Magazine article New Internationalist

The Unconquerable World: Power, Non-Violence and the Will of the People

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Unconquerable World: Power, Non-Violence and the Will of the People

Article excerpt

by Jonathan Schell

(Allen Lane ISBN 0 7139 9766 4)

Schell's terrific re-reading of the great events of recent history shows the extent to which the role of force has been overplayed. Gandhi is central to the story. His conception and practice of satyagraha - non-violence, or 'living in truth' - not only helped end British rule in India, it resurfaced in the actions and writings of activists in Eastern Europe who helped precipitate the collapse of the Soviet empire.

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The hearts and minds of peoples intent on liberating themselves from imperialism has been another limit on the success of overwhelming force. China, Vietnam and Algeria provided object lessons on the power of politically mobilized people. Schell shows that the principal events in the French and Russian revolutions were bloodless; even if the consolidation of rule by a minority subsequently involved an extremely ruthless repression. …

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