I never really thought about how to verbalize this, but reading it here, it resonates very well.
“the point is, saying violence is evil isn’t an answer. It doesn’t say when to fight and when not to fight. It’s a hard question and Gandhi refused to deal with it, and that’s why I lost some of my respect for him.” — Harry Potter.
I can see why it is a safer decision to take.And can sympathize with him. But to use non-violence against a British Govt. is one thing, but to advise to Nazi invasion, is just suicidal madness*.
And from the little readings of his autobiography**, i think Gandhi would think of it as an experiment that had positive results against the British, but may or may not have the same results every other time.i.e: i consider him an empirical rationalist** who advocated it only because it had worked in the past for him. We have no idea what would be the outcome in case of Nazi’s.
The more i think about it, the more i think, it(non-violence) was a conservative decision, along the lines of not losing marginal advantage in a game.(http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=64514). After all we are not a centralized/algorithmic decision makers but more like a democracy. Which means it is very easy to choose violence and believe/rationalize it was the right choice.
Once you look at that viewpoint(game theory) it is very clear…What are the problems with the decision? There are indeed many real-life situations/decisions where the advantages/disadvantages are hardly marginal, but wildly vary. When practiced with co-operation from a sizeable group/community of people it has a big impact. i.e: it benefits from network effects(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect). Guess what if i were playing a game against this strategy, i would try something that benefits from network effect too. But then i would choose something more concrete and liable to rouse loyalty and commitment affects in the people. (Hitler used racial purity, superiority and progress of humanity. You gotta say that’ clever combining a vague goal as humanity’s progress with something concrete as purity and supremacy of the race).
Anyway, i would place my bets with Eliezer Yudkowsky and say non-violence wouldn’t have worked against the Nazi’s.
Just read this article and it made me think about indian independence in a different light. Perhaps, the british government took over from the East India company to clear up their mess, due to their attempts at governance, but left as soon as they found the situation was stable??? Not to take away any credit, but it does make non-violence movement a very intelligent gambit. I mean the strategy is likely to lead to very limited blood/lives lost.(low liability). Highly Effective, given the governance was under transition(since 1858) and trouble(after all the top layer had been replaced and new values were drifting down from the top.
Not very surprisingly, there is a large body of debate(publications and books) around non-violence.See here .
In a modern technology (software) setup, it’s pretty much impossible to stay non-violent, or so i have realized. I have learnt to visualize, ripping someone apart, while talking,sounding and appearing polite, but that seems to be ineffective in some cases, so am playing around with actual verbal displays of violence to figure out it that works in some cases.
* — I don’t know of the actual advice,just referring to what the story says.Recently read it on wikipedia though.. and should definitely point he also said this : “Gandhi guarded against attracting to his satyagraha movement those who feared to take up arms or felt themselves incapable of resistance. ‘I do believe,’ he wrote, ‘that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.'” Again from wikipedia.
**– My impression is that he was a strong empiricist. I would love to say rationalist too, but don’t think i read enough to say that confidently.