Moral Dilemmas and Broken Promises: A Historical-Philosophical Overview of the Nonviolent Movement
Great historical crises oblige us to choose not between violence and nonviolence, but between two different forms of violence. Nonviolent movements are no exception to this rule. In the US, with the outbreak of the War of Secession, the Christian-nonviolent movement was obliged to choose between the violence of the Union-army (which ultimately imposed on the South an abolitionist revolution from above) and the violence of slavery. With the outbreak of World-War One, Lenin chose revolution, while, in India, Gandhi became the ‘recruiting agent-in-chief’ for the British army. At that moment, he struggled not for the general emancipation of colonial peoples, but only for the co-optation of the Indian people under the ruling races, and this co-optation was to be gained on the battlefield. While in the past, in spite of their mistakes and oscillations, the protagonists of nonviolence (Gandhi, Tolstoy, Martin Luther King, etc.) were an integral part of the anticolonialist movement, today nonviolence is the watchword of imperialism, which tries to discredit as violent its enemies and challengers.