to evolve a spirit of mutual toleration for diametrically opposite views, non-co-operation is an impossibility. I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so, our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world."

Nonviolence is difficult and requires great discipline. Gandhi warned that there is no easy way. "It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain to a mental state of non-violence ... unless there is a hearty co-operation of the mind, the mere outward observance will be simply a mask, harmful both to the man himself and to others. The perfect state is reached only when mind and body and speech are in proper co-ordination. But it is always a case of intense mental struggle ... Such a struggle leaves one stronger for it ... Non-violence is a weapon of the strong. With the weak, it might easily be hypocrisy ... Love wrestles with the world as with itself, and ultimately gains a mastery over all other feelings (quotations from The Law of Love).

He compares the discipline that is needed to that of a soldier: "In daily life, it has to be a course of discipline though one may not like it, like, for instance, the life of a soldier."

Gandhi often said that while nonviolence was superior to violence, violence, in turn, was superior to passivity in the face of injustice. For example, writing in Young India in August 1920 (see Chapter 28), he said "I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. But I believe that non-violence is infinitely superior to violence..."

Nonviolence, according to Gandhi, must be founded on love. As he describes in The Law of Love "Wherever there are jars [conflicts], wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love. In a crude manner, I have worked it out in my life. That does not mean that all my difficulties are solved. I have found, however, that this Law of Love has answered as the Law of Destruction has never done."

Gandhi was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Jesus, as he explained in a speech in 1925: "Non-violence ... requires greater heroism than of brave soldiers ... The world does not accept today the idea of loving the enemy. Even in Christian Europe the principle of non-violence is ridiculed ... Christians do not understand the message of Jesus. It is necessary to deliver it over again in the way we can understand ... But I must say that so long as we do not accept the principle of loving the enemy, all talk of world brotherhood is an airy nothing. "

Gandhi's message, like that of Martin Luther King, is essential for revolution in the 21st Century. New methods must be developed to defend the revolution against the violence of the inevitable attacks by the capitalist culture of war without falling into the trap of the socialist culture of war. Gandhi and King have shown that this is possible through nonviolent means.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism