Hedges “Introduction” War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

A- How are the messages of these 3 readings connected? what are their differences?

1- Hedges “Introduction” War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning;

Hedges analyzes the nature of war, its causes and consequences, and the physical, emotional, and moral devastation it leaves in its wake. He likens it to a drug that intoxicates, the thrill of being released from the moral strictures of everyday life and a unifying force that provides a sense of meaning, purpose, and self-sacrifice. Once war begins, the moral universe collapses and every manner of atrocity can be justified in the eyes of those who wage it, because the cause is just, the enemy is inhuman, and only war can restore balance to the world. Hedges pleads for humility, love, and compassion. Only when a nation can accept its share of blame and see its enemy with compassion rather than hatred can war be averted and true peace prevail.

2- Madeleine Reese “Gender, War, and Human Rights” a TED Talk video

Gives a feminist reading of the politics underlying war and peace. Says it is about power – who has it and has not. Gender as a category is cuts across all barriers in a specific way, e.g. women were sex traded by peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. The UN knew it but did not say anything. So we are afraid of difference and choose to defend ourselves through a militarized security which is masculine in nature. Women are sidelined here. Code of violence & culture of fear are escalated. But peace means no guns, no violence, celebration of diversity, of tolerance as per feminism.

3- A Force More Powerful (NJVid)

Episode 1 discusses the case studies of MK Gandhi in India, ML King in the US, and N Mandela in South Africa. These 3 leaders used principles of non violence to resist and overthrow imperialist, racist, oppressive, unjust regimes. They were able to organize their communities into united bodies that philosophically came together under a common idea and set of actions. These ideas and actions were based on ethics but hit at the economics, politics, and culture of colonization and slavery. In a sense they mde war through peaceful means to end the violence of oppression. They became associated with the philosophy of Gandhism.

Here are some principles of Gandhism that I have put together after searching the web. These are some basic ideas. Of course Gandhism can be complicated. But this list can give you a summary of what drove these 3 leaders – their similarities and differences.

1. Truth: Truth is the most cardinal principle of Gandhism. He was of the opinion that a truthful person will not harm his opponents but will make them friends. He always considered truth as the ideal, and continuously strived for its achievement. He firmly believed that only a society based on truth can become an ideal society.

2. Non-violence: Next to truth, Mahatma Gandhi expressed full faith in non-violence.

(i) Non-violence of the Brave: The basis of the non-violence of the brave is morality and inner strength. Only a brave person can practise non-violence. This type of non-violence can achieve very good results.

(ii) Non-violence based on Expediency: It is the non- violence of the weak. It is used as a matter of expediency or utility. It is the result of weakness and helplessness and not of moral conviction.

(iii) Non-violence of the Coward: The non-violence of the coward is the worst form of non-violence Cowardice and non-violence can never really go together. A coward does not face danger, he runs away from it.

3. Satyagraha: Satyagraha is a moral weapon with which one can successful meet the challenge evil, injustice, exploitation and untruthfulness.

4. Satyagrah and Non-Cooperation: Gandhiji was of the opinion that oppression and exploitation were possible only through co-operation given by those who were being oppressed. When the people decide to refuse to co-operate with an unjust Government the unjust system sooner or later, comes to an end. Non-violent non-cooperation can even bend the absolute power of a despot.

Non-co-operation can assume three different forms:

(i) Stoppage of work: The aim of the stoppage of work is to arouse consciousness in the minds of the people and the government against evil.

(ii) Social boycott: The weapon of social boycott can he used against those people who do not join non-cooperation movement. But it does not mean a denial of the use of social service to the persons boycotted. Social boycott also does not mean insulting of the cooperator by the non-cooperator.

(iii) Picketing: The aim of picketing is not to check the entry of a person to that place which is picketed but to arouse public indignation against the wrong doers.

(iv) Strike: Strike is another mode of Satyagraha. But the strike has to be voluntary and non-violent.

(v) Fasting: Fasting is another effective method of Satyagraha. It can be used for self-purification, for opposing injustice, and for changing the hearts of the wrong doers. It is a means to arouse public opinion by self-suffering.

(vi) Civil-Disobedience: It is the most drastic form of Satyagraha. Gandhiji called civil-disobedience, “a complete, effective and bloodless substitute of an armed revolt,” It means disobedience of immoral, unjust and oppressive laws. It includes non-payment of taxes and non-cooperation with the government in any way.

(vii) Hijrat: Hijrat is also a weapon of Satyagraha. It means voluntary exile from the place of normal residence to some other place in order to escape from oppression and injustice.

5. Relationship between Religion and Politics: Gandhian Philosophy advocates the view that religion and politics are not entirely separate things. He spiritualised politics. For him there could be no politics devoid of religion. However, by religion Gandhiji did not means any particular religion. He always respected all the religions and followed their values.

6. Faith in the principle of Purity of Means and Ends: Gandhism firmly believes in the use of good means for the realisation of good ends. It firmly stands against the materialistic principle of end justifies means.

7. State as a Souless Machine: Gandhism describes state as a ‘Souless Machine.’ He argued that there was no illustration in history when the state had supported the case of the poor. State is based on force and its orders are enforced with coercive power. So it has no moral basis. However, Gandhiji did not favour a complete abolition of the State. He accepted the role of state as an agency for providing security to the people.

8. State as a Means and not an End: Gandhiji considered state as a means and not an end. Gandhiji wanted the state to be a Service State. State should work for making the life of man better. Further, the state is not infallible and omnipotent. People can oppose the unjust laws and policies of the state.

9. Support for a Limited Functioning State: Gandhiji wanted to limit the functions of the State. Like individualists, Gandhiji regarded the State as a necessary evil. He wished to assign to it minimum functions. Undoubtedly, there are certain functions which cannot be performed without the state. However, a large number of functions can be performed without the State.

10. Ideal Society or Ram Rajya: Gandhi’s ideal was a stateless democratic society. This society was to be a federation of self-contained and self-regulated village communities. It was to work on the basis of peoples’ voluntary and peaceful co-operation. Every village was to be a small republic, having a panchayat with full powers. Every village republic was to have the right to manage all its affairs. It was also to protect itself from foreign aggression through its own means. Such a society was to be highly civilized in which every individual was to be aware of its needs and necessity of working with others on the basis of equal labour. Gandhiji named his ideal society as ‘Ram Rajya’. Truth and non-violence were to be the basis of Ram Rajya. In the Ideal society people were to lead a happy and peaceful life on the basis of moral and spiritual values.

11. Democracy and Panchayats: Gandhiji knew well that his ideal of stateless village based of self-government could not be realized in a short time. He therefore supported democracy as the best form of government. However, the central point of his concept of democracy was Village Panchayat system. Panchayats were to have sufficient powers to run the administration of villages. Above village panchayats there were to be district level panchayats whose members were to be elected indirectly by the members of the village panchayats. Each district panchayat was to manage the district administration. Above the district administration there was to be the provincial government whose members were to be elected by the district panchajyats. Above the provincial governments, there was to be a central government. The members of the central parliament and the supreme executive were to be elected indirectly by all the provincial assemblies. The functions of the central government were to be kept limited. Thus the whole country was to be ruled by panchayats of the people.

12. Decentralization of Powers: Gandhiji was in favour of a democratic state with its powers decentralised. He was of the opinion that the greater the centralisation the lesser was the democracy in the state.

13. Principle of Bread Labour: Gandhiji believed in the principle that every man should do some physical labour to earn his bread. “Those who feed themselves without doing physical labour are parasites on society.” Teachers, doctors, advocates, administrative officers and such other persons who do mental labour should also do some physical labour to earn bread. Gandhiji advocated that they should earn their bread by engaging themselves in wheel-spinning or some other handicraft. They should do mental labour for the society free of any cost. Ideal labour is that with which one grows something out of land.

14. Trusteeship theory of Private Property: Gandhiji was not against the institution of private property as such. But he opposed the use of property as a means for exploiting others. He was of the view that every person must have a house to live in, proper food to eat and adequate clothes to cover his body. He also did not want that rich people should be deprived of their property forcibly. He simply believed and advocated the view that the gap between the rich and the poor should be less. It can be bridged only if rich people may come forward to use their talent and wealth not for themselves but for the betterment of the society as trustees. This is his principle of ‘Trusteeship’. Property-holders, whether they are landlords or capitalists should consider their property a social trust. They should use it in the interest of the society. As trustees, they could have only reasonable rate of earnings because of their service and usefulness to the society. The rate of earning could be just only if the earners agreed to surrender their existing titles based on absolute ownership for a trusteeship. If, however, the landlords and the capitalists failed to accept the new principle of trusteeship as the basis of ownership, the weapon of non-violent non-cooperation could be used against them and social control over property be established. Trusteeship system could work as a mean for transforming the present capitalist system into an egalitarian order.

15. Decentralised Economy: Gandhism is opposed to centralised economy. Economic centralisation helps capitalism to flourish. It leads to economic exploitation of man by man and nation by nation. Big industries need raw materials in large quantities. The craftsmen do not get supply of raw-materials at proper rates. Due to large scale production by machines, the demand for goods produced by craftsmen goes down and consequently they have to face unemployment. The search for raw-materials gives birth to colonialism and imperialism.

16. Views on Crime, Punishment and Justice: According to Gandhiji, crime was a social disease. Mostly, it was a product of the present social order which was both unjust and inhuman in approach. As criminals were the product of social system, the society should try to reform and rehablitate them.

17. Nationalism and Internationalism: Gandhiji did not find any antagonism between nationalism and internationalism. He was opposed to narrow, violent and aggressive nationalism. He was a firm supporter of world peace and world brother-hood. He stood for positive and healthy adjustment between nationalism and internationalism.

B- What do you think of these principles? Do they contradict each other?