From Gandhi to Serbia: Passion and Power in Nonviolent Revolutions


Taught by Michael Bischoff, Fall 2005


“Everybody must grant that no government can exist for a single moment without the cooperation of the people, willing or forced, and if people withdraw their cooperation in every detail, the government will come to a standstill.” 

Mohandas Gandhi


Some Englishmen state that they took and they hold India by the sword.  Both these statements are wrong.  The sword is entirely useless for holding India.  WE [Indians] alone keep them.”




Ten Principles of Nonviolent, Cooperative Power Common to Gandhi and the Eastern European Movements That Brought Down the Soviet Empire

Taken from The Unconquerable World, by Jonathan Schell

The prime human obligation is to work fearlessly and publicly in accord with one’s beliefs

1.            People should withdraw cooperation from destructive institutions

2.            People should do so without violence

3.            Means are more important than ends

4.            People should not commit (moral) crimes today for the sake of a better world tomorrow

5.            Violence brutalizes its user as well as its victim

6.            Actions are usually best aimed at one’s immediate surroundings

7.            Winning state power, if necessary at all, is secondary to transforming one’s immediate surroundings and will result as a matter of course from such transformation;

8.            Freedom begins with the person and orients first toward the love of truth, and only then discovers what it hates and must oppose;

9.            State power depends entirely upon the consent of the governed


Characteristics of Gandhi’s Leadership

1.Gandhi started shy and timid

2.One standard of conduct—personal and private

3.Contemplative and Religious

4.Inspired devotion, had great moral influence

5.Expected high levels of discipline and sacrifice

6.   Used personal ultimatums many times

7.   Had limited control over the violence of his followers

8.Found symbolic, accessible ways for masses to join the movement

9.As he was arrested, more decentralized leadership happened


Commitments Gandhi Calls Us To:

•Commit to Absolute Values

•Commit to the Journey

•Commit to Training Your Conscience

•Commit to Reducing Attachments

•Commit to Minimizing Secrecy

•Commit to Courage

From: A Higher Standard of Leadership, Keshavan Nair


Historical Examples of Nonviolent Alternatives to War

•Indian campaign for independence from British rule (1920s-40s)

•Poland’s Solidarity movement (1980s)

•Chile’s overthrow of Pinochet (1980s)

•South African Campaign Against Apartheid (1950s-90s)

•U.S. Civil Rights Desegregation Campaigns (1960s)

 •Iran: Overthrow of the Shah

•El Salvador in 1944, removal of General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez

•Guatemala in 1944

•The Philippines in 1986, overthrow of Marcos

•Czechoslovakia's “velvet revolution” in 1989

•Serbia, 2000, Removal of Milosovic

• •Russia’s nonviolent resistance to a coup in 1991

•Russian People’s Strike in 1905

•Denmark resistance to Nazi Occupation 1940s (also resistance in Norway, the Netherlands, elsewhere)

•Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation in the 1980s

•Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution that had pressured Eduard Shevardnadze to resign

•Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004

•Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution in 2005

•Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution in 2005