Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘What Gandhi Says’

WHAT GANDHI SAYS: Norman G. Finkelstein on nonviolence, resistance, and courage

Monday, January 30th, 2017

October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, is traditionally celebrated as International Day of Nonviolence.



In light of world events today, January 30—the sad anniversary of his assassination—also seems a good time to revisit his work on nonviolence, resistance, and courage. Norman G. Finkelstein’s observations, recorded at the time of Occupy Wall Street, ring true today:

Bringing to bear a keen mind on a rich life experience of public service, Gandhi extracted valuable practical insights into the nature of politics, which it would be imprudent to ignore.

I first began to read Gandhi a few years ago in order to think through a nonviolent strategy for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

But the field for the application of Gandhi’s ideas has now been vastly expanded by the emergence of the Arab Spring and nonviolence resistance movements around the world.

Gandhi’s name is everywhere on the lips of those challenging a political system that shuts out the overwhelming majority of people and an economic system that leaves them futureless.

In my own city of New York, the idea of nonviolent civil disobedience has seized the imagination of young people and energized them with the hope that they can bring even the ramparts of Wall Street tumbling down.

Gandhi devoted the whole of his adult life to organizing the powerless 99 percent against the greedy 1 percent. He aspired in the first place to end the British occupation of India, but he also recoiled at the prospect of a corrupt clique of native Indians replacing the foreign occupiers. Gandhi sought to lay the foundations for a political system in which not just nominal but also actual power was transferred to the Indian masses, and in which heath was equitably distributed but the chase after wealth ceased to be life’s purpose.

He was convinced not only that the old world could be extirpated and a new world be brought into being nonviolently, but also that unless it was done nonviolently, the new world would hardly differ from the old world it superseded.

A new generation is now experimenting with and envisioning novel ways of living, and pondering how to redistribute power and eliminate privilege. The life experience and reflections of Gandhi provide a rich trove to help guide these idealistic but disciplined, courageous but cautious, youth as they venture forth to create a brighter future.


The Gandhi Foundation reviews WHAT GANDHI SAYS by Norman Finkelstein

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Thinking through how a nonviolent protest might free the West Bank from Israeli occupation led the author to take a close look at Gandhi’s own writings to see just what he did say about nonviolence. One of his complaints is that Gandhi scholars in fact rarely do take a close look at the Collected Works, though surely this is transparently unfair in the case of Anthony Parel and, indeed, our own editor, George Paxton. As one would expect of a close friend of Noam Chomsky a razor-sharp intelligence is brought to bear on those writings. Finkelstein has written extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict and maybe predictably his major critique of Gandhi’s ideas lies in their ineffectiveness for dealing with Hitler and the Holocaust. But this is a highly sophisticated analysis and is far more ambivalent in the ways it looks at such questions as Gandhi’s consistency and at the psychology underlying these ideas, other historical conflicts, above all the freedom struggle, and this is a measured recommendation for a nonviolent approach at the time of the Arab spring and the Occupy movement.

Read the full review at The Gandhi Foundation.


Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Kettling. A modern representation of Enclosure; a combination of innovation and tradition which has become a defining experience of social control in the 21st century. My first experience of kettling was in October 1992. A newly-elected Conservative government had announced a series of pit closures in preparation for the privatization of whatever scraps remained of King Coal. Communities already buckled by the weight of Thatcher’s war against her ‘enemies within’ faced yet more punishment. The demonstrations called by the National Union of Mineworkers in October were packed with hundreds of thousands of angry people, outraged at both the treatment of the miners and the Conservative Party’s substantial, foul-tasting victory at the May election. On the day, the police were mindful of the many strike veterans being bussed into London (perhaps also vaguely recalling the recent fate of the regime in Bucharest at the hands of miners) as well as the unleashed fury of the poll tax demonstrations, which had resulted in chaos in Central London only a couple of years previously. The authorities’ strategy at the conclusion of the rally was to pile up row upon row of riot policemen, combined with cordons, to prevent people leaving Hyde Park and heading towards Westminster. Surges from the back of the crowd squashed demonstrators in the middle and the front—thereby placing the onus upon the demonstrators to be the first to lash out. Whilst people were penned-in on three sides, the police launched a couple of cavalry charges. The aim, to large extent successful, was to isolate those willing to take on the police, from those who would be relieved to escape. The police figured that only a fraction would choose to remain in a restricted space for an unknown period, in the proximity of the police horses and their baton-wielding riders.

Read the full review in the New Left Project

Democracy Now! interviews Norman Finkelstein on his book WHAT GANDHI SAYS

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

After an exhaustive study of Mahatma Gandhi’s works, scholar and activist Norman Finkelstein has written a new book about the principles of nonviolent resistance from the Indian struggle for independence to Tahrir Square and Zuccotti Park. He says Gandhi found “nothing more despicable than cowardice,” and argued that nonviolence does not mean running away from danger. In fact, Gandhi argued that fighting a war with weapons takes less courage than nonviolent resistance in which “you’re supposed to march into the line of fire, smilingly and cheerfully, and get yourself blown to bits.” Finkelstein’s new book is titled What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage. Click here to see part 1 and part 2 of this interview.

See the full interview on Democracy Now!

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