Monday, June 25, 2007

I am reading 'The Unconquerable World' ('why peaceful protest is stronger than war') by Jonathan Schell. I say reading because I am only half way through and already he has struck a chord and I need to put the ideas down to get them straight in my mind.
The biggest revelation is the simple statement that after violent action the conqueror must have the vanquished do his bidding and unless that happens he has lost the war. In earlier history 'military victory made rule possible by turning bold, angry enemies into frightened obedient subjects' but in recent history with the advent of 'peoples war' usually linked with independence or self determination this has changed as the British found in India, the French in Algiers, the Japanese in China, the Americans in Vietnam etc. This is also being played out in Iraq where the invading forces thought the people would welcome them with open arms to be freed from their dictator but the opposite happened and the country with the biggest military arsenal in the world is again heading for an inevitable defeat, not only because of the will of the Iraq people but also through the (non violent) will of the American people who have gone against the war.
But the premise that we can live without war is even more surprising. The super powers do it between themselves now because of their nuclear arms deterrent, if you get me I'll get you! Schell shows that even revolutions are relatively bloodless, it is their foundation that becomes bloody. The will of the people can endure without violent action and of course Gandhi was the foremost practitioner of this with his withdrawing of cooperation with the invaders. But strangely even he preferred violence to impotence. He said that non violence requires more action than violence and I think pacifism is linked to passivity and is doomed if it is.
Growing up in the sixties where as hippies we honestly believed love could change the world was mostly passive and therefore doomed but maybe there is another way!
The book is highly recommended by this old but not disallusioned hippy!









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