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Title: Introduction to Non-Violence
Author: Paullin, Theodore
Language: English
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                                  NON-VIOLENT ACTION
                                  IN TENSION AREAS:
                                  Series III: Number 1
                                  July 1944.


                  THEODORE PAULLIN

               1201 CHESTNUT STREET


Charles Boss, Jr.                Isidor B. Hoffman
Henry J. Cadbury                 John Haynes Holmes
Allan Knight Chalmers            E. Stanley Jones
Abraham Cronbach                 John Howland Lathrop
Albert E. Day                    Frederick J. Libby
Dorothy Day                      A. J. Muste
Edward W. Evans                  Ray Newton
Jane Evans                       Mildred Scott Olmsted
F. Burt Farquharson              Kirby Page
Harry Emerson Fosdick            Clarence E. Pickett
Harrop A. Freeman                Guy W. Solt
Elmer A. Fridell                 Douglas V. Steere
Richard Gregg                    Dan West
Harold Hatch                     Norman Whitney
                 E. Raymond Wilson


The Pacifist Research Bureau is financed entirely by the contributions
of organizations and individuals who are interested in seeing this type
of research carried on. We trust that you may desire to have a part in
this positive pacifist endeavor to aid in the formulation of plans for
the world order of the future. Please make contributions payable to The
Pacifist Research Bureau, 1201 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia 7,
Pennsylvania. Contributions are deductible for income tax purposes.


     "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,
     "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."

     "The question is," said Alice, "whether you _can_ make words mean
     different things."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the writings of pacifists and non-pacifists concerning theories of
and experiences with non-violence, there is a clear lack of uniformity
in the use of words.

The present booklet, introducing the Bureau's new series on _Non-Violent
Action in Tension Areas_, distinguished by green covers, critically
examines pacifist terminology. But it does more, for it analyzes various
types of non-violence, evaluates examples of non-violence referred to in
previous literature, and points to new sources of case material.

Dr. Theodore Paullin, Assistant Director of the Bureau, is the author of
this study. The manuscript has been submitted to and reviewed by
Professor Charles A. Ellwood and Professor Hornell Hart, both of the
Department of Sociology, Duke University; and by Richard B. Gregg,
author of several works on the philosophy and practice of non-violence.
Their criticisms and suggestions have proved most helpful, but for any
errors of interpretation the author is responsible.

The Pacifist Research Bureau frankly bases its work upon the philosophy
of pacifism: that man should exercise such respect for human personality
that he will employ only love and sacrificial good will in opposing evil
and that the purpose of all human endeavor should be the creation of a
world brotherhood in which cooperative effort contributes to the good of
all. A list of pamphlets published or in preparation appears on the back

                                     HARROP A. FREEMAN,
                                                Executive Director

_Any organization ordering 500 or more copies of any pamphlet published
by the Pacifist Research Bureau may have its imprint appear on the title
page along with that of the Bureau. The prepublication price for such
orders is $75.00 for each 500 copies._

       *       *       *       *       *

                       TABLE OF CONTENTS

   I. INTRODUCTION: ON TERMS                               1
         Definition of Terms                               5

  II. VIOLENCE WITHOUT HATE                                9
         Revolutionary Anarchism                          10
         Abraham Lincoln                                  11
         The Church and War                               11

 III. NON-VIOLENCE BY NECESSITY                           12
         Non-Violent Resistance to Invaders               13
         Chinese Boycotts Against Foreigners              15
         Egyptian Opposition to Great Britain             16

  IV. NON-VIOLENT COERCION                                17
         The Labor Strike                                 19
         The Boycott                                      21
         Non-Violent Coercion by the American Colonies    22
         Irish Opposition to Great Britain After 1900     23
         Strikes with Political Purposes                  24
         Non-Violence in International Affairs            24

         The Origins of Satyagraha                        26
         The Process of Satyagraha                        27
         The Philosophy of Satyagraha                     29
         The Empirical Origins of Gandhi's Method         31
         Non-Cooperation                                  32
         Fasting                                          33
         The American Abolition Movement                  34

  VI. NON-RESISTANCE                                      36
         The Mennonites                                   37
         The New England Non-Resistants                   39
         Tolstoy                                          41

         Action in the Face of Persecution                44
         Coercion or Persuasion?                          46
         Ministering to Groups in Conflict                47
         The Power of Example                             48
         Work for Social Reform                           49
         Political Action and Compromise                  50
         The Third Alternative                            51

VIII. CONCLUSIONS                                         54

       *       *       *       *       *


The purpose of the present study is to analyze the various positions
found within the pacifist movement itself in regard to the use of
non-violent techniques of bringing about social change in group
relationships. In its attempt to differentiate between them, it makes no
pretense of determining which of the several pacifist positions is
ethically most valid. Hence it is concerned with the application of
non-violent principles in practice and their effectiveness in achieving
group purposes, rather than with the philosophical and religious
foundations of such principles. It is hoped that the study may help
individuals to clarify their thinking within this field, but the author
has no brief for one method as against the others. Each person must
determine his own principles of action on the basis of his conception of
the nature of the universe and his own scale of ethical values.

The examples chosen to illustrate the various positions have been taken
largely from historical situations in this country and in Europe,
because our traditional education has made us more familiar with the
history of these areas than with that of other parts of the world. It
also seemed that the possibilities of employing non-violent methods of
social change would be more apparent if it was evident that they had
been used in the West, and were not only applicable in Oriental
societies. It is unfortunate that this deliberate choice has eliminated
such valuable illustrative material as the work of Kagawa in Japan. The
exception to this general rule in the case of "Satyagraha" has been made
because of the wide-spread discussion of this movement in all parts of
the world in our day.

I want to acknowledge with great appreciation the suggestions I have
obtained from the preliminary work done for the Pacifist Research Bureau
in this field by Russell Curtis and Haridas T. Muzumdar.

                                            THEODORE PAULLIN
July 1, 1944

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


"In the storm we found each other." "In the storm we clung together."
These words are found in the opening paragraphs of "_Hey! Yellowbacks!"
The War Diary of a Conscientious Objector_. Ernest L Meyer uses them to
describe the psychological process by which a handful of men--a few
professors and a lone student--at the University of Wisconsin grew into
unity because they opposed the First World War, when everyone around
them was being carried away in the enthusiasm which marked the first
days of American participation. If there had been no storm, they might
not have discovered their affinity, but as it was, despite the disparity
of their interests and backgrounds, they found themselves in agreement
on the most fundamental of their values, when all the rest chose to go
another way. By standing together they all gained strength for the
ordeals through which each must go, and they were filled with the spirit
of others before them and far removed from them, who had understood life
in the same way.[1]

The incident may be taken as symbolic of the experience through which
pacifists have gone in this Second World War, too. Men and women of many
creeds, of diverse economic backgrounds, of greatly divergent
philosophies, with wide variations in education, have come together in
the desire to sustain one another and aid one another in making their
protest against war. Each in his own way has refused to participate in
the mass destruction of human life which war involves, and by that
refusal has been united by the strongest bonds of sympathy with those of
his fellows who have done likewise. But it is the storm that has brought
unity. When the skies clear, there will be a memory of fellowship
together, but there will also be a realization that in the half light we
have seen only one aspect of each other's being, and that there are
enormous differences between us. Our future hope of achieving the type
of world we want will demand a continuation of our sense of unity,
despite our diversities.

At present pacifism is no completely integrated philosophy of life. Most
of us would be hard pressed to define the term "pacifist" itself.
Despite the fact that according to the Latin origins of the word it
means "peace maker," it is small wonder that our non-pacifist friends
think of the pacifist as a negative obstructionist, because until the
time came to make a negative protest against the evil of war we
ourselves all too often forgot that we were pacifists. In other times,
if we have been peace-makers at all, we have thought of ourselves
merely as doing the duty of citizens, and, in attempting to overcome
some of the causes of conflict both within our domestic society and in
the relations between nations, we have willingly merged ourselves with
other men of goodwill whose aims and practices were almost identical to

Since the charge of negativism strikes home, many pacifists defend
themselves by insisting that they stand primarily for a positive
program, of which war-resistance is only a pre-requisite. They oppose
war because it is evil in itself, but they oppose it also because the
type of human brotherhood for which they stand can be realized only when
war is eliminated from the world. Their real aim is the creation of the
new society--long and imperfect though that process of creation may be.
They share a vision, but they are still groping for the means of moving
forward towards its achievement. They are generally convinced that some
means are inappropriate to their ends, and that to use such means would
automatically defeat them; but they are less certain about the means
which _will_ bring some measure of success.

One section of the pacifist movement believes that it has discovered a
solution to the problem in what it calls "non-violent direct action."
This group derives much of its inspiration from Gandhi and his
non-violent movement for Indian independence. For instance, the
Fellowship of Reconciliation has a committee on non-violent direct
action which concerns itself with applying the techniques of the Gandhi
movement to the solution of pressing social issues which are likely to
cause conflict within our own society, especially discrimination against
racial minorities. As a "textbook" this group has been using Krishnalal
Shridharani's analysis of the Gandhi procedures, _War Without
Violence_.[2] The advocates of "non-violent direct action" believe that
their method can bring about the resolution of any conflict through the
ultimate defeat of the forces of evil, and the triumph of justice and
goodwill. In a widely discussed pamphlet, _If We Should Be Invaded_,
issued just before the outbreak of the present war, Jessie Wallace
Hughan, of the War Resisters League, maintained that non-violent
resistance would be more effective even in meeting an armed invasion
than would reliance upon military might.[3]

Many pacifists have accepted the general thesis of the advocates of
non-violent direct action without analyzing its meaning and
implications. Others have rejected it on the basis of judgments just as
superficial. Much confusion has crept into the discussion of the
principle and into its application because of the constant use of
ill-defined terms and partially formulated ideas. It is the purpose of
the present study to analyze the positions of both the friends and
opponents of non-violent direct action within the pacifist movement in
the hope of clarifying thought upon this vitally important question.

Before we can proceed with our discussion, we must make a clear
distinction between non-violence as a principle, accepted as an end in
itself, and non-violence as a means to some other desired end. Much of
the present confusion in pacifist thought arises from a failure to make
this distinction.

On the one hand, the absolute pacifist believes that all men are
brothers. Therefore, he maintains that the supreme duty of every
individual is to respect the personality of every other man, and to love
him, no matter what evil he may commit, and no matter how greatly he may
threaten his fellows or the values which the pacifist holds most dear.
Under no circumstances can the pacifist harm or destroy the person who
does evil; he can use only love and sacrificial goodwill to bring about
conversion. This is his highest value and his supreme principle. Though
the heavens should fall, or he himself and all else he cherishes be
destroyed in the process, he can place no other value before it. To the
pacifist who holds such a position, non-violence is imperative _even if
it does not work_. By his very respect for the personality of the
evil-doer, and his insistence upon maintaining the bond of human
brotherhood, he has already achieved his highest purpose and has won his
greatest victory.

But much of the present pacifist argument in favor of non-violence is
based rather upon its expediency. Here, we are told, is a means of
social action that _works_ in achieving the social goals to which
pacifists aspire. Non-violence provides a moral force which is more
powerful than any physical force. Whether it be used by the individual
or by the social group, it is, in the long run, the most effective way
of overcoming evil and bringing about the triumph of good. The
literature is full of stories of individuals who have overcome
highwaymen, or refractory neighbors, by the power of love.[4] More
recent treatments such as Richard Gregg's _Power of Non-Violence_[5]
present story after story of the successful use of non-violent
resistance by groups against political oppression. The history of the
Gandhi movement in India has seemed to provide proof of its expediency.
Even the argument in Aldous Huxley's _Ends and Means_, that we can
achieve no desired goal by means which are inconsistent with it, still
regards non-violent action as a _means_ for achieving some other end,
rather than an _end_ in itself.[6]

So prevalent has such thinking become among pacifists, that it is not
surprising that John Lewis, in his closely reasoned book, _The Case
Against Pacifism_, bases his whole attack on the logic of the pacifist
position upon the theory that pacifists _must_, as he does, hold other
values above their respect for individual human personalities. Even in
speaking of "absolute" pacifism he says, "The most fundamental objection
to war is based on the conviction that violence and the taking of human
life, being themselves wrong, cannot lead to anything but evil."[7] Thus
he defines the absolute pacifist as one who accepts the ends and means
argument of Huxley, which is really an argument based upon expediency,
rather than defining him correctly as one who insists that violence and
the taking of human life are the greatest evils, under any conditions,
and therefore cannot be justified, even if they could be used for the
achievement of highly desirable ends.

Maintaining as Lewis does that respect for every human personality is
not their highest value, non-pacifists attack pacifism almost entirely
on the ground that in the present state of world society it is not
expedient--that it is "impractical." Probably much of the pacifist
defense of the position is designed to meet these non-pacifist
arguments, and to persuade non-pacifists of goodwill that they can
really best serve _their_ highest values by adopting the pacifist
technique. Such reasoning is perfectly legitimate, even for the
"absolutist," but he should recognize it for what it is--a mere
afterthought to his acceptance of non-violence as a principle.

The whole absolutist argument is this: (1) Since violence to any human
personality is the greatest evil, I can never commit it. (2) But, at the
same time, it is fortunate that non-violent means of overcoming evil are
more effective than violent means, so I can serve my highest
value--respect for every human personality--and at the same time serve
the other values I hold. Or to say the same thing in positive terms, I
can achieve my other ends _only_ by employing means which are consistent
with those ends.

On the other hand, many pacifists do in fact hold the position that John
Lewis is attacking, and base their acceptance of pacifism entirely on
the fact that it is the best means of obtaining the sort of social or
economic or political order that they desire. Others, in balancing the
destruction of violent conflict against what they concede might be
gained by it, say that the price of social achievement through violent
means is too high--that so many of their values are destroyed in the
process of violence that they must abandon it entirely as a means, and
find another which is less destructive.

Different as are the positions of the absolute and the relative
pacifists, in practice they find themselves united in their logical
condemnation of violence as an effective means for bringing about social
change. Hence there is no reason why they cannot join forces in many
respects. Only a relatively small proportion, even of the absolutists,
have no interest whatever in bringing about social change, and are thus
unable to share in this aspect of pacifist thinking.


[1] Ernest L. Meyer, "_Hey! Yellowbacks!_" (New York: John Day, 1930),

[2] Krishnalal Shridharani, _War Without Violence_ (New York: Harcourt
Brace, 1939); _Selections from War Without Violence_ was published by
the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 2929 Broadway, New York, as a
pamphlet, in 1941.

[3] Jessie Wallace Hughan, _If We Should Be Invaded: Facing a Fantastic
Hypothesis_ (War Resisters League, New York, 1939). A new edition with
the title _Pacifism and Invasion_ was issued in 1942.

[4] Many later writers have selected their examples from the large
number presented by Adin Ballou, _Christian Non-Resistance: In All Its
Important Bearings_ (Philadelphia: Universal Peace Union, 1910); first
published in 1846.

[5] Richard B. Gregg, _The Power of Non-Violence_ (Philadelphia:
Lippincott, 1934). A new and revised edition of this book is to be
published by Fellowship Publications, N. Y., 1944.

[6] Aldous Huxley, _Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals
and the Methods Employed for Their Realization_ (New York: Harpers,

[7] John Lewis, _The Case Against Pacifism_ (London: Allen and Unwin,
1940), 23.

Definition of Terms

Both in pacifist thought and in the criticisms of pacifism, a great deal
of confusion arises because of the inexact use of terms. We have already
seen that pacifists of many shades of opinion are united in their
refusal to participate in war. In this objection there is a negative
quality. The very word "non-violence" used in the title of this study
suggests this same negative attitude, and it was not long ago that
pacifists were generally known as "non-resistants." Although some of
those who oppose participation in war still insist upon calling
themselves "non-resistants"[8] many of the modern pacifists disclaim the
term because it is negative, and insist that the essence of pacifism is
the element of active goodwill toward all men.[9] Yet when confronted
with evil, even he who thinks of his pacifism as a positive attitude
must decide not only what means he _will_ use to oppose evil, but what
means he _will not_ use. At the moment when the society of which he is a
part insists that every one of its members participate in an enterprise
to employ these proscribed means, the pacifists of all shades of opinion
become "conscientious objectors." To what is it exactly that they

Most answers to this question would say that they oppose "the use of
force," "violence," "coercion," or in some cases, any "resistance" to
evil whatever. But pacifists themselves have not been agreed upon the
meanings and implications of these terms, and the opponents of pacifism
have hastened to define them in such a way as to deny validity to the
pacifist philosophy. Before we can proceed with our discussion we must
define these terms for ourselves, as we shall use them in the present

_Force_ we may define as physical or intangible power or influence to
effect change in the material or immaterial world. _Coercion_ is the use
of either physical or intangible force to compel action contrary to the
will or reasoned judgment of the individual or group subjected to such
force. _Violence_ is the willful application of force in such a way that
it is physically or psychologically injurious to the person or group
against whom it is applied. _Resistance_ is any opposition either
physical or psychological to the positive will or action of another. It
is the negative or defensive counterpart of coercion.

The very diversity of terms used to describe the pacifist position shows
that none of them satisfactorily expresses the essence of the pacifist
philosophy. Among those commonly used are: (1) non-resistance, (2)
passive resistance, (3) non-violent resistance, (4) super-resistance,
(5) non-violent non-cooperation, (6) civil disobedience, (7) non-violent
coercion, (8) non-violent direct action, (9) war without violence, and
(10) Satyagraha or soul force.[10]

Of these terms only "non-resistance" implies acquiescence in the will of
the evil-doer; all the rest suggest an approval of resistance. Every one
of them, even "non-resistance" itself, contemplates the use of some
intangible moral force to oppose evil and a refusal to take an active
part in committing evil. At least the last five indicate the positive
desire to change the active policy of the evil-doer, either by
persuasion or by compulsion. As we shall see, in practice they tend to
involve a coercive element. Only in their rejection of violence are all
these terms in agreement. Perhaps we are justified in accepting
_opposition to violence_ as the heart of the pacifist philosophy. Under
the definition of violence which has been suggested, this would amount
to virtually the same thing as saying that the pacifist has such respect
for every human personality that he cannot, under any circumstances
whatsoever, intentionally inflict permanent injury upon any human being
either physically or psychologically. This statement deserves further

All pacifists approve the use of "force," as we have defined it, and
actually do use it, since it includes such things as "the force of
love," "the force of example," or "the force of public opinion."[11]
There are very few pacifists who would draw the line even at the use of
_physical_ force. Most of them would approve it in restraining children
or the mentally ill from injuring themselves or others, or in the
organized police force of a community under the proper safeguards of the
courts and law.[12]

Many pacifists are also willing to accept coercion, provided it be
non-violent. The strike, the boycott, or even the mass demonstration
involve an element of coercion as we have defined that term. Shridharani
assures us that despite Gandhi's insistence to the contrary, "In the
light of events in India in the past twenty years as well as in the
light of certain of Gandhi's own activities, ... it becomes apparent
that Satyagraha does contain the element of coercion, if in a somewhat
modified form."[13] Since to some people "coercion" implies revenge or
punishment, Shridharani would, however, substitute the word "compulsion"
for it. Gandhi himself and many of his followers would claim that the
techniques of Satyagraha are only a marshalling of the forces of
sympathy, public opinion, and the like, and that they are persuasive
rather than coercive. At any rate a distinction, on the basis of the
spirit in which they are undertaken, between types of action which are
outwardly similar seems perfectly valid.

There are other pacifists who would even accept a certain element of
violence, as we have defined it, provided it were not physical in
nature. Some persons with boundless good will feel that even physical
violence may be justified on occasion if it is not accompanied by hatred
toward its object.[14] However, there would be few who consider
themselves pacifists who would accept such a position.

We are again forced to the conclusion that it is violence as we have
defined it to which the pacifist objects. At this point, the chief
difference between the pacifist and the non-pacifist is that the latter
defines violence as does Clarence Case, as "the _unlawful_ or
_unregulated_ use of destructive physical force against persons or
things."[15] Under such a definition, war itself, since it is sanctioned
by law, would no longer involve violence. Thus for the non-pacifist it
is ethically acceptable to use lawful violence against unlawful
violence; for the pacifist, violence against any personality is never
ethically justified.[16]

On the other hand, a very large group of pacifists insist upon
discarding these negative definitions in favor of one that is wholly
positive. Maurice L. Rowntree has said: "The Pacifist way of life is the
way that brings into action all the sense and wisdom, all the passion of
love and goodwill that can be brought to bear upon the situation."[17]

In this study, no attempt will be made to determine which of the many
pacifist positions is most sound ethically. Before any person can make
such a determination for himself, however, it is necessary that he
understand the differences between the various approaches to the problem
of influencing other people either to do something which he believes
should be done, or to refrain from doing something which he feels ought
not to be done.

It might be helpful for us in our thinking to construct a scale at one
end of which we place violence coupled with hatred, and at the other,
dependence only upon the application of positive love and goodwill. In
the intermediate positions we might place (1) violence without hatred,
(2) non-violence practiced by necessity rather than because of
principle, (3) non-violent coercion, (4) Satyagraha and non-violent
direct action, and (5) non-resistance.

We need, at the outset, to recognize that we are speaking primarily of
the relationships between social groups rather than between individuals.
As Reinhold Niebuhr has so ably pointed out, our ethical concepts in
these two areas are greatly at variance with one another.[18] The
pacifist principles are already widely accepted as ideals in the affairs
of individuals. Every ethical religion teaches them in this area, and
the person who rejects them is definitely the exception in our western
society, until the violent man is regarded as subject to the discipline
of society in general.

Our real concern in this study is with non-violent means of achieving
group purposes, whether they be defensive and conservative in character,
or whether they be changes in the existing institutions of the social
order. The study is not so much concerned with the religious and ethical
bases of these techniques as it is with a consideration of their
application in practice, and their effectiveness in achieving the
purposes which the group in question has in view. We shall begin at one
end of our scale and proceed to discuss each type of action in turn.


[8] Guy F. Hershberger makes a definite distinction between
non-resistance and pacifism. He says that the former term describes the
faith and life of those "Who cannot have any part in warfare because
they believe the Bible forbids it, and who renounce all coercion, even
nonviolent coercion." He goes on to say, "Pacifism, on the other hand,
is a term which covers many types of opposition to war. Some modern
so-called pacifists are opposed to all wars, and some are not. Some who
oppose all wars find their authority in the will of God, while others
find it largely in human reason. There are many other differences among
them." "Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism," _The Mennonite
Quarterly Review_, XVII, (July, 1943), 116.

Hershberger is here defining pacifism broadly to include the European
meaning of opposition to war, but not necessarily a refusal to take part
in it. In the United States, and generally in Great Britain, the term is
ordinarily applied only to those who actually refuse participation in

[9] See Devere Allen, _The Fight for Peace_ (New York: Macmillan, 1930),

[10] On the origins of these terms see Haridas T. Muzumdar, _The United
Nations of the World_ (New York: Universal, 1942), 201-203.

[11] John Haynes Holmes, using the older term rather than "pacifist,"
has said, "The true non-resistant is militant--but he lifts his
militancy from the plane of physical, to the plane of moral and
spiritual force." _New Wars for Old_ (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1916), xiii.

[12] Cecil John Cadoux, _Christian Pacifism Re-examined_ (Oxford: Basil
Blackwell, 1940), 15-16; Leyton Richards, _Realistic Pacifism_ (Chicago:
Willett, Clark, 1935), 3.

[13] Shridharani, _War Without Violence_, 292.

[14] John Lewis says, "We must draw a sharp distinction between the use
of violence to achieve an unjust end and its use as police action in
defence of the rule of law." _Case Against Pacifism_, 85.

[15] Clarence Marsh Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_ (New York: Century,
1923), 323. Italics mine.

[16] C. J. Cadoux has clearly stated his position in these words: "He
[the pacifist] will confine himself to those methods of pressure which
are either wholly non-coercive or are coercive in a strictly
non-injurious way, foregoing altogether such injurious methods of
coercion as torture, mutilation, or homicide: that is to say, he will
refrain from war." _Christian Pacifism_, 65-66.

[17] Maurice L. Rowntree, _Mankind Set Free_ (London: Cape, 1939),


Occasions may arise in which a man who genuinely abhors violence
confronts an almost insoluble dilemma. On the one hand he may be faced
with the imminent triumph of some almost insufferable evil; on the
other, he may feel that the only available means of opposing that evil
is violence, which is in itself evil.[19]

In such a situation, the choice made by any individual depends upon his
own subjective scale of values. The pacifist is convinced that for him
to commit violence upon another is itself the greatest possible evil.
The non-pacifist says that some other evils may be greater, and that the
use of this lesser evil to oppose them is entirely justified. John Lewis
bases his entire _Case Against Pacifism_ upon this latter assumption,
and says that in such a conflict of values, pacifists "continue to be
pacifists either because there is no serious threat, or because they do
not expect to lose anything, or perhaps even because they do not value
what is threatened."[20] The latter charge is entirely unjustified. The
pacifist maintains his opposition to violence in the face of such a
threat, not because he does not value what is threatened, but because he
values something else more.

Cadoux has phrased it, "Pacifism is applicable only in so far as there
exist pacifists who are convinced of its wisdom. The subjective
differences are of vital importance, yet are usually overlooked in
arguments on the subject."[21] This means that our problem of
considering the place of violence and non-violence in human life is not
one of purely objective science, since the attitudes and beliefs of
pacifists (and non-pacifists) themselves become a factor in the
situation. If enough people accepted the pacifist scale of values, it
would in fact become the true basis for social interaction.[22]

In our western society, the majority even of those who believe in the
brotherhood of man, and have great respect for the dignity of every
human personality, will on occasion use violence as a means to attempt
the achievement of their goals. Since their attitude is different from
that of the militarist who would place violence itself high in his scale
of values, it would pay us to consider their position.


[18] Reinhold Niebuhr, _Moral Man and Immoral Society_ (New York:
Scribner's, 1932). See especially his consideration of coercion and
persuasion in the two realms of individual and social conduct, pages

[19] As Cadoux puts it, "Broadly speaking, almost the whole human race
believes that it is occasionally right and necessary to inflict
injurious coercion on human beings, in order to prevent the perpetration
by them of some intolerable evil." _Christian Pacifism Re-examined_, 97.

[20] Lewis, 62.

Revolutionary Anarchism

The revolutionary Anarchists belong essentially in this group. As
Alexander Berkman has put it, "The teachings of Anarchism are those of
peace and harmony, of non-invasion, of the sacredness of life and
liberty;" or again, "It [Anarchism] means that men are brothers, and
that they should live like brothers, in peace and harmony."[23] But to
create this ideal society the Anarchist feels that violence may be
necessary. Berkman himself, in his younger days, was able to justify his
attack upon the life of Frick at the time of the Homestead Strike in
1893 in these words:

     "But to the People belongs the earth--by right, if not in fact. To
     make it so in fact, all means are justifiable; nay advisable, even
     to the point of taking life.... Human life is, indeed, sacred and
     inviolate. But the killing of a tyrant, of an enemy of the People,
     is in no way to be considered as the taking of a life.... To remove
     a tyrant is an act of liberation, the giving of life and
     opportunity to an oppressed people."[24]

Later, Berkman insisted that a successful revolution must be non-violent
in nature. It must be the result of thoroughgoing changes in the ideas
and opinions of the people. When their ideas have become sufficiently
changed and unified, the people can stage a general strike in which they
overthrow the old order by their refusal to co-operate with it. He
maintains that any attempt to carry on the revolution itself by military
means would fail because "government and capital are too well organized
in a military way for the workers to cope with them." But, says Berkman,
when the success of the revolution becomes apparent, the opposition will
use violent means to suppress it. At that moment the people are
justified in using violence themselves to protect it. Berkman believes
that there is no record of any group in power giving up its power
without being subjected to the use of physical force, or at least the
threat of it.[25] Thus in effect, Berkman would still use violence
against some personalities in order to establish a system in which
respect for every personality would be possible. Actually his desire for
the new society is greater than his abhorrence of violence.


[21] Cadoux, _Christian Pacifism Re-examined_, 116-117.

[22] The way in which a whole social order can differ from that of the
West, merely because it chooses to operate on the basis of different
assumptions concerning such things as the aggressive nature of man is
well brought out in the study of three New Guinea tribes living in very
similar environments. Margaret Mead, _Sex and Temperament in Three
Primitive Societies_ (London: Routledge, 1935).

[23] Alexander Berkman, _What Is Communist Anarchism_? (New York:
Vanguard, 1929), x-xi, 176.

[24] Alexander Berkman, _Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist_ (New York:
Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1912), 7.

[25] Berkman, _Communist Anarchism_, 217-229, 247-248, 290.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln represented the spirit of moderation in the use of
violence. He led his nation in war reluctantly and prayerfully, with no
touch of hatred toward those whom the armies of which he was
Commander-in-Chief were destroying. He expressed his feeling in an
inspiring way in the closing words of his Second Inaugural Address, when
the war was rapidly drawing to a victorious close:

     "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness to do
     the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
     finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care
     for him who shall have borne battle, and for his widow, and his
     orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting
     peace among ourselves, and with all nations."

The Church and War

The statements of British and American churchmen during the present war
call to mind these words of Lincoln. At Malvern, in 1941, members of the
Church of England declared: "God himself is the sovereign of all human
life; all men are his children, and ought to be brothers of one another;
through Christ the Redeemer they can become what they ought to be." In
March, 1942, American Protestant leaders at Delaware, Ohio, asserted:
"We believe it is the purpose of God to create a world-wide community in
Jesus Christ, transcending nation, race and class."[26] Yet the majority
of the men who drew up these two statements were supporting the war
which their nations were waging against fellow members of the world
community--against those whom they professed to call brothers. Like
Lincoln they did so in the belief that when the military phases of the
war were over, it would be possible to turn from violence and to
practice the principles of Christian charity.[27]

There is little in human history to justify their hope. There is much to
make us believe that the violent attitudes of war will lead to hatred
and injustice toward enemies when the war is done. The inspiring words
of Lincoln were followed by the orgy of radical reconstruction in the
South. There is at least as grave a doubt that the spirit of the
Christian Church will dominate the peace which is concluded at the end
of the present war.

The question arises insistently whether violence without hate can long
live up to its own professions.


[26] number of these religious statements are conveniently brought
together in the appendix to Paul Hutchinson's _From Victory to Peace_
(Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1943). For a statement of a point of view
similar to the one we are discussing here, see also Charles Clayton
Morrison, _The Christian and the War_ (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1942).

[27] Bernard Iddings Bell has expressed the attitude of such churchmen:
"Evil may sometimes get such control of men and nations, they have
realized, that armed resistance becomes a necessity. There are times
when not to participate in violence is in itself violence to the welfare
of the brethren. But no Christian moralist worth mentioning has ever
regarded war _per se_ as other than monstrous, or hoped that by the use
of violence anything more could be accomplished than the frustration of
a temporarily powerful malicious wickedness. War in itself gives birth
to no righteousness. Only such a fire of love as leads to
self-effacement can advance the welfare of mankind." "Will the Christian
Church Survive?" _Atlantic Monthly_, Vol. 170, October, 1942, 109.


The use of non-violent resistance does not always denote devotion to
pacifist principles. Groups who would gladly use arms against an enemy
if they had them often use non-violent means simply because they have no
others at their disposal at the moment. In contrast to the type of
action described in the preceding section, such a procedure might be
called "hate without violence." It would probably be better to call it
"non-violence by necessity."

The group using non-violence under such circumstances might have in view
one of three purposes. It might hope through its display of opposition
and its own suffering to appeal to the sense of fair play of the group
that was oppressing it. However, such a hope can exist only in cases
where the two opposing parties have a large area of agreement upon
values, or homogeneity, and would have no basis when the oppressing
group looked upon the oppressed as completely beneath their
consideration. It is unlikely that it would have much success in
changing the policy of a nation which consciously chose to invade
another country, although it might affect individual soldiers if their
cultural background were similar to that of the invaded people.[28]

An invader usually desires to gain something from the invaded people. In
order to succeed, he needs their cooperation. A second way of thwarting
the will of the invader is to refuse that cooperation, and be willing to
suffer the penalties of such refusal. Since the invaded territory would
then have no value, the invader might leave of his own accord.

A third possibility is for the invaded people to employ sabotage and
inflict damage upon the invader in the belief that his invasion can be
made so costly that it will be impossible for him to remain in the
conquered territory. Such sabotage easily merges into violence.

In the preceding paragraphs, the enemy of the group using non-violence
has been referred to as the "invader," because our best examples of this
type of non-violent opposition are to be found in the histories of
conquered people opposing the will of occupying forces. A similar
situation may exist between a colonial people and the home government of
an imperial power, since in most cases their position is essentially
that of a conquered people, except that their territory has been
occupied for a longer period of time.


[28] Franklin H. Giddings said, "In a word, non-aggression and
non-resistance are an outcome of homogeneity." "The Gospel of
Non-Resistance," in _Democracy and Empire_ (New York: Macmillan, 1900),
356. See also Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 248; Lewis, _Case Against
Pacifism_, 185-186.

Non-Violent Resistance to Invaders

Stories of the use of this sort of non-violence occur in our press every
day, as they find their way out of the occupied countries which are
opposing the Nazi invaders with every means at their disposal. In these
countries the vast majority of the people are agreed in their
determination to rid themselves of Nazi control. Such common agreement
is the first requisite for the success of this method of resistance.
When the people of the territory refuse to inform the police about
individuals who are committing unlawful acts against the invaders, it is
virtually impossible for the latter to check the expansion of
non-cooperation or sabotage. Similarly, if the whole population refuses
to cooperate with the invader, it is impossible for him to punish them
all, or if he did, he would be destroying the labor force whose
cooperation he desires, and would have defeated himself in the very
process of stamping out the opposition to his regime.

Hitler himself has discovered that there is a difference between
military occupation and actual conquest. In his New Year's proclamation
to the German people in 1944, he attempted to explain the Nazi reverses
in North Africa and Italy in these words:

     "The true cause of the difficulties in North Africa and the Balkans
     was in reality the persistent attempts at sabotage and paralyzation
     of these plutocratic enemies of the fascist people's State.

     "Their continual sabotage not only succeeded in stopping supplies
     to Africa and, later on, to Italy, by ever-new methods of passive
     resistance, thus preventing our soldiers and the Italians standing
     at their side from receiving the material wherewithal for the
     conduct of the struggle, but also aggravated or confused the
     situation in the Balkans, which had been cleared according to plan
     by German actions."[29]

Opposition to the German invader has taken different forms in different
countries. In Denmark, where there was no military resistance to the
initial invasion, the subtle opposition of the people has made itself
felt in innumerable ways. There are many stories such as that of the
King's refusal to institute anti-Jewish laws in Denmark on the ground
that there was no Jewish problem there since the Danes did not feel
themselves to be inferior to the Jews. Such ideological opposition makes
the Nazis angry, and it also makes them uncomfortable, since they do
hold enough values in common with the Danes to understand perfectly the
implications of the Danish jibes. Such psychological opposition merges
into sabotage very easily. For instance when the Germans demanded ten
torpedo boats from the Danish navy, the Danes prepared them for delivery
by taking all their guns and equipment ashore, and then burning the
warehouse in which these were stored. The Nazis even forbade the press
to mention the incident, lest it become a signal for a nationwide
demonstration of solidarity.[30]

Other occupied countries report the same type of non-violent resistance.
There are strikes of parents against sending their children to
Nazi-controlled schools, strikes of ministers against conforming to Nazi
decrees, demonstrations, malingering, and interference with internal
administration. Such events may appear less important than military
resistance, but they make the life of an occupying force uneasy and

Calls for non-violent preparation for the day of delivery go out
constantly in the underground press. While urging solidarity in illegal
acts among the French population at home, one French appeal even gave
instructions to Frenchmen who might go to work in Germany:

     "If you respond to Laval's appeal, I know in what spirit you will
     do so. You will wish to slow down German production, establish
     contacts with all the Frenchmen in Germany, and create the
     strongest of Fifth Columns in the enemy country."[32]

Over a long period of time such action cannot help having an effect upon
the success of the invader. Since the grievance of the peoples of the
occupied countries is a continuous one, there is no prospect that their
resistance will relax until they have freed themselves of their


[29] _New York Times_, Jan. 1, 1944, page 4, columns 2-7.

[30] C. H. W. Hasselriis, "Nothing Rotten in Denmark," in _The New
Republic_, June 7, 1943, Vol. 108: 760-761.

[31] The publications of the various governments in exile are filled
with such stories. See such periodicals as _News of Norway_ and _News
from Belgium_, which can be obtained through the United Nations
Information Service, 610 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

[32] _Resistance_, Feb. 17, 1943, reprinted in _Free World_, July, 1943,
Vol. 6, 77.

Chinese Boycotts Against Foreigners

We can find many other examples of the use of these non-violent methods
under similar circumstances. The Chinese made use of the boycott
repeatedly to oppose foreign domination and interference in their
internal affairs in the years before the outbreak of the present war
against Japan. Clarence Case lists five significant Chinese boycotts
between 1906 and 1919. The last one was directed against foreigners _and
the Chinese government_ to protest the action of the Peace Conference in
giving Japan a predominant interest in Shantung. As a result the
government of China was ousted, and the provisions of the treaty
revised. Japan felt the effects of the boycott more than any other
country. Case says of the Japanese reaction:

     "As for the total loss to Japanese trade, various authorities have
     settled upon $50,000,000, which we may accept as a close
     approximation. At any rate the pressure was great enough to impel
     the Japanese merchants of Peking and Tientsin, with apparent ruin
     staring them in the face, to appeal to their home government for
     protection. They insisted that the boycott should be made a
     diplomatic question of the first order and that demands for its
     removal should be backed by threats of military intervention. To
     this the government at Tokio 'could only reply that it knew no way
     by which the Chinese merchants, much less the Chinese people, could
     be made to buy Japanese goods against their will.'"[33]

This incident calls to mind the experience of the American colonists in
their non-violent resistance to Great Britain's imperial policy in the
years following 1763, which we shall discuss more at length in the next

Egyptian Opposition to Great Britain

Another similar example is that of the Egyptian protest against British
occupation of the country in 1919. People in all walks of life went on
strike. Officials boycotted the British mission under Lord Milner, which
came to work out a compromise. The mission was forced to return to
London empty handed, but finally an agreement was reached there with
Saad Zagloul Pasha, leader of the Egyptian movement, on the basis of
independence for the country, with the British retaining only enough
military control to safeguard their interest in the Suez Canal. After
the acceptance of the settlement in 1922, friction between Egypt and
Great Britain continued, but Egypt was not sufficiently united, nor were
the grievances great enough to lead to the same type of successful
non-cooperation practiced in 1919.[34]

It must be recognized that in most cases such as those we have been
considering, violence would be used by the resisters if they had it at
their disposal. However, the occasional success of non-violence even
under such circumstances is proof of the possible expediency of this
method. When it has failed, it has done so because the resisters were
not sufficiently committed to their purpose to carry it out in the face
of possible death. It appears from this experience that complete
solidarity and commitment is required for the success of non-violent
methods when used in this way, just as they are if such methods are used
as a matter of principle. It must be recognized that the self-discipline
necessary for the success of a non-violent movement must be even more
rigorous than the imposed discipline of a military machine, and also
that there is a chance that the non-violent resisters will fail in their
endeavor, just as there is a virtual certainty that one side in a
military conflict will be defeated.[35]


[33] Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 330-339. The last sentence is quoted
from _The Christian Science Monitor_, April 7, 1920.

[34] A. Fenner Brockway, _Non-Co-operation in Other Lands_ (Madras:
Tagore and Co., 1921), 25-39; Charles E. Mullett, _The British Empire_
(New York: Holt, 1938), 622-627.

Pacifist literature has also made much of the Hungarian independence
movement in the 1860's under Francis Deak, which refused to pay taxes to
the Austrian government, or to co-operate in other ways. However, it
would appear that outside pressures were as important in the final
settlement establishing the Dual Monarchy in 1867 as was the Hungarian
movement of non-cooperation. The pacifist writers generally follow the
account in Brockway, _Non-Co-operation_, 1-24. He in turn follows the
book of Arthur Griffith, _The Resurrection of Hungary_, published in
1904 in order to induce the Irish to use non-co-operation in their
struggle against the English. For some of the other factors involved see
A. J. P. Taylor, _The Hapsburg Monarchy 1815-1918_ (London: Macmillan,
1941), 101-151.

[35] On the discipline required see Gregg, _Power of Non-Violence_,
266-294. Lewis, to prove the ineffectiveness of non-violence, quotes
Joad: "There have been only too many occasions in history in which the
meeting of violence by non-violence has led not to the taming of the
violent, but to the extinction of the non-violent." _The Case Against
Pacifism_, 184.


In the last section we were considering the non-violent resistance of
groups which had no choice in their means of opposing the will of an
invader, but who would have chosen violence if the weapons of violence
had been available to them. In those cases there was no question but
that the choice rested upon the expediency of the moment rather than
upon principle. In the cases of non-violence by necessity the purposes
of the resisting groups were defensive and negative, designed to induce
the withdrawal of the invader rather than to induce him to follow
actively a different policy.

In this section we are concerned with the action of groups designed to
modify the conduct of others in order to promote their own ideals. We
are concerned with people who presumably have a possible choice of
methods to accomplish their purposes. They might rely upon persuasion
and education of their opponents through emotional or intellectual
appeals; but such action would have no coercive element in it, so we
shall consider it in a later section. Or they might attempt to coerce
their opponents, either by violent or non-violent means. For the present
we are interested only in the latter through its usual manifestations:
the strike, the boycott, or other organized movements of

At first sight such methods do not appear to be coercive in nature,
since they involve merely an abstention from action on the part of the
group offering the resistance. Actually they are coercive, however,
because of the absolute necessity for inter-group cooperation in the
maintenance of our modern social, economic, and political systems. Under
modern conditions the group against whom the resistance is directed must
have the cooperation of the resisting group in order to continue to
survive. When that cooperation is denied, the old dominant group is
forced to make concessions, _even against its will_, to the former
subordinate group in order to regain the help that they have refused to
render under the old conditions.[37]

The non-violent resisters themselves are also dependent upon inter-group
cooperation. Hence the outcome of this type of struggle usually depends
upon which of the two parties to the conflict can best or longest
dispense with the services of the other. If the resisters are less able
to hold out than the defenders, or if the costs of continued resistance
become in their eyes greater than the advantages which might be gained
by ultimate victory, they will lose their will to resist and their
movement will end in failure.

In all such struggles, both sides are greatly influenced by the opinions
of parties not directly concerned in the immediate conflict, but who
might give support or opposition to one side or the other depending upon
which could enlist their sympathies. Because of the deep-seated dislike
of violence, even in our western society, the side that first employs it
is apt to lose the sympathy of these third parties. As E. A. Ross has
put it:

     "Disobedience without violence wins, _if it wins_, not so much by
     touching the conscience of the masters as by exciting the sympathy
     of disinterested onlookers. The spectacle of men suffering for a
     principle _and not hitting back_ is a moving one. It obliges the
     power holders to condescend to explain, to justify themselves. The
     weak get a change of venue from the will of the stronger to the
     court of public opinion, perhaps of world opinion."[38]

The stakes in such a struggle may be great or small. They range all the
way from the demand of a labor union for an increase of five cents an
hour in wages, to that of a whole people demanding political
independence from an imperial master, or a revolutionary change in the
economic or political power of the community.

The decision of the resisters to use non-violent means of opposition to
gain their ends may be based either upon principle or upon expediency.
In the former case they would say that the purposes they have in mind
would not be worth attaining if their achievement were to involve
physical violence toward other human beings; in the latter they would
act on the basis of the conclusion that in view of all the factors
involved their purposes could best be served by avoiding violence. These
factors would include the likelihood of counter-violence, an estimate of
the relative physical strength of the two parties to the conflict, and
the attitude of the public toward the party that first used violence. In
practice the action of those who avoid violence because they regard it
as wrong is very little different from that of those who avoid it
because they think that it will not serve their ends. But since there is
a moral difference between them, we shall postpone the consideration of
Satyagraha, or non-violent direct action on the basis of principle,
until the next section. It would deserve such separate treatment in any
case because of the great amount of attention which it commands in
pacifist circles all over the world.

At the outset it is necessary to dispel the idea that non-violent
resistance is something esoteric and oriental, and that it is seldom
used in western society. This type of action is used constantly in our
own communities, and the histories of western peoples present us with a
large number of examples of the use of non-violent action in political
and revolutionary conflicts. In the following discussion, the point of
view is that of the West.


[36] Clarence Marsh Case, "Friends and Social Thinking" in S. B.
Laughlin (Ed.), _Beyond Dilemmas_ (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1937),
130-137; Cadoux, _Christian Pacifism Re-Examined_, 24-25, and the chart
on page 45.

[37] Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 330. John Lewis says, "Non-violence
can be as completely coercive as violence itself, in which case, while
it has the advantage of not involving war, it cannot be defended on
spiritual grounds." _Case Against Pacifism_, 110.

[38] In his "Introduction" to Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_.

The Labor Strike

The most common type of non-violent conflict is the ordinary labor
strike. In a strike, the workers withdraw their cooperation from the
employer until he meets their demands. He suffers, because as long as
they refuse to work for him it is impossible for him to produce the
goods or services upon the sale of which his own living depends. Usually
he is fighting for no principle during such a strike, so that he is apt
to calculate his monetary loss from it against the advantages he would
have to surrender in order to reach an agreement. When he concludes that
it would be cheaper to give in, it is possible for the management and
the strikers to arrive at a settlement. If the employer does feel that
the principle of control of an enterprise by its owner is at stake, he
may hold out longer, until he actually loses more by the strike than he
would by conceding the demands of the strikers, but even then he
balances psychological cost against monetary cost, and when the latter
overweighs the former he becomes receptive to a settlement.

During the strike the workers are going through much the same process. A
strike from their point of view is even more costly than it is to the
employer. It is not to be entered upon lightly, since their very means
of sustenance are at stake. They too have to balance the monetary costs
of their continued refusal to cooperate against the gains that they
might hope for by continued resistance, and when the cost becomes
greater than the prospective gain they are receptive to suggestions for
compromise. They too may be contending for the principle of the right of
organization and control over their own economic destinies, so that they
may be willing to suffer loss for a longer period than they would if
they stood to gain only the immediate monetary advantages, but when
immediate costs more than overweigh ultimate psychological advantages,
they too will be willing to capitulate.

In the meantime the strikers have to see to it that the employer does
not find someone else with whom he can cooperate in order to eliminate
his dependence upon them. Hence they picket the plant, in an attempt to
persuade others not to work there. If persuasion is not effective, they
may resort to mass picketing, which amounts to a threat of violence
against the persons who would attempt to take over their jobs. On
occasion the threat to their jobs becomes so great that in order to
defend them they will resort to violence against the strikebreaker. At
this point, the public, which is apt to be somewhat sympathetic toward
their demands for fair wages or better working conditions, turns against
them and supports the employer, greatly adding to his moral standing and
weakening that of the strikers, until the strikers, feeling that the
forces against them are too great, are apt to give way. The employer
will find the same negative reaction among the public if he tries to use
violence in order to break the strike. Hence, if he does decide to use
violence, he tries to make it appear that the strikers are responsible,
or tries to induce them to use it first. It is to their advantage not to
use it, even when it is used against them. Labor leaders in general
understand this principle and try to avoid violence at all costs. They
do so not on the basis of principle, but on the basis of expediency.[39]

In the great wave of enthusiastic organization of labor that swept over
the United States in 1936 and 1937, American labor copied a variant of
the strike, which had been used earlier in Hungary and in France.[40]
Instead of leaving the property of the employer and trying to prevent
others from entering it to take their places, workers remained on a "sit
down strike" within the plants, so that the employer would have been
forced to use violence to remove them in order to operate the factory.
These strikes were based in part upon the theory that the worker had a
property right to his job, just as the employer did to his capital
equipment. Such strikes were for a time more successful than the older
variety, because strike-breaking was virtually impossible. However, it
was not long before public opinion forced the abandonment of the
technique. It was revolutionary in character, since it threatened the
old concept of private property. The fear of small property holders that
their own possessions would be jeopardized by the success of such a
movement, made them support the owners of the plants against the
strikers, who were then forced to give way. In this case the public's
fear of revolutionary change was greater than their dislike of violence,
so they even supported the use of physical force by the employers and
the police authorities to remove the strikers from the plants. The very
effectiveness of the method which labor was employing brought about its
defeat, because the public was not yet persuaded to accept the new
concept of the property right of the laborer to his job.


[39] A. J. Muste, _Non-Violence in an Aggressive World_ (New York:
Harper, 1940), 70-72.

[40] Barthelemy de Ligt, _The Conquest of Violence: An Essay on War and
Revolution_ (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1938), 131-132.

The Boycott

The boycott is a more indirect type of non-cooperation than the strike,
in most cases.[41] This word originated in Ireland in 1880 when a
Captain Boycott, an agent for an Irish landlord, refused the demands of
the tenants on the estate. In retaliation they threatened his life,
forced his servants to leave him, tore down his fences, and cut off his
food supplies. The Irish Land League, insisting that the land of Ireland
should belong to its people, used this method of opposition in the years
that followed. Its members refused to deal with peasants or tradesmen
who sided with the government, but they used acts of violence and
intimidation as well as economic pressure. The government employed
15,000 military police and 40,000 soldiers against the people, but they
succeeded only in filling the jails. The struggle might well have won
land for the Irish peasant, if Parnell, who had become leader of the
Irish movement, had not agreed to accept the Gladstone Home Rule Bill of
1886 in exchange for calling off the opposition in Ireland. The Bill was
defeated in Parliament and the Irish problem continued.[42]

In later usage, the word "boycott" has been applied almost exclusively
to the refusal of economic cooperation. Organized labor in America used
the boycott against the goods of manufacturers who refused to deal with
unions, and it is still used in appeals to the public not to patronize
stores or manufacturers who deal unfairly with labor.

The idea of economic sanctions, which played so large a part in the
history of the League of Nations in its attempts to deal with those who
disregarded decisions of the League, is essentially similar to the
boycott. In fact much of the thinking of the pacifist movement between
the two wars maintained that economic sanctions would provide a
non-violent but coercive substitute for war, in settling international


[41] "The boycott is a form of passive resistance in all cases where it
does not descend to violence and intimidation. The fact that it is
coercive does not place it beyond the moral pale, for coercion ... is a
fact inseparable from life in society." Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_,

[42] De Ligt, 114-117; Carleton J. H. Hayes, _A Political and Cultural
History of Modern Europe_ (New York: Macmillan, 1936), II, 496.

[43] De Ligt, 218-241.

Non-Violent Coercion by the American Colonies

The western world has repeatedly employed non-violent coercion as a
political as well as an economic technique. Strangely enough, many
Americans who are apt to scoff at the methods of the Indian independence
movement today forget that the American colonists used much the same
methods in the early stages of their own revolt against England. When
England began to assert imperial control over the colonies after 1763,
the colonists answered with protests and refusals to cooperate. Against
both the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Duties of 1767, they
adopted non-importation agreements whereby they refused to import
British goods. To be sure, the more radical colonists did not eschew
violence on the basis of principle, and the direct action by which they
forced colonial merchants to respect the terms of the non-importation
agreements was not always non-violent. The loss of trade induced British
merchants to go to Parliament on both occasions and to insist
successfully upon the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766 and the Townshend
Duties in 1770. In the face of non-cooperation practiced by the vast
majority of the colonists, the British government had been forced to
give way in order to serve its own best interests.[44]

In 1774, when the Continental Congress established the Continental
Association in order to use the same economic weapon again, the issues
in the conflict were more clearly drawn. Many of the moderate colonists
who had supported the earlier action, denounced this one as
revolutionary, and went over to the loyalist side. The radicals
themselves felt less secure in the use of their economic weapon, and
began to gather arms for a violent rebellion. The attempt of the British
to destroy these weapons led to Lexington and Concord.[45] What had been
non-violent opposition to British policy had become armed revolt and
civil war. It was a war which would probably have ended in the defeat of
the colonists if they had not been able to fish in the troubled waters
of international politics and win the active support of France, who
sought thus to avenge the loss of her own colonies to Great Britain in
1763. We have here an example of the way in which non-violent
resistance, when used merely on the basis of expediency, is apt to
intensify and sharpen the conflict, until it finally leads to war


[44] Curtis Nettels says of the Stamp Act opposition, "The most telling
weapons used by the colonists were the non-importation agreements, which
struck the British merchants at a time when trade was bad." _The Roots
of American Civilization_ (New York: Crofts, 1938), 632. Later he says,
"The colonial merchants again resorted to the non-importation agreements
as the most effectual means of compelling Britain to repeal the
Townshend Acts." _Ibid._, 635.

For a good account of this whole movement see also John C. Miller,
_Origins of the American Revolution_ (Boston: Little, Brown, 1943),
150-164, 235-281.

[45] Miller, 355-411.

[46] Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 308-309.

Irish Opposition to Great Britain After 1900

After centuries of violent opposition to British occupation, the Irish
tried an experiment in non-violent non-cooperation after 1900. Arthur
Griffith was inspired to use in Ireland the techniques employed in the
Hungarian independence movement of 1866-1867. His Sinn Fein party,
organized in 1906, determined to set up an independent government for
Ireland outside the framework of the United Kingdom. When the Home Rule
Act of 1914 was not put into operation because of the war, Sinn Fein
gained ground. In the elections of 1918, three fourths of the successful
Irish candidates were members of the party, so they met at Dublin as an
Irish parliament rather than proceeding to Westminster. In 1921, after a
new Home Rule Act had resulted only in additional opposition, the
British government negotiated a settlement with the representatives of
the "Irish Republic," which set up the "Irish Free State" as a
self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. The Irish
accepted the treaty, and the Irish problem was on its way to settlement,
although later events were to prove that Ireland would not be satisfied
until she had demonstrated that the new status made her in fact
independent. Her neutrality in the present war should dispel all


[47] Brockway, _Non-Co-operation_, 71-92; William I. Hull, _The War
Method and the Peace Method: An Historical Contrast_ (New York: Revell,
1929), 229-231; Hayes, _Modern Europe_, II, 498-501, 876-879, 952-953.

Strikes with Political Purposes

British workers themselves have made use of strikes with political
significance. In 1920, transport workers refused to handle goods
destined to be used in the war against the Bolshevik regime in Russia,
and thus forced Britain to cease her intervention.[48] In 1926, the
general strike in Britain had revolutionary implications which the
Government and the public recognized only too well. Hence the widespread
opposition to it. The leaders of the strike were even frightened
themselves, and called it off suddenly, leaving the masses of the
workers completely bewildered.[49]

In Germany, non-cooperation has also been used successfully. In 1920, a
general strike defeated the attempt of the militarists to seize control
of the state in the Kapp Putsch. In 1924, when the French Army invaded
the Ruhr, the non-violent refusal of the German workers to mine coal for
France had the support of the whole German nation. As the saying was at
the time, "You can't mine coal with bayonets." Finally the French
withdrew from their fruitless adventure.[50]


[48] Allen, _Fight for Peace_, 633-634; Huxley, _Ends and Means_,

[49] Berkman, _Communist Anarchism_, 247-248.

[50] Oswald Garrison Villard's "Preface" to Shridharani, _War Without
Violence_, xiv-xv.

Non-Violence in International Affairs

In the international field, we also have examples of the use of
non-violent coercion. Thomas Jefferson, during the struggle for the
recognition of American neutral rights by Britain and France, attempted
to employ the economic weapons of pre-revolutionary days. His embargo
upon American commerce and the later variants on that policy, designed
to force the belligerents to recognize the American position, actually
were more costly to American shippers than were the depredations of the
French and the British, so they forced a reversal of American policy.
The war against England that followed did not have the support of the
shipping interests, whose trade it was supposedly trying to protect. It
was more an adventure in American imperialism than it was an attempt to
defend neutral rights, so it can hardly be said to have grown out of the
issues which led to Jefferson's use of economic sanctions. The whole
incident proves that the country which attempts to use this method in
international affairs must expect to lose its own trade in the process.
The cause must be great indeed before such undramatic losses become

The same principle is illustrated in the attempt to impose economic
sanctions on Italy in 1935 and 1936. The nations who made a gesture
toward using them actually did not want to hinder Italian expansion, or
did not want to do so enough to surrender their trade with Italy. The
inevitable result was that the sanctions failed.

The success of non-violent coercion is by no means assured in every
case. It depends upon (1) the existence of a grievance great enough to
justify the suffering that devolves upon the resisters, (2) the
dependence of the opposition on the cooperation of the resisters, (3)
solidarity among a large enough number of resisters, and (4) in most
cases, the favorable reaction of the public not involved in the
conflict. When all or most of these factors have been present,
non-violent coercion has succeeded in our western society. On other
occasions it has failed. But one who remembers the utter defeat of the
Austrian socialists who employed arms against Chancellor Dolfuss in 1934
must admit that violent coercion also has its failures.[52]


[51] Louis Martin Sears, _Jefferson and the Embargo_ (Durham, N. C.:
Duke University, 1927); Julius W. Pratt, _Expansionists of 1812_ (New
York: Macmillan, 1925).

[52] De Ligt, 131. For other statements concerning the virtual
impossibility of violent revolution today see De Ligt, 81-82, 162-163;
Horace G. Alexander, "Great Possessions" in Gerald Heard, _et. al._,
_The New Pacifism_ (London: Allenson, 1936), 89-91; Huxley, _Ends and
Means_, 178-179; Lewis, _Case Against Pacifism_, 112-113.


There is a distinction between those who employ non-violent methods of
opposition on the basis of expediency and those who refuse to use
violence on the basis of principle. In the minds of many pacifists the
movement for Indian independence under the leadership of Mohandas K.
Gandhi stands out as the supreme example of a political revolt which has
insisted on this principle, and hence as a model to be followed in any
pacifist movement of social, economic, or political reform. Gandhi's
Satyagraha, therefore, deserves careful analysis in the light of
pacifist principles.

Western critics of Gandhi's methods are prone to insist that they may be
applicable in the Orient, but that they can never be applied in the same
way within our western culture. We have already seen that there have
been many non-violent movements of reform within our western society,
but those that we have examined have been based on expediency.
Undoubtedly the widespread Hindu acceptance of the principle of
_ahimsa_, or non-killing, even in the case of animals, prepared the way
for Gandhi more completely than would have been the case in western

The Origins of Satyagraha

Shridharani has traced for us the origins of this distinctive Hindu
philosophy of _ahimsa_. It arose from the idea of the sacrifice, which
the Aryans brought to India with them at least 1500 years before Christ.
From a gesture of propitiation of the gods, sacrifice gradually turned
into a magic formula which would work automatically to procure desired
ends and eliminate evil. In time the Hindus came to believe that the
most effective type of sacrifice was self-sacrifice and suffering,
accompanied by a refusal to injure others, or _ahimsa_.[53] Only the
warrior caste of _Kshatriyas_ was allowed to fight. In his
autobiography, Gandhi brings out clearly the pious nature of his home
environment, and the emphasis which was placed there upon not eating
meat because of the sacred character of animal life.[54]

It is not surprising that a logical mind reared in such an environment
should have espoused the principle of non-killing. In his western
education Gandhi became acquainted with The Sermon on the Mount, and the
writings of Tolstoy and Thoreau, but he tells us himself that he was
attracted to these philosophies because they expressed ideas in which he
already believed.[55]

In fact, the Hindese have long employed the non-violent methods of
resistance which Gandhi has encouraged in our own day. In 1830, the
population of the State of Mysore carried on a great movement of
non-cooperation against the exploitation by the native despot, during
which they refused to work or pay taxes, and retired into the forests.
There was no disorder or use of arms. The official report of the British
Government said:

     "The natives understand very well the use of such measures to
     defend themselves against the abuse of authority. The method most
     in use, and that which gives the best results, is complete
     non-co-operation in all that concerns the Government, the
     administration and public life generally."[56]

In about 1900 there was a great movement of non-cooperation under the
leadership of Aurobindo Ghose against the British Government in Bengal.
Ghose wanted independence and freedom from foreign tribute. He called
upon the people to demonstrate their fitness for self-government by
establishing hygienic conditions, founding schools, building roads and
developing agriculture. But Ghose had the experience Gandhi was to have
later. The people became impatient and fell back on violence; and the
British then employed counter-violence to crush the movement

The term "Satyagraha" itself was, however, a contribution of Gandhi. It
was coined about 1906 in connection with the Indian movement of
non-violent resistance in South Africa. Previously the English term
"passive resistance" had been used, but Gandhi tells us that when he
discovered that among Europeans, "it was supposed to be a weapon of the
weak, that it could be characterized by hatred and that it could finally
manifest itself as violence," he was forced to find a new word to carry
his idea. The result was a combination of the Gujerati words _Sat_,
meaning truth, and _Agraha_, meaning firmness--hence "truth force," or
as it has been translated since, "soul force."[58]


[53] Shridharani, _War Without Violence_, 165-167.

[54] M. K. Gandhi, _The Story of My Experiments with Truth_, translated
by Mahadev Desai and Pyrelal Nair (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Press,
1927-1929), the earlier portions of Vol. I.

[55] _Ibid._, I, 322; Shridharani, 167.

[56] Quoted by De Ligt, _Conquest of Violence_, 89.

[57] _Ibid._, 89-90.

[58] Gandhi, _Experiments with Truth_, II, 153-154.

The Process of Satyagraha

Shridharani, who considers himself a follower of Gandhi, has given us a
comprehensive analysis of Satyagraha as a mass movement. He begins his
discussion with this statement of the conditions under which it is

     "Satyagraha, as an organized mass action, presupposes that _the
     community concerned has a grievance which practically every member
     of that community feels_. This grievance should be of such large
     proportions that it could be transformed, in its positive side,
     into a 'Cause' rightfully claiming sacrifice and suffering from the
     community on its behalf."[59]

This necessity for community solidarity is often overlooked by followers
of Gandhi who advocate reforms by means of non-violent direct action in
our western society. Given the grievance of British rule, Shridharani
believes that the Hindese were willing to accept Satyagraha first
because, unarmed under British law, no other means were available to
them, and then because they were predisposed to the method because of
the Hindu philosophy of non-violence and the mystic belief that truth
will triumph eventually since it is a force greater than the

The first step in Satyagraha is negotiation and arbitration with the
adversary. Under these terms Shridharani includes the use of legislative
channels, direct negotiations, and arbitration by third parties.[61] In
reading his discussion one gets the impression that under the American
system of government the later stages of Satyagraha would never be
necessary, since the Satyagrahi must first exhaust all the avenues of
political expression and legislative action which are open to him. If
any sizeable group in American society displayed on any issue the
solidarity required for successful use of this method, their political
influence would undoubtedly be great enough to effect a change in the
law, imperfect though American democracy may be.

The second step in Satyagraha is agitation, the purpose of which is to
educate the public on the issues at stake, to create the solidarity that
is needed in the later stages of the movement, and to win acceptance, by
members of the movement, of the methods to be employed.[62] According to
Fenner Brockway, the failure of Satyagraha to achieve its objectives is
an indication that the people of India had not really caught and
accepted Gandhi's spirit and principles.[63] This means that on several
occasions the later stages of Satyagraha have been put into action
before earlier stages of creating solidarity on both purpose and method
have been fully completed. Despite Gandhi's tremendous influence in
India, the movement for Indian independence has not yet fully succeeded.
In view of the fact that so many of the people who have worked for
independence have failed to espouse Gandhi's principles whole-heartedly,
if independence be achieved in the future it will be difficult to tell
whether or not it was achieved because the Indian people fully accepted
these principles. Many seem to have done so only in the spirit in which
the American colonists of the eighteenth century employed similar
methods during the earlier stages of their own independence

Only after negotiation and arbitration have failed does Satyagraha make
use of the techniques which are usually associated with it in the
popular mind. As Shridharani puts it, "Moral suasion having proved
ineffective the Satyagrahis do not hesitate to shift their technique to
compulsive force."[65] He is pointing out that in practice Satyagraha is
coercive in character, and that all the later steps from mass
demonstrations through strikes, boycotts, non-cooperation, and civil
disobedience to parallel government which divorces itself completely
from the old are designed to _compel_ rather than to _persuade_ the
oppressors to change their policy. In this respect it is very similar to
the movements of non-violent resistance based on expediency which were
considered in the preceding section.


[59] Shridharani, 4. Italics mine.

[60] _Ibid._, 192-209.

[61] _Ibid._, 5-7.

[62] _Ibid._, 7-12.

[63] A. Fenner Brockway, "Does Noncoöperation Work?" in Devere Allen
(Ed.), _Pacifism in the Modern World_ (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday,
Doran, 1929), 126.

[64] Nehru in his autobiography expresses strong differences of opinion
with Gandhi at many points. In one place he says: "What a problem and a
puzzle he has been not only to the British Government but to his own
people and his closest associates!... How came we to associate ourselves
with Gandhiji politically, and to become, in many instances, his devoted
followers?... He attracted people, but it was ultimately intellectual
conviction that brought them to him and kept them there. They did not
agree with his philosophy of life, or even with many of his ideals.
Often they did not understand him. But the action that he proposed was
something tangible which could be understood and appreciated
intellectually. Any action would be welcome after the long tradition of
inaction which our spineless politics had nurtured; brave and effective
action with an ethical halo about it had an irresistible appeal, both to
the intellect and the emotions. Step by step he convinced us of the
rightness of the action, and we went with him, although we did not
accept his philosophy. To divorce action from the thought underlying it
was not perhaps a proper procedure and was bound to lead to mental
conflict and trouble later. Vaguely we hoped that Gandhiji, being
essentially a man of action and very sensitive to changing conditions,
would advance along the line that seemed to us to be right. And in any
event the road he was following was the right one thus far; and, if the
future meant a parting, it would be folly to anticipate it." Jawaharlal
Nehru, _Toward Freedom_ (New York: John Day, 1942), 190-191.

[65] Shridharani, 12. He lists and discusses 13 steps in the development
of a campaign of Satyagraha, pp. 5-43.

The Philosophy of Satyagraha

It seems clear that Satyagraha cannot be equated with Christian
pacifism. As Shridharani has said, "In India, the people are not
stopping with mere good will, as the pacifists usually do, but, on the
contrary, are engaged in direct action of a non-violent variety which
they are confident will either mend or end the powers that be," and,
"Satyagraha seems to have more in common with war than with Western

Gandhi's campaign to recruit Indians for the British army during the
First World War distinguishes him also from most western pacifists.[67]
In an article entitled "The Doctrine of the Sword," written in 1920,
Gandhi brought out clearly the fact that in his philosophy he places the
ends above the means, so far as the mass of the people are concerned:

     "Where the only choice is between cowardice and violence I advise
     violence. I cultivate the quiet courage of dying without killing.
     But to him who has not this courage I advise killing and being
     killed rather than shameful flight from danger. I would risk
     violence a thousand times rather than the emasculation of the race.
     I would rather have India resort to arms to defend her honour than
     that she should in a cowardly manner remain a helpless victim of
     her own dishonour."[68]

Both pacifists and their opponents have noted this inconsistency in
Gandhi's philosophy. Lewis calls Gandhi "a strange mixture of
Machiavellian astuteness and personal sanctity, profound humanitarianism
and paralysing conservatism."[69] Bishop McConnell has said of his
non-violent coercion, "This coercion is less harmful socially than
coercion by direct force, but it is coercion nevertheless."[70] And C.
J. Cadoux has declared:

     "The well-known work of Mr. Gandhi, both in India today and earlier
     in Africa, exemplifies rather the power of non-co-operation than
     Christian love on the part of a group; but even so, it calls for
     mention ... as another manifestation of the efficacy of non-violent
     methods of restraint."[71]

Gandhi's own analysis of his movement places much emphasis on the
mystical Hindu idea of self-inflicted suffering. In 1920, he said,
"Progress is to be measured by the amount of suffering undergone by the
sufferer."[72] This idea recurs many times in Gandhi's writings. The
acceptance of such suffering is not easy; hence his emphasis upon the
need of self-purification, preparation, and discipline. Because of the
violence used by many of his followers during the first great campaign
in India, Gandhi came to the conclusion that "before re-starting civil
disobedience on a mass scale, it would be necessary to create a band of
well-trained, pure-hearted volunteers who thoroughly understood the
strict conditions of Satyagraha."[73]


[66] _Ibid._, xxvii, xxx.

[67] Speech at Gujarat political conference, Nov., 1917, quoted by Case,
_Non-violent Coercion_, 374-375. See also Shridharani, 122, note.

[68] Quoted in Lewis, _Case Against Pacifism_, 107. A slightly different
version is reprinted in Nehru, _Towards Freedom_, 81.

[69] Lewis, _Case Against Pacifism_, 99. He goes on to say, "He is
anti-British more than he is anti-war. He adopts tactics of non-violence
because that is the most effective way in which a disarmed and
disorganized multitude can resist armed troops and police. He has never
suggested that when India attains full independence it shall disband the
Indian army. The Indian National Congress ... never for one moment
contemplated abandoning violence as the necessary instrument of the
State they hoped one day to command." Pp. 99-100.

[70] Francis J. McConnell, _Christianity and Coercion_ (Nashville:
Cokesbury Press, 1933), 46.

[71] Cadoux, _Christian Pacifism_, 109.

[72] _Young India_, June 16, 1920, quoted by Shridharani, 169.

[73] Gandhi, _Experiments_, II, 509-513.

The Empirical Origins of Gandhi's Method

Gandhi's autobiography brings out the origins of many of his ideas. We
have already noted the importance of his Hindu training. He arrived
empirically at many of his specific techniques. For instance, he
describes in some detail a journey he made by coach in 1893 in South
Africa, during which he was placed on the driver's seat, since Indians
were not allowed to sit inside the coach. Later the coachman desired his
seat and asked him to sit on the footboard. This Gandhi refused to do,
whereupon the coachman began to box his ears. He describes the rest of
the incident thus:

     "He was strong and I was weak. Some of the passengers were moved to
     pity and they exclaimed: 'Man, let him alone. Don't beat him. He is
     not to blame. He is right. If he can't stay there, let him come and
     sit with us.' 'No fear,' cried the man, but he seemed somewhat
     crestfallen and stopped beating me. He let go my arm, swore at me a
     little more, and asking the Hottenot servant who was sitting on the
     other side of the coachbox to sit on the footboard, took the seat
     so vacated."[74]

He had a similar experience in 1896 when his refusal to prosecute the
leaders of a mob which had beaten him aroused a favorable reaction on
the part of the public.[75] Gradually the principle developed that the
acceptance of suffering was an effective method of winning the sympathy
and support of disinterested parties in a dispute, and that their moral
influence might go far in determining its outcome.

On his return to India after his successful campaign for Indian rights
in South Africa, Gandhi led a strike of mill workers in Ahmedabad. He
established a set of rules, forbidding resort to violence, the
molestation of "blacklegs," and the taking of alms, and requiring the
strikers to remain firm no matter how long the strike took--rules not
too different from those that would be used in a strike by an
occidental labor union.[76] Speaking of a period during this strike
when the laborers were growing restive and threatening violence, Gandhi

     "One morning--it was at a mill-hands' meeting--while I was still
     groping and unable to see my way clearly, the light came to me.
     Unbidden and all by themselves the words came to my lips: 'Unless
     the strikers rally,' I declared to the meeting, 'and continue the
     strike till a settlement is reached, or till they leave the mills
     altogether, I will not touch any food.'"

Gandhi insisted that the fast was not directed at the mill owners, but
was for the purification of himself and the strikers. He told the owners
that it should not influence their decision, and yet an arbitrator was
now appointed, and as he says, "The strike was called off after I had
fasted only for three days."[77] The efficacy of the fast was thus borne
in on Gandhi.

In the Kheda Satyagraha against unjust taxation, which was the first big
movement of the sort in India, Gandhi discovered that "When the fear of
jail disappears, repression puts heart into people." The movement ended
in a compromise rather than the complete success of Gandhi's program. He
said of it, "Although, therefore, the termination was celebrated as a
triumph of Satyagraha, I could not enthuse over it, as it lacked the
essentials of a complete triumph."[78] But even though Gandhi was not
satisfied with anything less than a complete triumph, he had learned
that when a people no longer fears the punishments that an oppressor
metes out, the power of the oppressor is gone.[79]


[74] _Ibid._, I, 268-269.

[75] Of the incident he says, "Thus the lynching ultimately proved to be
a blessing for me, that is for the cause. It enhanced the prestige of
the Indian community in South Africa, and made my work easier.... The
incident also added to my professional practice." _Ibid._, I, 452-457.

[76] _Ibid._, II, 411-413.

[77] _Ibid._, II, 420-424.

[78] _Ibid._, II, 428-440.

[79] See the quotation from Gandhi in Shridharani, 29.


It will be impossible for us here to consider in detail the great
movements of non-cooperation on which Gandhi's followers have embarked
in order to throw off British rule. In 1919 and again in the struggle of
1920-1922, Gandhi felt forced to call off the non-cooperation campaigns
because the people, who were not sufficiently prepared, fell back upon
violence.[80] In the struggle in 1930, Gandhi laid down more definite
rules for Satyagrahis, forbidding them to harbor anger, or to offer any
physical resistance or to insult their opponents, although they must
refuse to do any act forbidden to them by the movement even at the cost
of great suffering.[81] The movement ended in a compromise agreement
with the British, but the terms of the agreement were never completely
carried out. Repressive measures and the imprisonment of Gandhi checked
the non-cooperation movement during the present war, at least


[80] Gandhi, _Experiments_, II, 486-507; Shridharani, 126-129.

[81] The rules, first published in _Young India_, Feb. 27, 1930, are
given by Shridharani, 154-157.


Gandhi also made use of the fast in 1919, 1924, 1932, 1933, 1939, and
1943 to obtain concessions, either from the British government or from
groups of Hindese who did not accept his philosophy.[82] Of fasting
Gandhi has said:

     "It does not mean coercion of anybody. It does, of course, exercise
     pressure on individuals, even as on the government; but it is
     nothing more than the natural and moral result of an act of
     sacrifice. It stirs up sluggish consciences and it fires loving
     hearts to action."[83]

Yet Gandhi believed that the fast of the Irish leader, MacSweeney, when
he was imprisoned in Dublin, was an act of violence.[84]

In practice, Satyagraha is a mixture of expediency and principle. It is
firmly based on the Hindu idea of _ahimsa_, and hence avoids physical
violence. Despite Gandhi's insistence upon respect for and love for the
opponent, however, his equal insistence upon winning the opponent
completely to his point of view leads one to suspect that he is using
the technique as a means to an end which he considers equally
fundamental. He accepts suffering as an end in itself, yet he knows that
it also is a means to other ends since it arouses the sympathy of public
opinion. He regards non-cooperation as compatible with love for the
opponent, yet we have already seen that under modern conditions it is
coercive rather than persuasive in nature. Despite Gandhi's distinction
between his own fasts and those of others, they too involve an element
of psychological coercion. We are led to conclude that much of Gandhi's
program is based upon expediency as well as upon the complete respect
for every human personality which characterizes absolute pacifism.


[82] See the list given by Haridas T. Muzumdar, _Gandhi Triumphant! The
Inside Story of the Historic Fast_ (New York: Universal, 1939), vi-vii.

[83] _Ibid._, 89.

[84] _Ibid._, 90. Lewis quotes Gandhi thus: "You cannot fast against a
tyrant, for it will be a species of violence done to him. Fasting can
only be resorted to against a lover not to extort rights, but to reform
him." _Case Against Pacifism_, 109.

The American Abolition Movement

The West also has had its movements of reform which have espoused
non-violence as a principle. The most significant one in the United
States has been the abolition crusade before the Civil War. Its most
publicized faction was the group led by William Lloyd Garrison, who has
had a reputation as an uncompromising extremist. Almost every school boy
remembers the words with which he introduced the first issue of the
_Liberator_ in 1831:

     "I _will_ be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as
     justice.... I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not
     excuse--I will not retreat a single inch--AND I WILL BE HEARD."

He lived up to his promise during the years that followed, and it is no
wonder that Parrington called him "the flintiest character amongst the
New England militants."[85] In the South they regarded him as an inciter
to violence, and barred his writings from the mails.

Garrison's belief in "non-resistance" is less often stressed, yet his
espousal of this principle was stated in the same uncompromising terms
as his opposition to slavery. In 1838 he induced the Boston Peace
Convention to found the New England Non-Resistance Society. In the
"Declaration of Sentiments" which he wrote and which the new Society
adopted, he said:

     "The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that
     physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration; that the
     sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil
     can be exterminated from the earth only by goodness."[86]

Throughout his long struggle against slavery, Garrison remained true to
his principles of non-resistance. But his denunciations of slavery made
more impression on the popular mind, and aided in stirring up much of
the violent sentiment in the North which expressed itself in a crescendo
of denunciation of the slave owners. In the South, where anti-slavery
sentiment had been strong before, a new defensive attitude began to
develop. As Calhoun said of the northern criticism of slavery:

     "It has compelled us to the South to look into the nature and
     character of this great institution, and to correct many false
     impressions that even we had entertained in relation to it. Many in
     the South once believed that it was a moral and political evil;
     that folly and delusion are gone; we see it now in its true light,
     and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free
     institutions in the world."[87]

In the North the violent statements of the abolitionists aroused a
physically violent response. Mobs attacked abolition meetings in many
places, and on one occasion Garrison himself was rescued from an angry
Boston mob. This violence in turn aroused many men like Salmon P. Chase
and Wendell Phillips to espouse the anti-slavery cause because they
could not condone the actions of the anti-abolitionists.[88] Garrison
himself proceeded serenely through the storms that his vigorous writings

Feelings rose on both sides, and many who heard and accepted the
Garrisonian indictment of slavery knew nothing of his non-resistance
principles.[89] Others, who did, came reluctantly to the conclusion that
a civil war to rid the country of the evil would be preferable to its
continuance. In time the struggle was transferred to the political
arena, where men acted sometimes on the basis of interest and not always
on the basis of moral principles. The gulf between the sections widened,
and civil war approached.

As abolitionists themselves began to express the belief that the slavery
issue could not be settled without bloodshed, Garrison disclaimed all
responsibility for the growing propensity to espouse violence. In the
_Liberator_ in 1858 he said:

     "When the anti-slavery cause was launched, it was baptized in the
     spirit of peace. We proclaimed to the country and to the world that
     the weapons of our warfare were not carnal but spiritual, and we
     believed them to be mighty through God to the pulling down even of
     the stronghold of slavery; and for several years great moral power
     accompanied our cause wherever presented. Alas! in the course of
     the fearful developments of the Slave Power, and its continued
     aggressions on the rights of the people of the North, in my
     judgment a sad change has come over the spirit of anti-slavery men,
     generally speaking. We are growing more and more warlike, more and
     more disposed to repudiate the principles of peace.... Just in
     proportion as this spirit prevails, I feel that our moral power is
     departing and will depart.... I will not trust the war-spirit
     anywhere in the universe of God, because the experience of six
     thousand years proves it not to be at all reliable in such a
     struggle as ours....

     "I pray you, abolitionists, still to adhere to that truth. Do not
     get impatient; do not become exasperated; do not attempt any new
     political organization; do not make yourselves familiar with the
     idea that blood must flow. Perhaps blood will flow--God knows, I do
     not; but it shall not flow through any counsel of mine. Much as I
     detest the oppression exercised by the Southern slaveholder, he is
     a man, sacred before me. He is a man, not to be harmed by my hand
     nor with my consent.... While I will not cease reprobating his
     horrible injustice, I will let him see that in my heart there is no
     desire to do him harm,--that I wish to bless him here, and bless
     him everlastingly,--and that I have no other weapon to wield
     against him but the simple truth of God, which is the great
     instrument for the overthrow of all iniquity, and the salvation of
     the world."[90]

Yet Garrison's fervor for the emancipation of the slaves was so great
that when the Civil War came, he said of Lincoln and the Republicans:

     "They are instruments in the hand of God to carry forward and help
     achieve the great object of emancipation for which we have so long
     been striving.... All our sympathies and wishes must be with the
     Government, as against the Southern desperadoes and buccaneers; yet
     of course without any compromise of principle on our part."[91]

Although Lincoln insisted that the purpose of the North was the
preservation of the Union rather than emancipation, eventually he did
free the slaves. It would seem that Garrison, for all his non-resistance
declarations, bore some of the responsibility for the great conflict.

In this case, as in the case of Satyagraha, the demand for reform by
non-violent means was translated into violence by followers who were
more devoted to the cause of reform than they were to the non-violent
methods which their leaders proclaimed.


[85] Vernon Louis Parrington, _Main Currents in American Thought_ (New
York: Harcourt Brace, 1930), II, 352.

[86] The "Declaration" is reprinted in Allen, _Fight for Peace_,

[87] Quoted in Avery Craven, _The Coming of the Civil War_ (New York:
Scribners, 1942), 161.

[88] Jesse Macy, _The Anti-Slavery Crusade_ (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1919), 69-70.

[89] For the many elements in the abolition movement, see Gilbert Hobbs
Barnes, _The Antislavery Impulse, 1830-1844_ (New York: D.
Appleton-Century, 1933).

[90] Wendell Phillips Garrison, _William Lloyd Garrison_ (New York:
Century, 1889), III, 473-474.

[91] Letter to Oliver Johnson, quoted in Allen, _Fight for Peace_,


The preceding section of this study dealt with those who rejected
physical violence on principle, and who felt no hatred toward the
persons who were responsible for evil, but who used methods of bringing
about reform which involved the use of non-physical coercion, and in
some cases what might be called psychological violence. These advocates
of non-violent direct action not only resisted evil negatively; they
also attempted to establish what they considered to be a better state of

This section will deal with true non-resistance. It is concerned with
those who refuse to resist evil, even by non-violent means, for the most
part basing their belief upon the injunction of Jesus to "resist not
evil." For them, non-resistance becomes an end in itself, rather than a
means for achieving other purposes. They are less concerned with
reforming society than they are with maintaining the integrity of their
own lives in this respect. If they have a social influence at all, it is
only because by exhortation or, more especially by the force of example,
they induce others to accept the same way of life. However, in their
refusal to participate directly in such evil as war, even non-resistants
do actually resist evil.

The Mennonites

The Mennonites are the largest and most significant group of
non-resistants. For over four hundred years they have maintained their
religious views, and applied them with remarkable consistency.[92] Their
church grew out of the Anabaptist movement, which had its origins in
Switzerland shortly after 1520. The Anabaptists believed in the literal
acceptance of the teachings of the Bible, and their application as rules
of conduct in daily life. Since they did not depend for their
interpretations upon the authority of any priesthood or ministry,
differences grew up among them at an early date. The more radical wing,
from which the Mennonites came, accepting the Sermon on the Mount as the
heart of the Gospel, early refused to offer any physical resistance to
evil.[93] Felix Manz, who was executed for his beliefs in 1527,
declared, "No Christian smites with the sword nor resists evil."[94]
Hundreds of other Anabaptists followed Manz into martyrdom without
surrendering their faith.

In a day before conscription had come into general use, the Anabaptists
suffered more for their heresy and their political views than they did
for their non-resistance principles. In their belief in rendering unto
Caesar only those things which were Caesar's and unto God the things
that were God's, they came into conflict with the authorities of both
church and state. The established church they refused to recognize at
all, and they came to regard the state only as a necessary instrument to
control those who had not become Christians. Far in advance of the times
they adopted the principle of complete separation of church and state,
which for them meant that no Christian might hold political office nor
act as the agent of a coercive state, although he must obey its commands
in matters which did not interfere with his duty toward God. On the
basis of direct scriptural authority, they placed the payment of taxes
in the latter category.[95]

The modern Mennonites are descended from the followers of Menno Simons,
who was born in the Netherlands in 1496. In 1524 he was ordained as a
Catholic priest, but he soon came to doubt the soundness of that
religion, and found his way into Anabaptist ranks, where he became one
of the leading expounders of the radical principles, placing great
emphasis upon non-resistance. In his biblical language, he thus stated
his belief on this point:

     "The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are
     the children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares
     and their spears into pruning hooks, and know of no war. They
     render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the
     things that are God's. Their sword is the sword of the Spirit which
     they wield with a good conscience through the Holy Ghost."[96]

In time the followers of Menno Simons gained in influence, while
branches of the Anabaptist movement which did not follow the principle
of non-resistance died out. Here and there other non-resistant groups
such as the Hutterites and the Moravian Brethren continued.[97]

Ultimately the Mennonites found their way into several parts of Europe,
from the North Sea to Russia, in their search for a home where they
might be free from persecution. The founding of Germantown in the new
Pennsylvania colony in 1683 marked the beginning of a migration which in
the years that followed brought the more radical of them to America.[98]
With the coming of conscription in Europe, those who held most strongly
to their non-resistant principles came to the United States to escape
military service. Those who remained in Europe gradually gave up their
opposition to war, but those in America have largely maintained their
original position.[99]

Today they still refrain from opposing evil, and believe in the
separation of church and state, which to them means a refusal to hold
office and, in many cases, to vote or to have recourse to the courts.
They pay their taxes and do what the state demands, as long as it is not
inconsistent with their duty to God. In case of a conflict in duty,
service to God is placed first. Since they do not believe that it is
possible for the world as a whole to become free of sin, they maintain
that the Christian must separate himself from it. They make no attempt
to bring about reform in society by means of political action or other
movements of the sort which we have considered under non-violent direct

Since the term "pacifist" has come into general use to designate those
opposed to war, the Mennonites have usually made a distinction between
themselves as "non-resistants" and the pacifists, who, they claim, are
more interested in creating a good society than they are in following
completely the admonitions of the Bible. They also disclaim any
relationship to such non-resistants as Garrison or Ballou, even though
these men reached substantially the same conclusion about the nature of
the state, or with Tolstoy who even refused to accept the support of the
state for the institution of private property. The American
non-resistants they regard primarily as reformers of human society, and
Tolstoy as an anarchist who rejected the state altogether, rather than
accepting it as a necessary evil.[101] In so far as the Mennonites have
used social influence at all, it has been through the force of example,
and in their missionary endeavors to win other individuals to the same
high principles which they themselves follow.


[92] See the pamphlet by C. Henry Smith, _Christian Peace: Four Hundred
Years of Mennonite Peace Principles and Practice_ (Newton, Kansas:
Mennonite Publication Office, 1938).

[93] C. Henry Smith, _The Story of the Mennonites_ (Berne, Ind.:
Mennonite Book Concern, 1941), 9-30.

[94] John Horsch, _Mennonites in Europe_, (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite
Publishing House, 1942), 359.

[95] Smith, _Story of the Mennonites_, 30-35.

[96] Quoted by Horsch, 363.

[97] _Ibid._, 365.

[98] Smith, _Story of the Mennonites_, 536-539.

[99] Smith, _Christian Peace_, 12-15.

[100] Edward Yoder, _et al._, _Must Christians Fight: A Scriptural
Inquiry_ (Akron, Pa.: Mennonite Central Committee, 1943), 31-32, 41-44,
59-61, 64-65.

[101] _Ibid._, 62-63; and for a full discussion of the attitude see Guy
F. Hershberger, "Biblical Non-resistance and Modern Pacifism" in
_Mennonite Quarterly Rev._, XVII (July, 1943), 115-135.

The New England Non-Resistants

The Mennonites are undoubtedly right in making a distinction between
their position and that of the relatively large group of
"non-resistants" which arose in New England during the middle of the
nineteenth century. We have already noted the "Declaration of
Principles" written by Garrison and accepted by the New England
Non-Resistance Society in 1838. Despite the fact that Garrison insisted
that an individual ought not to participate in the government of a state
which used coercion against its subjects, his life was devoted to a
campaign against the evil of slavery. In the "Declaration" itself he

     "But, while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and
     passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual
     sense, to speak and act boldly in the cause of GOD; to assail
     iniquity in high places, and in low places; to apply our principles
     to all existing civil, political, legal and ecclesiastical
     institutions; and to hasten the time, when the kingdoms of this
     world will have become the kingdoms of our LORD and of his CHRIST,
     and he shall reign forever."[102]

Garrison was essentially a man of action; the real philosopher of the
non-resistance movement was Adin Ballou, a Universalist minister of New
England who devoted his whole life to the advancement of its principles.
In 1846 he published his _Christian Non-Resistance: In All Its Important
Bearings_, in which he set forth his doctrine, supported it with full
scriptural citations, and then presented a catalogue of incidents which
to his own satisfaction proved its effectiveness, both in personal and
in social relationships.

Although Ballou listed a long series of means which a Christian
non-resistant might not use, he insisted that he had a duty to oppose
evil, saying:

     "I claim the right to offer the utmost moral resistance, not
     sinful, of which God has made me capable, to every manifestation of
     evil among mankind. Nay, I hold it my duty to offer such moral
     resistance. In this sense my very non-resistance becomes the
     highest kind of resistance to evil."[103]

Nor did Ballou condemn all use of "uninjurious, benevolent physical
force" in restraining the insane or the man about to commit an injury to
another. He finally defined non-resistance as "simply non-resistance of
injury with injury--evil with evil." Rather, he believed in "the
essential efficacy of good, as the counter-acting force with which to
resist evil."[104]

In applying his principle rigorously, Ballou, like the Mennonites, came
to the conclusion that the non-resistant could have nothing to do with
government. If he so much as voted for its officials, he had to share
the moral responsibility for the wars, capital punishment, and other
personal injuries which were carried out in its name. He insisted:

     "There is no escape from this terrible moral responsibility but by
     a conscientious withdrawal from such government, and an
     uncompromising protest against so much of its fundamental creed and
     constitutional law, as is decidedly anti-Christian. He must cease
     to be its pledged supporter, and approving dependent."[105]

Like the Mennonites, he saw that the reason that governments were
unchristian was that the people themselves were not Christian; but
unlike the Mennonites he maintained that they might eventually become
so, and that it was the duty of the Christian to hasten the day of their
complete conversion. "This," he said,

     "is not to be done by voting at the polls, by seeking influential
     offices in the government and binding ourselves to anti-Christian
     political compacts. It is to be done by pure Christian precepts
     faithfully inculcated, and pure Christian examples on the part of
     those who have been favored to receive and embrace the highest

The Mennonites believed that man was essentially depraved; Ballou
believed that he was perfectible.[107]


[102] Allen, _Fight for Peace_, 696.

[103] Ballou, _Christian Non-Resistance_, 3.

[104] _Ibid._, 2-25.

[105] _Ibid._, 18.

[106] _Ibid._, 223-224.

[107] Perhaps this is the point at which to insert a footnote on Henry
Thoreau, whose essay on "Civil Disobedience" is said to have influenced
Gandhi. Although he lived in the same intellectual climate that produced
Garrison and Ballou, he was not a non-resistant on principle. For
instance, he supported the violent attack upon slave holders by John
Brown just before the Civil War. He did come to substantially the same
conclusions, however, on government. He refused even to pay a tax to a
government which carried on activities which he considered immoral, such
as supporting slavery, or carrying on war. On one occasion he said,
"They are the lovers of law and order who observe the law when the
government breaks it." Essentially, Thoreau was a philosophical
anarchist, who placed his faith entirely in the individual, rather than
in any sort of organized social action. See the essay on him in
Parrington, II, 400-413; and his own essay on "Civil Disobedience" in
_The Writings of Henry David Thoreau_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906),
IV, 356-387.


Many people regard the writings of Count Leo Tolstoy as the epitome of
the doctrine of non-resistance. Tolstoy arrived at his convictions after
a long period of inner turmoil, and published them in _My Religion_ in
1884. In the years that followed, his wide correspondence introduced him
to many others who had held the same views. He was especially impressed
with the 1838 statement of Garrison, and with the writings of Ballou,
with whom he entered into correspondence directly.[108]

However, he went further than Ballou, and even further than the
Mennonites in his theory, which he formulated fully in _The Kingdom of
God is Within You_, published in 1893. He renounced the use of physical
force completely even in dealing with the insane or with children.[109]
He severed all relations with government, and went on to insist that the
true Christian might not own any property. He practiced his own
doctrines strictly.

Tolstoy had quite a number of followers, and a few groups were
established to carry out his teachings. These groups have continued to
exist under the Soviet Union, but their present fate is obscure. His
works greatly influenced Peter Verigin, leader of the Dukhobors, who
shortly after 1900 left Russia and settled in Canada in order to find a
more hospitable environment for their communistic community, and to
escape the necessity for military service.[110]

However, Tolstoy's theory is so completely anarchistic that it does not
lend itself to organization. Hence his chief influence has been
intellectual, and upon individuals. We have already noted the great
impact that his works made on Gandhi, while he was formulating the ideas
which were to result in Satyagraha.

Neither in the case of Gandhi, nor of Peter Verigin, however, were
Tolstoy's doctrines applied in completely undiluted form. The Mennonites
also disclaim kinship with him on the grounds that he sought a
regeneration of society as a whole in this world.[111]

For most men the doctrine of complete anarchism has seemed too extreme
for practical consideration, but it would seem that Tolstoy arrived at
the logical conclusion of a system of non-resistance based on the
premise that man should not combat evil, nor have any relationship
whatever with human institutions which attempt to restrain men by means
other than reliance upon the force of example and goodwill.


[108] Aylmer Maude, _The Life of Tolstoy,_ (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1910),
II, 354-360, where the letters to and from Ballou are quoted at length.
See also Count Leo N. Tolstoy, _The Kingdom of God is Within You_,
translated by Leo Wiener (Boston: Dana Estes & Co., 1905), 6-22.

[109] In a letter to L. G. Wilson, Tolstoy said: "I cannot agree with
the concession he [Ballou] makes for employing violence against
drunkards and insane people. The Master made no concessions, and we can
make none. We must try, as Mr. Ballou puts it, to make impossible the
existence of such people, but if they do exist, we must use all possible
means, and sacrifice ourselves, but not employ violence. A true
Christian will always prefer to be killed by a madman, than to deprive
him of his liberty." Maude, _Tolstoy_, II, 355-356.

[110] J. F. C. Wright, _Slava Bohu: The Story of the Dukhobors_ (New
York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1940), 99.

[111] Hershberger says of him: "He identified the kingdom of God with
human society after the manner of the social gospel. But since he
believed in an absolute renunciation of violence for all men, Tolstoy
was an anarchist, repudiating the state altogether. Biblical
nonresistance declines to participate in the coercive activities of the
state, but nevertheless regards those as necessary for the maintenance
of order in a sinful society, and is not anarchistic. But Tolstoy found
no place for the state in human society at all; and due to his faith in
the goodness of man he believed that eventually all coercion, including
domestic police, would be done away." _Mennonite Qu. Rev._, XVII,


The term "resistance" has occurred frequently in this study. As has been
pointed out, this word has a negative quality, and implies opposition to
the will of another, rather than an attempt to realize a positive
policy. The preceding section dealt with its counterpart,
"non-resistance," which has a neutral connotation, and implies that the
non-resister is not involved in the immediate struggle, and that for him
the refusal to inflict injury upon anyone is a higher value than the
achievement of any policy of his own, either positive or negative.

Non-violent coercion, Satyagraha, and non-violent direct action, on the
other hand, are definitely positive in their approach. Each seeks to
effectuate a specified change in the policy of the person or group
responsible for a situation which those who organize the non-violent
action believe to be undesirable. However, even in such action the
negative quality may appear. Satyagraha, for instance, insofar as it is
a movement of opposition or "resistance" to British rule in India is
negative, despite its positive objectives of establishing a certain type
of government and economic system in that country.

The employment of active goodwill is another approach to the problem of
bringing about desired social change. Its proponents seek to accomplish
a positive alteration in the attitude and policy of the group or person
responsible for some undesirable situation; but they refuse to use
coercion--even non-violent coercion. Rather they endeavor to convince
their opponent that it would be desirable to change his policy because
the change would be in his own best interest, or would actually maintain
his own real standard of values.

Many of those who would reject all coercion of an opponent practice such
positive goodwill towards him, not because they are convinced that their
action will accomplish the social purposes which they would like to
achieve, but rather because they place such an attitude toward their
fellowmen as their highest value. They insist that they would act in the
same way regardless of the consequences of their action, either to the
person towards whom they practice goodwill or to themselves. They act on
the basis of principle rather than on the basis of expediency. In this
regard they are like many of the practitioners of other methods of
non-violence; but unlike them they place their emphasis on the positive
action of goodwill which they _will_ use, rather than upon a catalogue
of violent actions which they will not use.

To those who practice the method of goodwill all types of education and
persuasion are available. In the past they have used the printed and
spoken word, and under favorable circumstances even political action.
They hope to appeal to "that of God in every man," to bring about
genuine repentance on the part of those who have been responsible for
evil. If direct persuasion is not effective, they hope that their
exhibition of love towards him whom others under the same circumstances
would regard as an enemy may appeal to an aspect of his nature which is
temporarily submerged, and result in a change of attitude on his part.
If it does not, these advocates of goodwill are ready to suffer the
consequences of their action, even to the point of death.

Action in the Face of Persecution

The practice of positive goodwill is open to the individual as well as
to the group. Since he does what he believes to be right regardless of
the consequences, he will act before there are enough who share his
opinion to create any chance of victory over the well organized forces
of the state or other institutions which are responsible for evil. The
history of the martyrs of all ages presents us with innumerable examples
of men who have acted in this way. Socrates is of their number, as well
as the early Christians who insisted upon practicing their religion
despite the edicts of the Roman empire. Jesus himself is the outstanding
example of one who was willing to die rather than to surrender
principle. It cannot be said of these martyrs that they acted in order
to bring about reforms in society. They suffered because under the
compulsion of their faith they could act in no other way, and at the
time of their deaths it always looked as though they had been defeated.
But in the end their sacrifices had unsought results. The proof of their
effectiveness is declared in the old adage that "the blood of the
martyrs is the seed of the church."

If we seek examples from relatively recent times, we may find them in
the annals of many of the pacifist sects of our own day. Robert Barclay,
the Quaker apologist of the late seventeenth century, stated the
position which the members of the Society of Friends so often put to the

     "But the true, faithful and Christian suffering is for men to
     profess what they are persuaded is right, and so practise and
     perform their worship towards God, as being their true right so to
     do; and neither to do more than that, because of outward
     encouragement from men; nor any whit less, because of the fear of
     their laws and acts against it."[112]

The early Quakers suffered severely under the laws of England in a day
when religious toleration was virtually unheard of. George Fox himself
had sixty encounters with magistrates and was imprisoned on eight
occasions; yet he was not diverted from his task of preaching truth. It
has been estimated that 15,000 Quakers "suffered" under the various
religious acts of the Restoration.[113] But they continued to hold the
principles which had been stated by twelve of their leaders, including
Fox, to King Charles shortly after his return to England:

     "Our principle is, and our practice always has been, to seek peace
     and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of
     God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to
     the peace of all.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge
     ourselves; we have not made resistance against authority; but
     whenever we could not obey for conscience sake, we have suffered
     the most of any people in the nation...."[114]

These sufferings did not go unheeded. Even the wordly Samuel Pepys wrote
in his diary concerning Quakers on their way to prison: "They go like
lambs without any resistance I would to God they would either conform or
be more wise and not be catched."[115]

In Massachusetts, where the Puritans hoped to establish the true garden
of the Lord, the lot of the Quakers was even more severe. Despite
warnings and imprisonments, Friends kept encroaching upon the Puritan
preserve until the Massachusetts zealots, in their desperation over the
failure of the gentler means of quenching Quaker ardor, condemned and
executed three men and a woman. Even Charles II was revolted by such
extreme measures, and ordered the colony to desist. After a long
struggle the Quakers, along with other advocates of liberty of
conscience, won their struggle for religious liberty even in
Massachusetts. There can be little doubt that their sufferings played
an important part in the establishment of religious liberty as an
American principle.[116]

In our own day the conscientious objector to military service, whatever
his motivation and philosophy, faces a social situation very similar to
that which confronted these early supporters of a new faith. For the
moment there is little chance that his insistence upon following the
highest values which his conscience recognizes will bring an end to war,
because there are not enough others who share his convictions. He takes
his individual stand without regard for outward consequences to himself,
because his conviction leaves him no other alternative. But even though
his "sufferings" do not at once make possible the universal practice of
goodwill towards all men, they may in the end have the result of helping
to banish war from the world.


[112] Robert Barclay, _An Apology for the True Christian Divinity; being
an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the
People Called Quakers_ (Philadelphia: Friends' Book Store, 1908),
Proposition XIV, Section VI, 480.

[113] A. Ruth Fry, _Quaker Ways: An Attempt to Explain Quaker Beliefs
and Practices and to Illustrate them by the Lives and Activities of
Friends of Former Days_ (London: Cassell, 1933), 126, 131.

[114] Quoted by Margaret E. Hirst, _The Quakers in Peace and War: an
Account of Their Peace Principles and Practice_ (New York: George H.
Doran, 1923), 115-116.

[115] Quoted in Fry, _Quaker Ways_, 128-129.

[116] Hirst, 327; Rufus M. Jones, _The Quakers in the American Colonies_
(London: Macmillan, 1923), 3-135.

Coercion or Persuasion?

A man who is willing to undergo imprisonment and even death itself
rather than to cease doing what he believes is right knows in his own
heart that coercion is not an effective means of persuasion. The early
Quakers saw this clearly. Barclay stated his conviction in these words:

     "This forcing of men's consciences is contrary to sound reason, and
     the very law of nature. For man's understanding cannot be forced by
     all the bodily sufferings another man can inflict upon him,
     especially in matters spiritual and super-natural: 'Tis argument,
     and evident demonstration of reason, together with the power of God
     reaching the heart, that can change a man's mind from one opinion
     to another, and not knocks and blows, and such like things, which
     may well destroy the body, but never can inform the soul, which is
     a free agent, and must either accept or reject matters of opinion
     as they are borne in upon it by something proportioned to its own

And William Penn said more simply, "Gaols and gibbets are inadequate
methods for conversion: this forbids all further light to come into the

Other religious groups who went through experiences comparable to those
of the Friends came to similar conclusions. The Church of the Brethren,
founded in 1709 in Germany, took as one of its leading principles that
"there shall be no force in religion," and carried it out so faithfully
that they would not baptize children, on the ground that this act would
coerce them into membership in the church before they could decide to
join of their own free will. The Brethren have refused to take part in
war not only because it is contrary to the spirit of Christian love, and
destroys sacred human life, but also because it is coercive and
interferes with the free rights of others.[119]

For the person who believes in the practice of positive goodwill towards
all men, the refusal to use coercion arises from its incompatibility
with the spirit of positive regard for every member of the human family,
rather than being a separate value in itself. In social situations this
regard may express itself in various ways. It may have a desirable
result from the point of view of the practitioner, but again we must
emphasize that he does what he does on the basis of principle; the
result is a secondary consideration.


[117] Barclay, _Apology_, Prop. XIV, Sec. IV, 470.

[118] Fry, _Quaker Ways_. 59-60.

[119] D. W. Kurtz, _Ideals of the Church of the Brethren_, leaflet
(Elgin, Ill.: General Mission Board, 1934?); Martin G. Brumbaugh in
_Studies in the Doctrine of Peace_ (Elgin, Ill.: Board of Christian
Education, Church of the Brethren, 1939), 56; the statement of the
Goshen Conference of 1918 and other statements of the position of the
church in L. W. Shultz (ed.), _Minutes of the Annual Conference of the
Church of the Brethren on War and Peace_, mimeo (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed.,
Church of the Brethren, 1935); and the pamphlet by Robert Henry Miller,
_The Christian Philosophy of Peace_ (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed., Church of
the Brethren, 1935).

Ministering to Groups in Conflict

One expression of this philosophy may be abstention from partisanship in
conflicts between other groups, in order to administer impartially to
the human need of both parties to the conflict.

In this connection much has been made of the story of the Irish Quakers
during the rebellion in that country in 1798. Before the conflict broke
into open violence the Quarterly Meetings and the General National
Meeting recommended that all Friends destroy all firearms in their
possession so that there could be no suspicion of their implication in
the coming struggle. During the fighting in 1798 the Friends interceded
with both sides in the interests of humanity, entertained the destitute
from both parties and treated the wounds of any man who needed care.
Both the Government forces and the rebels came to respect Quaker
integrity, and in the midst of pillage and rapine the Quaker households
escaped unscathed. But Thomas Hancock, who told the story a few years
later, pointed out that in their course of conduct the Friends had not
sought safety.

     "It is," he said, "to be presumed, that, even if outward
     preservation had not been experienced, they who conscientiously
     take the maxims of Peace for the rule of their conduct, would hold
     it not less their duty to conform to those principles; because the
     reward of such endeavor to act in obedience to their Divine
     Master's will is not always to be looked for in the present life.
     While, therefore, the fact of their outward preservation would be
     no sufficient argument to themselves that they had acted as they
     ought to act in such a crisis, it affords a striking lesson to
     those who will take no principle, that has not been verified by
     experience, for a rule of human conduct, even if it should have the
     sanction of Divine authority."[120]

It is in this same spirit that various pacifist groups undertook the
work of relief of suffering after the First World War in "friendly" and
"enemy" countries alike, ministering to human need without distinction
of party, race or creed. The stories of the work of the American Friends
Service Committee and the _Service Civil_ founded by Pierre Ceresole are
too well known to need repeating here.[121] It should not be overlooked
that in this same spirit the Brethren and the Mennonites also carried on
large scale relief projects during the interwar years.


[120] Thomas Hancock, _The Principles of Peace Exemplified in the
Conduct of the Society of Friends in Ireland During the Rebellion of the
year 1798, with some Preliminary and Concluding Observations_ (2nd ed.,
London, 1826), 28-29. All the important features of the story are
summarized in Hirst, 216-224.

[121] Lester M. Jones, _Quakers in Action: Recent Humanitarian and
Reform Activities of the American Quakers_ (New York: Macmillan, 1929);
Rufus M. Jones, _A Service of Love in War Time_ (New York: Macmillan,
1920); Mary Hoxie Jones, _Swords into Plowshares: An Account of the
American Friends Service Committee 1917-1937_ (New York: Macmillan,
1937); Willis H. Hall, _Quaker International Work in Europe Since 1914_
(Chambery, Savoie, France: Imprimeries Reunies, 1938). On _Service
Civil_, see Lilian Stevenson, _Towards a Christian International, The
Story of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation_ (Vienna:
International Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1929), 27-31, and Alan A.
Hunter, _White Corpuscles in Europe_ (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1939),

The Power of Example

A social group that acts consistently in accordance with the principles
of active goodwill also exerts great influence through the force of its
example. A study of the Quaker activities in behalf of social welfare
was published in Germany just before the First World War, by Auguste
Jorns. She shows how, in relief of the poor, education, temperance,
public health, the care of the insane, prison reform, and the abolition
of slavery, the Quakers set about to solve the problem within their own
society, but never in an exclusive way, so that others as well as
members might receive the benefits of Quaker enterprises. Quaker methods
became well known, and in time served as models for similar undertakings
by other philanthropic groups and public agencies. Many modern social
work procedures thus had their origins in the work of the Friends in a
relatively small circle.[122]


[122] Auguste Jorns, _The Quakers as Pioneers in Social Work_, trans. by
Thomas Kite Brown (New York: Macmillan, 1931).

Work for Social Reform

The activity of Quakers in the abolition of slavery both in England and
America, especially the life-long work of John Woolman in the colonies,
is well known. Here too, the first "concerned" Friends attempted to
bring to an end the practice of holding slaves within the Society
itself. When they had succeeded in eliminating it from their own ranks,
they could, with a clear conscience, suggest that their neighbors follow
their example. When the time came, Quakers were willing to take part in
political action to eradicate the evil. The compensated emancipation of
the slaves in the British Empire in 1833 proved that the reform could be
accomplished without the violent repercussions which followed in the
United States.[123]

Horace G. Alexander has pointed out that the person who voluntarily
surrenders privilege, as the American Quakers did in giving up their
slaves, not only serves as a witness to the falsehood of privilege, but
can never rest until reform is achieved.

     "The very fact," he says, "that he feels a loyalty to the
     oppressors as well as to the oppressed means that he can never rest
     until the oppressors have been converted. It is not their
     destruction that he wants, but a change in their hearts."[124]

Such an attitude is based upon a faith in the perfectibility of man and
the possibility of the regeneration of society. It leads from a desire
to live one's own life according to high principles to a desire to
establish similar principles in human institutions. It rejects the
thesis of Reinhold Niebuhr that social groups can never live according
to the same moral codes as individuals, and also the belief of such
groups as the Mennonites that, since the "world" is necessarily evil,
the precepts of high religion apply only to those who have accepted the
Christian way of life. Instead, the conviction of those who hold this
ideal that it is social as well as individual in its application leads
them into the pathways of social reform, and even into political


[123] Henry J. Cadbury, _Colonial Quaker Antecedents to British
Abolition of Slavery_, An address to the Friends' Historical Society,
March 1933 (London: Friends Committee on Slavery and Protection of
Native Races, 1933), reprinted from _The Friends' Quarterly Examiner_,
July, 1933; Jorns, 197-233.

[124] Horace G. Alexander in Heard, _et al._, _The New Pacifism_, 93.

Political Action and Compromise

The Quakers, for instance, have been noted for their participation in
all sorts of reform movements. Since every reform in one sense involves
opposition to some existing institution, Clarence Case has been led to
call the Quakers "non-physical resistants;"[125] but since their real
objective was usually the establishment of a new institution rather than
the mere destruction of an old one, they might better be called
"non-violent advocates." They were willing to advocate their reforms in
the public forum and the political arena. Since, as Rufus Jones has
pointed out, such action might yield to the temptation to compromise
with men of lesser ideals, there has always been an element in the
Society of Friends which insisted that the ideal must be served in its
entirety, even to the extent of giving up public office and influence
rather than to compromise.[126] In Pennsylvania the Quakers withdrew
from the legislature when it became necessary in the existing political
situation to vote support of the French and Indian war, but they did so
not because they did not believe in political action, in which up to
that moment they had taken part willingly enough, but rather because
under the circumstances of the moment it was impossible to realize their
ideals by that means.[127]

Ruth Fry, in discussing the uncompromising attitude of the Friends on
the issue of slavery, has well described the process of Quaker reform:

     "One cannot help feeling that this strong stand for the ultimate
     right was far more responsible for success than the more timid one,
     and should encourage such action in other great causes. In fact,
     the ideal Quaker method would seem to be patient waiting for
     enlightenment on the underlying principle, which when seen is so
     absolutely clear and convincing that no outer difficulties or
     suffering can affect it: its full implications gradually appear,
     and its ultimate triumph can never be doubted. Any advance towards
     it, may be accepted as a stepping stone, although only methods
     consistent with Quaker ideals may be used to gain the desired end.
     Doing anything tinged with evil, that good may come, is entirely
     contrary to their ideas."[128]

She goes on to say, "As ever, the exact line of demarcation between
methods aggressive enough to arouse the indolent and those beyond the
bounds of Quaker propriety was indeed difficult to draw."[129]

In such a statement we find a conception of compromise which is
different from that usually encountered. In it the advocate of the ideal
says that for the time being he will accept less than his ultimate goal,
provided the change is in the direction in which he desires to move, but
he will not accept the slightest compromise which would move away from
his goal.


[125] Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 92-93.

[126] Rufus M. Jones, _The Quakers in the American Colonies_, 175-176.

[127] Jones, _Quakers in the Colonies_, 459-494; Isaac Sharpless, _A
Quaker Experiment in Government_ (Philadelphia: Alfred J. Ferris, 1898),

[128] Fry, _Quaker Ways_, 171-172.

[129] _Ibid._, 177.

The Third Alternative

The logical pursuit of such a principle leads even further than the type
of compromise which Ruth Fry has described, to the establishment of a
new basis of understanding which may not include any of the principles
for which the parties in conflict may have been striving, and yet which
brings about reconciliation.

Eric Heyman, speaking in religious terms, has said of this process of
discovering a new basis of understanding through the exercise of
positive goodwill, even toward an oppressor:

     "That is the way of God, and it is therefore the way of our
     discipleship as reconcilers; the way of non-resistance to evil, of
     the total acceptance of the consequences of evil in all their lurid
     destructiveness, in order that the evil doer may be reconciled to
     God.... The whole consequences of his presence, whether small or
     great must be accepted with the single realisation that the whole
     process of the world's redemption rests upon the relationship which
     the Christian is able to create between himself and his oppressor.
     This course has nothing in common with resistance; it is the
     opposite of surrender, for its whole purpose and motive is the
     triumphing over evil by acceptance of all that it brings.... The
     resistance of evil, whether by way of violence or 'non-violence' is
     the way of this world. Resignation to evil is the way of weak
     surrender, and yields only a powerless resentment; at its best it
     is non-moral, at the worst sheerly immoral. Acceptance of evil is
     the triumphant answer of the redeemer. In the moment of his
     acceptance he knows of a certainty that he has overcome the

This process of finding a new basis of relationship has been called "a
third alternative, which produces no majority rule and no defeated
minority."[131] The Quakers have long used this method in arriving at
decisions within their own meetings. They refuse to make motions and
take votes which produce clearcut divisions within the group, but insist
that no action shall be taken until all divergent points of view have
been expressed, and a statement drawn up which embodies "the sense of
the meeting" and is acceptable to all. As Elton Trueblood has said, "The
overpowering of a minority by calling for a vote is a kind of force, and
breeds the resentment which keeps the method of force from achieving
ultimate success with persons."[132] Douglas Steere has described the
process in these words:

     "This unshakable faith in the way of vital, mutual interaction by
     conciliatory conference is held to be applicable to international
     and interracial conflict as it is to that between workers and
     employer, or between man and wife. But it is not content to stop
     there. It would defy all fears and bring into the tense process of
     arriving at this joint decision a kind of patience and a quiet
     confidence which believes, not that there is no other way, but that
     there is a 'third-alternative' which will annihilate neither

M. P. Follett, twenty years ago, wrote a book entitled _Creative
Experience_, in which she supported this same conclusion on the basis of
scientific knowledge about the nature of man, society and politics.
Speaking of the democratic process she said:

     "We have the will of the people ideally when all desires are
     satisfied.... The aim of democracy should be integrating desires. I
     have said that truth emerges from difference. In the ballot-box
     there is no confronting of difference, hence no possibility of
     integrating, hence no creating; self-government is a creative
     process and nothing else.... Democracy does not register various
     opinions; it is an attempt to create unity."[134]

It might be said that in so far as democracy has succeeded, it has done
so because of its adherence to this principle. The division of a society
into groups which are unremittingly committed to struggle against each
other, whether by violent or non-violent means, until one or the other
has been annihilated or forced to yield outwardly to its oppressors for
the time being, will inevitably destroy the loyalty to a common purpose
through which alone democracy can exist.

The contrast between the British and American attitudes toward the
abolition of slavery presents us with a case in point. In Great Britain,
the Emancipation Act contained provisions for the compensation of the
slave owners, so that it became acceptable to them. In the United States
the advocates of abolition insisted that since slavery was sin there
could be no recognition of the rights of the owners. Elihu Burritt and
his League of Universal Brotherhood were as much opposed to slavery as
the most ardent abolitionists, yet of the League Burritt declared: "It
will not only aim at the mutual pacification of enemies, but at their
conversion into brethren."[135] Burritt became the chief advocate of
compensated emancipation in the United States. Finally the idea was
suggested in the Senate and hearings had been arranged on the measure.

     "But," Burritt said, "just as it had reached that stage at which
     Congressional action was about to recognize it as a legitimate
     proposition, 'John Brown's raid' suddenly closed the door against
     all overtures or efforts for the peaceful extinction of slavery.
     Its extinction by compensated emancipation would have recognized
     the moral complicity of the whole nation in planting and
     perpetuating it on this continent. It would have been an act of
     repentance, and the meetest work for repentance the nation could

The country was already too divided to strive for this "third
alternative," and, whether or not slavery was one of the prime causes of
the Civil War, it made its contribution to creating the feeling which
brought on the conflict. In the light of the present intensity of racial
feeling in the United States, it can hardly be said that the enforced
settlement of the war gave the Negro an equal place in American society
or eliminated conflict between the races.

One of the virtues of the method of reconciliation of views in seeking
the "third alternative" is that it can be practiced by the individual or
a very small group as well as on the national or international scale.
James Myers has described its use within the local community in the
"informal conference." In such a conference, the person or group
desiring to create better understanding or to eliminate conflict between
elements of the community calls together, without any publicity,
representatives of various interests for a discussion of points of view,
with the understanding that there will be no attempt to reach
conclusions or arrive at any official decisions. James Myers' experience
has indicated that the conferences create an appreciation of the reasons
for former divergence of opinion, and a realization of the possibilities
of new bases of relationship which have often resulted in easing
tensions within the community and in the solution of racial, economic
and social conflicts.[137]

Even on the international level, individuals may make some contribution
toward the elimination of conflicts, although, in the face of the
present emphasis upon nationalism, and the lack of common international
values to which appeal may be made, their labors are not apt to be
crowned with success. As in all the cases which we have been
considering, however, concerned individuals and groups may act in this
field because they feel a compulsion to do so, regardless of whether or
not their actions are likely to be successful in producing the desired
result of reconciliation, and the discovery of the third


[130] Eric Heyman, _The Pacifist Dilemma_ (Banbury, England: Friends'
Peace Committee, 1941), 11-12.

[131] Carl Heath, "The Third Alternative" in Heard, _et al._, _The New
Pacifism_, 102.

[132] D. Elton Trueblood, "The Quaker Method of Reaching Decisions" in
Laughlin, _Beyond Dilemmas_, 119.

[133] Douglas V. Steere, "Introduction" to Laughlin, _Beyond Dilemmas_,

[134] M. P. Follett, _Creative Experience_ (New York: Longmans, Green,
1924), 209.

[135] Quoted in Allen, _Fight for Peace_, 428.

[136] Quoted in _Ibid._, 437.

[137] James Myers, _"Informal Conferences" a New Technique In Social
Education_, Leaflet (New York: Federal Council of Churches of Christ in
America, 1943).

[138] See George Lansbury, _My Pilgrimage for Peace_ (New York: Holt,
1938); Bertram Pickard, _Pacifist Diplomacy in Conflict Situations:
Illustrated by the Quaker International Centers_ (Philadelphia: Pacifist
Research Bureau, 1943).


Those who do not share the pacifist philosophy are prone to insist that
the pacifists place far too much emphasis upon the refusal to employ
physical force. These critics maintain that force is non-moral in
character, and that the only moral question involved in its use is
whether or not the purposes for which it is employed are "good" or
"bad." They fail to realize that these concepts themselves arise from a
subjective set of values, different for every social group on the basis
of its own tradition and for every individual on the basis of his own
experience and training.

The "absolute" pacifist places at the very apex of his scale of values
respect for every human personality so great that he cannot inflict
injury on any human being regardless of the circumstances in which he
finds himself. He would rather himself suffer what he considers to be
injustice, or even see other innocent people suffer it, than to arrogate
to himself the right of sitting in judgment on his fellow men and
deciding that they must be destroyed through his action. For him to
inflict injury or death upon any human being would be to commit the
greatest iniquity of which he can conceive, and would create within his
own soul a sense of guilt so great that acceptance of any other evil
would be preferable to it.

The person who acts on the basis of such a scale of values is not
primarily concerned with the outward expediency of his action in turning
the evil-doer into new ways, although he is happy if his action does
have incidental desirable results. He acts as he does because of a deep
conviction about the nature of the universe in which all men are
brothers, and in which every personality is sacred. No logical argument
to act otherwise can appeal to him unless it is based upon assumptions
arising out of this conviction.

Those who place their primary moral emphasis upon respect for human
personality are led to hold many other values as well as their supreme
value of refusing to use violence against their fellow men. Except in
time of war, when governments insist that their citizens take part in
mass violence, the absolute pacifist is apt to serve these other values,
which he shares with many non-pacifists, without attracting the
attention which distinguishes him from other men of goodwill. He insists
only that in serving these subsidiary values he must not act in any way
inconsistent with his highest value.

Many pacifists, and all non-pacifists, differ from the absolutists in
that they place other values before this supreme respect for every human
personality. The pacifists who do so, refuse to inflict injury on their
fellows not because this is itself their highest value, but because they
believe other less objectionable methods are more effective for
achieving their highest purposes, or because they accept the argument
that the means they use must be consistent with the ends they seek. They
would say that it is impossible to achieve universal human brotherhood
by methods which destroy the basis for such brotherhood.

Such persons assess non-violence as a _tactic_, rather than accepting it
as a value in itself. John Lewis comes to the conclusion that under
certain circumstances violence is a more effective method. Gandhi
believes in non-violence both as a principle and as the most effective
means of achieving his purposes. Every individual who looks upon
non-violence as only a means, rather than as an end in itself, will
accept or reject it on the basis of his estimate of the expediency of
non-violent methods. Some come to the conclusion that violence can never
be effective and therefore refuse to use it under any circumstances;
others decide on each new occasion whether violence or non-violence will
best serve their ends in that particular situation. In such cases the
question is one of fact; the decision must be based upon the available

From the diversity of opinions that exist at the present time it is
obvious that the social sciences are not yet ready to give an
unequivocal answer to this question of fact. Since the values that men
hold subjectively are themselves social facts which the scientist must
take into account, and since they vary from age to age, community to
community, and individual to individual, it may never be possible to
find the final answer. Meanwhile the individual facing the necessity for
action must answer the question for himself on the basis of the best
information available to him. Even if he refuses to face the issue for
himself and accepts the prevalent idea of our own day that violence is
an effective means of achieving desirable purposes, he has actually
answered the question without giving thought to it.

The potential tragedy of our generation is that the whole world has been
plunged into war on the basis of the prevalent assumption that violence
is an effective means of achieving high social purposes. Even that part
of the planning for peace that is based upon maintaining international
order by force rests upon this same assumption. If the assumption be
false, mankind has paid a terrible price for its mistake.

Another assumption on which the advocates of violence act is that the
use of physical force in a noble cause inevitably brings about the
triumph of that cause. History gives us no basis for such an assumption.
There is much evidence that force sometimes fails, even when it is used
on the "right" side. Although the sense of fighting in a righteous cause
may improve the morale and thus increase the effectiveness of an army,
actually wars are won by the _stronger_ side. It is a curious fact that
on occasion both opposing armies may feel that they are fighting on the
side of righteousness. Napoleon summarized the soldier's point of view
when he said that God was on the side of the largest battalions. During
the uncertain process of violent conflict, the destruction of human
life--innocent and guilty alike--goes on.

Just as there is evidence that violence used in a righteous cause is not
always successful, there is evidence that non-violent methods sometimes
succeed. Without attempting to give the final answer to the question
whether violence creates so much destruction of human values that its
apparent successes are only illusory, we can say that the success or
failure of both violence and non-violence is determined by the
conditions under which both are used, and attempt to discover the
circumstances under which they have been effective.

(1) No great social movement can arise unless the grievance against the
existing order is great and continuous, or the demand for a new order is
so deeply ingrained in the minds of the people in the movement that they
are willing to expend great effort and undergo great sacrifices in order
to bring about the desired change.

(2) The group devoted to the idea of change must be large enough to have
an impact on the situation. This is true whether the group desires to
use violent or non-violent methods. In any case there will be a
balancing of forces between those desiring change and those who oppose
it. All of the non-violent techniques we have considered require
sufficient numbers so that either their refusal of cooperation, their
participation in politics, or their practice of positive goodwill has a
significant effect upon the whole community.

(3) The group that has a strong desire to bring about social change may
be augmented in strength by the support of other elements in the
population who do not feel so strongly on the issue. The less vigorous
support of such neutrals may be the element that swings the balance in
favor of the group desiring change. This "third party" group may also
remain indifferent to the conflict. In that case the result will be
determined solely by the relative strength of the direct participants.
In any case, the group desiring change will be defeated if it alienates
the members of the third party so that they join the other side. This
latter consideration gives a great advantage to the practitioners of
non-violence, since in our own day people generally are disposed to
oppose violence, or at least "unlawful" violence, and to sympathize with
the victims of violence, especially if they do not fight back. A
definite commitment on the part of the reformers not to use violence may
go far toward winning the initial support of the group neutral in the

(4) These conditions of success must be created through the use of
education and persuasion prior to taking action. The sense of grievance
or the desire for social change must be developed in this way if it does
not already exist. Even such a violent movement as the French Revolution
grew out of a change in the intellectual climate of France created by
the writers of the preceding century. Only when a large enough group has
been won over to the cause of reform by such an educational campaign can
the second requisite for success be obtained. Finally, much educational
work must be done among the less interested third parties in order to
predispose them to favor the changes advocated and to sympathize with
the group taking part in the movement of reform.

The final result of any social conflict is determined by the balancing
of forces involved. Violence itself can never succeed against a stronger
adversary, so those who desire to bring about social change or
revolution by violence have to begin with the process of education to
build a group large enough to overcome the violent forces which are
likely to be arrayed against them. Even a violent revolution must be
preceded by much non-violent educational preparation. But even when the
group using violence has become large enough to overcome the physical
force arrayed against it, its victory rests upon the coercion of its
opponents rather than upon their conversion. Though defeated, the
opponents still entertain their old concepts and look forward to the day
of retribution, or to the counter-revolution. A social order so
established rests upon a very unstable foundation. Revolutionaries have
attempted in such circumstances to "liquidate" all the opposition, but
it is doubtful that they have ever been completely successful in doing
so. The ruthless use of violence in the process of liquidation has
usually alienated third parties against the regime that uses it, and
thus augmented the group that might support the counter-revolution.

Advocates of non-violence must start in the same way as the violent
revolutionaries to build their forces through persuasion and education.
They must assess properly the attitude of the third party and carry on
educational work with this group until it is certain that it will not go
over to the other side at the moment of action.

By the time a revolutionary or reforming group was large enough to use
violence successfully, and to weather the storm of the
counter-revolution or reaction, it would already have won to its side so
large a portion of the community that it could probably succeed without
the use of violence. This would certainly be true in a country like the
United States. We must ask the question as to whether the energy
consumed in the use of violence might not bring better results if it
were expended upon additional education and persuasion, without
involving the destruction of human life, human values, and property
which violence inevitably entails.

Even most of the ardent advocates of war and violent revolution admit
that violence is only an undesirable necessity for the achievement of
desirable ends. Non-violent methods pursued with the same commitment and
vigor would be just as likely to succeed in the immediate situation as
violence, without bringing in their train the tremendous human suffering
attendant upon violence. More important is the fact that a social order
based upon consent is more stable than one based upon coercion. If we
are interested in the long range results of action, non-violence is much
more likely to bring about the new society than is violence, because it
fosters rather than destroys the sense of community upon which any new
social order must be founded.

       *       *       *       *       *


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       3. Coercion of States: In Federal Unions               25c
      4. Coercion of States In International Organizations    25c
     5. Comparative Peace Plans**                             25c
    6. Pacifist Diplomacy in Conflict Situations              10c
   7. The Political Theories of Modern Pacifism               25c
  8. Introduction to Non-Violence                             25c
 9. Economics for Peace*                                      25c
10. Conscientious Objectors in Prison*                        25c

 * _In Preparation_
** _Out of Print_

       *       *       *       *       *

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