Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ahimsa, Nonviolent Political Resistance -- Where's the G word?

I sent an email letter to Professor Erica Chenoweth of Wesleyan University and cc'd the NYtimes Public Editor re: the prof's NYTimes editorial (see link below my letter).

The following contains later edits of that letter.

Dear Professor Chenoweth,

It's troubling that you would write a piece about nonviolent resistance in the NYTimes without using the G word -- Gandhi.

The impression conveyed is that you somehow came up with the concept.

I think this a typical instance of commodity capitalism as practiced by the US academy. In this instance you claim (albeit by implication and omission) to own ideas of which you are not the author.

Undoubtedly the NYTimes editorial will accrue professional power, prestige, status, money to you. This is unethical.

Nonviolent political resistance, based on ahimsa, was a core tenet, developed by Gandhi, for the struggle to overthrow the colonial Brits in subcontinental South Asia, and that overthrow was finally accomplished in 1947.

Gandhi in turn was partly influenced by Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience (he had no problem acknowledging his debt).
Gandhi in turn influenced Martin Luther King and others.

That's how society works, ideas and practices build on others'. It's not I, I, I, me, me, me.

The concept of ahimsa has its origins in Hindu philosophy, but it had never before Gandhi, been developed as a political strategy. That's Gandhi's invaluable contribution to liberation movements during the 1940 - 1960's throughout the Global South unshackling colonialism. Nobody understood this better than Malcolm X when he drew attention to the impetus behind the Bandung Conference in 1955

I've long avoided taking a direct role in the US academy because of my reservations about commodity capitalism as practiced in particular by social science faculty in the US academy.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyrighted article
see link:

No comments: