Archive for August, 2012

Non-violence and revolution: the Gandhi myth

The greatest example of non-violent revolution is supposed to be M.K. Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian nationalist movement, and this proves that non-violent revolution is not only desirable but possible. Unfortunately, the history of non-violent movements is taught selectively and I would say misleadingly. The neo-Gandhian formula is premised upon an inadequate and inaccurate assessment of i) formation of modern states in general, ii) the Indian independence struggle, and iii) Gandhi’s politics.

Modern state-formation is the result of tremendous struggles among various actors. Different classes occupy different positions of power, and often modern state-formation has been the result of class struggle, mixed in with several other considerations, like ethnicity, nationality, geography, regionalism, so on. These struggles have, in general, been very violent. The key question is not whether or not a political order can be established without violence, the key questions are: who is wielding the violence? whose violence wins? who maintains and imposes violent after the formation of the new order?

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