Gandhi and King: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance

By Michael J. Nojeim | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Philosophical and
Strategic Nonviolence

PHILOSOPHICAL NONVIOLENCE

This chapter examines how strategies of nonviolent resistance are supposed to work. As with any form of social and political action, successful nonviolent resisters must have a well-laid-out plan with sound methods and strategies. The methods and strategies of nonviolent resistance are quite diverse. In addition, the chapter will emphasize the alternative approach nonviolence takes to, first, defining goals and, second, to defining success.

Before getting to the specifics of a nonviolent strategy, however, let's first discuss the difference between the two major types of nonviolence, which are nonviolence as a philosophy and nonviolence as merely a strategy. In the first instance, those who commit to nonviolence as a philosophy commit their entire lives to it. Philosophical nonviolence is practiced as a way of life. Its adherents seek to internalize nonviolence in all that they do. Theirs is a devotion based on a total commitment, a life-encompassing doctrine. Philosophical devotees of nonviolence apply every fiber of their being to behaving nonviolently, not just in political conflicts where political resistance is offered, but in every aspect of their lives. This includes their day-to-day conduct and their interactions with people, animals, and their environment.

A philosophical commitment to nonviolence commands a total undertaking in every way. Although it is not a prerequisite, the philosophically committed usually have a faith-based, even

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