#RESISTANCE: Non-Violent Resistance, the Gandhi, edition

Everyday, some kind of noise issues forth from some orifice of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber about the illegality of the November election. Everything from suing states allowing vote by mail, read that as challenging ballots in states and precincts he lost in, to sending up the trial balloon of delaying the election so reporting the results won’t be delayed. What? Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either. You know he;s gonna sue to have ballots overturned, though, right? So, we gotta be ready for the monkey-shines the GOP plans to pull to rig the vote in their favor. We must be ready with a program of NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE of our own. s I wrote on 27 July, historically the most effective way to resist a budding authoritarian regime is through MASS PEACEFUL PROTEST! Fortunately, others have been down this road before, namely Gandhi, so we’ve got a model to work from.

We all know and love Gandhi has the cute little fellow who non-violently kicked England’s ass outta India through peaceful protest actions. And, while we often think that non-violence can’t work and India was an exception because of all its weird religions and incredibly large impoverished population and otherness, I must point out that non-violent protest helped bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union — thank you Lech Walesa of Solidarity and Poland fame — rescued 90% of Danish Jews from the Holocaust during WW II, brought about our Civil Rights legislation of 1964 and 1965, and got the the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s paramilitary forces moved out of Portland. Non-violent resistance aka peaceful protest does work.

To work, it must be peaceful, which is hard when the federales are doing everything they can to incite the protesters to violence as we saw in Portland and the ’68 Democratic Convention: deploying chemical irritants, i.e. teargas and pepper spray, using less often, but, whoopsie, sometimes, still lethal and frequently injurious projectiles, and that tried and true police favorite, beating protesters senseless with billy clubs.

This is where Gandhi can be especially instructive. His practice of training protesters in non-violence can really help us be prepared. It takes commitment to stand in the face of an armed force determined to incite violence from you and not commit violence. It takes commitment to walk away from a protest when violent protesters show up and steal the limelight. But, Gandhi did the non-violent resistance thing with devastating effectiveness and so can we.

Gandhi’s Non-Violent Resistance

The bedrock of Gandhi’s approach was a dedication to truth and non-violence. For Gandhi, truth was religious truth born of a belief in Ahimsa, the principle of not causing harm to other living creatures fundamental to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The pursuit of non-violence was more than resisting committing a harmful action because you had the urge to do so, but to find your place in the web of life in the universe. To truly not-harm other living creatures, including the paramilitary storm troopers deployed by a desperate despotic despoiler like the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, you had to live it every day and promote the well being of the life around you. You had to love the storm trooper beating the crap out of you with their billy clubs as hard as that might seem.

Ahimsa is not merely a negative state of harmlessness, but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer” (Young India, August 25, 1920, p.2). We must love those who hate us, who oppose us. We can see this principle at work in every family of a black man murdered by a white police officer who strive for justice but express forgiveness. Like the survivors of the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel Church forgiving the shooter instead of starting a race war. In many senses, the Black community has embodied the teachings of Christ. Is it any wonder that Rev. Martin Luther King was a follower of Gandhi and sought to use his teachings in the struggle for civil rights?

According to Gandhi, our goal in the non-violent resistance is to convert the storm trooper to non-violence and to promote life and well being. As Gandhi said, Truth is the end and non-violence is the means.” For Gandhi, your means were your ends. You could not arrive at the promised land if you used violent corrupt means.

Suffering for Change

You convert the storm trooper and Fox News watcher by showing that you are willing to suffer in order to bring about change. Gandhi argued that one must be willing to take all the consequences of your actions including injury, harm, and arrest; thus, through strength of will and endurance demonstrate your commitment to your cause to your opponent.

Given the willingness to bear the brunt of the violence our paramilitary storm troopers and everyday police are willing to inflict upon us in the name of law and order, non-violent resistance is not a tool for those too cowardly to do violence. Any fool can throw a can of vegetables at police officer, it takes someone with the heart of a mother to stand up to a storm trooper and accept a savage beating in the name of defending our Constitutional, civil, and human rights. Non-violent resistance is not avoidance of violence or simply not-harming others in pursuit of your goals. It is accepting that violence and other harmful consequences like imprisonment may happen to those involved in non-violent actions.

The BBC gives us Gandhi’s instructions to his followers in India:

  • A satyagrahi, i.e., a civil resister, will harbour no anger.
  • He will suffer the anger of the opponent.
  • In so doing he will put up with assaults from the opponent, never retaliate; but he will not submit, out of fear of punishment or the like, to any order given in anger.
  • When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by authorities.
  • If a civil resister has any property in his possession as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, even though in defending it he might lose his life. He will, however, never retaliate.
  • Non-retaliation excludes swearing and cursing.
  • Therefore a civil resister will never insult his opponent, and therefore also not take part in many of the newly coined cries which are contrary to the spirit of ahimsa.
  • A civil resister will not salute the Union Jack, nor will he insult it or officials, English or Indian.
  • In the course of the struggle if anyone insults an official or commits an assault upon him, a civil resister will protect such official or officials from the insult or attack even at the risk of his life.

The Key Points of Non-Violent Protest

We can derive key points as we prepare to engage in non-violent resistance to the #GOPDystopia that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the Repubes have planned for us.

First, we must not only commit ourselves to non-violence, but we must train and prepare for it. I’m afraid we have to set our snarky, sarcasticky, profaney tools aside and focus ourselves on helping one another, including those who would oppose us not just in the sexy protests that we see on the TV but in our everyday lives. We must refrain from harassing the Karens of the world and mask refusers but continue to encourage them to engage in loving supportive ways of interacting with the world. Wearing a mask to help the community in spite of the discomfort it provides. Accepting that Black people are full equal citizens and have the same rights that white people do.

Second, we must organize ourselves for mass action. Luckily, there are many organizations that are helping with this. Unfortunately, these being mostly grassroots organizations, they are very localized. If you’re looking for national organizations, you should consider your local chapters of, Black Lives Matter and Indivisible.

Image Attribution

The image of the Salt March was found using a Creative Commons search. It was found on Wikimedia Commons and is considered part of the public domain by Indian law.

6 replies »

  1. I’m reminded of the recent replays of interviews of John Lewis about the training and practice for non-violence carried out with SNCC volunteers, and his complete acceptance of whatever harm might be inflicted on him. It is a hard discipline that must be practiced and lived because it means keeping the fight-or-flight response a bay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      I know there are people and organizations still teaching and practicing the principles of non-violent resistance to this day. I remember the training that I went through — limited though it was — for some Reagan protests that I participated in back in the day. I know the tradition carries forward, but I’ve just fallen out of touch with who is still doing it. It might warrant some research and a post of its own.


      Liked by 1 person

Howdy Y'all! Come on in, pardner! Join this here conversation! I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.