[ by Charles Cameron — two clashing quotes about Gandhi that followed one another in my RSS feed today, funny & strange ]
Strange, to say the least.
Gandhi was a strategist — as a friend of mine once wrote, “he achieved self determination for the largest number of individuals with the lowest cost in human life” of any rebel known to history —
He managed this feat by holding a position of non-violent non-cooperation, while showing that the ‘civilized’ opponent of the United Kingdom could not live up to its own imposed standards of conduct or law.
And at least some of the time, he was notably unwilling to romanticize himself — he once said:
My nonviolence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach nonviolence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes. Nonviolence is the summit of bravery. And in my own experience, I have had no difficulty in demonstrating to men trained in the school of violence the superiority of nonviolence. As a coward, which I was for years, I harbored violence. I began to prize nonviolence only when I shed cowardice.
So he’s not the total pacifist he’s sometimes portrayed as.
But nuclear weapons? “Much more dangerous than, say, Xerxes and Alexander the Great. Or Genghis Khan, for that matter”?
Not in India, not back then. In one of Hugh Everett‘s “many worlds”? — perhaps. And in Civ2, the game? — apparently, yes.