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Questioning Non Violence

A while ago I was reading this book called "How Nonviolence Protects the State" by Peter Gelderloos; I was reading it as a project for a class on non violence. I wanted to look at the from another perspective, perhaps a less popular one, so I looked to this book, and a couple of more.

I wanted to share a paragraph from the book and see what all yall thought about it, if at all.


How Nonviolence Protects the State, by: Peter Gelderloos, page 43:

"At first, nonviolence seems like a clear moral position that has little to do with race. The view is based on the simplistic assumption that violence is first and foremost something that we choose. But which people in this world have the privilege to choose violence, and which people live in violent circumstances whether they want to or not? Generally, nonviolence is a privileged practice, one that comes out of the experiences of white people, and it does not always meake sense for people without white privilege or for white people attempting to destroy they system of privilege and oppression."

" The use of nonviolence by people of color has generally been a compromise to a white power structure. Recognizing that the white power structure prefers the oppressed to be nonviolent"


I'm interested in what opinions people have on this quote, issue, etc. as well as questions for me further about the book, or other resources. I also have some thoughts, that I would be happy to share once conversation starts.


jap21's picture

Hello there

I want to ask you a question: If you agree that non violence is a white way to impose something on people of color, then it is ok for color people to be violent?

Will color people not suffer if there are consequent violent attacks by the whites, who in this case have no right to defend themselves, but who will do it anyway?

I would like to know your opinion on the subject. Thanks.


Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

Tina's picture


well hello,
Thanks for starting an interesting conversation but I am truly confused.
You quote a section in the book that states, "Generally, nonviolence is a privileged practice, one that comes out of the experiences of white people" and yet I had always been under the assumption that both the practice and teachings of non-violence had come out of spiritual traditions that were neither white nor non-white. Gandhi and the Dalai Llama are two proponents of non-violence that obviously spring to mind. I think you'll find that both Jesus and Mohammed were also non-violent teachers and neither of those men were white either.
As for non-violence being a privilege well I would have thought non-violence is a choice we make regardless of our social standing.
Please share your thoughts and observations as you said you would... I am interested to hear.

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