Q. 1. Is it possible for a modern State (which is essentially based on force) to offer non-violent resistance for countering internal as well as external forces of disorder? Or is it necessary that people wanting to offer non-violent resistance should first of all divest themselves of State-authority and place themselves vis-a-vis the opponent entirely in a private capacity?
It is not possible for a modern State based on force, non-violently
to resist forces of disorder, whether external or internal. A man
cannot serve God and Mammon, nor be 'temperate and furious' at the
same time. It is claimed that a State can be based on non-violence,
i.e. it can offer non-violent resistance against a world combination
based on armed force. Such a State was Ashoka's. The example can be
repeated. But the case does not become weak even if it be shown that
Ashoka's State was not based on non-violence. It has to be examined
on its merits.
Q. 2. Do you think that it would be possible for a Congress
government to deal with foreign aggression or internal riots in an
entirely non-violent manner?
A. It is certainly possible for a Congress government to deal with
"foreign aggression or internal riots" in a non-violent manner. That
the Congress may not share my belief is quite possible. If the
Congress changes its course, the change will prove nothing save that
the non-violence hitherto offered was of the weak and that the
Congress has no faith in State non-violence.
Q. 3. Does not the knowledge that the opponent is wedded to
non-violence often encourage the bully?
A. The bully has his opportunity when he has to face non-violence of
the weak. Non-violence of the strong is any day stronger than that
of the bravest soldier fully armed or a whole host.
Q. 4. What policy would you advocate if a section of the Indian
people tries to enforce by sword a selfish measure which is not only
repugnant to others but also basically unjust? While it is possible
for an unofficial organization to offer non-violent resistance in
such a case, is it also possible for the government of the day to
A. The question assumes a case which can never exist. A non-violent
State must be broad-based on the will of an intelligent people, well
able to know its mind and act up to it. In such a State the assumed
section can only be negligible. It can never stand against the
deliberate will of the overwhelming majority represented by the
State. The government of the day is not outside the people. It is
the will of the overwhelming majority. If it is expressed
non-violently, it cannot be a majority of one but nearer 99 against
1 in a hundred.
Q. 5. Is not non-violent resistance by the militarily strong more
effective than that by the militarily weak?
A. This is a contradiction in terms. There can be no non-violence
offered by the militarily strong. Thus, Russia in order to express
non-violence has to discard all her power of doing violence. What is
true is that if those, who were at one time strong in armed might,
change their mind, they will be better able to demonstrate their
non-violence to the world and, therefore, also to their opponents.
Those who are strong in non-violence will not mind whether they are
opposed by the militarily weak people or the strongest.
Q. 6. Is it not better under existing circumstances that countries
like India and England should maintain full military efficiency
while resolving to give non-violent resistance a reasonable trial
before taking any military step?
A. The foregoing answers should make it clear that under no
circumstances can India and England give non-violent resistance a
reasonable chance whilst they are both maintaining full military
efficiency. At the same time it is perfectly true that all military
powers carry on negotiations for peaceful adjustment of rival
disputes. But here we are not discussing preliminary peace parleys
before appealing to the arbitrament of war. We are discussing a
final substitute for armed conflict called war, in naked terms mass