Having criticized Gandhi it is important to also critique methods of violence on larger grounds: the issue of ‘tactics’ is a moving target. It is one thing for American rebs to challenge the Brits with muskets, another to see the way the military tactics in the Civil War, stuck in the past, sent old-fashioned regiments into the face of gunfire in a prelude to slaughter.
The Civil War foretold with Gatling guns the reality of the First World War, the musket long gone in the context of machine guns. And the question of violence intersected with the coming of terrorist tactics, always present but suddenly controversial in their own way. Gandhi appears in a mirage of the realization that military tactics had mutated into something novel, and disastrous. Now we can see the ultimate in violence potential in the nuclear age. And not only that, the increasing technology of totalitarian control, covert agencies, surveillance, massive military armies, imperialism and political manipulation, etc, etc…Amerian democracy has long since become the near absolute in violent militarism.
Has revolt died in the end? In any case non-violence is alive and well and has displaced older revolutionary tactics, but has it achieved any results beyond the partial success of someone like King? We must consider the case of the Russian revolution: revolutionary violence is one thing but the tactics of revolutionaries also moved to excessive violence and that peculiar version of violence in the covert emergence of secret police mutating into the real power behind politics.
The lefts of our time confront Leviathan in a desperate victory for totalitarianism disguised as democracy. It is doubtful if non-violence can match that, but the prospects of anything seem equally grim.
But as with the Russian revolution, the ‘old’ will collapse on its and that seems to be happening in our own time. The left has been silenced by the gandhians but must ask again the question of tactics confronting technological leviathan pretty-faced with ‘democratic’ mythology. The violence of the Russian revolution was excessive and ended up in Stalinism. The left cannot yet see its way there.
Gandhi has confused activists for what now is generations. Look at the American War for Independence and the Civil War. Should these have been non-violent movements. That’s false moral nonsen…