Summary and Keywords
Nonviolence is a powerful method to harmonize relationships among people for the establishment of justice and the ultimate well-being of all parties. It draws its power from awareness of the profound truth to which the wisdom traditions of all cultures, science, and common experience bear witness: that all life is one. Mahatma Gandhi is often considered as the founder of the nonviolence movement. He spread the concept of ahimsa (Sanskrit for nonviolence) through his movements and writings, which then inspired other nonviolent activists. But while nonviolence refers to abstention from violence based on moral principles, nonviolence also has “activist” elements, in that believers accept the need for nonviolence as a means to achieve political and social change. For instance, Gandhian nonviolence is a philosophy that sees nonviolent action (also called civil resistance) as an alternative to passive acceptance of oppression or armed struggle against it. Related to the theory of nonviolence is what scholars call the “pluralistic model of power,” which states that political power comes from the cooperation of the citizens, and thus if people shift their cooperation patterns, they can alter the power balance and overcome oppressive rule. The forms of nonviolence draw inspiration from both religious or ethical beliefs and political analysis. Religious or ethically based nonviolence is sometimes referred to as principled nonviolence, while nonviolence based on political analysis is often referred to as tactical or pragmatic nonviolent action.
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