Misconceptions About Non-Violence

I recently read a post written by someone who was eulogising Nelson Mandela as ‘non-violent’ and comparing him to Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi. I consider these kinds of statements as being the product of political illiteracy and a general lack of education that blights how liberals perceive the left. The great Nelson Mandela was a Communist who took-up an armed struggle against the White Afrikaans Government of South Africa and its poisonous ‘apartheid’ system of brutal and vicious racial segregation. South African Black people faced the possibility of arrest, torture and death at anytime, and not necessarily in that order. The right for the ordinary South African Black people to take up arms against the Afrikaans government was not only morally right, it was supported by international law. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades because of his involvement in this self-defensive violence. At his trial, he denied being a member of the Communist Party as a means to avoid the Death Sentence that many racist Whites (both inside and outside the Afrikaans System) were demanding (including Britain’s Margaret Thatcher). Nelson Mandela was eventually proven politically correct, with his historical use of violence accepted as both justified and appropriate.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr was a Christian who did emphasis and practice love and compassion for all, However, this is not the entire story. It is well known on the left that Dr King was an ardent Socialist and sympathetic to the Communist Cause. When confronting the oppressive (White) power of the US Authorities, Dr King was of the opinion that there was little point in offering anykind of violent or armed resistance due to the sheer and deadly power of that System. Although he agreed with protest and civil disobedience where justified, he did not advocate any action that constituted ‘self-defence’. Dr King stated that his followers should go to prison and through their enlightened attitudes, turn a dungeon of darkness into a haven of light. It seems that Dr King was of the impression that Christian Socialists would be ‘protected’ by the secular Socialist or Communist Movement in the USA, and that this protection would enable them to act in a more Christ-like manner. Therefore, Christians could be ‘passive’ and ‘non-violent’, providing others were willing to use violence to protect their religious practice.

Mahatma Gandhi was certainly not a pacifist, despite his preference for apparent non-violence. In fact, in a number of discourses in India, Mahatma Gandhi has been described as deliberately pursuing a destructive path of ‘militant non-violence’. To achieve this, the Western educated Gandhi would order his followers to gather in areas that he knew would antagonise the British Authorities in India, and which through a blend of noisy protest and non-co-operation, encourage those Authorities to react with State ordered violence – using armed police and soldiers to attack his protesters. Although Gandhi would often lead long marches, he seldom stood in the front lines when the bone-breaking and skull-crushing of his followers commenced. When viewed in this manner, it is clear that Gandhi was a very violent person, who used a passive-aggressive approach to protest, a method which he justified through Hindu Scripture. Whilst advocating non-violence, Gandhi made extensive use of violence – creating death and injury amongst his followers – which he used to make political gain against the British and his Indian opponents (Gandhi was eventually murdered by a fellow Hindu). India gained its Independence from the British not because of Gandhi (a myth perpetuated in the West), but because the British Labour Party of 1945-1950 wanted to instigate a Welfare state and National Health System on the British Mainland. The financing of these revolutionary changes were recouped in-part by cutting the direct colonial control of India by the British.

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