Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quote of The Day

"This is what it means to be courageous: to place yourself in the path of irresistible force, certain of your own destruction, for a cause higher than yourself and your petty concerns. Flesh arrayed against bullets, bodies against tanks. Lives willingly offered for beliefs and aspirations. Without sacrifice or the threat of sacrifice, there is no courage.

And bullets and tanks are so much more powerful than flesh and bodies, are they not? But here's the trick: once the credible threat of violence by a government against its own people tips over into the actual use of force, the balance shifts. The government forfeits all legitimacy, and the people assume the mantle of moral and political authority over their own destinies. By sacrificing their blood and their lives, the people themselves can seize power from the men with bullets and machines. For there are always more people than there are bullets or machines."

3 comments:

  1. Nice sentiments but rubbish. This works only when the government has a certain moral compass. Thus, it worked with great effect for Ghandi against the British who desisted from mass murder.

    But it doesn't work when the Government is ruthless and doesn't care how many of its own people it kills - vide Tinamen Square or Burma in recent times.

    Winning the moral argument is no guarantee of winning the physical one.

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  2. Tony, you are correct in saying that some regimes are more easily overcome than other,more brutal and repressive than others.

    The fact however remains, that in order for such brutal and oppressive regimes to be overthrown, a critical enough mass has to at some point lose all fear of losing their own lives - to the extent that a single mass brutal act eg. Tinamen Square does not wipe out the entire revolt.

    At the same time, it is important to remember that a revolution is often more successful if some section of the government or the armed forces themselves do not support the regime fully.

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  3. The British would have had no qualms about using force in India if they had had a PRETEXT for doing so.

    Any national coverage you ever see of protests with the Gardai or other national police force deploying force always presents the protestors (or small component in their midst) as causing trouble, or labelled as 'anarchists' or other such subversive type, supposedly capable of using force, and which necessitates and justifies a retaliatory force...

    Gandhi's satyagraha was based on removing this pretext absolutely. In addition to focused non-cooperation - which non-cooperation would more often than not elicit at least the violent reponse of imprisonment (and imprisonment is certainly violence)... But all such violence was to be accepted in the vein of 'turn the other cheek'.

    It is thus a strategy or philosophy that in fact is expressly designed to work with the most ruthless of governments. In fact it is the only strategy that has any chance at all of succeeding with any government (all governments are ruthless today). And it indeed requires courage of the highest degree.

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