18 August 2015

Non-violent resistance - Ghandi and the Salt march: A Case study

“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.” ― Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas.

Ghandi and the Salt march
(From: The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene, 2006, Pg 420-423)

In December 1929 the group of Englishmen who governed India were feeling a little nervous. The Indian National Congress--the country's main independence movement--had just broken off talks over the proposal that Britain would gradually return autonomous rule to the subcontinent.

Instead the Congress was now calling for nothing less than immediate and total independence, and it had asked Mahatma Gandhi to lead a civil-disobedience campaign to initiate this struggle.

Gandhi, who had studied law in London years before, had invented a form of passive-resistant protest in 1906, while working as a barrister in South Africa.

In India in the early 1920s, he had led civil-disobedience campaigns against the British that had created quite a stir, had landed him in prison, and had made him the most revered man in the country.

For the British, dealing with him was never easy; despite his frail appearance, he was uncompromising and relentless.

Although Gandhi believed in and practiced a rigorous form of non-violence, the colonial officers of the British Raj were fearful: at a time when the English economy was weak, they imagined him organizing a boycott of British goods, not to mention mass demonstrations in the streets of India's cities, a police nightmare.

The man in charge of the Raj's strategy in combating the independence movement was the viceroy of India, Lord Edward Irwin. Although Irwin admired Gandhi personally, he had decided to respond to him rapidly and with force--he could not let the situation get out of hand. He waited anxiously to see what Gandhi would do.

The weeks went by, and finally, on March 2, Irwin received a letter from Gandhi--rather touching in its honesty--that revealed the details of the civil-disobedience campaign he was about to launch.

It was to be a protest against the salt tax. The British held a monopoly on India's production of salt, even though it could easily be gathered by anyone on the coast. They also levied a rather high tax on it. This was quite a burden for the poorest of the poor in India, for whom salt was their only condiment.

Gandhi planned to lead a march of his followers from his ashram near Bombay (present-day Mumbai) to the coastal town of Dandi, where he would gather sea salt left on the shore by the waves and encourage Indians everywhere to do the same. All this could be prevented, he wrote to Irwin, if the viceroy would immediately repeal the salt tax.

Irwin read this letter with a sense of relief. He imagined the sixty-year-old Gandhi, rather fragile and leaning on a bamboo cane, leading his ragtag followers from his ashram--fewer than eighty people-- on a two-hundred-mile march to the sea, where he would gather some salt from the sands.

Compared to what Irwin and his staff had been expecting, the protest seemed almost ludicrously small in scale. What was Gandhi thinking? Had he lost touch with reality? Even some members of the Indian National Congress were deeply disappointed by his choice of protest.

In any event, Irwin had to rethink his strategy. It simply would not do to harass or arrest this saintly old man and his followers (many of them women). That would look very bad. It would be better to leave him alone, avoiding the appearance of a heavy-handed response and letting the crisis play out and die down. In the end the ineffectiveness of this campaign would somewhat discredit Gandhi, breaking his spell over the Indian masses. The independence movement might fracture or at least lose some momentum, leaving England in a stronger position in the long run.

As Irwin watched Gandhi's preparations for the march, he became still more convinced that he had chosen the right strategy.

Gandhi was framing the event as almost religious in quality, like Lord Buddha's famous march to attain divine wisdom, or Lord Rama's retreat in the Ramayana. His language became increasingly apocalyptic: "We are entering upon a life-and-death struggle, a holy war."

This seemed to resonate with the poor, who began to flock to Gandhi's ashram to hear him speak. He called in film crews from all over the world to record the march, as if it were a momentous historical event.

Irwin himself was a religious man and saw himself as the representative of a God-fearing, civilized nation. It would redound to England's credit to be seen to leave this saintly man untouched on his procession to the sea.

Gandhi and his followers left their ashram on March 12, 1930. As the group passed from village to village, their ranks began to swell. With each passing day, Gandhi was bolder. He called on students throughout India to leave their studies and join him in the march. Thousands responded. Large crowds gathered along the way to see him pass; his speeches to them grew more and more inflammatory. He seemed to be trying to bait the English into arresting him.

On April 6 he led his followers into the sea to purify themselves, then collected some salt from the shore.

Word quickly spread throughout India that Gandhi had broken the salt law. Irwin followed these events with increasing alarm. It dawned on him that Gandhi had tricked him: instead of responding quickly and decisively to this seemingly innocent march to the sea, the viceroy had left Gandhi alone, allowing the march to gain momentum.

The religious symbolism that seemed so harmless had stirred the masses, and the salt issue had somehow become a lightning rod for disaffection with English policy.

Gandhi had shrewdly chosen an issue that the English would not recognize as threatening but that would resonate with Indians. Had Irwin responded by arresting Gandhi immediately, the whole thing might have died down. Now it was too late; to arrest him at this point would only add fuel to the fire. Yet to leave him alone would show weakness and cede him the initiative.

Meanwhile nonviolent demonstrations were breaking out in cities and villages all over India, and to respond to them with violence would only make the demonstrators more sympathetic to moderate Indians. Whatever Irwin did, it seemed, would make things worse. And so he fretted, held endless meetings, and did nothing.

In the days to come, the cause rippled outward. Thousands of Indians traveled to India's coasts to collect salt as Gandhi had. Large cities saw mass demonstrations in which this illegal salt was given away or sold at a minimal price. One form of nonviolent protest cascaded into another--a Congress-led boycott of British goods, for one.

Finally, on Irwin's orders, the British began to respond to the demonstrations with force. And on May 4 they arrested Gandhi and took him to prison, where he would stay for nine months without trial.

Gandhi's arrest sparked a conflagration of protest. On May 21 a group of 2,500 Indians marched peacefully on the government's Dharasana Salt Works, which was defended by armed Indian constables and British officers.

When the marchers advanced on the factory, they were struck down with steel-plated clubs.

Instructed in Gandhi's methods of nonviolence, the demonstrators made no attempt to defend themselves, simply submitting to the blows that rained down on them. Those who had not been hit continued to march until almost every last one had been clubbed.

It was a nauseating scene that got a great deal of play in the press. Similar incidents all over India helped to destroy the last sentimental attachment any Indians still had toward England.

To end the spiraling unrest, Irwin was finally forced to negotiate with Gandhi, and, on several issues, to give ground--an unprecedented event for an English imperialist viceroy.

Although the end of the Raj would take several years, the Salt March would prove to be the beginning of the end, and in 1947 the English finally left India without a fight.


  1. Anonymous3:52 am

    That will bring us to the year... 2046. And by then all of us would have starved.

  2. Anonymous5:20 am

    You DO realize that the ANC will win the elections next year as well, don`t you? And the election after that, and the one after that one, and so on and so on. Reason is because the munds believe that voting for anybody else will lead to a return of "apartheid" in South Africa. And the marxist terrorists keep on telling them so through state-controlled media. The munds in this country are blinded by hatred of ALL whites and nothing we do or say will ever change that. Finish and Klaar!

    1. Anonymous8:07 am

      and the shitskin munts would be correct, because a system that is based on merit is for them like returning to apartheid, because they do realize that they can never compete with a white man on a level playing field.

      Another point is that peaceful resistance only works when applied against white societies, or societies with morals and standards. Munts only understand the boot.

      The are destroying SA very fast now and a bloody revolution will be forced on us by desperate starving shit skins unable to look after themselves, as they have been since the dawn of time.

      More and more whites are beginning ro realize that this last fight will be too extinction, us or them, but it will be to the bitter end.

    2. Anonymous4:24 pm

      Perhaps the "Resistance" movement will get a bit of unexpected assistance? See - http://www.politicsweb.co.za/news-and-analysis/south-africas-looming-crisis

  3. Anonymous8:31 am

    This only worked because it was resistance against white people. The same thing against blacks will turn into bloodshed.

    1. So be it then...but they are not that stupid to try it. If the black police use violence against whites protesting peacefully with flowers in their hands, etc. and these videos make it onto the internet they have signed their own death warrant. It will unite all whites against them. Although nobody wants any loss of life, it might be inevitable. Even if they kill a hundred whites, it will still be less than the thousands who will die if you fight a civil war. You choose your means of struggle and if you have a better idea than mine (peaceful, non-violent revolution) then kindly share it with us. I am willing to consider any means to get rid of the ANC.

    2. Anonymous12:02 pm

      Cherry Blossoms in November

      PROJECT 1947


      Seems somewhat prescient



      Just read between the lines
      See what miserable dirty skunks the Yanks are !

  4. Anonymous8:41 am

    Anonymous 5:20 AM
    QUITE RIGHT! The ignorant black masses will just follow and vote again like sheep. Time and time again they will fail to see the truth and time after time they will vote the black communists in. We whites all know the real truth and reason as to WHY the brainwashed blacks still support the ANC and the EFF and continue to do so. The blacks rely on false promises and have got nothing better than hypocrisy and dictatorship to vote for. So as long as they see many black faces in parliament and on the TV and everywhere else they falsely believe that they have actually voted for the betterment of the country. Don't blame them it's a bit of a bind when you are born from two black ignorant fools into a nation of 79 million other black ignorant fools. Don't blame them because firstly the blacks did not vote the NP out of power because at that time they did not have the right to vote. However they did vote later on and put the ANC into power on the basis of their skin colour and black demographics. A handful of whites were included in the ANC government to "showpiece" the new South African democracy. From that day on the majority of whites have also been stupidly following like lost sheep and ignorantly supporting the ANC. Perhaps a few bleats of discontent here and there but nothing for the governing sons and daughters of Satan to worry about. The ANC are laughing all the way every day at the weak show of “Resistance” to their enforced black dictatorship and anti- white laws in this country. Sacrifices will definitely have to be made but patience, perseverance and precision are only just three key elements that will help us change the dictatorship within this country. Remember the old saying “ Nothing ventured is nothing gained”.

  5. You know Mike, yesterday you had the Boston Tea party, and today Ghandi's Salt walk - seems food commodities are very effective bargaining tools. Now imagine we all start to help our farmers to market and export their goods. We buy from them directly (meat, maize etc) and then export the surplus. No food for the local market at all. They will have to import everything at a premium. Methinks it could work. This way they can also see what life is like without the farmer

  6. Anonymous10:48 am

    Ghandi and Mandela did not have to sit in a TB/HIV infested Cell like we will...

  7. Anonymous11:09 pm

    TheBronx, yes it could work, but eventually they will start pillaging and stealing from the farmers, factories and other outlets, putting innocent and mostly helpless people at risk. What we could maybe consider is raising the prices of such commodities to a level which the munds can no longer afford. Specially the ones that do not want to work. But alas, some fucking retarded liberal will come to their rescue with more handouts and free-bees such as food and mattresses. I have a few ideas, but cannot dish them out on this forum as there are communist spies on here. A more secure means of communication needs to be established.

    1. uc.mikesmith@googlemail.com

  8. Anonymous11:32 pm

    Jislaaik!!! what a negative bunch we have become!!!What the hell have we to lose? let the resistANCe get some traction and lets go for it!! We dont need Generals to betray us because they "know better". No arms caches to be betrayed by simpel afrikaner women ( Janus Walus etc).

  9. Anonymous2:15 pm

    No mate not negative because the power of the resistance movement is now well on its way. Every step forward now takes an in depth discussion, flawless planning and course of action every single day. With the positives so highly tuned up and just rearing to go they will be demanding immediate action. The wise leaders therefore mentally weigh up the pros and cons before the next course of a positive plan of action. This is a none violent war and like every war the negative side of things needs also to be considered before the positive action begins. Only the leaders though have the final say in the decision and if they make a balls up then they alone end up carrying the blame and the shame.

  10. Californian9:02 pm

    Mike, good to see an article on practical tactics. Let's see more of this.