Monday, June 18, 2007

on Gandhi

Not to undermine the work of Gandhi, but I found Alinsky's interpretation of passive resistance quite compelling.

The following comes directly from Saul D. Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which like everything else, is lacking in one way or another, but also like some things, is fucking dead on here and there.

On the topic of means and ends, Alinsky draws on his own rules:

The tenth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments...Mahatma Gandhi and his use of passive resistance in India presents a striking example of the selection of means...

Gandhi is viewed by the world as the epitome of the highest moral behavior with respect to means and ends...History, and religious and moral opinion, have so enshrined Gandhi in this sacred matrix that in many quarters it is blasphemous to question whether this entire procedure of passive resistance was not simply the only intelligent, realistic, expedient program which Gandhi had at his disposal; and that the "morality" which surrounded this policy of passive resistance was to a large degree as rationale to cloak a pragmatic program with a desired and essential moral cover...Gandhi did not have the guns, and if he had had the guns he would not have had the people to use the guns...

Gandhi and his associates repeatedly deplored the inability of their people to give organized, effective, violent resistance against injustice and tyranny. His own experience was corroborated by an unbroken series of reiterations from all the leaders of India--that India could not practice physical warfare against her enemies. Many reasons were given, including weakness, lack of arms, having been beaten into submission, and other arguments of a similar nature...

Gandhi's passive resistance would never have had a chance against a totalitarian state such as that of the Nazis. It is dubious whether under those circumstances the idea of passive resistance would even have occurred to Gandhi...It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again.
(pgs 36-41)

The book goes into more detail. For those interested, it is worth reading the few pages.

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