Introduction to Non-Violence
by Theodore Paullin
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Gandhi insisted that the fast was not directed at the mill owners, but was for the purification of himself and the strikers. He told the owners that it should not influence their decision, and yet an arbitrator was now appointed, and as he says, "The strike was called off after I had fasted only for three days."[77] The efficacy of the fast was thus borne in on Gandhi.

In the Kheda Satyagraha against unjust taxation, which was the first big movement of the sort in India, Gandhi discovered that "When the fear of jail disappears, repression puts heart into people." The movement ended in a compromise rather than the complete success of Gandhi's program. He said of it, "Although, therefore, the termination was celebrated as a triumph of Satyagraha, I could not enthuse over it, as it lacked the essentials of a complete triumph."[78] But even though Gandhi was not satisfied with anything less than a complete triumph, he had learned that when a people no longer fears the punishments that an oppressor metes out, the power of the oppressor is gone.[79]


[74] Ibid., I, 268-269.

[75] Of the incident he says, "Thus the lynching ultimately proved to be a blessing for me, that is for the cause. It enhanced the prestige of the Indian community in South Africa, and made my work easier.... The incident also added to my professional practice." Ibid., I, 452-457.

[76] Ibid., II, 411-413.

[77] Ibid., II, 420-424.

[78] Ibid., II, 428-440.

[79] See the quotation from Gandhi in Shridharani, 29.


It will be impossible for us here to consider in detail the great movements of non-cooperation on which Gandhi's followers have embarked in order to throw off British rule. In 1919 and again in the struggle of 1920-1922, Gandhi felt forced to call off the non-cooperation campaigns because the people, who were not sufficiently prepared, fell back upon violence.[80] In the struggle in 1930, Gandhi laid down more definite rules for Satyagrahis, forbidding them to harbor anger, or to offer any physical resistance or to insult their opponents, although they must refuse to do any act forbidden to them by the movement even at the cost of great suffering.[81] The movement ended in a compromise agreement with the British, but the terms of the agreement were never completely carried out. Repressive measures and the imprisonment of Gandhi checked the non-cooperation movement during the present war, at least temporarily.


[80] Gandhi, Experiments, II, 486-507; Shridharani, 126-129.

[81] The rules, first published in Young India, Feb. 27, 1930, are given by Shridharani, 154-157.


Gandhi also made use of the fast in 1919, 1924, 1932, 1933, 1939, and 1943 to obtain concessions, either from the British government or from groups of Hindese who did not accept his philosophy.[82] Of fasting Gandhi has said:

"It does not mean coercion of anybody. It does, of course, exercise pressure on individuals, even as on the government; but it is nothing more than the natural and moral result of an act of sacrifice. It stirs up sluggish consciences and it fires loving hearts to action."[83]

Yet Gandhi believed that the fast of the Irish leader, MacSweeney, when he was imprisoned in Dublin, was an act of violence.[84]

In practice, Satyagraha is a mixture of expediency and principle. It is firmly based on the Hindu idea of ahimsa, and hence avoids physical violence. Despite Gandhi's insistence upon respect for and love for the opponent, however, his equal insistence upon winning the opponent completely to his point of view leads one to suspect that he is using the technique as a means to an end which he considers equally fundamental. He accepts suffering as an end in itself, yet he knows that it also is a means to other ends since it arouses the sympathy of public opinion. He regards non-cooperation as compatible with love for the opponent, yet we have already seen that under modern conditions it is coercive rather than persuasive in nature. Despite Gandhi's distinction between his own fasts and those of others, they too involve an element of psychological coercion. We are led to conclude that much of Gandhi's program is based upon expediency as well as upon the complete respect for every human personality which characterizes absolute pacifism.


[82] See the list given by Haridas T. Muzumdar, Gandhi Triumphant! The Inside Story of the Historic Fast (New York: Universal, 1939), vi-vii.

[83] Ibid., 89.

[84] Ibid., 90. Lewis quotes Gandhi thus: "You cannot fast against a tyrant, for it will be a species of violence done to him. Fasting can only be resorted to against a lover not to extort rights, but to reform him." Case Against Pacifism, 109.

The American Abolition Movement

The West also has had its movements of reform which have espoused non-violence as a principle. The most significant one in the United States has been the abolition crusade before the Civil War. Its most publicized faction was the group led by William Lloyd Garrison, who has had a reputation as an uncompromising extremist. Almost every school boy remembers the words with which he introduced the first issue of the Liberator in 1831:

"I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.... I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD."

He lived up to his promise during the years that followed, and it is no wonder that Parrington called him "the flintiest character amongst the New England militants."[85] In the South they regarded him as an inciter to violence, and barred his writings from the mails.

Garrison's belief in "non-resistance" is less often stressed, yet his espousal of this principle was stated in the same uncompromising terms as his opposition to slavery. In 1838 he induced the Boston Peace Convention to found the New England Non-Resistance Society. In the "Declaration of Sentiments" which he wrote and which the new Society adopted, he said:

"The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration; that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated from the earth only by goodness."[86]

Throughout his long struggle against slavery, Garrison remained true to his principles of non-resistance. But his denunciations of slavery made more impression on the popular mind, and aided in stirring up much of the violent sentiment in the North which expressed itself in a crescendo of denunciation of the slave owners. In the South, where anti-slavery sentiment had been strong before, a new defensive attitude began to develop. As Calhoun said of the northern criticism of slavery:

"It has compelled us to the South to look into the nature and character of this great institution, and to correct many false impressions that even we had entertained in relation to it. Many in the South once believed that it was a moral and political evil; that folly and delusion are gone; we see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world."[87]

In the North the violent statements of the abolitionists aroused a physically violent response. Mobs attacked abolition meetings in many places, and on one occasion Garrison himself was rescued from an angry Boston mob. This violence in turn aroused many men like Salmon P. Chase and Wendell Phillips to espouse the anti-slavery cause because they could not condone the actions of the anti-abolitionists.[88] Garrison himself proceeded serenely through the storms that his vigorous writings precipitated.

Feelings rose on both sides, and many who heard and accepted the Garrisonian indictment of slavery knew nothing of his non-resistance principles.[89] Others, who did, came reluctantly to the conclusion that a civil war to rid the country of the evil would be preferable to its continuance. In time the struggle was transferred to the political arena, where men acted sometimes on the basis of interest and not always on the basis of moral principles. The gulf between the sections widened, and civil war approached.

As abolitionists themselves began to express the belief that the slavery issue could not be settled without bloodshed, Garrison disclaimed all responsibility for the growing propensity to espouse violence. In the Liberator in 1858 he said:

"When the anti-slavery cause was launched, it was baptized in the spirit of peace. We proclaimed to the country and to the world that the weapons of our warfare were not carnal but spiritual, and we believed them to be mighty through God to the pulling down even of the stronghold of slavery; and for several years great moral power accompanied our cause wherever presented. Alas! in the course of the fearful developments of the Slave Power, and its continued aggressions on the rights of the people of the North, in my judgment a sad change has come over the spirit of anti-slavery men, generally speaking. We are growing more and more warlike, more and more disposed to repudiate the principles of peace.... Just in proportion as this spirit prevails, I feel that our moral power is departing and will depart.... I will not trust the war-spirit anywhere in the universe of God, because the experience of six thousand years proves it not to be at all reliable in such a struggle as ours....

"I pray you, abolitionists, still to adhere to that truth. Do not get impatient; do not become exasperated; do not attempt any new political organization; do not make yourselves familiar with the idea that blood must flow. Perhaps blood will flow—God knows, I do not; but it shall not flow through any counsel of mine. Much as I detest the oppression exercised by the Southern slaveholder, he is a man, sacred before me. He is a man, not to be harmed by my hand nor with my consent.... While I will not cease reprobating his horrible injustice, I will let him see that in my heart there is no desire to do him harm,—that I wish to bless him here, and bless him everlastingly,—and that I have no other weapon to wield against him but the simple truth of God, which is the great instrument for the overthrow of all iniquity, and the salvation of the world."[90]

Yet Garrison's fervor for the emancipation of the slaves was so great that when the Civil War came, he said of Lincoln and the Republicans:

"They are instruments in the hand of God to carry forward and help achieve the great object of emancipation for which we have so long been striving.... All our sympathies and wishes must be with the Government, as against the Southern desperadoes and buccaneers; yet of course without any compromise of principle on our part."[91]

Although Lincoln insisted that the purpose of the North was the preservation of the Union rather than emancipation, eventually he did free the slaves. It would seem that Garrison, for all his non-resistance declarations, bore some of the responsibility for the great conflict.

In this case, as in the case of Satyagraha, the demand for reform by non-violent means was translated into violence by followers who were more devoted to the cause of reform than they were to the non-violent methods which their leaders proclaimed.


[85] Vernon Louis Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1930), II, 352.

[86] The "Declaration" is reprinted in Allen, Fight for Peace, 694-697.

[87] Quoted in Avery Craven, The Coming of the Civil War (New York: Scribners, 1942), 161.

[88] Jesse Macy, The Anti-Slavery Crusade (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1919), 69-70.

[89] For the many elements in the abolition movement, see Gilbert Hobbs Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 1830-1844 (New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1933).

[90] Wendell Phillips Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison (New York: Century, 1889), III, 473-474.

[91] Letter to Oliver Johnson, quoted in Allen, Fight for Peace, 449-450.


The preceding section of this study dealt with those who rejected physical violence on principle, and who felt no hatred toward the persons who were responsible for evil, but who used methods of bringing about reform which involved the use of non-physical coercion, and in some cases what might be called psychological violence. These advocates of non-violent direct action not only resisted evil negatively; they also attempted to establish what they considered to be a better state of affairs.

This section will deal with true non-resistance. It is concerned with those who refuse to resist evil, even by non-violent means, for the most part basing their belief upon the injunction of Jesus to "resist not evil." For them, non-resistance becomes an end in itself, rather than a means for achieving other purposes. They are less concerned with reforming society than they are with maintaining the integrity of their own lives in this respect. If they have a social influence at all, it is only because by exhortation or, more especially by the force of example, they induce others to accept the same way of life. However, in their refusal to participate directly in such evil as war, even non-resistants do actually resist evil.

The Mennonites

The Mennonites are the largest and most significant group of non-resistants. For over four hundred years they have maintained their religious views, and applied them with remarkable consistency.[92] Their church grew out of the Anabaptist movement, which had its origins in Switzerland shortly after 1520. The Anabaptists believed in the literal acceptance of the teachings of the Bible, and their application as rules of conduct in daily life. Since they did not depend for their interpretations upon the authority of any priesthood or ministry, differences grew up among them at an early date. The more radical wing, from which the Mennonites came, accepting the Sermon on the Mount as the heart of the Gospel, early refused to offer any physical resistance to evil.[93] Felix Manz, who was executed for his beliefs in 1527, declared, "No Christian smites with the sword nor resists evil."[94] Hundreds of other Anabaptists followed Manz into martyrdom without surrendering their faith.

In a day before conscription had come into general use, the Anabaptists suffered more for their heresy and their political views than they did for their non-resistance principles. In their belief in rendering unto Caesar only those things which were Caesar's and unto God the things that were God's, they came into conflict with the authorities of both church and state. The established church they refused to recognize at all, and they came to regard the state only as a necessary instrument to control those who had not become Christians. Far in advance of the times they adopted the principle of complete separation of church and state, which for them meant that no Christian might hold political office nor act as the agent of a coercive state, although he must obey its commands in matters which did not interfere with his duty toward God. On the basis of direct scriptural authority, they placed the payment of taxes in the latter category.[95]

The modern Mennonites are descended from the followers of Menno Simons, who was born in the Netherlands in 1496. In 1524 he was ordained as a Catholic priest, but he soon came to doubt the soundness of that religion, and found his way into Anabaptist ranks, where he became one of the leading expounders of the radical principles, placing great emphasis upon non-resistance. In his biblical language, he thus stated his belief on this point:

"The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are the children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and know of no war. They render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's. Their sword is the sword of the Spirit which they wield with a good conscience through the Holy Ghost."[96]

In time the followers of Menno Simons gained in influence, while branches of the Anabaptist movement which did not follow the principle of non-resistance died out. Here and there other non-resistant groups such as the Hutterites and the Moravian Brethren continued.[97]

Ultimately the Mennonites found their way into several parts of Europe, from the North Sea to Russia, in their search for a home where they might be free from persecution. The founding of Germantown in the new Pennsylvania colony in 1683 marked the beginning of a migration which in the years that followed brought the more radical of them to America.[98] With the coming of conscription in Europe, those who held most strongly to their non-resistant principles came to the United States to escape military service. Those who remained in Europe gradually gave up their opposition to war, but those in America have largely maintained their original position.[99]

Today they still refrain from opposing evil, and believe in the separation of church and state, which to them means a refusal to hold office and, in many cases, to vote or to have recourse to the courts. They pay their taxes and do what the state demands, as long as it is not inconsistent with their duty to God. In case of a conflict in duty, service to God is placed first. Since they do not believe that it is possible for the world as a whole to become free of sin, they maintain that the Christian must separate himself from it. They make no attempt to bring about reform in society by means of political action or other movements of the sort which we have considered under non-violent direct action.[100]

Since the term "pacifist" has come into general use to designate those opposed to war, the Mennonites have usually made a distinction between themselves as "non-resistants" and the pacifists, who, they claim, are more interested in creating a good society than they are in following completely the admonitions of the Bible. They also disclaim any relationship to such non-resistants as Garrison or Ballou, even though these men reached substantially the same conclusion about the nature of the state, or with Tolstoy who even refused to accept the support of the state for the institution of private property. The American non-resistants they regard primarily as reformers of human society, and Tolstoy as an anarchist who rejected the state altogether, rather than accepting it as a necessary evil.[101] In so far as the Mennonites have used social influence at all, it has been through the force of example, and in their missionary endeavors to win other individuals to the same high principles which they themselves follow.


[92] See the pamphlet by C. Henry Smith, Christian Peace: Four Hundred Years of Mennonite Peace Principles and Practice (Newton, Kansas: Mennonite Publication Office, 1938).

[93] C. Henry Smith, The Story of the Mennonites (Berne, Ind.: Mennonite Book Concern, 1941), 9-30.

[94] John Horsch, Mennonites in Europe, (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1942), 359.

[95] Smith, Story of the Mennonites, 30-35.

[96] Quoted by Horsch, 363.

[97] Ibid., 365.

[98] Smith, Story of the Mennonites, 536-539.

[99] Smith, Christian Peace, 12-15.

[100] Edward Yoder, et al., Must Christians Fight: A Scriptural Inquiry (Akron, Pa.: Mennonite Central Committee, 1943), 31-32, 41-44, 59-61, 64-65.

[101] Ibid., 62-63; and for a full discussion of the attitude see Guy F. Hershberger, "Biblical Non-resistance and Modern Pacifism" in Mennonite Quarterly Rev., XVII (July, 1943), 115-135.

The New England Non-Resistants

The Mennonites are undoubtedly right in making a distinction between their position and that of the relatively large group of "non-resistants" which arose in New England during the middle of the nineteenth century. We have already noted the "Declaration of Principles" written by Garrison and accepted by the New England Non-Resistance Society in 1838. Despite the fact that Garrison insisted that an individual ought not to participate in the government of a state which used coercion against its subjects, his life was devoted to a campaign against the evil of slavery. In the "Declaration" itself he said:

"But, while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to speak and act boldly in the cause of GOD; to assail iniquity in high places, and in low places; to apply our principles to all existing civil, political, legal and ecclesiastical institutions; and to hasten the time, when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdoms of our LORD and of his CHRIST, and he shall reign forever."[102]

Garrison was essentially a man of action; the real philosopher of the non-resistance movement was Adin Ballou, a Universalist minister of New England who devoted his whole life to the advancement of its principles. In 1846 he published his Christian Non-Resistance: In All Its Important Bearings, in which he set forth his doctrine, supported it with full scriptural citations, and then presented a catalogue of incidents which to his own satisfaction proved its effectiveness, both in personal and in social relationships.

Although Ballou listed a long series of means which a Christian non-resistant might not use, he insisted that he had a duty to oppose evil, saying:

"I claim the right to offer the utmost moral resistance, not sinful, of which God has made me capable, to every manifestation of evil among mankind. Nay, I hold it my duty to offer such moral resistance. In this sense my very non-resistance becomes the highest kind of resistance to evil."[103]

Nor did Ballou condemn all use of "uninjurious, benevolent physical force" in restraining the insane or the man about to commit an injury to another. He finally defined non-resistance as "simply non-resistance of injury with injury—evil with evil." Rather, he believed in "the essential efficacy of good, as the counter-acting force with which to resist evil."[104]

In applying his principle rigorously, Ballou, like the Mennonites, came to the conclusion that the non-resistant could have nothing to do with government. If he so much as voted for its officials, he had to share the moral responsibility for the wars, capital punishment, and other personal injuries which were carried out in its name. He insisted:

"There is no escape from this terrible moral responsibility but by a conscientious withdrawal from such government, and an uncompromising protest against so much of its fundamental creed and constitutional law, as is decidedly anti-Christian. He must cease to be its pledged supporter, and approving dependent."[105]

Like the Mennonites, he saw that the reason that governments were unchristian was that the people themselves were not Christian; but unlike the Mennonites he maintained that they might eventually become so, and that it was the duty of the Christian to hasten the day of their complete conversion. "This," he said,

"is not to be done by voting at the polls, by seeking influential offices in the government and binding ourselves to anti-Christian political compacts. It is to be done by pure Christian precepts faithfully inculcated, and pure Christian examples on the part of those who have been favored to receive and embrace the highest truths."[106]

The Mennonites believed that man was essentially depraved; Ballou believed that he was perfectible.[107]


[102] Allen, Fight for Peace, 696.

[103] Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 3.

[104] Ibid., 2-25.

[105] Ibid., 18.

[106] Ibid., 223-224.

[107] Perhaps this is the point at which to insert a footnote on Henry Thoreau, whose essay on "Civil Disobedience" is said to have influenced Gandhi. Although he lived in the same intellectual climate that produced Garrison and Ballou, he was not a non-resistant on principle. For instance, he supported the violent attack upon slave holders by John Brown just before the Civil War. He did come to substantially the same conclusions, however, on government. He refused even to pay a tax to a government which carried on activities which he considered immoral, such as supporting slavery, or carrying on war. On one occasion he said, "They are the lovers of law and order who observe the law when the government breaks it." Essentially, Thoreau was a philosophical anarchist, who placed his faith entirely in the individual, rather than in any sort of organized social action. See the essay on him in Parrington, II, 400-413; and his own essay on "Civil Disobedience" in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906), IV, 356-387.


Many people regard the writings of Count Leo Tolstoy as the epitome of the doctrine of non-resistance. Tolstoy arrived at his convictions after a long period of inner turmoil, and published them in My Religion in 1884. In the years that followed, his wide correspondence introduced him to many others who had held the same views. He was especially impressed with the 1838 statement of Garrison, and with the writings of Ballou, with whom he entered into correspondence directly.[108]

However, he went further than Ballou, and even further than the Mennonites in his theory, which he formulated fully in The Kingdom of God is Within You, published in 1893. He renounced the use of physical force completely even in dealing with the insane or with children.[109] He severed all relations with government, and went on to insist that the true Christian might not own any property. He practiced his own doctrines strictly.

Tolstoy had quite a number of followers, and a few groups were established to carry out his teachings. These groups have continued to exist under the Soviet Union, but their present fate is obscure. His works greatly influenced Peter Verigin, leader of the Dukhobors, who shortly after 1900 left Russia and settled in Canada in order to find a more hospitable environment for their communistic community, and to escape the necessity for military service.[110]

However, Tolstoy's theory is so completely anarchistic that it does not lend itself to organization. Hence his chief influence has been intellectual, and upon individuals. We have already noted the great impact that his works made on Gandhi, while he was formulating the ideas which were to result in Satyagraha.

Neither in the case of Gandhi, nor of Peter Verigin, however, were Tolstoy's doctrines applied in completely undiluted form. The Mennonites also disclaim kinship with him on the grounds that he sought a regeneration of society as a whole in this world.[111]

For most men the doctrine of complete anarchism has seemed too extreme for practical consideration, but it would seem that Tolstoy arrived at the logical conclusion of a system of non-resistance based on the premise that man should not combat evil, nor have any relationship whatever with human institutions which attempt to restrain men by means other than reliance upon the force of example and goodwill.


[108] Aylmer Maude, The Life of Tolstoy, (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1910), II, 354-360, where the letters to and from Ballou are quoted at length. See also Count Leo N. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You, translated by Leo Wiener (Boston: Dana Estes & Co., 1905), 6-22.

[109] In a letter to L. G. Wilson, Tolstoy said: "I cannot agree with the concession he [Ballou] makes for employing violence against drunkards and insane people. The Master made no concessions, and we can make none. We must try, as Mr. Ballou puts it, to make impossible the existence of such people, but if they do exist, we must use all possible means, and sacrifice ourselves, but not employ violence. A true Christian will always prefer to be killed by a madman, than to deprive him of his liberty." Maude, Tolstoy, II, 355-356.

[110] J. F. C. Wright, Slava Bohu: The Story of the Dukhobors (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1940), 99.

[111] Hershberger says of him: "He identified the kingdom of God with human society after the manner of the social gospel. But since he believed in an absolute renunciation of violence for all men, Tolstoy was an anarchist, repudiating the state altogether. Biblical nonresistance declines to participate in the coercive activities of the state, but nevertheless regards those as necessary for the maintenance of order in a sinful society, and is not anarchistic. But Tolstoy found no place for the state in human society at all; and due to his faith in the goodness of man he believed that eventually all coercion, including domestic police, would be done away." Mennonite Qu. Rev., XVII, 129-130.


The term "resistance" has occurred frequently in this study. As has been pointed out, this word has a negative quality, and implies opposition to the will of another, rather than an attempt to realize a positive policy. The preceding section dealt with its counterpart, "non-resistance," which has a neutral connotation, and implies that the non-resister is not involved in the immediate struggle, and that for him the refusal to inflict injury upon anyone is a higher value than the achievement of any policy of his own, either positive or negative.

Non-violent coercion, Satyagraha, and non-violent direct action, on the other hand, are definitely positive in their approach. Each seeks to effectuate a specified change in the policy of the person or group responsible for a situation which those who organize the non-violent action believe to be undesirable. However, even in such action the negative quality may appear. Satyagraha, for instance, insofar as it is a movement of opposition or "resistance" to British rule in India is negative, despite its positive objectives of establishing a certain type of government and economic system in that country.

The employment of active goodwill is another approach to the problem of bringing about desired social change. Its proponents seek to accomplish a positive alteration in the attitude and policy of the group or person responsible for some undesirable situation; but they refuse to use coercion—even non-violent coercion. Rather they endeavor to convince their opponent that it would be desirable to change his policy because the change would be in his own best interest, or would actually maintain his own real standard of values.

Many of those who would reject all coercion of an opponent practice such positive goodwill towards him, not because they are convinced that their action will accomplish the social purposes which they would like to achieve, but rather because they place such an attitude toward their fellowmen as their highest value. They insist that they would act in the same way regardless of the consequences of their action, either to the person towards whom they practice goodwill or to themselves. They act on the basis of principle rather than on the basis of expediency. In this regard they are like many of the practitioners of other methods of non-violence; but unlike them they place their emphasis on the positive action of goodwill which they will use, rather than upon a catalogue of violent actions which they will not use.

To those who practice the method of goodwill all types of education and persuasion are available. In the past they have used the printed and spoken word, and under favorable circumstances even political action. They hope to appeal to "that of God in every man," to bring about genuine repentance on the part of those who have been responsible for evil. If direct persuasion is not effective, they hope that their exhibition of love towards him whom others under the same circumstances would regard as an enemy may appeal to an aspect of his nature which is temporarily submerged, and result in a change of attitude on his part. If it does not, these advocates of goodwill are ready to suffer the consequences of their action, even to the point of death.

Action in the Face of Persecution

The practice of positive goodwill is open to the individual as well as to the group. Since he does what he believes to be right regardless of the consequences, he will act before there are enough who share his opinion to create any chance of victory over the well organized forces of the state or other institutions which are responsible for evil. The history of the martyrs of all ages presents us with innumerable examples of men who have acted in this way. Socrates is of their number, as well as the early Christians who insisted upon practicing their religion despite the edicts of the Roman empire. Jesus himself is the outstanding example of one who was willing to die rather than to surrender principle. It cannot be said of these martyrs that they acted in order to bring about reforms in society. They suffered because under the compulsion of their faith they could act in no other way, and at the time of their deaths it always looked as though they had been defeated. But in the end their sacrifices had unsought results. The proof of their effectiveness is declared in the old adage that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

If we seek examples from relatively recent times, we may find them in the annals of many of the pacifist sects of our own day. Robert Barclay, the Quaker apologist of the late seventeenth century, stated the position which the members of the Society of Friends so often put to the test:

"But the true, faithful and Christian suffering is for men to profess what they are persuaded is right, and so practise and perform their worship towards God, as being their true right so to do; and neither to do more than that, because of outward encouragement from men; nor any whit less, because of the fear of their laws and acts against it."[112]

The early Quakers suffered severely under the laws of England in a day when religious toleration was virtually unheard of. George Fox himself had sixty encounters with magistrates and was imprisoned on eight occasions; yet he was not diverted from his task of preaching truth. It has been estimated that 15,000 Quakers "suffered" under the various religious acts of the Restoration.[113] But they continued to hold the principles which had been stated by twelve of their leaders, including Fox, to King Charles shortly after his return to England:

"Our principle is, and our practice always has been, to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all.

* * * * *

"When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves; we have not made resistance against authority; but whenever we could not obey for conscience sake, we have suffered the most of any people in the nation...."[114]

These sufferings did not go unheeded. Even the wordly Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary concerning Quakers on their way to prison: "They go like lambs without any resistance I would to God they would either conform or be more wise and not be catched."[115]

In Massachusetts, where the Puritans hoped to establish the true garden of the Lord, the lot of the Quakers was even more severe. Despite warnings and imprisonments, Friends kept encroaching upon the Puritan preserve until the Massachusetts zealots, in their desperation over the failure of the gentler means of quenching Quaker ardor, condemned and executed three men and a woman. Even Charles II was revolted by such extreme measures, and ordered the colony to desist. After a long struggle the Quakers, along with other advocates of liberty of conscience, won their struggle for religious liberty even in Massachusetts. There can be little doubt that their sufferings played an important part in the establishment of religious liberty as an American principle.[116]

In our own day the conscientious objector to military service, whatever his motivation and philosophy, faces a social situation very similar to that which confronted these early supporters of a new faith. For the moment there is little chance that his insistence upon following the highest values which his conscience recognizes will bring an end to war, because there are not enough others who share his convictions. He takes his individual stand without regard for outward consequences to himself, because his conviction leaves him no other alternative. But even though his "sufferings" do not at once make possible the universal practice of goodwill towards all men, they may in the end have the result of helping to banish war from the world.


[112] Robert Barclay, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity; being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People Called Quakers (Philadelphia: Friends' Book Store, 1908), Proposition XIV, Section VI, 480.

[113] A. Ruth Fry, Quaker Ways: An Attempt to Explain Quaker Beliefs and Practices and to Illustrate them by the Lives and Activities of Friends of Former Days (London: Cassell, 1933), 126, 131.

[114] Quoted by Margaret E. Hirst, The Quakers in Peace and War: an Account of Their Peace Principles and Practice (New York: George H. Doran, 1923), 115-116.

[115] Quoted in Fry, Quaker Ways, 128-129.

[116] Hirst, 327; Rufus M. Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies (London: Macmillan, 1923), 3-135.

Coercion or Persuasion?

A man who is willing to undergo imprisonment and even death itself rather than to cease doing what he believes is right knows in his own heart that coercion is not an effective means of persuasion. The early Quakers saw this clearly. Barclay stated his conviction in these words:

"This forcing of men's consciences is contrary to sound reason, and the very law of nature. For man's understanding cannot be forced by all the bodily sufferings another man can inflict upon him, especially in matters spiritual and super-natural: 'Tis argument, and evident demonstration of reason, together with the power of God reaching the heart, that can change a man's mind from one opinion to another, and not knocks and blows, and such like things, which may well destroy the body, but never can inform the soul, which is a free agent, and must either accept or reject matters of opinion as they are borne in upon it by something proportioned to its own nature."[117]

And William Penn said more simply, "Gaols and gibbets are inadequate methods for conversion: this forbids all further light to come into the world."[118]

Other religious groups who went through experiences comparable to those of the Friends came to similar conclusions. The Church of the Brethren, founded in 1709 in Germany, took as one of its leading principles that "there shall be no force in religion," and carried it out so faithfully that they would not baptize children, on the ground that this act would coerce them into membership in the church before they could decide to join of their own free will. The Brethren have refused to take part in war not only because it is contrary to the spirit of Christian love, and destroys sacred human life, but also because it is coercive and interferes with the free rights of others.[119]

For the person who believes in the practice of positive goodwill towards all men, the refusal to use coercion arises from its incompatibility with the spirit of positive regard for every member of the human family, rather than being a separate value in itself. In social situations this regard may express itself in various ways. It may have a desirable result from the point of view of the practitioner, but again we must emphasize that he does what he does on the basis of principle; the result is a secondary consideration.


[117] Barclay, Apology, Prop. XIV, Sec. IV, 470.

[118] Fry, Quaker Ways. 59-60.

[119] D. W. Kurtz, Ideals of the Church of the Brethren, leaflet (Elgin, Ill.: General Mission Board, 1934?); Martin G. Brumbaugh in Studies in the Doctrine of Peace (Elgin, Ill.: Board of Christian Education, Church of the Brethren, 1939), 56; the statement of the Goshen Conference of 1918 and other statements of the position of the church in L. W. Shultz (ed.), Minutes of the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren on War and Peace, mimeo (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed., Church of the Brethren, 1935); and the pamphlet by Robert Henry Miller, The Christian Philosophy of Peace (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed., Church of the Brethren, 1935).

Ministering to Groups in Conflict

One expression of this philosophy may be abstention from partisanship in conflicts between other groups, in order to administer impartially to the human need of both parties to the conflict.

In this connection much has been made of the story of the Irish Quakers during the rebellion in that country in 1798. Before the conflict broke into open violence the Quarterly Meetings and the General National Meeting recommended that all Friends destroy all firearms in their possession so that there could be no suspicion of their implication in the coming struggle. During the fighting in 1798 the Friends interceded with both sides in the interests of humanity, entertained the destitute from both parties and treated the wounds of any man who needed care. Both the Government forces and the rebels came to respect Quaker integrity, and in the midst of pillage and rapine the Quaker households escaped unscathed. But Thomas Hancock, who told the story a few years later, pointed out that in their course of conduct the Friends had not sought safety.

"It is," he said, "to be presumed, that, even if outward preservation had not been experienced, they who conscientiously take the maxims of Peace for the rule of their conduct, would hold it not less their duty to conform to those principles; because the reward of such endeavor to act in obedience to their Divine Master's will is not always to be looked for in the present life. While, therefore, the fact of their outward preservation would be no sufficient argument to themselves that they had acted as they ought to act in such a crisis, it affords a striking lesson to those who will take no principle, that has not been verified by experience, for a rule of human conduct, even if it should have the sanction of Divine authority."[120]

It is in this same spirit that various pacifist groups undertook the work of relief of suffering after the First World War in "friendly" and "enemy" countries alike, ministering to human need without distinction of party, race or creed. The stories of the work of the American Friends Service Committee and the Service Civil founded by Pierre Ceresole are too well known to need repeating here.[121] It should not be overlooked that in this same spirit the Brethren and the Mennonites also carried on large scale relief projects during the interwar years.


[120] Thomas Hancock, The Principles of Peace Exemplified in the Conduct of the Society of Friends in Ireland During the Rebellion of the year 1798, with some Preliminary and Concluding Observations (2nd ed., London, 1826), 28-29. All the important features of the story are summarized in Hirst, 216-224.

[121] Lester M. Jones, Quakers in Action: Recent Humanitarian and Reform Activities of the American Quakers (New York: Macmillan, 1929); Rufus M. Jones, A Service of Love in War Time (New York: Macmillan, 1920); Mary Hoxie Jones, Swords into Plowshares: An Account of the American Friends Service Committee 1917-1937 (New York: Macmillan, 1937); Willis H. Hall, Quaker International Work in Europe Since 1914 (Chambery, Savoie, France: Imprimeries Reunies, 1938). On Service Civil, see Lilian Stevenson, Towards a Christian International, The Story of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (Vienna: International Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1929), 27-31, and Alan A. Hunter, White Corpuscles in Europe (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1939), 33-42.

The Power of Example

A social group that acts consistently in accordance with the principles of active goodwill also exerts great influence through the force of its example. A study of the Quaker activities in behalf of social welfare was published in Germany just before the First World War, by Auguste Jorns. She shows how, in relief of the poor, education, temperance, public health, the care of the insane, prison reform, and the abolition of slavery, the Quakers set about to solve the problem within their own society, but never in an exclusive way, so that others as well as members might receive the benefits of Quaker enterprises. Quaker methods became well known, and in time served as models for similar undertakings by other philanthropic groups and public agencies. Many modern social work procedures thus had their origins in the work of the Friends in a relatively small circle.[122]


[122] Auguste Jorns, The Quakers as Pioneers in Social Work, trans. by Thomas Kite Brown (New York: Macmillan, 1931).

Work for Social Reform

The activity of Quakers in the abolition of slavery both in England and America, especially the life-long work of John Woolman in the colonies, is well known. Here too, the first "concerned" Friends attempted to bring to an end the practice of holding slaves within the Society itself. When they had succeeded in eliminating it from their own ranks, they could, with a clear conscience, suggest that their neighbors follow their example. When the time came, Quakers were willing to take part in political action to eradicate the evil. The compensated emancipation of the slaves in the British Empire in 1833 proved that the reform could be accomplished without the violent repercussions which followed in the United States.[123]

Horace G. Alexander has pointed out that the person who voluntarily surrenders privilege, as the American Quakers did in giving up their slaves, not only serves as a witness to the falsehood of privilege, but can never rest until reform is achieved.

"The very fact," he says, "that he feels a loyalty to the oppressors as well as to the oppressed means that he can never rest until the oppressors have been converted. It is not their destruction that he wants, but a change in their hearts."[124]

Such an attitude is based upon a faith in the perfectibility of man and the possibility of the regeneration of society. It leads from a desire to live one's own life according to high principles to a desire to establish similar principles in human institutions. It rejects the thesis of Reinhold Niebuhr that social groups can never live according to the same moral codes as individuals, and also the belief of such groups as the Mennonites that, since the "world" is necessarily evil, the precepts of high religion apply only to those who have accepted the Christian way of life. Instead, the conviction of those who hold this ideal that it is social as well as individual in its application leads them into the pathways of social reform, and even into political action.


[123] Henry J. Cadbury, Colonial Quaker Antecedents to British Abolition of Slavery, An address to the Friends' Historical Society, March 1933 (London: Friends Committee on Slavery and Protection of Native Races, 1933), reprinted from The Friends' Quarterly Examiner, July, 1933; Jorns, 197-233.

[124] Horace G. Alexander in Heard, et al., The New Pacifism, 93.

Political Action and Compromise

The Quakers, for instance, have been noted for their participation in all sorts of reform movements. Since every reform in one sense involves opposition to some existing institution, Clarence Case has been led to call the Quakers "non-physical resistants;"[125] but since their real objective was usually the establishment of a new institution rather than the mere destruction of an old one, they might better be called "non-violent advocates." They were willing to advocate their reforms in the public forum and the political arena. Since, as Rufus Jones has pointed out, such action might yield to the temptation to compromise with men of lesser ideals, there has always been an element in the Society of Friends which insisted that the ideal must be served in its entirety, even to the extent of giving up public office and influence rather than to compromise.[126] In Pennsylvania the Quakers withdrew from the legislature when it became necessary in the existing political situation to vote support of the French and Indian war, but they did so not because they did not believe in political action, in which up to that moment they had taken part willingly enough, but rather because under the circumstances of the moment it was impossible to realize their ideals by that means.[127]

Ruth Fry, in discussing the uncompromising attitude of the Friends on the issue of slavery, has well described the process of Quaker reform:

"One cannot help feeling that this strong stand for the ultimate right was far more responsible for success than the more timid one, and should encourage such action in other great causes. In fact, the ideal Quaker method would seem to be patient waiting for enlightenment on the underlying principle, which when seen is so absolutely clear and convincing that no outer difficulties or suffering can affect it: its full implications gradually appear, and its ultimate triumph can never be doubted. Any advance towards it, may be accepted as a stepping stone, although only methods consistent with Quaker ideals may be used to gain the desired end. Doing anything tinged with evil, that good may come, is entirely contrary to their ideas."[128]

She goes on to say, "As ever, the exact line of demarcation between methods aggressive enough to arouse the indolent and those beyond the bounds of Quaker propriety was indeed difficult to draw."[129]

In such a statement we find a conception of compromise which is different from that usually encountered. In it the advocate of the ideal says that for the time being he will accept less than his ultimate goal, provided the change is in the direction in which he desires to move, but he will not accept the slightest compromise which would move away from his goal.


[125] Case, Non-Violent Coercion, 92-93.

[126] Rufus M. Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies, 175-176.

[127] Jones, Quakers in the Colonies, 459-494; Isaac Sharpless, A Quaker Experiment in Government (Philadelphia: Alfred J. Ferris, 1898), 226-276.

[128] Fry, Quaker Ways, 171-172.

[129] Ibid., 177.

The Third Alternative

The logical pursuit of such a principle leads even further than the type of compromise which Ruth Fry has described, to the establishment of a new basis of understanding which may not include any of the principles for which the parties in conflict may have been striving, and yet which brings about reconciliation.

Eric Heyman, speaking in religious terms, has said of this process of discovering a new basis of understanding through the exercise of positive goodwill, even toward an oppressor:

"That is the way of God, and it is therefore the way of our discipleship as reconcilers; the way of non-resistance to evil, of the total acceptance of the consequences of evil in all their lurid destructiveness, in order that the evil doer may be reconciled to God.... The whole consequences of his presence, whether small or great must be accepted with the single realisation that the whole process of the world's redemption rests upon the relationship which the Christian is able to create between himself and his oppressor. This course has nothing in common with resistance; it is the opposite of surrender, for its whole purpose and motive is the triumphing over evil by acceptance of all that it brings.... The resistance of evil, whether by way of violence or 'non-violence' is the way of this world. Resignation to evil is the way of weak surrender, and yields only a powerless resentment; at its best it is non-moral, at the worst sheerly immoral. Acceptance of evil is the triumphant answer of the redeemer. In the moment of his acceptance he knows of a certainty that he has overcome the world."[130]

This process of finding a new basis of relationship has been called "a third alternative, which produces no majority rule and no defeated minority."[131] The Quakers have long used this method in arriving at decisions within their own meetings. They refuse to make motions and take votes which produce clearcut divisions within the group, but insist that no action shall be taken until all divergent points of view have been expressed, and a statement drawn up which embodies "the sense of the meeting" and is acceptable to all. As Elton Trueblood has said, "The overpowering of a minority by calling for a vote is a kind of force, and breeds the resentment which keeps the method of force from achieving ultimate success with persons."[132] Douglas Steere has described the process in these words:

"This unshakable faith in the way of vital, mutual interaction by conciliatory conference is held to be applicable to international and interracial conflict as it is to that between workers and employer, or between man and wife. But it is not content to stop there. It would defy all fears and bring into the tense process of arriving at this joint decision a kind of patience and a quiet confidence which believes, not that there is no other way, but that there is a 'third-alternative' which will annihilate neither party."[133]

M. P. Follett, twenty years ago, wrote a book entitled Creative Experience, in which she supported this same conclusion on the basis of scientific knowledge about the nature of man, society and politics. Speaking of the democratic process she said:

"We have the will of the people ideally when all desires are satisfied.... The aim of democracy should be integrating desires. I have said that truth emerges from difference. In the ballot-box there is no confronting of difference, hence no possibility of integrating, hence no creating; self-government is a creative process and nothing else.... Democracy does not register various opinions; it is an attempt to create unity."[134]

It might be said that in so far as democracy has succeeded, it has done so because of its adherence to this principle. The division of a society into groups which are unremittingly committed to struggle against each other, whether by violent or non-violent means, until one or the other has been annihilated or forced to yield outwardly to its oppressors for the time being, will inevitably destroy the loyalty to a common purpose through which alone democracy can exist.

The contrast between the British and American attitudes toward the abolition of slavery presents us with a case in point. In Great Britain, the Emancipation Act contained provisions for the compensation of the slave owners, so that it became acceptable to them. In the United States the advocates of abolition insisted that since slavery was sin there could be no recognition of the rights of the owners. Elihu Burritt and his League of Universal Brotherhood were as much opposed to slavery as the most ardent abolitionists, yet of the League Burritt declared: "It will not only aim at the mutual pacification of enemies, but at their conversion into brethren."[135] Burritt became the chief advocate of compensated emancipation in the United States. Finally the idea was suggested in the Senate and hearings had been arranged on the measure.

"But," Burritt said, "just as it had reached that stage at which Congressional action was about to recognize it as a legitimate proposition, 'John Brown's raid' suddenly closed the door against all overtures or efforts for the peaceful extinction of slavery. Its extinction by compensated emancipation would have recognized the moral complicity of the whole nation in planting and perpetuating it on this continent. It would have been an act of repentance, and the meetest work for repentance the nation could perform."[136]

The country was already too divided to strive for this "third alternative," and, whether or not slavery was one of the prime causes of the Civil War, it made its contribution to creating the feeling which brought on the conflict. In the light of the present intensity of racial feeling in the United States, it can hardly be said that the enforced settlement of the war gave the Negro an equal place in American society or eliminated conflict between the races.

One of the virtues of the method of reconciliation of views in seeking the "third alternative" is that it can be practiced by the individual or a very small group as well as on the national or international scale. James Myers has described its use within the local community in the "informal conference." In such a conference, the person or group desiring to create better understanding or to eliminate conflict between elements of the community calls together, without any publicity, representatives of various interests for a discussion of points of view, with the understanding that there will be no attempt to reach conclusions or arrive at any official decisions. James Myers' experience has indicated that the conferences create an appreciation of the reasons for former divergence of opinion, and a realization of the possibilities of new bases of relationship which have often resulted in easing tensions within the community and in the solution of racial, economic and social conflicts.[137]

Even on the international level, individuals may make some contribution toward the elimination of conflicts, although, in the face of the present emphasis upon nationalism, and the lack of common international values to which appeal may be made, their labors are not apt to be crowned with success. As in all the cases which we have been considering, however, concerned individuals and groups may act in this field because they feel a compulsion to do so, regardless of whether or not their actions are likely to be successful in producing the desired result of reconciliation, and the discovery of the third alternative.[138]


[130] Eric Heyman, The Pacifist Dilemma (Banbury, England: Friends' Peace Committee, 1941), 11-12.

[131] Carl Heath, "The Third Alternative" in Heard, et al., The New Pacifism, 102.

[132] D. Elton Trueblood, "The Quaker Method of Reaching Decisions" in Laughlin, Beyond Dilemmas, 119.

[133] Douglas V. Steere, "Introduction" to Laughlin, Beyond Dilemmas, 18.

[134] M. P. Follett, Creative Experience (New York: Longmans, Green, 1924), 209.

[135] Quoted in Allen, Fight for Peace, 428.

[136] Quoted in Ibid., 437.

[137] James Myers, "Informal Conferences" a New Technique In Social Education, Leaflet (New York: Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, 1943).

[138] See George Lansbury, My Pilgrimage for Peace (New York: Holt, 1938); Bertram Pickard, Pacifist Diplomacy in Conflict Situations: Illustrated by the Quaker International Centers (Philadelphia: Pacifist Research Bureau, 1943).


Those who do not share the pacifist philosophy are prone to insist that the pacifists place far too much emphasis upon the refusal to employ physical force. These critics maintain that force is non-moral in character, and that the only moral question involved in its use is whether or not the purposes for which it is employed are "good" or "bad." They fail to realize that these concepts themselves arise from a subjective set of values, different for every social group on the basis of its own tradition and for every individual on the basis of his own experience and training.

The "absolute" pacifist places at the very apex of his scale of values respect for every human personality so great that he cannot inflict injury on any human being regardless of the circumstances in which he finds himself. He would rather himself suffer what he considers to be injustice, or even see other innocent people suffer it, than to arrogate to himself the right of sitting in judgment on his fellow men and deciding that they must be destroyed through his action. For him to inflict injury or death upon any human being would be to commit the greatest iniquity of which he can conceive, and would create within his own soul a sense of guilt so great that acceptance of any other evil would be preferable to it.

The person who acts on the basis of such a scale of values is not primarily concerned with the outward expediency of his action in turning the evil-doer into new ways, although he is happy if his action does have incidental desirable results. He acts as he does because of a deep conviction about the nature of the universe in which all men are brothers, and in which every personality is sacred. No logical argument to act otherwise can appeal to him unless it is based upon assumptions arising out of this conviction.

Those who place their primary moral emphasis upon respect for human personality are led to hold many other values as well as their supreme value of refusing to use violence against their fellow men. Except in time of war, when governments insist that their citizens take part in mass violence, the absolute pacifist is apt to serve these other values, which he shares with many non-pacifists, without attracting the attention which distinguishes him from other men of goodwill. He insists only that in serving these subsidiary values he must not act in any way inconsistent with his highest value.

Many pacifists, and all non-pacifists, differ from the absolutists in that they place other values before this supreme respect for every human personality. The pacifists who do so, refuse to inflict injury on their fellows not because this is itself their highest value, but because they believe other less objectionable methods are more effective for achieving their highest purposes, or because they accept the argument that the means they use must be consistent with the ends they seek. They would say that it is impossible to achieve universal human brotherhood by methods which destroy the basis for such brotherhood.

Such persons assess non-violence as a tactic, rather than accepting it as a value in itself. John Lewis comes to the conclusion that under certain circumstances violence is a more effective method. Gandhi believes in non-violence both as a principle and as the most effective means of achieving his purposes. Every individual who looks upon non-violence as only a means, rather than as an end in itself, will accept or reject it on the basis of his estimate of the expediency of non-violent methods. Some come to the conclusion that violence can never be effective and therefore refuse to use it under any circumstances; others decide on each new occasion whether violence or non-violence will best serve their ends in that particular situation. In such cases the question is one of fact; the decision must be based upon the available evidence.

From the diversity of opinions that exist at the present time it is obvious that the social sciences are not yet ready to give an unequivocal answer to this question of fact. Since the values that men hold subjectively are themselves social facts which the scientist must take into account, and since they vary from age to age, community to community, and individual to individual, it may never be possible to find the final answer. Meanwhile the individual facing the necessity for action must answer the question for himself on the basis of the best information available to him. Even if he refuses to face the issue for himself and accepts the prevalent idea of our own day that violence is an effective means of achieving desirable purposes, he has actually answered the question without giving thought to it.

The potential tragedy of our generation is that the whole world has been plunged into war on the basis of the prevalent assumption that violence is an effective means of achieving high social purposes. Even that part of the planning for peace that is based upon maintaining international order by force rests upon this same assumption. If the assumption be false, mankind has paid a terrible price for its mistake.

Another assumption on which the advocates of violence act is that the use of physical force in a noble cause inevitably brings about the triumph of that cause. History gives us no basis for such an assumption. There is much evidence that force sometimes fails, even when it is used on the "right" side. Although the sense of fighting in a righteous cause may improve the morale and thus increase the effectiveness of an army, actually wars are won by the stronger side. It is a curious fact that on occasion both opposing armies may feel that they are fighting on the side of righteousness. Napoleon summarized the soldier's point of view when he said that God was on the side of the largest battalions. During the uncertain process of violent conflict, the destruction of human life—innocent and guilty alike—goes on.

Just as there is evidence that violence used in a righteous cause is not always successful, there is evidence that non-violent methods sometimes succeed. Without attempting to give the final answer to the question whether violence creates so much destruction of human values that its apparent successes are only illusory, we can say that the success or failure of both violence and non-violence is determined by the conditions under which both are used, and attempt to discover the circumstances under which they have been effective.

(1) No great social movement can arise unless the grievance against the existing order is great and continuous, or the demand for a new order is so deeply ingrained in the minds of the people in the movement that they are willing to expend great effort and undergo great sacrifices in order to bring about the desired change.

(2) The group devoted to the idea of change must be large enough to have an impact on the situation. This is true whether the group desires to use violent or non-violent methods. In any case there will be a balancing of forces between those desiring change and those who oppose it. All of the non-violent techniques we have considered require sufficient numbers so that either their refusal of cooperation, their participation in politics, or their practice of positive goodwill has a significant effect upon the whole community.

(3) The group that has a strong desire to bring about social change may be augmented in strength by the support of other elements in the population who do not feel so strongly on the issue. The less vigorous support of such neutrals may be the element that swings the balance in favor of the group desiring change. This "third party" group may also remain indifferent to the conflict. In that case the result will be determined solely by the relative strength of the direct participants. In any case, the group desiring change will be defeated if it alienates the members of the third party so that they join the other side. This latter consideration gives a great advantage to the practitioners of non-violence, since in our own day people generally are disposed to oppose violence, or at least "unlawful" violence, and to sympathize with the victims of violence, especially if they do not fight back. A definite commitment on the part of the reformers not to use violence may go far toward winning the initial support of the group neutral in the conflict.

(4) These conditions of success must be created through the use of education and persuasion prior to taking action. The sense of grievance or the desire for social change must be developed in this way if it does not already exist. Even such a violent movement as the French Revolution grew out of a change in the intellectual climate of France created by the writers of the preceding century. Only when a large enough group has been won over to the cause of reform by such an educational campaign can the second requisite for success be obtained. Finally, much educational work must be done among the less interested third parties in order to predispose them to favor the changes advocated and to sympathize with the group taking part in the movement of reform.

The final result of any social conflict is determined by the balancing of forces involved. Violence itself can never succeed against a stronger adversary, so those who desire to bring about social change or revolution by violence have to begin with the process of education to build a group large enough to overcome the violent forces which are likely to be arrayed against them. Even a violent revolution must be preceded by much non-violent educational preparation. But even when the group using violence has become large enough to overcome the physical force arrayed against it, its victory rests upon the coercion of its opponents rather than upon their conversion. Though defeated, the opponents still entertain their old concepts and look forward to the day of retribution, or to the counter-revolution. A social order so established rests upon a very unstable foundation. Revolutionaries have attempted in such circumstances to "liquidate" all the opposition, but it is doubtful that they have ever been completely successful in doing so. The ruthless use of violence in the process of liquidation has usually alienated third parties against the regime that uses it, and thus augmented the group that might support the counter-revolution.

Advocates of non-violence must start in the same way as the violent revolutionaries to build their forces through persuasion and education. They must assess properly the attitude of the third party and carry on educational work with this group until it is certain that it will not go over to the other side at the moment of action.

By the time a revolutionary or reforming group was large enough to use violence successfully, and to weather the storm of the counter-revolution or reaction, it would already have won to its side so large a portion of the community that it could probably succeed without the use of violence. This would certainly be true in a country like the United States. We must ask the question as to whether the energy consumed in the use of violence might not bring better results if it were expended upon additional education and persuasion, without involving the destruction of human life, human values, and property which violence inevitably entails.

Even most of the ardent advocates of war and violent revolution admit that violence is only an undesirable necessity for the achievement of desirable ends. Non-violent methods pursued with the same commitment and vigor would be just as likely to succeed in the immediate situation as violence, without bringing in their train the tremendous human suffering attendant upon violence. More important is the fact that a social order based upon consent is more stable than one based upon coercion. If we are interested in the long range results of action, non-violence is much more likely to bring about the new society than is violence, because it fosters rather than destroys the sense of community upon which any new social order must be founded.

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