Mandela Gandhi MLK

In my opinion, I would place Gandhi and MLK higher than Mandela only because they never resorted to any violence. At the same time, Mandela’s situation may have necessitated such actions.

Moving this to Great Debates from MPSIMS.

I’m not sure how much destruction Mandela himself (as opposed to his comrades) was responsible for. But I think you have to admit that there’s no one set of tactics that can solve every problem. Different problems, different histories, different audiences. That’s also why it’s kind of absurd to rank people like this.

I worked with an Indian national at my last job and he told me, quite sincerely, that he and many other fellow Indians view Gandhi as being worse than Hitler. I never quite understood why exactly but I think it had something to do with Pakistan.

What Gandhi, MLK and Mandela have in common is that they correctly assessed the problem and found a workable lever to change it. Copying tactics from other times and places is an exercise in wasted effort 99% of the time.

Non-violence is not a workable path for all social ills. It maybe preferable on an ethical and humanitarian basis, but, not to put too fine a point on it, the correct application of power sometimes requires violence.

All movement tactics are subject to being co-opted. A tactic must exceed the threshold of perception and tolerability to be successful. Once used on a mass scale, the tactic becomes useless until the population forgets about it and can again be startled or moved by it.

Passively blocking the road worked in India in the 1940s and the US in the early 1960s. It utterly failed in the US of the 2010s. Demonstrations bordering on violence were effective in the later 1960s and have been essentially useless ever since. Noisy but nonviolent demonstrations, even less so.

I see no need to rank them; all three were great men who made huge, positive changes in the world. In total the size of the changes that can be attributed to Gandhi are much larger than for the other two.

This. There’s no magic tactic that always succeeds in every circumstance.

As for violence, violence and the threat of it is neither good nor bad in itself. Civilization is built on violence and the threat of violence. Violence is usually a bad idea, which is why people can get away with pacifism; the odds are good that they will never personally be in a situation where violence is the right choice. But that doesn’t make it always wrong.

This is not all the Congress Part (India/Gandhi) or the SLC (US/MLK) or the ANC did. Those non-violent campaigns were coordinated campaigns that were planned out as much as any military campaign. They involved protests, targeted economic disruption, targeted legal strategies (including pushing for legislation and well-placed court challenges), targeted disruption of enforcement mechanism (police, jails, etc.) and media/publicity campaigns.

Is 2010 a reference to Occupy Wall Street? That was a non-violent campaign, but it didn’t employ most of the tactics used by the Indian independence movement, the civil rights movement or the South African movement. We have no idea what a campaign similar to, say, the civil rights movement would accomplish today because nobody has mounted such a campaign.

I’ll just list the complaints here, but I don’t want to hijack the thread. I don’t agree with any of these, BTW, but the complaints are usually:

  1. He was too accommodating to the Muslims, and he prevented the government from using force against the Muslims, which resulted in unnecessary Hindu deaths.

  2. He was too accommodating to Pakistan, including demanding that the new Indian government negotiate a split of the British Raj’s gold reserves with Pakistan, rather than keeping all or most of it.

  3. He demanded that Nehru be the first prime minister, and here we’d have to get into the criticisms of Nehru.

  4. He did not intervene to stop the executions of certain people, such as Baghat Singh (I don’t have enough eyerolls for this one, but I’ll stop).