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The Power of Nonviolence in History

civil disobedience Nazi Germany the power of nonviolence Denmark Norway

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#1
caltrek

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http://www.nonviolen...iolence0206.pdf

 

In 1935 a book by Richard B. Gregg entitled The Power of NonViolence was published. Revised editions were later published in 1959 and 1960.  A link to that book is provided above.  The book, as revised, contains a fascinating account of nonviolent resistance encountered by the Nazis in Denmark and Norway.  Below, are timelines I have extracted from the book and other sources.

 

 

A German offer of a non-aggression treaty is accepted by Denmark.  1939

 

German forces overrun Denmark. April 1940

 

The Nazis display the swastika emblem from a Danish public building. Reportedly, the monarch informs the Nazis that he will send a soldier to remove the flag. The Nazis reportedly inform the monarch that the soldier will be shot. “I am the soldier” he retorted, and the Nazi flag was lowered.  Late in 1940 A.D.

 

In an Associated Press dispatch, King Christian is quoted as follows: “If the Germans want to put the yellow Jewish star in Denmark, I and my whole family will wear it as a sign of the highest distinction.”  October 11, 1942

 

Sick from jaundice, King Christian is thrown from his horse and receives head injuries.  October 1942

In the Danish parliamentary by-election, the vote is 95% against the Nazis.   March 1943 

 

After fighting breaks out between German soldiers and Danish civilians in August of 1943, the Germans place King Christian and his family under house arrest. The King still refuses to  form a pro-Nazi government.

 

The German occupation of Copenhagen ends.  May 5, 1945 

 

“All this time the Danes, at great risk to themselves, had been sheltering Jews and smuggling them to Sweden in spite of the German ships patrolling the intervening seas"

 

 

The National Socialist (Nazi) Party is formed in Norway.  1933

 

 

In Norway, the German Nazis claim they have advanced and taken the towns of Dombaas and Stoeren.  . The Germans are aided by Nazi collaborators in Norway led by Vidkun Quisling. April 30, 1940

 

Quisling abolishes the former teacher’s organizations.  June 1941

 

 

An underground press is established in East Norway.  Autumn of 1941

 

 

Intending to start a corporate state on the Mussolini model, Quisling establishes a new teachers’ organization.  February 1942

 

Between 8,000 to 10,000 of the total of 12,000 Norwegian teachers write individual letters to Quisling’s Education Department a declaration that they cannot regard themselves as members of the new teachers’ organization.  February 20, 1942

 

Bishops of the State Church resign their official posts but retain their religious duties.  Some 150 University protestors protest against the Nasjonal Samling youth front.  February 24, 1942

 

The Quisling government announces that the teachers’ protest would be regarded as official resignations and that if they persisted they would be discharged.  February 25, 1942

 

The official newspaper announces that 300 teachers would be called to do “some kind of social work in the north of Norway.”  March 7, 1942

 

About one thousand male teachers are arrested.  March 15, 1942

 

Approximately 650 teachers are taken in cattle cars to a concentration camp about two hundred kilometers from Oslo.  March 31, 1942

 

Except in Oslo and Aker, the schools are reopened.  April 8, 1942

 

The schools at Oslo are reopened. The teachers there dissociate themselves from the new government-sponsored teachers’ organization.  May 7, 1942

 

The last 400 teachers still in captivity are sent home from camp after eight months of hard forced labor.  They are allowed to remain teaching without recanting their principles.  November 4, 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
PhoenixRu

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Since no one else replied, i'll be first.

 

Nonviolent protests are wonderful, but only possible in a very special circumstances: when, for some external reason, the other side prefers rather to make concessions than use force against you. For example this Danish king... i do not deny he was a brave person, but he could expect that most likely Nazis will not dare to punish the royal person of "friendly" state while those yellow stars weren't really such a big issue for them.

 

The same story with Gandhi: he was successful only because British themselves already decided to leave India & all the remaining discussions were about terms and conditions of this decolonization. if British didn't, his nonviolent marches could be shot from machine guns.


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#3
caltrek

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The same story with Gandhi: he was succeshul only because British themselves already decided to leave India & all the remaining discussions were about terms and conditions of this decolonization. if British didn't, his nonviolent marches could be shot from machine guns.

 

Where did you get the idea that "the British themselves already decided to leave India."?

 

Gandhi launched a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, or satyagraha, in 1906.  The British did not "leave" India until 1947.   Are you saying they had already decided in 1905 that they were going to leave India, but that their plan included taking 41 years to do so? 

 

If the British had "shot from machine guns" the non-violent marchers, do you really think British public opinion would have stood for that?


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4
PhoenixRu

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Where did you get the idea that "the British themselves already decided to leave India."?

 

Gandhi launched a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, or satyagraha, in 1906.  The British did not "leave" India until 1947.   Are you saying they had already decided in 1905 that they were going to leave India, but that their plan included taking 41 years to do so?

 

No, they decided during WW2... India became independent two years after the end of WW2 and not because of this satyagraha, i think...



#5
PhoenixRu

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If the British had "shot from machine guns" the non-violent marchers, do you really think British public opinion would have stood for that?

 

I coudn't reply immediatelly (just don't know the exact facts) so i had to make a small research. This question may be divided into two:

 

1) Were there similar cases (i.e. violent reaction to nonviolent protests) in colonial India?

2) How British public perceived Indians. Answer to this question will determine their reaction: will it be "horrors, our government killing us!" or "our brave boys taught a lesson to dirty natives!"

 

As for repressions against peaceful protesters, the answer is obvious: there were a lot of such cases. This case is the most indicative, imho:

 

1919, April 13: Demonstrations were staged all over India... In the Punjab, where anger against the colonial regime was particularly strong, demonstrations sometimes took a violent turn. In Amritsar, the Holy City of the Sikhs, however, a crowd of 20,000 including many women and children was demonstrating peacefully... British General Reginald Dyer ordered... to open fire on the unarmed crowd, killing some 380 and wounding 1,500. The general claimed to have wanted to “make an example” and thus prevent a new Mutiny. British settlers hailed him as a savior and the Indian public at large labeled him a mass murderer.

 

 

As for the possible reaction of British public, i'll just quote mr.Churchill who said "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine (of Bengal) was their own fault for breeding like rabbits" and dreamed about "half-naked fakir" Gandhi "ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back". And I don't think his views were somewhat uncommon or too radical.

 

=== === ===

 

Churchill is just amazing: "I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and nazism, I would choose communism"... LOL as if someone had any doubts.


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#6
joe00uk

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As it's relevant, I might as well repost from another thread:
 
I don't think Gandhi really did anything good for India. There were a lot more progressive and radical elements in the Indian independence struggle who were restrained by Gandhi and his moderates, and who could have achieved more otherwise. Britain simply couldn't hold on to India any longer and it was going to become free sooner or later, and the moderates like Gandhi served to restrain the radicals who could have won India a more effective independence. The struggle that was limited by Gandhi is still being waged by the Naxalites, against the same old class system, just now with the façade of a national flag and a parliament. India never really became free. In a 2008 poll, Indians voted Bhagat Singh, a communist who advocated armed struggle, as the greatest Indian independence fighter. Subhas Chandra Bose, another radical, got second place. Gandhi came in at a distant third. Gandhi's legacy today is mainly evoked by India's political elites who profit from the system he created, whereas progressive Indians prefer Bhagat Singh.
 
He was a reactionary anyway. And we're told to emulate him because he achieved nothing. Pacifism is a joke. The British worked with Gandhi because they feared the rise of more radical Indians, including communists, waging a more radical struggle (including armed struggle) against British colonialism, and Britain was too exhausted by the war with Germany to maintain hold of India any more. They made a negotiated independence with Gandhi and his "moderates" because they would maintain the colonial economic relationship and class system, and independence of India under the "moderates" would pre-empt a true revolution led by radicals who would be restrained under Gandhi's "moderates".
 
Violence is the only thing that has ever brought about real social change. Slavery, apartheid, fascism, colonialism, these things weren't overthrown by peaceful marches and petitions; they were overthrown with guns and bombs.
 
People love to talk about Gandhi and India, but in reality Gandhi came in after decades of armed struggle by radicals like Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose (who, incidentally, came in first and second in a 2008 poll in India on the "Greatest Indian", with Gandhi a distant third). Also, India didn't exist in a vacuum; armed struggles were going on all over the colonised world at that time (in Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Greece, Kenya, Algeria, etc, most of them backed by the communist bloc), weakening the overall colonial order. This combined with the fact that Britain was exhausted by World War II and simply couldn't afford to rule India any more, and were afraid that if they didn't make a deal with the "moderate" Gandhi (who would preserve the caste system and the colonial economic relationship) while they still could, they would have to face more radical Indians later as they were facing in other parts of the empire.
 
In other words, non-violence doesn't work unless you have violence going on alongside it. You can't have a Gandhi without a Bhagat Singh. Without a Bhagat Singh, the Gandhi is utterly useless. Which of course is precisely why the bourgeoisie gives us icons like Gandhi to worship while condemning armed revolutionaries like Fidel Castro who actually overturned their social order rather than simply changing the flag of the oppressors.
 
A little short-term violence is necessary to put an end to the long-term violence of capitalism, not only of capitalist wars but of capitalist exploitation and all the ills that come alongside it, which kill many millions of people every year. It's like Mark Twain talked about in his quote on the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France, about how the few months of killings by the guillotine were nothing compared to the thousand years of killing by poverty and starvation and disease under the kings. I'm all in favour of a little short-term violence in the form of armed struggle to put an end to the far more massive long-term violence of class society. Guns and bombs aren't the only form of violence.
 
The thing about pacifism is that it only succeeds in disarming the oppressed. The oppressors continue on their merry way. In this sense, pacifism is the most violent ideology of all, because it allows the exploiting classes to terrorise the people with impunity with no fear of meeting a deterrent. They don't care if we're non-violent. That's not going to make them love us. It just makes it all the easier for them to exploit us. What pacifists and utopians don't understand is that a war is going on whether the masses fight back or not. The masses being non-violent doesn't make violence go away. It just means that they can't fight back against the violence being waged upon them.
 
Of course when we say this stuff then people like Gandhi are brought up. He's a go-to example. But the thing is that Gandhi did nothing. The British dealt with him precisely because he did nothing, and he was a "moderate" who was no threat to their economic and class system. What really made the British give up India was the armed struggle breaking out all over the colonial world. The Indian military started mutinying after WWII, and the British knew they couldn't control India without the Indian military, because the British military was too small and exhausted from WWII. They couldn't even control Greece, they sure couldn't control India. So they made a deal with Gandhi to cut their losses, because they knew he would be a reliable comprador, because his program was all about keeping the people under control. India gets its façade of independence while British capitalism continued to rule behind the scenes.
 
You can't have a Gandhi without a Bhagat Singh. Pacifism only "works" when you have a hard-line alternative beside you so you can say "Look, if you don't deal with me now, you're gonna have to deal with those guys tomorrow, and they're gonna be a lot less nice to you than I am".
 
There's a reason why the bourgeoisie gives us Gandhi and his pacifism as a model of "acceptable" protest. It's because Gandhi did nothing and was no threat, his whole program was about keeping the masses under control, not fighting the enemy. The British dealt with Gandhi precisely because he was no threat to their interests. They wouldn't have otherwise. The real reason the British gave up India was because the Indian military started mutinying and they couldn't control India without it. It was clear that India was about to go down the same road as the rest of the colonial world, to armed struggle. And Britain wouldn't have been able to stop that, not in a huge country like India. So they cut their losses by dealing with Gandhi, the "moderate" who would preserve the economic and class system and keep the masses under control. It was either that or watch India rise up and go communist like Vietnam. So India got its facade of independence while British capitalism continued to rule behind the scenes. In other words, Gandhi was the "approved" candidate of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the one who suited and protected their interests. That's why they give him to us as a model to follow, while they condemn Lenin, Castro and Mao.
When your enemy approves of your method of dissent, because you follow a model provided to you by your enemy as an "acceptable" form of resistance, it's time to reconsider your form of resistance.
 
"It was also apparent that the British were making use of him, or thought they were making use of him. Strictly speaking, as a Nationalist, he was an enemy, but since in every crisis he would exert himself to prevent violence — which, from the British point of view, meant preventing any effective action whatever — he could be regarded as “our man”. In private this was sometimes cynically admitted. The attitude of the Indian millionaires was similar. Gandhi called upon them to repent, and naturally they preferred him to the Socialists and Communists who, given the chance, would actually have taken their money away."
- George Orwell on Gandhi.
 
This whole fetish (not saying anyone here has a "fetish", just that there is excessive admiration for such people as Gandhi) for Gandhi among some leftists really needs to end. The man was a conservative, a racist and a supporter of the caste system, and his methods of struggle were worthless and achieved nothing. There are good reasons why Gandhi is held up to us as a model of approved resistance by the very same people he was supposedly struggling against, whereas other more radical Indian independence leaders have been erased from history. When your oppressor approves of your methods of struggle against oppression, because you follow a model of approved struggle prescribed to you by the oppressors themselves, that's when you know it's time to reconsider your model and your methods. And he told Jews that they should go willingly to Hitler's gas chambers because fighting back would be immoral.

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"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#7
PhoenixRu

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Violence is the only thing that has ever brought about real social change. Slavery, apartheid, fascism, colonialism, these things weren't overthrown by peaceful marches and petitions; they were overthrown with guns and bombs.

 

Great!.. was taken to my collection of aphorisms.  :biggrin:

 

In general, im agree with 90% of what Joe00uk said above about Gandhi's over-infalted importance and why he was over-inflated. Also, strongly agree with this:

 

Also, India didn't exist in a vacuum; armed struggles were going on all over the colonised world at that time (in Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Greece, Kenya, Algeria, etc, most of them backed by the communist bloc), weakening the overall colonial order. This combined with the fact that Britain was exhausted by World War II and simply couldn't afford to rule India any more

 

Very true observation! If even some colony became independent without much violence, this is only because the colonial power was already exhausted by violent struggle in other corners of globe, and not because of some peaceful marches.


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#8
joe00uk

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Great!.. was taken to my collection of aphorisms.  :biggrin:

Hmm? What is this? :)


"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#9
PhoenixRu

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Hmm? What is this? :)

 

Just the usual TXT-file with my personal collection of interesting quotes from different people from different forums (though mainly in Russian) :)


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#10
PhoenixRu

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^ ^ ^

Joe00uk I hope you don't mind that i placed this quote into newly created thread: The quotes of the Great Futuretimeliners


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#11
joe00uk

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^ ^ ^

Joe00uk I hope you don't mind that i placed this qute into newly created thread: The quotes of the Great Futuretimeliners

I'm quite flattered, honestly. :)


"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#12
caltrek

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Well, before launching into my usual critique of Joe, I wanted to point out one pacifist tactic that he uses very well. That is to stand up for himself.  On more than one occasion, I see others hurling insults at Joe, only to see him come back with responses like, why the insult when you could be addressing the substance of my argument?

 

This forces others to either engage in dialogue or to abandon the moral high ground to Joe.

 

 

 

The man was a conservative, a racist and a supporter of the caste system, and his methods of struggle were worthless and achieved nothing

 

Ok, way over the top.  By the standards of India, Gandhi was quite progressive about enduing the abuses of the caste system. I linked the book that inspired the title of this thread. In it are several examples of Gandhian successes in pre-liberation India. For example (starting at page 11):

 

Champaran.  A law was passed in this region requiring peasants to plant 15% of their land in jute and allowed for "oppressive extractions by the planters".. Gandhi investigated the situation and was initially tried in court for his efforts.  Before the trial was over, the lieutenant governor in the region gave orders that Gandhi was to be allowed to investigate the conditions in question.  The law was repealed.

 

In Vykon, Brahmans were persuaded to allow "untouchable" people to use a road access that had previously been denied. This, despite an initially great hostility to this idea.

 

At Kotgach, an ex-American in sympathy with Gandhi's ideas employed non-violent methods to end the custom whereby Europeans could demand services form locals without needing to give fair compensation for services rendered.

 

In Bardoli Taluka 88,000 peasants undertook a nonviolent campaign to correct an economic injustice. Here taxation rates were raised by anywhere from 22% to over 60%.  (You would think that the British might have learned something from the Boston Tea Party episode in the 18th century United States.  Oh well.)   After initial efforts to enforce the law through government seizures of lands, fines, floggings, and imprisonment the Gandhian Vallabhbhai Patel led a successful struggle to overturn these unfair tax increases and to give proper restitution for economic damage done by efforts to force compliance.

 

Then of course there is the big enchilada (perhaps I should have used an appropriate Indian food substitute)  the liberation of India.  

 

How did Gandhi accomplish this goal?

 

 Well, first it is proper to understand the niche Gandhi came to occupy.  Following this series of victories, as well as some major set backs, Gandhi had captured the moral high ground.  (Ok, now you stop that groaning Joe.)  

 

Now what do I mean by "moral high ground."   Well, employing British social contract theory (see John Locke) we can think of this as establishing or undermining "legitimacy".   Legitimacy is the life blood of government.  Without it, military forces stop taking orders, peasants, workers, etc start ignoring demands for actions, etc.  For a time the social fabric can come to unravel.  In India's case, the country became ungovernable.   Now at this point. some of you may be saying...see there it is... violence succeeded after all.  What this ignores is that Gandhi and his allies had set up a separate and parallel institution...the Indian National Congress.  This institution had gained the trust of the people.  Gandhi was able to exert moral authority in a leadership role. So when violence did break out, Gandhi and his allies were seen as the ultimate sources of just authority. Now, some British authorities denied that this was the case. My reading on that is that they simply couldn't bring themselves to admit to others that they had been bested by Gandhi.

 

If you surf the internet, you are also likely to come across some revisionists historians who point to the naval mutiny that begin in 1946.  They cite the Gandhian's "lack of support" for this mutiny, claiming that Gandhi left the sailors "high and dry".  This ignores several points.  First, that the sailors were in fact demanding recognition of the legitimacy of the Indian National Congress.  Second, that they consulted with the Gandhian leadership.  They offered in effect to put the navy at the disposal of the Congress.  Representatives of the Congress refused. This was a matter of a tactical calculation.  They simply did not want to break with Britain under those kind of conditions.  Third, when they did decide to end their hostilities, Gandhi praised them for acting in an honorable manner, not just in ceasing their activities, but in sticking up for themselves in the first place. By 1947, Britain relented. In private they indicated that the naval mutiny was pretty much the last straw.  They had come to realize that India was truly ungovernable, at least by the British.  It did not hurt that the Brits had recently had a change in government and that the new government had relatively little to lose in the way of face in granting independence to India.  Some also point to the pressure brought by the United States in pressing Great Britain to grant independence to India. An ex-colony standing up for another colony as it were. Gandhi had won as had the rank and file of the Indian navy working in concert with the Indian National Congress.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#13
TranscendingGod

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A non violent world is a better world.
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The growth of computation is doubly exponential growth. 


#14
PhoenixRu

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A non violent world is a better world.

 

No doubt... unfortunately, this is not our world.

 

Another thread where everyone stayed on his initial position, but this is quite normal... plus imho Joe00uk wrote one of his best posts (i mean his criticism of Gandhi) :)


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#15
caltrek

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If the British had "shot from machine guns" the non-violent marchers, do you really think British public opinion would have stood for that?

 

I coudn't reply immediatelly (just don't know the exact facts) so i had to make a small research. This question may be divided into two:

 

1) Were there similar cases (i.e. violent reaction to nonviolent protests) in colonial India?

2) How British public perceived Indians. Answer to this question will determine their reaction: will it be "horrors, our government killing us!" or "our brave boys taught a lesson to dirty natives!"

 

As for repressions against peaceful protesters, the answer is obvious: there were a lot of such cases. This case is the most indicative, imho:

 

1919, April 13: Demonstrations were staged all over India... In the Punjab, where anger against the colonial regime was particularly strong, demonstrations sometimes took a violent turn. In Amritsar, the Holy City of the Sikhs, however, a crowd of 20,000 including many women and children was demonstrating peacefully... British General Reginald Dyer ordered... to open fire on the unarmed crowd, killing some 380 and wounding 1,500. The general claimed to have wanted to “make an example” and thus prevent a new Mutiny. British settlers hailed him as a savior and the Indian public at large labeled him a mass murderer.

 

 

As for the possible reaction of British public, i'll just quote mr.Churchill who said "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine (of Bengal) was their own fault for breeding like rabbits" and dreamed about "half-naked fakir" Gandhi "ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back". And I don't think his views were somewhat uncommon or too radical.

 

=== === ===

 

Churchill is just amazing: "I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and nazism, I would choose communism"... LOL as if someone had any doubts.

 

 

Well, I am glad you mentioned Amristar, because that is exactly the example i had in mind. What you left out:

 

 

 

Dyer was initially lauded by conservative forces in the empire, but in July 1920 he was censured and forced to retire by the House of Commons. He became a celebrated hero in Britain among most of the people connected to the British Raj, for example, the House of Lords, but unpopular in the House of Commons, which voted against Dyer twice.  The massacre caused a re-evaluation of the army's role, in which the new policy became "minimum force", and the army was retrained and developed suitable tactics for crowd control. Some historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India...]

 

As for Churchill's attitude:

 

 

 

Both Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill and former Prime Minister  H.H. Asquith however, openly condemned the attack. Churchill referring to it as "monstrous", while Asquith called it "one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history."

 

https://en.wikipedia...a_Bagh_massacre

 

Oh wait.  I am not supposed to use Wikipedia, because...well because I am not supposed to use it.  Very well, here is another source also describing the British actions that followed as well as Winston Churchill's role in condemning the actions:

 

http://www.indiacele...-bagh-massacre/

 

So, yes, Amristar was "indicative".  Yes, many right wing reactionary forces supported Dwyer. Some how, however, Churchill's other quotes concerning India are recalled, while his actual actions in bringing about the House of Commons condemnation of the specific event in question are ignored.

 

In any event, regardless of Churchill's role, the massacre did much to destroy the legitimacy of the more repressive aspects of British rule. Enough to cause some reforms, but in the long run those reforms proved to be insufficient and incomplete, thus allowing further abuse of the Indian population. So the legitimacy of the British rule was destroyed.  If you have seen the movie Gandhi, you will know that the incident in question was portrayed in the movie by way of explaining how the British lost the moral high ground. Thank you for helping me to illustrate my point.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#16
caltrek

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 Indians voted Bhagat Singh, a communist who advocated armed struggle, as the greatest Indian independence fighter. Subhas Chandra Bose, another radical, got second place...other more radical Indian independence leaders have been erased from history.

In the last clause cited are you are referring to the two leaders you mentioned?

 

If so, isn't it a contradiction to say both that they are more popular than Gandhi and that they have been "erased from history" ?  

 

If they were truly "erased" then how does anybody know them to vote for them?

 

Also, it was easy enough to find information concerning both of those individuals, so I don't see how they qualify as "being erased from history."

 

Bhagat Singh was a martyr. He reminds me of that greatest martyr  in history - Jesus Christ.  Christ expelled the money lenders from the temple.  This and other "crimes" resulted in his martyrdom.  Singh threw a bomb into a legislative chamber in India. Like Jesus, he then awaited his arrest, in Singh's case near the scene of the crime. He then received the death penalty for his actions. By martyring himself in such a way he demonstrated that his opposition went beyond demands for better treatment for himself. This is often the way of a non-violent protest, to suffer the consequences of civil disobedience and even suffer physical harm and degradation in order to demonstrate one's commitment to a higher principle. When death to one who protests results, others often mourn his death publicly in a manner that makes that person a martyr to the cause.  Yes, Singh was influenced by Marxist-Leninist writings, and yes throwing a bomb is not a strict act of pacifism.  Still, one can agree with the conclusions of Marx as to the presence of class warfare, and still engage in non-violent protests to further one's cause.

 

As for Bose, he engaged in non-violent protests with other Gandhians.  He was "another radical" in that he approached Adolf Hitler in hopes of forming an alliance against their common enemy - Great Britain.  When Hitler expressed no interest in such an alliance, he then joined forces and led Indian troops against the British in alliance with the Japanese.  Japan, as you will recall, was an enemy of Stalinist Russia.  So it is odd for a Marxist-Leninist to embrace Bose as a fellow radical.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#17
caltrek

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The thing about pacifism is that it only succeeds in disarming the oppressed.

 

This reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of pacifism, at least as explicated by Richard Gregg. Below are points I have extracted from Gregg.  We can see from these point that the form of pacifism he proposes is just the opposite of "disarming the oppressed" but is in fact an explanation of what he believes to be a superior method of struggle:

 

 

·         Courageous violence, to try to prevent or stop a wrong, is better than cowardly acquiescence.                  Cowardice is more harmful morally than violence.

·         I agree with Gandhi and Simone Well that modern industrialism and much commerce are                        inherently exploitative and violent in spirit…

·         If one man attacks another with physical violence and the visctim hits back, the violent response              gives the attacker a certain reassurance and moral support.  It shows that the position of violence             on the victim’s scale of moral  values is the same as that of the attacker.

·         It (non-violent struggle) does not surrender the right of self-defense, although it radically alters                the nature of the defense.

·         The aim of the nonviolent resister is not to injure, or to crush and humiliate his opponent, or to                 "break his will," as in a violent fight. The aim is to convert the opponent, to change his                             understanding and his sense of values so that he will join wholeheartedly with the resister in                     seeking a settlement truly amicable and truly satisfying to both sides.

·         The nonviolent resister seeks to help the violent attacker to re-establish his moral balance on a                   level higher and more secure than that from which he first launched his violent attack.

·         The conduct of the nonviolent resister suddenly presents the violent assailant with these startling              new ideas: that the dispute can be settled calmly and amicably; that calm conduct is more                        dignified, more decent, more efficient,  more worthy of respect than violence; that there may be              something in the world more powerful and desirable than physical force; that the position of the              attacker is much less favorable than he at first thought; that perhaps the two parties are not really              enemies after all. The attacker, at this moment, is in a most receptive and suggestible state…

·         Napoleon stated, “It is an approved maxim in war, never to do what the enemy wishes you to                 do, for this reason alone, that he desires it. A field of battle, therefore, which he has previously                 studied and reconnoitred, should be avoided, and double care should be taken where he has had               time to fortify and entrench. One consequence deducible from this principle is, never to attack a               position in front which you can gain by turning.”

·         In cases where Asians and Africans have tried to relieve themselves of the economic and                          military pressure of  European domination, they have complained that the West cannot                              understand any language but that of force. If  that is true, it means that the West will be utterly                unprepared and helpless in the face of well-disciplined, thoroughly organized and wisely led                    nonviolent resistance, especially if it is accompanied by an equally thorough temporary non-                    vindictive economic boycott. To use nonviolent resistance against the West would be complying              with Napoleon's Sixteenth Maxim of War quoted above…

·         If the struggle is against a powerful group, a corporation, a government or an established system              of socio-economic beliefs, and is prolonged, the resisters may have to suffer a great deal. "War'                is hell," and in a long struggle soldiers and police may abandon all restraints…

·         It (non-violent struggle) requires no expensive weapons or armament, no drill grounds or                          secrecy. It does not demoralize those who take part in it, but leaves them finer men and women               than when the struggle began…

·         The poorest and most insignificant can practice it as finely, successfully and usefully as prime                  ministers, presidents, financiers, labor leaders or other powerful persons.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#18
caltrek

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It would appear that the folks in India have not forgotten the power of protest:

 

 

 

After police charge a crowd of protestors, shooting at least two people dead, a national uproar forces the National Environment Appellate Authority to revoke the permit for a power plant project in Sompeta, India.[i] 2010 A.D.

In the village of Kakarapalli in southeastern Andhra Pradesh in India, construction on a power plant is halted amidst protests.[ii]  2011 A.D.

[i] Klein, Naomi, This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs The Climate

[ii] Klein, This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs The Climate


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#19
MarcZ

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I would like to add on a point to Joe's above. I don't always find his ideas sensible but I feel is on the more correct side of things here.

 

The thing I wanted to add is that it wasn't per se violence in other colonies that ultimately made keeping hold of India undesirable for the British it was actually something else. During the Second World War, and before the attack on Pearl Harbour, Britain was in desperate need of American supplies and arms to keep the war effort afloat. Part of the issue here was that Americans did not wish to get involved at all in European affairs as this was still her era of neutrality. In order to continue justifying aid to the war effort Roosevelt had to continue drawing concessions from the British in return for assistance. One of these concessions was the dismantling of the preferential trade network Britain had with her colonies (we all know America loves free trade). Churchill agreed, this was really the moment when the British empire ended. (Although others say it was Suez or Hong Kong's handover - it really wasn't.) Basically beyond this point it didn't make much sense for the British to continue to try to hold on to colonies that weren't really providing economic benefits. Yes there was an exception or two afterwards where Britain tried to reassert its colonial powers but they were ultimately unsuccessful and the British largely abandoned this idea. So it really wasn't as much non-violence which got India its independence but in fact the collapse of the preferential trade system. 


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#20
caltrek

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^^^ If correct, I would only point out that the ending of trade concessions at the request of the United States was essentially in response to non-violent pressure.  I never said that international pressures and economic relations did not play a role in the transformation of of the colonial status of India, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, the success of Solidarity in Poland, etc.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: civil disobedience, Nazi Germany, the power of nonviolence, Denmark, Norway

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