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The Failures of Violence Essay example

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Violence is inherently flawed. In the immortal words of Gandhi, "Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary." Therefore the most successful strategy for long-lasting peace and independence is nonviolence. This concept is crucial to understand the history of this time period. Violence and the lack of it, nonviolence plays a major role in the play of this chapter. Many question the practicality of nonviolence: “How can it work?” “Why can't armed and powerful opponents simply kill everyone that doesn't agree with them?” The answer couldn't be simpler: because the people will revolt. A few thousand oppressors wielding violence simply cannot control several million determined people. This lack of control is illustrated by four events throughout this chapter.

First, let's take a look at an example of nonviolence at work. In March 1917, nearly 200,000 textile workers in Petrograd, Russia led a citywide strike. Chants such as “Down with the autocracy!” and “Down with the war!” were heard as all the workers swarmed the streets. Soldiers, following orders from the czar, shot down the rioters, but later sided with them. This riot became known as the March Revolution, an example of nonviolent protest (civil disobedience). The March Revolution's holds significance because it was a nonviolent (on the protesters side, at least) way of expressing the belief that Russia should get out of the war.

Did the dissidents get what they wanted? Well, “the role of civil disobedience is to generate a response.” In this case, the response was just what the protesters wanted. The czar abdicated his throne. The March Revolution brought down the czar, and was a step towards giving the people what they want. This shows t...


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This relates to current events. The United States is currently engaged in the War on Terror. If this lesson from history is really taken to heart, and listened to, we would not send soldiers; instead, we would send diplomats and negotiators. Force only begets resentment, and we will never truly be able to get the Middle East under control. Fundamentally, the mechanism that the United States is using for control is flawed, and so—as long as these means are used—history says that the United States will never win.

To reiterate: violence has failed (as a method to create lasting amity) for totalitarian Joseph Stalin, and the Chinese Communist Party. However, nonviolence (as a method to secure long lasting peace and independence) has been enormously successful for the people of India (led by Gandhi) and the Russians in the March Revolution. Violence never works.


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