Pp 230 Weeks 7-9.docx
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Pp 230 Weeks 7-9 (Corresponding to Part III, sections A and B of the Course Notes)
-Leo Tolstoy: "Letter to Ernest Howard Crosby
-Mohandas K. Gandhi: "On Satyagraha"
-H.J.N. Horsburgh : "The Distinctiveness of Satyagraha
-Martin Luther King Jr.: "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
Film #4: "Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Soul Lives"
-Robert L. Holmes: "The Morality of Nonviolence"
-Bob Litke : "Violence and Power"
Film #5: "Denmark: Living with the Enemy"
-Lawrence S. Apsey : "How Transforming Power Was Used in Modern Times Against Race Prejudice in America"
-Gene Sharp: "The Technique of Nonviolent Action"
-J.W. Hughan , "Pacifism and Invasion"
-Allan Solomonow , "Living Truth: A Jewish Perspective"
-Mubarak E. Awad : "Nonviolent Resistence : A Strategy for the Occupied Territories"
Part III: Nonviolence: Views and Methods
A) Nonviolent Views
oLeo Tolstoy, "Letter to Ernest Howard Crosby
oMohandas K. Gandhi, "On Satyagraha"
oMartin Luther King Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
oH.J.N. Horsburgh, "The Distinctiveness of Satyagraha"
oRobert L. Holmes, "The Morality of Nonviolence"
Film #4 - Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Soul Lives
To be viewed after reading Part III-A
This compelling program traces the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi from London, where he first studied law; to South Africa, where
he established his first ashram; to India, where he worked tirelessly for independence. More than a biography, this documentary
seeks to understand the essence of Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy, which guided India in its struggle for independence
and continues to inspire others in their efforts to achieve freedom. Daughter-in-law Nirmala Ramdas Gandhi and others who
knew the Great Soul share their memories. (60 minutes, colour)
This section contrasts the nature of violence with that of nonviolence. We begin by introducing the concept of nonviolence--an
often overlooked alternative to violence as a way of settling disputes. To establish the proper setting for a discussion of
nonviolence, we explore the nature of violence itself--what it is and what results when it is used to settle disputes of international
concern. Finally, we turn to the radical and novel approach to conflict resolution that was practiced by Gandhi.
Violence and Nonviolence:
We have seen that power is traditionally viewed as the ability to dominate or control others. We saw this in section one with
Hobbes, who believed that the power to dominate or nullify an enemy was the only way in which individuals could avoid being
dominated or nullified themselves. It is also this view of power that political realists such as Morgenthau and Kahn advocated.
There is no doubt that in the short term, power as the ability to dominate does have its attractions. If I need groceries, for
example, and I have a revolver, I can always use force to get them from the corner store. But as we have seen in the previous
sessions, in the long term, across space and time, domination begets counter-domination, and nullification and violence generate
more of the same. The clerks at the grocery store where I obtained my groceries (by force) may arm themselves. They may
become more prone to violence. The clerks and I have given birth to a new cycle of violence which will last as long as we
maintain it. Surely this is the lesson we can learn from humanity's long history of violence. The arms race between the
superpowers was simply the most dramatic case of our willingness to engage in massive destructiveness (and self-
Only pages 1-2 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.
destructiveness). One may conclude, therefore, that the ability and willingness to dominate and commit violence is not always a
sign of power, but often a symptom of weakness--actual or forthcoming.
The power of nonviolence has yet to be appreciated in the political domain; its specific forms have yet to be worked out. The
tasks of satisfying national interests and of providing for national security remain. The challenge for advocates of nonviolence is
to find ways of doing so which do not rely on domination and nullification. The power of nonviolence will become obvious when
we learn to take care of our interests and security in ways which do not set in motion the very forces which eventually diminish or
Proponents of nonviolence spend much of their energy critiquing standard views about security and defence--the view that
security is possible only through military power. As Dr. Robert Holmes writes, it is not surprising that defenders of the standard
(or Realist) view are skeptical of the power of nonviolence.
They want to know how you stop an enemy tank by going limp, or melt the heart of a Hitler by turning the other cheek. Fair
enough questions. At least as fair as asking them how you defend yourself against a twenty-megaton nuclear bomb about to
explode overhead.... As one moves from contrived cases such as that of a solitary Gandhi assuming the lotus position before an
attacking panzer division, to cases in which millions of persons are hypothesized as confronting an actual adversary pursuing
credible objectives, new sources of power can be seen to come into being. They are generated by a quantitative increase in the
number of persons committed to nonviolence.1
Sharp and Gandhi have made a sustained effort to explore our human potential in the area of nonviolence. By examining the
work of these writers, I believe we may discover ways to break the cycle of violence we have become accustomed to.
In Litke's article, "Violence and Power," he distinguishes several senses of power and address the issue of how power and
violence are related. The article also gives a good outline of Newton Garver's perspective on violence.
In his article, "The Morality of Nonviolence," Robert Holmes sorts out various forms which a philosophy of nonviolence can take.
The most important distinction for our purposes is between Principled (moral) Nonviolence and Pragmatic (prudential)
Nonviolence. Holmes is himself a principled nonviolentist, as were Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau and
Sharp give examples of pragmatic or prudentially driven arguments for nonviolence.
Principled non-violentists tend to conceive of nonviolence as integral to a way of life, rather than simply as an efficient way of
achieving their goals. Gandhi is probably the most important principled non-violentist we have a record of. Sharp is the world's
foremost exponent of pragmatic nonviolence. Pragmatic nonviolence is concerned with nonviolence as a way of achieving certain
social or political goals. We conclude the readings with recent examples of nonviolence.
A) Nonviolent Views
Gandhi's approach to conflict resolution reveals the workings of a remarkably radical thinker.
Although nonviolence played an important role in early Indian philosophies, it was Gandhi who
transformed what was traditionally considered to be an individual concern into a societal and
political one. Sharp notes:
It was Gandhi who made the most significant personal contribution in the history of nonviolent
technique, with his political experiments in the use of noncooperation, disobedience and defiance
to control rulers, alter government policies, and undermine political systems.2
Gandhi conducted many nonviolent struggles in his lifetime. He first began his nonviolent
approach to conflict in 1906 in South Africa, in an effort to stop the white suprematist oppression
of Indians. One of his more well-known struggles occurred in Vykom in 1924-1925, when he
succeeded in his efforts to allow untouchables (members of the lowest Hindu caste) to use a road
that had previously been forbidden for them to use. Orthodox Hinduism stated that untouchables
couldn't use the road because it passed an orthodox Brahman temple. The struggle took sixteen
months of continuous vigils and demonstrations, but eventually the untouchables were granted
permission to use the road that members of the higher castes had always been allowed to use.
Gandhi is most well-known for his role in the Indian struggle against British rule in 1930-1931.
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