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Non-violence is the theory, the ideology or the philosophy, or however the culture of those who consider that human relationships must be run without the use of violence, without the use of guns and avoiding aggression and war.

The theory has been proposed in different forms and in ancient epochs, but it became of general knowledge in the 20th century, especially with the famous political success of Mohandas Gandhi in India. It is related to the way of life advocated by Jesus Christ, by Gautama Buddha, and to the notion of ahimsa in Jainism.

Basically, it is a political method: "non-violents" prefer to consider that social and political results can be achieved by a dialectical debate rather than by a contraposition of (eventually military or military-like) forces. In front of an eventual dispute with dominant forces or entities, they prefer talking about "resistance" rather than about "conflict".

At the individual level, one can choose to live one's personal life when relating to other people, such as refusing to fight other people or to own weapons of self-defense. On the collective level, it can refer to generating public opposition to war and the promotion of peaceful means of settling international conflicts. Non-violence may combine both the personal and the political through acts of civil disobedience or refusing to participate in a war effort.

Advocates of non-violence may be also vegetarian or vegan, but this is unrelated and not a rule: as a broad category they are concerned with violence against human beings, not other members of the animal kingdom. With regard to virtual violence, such as in some computer games, opinions vary because it is not violence against real living beings. Some argue that virtual violence promotes and celebrates real violence, while others assert that it may be helpful to fight stress and relieve subconscious urges, and therefore prevent real violence.

Table of contents
1 Successful non-violence movements
2 Criticism
3 Pages to merge with?
4 See also

Successful non-violence movements

Non-violence may be adopted as a pragmatic political strategy, in which case its effectiveness is open to debate. It has sometimes been successful, as in the case of Mohandas Gandhi's non-violence, which played a major role in India\'s independence. Gandhi relied on his followers committing acts of non-violence with the specific purpose of setting a perfect contrast with the violence used by the British against them, in order to sway public opinion.

Solidarity movement in Poland in the 10 years struggle convinced communists to give up their power.


Similarly, Gandhi repeatedly advocated that Europe, from Britain to the Jews and Czechs, not resist Nazi violence; he hoped that the Nazis themselves would then see the error of their ways. Critics have generally judged Gandhi correct in his own circumstance under the British, but naive in the case of the Nazis. His doctrines proved apparently incapable to prevent violence during the partition of British India into today's India and Pakistan. Critics of this kind of pacifism claim that being non-violent in the face of violent criminals or armies tacitly or explicitly encourages more violence. They often characterize pacifism as simply "waiting tolerantly for criminals to learn that their actions are unwise". In the midst of violent repression of radical Black Americans in the United States during the 1960s, Black Panther George Jackson said of the pacifism of Martin Luther King, Jr:

"The concept of nonviolence is a false ideal. It presupposes the existence of compassion and a sense of justice on the part of one's adversary. When this adversary has everything to lose and nothing to gain by exercising justice and compassion, his reaction can only be negative."

Pages to merge with?

See also