Monday, September 13, 2004

More on Nonviolence in Palestine

Here is another article in response to Arun Gandhi's visit to Palestine. It's generally pretty interesting, although it does a few times fall into the trap of not treating nonviolence seriously...for example, it recognizes that there was violence (both in India and in Europe) that contributed to the "nonviolent" struggle for Indian independence, but then mocks the idea of nonviolence in the Cuban Revolution by asking if "Batista would have given up his dictatorship if Fidel and Che had done a protest fast in a Havana public square?" Well, obviously not, but would he have given up his dictatorship if many thousands of Cuban workers in the urban centres hadn't staged mass strikes?

Another piece that's often missing from these discussions is one that I picked up from a very disappointing book I read recently, which I may eventually get around to reviewing on this site: Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell. He points out that even the most unreprentant supporters of armed struggle, from Trotsky to Ho Chi Minh, recognize the centrality of political strength and political victory even when guns are in hand -- the Vietnamese did not drive the U.S. out of their country by having a stronger military, they did it because the National Liberation Front was politically unbeatable in Vietnam. Most authors, regardless of where they situate themselves with respect to the nonviolence/ambivalence to violence/advocacy of violence debate, often neglect this crucial fact.

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