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Thread: Gandhi's View on Violence Not So Simple

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    blasphemer grandpa's Avatar
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    Gandhi's View on Violence Not So Simple

    It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
    -Mahatma Gandhi

    As you can see, this man did not have a simple view of the world, and is too often portrayed as an absolutist pacifist. He really was not. He noted that, while peace was always preferable, violence against oppression was predictable. Not to toot my own horn, but that's fairly close to my position.

    As Bakunin put it:
    "To revolt is a natural tendency of life.
    Even a worm turns against the foot that
    crushes it. In general, the vitality and
    relative dignity of an animal can be measured
    by the intensity of its instinct to revolt."

    What are your thoughts?

    Grandpa h.
    Post by post, building his arguments by smashing a couple of theirs -- for America.

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    Throbbing Member Nono's Avatar
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    In fact, Gandhi had plenty of violence in his heart. He just sublimated it by practising it on himself (with punishing fasts and whatnot) rather than on others.

    For him, non-violence was a political tactic. And not a bad one, after all, when they have the guns and you don't.
    "I wish I was as cocksure of anything as Tom Macaulay is of everything."
    -- Viscount Melbourne

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    Stephen Best barts's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: Nono View Post
    In fact, Gandhi had plenty of violence in his heart. He just sublimated it by practising it on himself (with punishing fasts and whatnot) rather than on others.

    For him, non-violence was a political tactic. And not a bad one, after all, when they have the guns and you don't.
    I agree. If Gandhi had an army, or even insurgents, he would have used them. All he had was millions of people who had been utterly demoralized under the British Raj. He could get them to sit on the railroad tracks or walk to the ocean for salt.

    Martin Luther King had a similar problem. He used non-violent tactics like a bus boycott.
    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd - Voltaire

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    Hot Lava
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    Whatever gets your pint taken into action and consideration works for me.

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    "It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent."
    Mahatma Gandhi

    Which is the actual quote. Not the condensed version you quoted. And another quote:

    "Man for man, the strength of non-violence is in exact proportion to the ability, not the will, of the non-violent person to inflict violence."
    Mahatma Gandhi

    Neither one of these statements was in favor of, or advocating, violence. What he was saying is that a non-violent movement would be more successful if it had an ability to inflict violence. Not to inflict violence but to have the capacity to do so.

    Hence:" ability, not the will "

    Like a strong, powerful man, having the capacity to inflict violence but choosing not to is more potent, more threatening, and ultimately more successful than a 98 pound weakling choosing to not be violent.

    in other words...' I could crush you like a bug but I choose not to ', is a much more powerful statement to make than ' please, oh, please, can you give us what we want, we're begging you '

    A passive non-violent movement must have the ability, not the will ( not the desire ), to inflict violence.

    Similar to ' peace through strength '
    Last edited by Diogenes; 4th March 2010 at 08:09 AM.

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    I'm the camel samsara15's Avatar
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    When one side of a dispute has clearly inferior resources with which to be violent, other tactics must be used. Such as non-violence, or terrorism, tactics which allow sides with inferior force to compete on a more equal level.
    Today's ideological enemies may be tomorrow's allies, and vice versa. So be nice to your enemies, you may need their help tomorrow.

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    In Gandhi's Nonviolent Resistance, one gets the sense that Gandhi is an absolute pacifist. Being a pacifist myself, I enjoyed the reading, but found myself at odds with how far Gandhi proclaimed to take his pacifism. There's a portion in his work in which Gandhi is questioned by a person about how to deal with a robber. The person asks Gandhi if violence was appropriate in dealing with a robber who has broken into your home. Gandhi's answer first and foremost expressed a desire for a more specific situation. For instance, shooting from the hip and saying "Yeah! You got to stop the robbers!" is rediculous if given a situation where the robber is far more physically capable than you are, or is armed. At any rate, Gandhi expressed an ideal reaction to such a situation in which Gandhi said that using violence against this robber would cause the robber to go back to his fellow robbers and they would gather together to cause destruction and suffering to your neighbors. Ideally, Gandhi proposed that instead you leave all your belonings close to your windows and doors and leave them unlocked so that the robber could easily steal them. After stealing all your stuff, Gandhi argued that the robber would develop a guilty conscience and would eventually return all your stuff and end up working for you. To me, this is far too ideal and unrealistic.

    I always think of Nazi Germany when talking about Gandhi's philosophy and what he would of thought would have been appropriate opposition to the Nazis. Certainly we can all agree that non-violent civil resistance would have been a horrific idea.

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    Violence is when we impose our own point of view on to the other and the other does not accept them.

    Basically that is what it is and everything stems of from that. Even if it was Ghandi's point of view or religion. No mater how good the point of view or ideal it is, imposing it on other is a violent act.

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