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.