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RE: [CU68-08Event] Re: Digest Number 314

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  • John Obrien
    Sorry for the delay in responding on our discussion on non-violence, but I just returned from traveling to several cities and finally had the chance. It also
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 24, 2011
      Sorry for the delay in responding on our discussion on non-violence, but I just returned from traveling to several cities and finally had the chance.

      It also took me a while to find a good source that describes the other Black resistance movement to racism in the Civil Rights Movement era, that I earlier mentioned other than the much promoted nonviolence only advocates and constantly promoted by liberals.  This work: The Deacons For Defense [subtitle: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement] was written by Lance Hill and published by the University of North Carolina Press (2004).  The author provides a large number of footnotes and references in his work, including much little known history on the groups and of people in the Civil Rights Movement, who resisted the white racist power structure. 

      Let me know what you think of this book.  It is easy reading and informative about some of the internal workings of the Civil Rights Movement, that you and others on this List might be interested in.

      John O'Brien




      To: CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
      From: mark@...
      Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 22:12:18 -0700
      Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Re: Digest Number 314

       
      Here's a good 2009 interview with Gene Sharp from WBUR (Boston).  http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/02/14/egypt-non-violence

      Note that he draws a clear distinction between pacifism and nonviolence, the latter being a form of active struggle.  Many people have commented on the battle which raged in Tahrir Square.  This self-defense was not inconsistent with nonviolent strategy because it didn't substitute for the larger strategy.  

      Nonviolent strategy means mass mobilization.  Jonathan Schell, in his 2003 masterwork, "The Unconquerable World," defines two types of power, coercive and consensual.  Ultimately coercive power is brittle because it depends on the acquiesence of the population.  The great achievement of the 20th century was to show military dictatorships crumble, e.g., Iran, USSR, Chile, all the eastern European satellites.  

      On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:29 AM, Alan Senauke <alans@...> wrote:
       

      "Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach non-violence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes. Non-violence is the summit of bravery. And in my own experience, I have had no difficulty in demonstrating to men trained in the school of violence the superiority of non-violence. As a coward, which I was for years, I harboured violence. I began to prize non-violence only when I began to shed cowardice." 

      — Mahandas Gandhi


      I've been thinking about the questions raised here and the good discussion.  My own understanding is that active nonviolence is a spiritual practice and is a strategy for social change.  Sometimes it is one or the other, sometimes it is both.  But the meaning of "spiritual practice," at least in my experience and in my study of Gandhi's movement in India and the Civil Rights movement, is not simply some idealized pie-in-the-sky set of beliefs.  I think this is what many people hear when the words "spiritual" or "religious" are bandied about.  But the key word is "practice."

      Practice or training is the necessary element, whether the nonviolent activism we undertake is spiritually, existentially, or strategically based.  We will only be able to go as far as our training and eye of practice.  This is what Gandhi is getting at in the quotation above.  A nonviolent activist needs to be as well trained as a soldier if he or she is going to be able to accept blows without retaliating with blows. He or she also needs to understand that eschewing violence does not mean avoiding questions of power.  There was extensive training offered to Gandhi's satyagrahis before they went on a march to confront the British colonial army.  In the early days of the civil rights movement, Rev. Jim Lawson, himself a Gandhian who went to prison in the U.S. as a C.O., trained freedom riders and voter registration workers by means of graphic role play before they went down to Mississippi and Alabama. 

      In India, Gandhi regretted that the training really had not gone far enough.  In the South, many of the key workers had served in the military, had carried arms, had already proved their courage on many fronts, so they were willing to take a stand of active nonviolence both as spiritual and strategic practice. 

      I don't think my spiritual transformation has reached a place where I can say I would never pick up a weapon in defense.  (Ah, but, I don't actually have the training to use weapons with confidence.)  But I can't see myself blithely preaching nonviolence to, say, ethnic groups in Burma who are being daily attacked by the Burmese army.  I don't think they will win in a military confrontation with the junta, but they need to defend themselves.  Meanwhile, there are people inside Burma who are very very quietly teaching nonviolence as a tool for taking power.  I recommend the work of nonviolent theorist Gene Sharp.  Change necessarily involves power and conflict.  How we shape our movements is a matter of personal and strategic choice. 

      All for the moment.
      Alan




       Hozan Alan Senauke/Clear View Project

      Alan's book —The Bodhisattva's Embrace: Dispatches From Engaged Buddhism's Front Lines —is available from the Clear View website (see above) and from <www.amazon.com>.















    • John Obrien
      Sorry for the delay in responding on our discussion on non-violence, but I just returned from traveling to several cities and finally had the chance. It also
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 24, 2011
        Sorry for the delay in responding on our discussion on non-violence, but I just returned from traveling to several cities and finally had the chance.

        It also took me a while to find a good source that describes the other Black resistance movement to racism in the Civil Rights Movement era, that I earlier mentioned other than the much promoted nonviolence only advocates and constantly promoted by liberals.  This work: The Deacons For Defense [subtitle: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement] was written by Lance Hill and published by the University of North Carolina Press (2004).  The author provides a large number of footnotes and references in his work, including much little known history on the groups and of people in the Civil Rights Movement, who resisted the white racist power structure. 

        Let me know what you think of this book.  It is easy reading and informative about some of the internal workings of the Civil Rights Movement, that you and others on this List might be interested in.

        John O'Brien




        To: CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
        From: mark@...
        Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 22:12:18 -0700
        Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Re: Digest Number 314

         
        Here's a good 2009 interview with Gene Sharp from WBUR (Boston).  http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/02/14/egypt-non-violence

        Note that he draws a clear distinction between pacifism and nonviolence, the latter being a form of active struggle.  Many people have commented on the battle which raged in Tahrir Square.  This self-defense was not inconsistent with nonviolent strategy because it didn't substitute for the larger strategy.  

        Nonviolent strategy means mass mobilization.  Jonathan Schell, in his 2003 masterwork, "The Unconquerable World," defines two types of power, coercive and consensual.  Ultimately coercive power is brittle because it depends on the acquiesence of the population.  The great achievement of the 20th century was to show military dictatorships crumble, e.g., Iran, USSR, Chile, all the eastern European satellites.  

        On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:29 AM, Alan Senauke <alans@...> wrote:
         

        "Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach non-violence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes. Non-violence is the summit of bravery. And in my own experience, I have had no difficulty in demonstrating to men trained in the school of violence the superiority of non-violence. As a coward, which I was for years, I harboured violence. I began to prize non-violence only when I began to shed cowardice." 

        — Mahandas Gandhi


        I've been thinking about the questions raised here and the good discussion.  My own understanding is that active nonviolence is a spiritual practice and is a strategy for social change.  Sometimes it is one or the other, sometimes it is both.  But the meaning of "spiritual practice," at least in my experience and in my study of Gandhi's movement in India and the Civil Rights movement, is not simply some idealized pie-in-the-sky set of beliefs.  I think this is what many people hear when the words "spiritual" or "religious" are bandied about.  But the key word is "practice."

        Practice or training is the necessary element, whether the nonviolent activism we undertake is spiritually, existentially, or strategically based.  We will only be able to go as far as our training and eye of practice.  This is what Gandhi is getting at in the quotation above.  A nonviolent activist needs to be as well trained as a soldier if he or she is going to be able to accept blows without retaliating with blows. He or she also needs to understand that eschewing violence does not mean avoiding questions of power.  There was extensive training offered to Gandhi's satyagrahis before they went on a march to confront the British colonial army.  In the early days of the civil rights movement, Rev. Jim Lawson, himself a Gandhian who went to prison in the U.S. as a C.O., trained freedom riders and voter registration workers by means of graphic role play before they went down to Mississippi and Alabama. 

        In India, Gandhi regretted that the training really had not gone far enough.  In the South, many of the key workers had served in the military, had carried arms, had already proved their courage on many fronts, so they were willing to take a stand of active nonviolence both as spiritual and strategic practice. 

        I don't think my spiritual transformation has reached a place where I can say I would never pick up a weapon in defense.  (Ah, but, I don't actually have the training to use weapons with confidence.)  But I can't see myself blithely preaching nonviolence to, say, ethnic groups in Burma who are being daily attacked by the Burmese army.  I don't think they will win in a military confrontation with the junta, but they need to defend themselves.  Meanwhile, there are people inside Burma who are very very quietly teaching nonviolence as a tool for taking power.  I recommend the work of nonviolent theorist Gene Sharp.  Change necessarily involves power and conflict.  How we shape our movements is a matter of personal and strategic choice. 

        All for the moment.
        Alan




         Hozan Alan Senauke/Clear View Project

        Alan's book —The Bodhisattva's Embrace: Dispatches From Engaged Buddhism's Front Lines —is available from the Clear View website (see above) and from <www.amazon.com>.















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