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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

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Online LibraryTheodore PaullinIntroduction to Non-Violence → online text (page 2 of 7)