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How important is it for nonviolent movements to have a commitment to nonviolence as a moral principle that must be adhered to at all costs? Is in fact.

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Presentation on theme: "How important is it for nonviolent movements to have a commitment to nonviolence as a moral principle that must be adhered to at all costs? Is in fact."— Presentation transcript:

1 How important is it for nonviolent movements to have a commitment to nonviolence as a moral principle that must be adhered to at all costs? Is in fact their real appeal a pragmatic one – namely that they when the opponent commands the instruments of violence, opponents have to adopt a different strategy, that of mass nonviolent confrontation and protest? MORAL DEBATE

2 In any nonviolent campaign, there is a high chance that you will be met with violent, and sometimes brutal, counter resistance. A strict adherence to nonviolence based on a moral belief, will inevitably give a greater chance of maintaining the resolve required for success then one based on pragmatic grounds. For example Martin Luther King in America after being met by Southern counter-resistance. It also has a greater chance of standing up to the influence of violent resistance groups, if they end up in conflict. When trying to win over the opposition, maintaining a belief in nonviolence can be useful. It is arguable that by saying I fundamentally do not believe in acting violent against you, there is a greater chance that the opposition can be swayed by your moral integrity. If on the other hand, one makes it clear that the only reason why nonviolence is because of its practicality (implying that violence would be used if it were more practical) then as a foundation for conflict resolution, the context is very different.

3 Morality can give a unity and structure to nonviolence that lends itself to replication and applicability in different contexts e.g. Gandhi’s Satyagraha. It could have the potential to isolate other groups, if it is deemed not to be the most practical solution or potentially not so. Issue of religion and its changing role in modern society: Both Gandhi and Luther King lived in more religious times when morality and religion were inextricably linked. Large numbers, if not all, of their followers were religious people and so by linking morality with nonviolence, the leaders could enjoy a greater control over their followers. If one compares it today, broadly speaking, morality is a more personal, single thing and is difficult to make appeals to.

4 Pragmatic and religion Moral claims to the superiority of nonviolence always seem to be grounded in religion What of atheist or multi-religious states?

5 Pragmatic means you can use violence to succeed? Kruegler and Akerman see that in limited cases the use of violence to finally seize power would be justified Moral claim could potentially lead to more long term suffering

6 Undermined by a violent fringe? Will the nonviolent movement not be undermined by a violent fringe Violence of any form can be highly damaging to any nonviolent movement but I would contend more so to those that are nonviolent on moral grounds

7 Moral and sabotage Sabotage is frequently one of the most effective ways to blunt the enemies weapons Moral claims to nonviolence are less likely to allow this

8 Examples of when moral non-violence would not have worked Argentina: If they had a moral conviction to nonviolence it would have been dangerously close to politics. This would have allowed the Junta to round them up. Poland: Likewise China: Perception that power originates from the barrel of a gun, and political action is subscribed

9 Human nature Do people really care about morality? Most Nonviolent movements attract by showing they can succeed not that they are moral

10 General Argument Given that the majority of successful nonviolent movements are the result of huge mass movements and popular protest, it is important to recognise that the reason for such a large number of people becoming involved is not necessarily a moral commitment to nonviolence. Ralph Summys argument: ‘Majority of followers are attracted mainly to the charisma and effectiveness of leaders and not to their commitment to principled nonviolence.’ ‘People resort to or engage in nonviolent action only if it promises a measure of practical success.’

11 Example 1: Iranian Revolution Khomeini never demanded nonviolence and even praised some quite violent resistance (such as the riot in Tabriz in Feb 1978) as heroic. Violence was never condemned. However, people were drawn to the movement because of Khomeini and the movement succeeded without this moral commitment to nonviolence. Ties into Summy’s argument that a charismatic and effective leader is the main factor that draws people into joining a movement.

12 Example 2: Anti-Apartheid Movement As Nelson Mandela himself argued, ‘it would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching non- violence at a time when the Government met our peaceful demands with force.’ Therefore, the leader of the movement did not hold a moral commitment to nonviolence but merely saw the pragmatic advantages that the movement held in the particular situation. However, ultimately, as a result of changing political and economic circumstances, the nonviolent anti-apartheid movement was eventually successful. This example not only highlights the pragmatic aspect of nonviolence but also again we see the presence of a charismatic and effective leader.

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