In a section frequently overlooked because of the many riches in his recent study of Gandhi, Erik Erikson relates massacre-- what we are calling atrocity--to a combination of the "policing mind" and the possession of technological weaponry. In contrast we have Gandhi's "instrument" of Satyagraha or "truth force," with its magnificent, tenuous, almost absurd--and still highly illuminating--structuring of events to achieve justice while avoiding not only physical but spiritual violence.
Erik H. Erikson
On April 13, 1929, General Dyer had forbidden the citizens of Amritsar, the Sikh holy city in the Punjab, to gather in public assembly. A few thousand, many without knowledge of the ordinance, had gathered unarmed, as previously planned, in the ruins of a public garden named Jallianwalla Bagh, which was surrounded by high walls permitting access and exit only through a few narrow gates. The general had ordered his men to fire on "the mob." All of this is well known as the "Massacre of Jallianwalla Bagh." But the word massacre suggests the hot carnage of a multitude by a rampant soldiery or mob. It does not convey the cold-bloodedness of this event, which was rather in the nature of mechanized slaughter. The soldiers stood on somewhat higher ground only 150 yards from the first row of an entirely unarmed mass of over 10,000 people crowded into one corner of the walled-in grounds. Twenty-five of the general's soldiers were equipped with rifles; the general ordered them to start shooting without warning, and the men fired 1,600 shots in ten minutes, killing 379 persons and wounding 1,137. Thus, they wasted less than one tenth of their shots in this shooting gallery.
I present these well-known details because one must try to envisage what has become of man as a military, or maybe one should say a policing mind, in the possession of mechanized weapons. Not that one could entertain the idea of a society altogether without police or should indulge in treating policemen as a separate species, like henchmen. They are only