Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gandhi: Reverse Terrorist

Listening to a free lecture from UC Berkeley this morning, I heard a definition for terrorism that included the idea that the victims of terrorism are not necessarily the targeted audience for the terrorist act. That got me thinking about Gandhi.

Gandhi was a reverse terrorist. He provoked acts of violence against himself to highlight the cruelty and injustice in colonial imperialism. His demonstrations were designed to provoke a reaction in his intended audience, which included citizens of the British empire as well as the people of India. Specifically, he provoked the moral outrage of the British people against their own methods and institutions in India. The British people soon found that they were unable to rest peacefully, knowing that their soldiers were beating and imprisoning an old man for such acts as boiling sea water to make salt.

William Vollman, in his book Rising Up and Rising Down argues that the revolutionary, the terrorist, and the practitioner of civil disobedience must give up outside commitments in favor of their cause. Gandhi clearly understood this.


  1. Very thought provoking, thanks!

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