Quote of the day—Mahatma Gandhi

In this age of the rule of brute force, it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that anyone else could possibly reject the law of the final supremacy of brute force.

Mahatma Gandhi
August 11, 1920
The Doctrine of the sword
[But he did successfully reject brute force. By nearly every measure he won his political objectives.

He changed the course of history not only by winning critically important battles but by teaching the world the methods by which non-violent methods can achieve revolutionary political ends. This is something those advocating violence in the Martin/Zimmerman case would do well to learn and remember.—Joe]

8 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Mahatma Gandhi

  1. To be fair Gandhi was really the exception that proves the rule. Essentially the Brits didn’t have it in them to be a murdering dictatorship like the Communist nations, as well as the various fudal Juntas.

    The Burmese Monk floating down the river is the more consistent end result of a violent totalitarian regime vs. Non-Violent opposition.

  2. Heavy sigh.

    Some day I really must post about “the exception that proves the rule”.

    That aside, Ghandi’s genius was not just innovation in non-violent methods of political change but in recognizing that Britain was not quite (they came close at times) willing shoot a few thousand Indians instead of just a few hundred.

    What those advocating violence in the Martin/Zimmerman case fail to recognize is that violence will result in an outcome at best orthognal, if not in opposition, to their desired outcome.

  3. You might as well write that essay about “proves the rule” (tmk “prove” is used in the same sense as “automobile proving grounds”, a place to test automobiles. The exception tests the rule. Such an essay might be something the hoplophobes and the Liberty-phobes could get behind, as it is rather politically neutral. And while you’re at it, we seemingly can’t have enough essays on the proper use of the phrase “begs the question” (dang, I can’t think of a good joke ending using “beg the question” as “assumes the issue to be proved)”.

    I think Ghandi really did test the rule. Compared to, say, the Jews in Europe, he showed that the success of non-violent action is tremendously dependent on the nature and character of your opponent. I’m not sure if it can be considered a successful application of non-violence in the Ghandian sense if the ones practicing non-violence merely stand up to be whacked, whereupon others take their place, with this process continuing until some other circumstance occurs which stops the whacking, as was the case with the early christians and the conversion of Constantine.

  4. I have seen discussions of the success of violent vs. non-violent revolutions, and have thought about it a bit. My conclusion, so far, is this: successful violent revolution have a symbiotic relationship with non-violent revolution, and sometimes even vice-versa. The American Revolution was such a success because the Colonists did everything they could before they decided that it was impossible to remain colonies of Great Britain–including such actions as aquitting British soldiers who fired on crowds, but had a reasonable fear for their life, and peacably dumping tea into the Boston Harbor.

    Hopefully, in any Revolution, we can achieve our goals through non-violent means–but if it comes to a shooting war, it is my hope that we have done everything in our power to prevent it beforehand, for otherwise it would have a taint of improprietariness.

    Additionally, non-violent action is necessary for winning the hearts and souls of the neutrals. If I hadn’t picked a side, but heard that one side was shooting innocents, I would not likely support that side, even if I agreed with its goals.

  5. Gandhi’s solution worked simply because the British were in the process of trying to be a benign colonial power, and because what he was asking was becoming widely recognized as universal human rights. He chose the perfect treatment of protest for the times, which was his genius. If he had been violent and used force, he would have been killed, because the Brits were not opposed to killing those who killed them.

    However, they were generally opposed to killing those whose protest did no extend to violence.

    This would not have worked in the post Civil War United States, but Martin Luther King proved it could work in 1960’s America. It would not have worked in Stalinist Russia, not will it work now in China.

    The genius of peaceful protest is knowing when it will be effective. Part of the reason the Martin protests were initially effective in drawing attention is because they were peaceful and respectful…IE. the Miami Heat photograph with heads bowed, the candlelight vigils, etc. These brought the issue out because of their peacefulness. Now with the idiocy of some of the “leaders” of the black community, we are very likely to see Rodney King all over again.

    The scary thing is that it appears more and more as if this was a case of self defense, and not the bad shooting it has been made to be by the press.

  6. Interesting point…

    Question: Was Ghandi more nonviolent, or a good judge of character–i.e., if the British hadn’t had any kind of sense of shame, would Gandhi have kept on with his methods, or would he have advocated for something with a little more teeth?

  7. Also, dumping the tea into the harbor was a major act of vandalism, and can hardly be described as “peacable.” Boycotting would have been peacable. Instead, they destroyed it completely and someone got stuck with a rather large bill as a result.

  8. Publius, you’re right about dumping tea into the harbor as not being “peacable”, in that it involved the destruction of property. Even so, if the account in “Johnny Tremain” (which, technically, is a fictional book) is an accurate account of the event, those involved in the incident did it in a peaceful manner, rather than in a riotous one, and anyone caught trying to steal tea was dumped into the harbor.

    As a statement against government-forced monopoly and yet another tax, it was forceful, and it didn’t involve British soldiers getting killed.

    It’s a model that I’ve often wondered if it could be used to protest the nudity machines that have been installed in airports…

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