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Ammon Hennacy on Gandhi: a book review - Catholic Worker odds & ends
February 5th, 2010
07:19 pm

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Ammon Hennacy on Gandhi: a book review
Conquest of Violence, The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict by Prof. Joan V. Bondurant, Princeton Univ, Press, 1958,

"'Oppression ceases,' Gandhi taught his followers, 'when people cease to fear the bayonet.' Unlike regular anarchists Gandhi sought by negotiation with politicians to achieve the stateless anarchist ideal, and also unlike most anarchists he was able to develop both personal and mass resistance to the state and to exploitation and to overcome the government. The author quotes Bob Ludlow in an article in the CW as saying, 'It is the political element that will destroy Gandhi's teachings in India for he did not realize that Satyagraha must be united with an anti-state philosophy.' The author replies 'nevertheless with satyagraha as the functioning socio-political technique of action, anarchism could conceivably result.' Gandhi, quoting from the Gita (Bagavad Gita) that 'when there is no desire for fruit (of one's actions) there is no temptation for untruth.' Gandhi says 'Do not resist arrest; if taken prisoner, behave in an exemplary manner...do not expect guarantees of maintenance of dependents.' Courtesy to the opponent was shown in India when 'satyagrahas ceased their civil disobedience at midday because of the hardship that would work on European opponents who were less accustomed to extreme heat...and postponing an action to spare the Englishman for his Easter Sunday services and celebrations.' The author quotes Gandhi as saying 'I do believe that when there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....Non-violent conduct is never demoralizing whereas cowardice always is.' Fasting is primarily a penance and according to Gandhi 'there can be no penance where the accused person is not conscious of having commited a wrong...Fasting...no one who has not earned the right to do so should use this weapon.' The author shows an understanding of anarchism when she says 'Anarchist urge freedom from politics rather than political freedom."---from THE BOOK OF AMMON.

There are two excellent essays on Gandhi which would interest readers of this blog. One is by George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi) and the other by Arthur Koestler (Mahatma Gandhi: A Revaluation). Dorothy Day may have read the one by Orwell but probably not the one by Koestler; someone once gave her a multi-volume set of Orwell's journalism. I don't imagine Ammon ever read either. RS

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