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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

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Online LibraryTheodore PaullinIntroduction to Non-Violence → online text (page 3 of 7)